November 2009 Archives

People Just Like Saying "Kenesaw Mountain Landis"

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While you were wiping stuffing crumbs off of your lap and onto the living room floor this weekend, Bud Selig reminded us all what he told us over the summer. That he's retiring at the end of the 2012 season. Yes, in just two short years after Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Brett Favre and Felix Hernandez lead the Yankees to another title, baseball will be ushering its first new leader in 20 years. Even though he's going to be 78 when the day rolls around, Selig says his retirement isn't about being tired, it's about doing other stuff. Sounds like someone's been watching a lot of About Schmidt lately.

"This time I think everybody has the same understanding -- this time I'm done. I really am. I want to start writing a book. I don't have time while I'm doing this job, but I need to do that. I want to do some teaching. I did a little this past winter and I have some wonderful offers. God willing, on Dec. 31, 2012, you'll be saying goodbye to me."

That last sentence makes me think that Bud has been dabbling in the teachings of famed Mayan leader, John Cusack. And as far as writing goes, Bud should have started a blog a couple years ago, when publishers were giving any moron on the internet book deals . As it stands now, dude is gonna be 80 when that thing is finished. It's gonna ramble on for 3,000 pages, half of which will be about the weather. I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that I don't care, and like anyone who follows baseball, I can't imagine a scenario where the next guy does anything but act as a Selig-style "caretaker" who's job is mainly to ensure profits and not screw up too badly. It's pretty much worked for 20 years now.

But that isn't enough for some people. Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest wants baseball to reanimate the corpse of Kenesaw Landis and have that dude run things. Sure, he was a virulent racist and called "Baseball's Tyrant" by the press (catchy). That's not the stuff that Silva likes about him. He just thinks "baseball needs a leader that is proactive versus reactive," and that Selig "came across as a waffling politician." Silva must have really loved 2000-2008.

One of the very worst pieces I've ever written for this site was about trying to predict the next commissioner. It was bad because, I don't really care who's commissioner. And it's this kind of moronic analysis from Silva that makes me double back and do the opposite of what it's supposed to. While we've never been big fans of Bud around here, a call for some sort of Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me tough guy to step in and do... well what he's supposed to do besides be decisive isn't exactly clear... makes me think that I'd be just fine with another two decades of someone whose main job is to make sure the sport doesn't implode. Baseball doesn't need a hero; it just needs a gardener.

Thanksgiving Questions

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Hey kids, it takes more than a wishbone.

  • WILL the Cardinals ever have an introductory press conference for hitting coach Mark McGwire? When the hire was announced I had no idea why the team would want to invite such a ridiculous media frenzy upon themselves. It appears they might be feeling the same way.

  • WHO'S excited for the Mets' new uniforms? Their opponents! New look, same gimpy losers.

  • WILL Angels fans miss Rex Hudler in the broadcast booth? He and play-by-play guy Steve Physioc were dumped by Fox Sports. Former Cy Young winner and amiable surfer dude Mark Gubicza will take over for Hudler, a trade that is almost as one sided now as it would have been during their playing days.

  • ARE Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau the bosomiest buddies in all of baseball?

  • AND is it possible in this baseball day and age that friendship could be the key to a top tier player resigning with his hometown team? No way. But it's nice how Joe Christensen (one of our favorite newspaper guys) gets all caught up in the good vibes of the holiday season.

  • HOW hard will Rinku and Dinesh be training this offseason back in the village?

  • DID you know there is a new version of Let's Make A Deal? It's hosted by Wayne Brady and has the same cheesy music and everyone in the audience is dressed up like an idiot. I just saw 3 minutes of it. Amusing.

  • DO you crave graphs after downing your Turkey Day feast? Well get ready to smother some interesting data in gravy, because our friends to the North don't get time off this week. Thanks, Drew!

That up there is Arlo doing Alice's Restaurant. Listening to that fine tune on Thanksgiving is a tradition of many across this land, so we might as well make it one here too. Remember there is still time to donate to your local food bank if you haven't already.

Have a good long weekend. We'll see you back here on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving.

stretchersmile.JPGJust about every Friday during the baseball season, we poke all manner of fun at the softies in Major League Baseball who miss time with phantom ailments and broken testicles. With another day at the office a major holiday looming; I thought we'd give back to the stout men of baseball who chose to play through their nagging wounds and ouchies.

You may notice a lack of free agents on this list. BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL A PICTURE OF HEALTH, PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS. Holding off until season's end is the real definition of taking one for the team, no matter how crappy you play while injured. Taking big chunks of the year off to ensure you hit the open market fresh as a daisy isn't selfish, it's the American way!

  • Torii Hunter, Angels: Hunter went under the knife to repair a sports hernia that napped the "Gold Glover" since mid-May! Well, technically, the knife went under Hunter. UNDER HIS BALLS! Hunter seems pumped at the prospect of heading into 2010 healthy and ready to go. Hunter hopes to bounce back after this procedure as he did after his last offseason operation.

  • Vernon Wells, Blue Jays: Wells took a deep inhalation of anesthesia for the second straight winter, this time blaming a bum wrist for his craptastic season. Wells massive contract and every other year performance (Saberhaganitis, for which there is no cure) make him public enemy number one in Toronto. A tidy operation and hope springs eternal for the Blue Jays faithful!

  • J.D. Drew, Red Sox: JD Drew, Ironpuff? Could it be the creampuff poster boy gutted it out with a bum shoulder? It could! Well, gutted it out is a relative term. The much-maligned glove-and-walkman had minor work done on his bum left shoulder. The joint was inflamed for most of the second half, though Drew managed a tidy .999 OPS during the second stanza. Dude's a stud. And a creampuff. Today though, we salute his Ironpuffery.
  • Ted Lilly, Cubs: The mercurial Cubs lefty let the doctors wriggle around inside his shoulder with sticks early in November, hoping they could clean up his fraying labrum. The oddballin', flyballin', strikeout-chucker pitched through pain in September even though the Chubbies were headed straight for nowheresville. Lilly might miss the first few weeks of Spring Training, much to the chagrin of not Ted Lilly.

  • Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: If you knew Edwin Encarnacion played for the Blue Jays, consider yourself a liar. The erratic third baseman had a similar surgery to his teammate Wells, much to the surprise of Wells. Vernon wasn't surprised that EE was hurt as much as he had no idea they were teammates. Third base is a long way from centerfield, he just thought Scott Rolen lost a bunch of weight. Encarnacion expects to be ready for Spring Training, unless he is non-tendered by his new team. His wife will then walk around on tender hooks lest she upset her spouse's tender feelings. He may lash out and aggravate his tender wrist. I recommend some Otis Redding to calm him down.

  • Brandon Inge, Tigers: The Binge admirably played most of the second half on busted wheels, dragging his carcass and its .314 OBP out there everyday until the end of the year. Mocking Inge is easy but foolish, as the catcher turned centerfielder turned third baseman turned catcher again is a fan favorite and respected member of El Tigres. The chronic tendinitis in both of Inge's knees should clear up by Spring Training, shockingly.

  • Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Albert Pujols. Had junk. Cleaned out of his elbow. In October. Meaning he wasn't 100% at any point this year. He won the MVP. Unanimously. Yikes. He should be ready to win the Triple Crown by the time Spring Training rolls around. Bow down.

Air Bud, Defender of Freedom

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We all learned in late April that the greatest baseball movie of all time is Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. I mean, a dog wins World Series MVP at the end of it! What more do you want? (Amazingly, in the third Air Bud movie, Air Bud: World Pup, Air Bud replaces Brianna Scurry in goal after she's injured during a penalty shootout. He makes the winning save and the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup, despite the clear rule violation of using a male dog.)

But I digress (obviously). Sometime over the summer, reader Brian sent me an email letting me know about a little bonus tidbit in my Seventh Inning Fetch review. Look closely at the date on the newspaper screencap, he wrote. I complied, and found this shocking piece of data.

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Holy crap! There are a couple of possible explanations for this.

  • It's simply a really weird coincidence. Eh, this is no fun.
  • The paper's a weekly, and prints on a Monday with a Wednesday date. This one doesn't work, either; the paper clearly has a "daily" price in the corner.
  • The front page has all the news about the horrible terrorist attack, and this is just the sports section. This one sort of doesn't work: Every newspaper was pretty much all 9/11 coverage that day; even sports sections were full of stories like, "How will 9/11 effect the NFL?"

That brings us to two possibilities:

  • It's an incredibly awesome sick joke put in to a kids' movie by someone who worked on Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Considering the movie came out in June 2002, it was maybe still a little early for 9/11 themed-humor -- which makes this little hidden joke all the more amazing. If this were true, my opinion of Seventh Inning Fetch would go from "best movie of the decade" to "best film in history."
  • In the Air Buddyverse, the 9/11 terrorist attacks didn't happen. Since Air Bud inhabits a world just like ours, one can only assume that Air Bud stopped the terrorist attacks. I'm not quite sure how. Maybe he bit Osama bin Laden or barked really loudly at Mohammad Atta? The real Air Bud (the one who could actually shoot basketballs) died after the first movie. If only we could have saved him!

Incidentally, there's a new Air Bud movie (the ninth) just out, although it's part of the Air Buddies spinoff series. Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws, with George Wendt, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Kind, Tom Bosley and Tim Conway, came out yesterday. No word if there are any 9/11 jokes in it.

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Dear Mr. Albert Pujols,

First and foremost, I want to congratulate you for winning your second straight and third overall National League MVP award. What a mitzvah! I'm sure your family is very proud of your accomplishments and your fans are anxious for you to bring back another title to St. Louis.

But for the rest of us in the baseball world, can you do us a real solid and collect baseball's first Triple Crown since Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski did it way back in 1967? See, for those of us under the age of 50, we really haven't had a chance to witness a baseball player lead the league in batting average, RBI, and home runs in a single season. It's about time someone of your caliber made it his business to tackle the task.

Heck, there hasn't even been a National League Triple Crowner since Ducky Medwick back in nineteen-dickety-seven. Those old fart American League fans had a lot to enjoy in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Ted Williams taking the Crown twice, Mickey Mantle once, and Frank Robinson the year before Yaz did the deed.

You've come close yourself a couple times; leading the NL in batting in 2003 but coming up just shy of the HR and RBI lead, and leading the NL in homers last year but falling six RBI short of Prince Fielder and 15 points behind Hanley Ramirez in average. Heck, you're the active leader in batting average and the only guy to top 30 homers and 100 ribs in each of the past nine seasons. This is not unpossible.

