January 2010 Archives

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The PECOTA projections for the 2010 season arrived this week, as the god of the nerds, Nate Silver, new guys in charge of PECOTA unleashed a mighty flow of predictions upon its cult followers. I think PECOTA does a fine job of predicting individual players, but, if you think about it, the team records are based on the performance of these same projected players, which would be nice if the PECOOTERS functioned in a vacuum. Nevertheless, wacky managerial decisions (as just one example) have an undoubted effect on the actual outcomes of a game, meaning that the real baseball world is not a vacuum at all. As such, these projections can readily be thrown off by cold, hard reality. Therefore, I don't really give much weight to these things; however, I do think they can be fun to look at in and of themselves. This year especially is proof positive of the sheer insanity that can happen when folks start poking around with numbers, and it begs the question of whether or not PECOTA is just messing with diehard baseball stats guys now.

You can view the complete projected records at Baseball Prospectus, where they are presented by division. Let's just take a gander at a few of the things that make this year's dose of fortune telling more ridiculous than Robert Downey Jr.'s career arc:

  • There are only three teams expected to eclipse 90 wins next season. Last season, PECOTA projected six. All three in 2010 (Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) are from the AL East.

  • By PECOTA's estimation, the Royals are going to have the lowest win total (66) next season. Unfortunately, this will be a year too late to grab Bryce Harper, which is just so fitting for this terrible, terrible franchise.

  • Speaking of terrible teams, the Nationals are going to win 82 games. I will wager anybody that this doesn't happen.

  • If the Nationals were playing in the AL Central, they would be tied for the division lead. LOLwut?!

  • Big League Stew already pointed this out, but the current projections have the Rays winning the East, Boston as the Wild Card, and the defending champs missing the playoffs entirely despite putting up 93 wins. Excuse me, 2008, I didn't hear you come in.

  • Why does PECOTA love the Athletics so much? The system had the A's winning the division last year too...

What grabs your attention, though? Leave 'em in the comments! And yes, I promise I will write a post soon that doesn't involve bullet points. If you're also interested, another projection system, CAIRO, released its expectations for the 2010 season and they're a bit more...reasonable.

Updates! Yes, I am an idiot. Yes, Nate Silver isn't in charge of PECOTA anymore. Edits have been appropriately made. Shame on me for assuming that Silver was still at the helm. Nothing said above was intended to be insulting towards him in the least, but rather an attempt at imaginative grandiosity for the sake of lame humor. Because, hey, I'm a nerd who enjoys PECOTA and advanced metrics. Thanks to the many, many people who pointed out my error.

Oh how I wish it was Tommy Lasorda himself and not his older brother Eddie who was getting harassed by scam artists trying to make a buck off an innocent senior citizen. If it was Tommy, a public figure whom we've had our fun with in the past, I'd unleash an tsunami of barbs and verbal arrows at my doddering old paisano. Instead, I shed a single tear at the idea that poor Eddie was confused and frightened by the avalanche of junk mail promising big cash prizes.

Courtesy of our man Meech, the video:


And yes, that is a Snoopy phone in the sheriff's office.

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It's been a good week for me as a Gator Hater. Tebow is laying eggs at the Senior Bowl, doling out excuses and getting ready to ruin everyone's Super Bowl by pontificating about abortion. Pretty soon he's gonna bug the rest of America as much as he bugs me!

And as if all that wasn't grating enough, graduating senior WR Riley Cooper, a former Texas Rangers draft pick, was just asked why he chose football over baseball. Below is the entirety of his dickish answer.

"I'm totally football. Was supposed to show up for my physical with the Rangers on Jan 17 and collect half my signing bonus. I told them that I appreciated the opportunity, but I'm going to do football. That's what my mentality is. The kind of person I am. I'm a football player."

"I met with my family at the end of the football season. We thought about what's best for me. With the type of makeup I've got, I think I'm a football player. I don't like failure, and if you fail seven times out of 10 in baseball you're going to be in the Hall of Fame. That's not my style."

Football is what his mentality is? That's not even English, Keith. Without debating the semantics of this backwoods yokel thinking that a .300 average will get you into the Hall of Fame, let's just agree with him. Not in his moronic disregard of the relative meaning of the word failure, but in his assertion that he's not a baseball player. A mind this dull was made for repeated bashings and probable conucssions. Not like it's going to make him any dumber. Also, dude should probably start playing basketball because I once read on a poster that you miss 100% of the shots you don't take so he's totally failing in that.

Thanks for your nuanced opinion on sports, Riley. Can't wait to hear what you think about reproductive rights.

With deference to the late, great Mel Allen and the good people at Eater.com, we present the inaugural edition of This Tweet in Baseball, your weekly rundown of all our favorite players, managers, gadabouts, and cads around the Baseballtweetosphere:

Our favorite steroid truther brags about being in demand and misuses an apostrophe like it was a fly ball and the sentence was his head:


Former Seton Hall Pirate Jason Grilli is obviously having trouble accessing his favorite adult websites and needs some tech support, STAT:


Professional fashionista and bumbling brotard Nick Swisher engages his followers with deep, thoughtful questions:


Utility man Mark Teahen, however, objects to Nick's assumption:


Oft-opinionated relief pitcher C.J. Wilson took his entourage out for a fancy night on the town:


And what would a weekly rundown in the Twittersphere be without our old, old friend Tommy Lasorda recklessly dropping a famous dead guy's name:


Thoughts? Feedback? Any idears of other baseball folks we should be following on Twitter? Let us know.

youppi.jpgWhen the National Baseball Hall of Fame Musoleum and Wonder Emporium announced earlier today that recent electee Andre Dawson would enter as member of the Montreal Expos, many were excited. We Canucks are a parochial bunch, quick to pat ourselves on the back in lieu of a loving tap on the head from our proud poppas to the south.

The inconvenient aside that Dawson wants no part of any Expos cap is surely independent of the valuable merchandising dollars a blue and red "C" entails. Dawson should consider himself fortunate the Hall keepers didn't actually, you know, reconsider his admission as marginal and adorn his bust with a helicopter beanie.

Dawson isn't the first place to disagree with the Hall choice of headwear. Gary "The Glorywhore" Carter attempted to erase all memory of La Belle Province in exchange for a Mets hat with brim-mounted mirrors. Ty Cobb couldn't quite explain the type of hat for his bust, though "pointy", "white", and "sheet" were mentioned between the epithets. The writers held Babe Ruth and his larger-than-life, party-all-the-time persona in such high esteem they considered lobbying for the Babe to sport not a ball cap but a lampshade, or even a 20 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Mickey Mantle's statue, it is little known, features not a Yankees hat but Captain Morgan-styled tricorne.