Of course, the Cardinals could help you out a bit by re-signing Matt Holliday, who provided some excellent lineup protection...not that you really needed it. You've increased your walk total every year of your career except one while keeping your strikeout total steady. Waiting for the right pitch to hit has really proven to be quite rewarding. Maybe they could sign some decent OBP guys to hit ahead of you. Ducky Medwick had ducks on the pond. Why not you?

We may never see a guy reach .400 again, or see someone collect a hit in 56 straight games. I think as baseball fans under the age of 50, we'll be happy just to witness a Triple Crown, no matter how meaningless the ancient statistic of batting average is in today's sabermetricalicious world. Please, Mr. Pujols, give us baseball fans the joy of celebrating an incongruous collection of numbers that is higher than the respective numbers of any other competitor in your chosen league.

Yours truly,
Baseball fans under 50

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Ho-hum, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has won his second straight and third overall National League MVP Award, becoming the tenth player in history to win the MVP at least three times. It's also the 20th time a Cardinal has won the award, only two shy of the Yankees record.

Pujols won the award unanimously, meaning there was no chunderhead around to waste his or her first place vote on some undeserving chump. Hanley Ramirez finished second with Ryan Howard taking third despite not even being the most valuable Phillies player. Also, someone threw a tenth-place vote in Jeremy Affeldt's direction, but let us not speak of down-ballot malarkey. Pujols won another MVP award.

Snoozy, right? You have to go all the way back to Chipper Jones in 1999 to find someone not on the Cards, Phillies, or Giants who won the honor. Can't the voters spread that wealth around a bit and honor an Astro or a Rockie or something? In a word: no. Let's not lose our focus here simply because Pujols enters every season as the odds on favorite to win the top prize with his tater tots and gilded leather mentions and rare smiles flashed.

Instead, let us react with the same amount of joy and surprise for Pujols' third MVP as to when a young stud like Joe Mauer wins his first MVP. Hey, we are witnessing history here! Mr. Pujols might end up toppling Barry Bonds' record seven MVP awards by the time he hangs up his cardinal red batting helmet, so each time he wins, let's appreciate the moment for what it's worth.

Albert Pujols is no run-of-the-mill RBI-collectin' first baseman: he's MLB's active leader in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS, and for a man who won't turn 30 until next year, his 366 homers put him on pace to clobber #500 before age 33. He's only won a single Gold Glove award, but has four straight Fielding Bible awards on his virtual mantle. In 2009, Pujols set the ML record for most assists by a first baseman in a single season with a whopping 185.

So yeah, it was inevitable that Pujols would win, but that doesn't mean we should handle it any differently than yesterday's Mauer debut on the award stage. Pujols' march towards the Pantheon has only just begun.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user lscan)

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Before every twitterfeed burns up with righteous anger over today's National League MVP announcement (you mean X voted for Scumbag Y?? Outrage!), lets take time to reflect on what a colossal mess the Mets continue to be. Not only did they just watch a World Series featuring their two biggest rivals, they are also a team without a direction or an identity. To which I say: awesome!

To be fair to the poor, injury-ravaged Mets, they have a high number of excellent players in their employ. All of whom who may well be on death's door. Or Puerto Rico for the off-season, one can't be too sure. A nucleus of Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes indeed a fine starting point for any franchise. Yet for the Mets, it feels as though they are in limbo.

History shows the Mets to spend money like a hausfrau on Black Friday: indiscriminately on crap with little or no purpose. While signing stars like Reyes and Wright to team-friendly contracts before they reached free agency years ago may seem like good ideas, leaving Mets GM Omar Minaya with more cash all that equity burning a hole in his pocket is not. He's only going to heave it at Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez or another pitcher who offers little or no return. The Mets have a few glaring holes but the front office and fanbase are far, far apart on where to fill them.

The Mets deep pockets ensure the can negotiate dollar-for-dollar with any team in baseball for a high-end free agent, but the Mets are also (hilariously) able to overpay to ensure lower profile guys have the chance to disappoint Queens residents for weeks at a time.

Just about every free agent (or defacto free agent) is connected to the Mets by one rumor or another. They're going to be bidding against the Yankees for John Lackey, they're inquiring about Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu's to play first base. They're going to create a package (with what prospects?) to make a run at Roy Halladay, they're considering reclamation project Ben Sheets. Matt Holliday? How about Mark DeRosa instead. Aroldis Chapman? Meet Staten Island jamook Jason Marquis. The lack of a viable catching option is leading to fully functioning, working adults pining for Bengie Molina to step into the void.

The Mets burning need to win now strip-mined their system while serving the big club well, despite the collapses. The Mets now face an aging roster with holes at key spots, with only shudder-worthy internal options all around the diamond. This is a team at a crossroads, with very large new building to fill and sky-high expectations to contend with.

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Joe Mauer, whose last name means "wall" in German, has finally gotten his long-overdue AL MVP award, winning 27 of the 28 first place votes. He beat out such illustrious contenders as Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, and also Miguel Cabrera who received the other first place vote, bizarrely. With the big win, Mauer takes home a tidy $100,000 bonus

Mauer won his third batting title in the past four seasons and also led the AL in OBP and SLG, both for the first time. His 1.031 OPS made him the only AL hitter to top the 1.000 mark and his 307 total bases placed him a solid seventh in the league; not bad for a dude who missed the first month of the season.

He's also sitting on a streak of two straight All Star Game starts and two straight Gold Gloves, and his face was seen in the back pants pocket of many a Minnesota State Fair attendee this past summer. The three most common things you could find on a stick at the fair: pork chops, walleye, and a cutout of Joe Mauer's dreamy face.

The Twins catcher has long been tops of the pops but was denied the honor back in 2006, when his less-deserving teammate Justin Morneau RBI'd and first-based his way to an ill-deserved award. Mauer out-walked, out-OPS'ed and out-hit his teammate in aught-six, but the massive gap in simple RBI fooled the starry-eyed BBWAA into overwhelmingly supporting Morneau.

But in 2009, Morneau went down late with an injury and it was Joe Mauer (with some help from Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel) who led the Twins to a surprise AL Central title, thus proving that you don't need a boring power-hitting first baseman to win the whole bag of donuts.

Joe Mauer is everything a general manager wants out of a baseball player: fields a tough position well, hits for average, hits for power, uses his keen eye to draw walks and avoid strikeouts, and grows sideburns well enough to set the hearts of a hundred thousand Minnesota girls a-flutter.

Shame he'll be a Yankee next year, amirite?

(photo courtesy of jakemohan)

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I suppose I could keep trotting out examples of people who grossly misunderstand the value of certain statistics when it comes to picking out a Cy Young award winner... so I will. This time it's Jeff Fletcher over at Fanhouse who penned this tome about why Chris Carpenter, not Tim Lincecum deserved the NL Cy Young.

(SIGHS)

Flecther actually brings up some nice advanced statistics (namely FIP) and more than adequately incorporates them into his argument. However, like our friend Jack McDowell from yesterday, Fletcher takes umbrage at the fact that Tim Lincecum was a strikeout pitcher. Heavens to betsy! Why are pitchers who make outs on their own suddenly so undesirable?

Lincecum is a power pitcher. He struck guys out. Carpenter is not. He let guys put the ball in play and his defense got the outs.

If I'm trying to project the future of both pitchers, or if I'm trying to decide which guy I'd like on my team for 2010 or beyond (ignoring their age, in this case), I'll take the guy with the strikeouts. Strikeouts are nice and clean and don't require any help from the defense.

But if I'm filling out a 2009 Cy Young ballot, I don't care about 2010 or projections. I care about what actually happened. What actually happened was that Carpenter got outs at a better rate than Lincecum. Just that more of them were boring grounders to the shortstop instead of big exciting punchouts. You can say that strikeouts are better than groundouts because you can't move a runner or score a run on a strikeout, but Carpenter still did a better job preventing runs, so it didn't matter.

Is it really fair to penalize a pitcher who did his job (got outs, prevented runs) because he didn't do it a certain way (with strikeouts)?

Our resident Fanhouse writer finds two categories, ERA and WHIP, that Carpenter bests Lincecum in and then uses this to suppose that Carpenter is a better run preventer. Am I the only one who sees the inherent flaw in the argument? I shouldn't be, because he pretty much states all the reasons he is wrong himself. That's some bold writing tactics.

Fletcher says that Carpenter makes a great deal more outs on balls in play and then says that because of the ERA and WHIP (two things that are partly based on the conversion into outs of these very same balls in play) Carp is better at run prevention than the actual winner of the award. Umm, no, that simply means, as Fletcher points out, that Carpenter relied more on his defense than Lincecum to make the outs that give his numbers a fantastic shine. If I'm looking to award the best pitcher, then how can I pick the guy who admittedly needed a lot more help to put up strong numbers?

If we really wanted a nice pair of statistics to talk about run prevention, then maybe we should be talking a bit more about RAR and WAR. Oh, would you look at that, Lincecum's RAR (71.8) and WAR (8.2) in 2009 were substantially higher than Carpenter's postings (50.2 and 5.6, respectively) in those same categories...

Hoo boy, it isn't too obvious I have a mancrush on Lincecum is it?

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This photo was screen-grabbed from the MLB front page on Yahoo! yesterday. Muh muh muh Mike Scioscia face this is certainly not, but it's still funny because John Lackey is horrendously ugly, you see.

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McDowell, who is now a "blogger" and "covering" the White Sox at a Chicago media outlet, is actually a winner of the Cy Young himself. He did so while winning an impressive 22 games for the team he now blogs about. Great! Surely this makes him an expert on the subject, and he will be able to provide wise insight on the winds of change that led the normally asinine writers to go a sterling two for two in picking the Cy Young winners in 2009! Or not.

It's not a very long post by any stretch, I'd just like to highlight a few snippets of wonderful ineptitude:

The slippery slope we must watch out for is starting to de-emphasize wins vs "stuff." Obviously both Cy winners would have benefitted and probably pushed their win totals into the 20's with more offensively productive teams behind them.

So when you mention pitchers who had their win totals bloated by superior offensive teams behind them, you're quite clearly referencing yourself the year you won, right? That's the year your White Sox teammates gave you nearly 5 runs per game, a number that would make the adorable Tim Lincecum blush with envy. OK, good, just checking. Tally ho!

But we'd better make sure the Javier Vasquez scenario doesn't overtake the voters in the future. Now that they have officially allowed full season 15 game winners to represent the best in the game, you start to worry about perennial low ERA, high strikeout guys like Vasquez being propelled to the highest level of respect...when they shouldn't. What is the difference how many strikeouts a guy has if they can't ultimately win games?

"Javier Vasquez" (SIC) had a really, really good year. He performed on every statistical level for the Braves in 2009, and did so in truly impressive fashion. Quick show of pale, Internet-reading hands though, if you were the GM of a baseball team granted total omniscience and the ability to see the future, and you had the chance to acquire a player who you knew was guaranteed to put up the exact same numbers Vazquez did in 2009, would you take him?

Obviously I am not surprised that McDowell is against advanced metrics, or at the very least fails to acknowledge most of them existing. However, the fact that McDowell says Javier's performance doesn't merit "respect" when in reality it was truly awesome by even the most basic of measurements is absurd. He won 15 games! That total put him in an easy tie for fourth place overall in the rankings of that category in 2009. You know who else was in that fourth place spot? Oh, just the actual NL Cy Young winner. Clearly, he deserves no respect for that.

Moreover, why is McDowell picking on Vazquez specifically? He says when he starts the post that he is comfortable with the results of both awards and in a moment of grand irony even goes so far to say that "you can't complain about either choice" before ripping into the very nature of Javier Vazquez' being. In expressing his dislike of Vazquez' having a low ERA and high strikeout total but without gaudy win numbers, McDowell may as well have been talking about Tim Lincecum directly. But I guess since Tim Lincecum was never a pitcher with a middling win total on the White Sox the way Vazquez was, he gets a free pass from McDowell's direct commentary... Ohh!

I really don't have anything else to add to this. This pour soul has a case of Win Fever the likes of which I have never seen. We need to get him some help! The next stage of the illness will involve "Black Jack" howling at the moon on 35th Street and begging for a few more wins from the cosmos.

Or maybe I'm just overreacting. Maybe McDowell has a point, and I'm just writing this out of some deeply ingrained hatred for one silly little double he surrendered to Edgar Martinez in days of yore...



I'm glad that someone (a) took the time to re-voice this Tim Lincecum video game ad after his pot bust and (b) made it funny and just a tiny bit NSFW. Please to enjoy.

(Thanks to Hot Clicks and Chris Mottram)

Bat Attack Roundup: Friday, November 20, 2009

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There are days when you find yourself lying on a Pacific Ocean Beach letting the waves sing you to sleep. There are days when you're surrounded by friends, family and multitudes of other loved ones, and the affection warms you like a fleece blanket. There are other days when some crazy bastard is going to swing at you with a baseball bat.

In those first two instances you should savor each moment to the fullest. In the third scenario, you should duck.

On to this week's non-fatal/non-critical bat attacks!

  • Our first story takes place outside Seattle's famous Pike Place Fish Market. You know it as the place where the employees throw salmon at each other mere blocks from where that one real world guy slapped that one real world dame with the fro. So obvs the place is no stranger to violence, but don't you think if someone was gonna get their bell rung it'd get rung it'd be with a fish? No dice. This week a guy got chopped back to the mound. But did he roll over and play dead like Irene did? No way, "After being hit with the bat, one suspect tried to steal his cell phone, but the man kicked the robber in the face." Solid.

  • Nothing can come between two men like a financial dispute. Money is the crowbar that tears people from each other. Whether the amount be $50 or even $100, consequences can be serious. So imagine when the amount is $27,000 and you don't wanna pay it back. That's when you get driven deep to cheap seats by a fellow member of the Bridgeport, CT hispanic community. But take comfort in the fact that the news item will take no interest in why there was a $27,000 personal loan at stake.

  • A miracle was averted when Richie Sambora discovered two fans on his roof weren't burglars and decided not to kill them. Tragedy struck when he returned to bed and no one had fallen off the roof. MAKE THE VIDEO ROB.

  • And finally, it's time to dispense with the humour. It's time to get to down to business. You may notice the gratuitous use of the letter u when I just spelled humor. Well that's because Graeme Lloyd's Heathen Foot Soldiers have struck again Down Under. And as if that wasn't bad enough, it looks like they're hooked on bathtub speed. Two kids in Brisbane, one armed with a bat and one armed with A SWORD, have been holding up pharmacies and stealing the Sudafed. I got my eye on you, Dave Nilsson Jr.

Former MLB star reliever and emo kid Eric Gagne, who spent the summer leading the Quebec Capitales to the Can-Am League title with his 6-6 record and 4.65 ERA, wants to let you know that he'd like to bring baseball back in Montreal despite his lack of business prowess.

At a charity event in Quebec City, Gagne was asked if he would lead an investment team to help Montreal get a professional baseball team. His response:


His response, translated from his native French-Canadian tongue:

"I know baseball but I'm not a businessman and there are other things involved that I don't want to deal with. I know how to lead a good team. I know there's a lot of people and potential in Montreal but can't say much more than that. I'd need to know more about the business side of things...but yes I would be interested."

Ask folks in Boston if Eric Gagne "knows baseball" and "knows how to lead a good team" and you'll get a wildly different reaction than Gagne's own opinion.

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San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum has won his second straight Cy Young Award and can now lend one to his video game doppelganger. Lincecum struck out a whopping 261 hitters over 32 starts that included four complete games and two shutouts. His 15 wins were a low total, indeed, but the sorry San Fran offense supported him to a tune of 2.38 runs per game in each of the twelve Giants losses he started.

Oh, and his FIP was just 0.01 higher than Zack Greinke's and nearly half a run better than anyone else in the NL. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Not you, Tim.

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who was the only gentleman to post a lower ERA than Lincecum in the National League, finished second, mostly because his time missed due to injury prevented him from matching Lincecum's innings and strikeout totals. His teammate Adam Wainwright finished third.

In a bizarre twist, Lincecum didn't even receive the most first place votes, but won the award because more folks thought Wainwright deserved third place than second. Also, Carpenter was left off of two ballots in favor of Javy Vazquez and Danny Haren; had he made those ballots, Carp would have won come a bit closer.

1st 2nd 3rd Points
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants 11 12 9 100
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals 9 14 7 94
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals 12 5 15 90
Javier Vazquez, Atlanta Braves 1 3
Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1

I think Lincecum is one of the few players in baseball that the entire staff at Walkoff Walk admires. He's talented, he's quirky, he's charming, and he's uglier than half of us. Congrats, Mr. Lincecum! Have a hot dog with us!

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All over the world, people go to sleep hungry. Even in the United States of America and it's little Northern sister Canada, there are an alarming number of needy folks who don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labors on a regular basis. In these hard times, an alarming 15% of Americans are struggling to put food on the table while numbers are similarly skyrocketing in Canada.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is just a week away and the terrifically terrifying Black Friday trails close behind. Maybe instead of spending insane dollars on crap we don't need we can direct those funds towards a good cause. Just like we did last year, we're going to persuade you to (read: guilt you into) donating cash or food to your local food banks or, even better, volunteering at your local soup kitchen.

Food banks operate year-round, not just during the holidays, and are constantly in need of volunteers and donations. Things have not been easy with companies and individuals cutting back on their charity AND more and more people showing up hungry on a daily basis. So please, do what you can and ignore that nonsense from the MLB marketing department. You DON'T need a Cleveland Indians themed Rubiks Cube as much as your neighbor needs a bowl of soup and some bread.

But hey, some of us are busy bees buzzing around the hive and we don't have time to volunteer. Lucky for you, these places take credit card donations over the Internet. Once again, here's a nearly complete list of food banks in MLB cities. Pick your favorite.

If your city or town isn't represented here, head on over to Feeding America. Thanks for reading; let's hope that by the time we all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, there are millions of folks who can take their names off the list of the hungry.

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Kris at Flickr)

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Mike Scioscia, who led his Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim to a tidy division title despite the untimely loss of one of his employees, won the AL Manager of the Year award. Jim Tracy, who led his Colorado Rockies to a tidy Wild Card spot despite the untimely mishandling of the team by his predecessor Clint Hurdle, took the NL Manager of the Year award.

Ron Gardenhire finished second in the AL despite "doing so much with so little". You hear that, Joe Mauer? You're inconsequential to the success of your squadron! Some old fart did all the heavy lifting!

The Manager of the Year award is the least analytical of any post-season award doled out by the BBWAA, which is why I cannot allow myself to critique their choices. Go ahead! Reward some middle-aged greaseballs for screwing up the least. Managerial moves aren't strategically that important to the outcome of a game anyway.

wow.annabensonclaus.jpg With retailers already stocking Christmas decorations and Christmas specials already airing on TV, it's time your friends at Walkoff Walk got into the act! Let's kick off the Christmas season by mercilessly mocking this article from MLB.com about the Virtual Catalog.

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love...

When the Virtual Catalog launches at the MLB.com Shop -- signaling the official start to another season of holiday shopping.

I swear this is the actual opening to an article about what overpriced products you should buy from Major League Baseball this Christmas.

When you put out the Forever Collectibles Holiday Decor. It's still early so let's get right to those ornaments, snow globes, stockings, candy canes and whatever else you might need to get your home into holiday mode -- baseball-style. It's what many of your fellow fans are doing right this second, and these essentials start at only $14.99.

Forget the recession, people. This year, you're going to give all your money to Major League Baseball and its related properties. I mean, really: What sport goes better with early winter holidays than baseball!

When you need the official site to be sure, when you know it's safe and easy, when you need help navigating the upcoming shipping deadlines. The MLB.com Shop will make it easy for you to manage these. Guaranteed To Get There reminders will keep you organized if you push things to the deadline, as so many of us do.

Holy crap, he's still going on the "Christmas Waltz" theme. Yes, that Carpenters' song really does have a lot to do with Guaranteed To Get There Reminders. I am also extremely excited that MLB.com will be there for me just in case I push things to the last minute, as many of us often do.

When a new World Champion drives the momentum, and that is happening right now with the much-anticipated "27 Collection" arriving at the MLB.com Shop. Order the Yankees 27-Time World Series Champions cap or maybe a 27-Time Dynasty T-shirt. The line that will feature fleece, tees, fitted caps, jackets and hoody items, adding to the largest selection of title products in sports history.