Based solely on the reaction of many ex-players to Mark McGwire's admission of drug use, I expect numerous petitions to the Hall board to replace their bronze hats with glistening golden halos, each one more sanctimonious than the last. Unless some brave soul throws the greenie doors open. Expect a lot of these hats in the aftermath of that unlikely event.

Unfortunate as the missed earnings for Mr. Dawson and missed baseball team for the city of Montreal both are; the logo on the hat scratched into bronze doesn't sentence you to a lifetime of servitude in said city's honor. Only Andre Dawson knows to which team his heart belongs. Just as only Andre Dawson can provide authentic, autographed photos in a skin tight Cubs uniform! Only $19.95, $59.95 to include a signed ball.

Adrenaline needleA wide sigh of relief can be heard all across the baseball world. "Thank heavens Mark McGwire fell on his sword!" cheaters of all stripe exclaim. The noble slugger's admissions of guilt on national (but not international, goddammit) TV will finally put this issue to rest, once and for all. What will life be like in this brave new world? Who &mdash other than Bud Selig, Bob Costas, MLB Network execs, Tony LaRussa, Bud Selig again, Todd McFarlane, and Mark McGwire &mdash stands to profit from the Kabuki Theatre of Tears?

Why all the aging free agents negatively associated with the PED curse! There are so many old and questionable sluggers kicking around; one could (with an assist from Cot's Contracts) field an entire team with them! Many of these guys haven't officially been caught up in the PED storm, they're just one-dimensional enough that GMs the league over are running in the other direction of your aging Three True Outcomers. If you would so kind:

Catcher Rod Barajas. With 50% of the Molinas of the Deep signed and the other 50% completely bereft at the plate, Barajas and his 22 dingers remain unemployed. Barajas staged his finest season with the Texas Rangers in 2004, one of the most dubious clubhouses of the last decade. Barajas is likely to claim his Type B free agent status keeps him unemployed; the smart money is on his paltry .258 on base percentage in 2009.

First Base Jim Thome. Due to excessive burliness from day one, Jimmers avoided a lot of heavy steroid speculation. Baseball's GMs still seem reluctant to sign the tater jammer. Word leaked this week of interest from the Twins and Tigers. What team could use a dong smackin' farmboy to lighten the mood? Every team, that's who.

Second Base Miguel Cairo. Miguel Cairo may not possess the eye-popping numbers of a traditional steroid abuser, but the man's been DFA'd on three separate occasions over his careers. He, clearly, is a zombie. Only the wackiest, craziest kind of horse semen-extracts can bring you back from the dead that many times.

Short Stop The Orioles taking Miguel Tejada off the board (and presumably putting him back on the B12) means the axe falls on Orlando Cabrera. Despite figuring into 10 different teams "Player of the Decade" conversation; Orlando the misanthrope is looking for work once again. Only drugs make a man as testy and confrontational as O-Cab's become. Drugs or the search for more drugs. Or the search for quality tamales while on drugs.

Third Base Melvin Mora. Mora's the kind of guy known for being a dick and a piss-poor fielder just as much as suspected drug user. It's tough to know what to make of Mora, a guy who somehow lacks and/or lost the so-called "old player skills" as he aged. His walk rate is suddenly half what it once was while his power numbers slip slide away. None the less, somebody will give Mora a job so there's hope for a dugout fight somewhere this year!

The Outfield Jermaine Dye, Garret Anderson, Randy Winn. I honestly don't think any of these guys are connected to drugs in any way, shape, or form; they're just the best of a large crop of aging guys who were long overpaid. Now, they're unemployed. The deterioration of their skills by the ravages of age and the unwillingness to take a massive pay cut leaves them on the sidelines, likely until camps open. NO OTHER REASON. There just isn't a market for poor fielding guys with dwindling power or good fielding guys without too much else to go on.

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Here it is, folks, the much-anticipated waste of bandwidth that is the second half of our thought experiment about WAR and MVP voting. To see the first installment, go here. Just as a quick refresher, the requirements are a WAR greater than 8 and a 4th place or lower finish in the MVP award voting. Like last time, these aren't all the players who fit the bill, just the most egregious examples / biggest names.

  • Carl Yastrzemski - 1970, 9.1 WAR, 4th place

  • Joe Morgan - 1972, 10 WAR, 4th place

  • Mike Schmidt - 1985, 8.5, 10th place

  • Rickey Henderson - 1980, 8.6 WAR, 10th place

  • Cal Ripken - 1984, 9.2 WAR, 27th (!) place

  • Tony Gwynn - 1987, 8.1 WAR, 8th place

  • Wade Boggs - 1987, 9.1 WAR, 9th place

  • Chuck Knoblauch - 1996, 8.8 WAR, 16th place

  • Ken Griffey - 1996, 9.7 WAR, 4th place

  • Barry Bonds - 1998, 9.3 WAR, 8th place

  • John Olerud - 1998, 8.1 WAR, 12th place

  • Derek Jeter (swoons) - 1999, 8.0 WAR, 6th place

  • Alex Rodriguez - 2001, 8.0 WAR, 6th place

  • Ichiro - 2004, 8.1 WAR, 7th place

  • Carlos Beltran - 2006, 8.0 WAR, 4th place

  • Albert Pujols - 2007, 8.3 WAR, 9th place

Joe Morgan, as annoying and curmudgeonly as he is in the booth, was really, really good at this stick and ball game. I only listed him once above, but for a span of five years he was one of the "best" spokesmen for lack of respect from the voters. His snubbing in 1972 was the worst of the lot, but Morgan also finished 4th in '73 with a WAR of 9.3 and then eighth the following year with a 9.1 WAR. Yikes. However, all good things are eventually recognized, and Morgan would go on to win back-to-back MVP honors in '75 and '76 with WAR numbers of 12.0 (!) and 10.0 respectively. I would ask Morgan how he felt about these years of his career, but he'd probably start foaming at the mouth and accuse me of writing Moneyball.

Holy Cal Ripken, Batman! One of the most beloved players in the history of the game received the worst snub I could find. That 27th place finish was dead last that year, but to make matters worse for the Iron Man, he finished a whole twenty three slots behind teammate Eddie Murray despite the fact that they both put up similar offensive numbers, and Murray's WAR (6.8) was well below Cal's. Who knows, maybe Murray got extra credit for that awesome facial hair. For those of us who draw wood at good defense (and Cal was positively off the chain that year, boasting a ridiculous 23.4 fielding runs above average!), this snubbing was nothing short of a disaster of epic proportions. Oh, and there's also the tiny detail that the honors ultimately went to a freaking relief pitcher!