I have to tell you, I've been anticipating this 27 Collection for months now. I was all, "Man, I hope the Yankees win the World Series, because then there might be a collection of merchandise involving the number 27." I am impressed that it's the largest selection of title products in sports history, too; last year I bought a pair of Philadelphia Phillies World Series Champion pajama pants. What other products could they have added?

You'll be happy to know the Carpenters' parody is over, and it's time for some marketing-speak.

"The idea behind this is to own Black Friday as far as licensed sports apparel is concerned," Howard Smith, senior vice president of licensing at Major League Baseball Properties, told Sports Business Journal. "None of us really imagined 27 would be what consumers would be focusing on, but since it is, that's where our focus will be."

Hey! Howard Smith! Did you just see what I wrote above? I've been hoping for 27-themed championship apparel since at least July. I am a marketing genius! Hire me! You'd be able to own Black Friday every year, even if it doesn't fall on a day that's coincidentally the same number of World Series championships the Yankees have won. (Last year's Phillies "November 2" sale was a bit too early.)

It's that time of year...

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I say the "Christmas Waltz" parody was over? Ha. It actually continues for 15 more paragraphs, one of which is just, "When babies enter the baseball fold." (Yes, on MLB's site the word "babies" links to baby apparel, but c'mon.) Other exciting products include a Hideki Matsui 2009 World Series MVP Mini Dirt Collage. Is dirt (sorry, "game-used dirt") really all that exciting?

Let's just go to the last paragraph.

Right now, baseball season has given way to holiday shopping season. The Virtual Catalog is here. Soon enough it will be Black Friday, leading right into that wonderful Cyber Monday excitement on Nov. 30, and then one shipping deadline after another on into the magical holidays of December, when the presents are unwrapped.

That's about right. If you're wondering, it is, in order: baseball, holiday shopping, the Holiday of Black Friday, the Holiday of Cyber Monday, shipping deadline #1, shipping deadline #2, magical holidays of December. And pretty soon, it'll be time for Spring Training!

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Kansas City starting pitcher Zack Greinke has won the American League Cy Young Award thanks to a superior and dominant season despite a lack of support from a poorly assembled Royals team. Greinke received 25 of 28 first place votes for a whopping 134 total points.

Look, he beat out Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, Jon Lester, and Justin Verlander, each who had outstanding years of their own that, translated back a season, probably would have beaten 2008's winner Cliff Lee. King Felix actually posted a lower ERA than any AL Cy Young winner of the past decade not named Pedro, but Greinke came in half a run lower than Hernandez. That's just how awesome he was.

But only Greinke led the league in ERA, WHIP, and fewest homers allowed, finishing second in strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts, and leading the world in columns penned about his battle with depression. Yep, we just fell face first into that trap by mentioning his infinite sadness, something completely secondary to his pitching prowess.

No matter, Greinke can now be referred to solely as "Cy Young winner Zack Greinke" and not "Poster boy for the human condition Zack Greinke" in the official WoW stylebook. Kudos!

workersunite.jpgGiven all the talk about baseball economics and unfair advantages afforded to deep-pocketed clubs, and Chief Wahoo's passionate screed and the equally dismissive passionate commentary that followed, I thought I'd take a couple ideas I've had kicking around my head and see if we can't think of a way to make the draft process work for everyone. This is especially important these days when the economic disparity is so great (between teams that own their own TV networks and those that must pay to get their games on local TV.)

It is a most delicate process, as the interests of keeping the field level for small market teams must be tempered by the union and its fight to ensure the players are "fairly compensated." As an unapologetic Canadian pinko, there is no way in hell I'm interested in imposing a hard slotting system on player bonuses as in the NBA, because Andrea Bargnani ain't no Lebron James just as Bryan Bullington ain't no Stephen Strasburg.

Without overhauling the entire basis of baseball business, how can even the playing field for teams handcuffed by penny-pinching owners? One simple way: allow trading draft picks.

One of the main complaints about the existing slotting system (merely a guideline and often dismissed out of hand) is it prevents struggling clubs from drafting the best players available to them as they are unable to meet their bonus/salary demands. If we allow draft picks to be traded, teams can either select the best player(s) or entertain offers from teams more in the stud's price range. As I see it, allow trading draft picks until 2 weeks after the signing deadline, currently August 15th. If a potential trading partner is willing to work with the agent's number, the drafting team can sweeten the pot. If the unsigned player isn't traded, he goes back into the draft with the original drafting team receiving the current level of compensation.

This is seemingly minor change that could benefit all teams. The big spenders can still flex their might but the little guys have more leverage. The draftees don't have to sacrifice much aside from the increased chance of playing in Pittsburgh. Giving quoteunderfundedunquote teams the opportunity to draft the best available players is really all anyone can expect of any amateur draft.

The international draft scene is rife with landmines (seriously, the Cambodian baseball association is an international force!) and attempting to impose North American labor law didn't work where my shoes, jeans, computer, car, hat, phone, or food were made, why would it work in baseball?

Full draft rules and regulations available here (Wikipedia. Shhh).

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Because Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan hit .321 on the season, highest among NL rookies and in the top five overall, the good folks at BBWAA decided to award him with the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year award. Nevermind the fact that Pirates rookie outfielder Andrew McCutchen outplayed him in every single important aspect of the game: smacking more taters, recording more outfield assists, covering more range in the field, stealing more bases, drawing more walks and doing a far better hip bump. All this with 70 fewer plate appearances.

Because, you see, Chris Coghlan had a decent batting average. Above .300. That's really good and doesn't require any voter to look past the most basic of statistics to really evaluate who the better player was in 2009. You can accuse me of tilting at windmills here, but upon hearing that McCutchen did not win this award, my first reaction is to go mount my horse and take on those horrid giants.

In the American League, Oakland closer Andrew Bailey picked up the award because BBWAA voters know that throwing one inning in 26 wins is more important than, you know, starting 30 games and pitching 180 innings like his teammate, fellow rookie Brett Anderson, or like Tigers phenom Rick Porcello. Or fielding with aplomb and helping his team improve their miserable glovework like the Rangers' Elvis Andrus.

The Walkoff Walk 2009 Thievin' Creampuff Awards

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I understand the following is sort of arbitrary and doesn't mean that much. OR DOES IT????

I took the top 50 position player salaries for 2009 and then I divided them by games played. It's one thing to get injured alot. It's an entirely nother thing to be a dole ridin' Puff who sits at home eating bon bons while your brothers take on the Diamondbacks.

Follow me after the jump as we single out 2009's Paper Tiger.

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Just like last week I'll leave you with an inherently hysterical image. This time it's courtesy of the other fearless leader, Kris, who noticed that there was something rather unusual about Todd Helton's Baseball-Reference page, hastily screen-grabbed with terrible MS Paint above. Click to embiggen...

I suppose this nickname inspires more fear than had they named him after that character on Scrubs. However, it does little to alleviate the problem of a rapidly growing pile of horrible nomenclatures emanating from Colorado.

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Matt Holliday is really quite good at this thing called "baseball." Attempts to catch meaningful fly balls with his taint aside, the dude can flat out hit. Yes, I am being Captain Obvious, but I feel it's a necessary frame of reference to begin eviscerating myself for a mistake I made. In this post in my other domain, I argue that if the Yankees were to pursue a free agent outfielder, it should be Bay and not Holliday because of roster flexibility down the road. I still maintain that to be true, but in a moment of stupidity, I rather ham-handedly say that Matt Holliday's time in Oakland was "underwhelming" and a poor indicator of his ability to hit in the AL.

I did some digging and was even angrier at myself because his 120 OPS+ in white and green is nothing to sneeze at. If anything, I allowed myself to be blinded by his unusually low BA, and how monstrous his return to the NL was. I am sorry, Matt Holliday.

I mention being blinded by his batting average because, of course, as I am often wont to do when looking at stats, I started considering a lot of the numbers on the page and noticed a larger trend: Holliday's BABIP has been consistently high throughout his career. Save for his brief tenure in Oakland, it has never been below .330. It's no wonder that the dip to .315 on balls in play he saw in Oakland was mirrored by his substantially lower average. After more digging, I noticed something else about Holliday's tenure with the Athletics: his swing percentages were substantially lower than some of his best years, especially on offerings in the zone that a good hitter like him would probably deliver on. As soon as he got back to the NL, he started swinging with a higher frequency and the results were truly impressive. In short, the Matt Holliday we were seeing in Oakland, was not really the same mashing outfielder we thought we knew.

Here's the thing though, a lot of times people will talk about certain BABIP figures as being "unsustainable," partly because of the sheer luck factor that is associated with the number. While Holliday certainly isn't the only one who is "guilty" of consistently boasting a high number in this category, do you think he can sustain this fuel for his impressive numbers, or is his new team, who will have shelled out a fat contract to get him, going to get closer to the .286 hitter instead of the .300+ hitter?

Whither The Love For Mike Cameron?

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I was perusing the SI.com archives from Jon Heyman (aka The Boras Propaganda Machine) and found myself re-reading his nominations for the top 20 MLB free agents going into 2010. The names you'd expect were all featured about where they should have been, but one name struck me as conspicuously absent: Mike Cameron. I whined about Cameron not getting a meaningless Gold Glove in the comments a few nights back, but I really am surprised the guy isn't getting more love as a short-term, cost-effective free agent option because that's exactly what he is.

Yes, Mike Cameron will be 37 years old in the 2010 season, but what he did as a 36 year old in 2009 cannot be understated: 24 HR, .346 wOBA, 111 OPS+, .202 ISO, and he played a stellar defense (to the tune of a 10.3 UZR/150) despite being "aged" by most modern baseball standards. What's not to like about that? Sure, he's no Franklin Gutierrez, but then again, few people are. And remember, before there was Franklin Gutierrez becoming the veritable death of any flying object, there was Mike Cameron doing the exact same thing.

I think part of the reason why I'm so perturbed by Heyman's lack of candor for Mike Cameron stems from the fact that he does give Rick Ankiel an "honorable mention" after his list. Really? He of the .288 wOBA? Not to mention his defensive abilities are nowhere near Cameron's. Saying that Ankiel has "fall down range" might be a bit generous. In other words, Rick Ankiel wishes he was Mike Cameron.

The rumors have it that Cameron is seeking a one year deal for about $7-8 million. Considering he was a 4.0+ WAR player and "worth" over $18 million in production for the Brewers each of these past two seasons, there would hopefully be many a smart GM leaping at the chance to add this man to his team. Let's see if the fella starts getting some love.

Come on along with Dave Lee of WCCO Radio as he takes you on a personal tour of the Minnesota Twins' new ballpark, Target Field! Open air baseball in Minneapolis? Sure!


Seats that hang over the playing field? Obstructed views in the right field seats? A Budweiser party deck? These things sound like planning mistakes to me.

Radiant heaters? Ash wood back seats? Pork chop on a stick? Sign me up, now you're talking a ballpark with character!

For a more folksy, genteel tour of the park without any of that newfangled video, Minnesota Public Radio has got you covered.

Bat Attack Roundup: Friday November 13, 2009

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Boy it's sure been a long time since we did a Bat Attack Roundup. Since these things were instituted in the hopes of keeping our readers safe, I guess that means we just don't care about you that much any more. I kid!

But, what better time to bring it back than Free For All Friday? To recap, these are recent crimes committed by people wielding baseball bats. Dozens of these occur each week, but I leave out the ones where people die or are in critical condition. As always information leading to the arrest of Dark Llord Graeme Lloyd will be rewarded. And awaaaaaaaay we gooooo!

  • A Terre Haute, IN man described as a "habitual traffic offender" (do they make a patch for that?) breaks into a woman's home then takes a few cuts at The Fuzz before trying to flee the scene on a bicycle. At least he's not breaking traffic laws anymore!

  • In Thurston County, WA an afternoon friendly was disrupted when a bunch of dudes with baseball bats chased another dude across the pitch. Hey, you're not supposed to use your hands! According to the article: "A deputy with gang expertise is investigating whether the beating might have been gang-related." YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO USE EVERY DROP OF THAT EXPERTISE ON THIS ONE, BARNEY FIFE.

  • In England, some poor chap was just taking a stroll when a couple of lads sidled up to him in broad daylight and hit him in the stomach with a bat. I didn't even know they had bats over there. They took nary a schilling from him and he seems to be doing okay. But the best part of the story is that the ne'er do wells approached him with one man on a motorcycle and the other in a Ford Fiesta!

  • And finally, in Gloucester, VA a man got a Halloween surprise when he opened his door for some trick treaters... and was promptly maced and pulled sharply down the left field line. The man, Nathan "Family" Matter struggled with the attacker, who was dressed as Michael Myers, but they got away. The next day, police identified and arrested the perpetrator. It was his ex girlfriend, Angela Hart, who he had broken up with just a week before. Here's the essential video, in which Nate is covering his busted melon with a Yankees cap. Been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for this guy.
 


Your Classic TV post for today features the Joe McCarthy era Yankees of Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Gomez, and Tommy Heinrich going up against the Casey Stengel era Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer, and Billy Martin in this episode of Sports Challenge from 1972.

Dick Enberg hosted Sports Challenge, a pretty straight-forward question-and-answer team quiz show. They show a clip of a sporting event, then ask a question about it. Besides Enberg, the only surviving person from this clip is Henrich, the fifth oldest former MLB player and the only surviving member of the 1938 World Champion Yankees.

I think the most impressive thing about this clip is that the distance to the gap in left center at Old Yankee Stadium used to be a whopping 402 feet . No wonder the right-handed DiMaggio never made it to 400 homers.

Head on over to Kliph Nesteroff's Classic Television Showbiz blog to see the rest of the episode, including a special mystery guest at the end that neither team can identify.



Courtesy of a million different sports blogs but specifically the good folks at No Mas comes this spectacular animated interview with Dock Ellis, he of the no-hitter pitched while stoned on acid. James Blagden did a heckuva good job putting this video together. Please to enjoy.

Further reading on Ellis.

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An umpire's job is difficult and thankless. Thanks to the miracle of instant replay, however, we also know an umpire's job is also incredibly easy to screw up, even at the highest level (Major League Baseball) at the most important time (the playoffs).

Earlier this year, I called for expanded instant replay (and maybe even an automated strike zone) after the umps blew the call on the play of the year. We've had home runs replayed for a year and a half now; it seems to have gone pretty well. Without replay, A-Rod's World Series homer remains a double, Cole Hamels doesn't implode, and the Phillies win in five. (Perhaps this is a bit of conjecture on my part.)

But the stupidest thing about baseball replay (and pro football, and the NBA) is that the referees themselves have to go over to a television and make the decisions themselves. In baseball, they have to go run down the dugout steps to go watch the replay on a little hut. In football, they have a ridiculous hood.

Instant replay systems in American sports seem to be designed with one goal in mind: Let's not hurt the official's feelings. This is stupid. If an ump or ref doesn't want his feelings hurt, he can either (a) realize officiating is hard and live with making mistakes or (b) not make any damn mistakes.

My instant replay system is simple. It adds a new video replay umpire, who will be responsible for all disputed calls. It's so simple I can illustrate where the new ump will be using a simple field graphic (field used: Veterans Stadium).

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Yes, the new ump will be somewhere not on the field! "But who will managers yell at?!" you'll ask, and I'll say, "No one, because most of the bad calls will be fixed by replay and we can finally end this stupid 'tradition' of managers getting in an umpire's face and calling him a cocksucker."

The replay ump will be somewhere in the stadium. He'll be able to talk to the umps on the field and maybe even have a direct line to the league office to ask questions if he gets confused. He'll have a direct line to the nearest concession stand so someone can bring him a soda if he gets thirsty. The umps can buzz him if they want a play reviewed, or the replay umpire can institute it himself. If the ump on the field has a problem with his call being overturned, he can go to hell.

Coaches won't get any challenges, because the replay ump (and his assistant, me) will make sure the close plays get reviewed, up in the booth. If there's no change needed, there might not even be a slowdown or stoppage in play. A quick check upstairs to see if that double was a homer... and, look, it wasn't, let's just have play continue. Just because pro football reviews are slow and painful doesn't mean baseball reviews need to be. With an extra ump doing the work (and me, whipping him to go faster), this system should be pretty good. We'll install extra cameras pointing at all the bases, too, just to keep this system as thorough as possible.

How much would this slow the game down? Undoubtedly, some. How much? Tim McCarver thinks roughly two hours. Someone with a sense of time (me) will go with: Five, ten minutes a game at most. Maybe -- maybe! -- fifteen if there are a bunch of particularly close calls. Look, baseball is a slow game already. Isn't doing things right better than doing things fast?

If you really want to speed up baseball, simply ban Jorge Posada from playing the sport ever again.

So what'll be up for review in this new system? Everything (except balls, strikes and balk calls, another matter entirely). Everything! Calls at first base. Fair/foul calls. Possible dropped fly balls. Calls at second base. Possible dropped third strikes. Calls at third base. Calls at home plate!

Right: The truth is, there really isn't much to review during a baseball game. and instituting replay could be extremely painless. Of course, baseball is not interested in even discussing expanded replay, for fear it would make so much sense they would have to do it.

I admit, I do not understand the traditionalists' approach. "We want those calls wrong!" they argue. To me, we should keep the good traditions (hot dogs, mascots, getting stoned in the parking lot before the game) and get rid of the bad ones (incorrect calls, ridiculously dirty batting helmets, Jorge Posada) in order to make the game better and more enjoyable.

But I should toss in a caveat about instant replay: In my research for this article (read: Googling for 2 minutes), I did come across a comment on this blog entry that summed up the anti-replay argument succinctly:

Ted Williams didn't need a video/computer assist to hit the damn ball, so why should umpires be saddled with such dubious "assistance" to make calls?

The video cameras are in on it, people. First they get their claws (err, tripods) on baseball, then they take over the world. Perhaps my replay plan isn't as good as I thought.

1080px version of "Ad Council" baseball replay ad

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The last time we wrote a screed against collusion it was to defend (for the umpteenth time) the honor of Barry Bonds. A year later, we're talking about it because new MLBPA head Michael Weiner is accusing owners of colluding through new ways: the media we all love and trust so much.

Weiner accuses anonymous club officials of whining to the newspapermen about the lack of money available to spend on free agents this winter and their inability to spend dollars on salary arbitration with their own players, thus creating the illusion that baseball teams are bankrupt and incapable of paying Matt Holliday his just desserts.

He cited an ESPN blog item by Buster Olney that implied teams would be cutting loose a bunch of veteran players to flood the market, thus depressing demand for the services of the rest of the free agent players and creating a situation that was far more favorable to the teams. This would be similar to Drew, Dmac, Kris, and I creating twenty more baseball blogs that printed recipes for baked goods and showed babies in animal costumes. What value would there be for WoW in that case?

Sayeth Weiner:

"I don't think it's an accident that in recent weeks, management officials, without attribution, have been making predictions about what's going to happen in this year's free-agent market," Weiner said. "There have been predictions about the [money] players will get, what players will be offered [salary] arbitration and what players will be non-tendered [contracts].

"If we could prove there was a plan by management to use the press to try to depress free-agent salaries, in our view that would be a violation of our contract," he said.

Some folks might cast an incredulous sneer at Weiner for using the C-word and DARING to question the sanity of poor baseball teams for opting to be frugal in these dire days of downturn and dread.. But c'mon! Baseball has never been more popular or more profitable while teams are finding brand new revenue streams in every virtual nook and cranny. To associate the high salaries of players with the greed of the owners is simply misplacing one's displeasure with the 'system'.

Baseball players are just like you and me, except with exceptional talent, millions of dollars, and the adoration of fans everywhere. All I have is the talent and adoration! I digress: they deserve to make an honest buck, too, and whether that's 20 million bucks or 600,000 bucks, it's well-deserved.

There is a perception by most fans that player salaries are directly related to the amount of money it costs them to attend a ballgame. While salaries make up a vast portion of expenditures of the typical MLB team, the fact that your favorite team is lowering their payroll by 20% does not mean that your 20 ounces of foamy American lager is going to drop from $7.50 to $6.00. These things are not related.

At the tip of the so-called Xtreme Depression in the spring of 2008, the average ticket prices went up 10%. This past spring, right in the midst of the Xtreme Depression, the average ticket prices still went up 5%, with only a handful of teams slicing prices by more than 7%. Yet baseball attendance between 2008 and 2009 dipped by only 6%, much of which can be written off by reduced capacity in the two new stadiums in baseball's biggest market.