Just a few more quick thoughts. I'm sure Ichiro would be upset about 2004 if he could, you know, actually emote. The Pujols incident did nothing to lessen my dislike of Jimmy Rollins. Carlos Beltran is probably better than we all know. Sometimes actresses get slapped, and sometimes Chuck Knoblauch will finish too far down an MVP ballot. So it goes. In closing though, here's one thing to think about: the average WAR for "notable" non-winners of the type mentioned above prior to 1970 was 8.2. After 1970 this number declined, ever so slightly, to 8.0. Why do you think that is? More global cognizance of the entire baseball world that goes hand-in-hand with the advent of advanced metrics? Can this be viewed as progress for the nerds? Speak your minds in the comments.

These two posts would not have been possible were it not for the help of the commenters who provided suggestions on the post that started this all. And a very special thank you to Larry over at Wezen Ball who not only pointed out the Ripken example to me, but provided a very extensive list of players that made this a lot easier. Without his hard work, this definitely wouldn't have happened. Thanks again, I hope you enjoyed reading!

Awesome image of Ripken and Murray pilfered from the SI Vault.

This week's Classic TV Friday sees former home run record holder Roger Maris making the most of his time in the spotlight. Enjoy Maris pitching a tabletop baseball game that includes so many projectiles and tiny parts dying to disappear down the gullet of children there is no chance you'd get it on the market today.

It's interesting that Maris had the prescience to sidle up to the home gaming market. Although Maris could have been relegated to the tinny baseball game racket as his higher-profile teammates clambered to hock airborne and contagious cancer if the price was right. Speaking of health, Maris himself looks spry and energized. The ravages of a steady diet of methamphetamines hunting down ghosts and fighting off drunks hadn't yet rendered his face a sallow wisp of its former self.

Unsurprisingly, this game fetches a pretty penny on the collectors market. Likely due to collectors of such arcane trash being dentists or chiropractors trying to slap their heart rate into triple digits for the first time in weeks. That said, the two kids in this commercial turn in epic performances. Their steely-eyed concentration belies the utter lack of skill this game surely requires.

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The World Umpires Association ratified an new labor agreement with Major League Baseball on Monday that will give them at least five more years of making the right call 99.6% of the time and getting the business from fans, owners, announcers, columnists, beat writers, bloggers, your Aunt Helen, managers, players, and peanut vendors the remaining 0.4%:

"It wasn't unanimous, but it was the most overwhelming vote I've ever participated in," said Joe West, the veteran umpire who is president of the umpires' union. "Everyone is very happy and pleased that we could work through this. This was a good day for baseball and a good day for the umpires. We will make every effort to keep baseball and professional umpires first. We will all work hard to make it right."

Translation: Country Joe West is just happy they included a clause that covers any medical expenses stemming from stomach-stapling surgery. So, what exactly is new in this plan?

As part of the agreement, Commissioner Bud Selig will have more flexibility to dictate expansion of the instant replay system and umpires will now be able to work in successive World Series. There was also a modest pay raise that increases over the course of the contract and buyouts that will allow veteran umpires the ability to retire early.

Emphasis mine. Of course the emphasis is mine, MLB.com doesn't embolden certain passages in their press releases.

But what does this mean, umpires will be allowed to retire early? Wouldn't they get a benefits and pension plan if they stayed in the game until a certain retirement age was reached? Or is this merely a ploy for baseball to force early retirement on aging umpires whose aging judgment they feel has declined enough to warrant dismissal?

The way it works now, umpires are not like players, because they can stay in the game as long as they want. Umpire skills, unlike player skills, don't fall off a cliff at age 35. They do, however, sometimes fall off a cliff at age 55, which is why Bud Selig and his boys decided the only way they can persuade an old fart like Ed Montague to take a trip to Shady Pines would be to drive a dumptruck full of money up to his door.

Don't forget that this is still a young union, only in existence since 1999, the year former Major League Umpires Association president Richie Phillips led his minions into ill-fated tilt at the windmills of relevance. That was the old, stronger and centralized union. This is a new union, well under the thumb of Herr Selig. Still, a union is a union is a union and the umpires are well-compensated for their full-time job and in far better shape than most organized labor in this country.

So if you start to see a handful of veteran umpires getting their gold watches a bit early and heading off into the sunset in a brand new Cadillac, you'll know who nudged him in the right direction. Exactly, the robot umpires.

sad giants bear.jpgDuring the much-ballyhooed return of the Walkoff Walk podcast, your crack editorial team took time out of reciting quotes from Sideways to heap a little scorn on the San Francisco Giants. A classic case of tough love, our collective enjoyment of All Things Gigantic makes the puzzling choices of the front office that much more difficult to take.

The Giants made several "key" acquisitions during the off-season; ostensibly to improve their atrocious offense. The hidden meaning behind these pickups includes a decent aroma of defiance from Brian Sabean. He won't be swayed by modern thinking or reason! He sees a damn ballplayer, he signs him the heck up!

While the good people at Beyond the Box Score suggest this Giants offense could and/or should score more runs than last year, I, along with Grant of McCovey Chronicles, think they might even struggle to achieve that modest feat.

I just want the Giants to think, gee, we've finished in the bottom third for runs scored for five straight years. Is that because of the park? Let's find out. (The answer is no, it's not the park.) Okay, then what's going on? Is it a lack of execution on sacrifice buns and moving runners over? Let's find out where we stack up to the rest of the league. (The answer is no, the Giants execute bunts and move runners over as well as other teams.) Well, what is it?

As I look at it, the Giants will struggle to score runs and struggling to prevent them. The 2010 team should have more power, but they certainly won't get on base at anywhere near an effective rate.

Who will get on base? A quick glance at the Giants depth chart gives us a good sense of who should start. If Bruce Bochy could be counted on to not shoot his team in the foot in partner with the front office, that is. Consider these 8 men likely to start around the diamond and some pertinent on base information:

I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat; but giving the bulk of your at bats to that collection of aging guys (all but two are over 30) who make a ton of outs doesn't seem like good business.

The defense looks just as bad. Gone (likely) is the Giants best defender from last year. Two other top-notch defenders &mdash namely Juan Uribe and Travis Ishikawa &mdash will find themselves on the bench waiting for late inning leads (and perfect games) to protect. Some combination Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval, and Aubrey Huff need to cover first, third and left field. Some combination of car batteries and smelling salts need to keep Renteria and Rowand from losing their tenuous grip on "league-average" as defenders up the middle.

Should the good people of San Fran give up hope, abandon the Giants to tend to their vineyards? Hardly. Rescue is on the way, in the form of Eric Byrnes! Seriously bros, he's totes healthy now and ready to dink infield pop ups after riding his fixed gear to the ballpark!