There are definitely teams struggling financially and in no reason should they be criticized for circling the wagons and taking new approaches towards the changes in the economy. Lowering ticket prices and putting deals out there (like the Brewers did last year) should be step one, but purposely cutting payroll and refusing to field a competitive team in the name of a recession is simply ridiculous. For baseball teams to feign a lack of interest in the handful of big names on the market is simply dishonest.

But hey, maybe I just wanted a chance to show you a baby in a money bag.

golden-toilet.jpgIt was just over one year ago that frustration out of the annual Gold Glove shitshow prompted the Walkoff Walk Gilded Leather Awards. We handed out awards to the fielders we felt were best at each of their positions and leagues.

Bill James and his cadre of rosin-stained wretches awarded their Fielding Bible Awards Silk Gloves already this offseason. The traditional Gold Glove winners are set to drop at noon today and, to be frank, I don't have high hopes. Defensive stats are gaining more and more acceptance in the mainstream media, but that won't stop our favorite coaches and managers from pretty much ignoring their existence and voting based on who made the most recent diving catch. Not that Derek Sanderson Jeter isn't due a good feting after his long climb up the long mountain named "mediocrity", but I'd like to think the Gilded Leather awards are about more than lifetime achievement.

I've looked at stats and I've looked at "tape." As stated before, I don't want this to be a purely mechanical pursuit. If the numbers check out and my gut agrees; congrats. You're the proud owner of Gilded Leather. To the listicle!

National League
  • Yadier Molina - C
  • Albert Pujols - 1B
  • Chase Utley - 2B
  • Rafael Furcal - SS
  • Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
  • Colby Rasmus - OF
  • Matt Kemp - OF
  • Nyjer Morgan - OF
American League
  • Kurt Suzuki - C
  • Kevin Youkilis - 1B
  • Aaron Hill - 2B
  • Elvis Andrus - SS
  • Evan Longoria - 3B
  • Carl Crawford - OF
  • Franklin Gutierrez - OF
  • Franklin Gutierrez - OF

Quite a few hold-overs from last year. Yadier Molina at the top is tough to argue, he throws out a high percentage though so few souls are brave enough to run on him. I was tempted to replace Albert Pujols with one of Adrian Gonzalez or Derrek Lee, but Pujols showed so much range and ability to reach balls that most first baseman don't I couldn't bring myself to do it. Chutley wins again because Chutley should always be winning something. There is a tremendous amount of joy to be gained watching Rafael Furcal fire rockets across the infield. Ryan Zimmerman is a lonely, lonely man who needs our love and affection. The outfield choices were tough, but Colby Rasmus is an exciting player to watch, as is the studly Matt Kemp. Nyjer Morgan gets the nod for his overwhelming numbers and I feel that if he isn't showered with praise for his glovework, the ghost of Jim Bowden might hire a power hitting fire hydrant to play centerfield for the Nats.

Believe you-me, nothing pains me more than giving Kevin Youkilis credit for anything. That said, he's a damn fine first baseman, a decent third baseman, and a trooper for playing left field in a pinch. Aaron Hill gets the nod at second base because I'm allowed at least one homer pick, might as well use it on a guy that deserves it. Honorably mentions to all the guys with higher UZR's that can go pound salt. Elvis Andrus gets the Nyjer Morgan Award for Defensive Guy that Needs Recognition for his Defense Lest his Entire Existence be Invalidated. Also, his name is Elvis! Evan Longoria wins the award for third because soon every baseball award, event, and statistic will be named after him. The Evan Longoria Honorary Arbitration Selloff Contract. The Evan Longoria Reliever of the Week. The Evan Longoria Drug Test. The Evan Longoria Scorers Decision Error, brought to you by Evan Longoria.

You may notice a typo in the outfield. "Drew, you unoriginal boob, you listed Franklin Gutierrez twice." That is right, I did. Franklin Gutierrez is a smell test for the Gold Gloves and life in general. If he is not recognized for his insane play in the field, his ability to run down balls with ease that ALL others would be plucking out of the grass; then the whole system is invalid. I want to make sure we all appreciate Death to Flying Things and how much fun it is to watch him chase balls around vast green expanses.

No awards for pitchers this year because honestly, what's the point? Actually, scratch that. Because he played in both leagues and because he did this, Cliff Lee wins the Gilded Pitching Leather. It isn't really broken in and you can't expose your forefinger as God intended, but he still puts it to good use.

So there you have it. I expect all our beloved commenters and readers to chime in with their write-in votes which I will summarily dismiss. If you think giving one player two awards isn't fair, who would you tip for the final AL outfield slot? Is the Gold Gloves list going to look anything like this?

Carefully calculated amounts of Coca Cola to the glorious Hardball Times, the essential Fangraphs, and Bill James Online for the free sortable stats.

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Hold onto your hats, Walkoff Walk has decided to change its format for the upcoming long winter ahead. Instead of regurgitating rumours and printing vapidly pointless posts with ginormous blockquotes, we are going to switch to one post per day, with contributions from each member of the extended WoWie family.

After a bit of discussion, Kris and I have decided that this will help make the content at WoW a bit more original and deep. Translation: Dmac and Drew will continue to bring original and deep content while Rob and Kris will finally pull their weight at the website that bears their names.

From Monday to Thursday, you can expect a brand new original post from either Kris Liakos, Rob Iracane, Drew Fairservice, or Dan McQuade. On Friday, you'll get a free-for-all, with videos and whatnot and perhaps even some content from our new weekend guy 310toJoba. We'll post alliteratively-titled breaking news items seven days a week, of course, because when you find out that your favorite team just signed Fernando Rodney, you'll need a place to vent.

This means no more Tonight's Questions or Dutch Oven posts this offseason. (sad! I know!) But for our best commenters, don't let that prevent you from sharing your opinions on any topic in any post after hours. I'm not sure any of us can thrive without daily updates about what Chief Wahoo's dog is wearing.

Of course, you can always follow along with our super-scintillating-sensational bon mots on our assorted Twitter feeds, followable through one handy-dandy list. How else would you know that Corey Patterson was arrested in Boston?

Questions? Requests? Feel free to put 'em in the comments below or email tips.

Just in case you've forgotten by now, the Yankees won the World Series five days ago, prompting a veritable avalanche of parades, media appearances, and attendance at professional basketball games. First, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte visited Dave Letterman at the Late Show:


Note that Hideki Matsui doesn't appear until the end when he brings out the World Series trophy, ostensibly because Letterman doesn't interview folks who don't speak-a da language. C'mon Hideki, we all know you speak perfectly good Engrish. Sit on the damn couch and answer questions about your mysterious wife.

Later, CC Sabathia sat in for Jay Leno's awful 10@10 question-and-answer segment.


Sabathia handles himself well, mentioning my favorite TV show "The Amazing Race" as the show he'd most like to appear on and being kind to his vanquished opponents Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. But sheesh, to hear Leno mispronounce Rollins' name and struggle to deal with that satellite delay was quite painful.

Earlier, seven of the WFC Yankees strode into Madison Square Garden to scrimmage the New York Knickerbockers in some basket-ball; they beat the Knicks 52-33 in a half-court game. Melky Cabrera had 6 assists while Sabathia blocked eleventy-hundred shots.

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And of course, there was the big parade down the Canyon of Awesomeness in New York City, which was not live-glogged by any WoW commenters but apparently attended by some nattily-attired fans nonetheless. You stay classy, Tri-State area.

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There's our fearless leader checking in from his travels this weekend. OH WHAT A TIMELY ENCOUNTER WITH A BUILDING!

That's it for me this weekend, folks. Thanks again for your hospitality. If Rob isn't too busy hugging the best building evar he'll be back for you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Oh, and just to get this over with in true Deadspin fashion: "No."

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On Friday the Twins and Brewers completed a trade that sent Carlos Gomez to the land of cheese, and JJ Hardy to the place with the new stadium that nonsensically has no roof despite the local climates. On the surface, the move is the very definition of two teams selling low. Both players had seasons with the bat that were pretty horrific from the conventional standpoint. But let's take a little bit of a closer look and see if this is the case, shall we?

JJ Hardy is primarily known as a gloveman, but in recent years he's shown himself to be more than readily proficient with the stick. His 2009 hitting line is nothing to be proud of, but the idea that Hardy simply forgot what he was doing at the plate is too simplistic. First and foremost, even after his abysmal season, Hardy still boasts a career wOBA of .325.This isn't superb by any stretch of the imagination, but for a shortstop it's quite good at least by 2009 standards and certainly shows how Hardy isn't a total lost cause at the dish. Moreover, Hardy's lack of performance at the plate, at least from a batting average standpoint, was more likely fueled by a precipitous drop in his BABIP. If there is one thing to be concerned about, though, it was a similar drop in his LD%, indicating an inability to drive the ball.

Nevertheless, Hardy still boasts a good batting eye and since he doesn't turn 28 until August of 2010, it's reasonable to call 2009 "uncharacteristic" rather than claim it is part of a disturbing trend. Plus, Hardy's real value is with the leather. He plays to a superb 11.5 UZR/150 in his career (last season: 8.8). It was this proficiency with the glove that makes Hardy an especially worthwhile and productive member of a team. In fact, the shortstop still boasted a positive WAR despite his meager hitting. Many teams would probably covet such a slick fielding SS (oh hai, Drew), and if Hardy can rebound to anywhere close to his 2007 and 2008 numbers with the bat, the Twins could be looking mighty fine indeed at SS. At the very least, Hardy boasts such redeeming qualities as "not being Orlando Cabrera."

On the other hand, there's Carlos Gomez, the guy who was supposed to be the sparkplug for the Twins offense and was also considered an integral part of the Johan Santana trade. Needless to say, I don't think this is exactly what the Twins had in mind as Gomez was anything but productive at the dish in 2009, hitting for an abysmal average, and failing to get on base with alarming regularity. Unlike Hardy, Gomez' wOBA is nothing to write home about, and if he is going to be a productive run scorer for the Brewers, his ability to get on base is going to have to markedly change for the better. Like Hardy though, the outfielder's poor batting average was made worse by a drastic drop in his BABIP, so some better luck might make his basic statistics look prettier in 2010. Gomez also drives the ball very well, which with his speed lends itself very well to XBH and potential trips to home with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in the same lineup. Gomez also boasts a superb UZR/150, likely the result of his incredible wheels. Like his trade counterpart, his defense makes him slightly more valuable than a replacement player, but he has a lot of improving to do with the stick before he becomes a true impact player.