Add in the requisite arbitration ugliness between the team and its once-in-a-generation ace and somehow, after a season of such unexpected promise, the Giants are poised to disappoint the loyal Bay Area citizens once again. The only thing more shocking than Brian Sabean's apparent inability to capitalize on the exceptional talent of the Giants core is his ability to acquire it in the first place.

Earlier this month, Kris posted this ridiculous ad for Kool-Aid featuring Pete Rose. If you didn't see it before, let's toss it up here again. Hell, if you saw it before, you should really watch it again, because it is bonkers.

Holy crap, right? Kris says the ad may have been "a commentary on humanity's disregard for the planet that supports us," and I think he might be right. What I love most about the clip is that the Kool-Aid Man significantly destroys two baseball stadiums. Also, the Reds are trailing 8-7 to the a team -- maybe the Mets? -- when Rose hits a deep fly to center; for some reason the outfielders fail to get in position for the catch, but at least they weren't killed by the shrapnel from the outfield wall when the Kool-Aid Man crashes through the fence.

After reading Kris' post, I started searching YouTube for other commercials featuring Pete Rose, and I think I learned something: Pete Rose may have been in more absolutely freaking insane commercials than any other person in history. Let's take a little trip down Pete Rose pitchman memory lane.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Three guys plan to resume discussing baseball awkwardly over the phone while sitting hundreds of miles apart! Tune in for the lowdown on all the hot Hot Stove action, the smooth talkin' legal mumbojumbo of record-setting arbitration hearings, and the emotional toll of Dr. Parnassussing Up in the Air after the untimely (and super-secret) passing of its star.

The greatest half hour in baseball podcasting jumps off tonight at 9PM! Stream it here live or download it anytime from the Blog Talk Radio site. Well, wait for us to record it, and then download it. You can also get it on iTunes by searching Walkoff Walk. Which, honestly, is hilarious.

The 2010 Walkoff Walk Field Trip: PNC Heist, Pittsburgh PA

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Hey kids, think warm. Only a couple weeks until Spring Training means only a couple months until the premiere party in all of baby costumed baseball blogging. Last year's Heist in Philly was such a success we decided to keep it in the great Keystone State and to yet another park named after a bank. For years I've heard great things about the Pirates' home park and I figure if I'm ever going to see it, I better have better reasons than just going to see that team.

Also, I wanted to go to Toronto but assumed a good portion of our readership isn't allowed to leave the country.

The final piece of the party puzzle is picking a date. Like last year there a few good options and we're interested in your feedback. Either email us or just drop a comment on which of the weekend dates you'd be most likely to attend. They're all Saturday night games:

  • July 3 vs. Philadelphia: Fourth of July fireworks at the game. Roy Halladay. A three-day holiday weekend sweetens the pot.

  • August 7 vs. Colorado: Um... Todd Helton? He's consistent. Come on, like any of you actually remember the game last year anyway. Oh, it ended on a walkoff? How come no one tried to resuscitate me?

  • August 21 vs. NYM: We could make fun of the Mets IN PERSON.

Drop us a line. Let us know. See you soon.

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Just over a month ago, I was asking you, thoughtful WoWies, to take part in a little "research project." While WAR is far from a perfect metric, it has, for the time being, more than adequately provided us with a way to quantify the value that a baseball player brings to the diamond. Many times it can help you learn to appreciate some player you've never really heard of, but more importantly, WAR shows you just how absurdly good some players are on a consistent basis even if they are sometimes overshadowed by other teammates.

So, the purpose of this little thought experiment was to find examples from past MVP awards wherein someone's value was clearly misunderstood by the bungling folks responsible for handing out such hardware. The results, as you fine folks readily pointed out, are extensive... and then some. Using the historical formula, you find that time and time again, the most valuable players are buried deep in the balloting for reasons that will probably never be truly understood. Obviously, the folks who voted in nineteen dickety six had no idea that WAR even existed. Or at least they thought it was something going on in Europe.

/rimshot

I can't stress enough how often truly exceptional seasons have fallen by the wayside in voters' eyes. These are just a few examples, and for the sake of easy-reading, I've broken them into two parts. Everyone on this list got "jobbed" in a year prior to 1970. As a reminder, the criteria for being on this liost was a WAR greater than 8 and a 4th place finish in the MVP award or lower. Without further ado:

  • Babe Ruth - 1932, 11.4 WAR, 6th place

  • Lou Gehirg- 1934, 10.7 WAR, 5th place

  • Stan Musial - 1944, 9.1 WAR, 4th place

  • Jackie Robinson - 1951, 9.8 WAR, 6th place

  • Eddie Matthews - 1955, 8.3 WAR, 18th place

  • Hank Aaron - 1962, 9.2 WAR, 9th place

  • Ernie Banks - 1962, 8.5 WAR, 18th place

  • Willie Mays - 1964, 10.2 WAR, 6th place

  • Carl Yastrzemski - 1968, 10.1 WAR, 9th place

Look at these guys. To a man they are among the finest players that baseball has ever produced, and yet in years where they were at their best, they weren't even in smelling distance for theoretically what is one of baseball's most important awards. Perhaps these players were simply so good that their greatness became old hat and taken for granted? And of course, as we move through what will be a long weekend for a bunch of us, it is fitting that Jackie Robinson shows up on this list. Robinson's career numbers often take a back seat to the sweeping change he brought to the game of baseball, but lest we forget, the guy was damn good at the game too, but his task to gain recognition and respect was even more rigorous than the great majority of his peers.

Part II will probably be going up next weekend.

As part of my not-so-secret goal to turn Walkoff Walk into an Air Bud fan site, here's the third post in a series on Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch.

This is the ending to the film, where Air Bud is signed by the Anaheim Angels and leads them to the World Series. Can anybody identify the baseball players?

Happy Friday!

Joe Carter And Wally Joyner On The Family Feud - 1990

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Today's Classic TV Friday brings the deceased Ray Coombs back into your life as the host of Family Feud. It's from a week of episodes called "Natural Enemies" which pitted baseball players against umpires (YouTube user HYHYBT has it all here.) and as you can see the players made it to the final round on this day.

Join us as Joe Carter and his fresh railroad track haircut just dominate this thing. Wally Joyner barely has to do any work by the time he gets to the stage. Per usual, Rick Sutcliffe stands around looking dumb. It's a treasure trove. But my favorite part is undoubtedly when black Joe Carter answers the question "Name something a police officer is famous for" with "Arresting people" and snow white Wally Joyner says "Saving lives." Some things never change!

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Word came down this week that MLB will be putting it's foot down when it comes to teams, specifically the Marlins, not spending their income from revenue sharing by forcing the Florida team to agree to spending ANY money earned through the system on player acquisition and development. It's a rare and welcome instance of the league confronting one of their most coddled crook owners, and as the Times article points out, an even rarer bit of proaction to avoid a labor grievance and lawsuit.

This problem has been endemic in the lower quarter of MLB payrolls since the current sharing system was instituted in 2002, as evidenced by the fact that the names on the bottom of that list rarely change. People have accused the Royals of hoarding like a fat cat lady and I've given the business to the Rays and former owner Vince Naimoli. Just the aesthetics of spending less than (or just about equal) to what you receive from other teams are bad. I've read arguments this week that say the Marlins have been "competitve" so let them stay the way they are and just cut their revenue sharing check. And this misses the point entirely.

Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins begged a new stadium out of the people fo South Florida and they owe it to the ones that are fans to put an entertaining team that can attract big name players and retain some of great young talent that they've had over the years. And one that can win a pennant instead of just finish over .500. That takes money. Reciting front office platitudes like "going out and winning ballgames," and "putting the best team on the field" which, like every other team in professtional sports, the Marlins do, is a joke when it is plainly obvious that the goal is simply to make a profit and hover around the 80 win mark.

I lived in South Florida for 3 baseball seasons and attended more Marlins games than I can count. Their admittedly small fanbase is filled with good baseball people and I always enjoyed watching games with them. But find it impossible to fathom how they can root for a team run by such an obvious shyster. Good for baseball for turning the screws on him. If anyone uses the term "free market" in the comments of this post I will come to your house and smash your computer.

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...if Carlos Beltran distrusted them so much that he used his own personal physician to scope out his arthritic knee? Beltran will miss 8-12 weeks (or shorter, if you believe Will Carroll) after having the surgery, which allegedly happened without the Mets' knowledge. As per Joel Sherman of the NY Post:

And for now, the Mets and one of their key players are clearly in conflict. A person familiar with the situation told the Post that the Commissioners Office and the Players Association have been alerted that "the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action. There is a potential issue out there."

You can understand the Mets' concerns about potentially losing their best player for a month or so, especially after he missed half of 2009 because of ouchies. But regardless of whether the punishment will be monetary or a public shaming-by-dunking in Flushing Bay, the team is going to come off looking like the bad guy. Yes, even though the Mets fans are a bunch of unappreciative doofuses who take every opportunity to disparage of the best center fielders of his generation, the team will look really ridiculous if they give Beltran the business for just doing his best to get healthy.

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Please welcome Walkoff Walk reader and commenter Matt DeTura as he contributes this timely and informative guest piece. Take it away, MDT:

By the time you read this (or after you've attended the session and then taken a nap if you're crazy enough to show up live in THIS weather) the Supreme Court will have heard oral arguments in American Needle v. NFL, one of the more important sports cases to come across One First Street's docket in a while.

The core of the case centers around a lower court decision that held that the NFL was a single entity - not a collection of teams in competition - and therefore exempt from section 1 of the Sherman Act governing anti-trust law which prohibits "concerted action that unreasonably restrains trade". American Needle challenged the NFL's exclusive contracts with suppliers like Reebok which made them the only providers for things like hats. ANI appealed the decision all the way up the ladder, and in an unusual move, the NFL supported the appeal, knowing that if it could get the Supreme Court to affirm the broadest decision it would be exempt from the Act (since a single entity can't engage in concerted action).

This, as a baseball fan, is the point at which you're allowed to yawn and say "Football. Who gives a damn?" And the short answer is that, as a baseball fan: you don't have to. Let's discuss why after the jump.

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Last night, the MLB Network scored a major coup as Mark McGwire, with an assist by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, sat in front of a bunch of cameras and chatted with TV sports gadabout Bob Costas. McGwire shocked the nation with his revelation that he used steroids for most of his career while Bob Costas shocked the nation by telling us that he packed two suits on his most recent road trip.

Because I am just as opinionated as a roomful of crusty old columnists, I give you my report card for the interview and the fallout:

  • Mark McGwire, B: Probably cried authentic tears, but never really broke down into a full "boo-hoo" cry that would have convinced a nation of amateur psychoanalysts that he was sincere. He never admitted that steroids helped him hit home runs, nor should he have said such a ridiculous statement. The drugs helped him heal; the drugs helped him get far more at-bats than his body would have allowed; the drugs helped him extend his career. You gonna hate a man for doing anything and everything to extend his multi-million-dollar career? Also, Mac never pimped himself as a HOFer, even refusing to answer the question if he would vote for himself; instead, he came off like a family man who wanted nothing more than to work as a hitting coach under a convicted drunk driver. The American dream!

  • Bob Costas, A-: Avoided both snark and softball questions (until the end, when Mr. Costas peppered Big Mac with such questions as "Are you going to miss your kids when you're on the road?"). Perhaps due to the peculiar camera angles, we were able to see Bob's classic blue suit in full, accompanied by a diagonally striped tie. Costas knew last week that he'd be doing this interview so he packed an extra suit with him on his previously scheduled football trip to Dallas. Now that's planning. Would have been an A+ if Bob asked Big Mac about how steroids affected Little Mac.

  • Interior decorators, D: The room where the MLB Network folks set up shop for Costas to conduct the interview was relatively plain and looked something like your nana's living room. Kudos, however, to whomever decided to display an elegant Italian platter in front of the fireplace.

  • Herr Bud Selig, B-: Bud released a statement yesterday that praises McGwire for coming clean all the while digging that knife into the players' backs, with this: "Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Senator George Mitchell to conduct his investigation." Oh right, I forgot George Mitchell stopped baseball players from using drugs, stupid me!

  • Brian Williams, F: For wasting our time as a nation by opening the evening news with a prepared statement throwing McGwire under the steroid bus and not even having the balls to call Big Mac an asshole.

  • Any boob who links McGwire and Tiger, F-: Stop demanding that our celebrities apologize. It's embarrassing for all parties involved.

  • Baseball fans who think McGwire and Sosa saved baseball, D: Sure, it was a cute story back in 1998, but if you were one of the dopes who thought that famous home run chase "brought baseball back," go back in time and punch yourself in the face. The United States courts supported the players union and issued an injunction against the owners in March, 1995. That's what saved baseball. Good ol' fashioned litigation.

  • Jim Thome, A+: For coming clean on his own personal demons.

Who else deserves to pass this test or fall flat on their face?

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Did you know that people in Cincinnati like to serve their chili on top of a heaping pile of already-soggy and overcooked spaghetti? No? Haven't you been reading WoW for long enough now to note that every time the Reds are in the news we mention Skyline Chili?

Anyway, the Reds, under the direction of G.M. Walt Jocketty and team owner Marge Schott's racist dog's ghost, have signed Cuban defector and pitcher-of-the-future Aroldis Chapman to a five year, $30 million deal that will make him the most notable Chapman since Grizz.