So this move definitely involved two teams selling low, but it appears that in both cases, the peripheral statistics indicate a potential for future performance that could yield a very nice reward. In my opinion, this is more likely to manifest itself with Hardy than with Gomez, but what do you think? Did one team vastly outsmart the other? And how are Twins fans likely to react once they realize they have to probably start Delmon Young in the OF again ?

(Image courtesy of Flickr user ryan.kane)

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While the Yankees World Series victory led to me experiencing unparalleled amounts of joy and lack of self-restraint, it also meant the end of the baseball season for what always seems like an eternity.

I think part of the reason that it hurts so much for baseball to be gone is the fact that the baseball season and playoffs are so long. In these months upon months, the fans are given the opportunity to develop substantive relationships with their team for a particular year, which makes baseball's abrupt and definitive exit all the more disruptive and saddening. At that point, as baseball is storming out of the house and taking the kids and the dog with it, we're left with little but a Madame Bovary-esque longing for our ideal world where baseball is always there to satisfy us. But in reality this just isn't possible, and so we wait while Spring Training approaches with a pace that would make snail baby blush in embarrassment.

So what can you do to help survive the offseason? Come with me after the jump and we'll explore some tried and true methods.

Weekend Questions

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Yes, tomorrow is an off-day for Walkoff Walk as we rest on our petards and get hoisted by our labors while enjoying the fruits of our laurels. Mixing metaphors on vacation days has never felt so good! 310toJoba might pop in over the weekend and we'll be back live on Monday. Same WoW channel.

(photo borrowed gently from Duk's Flickr stream and his Stew Slideshow)

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As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.

Previously, Franklin Gutierrez, Garrett Jones, Danny Haren, Shin Soo Choo, Wandy Rodriguez, Adrian Gonzalez, Pablo Sandoval, Javier Vazquez, Russell Branyan, Ben Zobrist, Adam Lind and Prince Fielder.

Up next, every single baseball player.

So, this is what the kids are calling "the offseason" nowadays. Thanks to all the writers who contributed essays to the "This Guy Is Playing Golf" series which is now coming to a close. Because, you see, every single baseball player is either headed to the golf course or saving folks on highways or off to the Letterman show. Such is the nature of the beast.

There's no way we can say we discovered any of these guys or even improved their Q rating a bit. But still, over the past month full of Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels, and the rest, it was fun to focus a bit on the players on the fringe of the mainstream or the verge of superstardom. Or, perhaps some of them may never find success in the big leagues again after this season. But rest assured, they probably made at least a million dollars and have a tidy job at a car dealership waiting for them when they retire.

Really, the best part of this series was imagining a foursome of Pablo Sandoval, Javy Vazquez, Prince Fielder, and Shin Soo Choo out on Pebble Beach taking in eighteen holes. The fat plaid pants on Fielder would be hilarious enough to tide me over for an entire winter.

The John Sterling worship blog It Is High, It Is Far, It Is....Caught spent the 2009 season recording and rating the Yankee announcer's victory calls, aka the win warble. Last night's World Series clincher was a real doozy, topping the previously unheard of 10 second mark and shattering eardrums from the Bronx to the Battery, from Tarrytown to Tampa, and from Hartford to Hoboken.

To wit:


It's like they invented the word "caterwaul" specifically for this moment. But hey, I loves me some John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. What's that, you say they are unabashed homers? Oh yeah? Name one radio announcer outside of Vin Scully who isn't. Exactly, it's the nature of the beast. At least John and Suzyn are professionals who do a heck of a job illustrating the game through the spoken word.

I've listened to radio announcers across this great land for years on the satellite and, with the exception of Scully and maybe Joe Castiglione, none of them can hold a candle to Sterling and Waldman. Despite Waldman's one emotionally-challenged Roger Clemens moment and Sterling's affinity for quoting lyrics from 1940's Broadway musicals, there is no greater pair on the radio today.

Yes, I will be making my maiden voyage to Cooperstown at some point in the next twelve months just to see Suzyn's scorecard from last night. It's far more interesting an artifact than Brian Bruney's jock strap.

Oh What a Save By Girardi!

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As if having the gumption (and resources) to go an entire postseason with a three-man rotation wasn't enough for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, he had to go and play the role of real-life hero by coming to the aid of a motorist in need. A lady driver from Connecticut, naturally:

On his way home from winning the World Series, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi stopped to help a woman who had lost control of her car on the Cross County Parkway and crashed into a wall.

The area is notorious for its blind spots, and Girardi, who had parked his car along the right side of the parkway, and then run across the traffic to get to the injured motorist, put his life at risk, police said.

"He could have gotten killed," county Sgt. Thomas McGurn said, adding that responding police units take extra precaution in that area because of the blind curve and speeding cars. "Traffic goes by at 80 mph."

I've driven on that road at night after Yankees games and can attest to the danger involved when it's dark and there are idiot New York and Connecticut drivers speeding around blind curves like madmen. Yes, I am a New Jersey driver complaining about the aggressive driving habits of residents of other states. Enjoy the delicious irony.

Via our pals at the 700 Level, here's a peek into the losing manager's presser. But with a real baseball gentleman like Charlie Manuel, you really can't tell that this is a dude who feels sad and sorry that his team just lost. No wonder Phillies fans idolize a man who has the confidence to say that his team will be back and the brass ones to hope it's against the Yankees:


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One of the benefits (or occupational hazards) of being a sports writer is hanging out in the locker room after a team clinches a championship and indulges in some ridiculously Bacchanalian celebration. Big League Stew's 'Duk was there to witness the wildings in the Yankees clubhouse last night and captured perhaps the most excellent photo sequence of the postseason. Go enjoy the entire photo essay.

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Last night, the scrappy, upstart Yankees took down the defending World F'in Champions in a 7-3 game that was never really that close. With the win, the Yanks took the World Series four games to two and, within minutes of receiving the trophy, began speculating on how to dissect and construct the team for the 2010 season. I think it's ridiculous that fans can actually walk away from their favorite team's clinching game and chat about whether Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui will be back. I know because I was one of those ridiculous fans.

But the moment persists nonetheless. Having the opportunity to witness the 2009 New York Yankees on a firsthand basis is rivaled only by that of the 1996 team in terms of specialness. A handful of years where they came up just short will do that to you. But when a season culminates by the team recording an out and piling into a pinstriped mess of humanity, you sit back as a fan and think, "I chose correctly for once". Can you imagine that? Validating yourself by the mere fact that your preferred professional sports team was successful? I think it's ridiculous and yet here I sit with a shit-eating grin on my face.

As a co-proprietor of a general interest (read: hipster foodie) baseball blog, it's been difficult at times to keep my Yankee biases and fandom at bay during our nearly two-year run. In fact, I completely threw out any sense of caution a month ago and simply blogged as if I were some kind of deranged hack fan. Yet while I got to cheer my team on, it became more and more difficult to write about baseball as the playoffs progressed. So, I apologize to you, dear reader, if I didn't feed you with enough silliness from the outer reaches.

In Walkoff Walk's offseason, we will spend some time figuring out the future of our blog and perhaps return in a completely different format. So, there will be more Pirates and Mariners coverage in the not-so-distant future, but for now, please allow me to spend some time taking a fan's victory lap. Wow, that sounds just as lame as I thought it would.

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Good game tonight, folks. As I enjoy the car ride home from the Bronx, my thoughts turn to the WoWies and my best pal Kris. Watching my favorite team win the World Series was fun but nothing compares to sharing my joy with dozens and dozens of our readers. Kudos to my Phillies fans friends too, especially my sister and darling niece. Most of all, I want to thank my dad for taking me to games for over 25 years now. Go Jankees!

See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Wombat With Superman TieIf you're interested in seeing an old man with a ridiculously inflated ego get his last moment in the spotlight, Bill Cosby receives the Mark Twain Prize tonight on your local PBS station.

If you're looking for high drama with a deeply overpaid crew of talent, "Mercy" airs on NBC at 8 pm ET.

If you want to see a crotchety old guy lose control of his family or two grown men very close to each other fight over the right way to do anything, "Modern Family" is on ABC at 9 pm ET.

If you're intrigued by famous old ghosts haunting new relics, the Ghost Hunters team is hunting Buffalo Bill tonight on Syfy at 9 pm ET as well.

If you want all that and wombats, you need the Walkoff Walk liveglog of Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. That follows after the jump.

(If you want boomer-age women embarrassing themselves, stick with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss or Courtney Cox unless you live somewhere that you can hear Suzyn Waldman.)

Tonight's Question

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  • THEY don't shoot 37- or 38-year-old pitchers who lose Game Six, do they?

Tuffy is your liveglogger of choice tonight. Treat him the same way you treat me or Catshirt. Wait, no, treat him in the same way you'd treat a human being you actually respect. Same WoW channel.

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Because my brain is not functioning in a way that allows me to formulate thoughts and transform them into sentences and paragraphs, I will take a cue from The Big Lead and squirt out a listicle for you to peruse and enjoy. Here within I present An Incomplete List of Things I Cannot Deal With Today:

  • Questions regarding whether Chase Utley should win the MVP if the Phillies lose.

  • Trying to predict Andy Pettitte's performance based purely on past results. What are we, sabermetricians or sabermagicians? Amirite?

  • Hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, garment-rending, and general incontinence.

  • First guessing, second guessing, third guessing, and advance told-you-so's

  • Talking about the weather, the Stadium design, and other things the players cannot affect

  • People asking me if I'm excited to go to the game tonight. No, I'm only going so I can take another picture with a Yahoo! blogger.

  • Predicting the outcome of the game based on what happened in nineteen dickety two.

  • Assumptions that the outcome of a parochial gubernatorial race somehow is evidence that a nation is dissatisfied with their elected leader.

  • Breathing.

  • The idea that an entire Stadium full of thirtysomething white males is somehow the father of a 57-year-old Dominican.

  • Nick Swisher

  • The idea that, for whatever reason, my otherwise friendly relationship with many Phillies fans may suffer for a while.

  • Curses, taboos, voodoo magick, and the assorted dark arts.

  • Not getting credit for calling the Pirates the next big thing.

  • Thinking it was a good idea to wear long underwear to work in advance of sitting outside in 30 degree weather for four hours tonight.

  • The thought that baseball will soon be temporarily gone from my life.