Folks say that Dusty Baker will absolutely ruin this talented kid's young developing arm, but in reality, ol' Dusty might be canned by the time Aroldis and his Livan Hernandezesque rate of five walks per nine innings reaches the big leagues later in 2010 or in 2011.

Of course, because a middling team like the Reds paid the big bucks for Aroldis, we laugh and taunt. But had a big budget monolith like the Red Sox signed him, we'd sigh and say "Again, the rich getting richer!" Or something like that.

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If you haven't yet seen it, this rather uncharacteristically tongue-in-cheek post over at Fangraphs compares the dubious GM careers of the Mets' Omar Minaya and the Royals' Dayton Moore. While even the most casual of baseball fans can readily identify these men as regular passengers aboard the proverbial fail bus, the Fangraphs piece alludes to a Moore quote urging fans to presumably be patient and "trust the process."

Baseball fans of teams that seem to be "rebuilding" every other year hear terms like "the process" constantly. As a result of this constant exposure, most of them probably even grasp a few of the key tenets of such front-office schemes. The obvious example: waiting around for homegrown, cost-controlled talent to develop more. BUT it seems that very few fans have a grasp on how long "the process" is supposed to take. Prospect development in baseball is more drawn out than the other major sports leagues, and it also hinges on quite a bit of luck and fortunate timing to boot. If all the pieces don't click at exactly the right time for some clubs, the team could be "developing" for an eternity. And the fans are still mostly in the dark.

But how does one even quantify the effectiveness of "the process"? The most obvious answer would be to look at the tenure of some current GMs in baseball and to see how long they are allowed to pull the strings. Let's take a gander at some of the more recent hires among MLB GMs, shall we? I've included team names and year of hiring for easy reference.

The Newbies

These folks have 3 seasons or fewer in their current positions: Tony Reagins (Angels, 2007); Ed Wade (Astros, 2007); Frank Wren (Braves, 2007); John Mozeliak (Cardinals, 2007); Michael Hill (Marlins, 2007); Andy MacPhail (Orioles, 2007); Bill Smith (Twins, 2007); Jack "Daddy WARbucks" Zduriencik (Mariners, 2008); Ruben Amaro (Phillies, 2008), Neal Huntington (Pirates, 2008); Walt Jocketty (Reds, 2008); Alex Anthopolous (Jays, 2009); Mike Rizzo (Nationals, 2009); Jed Hoyer (Padres, 2009).

So what does this all mean? First and foremost, I can't be the only one who had no idea what the name of the Marlins' GM was, right? Anyway, I'll try and show how the diversity of experience in this group would seem to be most indicative of an organization's willingness to wait out "the process." But, first things first, we're going to cut a little bit of the fat out of this list.

Wren, Smith, Hoyer, and Mozeliak are interesting cases because they replaced guys (John Schuerholtz, Terry Ryan, Kevin Towers, and the aforementioned Walt Jocketty, respectively) that had been at their jobs for years and years. Moreover, the Cardinals are very much a successful team and the Braves have been coming off an unparalleled run of divisional success so these two front-office men don't really afford a truly useful perspective. The Twins were a playoff team under both Ryan and Smith so that eliminates them. The Padres and Angels too, are off the list for that "playoff" reason. I'm going to toss out the Marlins too since their willingness to have a fire-sale whether or not they need it doesn't help much with our analysis. Amaro replaced the retiring Pat Gillick, so that isn't the type of regime change that will shed light on our little thought experiment. Lastly, we'll cut MacPhail a break since the Orioles had never really used a GM until Peter Angelos found room in his blackened heart for one.

So who does that leave us with? Huntington, Rizzo, Daddy WARbucks, Jocketty, Wade, and Anthopoulous What will help shed more light on this subject is the tenure of each of these fellow's predecessors, so let's break it down one more time:

  • Huntington replaces Dave Littlefield, who had been GM from 2001-2007.

  • Rizzo replaces Jim Bowden, who had been GM from 2004-2009.

  • Zduriencik replaces Bill Bavasi, who had been GM from 2004-2008.

  • Anthopoulos replaces JP Ricciardi, who had been GM from 2001-2009.

  • Jocketty replaces Wayne Krivsky, who had been GM from 2006-2008.

  • Wade replaces Tim Purpura, who had been GM from 2005-2007.

What does this tell us? On average, this arbitrary system of measurement indicates you have about four to seven years, give or take, it would seem, before you're booted to the curb in favor of a new guy's "process." But what do you guys think? Given what we all know to be true about prospect development, is this really fair? I know fans want the rings now, but how realistic is it for a regime change to get the turnaround they want in only five years, or sometimes less? Should folks like Andy MacPhail and Frank Wren be getting antsy as the apparent doomsday clock creeps towards midnight ? Does Drew's fine work play a part in an ownership's decision to make a change? I certainly think so, do you? How long is too long to stick with a particular GM? Some would argue that the Royals have already given Dayton Moore (hired 2006) too much rope... Is it even possible that "a right time for change" exists in the baseball world? Why am I asking so many questions?

Who knows, maybe not knowing the answers to these question is itself, all part of the plan...

A case of Coke Zero to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the GM information.

Pete Rose Likes His Kool-Aid Cold And His Kids Hot - 1986

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Classic TV Friday is a Walkoff Walk institution and Pete Rose commercials always deliver. Today's clip is either a commercial for Kool-Aid, a commercial for drugs or a commentary on humanity's disregard for the planet that supports us.

Let's try and follow the action here. A group of what the jingle refers to as "hot kids" are playing baseball in a post-apocalyptic desert where the rules of gravity have been suspended and there is an on site rock band. Enter Kool-Aid Man, on a powdered beverage jag hauling ass down the road before exploding into a Reds game that is taking place in Thunderdome before a studio audience. He snags Pete's drive to center and then Pete ventures out into nuclear winter to meet some hot kids.

Oh, yeah.



Good thing he didn't give Saban the swirly move or perhaps Alabama doesn't walk away with a tidy win last night.

Taking the UZR Out Of Uzer Error

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On Monday I tossed off a quick link to a column by Smilin' Geoff Baker in the Seattle Times. I used it to make reference to the fact that Jason Bay's defensive skills may have been denigrated to the point where he's actually underrated in LF. Or at least not bad enough to the point where it had a major effect on his free agent value this offseason.

The column made a larger point of trying to dissect the usefulness of UZR (quick explanation here for those of you that just come here for my Bat Attack Roundups) in light of its often dramatic year-to-year swings for a player. It's a discussion I've had with Rob on occasion. Baker used Adam LaRoche as an example, I brought it up a couple weeks ago after a perusing of Jacoby Ellsbury's numbers. As Baker notes, even though park factor is accounted for in UZR it's hardly the most foolproof part of the metric. But, the more sound explanation for players having varied year to year numbers (especially when playing for the same team) is simply sample size.

With a typical outfielder getting at least twice as many plate appearances as he does defensive chances, when reading advanced stats we've all learned to trust a single season's offensive numbers to paint an accurate portrait of a player, but to factor 3 years of defensive numbers. It makes sense, but it doesn't solve the perception problem of simply looking at a guy's UZR numbers and trying to figure what kind of fielder he is right now. Common sense tells you that you can't simply average the numbers since each year will have a different number of defensive chances, and while the reality of a player that has posted a -14.2, +10, -6.9, +12.1 is that he's got average range and average arm, it doesn't look that way on the page.

So to solve the perception problem and stop dummies like me from misunderstanding/misinterpreting the meaning of UZR, I have a humble proposal. Do away with the year-to-year UZR rating of a player, and replace it with a single career number. Beginning in a player's second year the problem of small sample size will start to dissipate and on a single look you'll be able to make a quick judgement on just how much, or how little, he's able to do in the field. To account for diminishing skills with age or trouble playing in a new park, each player's career UZR can have a little up or down arrow like the Beckett Price Guides of old representing whether his number has gone up or down in his last 400 defensive chances.

I spent time last night investigating the calculation of UZR but since the last math class I took was something called "Math For Liberal Arts II" I didn't understand most of the mechanics. But I do understand the time and effort Mitchel Lichtman put into creating and revising the stat to factor in as much relevant information as possible about dudes goin' nuts in your outfield/infield. Like donning a mint condition vintage Garfield shirt on an important date, my suggestion is mostly an aesthetic one. But one that I think has some merit.

Andre Dawson: in. Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, and Todd Zeile: out. And since the BBWAA stole our collective souls today, I stole their HTML for this nifty chart that displays their utter inability to disperse votes to reputable baseball players. The voting results:

2010 Hall of Fame voting
Name Votes Pct.
Andre Dawson 420 77.9%
Bert Blyleven 400 74.2%
Roberto Alomar 397 73.7%
Jack Morris 282 52.3%
Barry Larkin 278 51.6%
Lee Smith 255 47.3%
Edgar Martinez 195 36.2%
Tim Raines 164 30.4%
Mark McGwire 128 23.7%
Alan Trammell 121 22.4%
Fred McGriff 116 21.5%
Don Mattingly 87 16.1%
Dave Parker 82 15.2%
Dale Murphy 63 11.7%
Harold Baines 33 6.1%
Andres Galarraga 22 4.1%
Robin Ventura 7 1.3%
Ellis Burks 2 0.4%
Eric Karros 2 0.4%
Kevin Appier 1 0.2%
Pat Hentgen 1 0.2%
David Segui 1 0.2%
Mike Jackson 0 0.0%
Ray Lankford 0 0.0%
Shane Reynolds 0 0.0%
Todd Zeile 0 0.0%
Note: 405 votes (75%) required for enshrinement. Induction July 25, 2010 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Thoughts?

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(Ed. note: weekend guy 310toJoba contributes a special remembrance of baseball's newest entrant to the world of assisted living. Please to enjoy.)

Nineteen hundred and eighty-eight was decisively a year that changed the baseball world. This has very little to do with the fact that I was born in 1988, but rather, that was the year that Randall David Johnson made his big league debut for the Montreal Expos at the age of 24. The line for Johnson from that very first game wouldn't cause anybody to turn their heads, but twenty-one years later, the world probably has a severe case of whiplash from some of the awe-inspiring things the newly-retired Randy Johnson did whilst on the mound.

I was born in 1988, but I didn't really start watching baseball until 1995. By then, the man who would come to be known as the Big Unit already had four All Star games under his belt and was in the midst of a season wherein he would go 18-2 and walk away with his first Cy Young award. Even though I started watching at age 7, I didn't really begin to have a "global" cognizance of the baseball world until right around 2005. Sure, I would follow the Yankees religiously and I had a sense of who the truly great players were but I didn't have the attentiveness to stats and other teams' rosters that I do now. It just so happens that the spread of my attention to the greater whole of baseball happened just a little too late. You see, I knew Randy Johnson and his wild mane were good, and that he was someone you didn't want your team facing in a must-win game because of what he had done to the Yankees in 1995, but I never really understood how good he truly was until what seems like yesterday. The years just prior to my growing adoration of MLB were without a doubt some of the most dominant years by a single pitcher in the history of the game. Shame on me.

These are Johnson's strikeout totals from 1998-2002: 329, 364, 347, 372, 334. I just don't know what to say, and I feel like this in itself is a testament to the greatness of Randy Johnson. Those are video game numbers that a mere mortal put up on a consistent basis. How do you hit someone like that? Clearly, you don't, as so many major league hitters and one unfortunate bird found out the hard way. Johnson's gaudy ability to make opponents look foolish during this same span was recognized by a jaw-dropping four straight Cy Young awards from 1999-2002. Only one other pitcher has done that in his career, and that was Greg Maddux from 1992-1995, but what's really remarkable about this accomplishment is that the Big Unit did it in his late freakin' thirties! In an age of pitch counts and primadonna pitchers with innings limits, the only thing more impressive than Johnson's mug's assault on the advent of high-def television was his liberal thrashings of any team that got in his way.

You'd think that would be all for Johnson, that there was no way he could add anything else to an already distinguished resume. I would have thought so, and I would have been dead wrong. At the tender age of 40, Johnson twirled a perfect game and finished second in the Cy Young voting. This was, unfortunately, the last time the baseball world saw the vintage Big Unit. Johnson was traded to NY (wherein he gave people yet another endearing memory of him) and struggled for two seasons before heading back to the friendlier confines of the National League where he capped his career in 2009 by winning his 300th game.

Is he a unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer? I think he is, but who knows how Jon Heyman will screw this one up. Either way, his retirement marks the end of one of the greatest pitching careers of the modern era and I'm more than a bit embarrassed over the fact that I didn't pay closer attention to it.

sadgirl.JPGForgive me if I take a slightly contrarian track here, but I can't wait for the Hall of Fame announcement tomorrow. All the spirited & intelligent exchanges are appreciated, but there comes a time where the battle of good versus evil, the "us versus them" and "right versus wrong" chorus grows stale. The endless barrage of prop-ups and tear-downs wears on my mind, making me long for the lazy palm trees of Spring Training that much more.

The Hall of Fame matters to fans and matters to the players, but the writers view the Hall of Fame as their own. A hallowed keep that requires their steadfast protection, the integrity of which they must guard like a team staffers protect the soggy press box French fries. The nebulous criteria offered for Hall of Fame candidates runs the gamut from "feared" to "awe" to "he invited me to his wedding." Meanwhile the sober-minded SABRsquad attack with ferocity should any ignorant boob exhibit the temerity to step out of their increasingly dogmatic way of thinking.