Look, we're all too exhausted -- mentally and physically -- to post anything right now. Here's a story about a catlady and a cat who ran onto Wrigley Field during a game. Other cats on field: Kauffman Stadium, U.S. Cellular Field, Citi Field

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Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla obviously did not take gun cleaning lessons from a professional. While hunting for the most dangerous game (I assume chickens) in his native Nicaragua on Tuesday, Padilla shot himself in the right leg and was later treated for a minor wound at a local hospital.

Katz described the incident as a "hunting accident," saying that Padilla was grazed in his right thigh by a bullet. Katz said that Padilla spent 30 to 40 minutes at a hospital and was discharged.

"He's fine," Katz said.

News reports out of Nicaragua stated that Padilla was hurt at a shooting range. At least two news outlets reported that Padilla was accidentally shot by his "escort," who was trying to fix Padilla's malfunctioning gun.

Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti sympathizes, having shot himself in the leg by forcing his team to start Padilla in a playoff elimination game on the road.

Tonight's Questions

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I just realized that last night was my final liveglog of the 2009 season. I'll be back at the South Bronx Applebee's tomorrow for the big game so our pal Tuffy will bring in the noise, bring in the photoshops. As for Game Seven...well...we'll cross that bridge when it gets named after Derek Jeter.

Rest up tonight; the 2009 baseball season and Walkoff Walk's coverage of the creature as we know it may end after tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

(photo source)

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. Today we learn the importance of a favorable umpire.

Much is being made of the Yankees decision to pitch A.J. Burnett on three days rest. The somewhat-erratic starter was electric in Game 2 but putrid in Game 5. While starting Chad Gaudin might sound like a good idea (when you ignore his struggles to retire left-handed batters), many are suggesting that Burnett was either awful or squeezed by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth. Which was it?

Before I get to the nitty gritty, understand I one thing: I started writing this post with hopes of absolving Burnett. I'm hardly an apologist for the Girardenius, I thought starting Burnett was the right move. The Yankees, currently in the driver's seat to becoming World Series champions, don't have a fourth or a fifth starter. Burnett pitched well in lower-leveraged situations on similar rest. There was no noticeable difference in his velocity (average fastball was 94.17 on Sunday night, 93.14 in Game 2.) What happened? Let's look at his stuff first.

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So we see A.J.'s movement in both games on one graph. Nothing really stands out. His curveball (in the bottom right) moved just as much as did his fastball (upper left. Four seamer above and two-seamer below). A few flatter curves last night but neither did any damage. One thing we can certainly see is far, far more curveballs during his 7 successful innings in game 2. How come? Find out after the jump!

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A year after turning the world on its ear and earning the World Series MVP award, Cole Hamels is struggling to get through 2009. In fact, he's so tired of his own poor pitching performances this season that he told reporters, "I can't wait for it to end" after getting knocked around by the Yankees over the weekend. After his team won Game 5 to send the Series back to New York, Hamels seems to have changed his tune and wants to be able to pitch Game 7, if the Phillies make it that far.

"Who wouldn't want the ball in Game 7?" Hamels said after the Phillies kept their season alive with an 8-6 win over the Yankees on Monday night. "This is the ultimate dream to be able to pitch in the most competitive situation anybody could ever be in -- that would be to be in Game 7 of the World Series. Even though I might not have the best results leading up to it, I've always wanted it."

Kudos to Cole for flip-flopping at the right moment; after all, if Hamels doesn't pitch Thursday, who else would? Joe Blanton on three days' rest? Cliff Lee on two days rest? Steve Carlton on 24 years rest? Cole has a chance to be the ultimate redemption story, bringing his team back to the promised land after a miserable year that will be most remembered for terrible TV commercials, and what better place than a pitchers park like Yankee Stadium?

Teammate Brett Myers, however, doesn't have patience for folks who sometimes speak before thinking. Via Tim Brown at Yahoo, here's the post-game scene from the home team clubhouse:

As Myers walked past Hamels near Hamels' locker he said, mocking, "What are you doing here? I thought you quit."

Hamels, the witness said, responded with an expletive.

Before the situation escalated, Myers was guided away by a team official.

Funny, last time I checked, Brett Myers has contributed far less than Hamels this year for the team. Hamels was still a 4 WAR pitcher while Myers actually finished with a negative WAR. The postseason has been none too kind to Hamels so far, but really: the biggest game one pitches is always his most recent. Just ask A.J. Burnett.

Brett Myers may fancy himself a team leader, but a true leader is typically the kind of guy who says positive things no matter how ridiculous they are, like Jimmy Rollins with his wacky predictions.

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It's Cliff Lee on full rest versus A.J. Burnett on three days' worth of rest in the bandbox park down in Philadelphia. Either both dudes will throw no-hitters or we're in for a night filled with too many tater tots.

In Yankees lineup nooze, typical center fielder Melky Cabrera is out for the rest of the Series with an ouchie hamstring and will be replaced in the lineup tonight by speedy Brett Gardner. The battery buddies Jose Molina and Burnett fill out the rest of the bottom of the lineup, making a terribly un-terrifying threesome for Lee to deal with. Ramiro Pena, who looks like he is 14 years old, replaces Melky on the 25 man roster.

This game is do-or-die for Phillies fans and the good people at Macy's. Yankees! Phillies! Livegloggery! I have a stomach bug so I might puke all over the laptop! You simply cannot lose! Unless for some reason you decide to watch football instead!


Looks like someone at the Philadelphia Inquirer used their jump-to-conclusions mat and ran this ad in today's newspaper. Click through to The 700 Level to see the full version of the poorly-timed ad.

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Kudos to our pal Matt P. for posting this despite the tidy three games-to-one lead that the Yankees took last night. If the Phillies come back and win, this will be the single greatest post in the entire history of the Philadelphiablogosphere.

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With the game tied at four and Phillies closer Brad Lidge on the mound with two outs in his back pocket, Johnny Damon's nine-pitch, ninth inning at bat seemed to be a turning point in the game. Fella fouled off a bunch of pitches and reached on a tidy single. That was a memorable play until Damon one-upped himself by stealing two bases on one Lidge pitch, thanks to the Phillies infield's shift towards the right side; those two stolen bases set up the winning run and granted Damon an entry on the all-time crazy World Series playlist, right behind the time Denny McLain did a line off the brim of Bill Freehan's helmet.

On the all-important stolen base play, three very important things happened. First, Damon used a nugget that he had in his back pocket for over a year. In 2008, Damon noticed how teams would shift when his former teammate Jason Giambi came to the dish and thought it'd be a good opportunity to swipe two bases in one fell swoop. Second, Brad Lidge failed to cover third base, leaving Pedro Feliz to chase hopelessly after Damon. Finally, with a runner on third, Brad Lidge could not throw his filthy breaking balls to Alex Rodriguez lest a wild pitch allowed Damon to score. A-Rod sat on a Lidge fastball and drove it to the wall, setting up the third Yankees win in a row.

Damon's play was smart, yes, but also risky. Had Damon been tagged out by Feliz or caught in a rundown, we'd be singing a different song today (besides "Poker Face", which I cannot get out of my head). Instead, the Yanks are now but one win away from a World Championship and Brad Lidge's 2008 mojo has been fully drained from his person.

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Country Joe Blanton and the Phils look to even this Fall Classic at two games apiece while CC Sabathia and the Yanks want to keep their winning streak alive and well. Some chunderheads think it's high time the Phillies pitchers throw at the Yankees hitters, especially after the way Nick Swisher admired his solo tater tot off Jay Happ as if it were a Manet watercolor. What, Alex Rodriguez' record-setting two HBP in last night's game were mere accidents? Harrumph.

No, the Phillies will do their best to win this thing the old-fashioned way: by not letting maryboy Cole Hamels anywhere near the pitching mound for the rest of the year.

Yankees! Phillies! Walkoff Walk! Be back here at 8:15 promptly and we'll get the livegloggery underway.


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In a game that was so unlike the first two in this series, let's look at who can really lay claim to being among the most important people.

  • Andy Pettitte, the batter: While Pettitte's performance on the mound was certainly admirable (but obviously not spectacular) in helping his team claim a 2-1 series lead, it was the lefty's work at the dish that was noteworthy and hysterical. Pettitte came to bat in the 5th with Swisher standing on second base ,and wouldn't you know it, he slapped a looping single into center that scored his teammate to tie the game at 3-3. That's right, Andy Pettitte, he of the 6 ABs total in 2009, and a lifetime .134 batting average, got the Yankees to a point from which they would never look back. Psh, and who said the Yankees would miss having a DH? Oh right, that was me. I am ashamed.

  • Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher: The two sleepiest bats on a team full of snoozy sticks woke up in grand fashion for Game 3. A-Rod hit a questionable homer that was righteously confirmed by instant replay, his first hit in the World Series after looking like a strikeout machine in Games 1 & 2. This homer off a camera in right field (conspiracy!) got the Yankees back into the game and shaved their deficit to only one run. From there, Swisher, the second member of the Redemption Squad, roped a double and was driven home by the aforementioned moment of Pettitte hilarity. Mr. Mohawk was not finished though, as he clubbed a homer to deep left in the 6th that put the Yankees up by a score of 6-3. I'm sure there are several Yankees fans hoping that these two keep hitting the way they do. At the very least, there are likely several artists hoping Alex Rodriguez would like to commemorate his first World Series homer with some new portraits.

  • Cole Hamels: If Alex Rodriguez has experienced a quick reversal from "poor" playoff performance to greatness, Hamels has gone and done the exact opposite. The Advertising Baron started off the game in impressive fashion, making the Yankees hitters seem foolish with the dazzling movement on his pitches and causing people to reminisce about his glorious 2008 postseason. However, the visiting squad figured him out and they figured him out hard to the tune of 5ER and an early chasing from the game. Hamels 2009 postseason has been an absolute nightmare, and the start tonight did little to reverse that trend, causing some to wonder if he'll even be called on to start again in this World Series.

  • Citizens Bank Park: If you thought the first two games were boring because of lack of offense, then the ballpark in Philly is good for what ails you. Six homers left the park from both teams en route to 13 total runs that easily dwarfed the combined total from Games 1 & 2. The loudest shot? This absolute bomb by Jayson Werth, his second of the night, as the fella continued his remarkable season/postseason. Using the term "bandbox" might be selling the joint a bit short at this point.