The quest to empiricize every aspect of each player's career and shout in the face of heretics who don't agree is a little tiresome. As my friend Parkes of Drunk Jays Fans said, it starts to become a celebration of the intelligence of the advocates, not the qualities of the players. Even more regrettably, the archaic likes of Jon Heyman seem to only dig in further, resolute in their refusal to accept reason or rationale.

The Hall of Fame is a wonderful place and the ultimate bookend to a successful baseball career. The current wave of reason is a godsend, the implications of which will change the future of the Hall but can't undo the oversights of the past. The current "changing of the guard" phase contains too much ugliness and too many haymakers to engage impartial observes or casual fans in any way. It just becomes your drunk uncles talking about politics at Christmas dinner.

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Notoriously outspoken critic of advanced statistics Jon Heyman has a Hall of Fame ballot and he's not afraid to wave it in your face in a taunting motion, all the while dancing around in endless circular reasoning that is jeopardizing the candidacy of one of history's greatest pitchers. Like a dog chasing its own tail, Heyman's arguments for keeping Bert Blyleven out of Cooperstown are not based on sound analysis but rather on an endless loop of doublespeak and his own profession's inability to recognize brilliance.

More on the circular logic claims in a bit. In his annual ballot explanation column, Heyman explains that he won't vote for Bert Blyleven because Bert was a "great compiler" and not a "great player." First, let's read along while Heyman claims to hate statistics but, in the same breath, professes his love for numbers. Which is weird, because what is a statistic except a series of numbers interpreted in a clever way to prove something new and different?

I look at numbers, too, and while my numbers may be slightly more simplistic than WHIP, WAR or VORP, I think they tell a story of a pitcher who was extremely good, consistent and durable but not quite Cooperstown-worthy.

Slightly more simplistic? That's an understatement. Heyman's favorite number to examine when evaluating a pitcher is 'wins'. That's a simple counting stat. A kindergartner could comprehend the concept of counting. Heck, a dead retarded squirrel could understand the numbers Heyman looks at. But! Let us be inclusive, for one mustn't need a B.S. in Mathematics to understand WHIP or ERA+ or WAR, you just need a link to Alex Remington's didactic and entertaining work.

Besides, if Heyman is going to look at 'wins' as his triumphant number, wouldn't it stand to reason that Blyleven and his 287 wins deserves the honor more than Jack Morris (who Heyman did cast a vote for) and his 254 wins?

Heyman then repeats the same mantra that Blyleven naysayers have been spouting for years:

Only four times in 22 seasons did he receive Cy Young votes (he was third twice, fourth and seventh once), only twice did he make the All-Star team and only twice did he win more than 17 games.

Jon Heyman won't vote for Blyleven because he didn't get enough Cy Young votes in his career. The Cy Young Award is voted on by members of the BBWAA. Jon Heyman is voting for the Hall of Fame, which requires him to be a member of the BBWAA for a certain number of years. Heyman himself represents this organization of baseball writers that does the voting in both situations. To put Heyman's argument into simpler terms:

I, Jon Heyman, member of the BBWAA, won't vote for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame because my fellow BBWAA members in the 1970s and 1980s didn't vote often enough for Bert Blyleven in the Cy Young Award races.

Did Blyleven ever deserve to win the Cy Young Award in any year of his career? Probably not, but for a guy to finish in the top ten in ERA a whopping ten times, top ten in strikeouts 14 times, and top ten in shutouts ten times, you'd think he should gotten a few more votes in a few more years. Is it his fault that wins were over-valued during that era by the BBWAA voters? No. Is it his fault that he only won 20 games once? Partly, but not entirely.

It's circular reasoning and it's wrong. Ask Heyman why writers like him don't pay enough respect to Blyleven's career and he'll tell you, "Well, writers like me didn't pay enough respect to Blyleven's career." The BBWAA is made up of very talented writers who sometimes inadvertently regress to personal biases when they rate players (see: Morris, Jack). We should be using new, advanced statistics to eliminate or maybe just soften these biases; we should be evaluating both active and historic players with a fair eye.

Heyman continues:

My contention regarding Blyleven is that almost no one viewed him as a Hall of Famer during his playing career, and that is borne out by the 17 percent of the vote he received in his first year of eligibility in 1998, followed by 14 percent the next year.

Did you go back and interview the 3,701 batters that Blyleven struck out in his 22 year career, Jon, and ask them if they ever thought Bert was a Hall of Famer as they flailed at a wicked curveball? And do writers ever make mistakes in their HOF voting that they later correct?

Or do we ever take a step back and realize that perhaps our initial thoughts about a situation were incorrect and the time has come to reevaluate using new information? It's like Heyman is convinced that Blyleven has weapons of mass destruction in his bedroom closet and refuses to issue an apology for breaking into his house and rifling through his linens only to find an unsold crate of "Circle Me Bert" t-shirts.

Smarter people have spelled out Blyleven's candidacy in more elegant ways than I, and smarter people have given Heyman the business over his persistent campaign of anti-Bert sentiments. But let us not ignore the fallacies in Heyman's arguments that make it seem like his campaign to keep Blyleven out of Cooperstown is more like a personal vendetta against smart folks and not an honest evaluation of one of baseball's greatest pitchers.

And yes, Mr. Heyman, I may be just a youngster but I remember Blyleven's excellent comeback season in 1989 with California, but I still don't think one needs to witness greatness in person to realize the existence of a historic talent.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, give us a break you probably had a slow day back at work too. Here's stuff we missed over the break.

  • HOW will FoWoW Jason Bay fare as a New York Metropolitan? Just fine. Though he better hope the casual Mets fan stops caring about RBI a little bit. If last year's OBP numbers are similar this season, he won't have as many chances to knock in guys in the New York lineup. Doomsday predictions about his OF defense are probably inflated and he's an affable enough a guy to make nice with the New York media. All that being said, leaving a hitters park like Fenway and ditching any future switch to DH was a silly move on his part and he should have stayed.

  • IS Mark DeRosa going to be the only bat the Giants add this winter? He's famously versatile and was a supposed target for the Yankees as well, but this move isn't making anyone fear that Giants lineup too much more than before.

  • WITH Matt Holliday pretty much assuredly staying in St. Louis, is the bidding for unknown Cuban entity Arolidis Chapman the most interesting Hot Stove story left? Thank goodness pitchers and catchers report next month.

We'll REALLY be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. See you then, freaks.

(Circle Jerks photo stolen from the indefatigable If Charlie Parker Were A Gunslinger...)