Thursday, January 31, 2008

Scoop Jackson Writes Jokes: I Read Them Literally

This Sunday, the Patriots and the Giants are playing in the Super Bowl. Yes. Sunday. This Sunday. Scoop Jackson has done us all a favor and written a ton of joke-type phrases to explain what it will mean. I am unable to read these phrases and see why they are jokes and laugh at them. So let’s just read them literally to try to figure out why there may have been a joke there or something.

Going 19-0 will mean ...

... Tom Brady can make one Bill Clintonesque mistake and be unconditionally forgiven by everyone, including Gisele.

Going 19-0 means Tom Brady can fuck around on his girlfriend? Why would he need forgiveness from anyone BUT Gisele?

... Kyle Brady, after 13 seasons in the NFL, can go into bars and clubs and tell women his name is Tom and they won't notice the difference.

What? Why? Wouldn’t they notice the difference MORE….because Tom Brady will be MORE famous?

... Randy Moss can moon anyone he wants, run over anyone he wants in his car, leave any game he wants while time is still on the clock, smoke as much weed as he wants, never shave and argue with as many ex-girlfriends and baby mamas as he wants. And it'll be all good.

No he can’t, as the sports columnists will rip him for it. I guess 19-0 is so big that he can do drugs and it's okay? This is.....funny?

... All head coaches will be required to wear team-issued hoodies on game day.

Like Bill Belichick? Why would they be required to? What is the fucking joke? Is the joke just that he wears a hoodie??!?!?!??!?!

... People will finally realize that Vince Wilfork is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.

He made the Pro Bowl. Does that mean anything? No?

... The destroyed evidence of Spygate can never be written about or mentioned ever again in public.

Tell that the Gregg Easterbrook. That guy is still livid. It’s awesome.

... Bill Simmons has to write "Now I Can Die In Peace II."

This would be the Patriots’ fourth super bowl ring in seven years. I don’t think Bill Simmons’ ability to die in peace has anything to do with the outcome.

... That Bobby Brown, a native of Roxbury, Mass., can say anything he pleases and the world has to accept it.

Why? What does Bobby Brown have to do with anything? Because he’s from Massachusetts? No Mitt Romney joke? Ted Kennedy? Matt Damon even? Bobby Brown? Every little step I take….Everybody’s Humpin’ around?? That guy?

... Rodney Harrison's "That is the most ridiculous thing (I've) ever heard," comment made after the Week 6 win over the Cowboys, after being asked about going 19-0, is now the most ridiculous thing ever said.

No it’s not. The most ridiculous thing ever said was by Mr. Scoopward Jackson….about Lebron James. It inspired me to start this blog. It was:

“It means he might be He.”

So simple, yet so stupid.

... Junior Seau can grow some facial hair, let the gray show in his mustache and beard, and not even have to think about playin' himself by doing a commercial with Emmitt Smith, Walt Frazier and Keith Hernandez.

He can? Why? All those guys won championships. What’s going on?

... Owner Bob Kraft can walk into the next NFL owners' meeting and act like Marlo Stansfield does in the co-op meetings on "The Wire."

Hmm you get a pass here Jackson, because I’ve never seen the Wire.

... Kevin Faulk will no longer be called Marshall Faulk by mistake.

People sometimes call Kevin Faulk “Marshall”. Really?

Oh they don’t? They just have the same last names. So.....that's the joke?

... Raymond Ventrone, the undrafted Jets reject (the Jets released him in September) who sees action on special teams for the Patriots, will get supermodels' cell numbers and be seen doing TV spots in Brockton, Mass., for Absolute Car and Truck Center.

He will? Why? Because the Patriots won the Super Bowl? Which Supermodel? WHAT? Will they all have Supermodel girlfriends? Are there enough Supermodels in the world? What is Absolute Car and Truck Center and what does it have to do with….anything? Is that a joke?

... Players like left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins and right guard Stephen Neal will become household names like Bruschi, Seau and Vrabel.

Household names where? North Andover, Massachusetts? Holla!

... That "RIP" cannot be placed on Mercury Morris' tombstone.

Hey! That was decent! Keep it up, man!

... Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy and Deion Branch were irrelevant.

Well one in a row isn’t bad.

Um… 2007? Yes. To past Super Bowls? What??

... Wes Welker doesn't have to be Tom Brady's wing man or alibi guy at this year's secret, off-the-island Pro Bowl parties.

So if they lose he has to be his alibi guy? Whatever that is? WHAT?

... Mike Vrabel can reapply back to Ohio State so the Buckeyes can finally win a BCS title.

He can? Isn’t that against the rules?

Oh it is? Okay. So this is just a joke? WHAT?

... Twenty years from now kicker Stephen Gostkowski can be relaxing at a game and asked to do an impromptu interview, and during the interview he can demand a kiss from the sideline reporter, get the kiss, and everyone will think it was cute and great television. And even though both will be married at the time, no one -- not even the spouses -- will be upset.

But no one will know who he is in 20 years. Wouldn’t his wife be mad? No? Because he was on the 2007 Patriots? Ha ha?????

... Asante Samuel and Laurence Maroney no longer have to hear Das EFX jokes.

Because they are hearing a lot of them now? Oh, they’re not? Can you post a "laughter and applause" sign in this column, I'm lost.

... The Ford Taurus that Rosevelt Colvin explained was sent to pick him up from the airport when the Pats signed him as a free agent will become standard issue for all NFL teams after trades and signings, replacing limos.

Because it helped the team play football better? Did I get that one right?

... Every NFL owner will use the fact that New England has a roster of superstars playing so far below their market value it's bordering on disrespectful (Randy Moss took a $6 million pay cut, Junior Seau is making only $1 million, Bruschi $1.7 million, etc.) as the new way to do business. Despite knowing there is no way this will ever happen again, it will not stop them from trying to use it to their financial advantage.

But most teams didn’t want Randy Moss or Junior Seau. So doesn't that make no sense?

... Charlie Weis is somewhere, saying, "I shoulda stayed."

Do you really think he cares? He’s making crazy money and has a 10 year contract.

... Belligerent, arrogant, cantankerous, indignant, asterisk-needing, egotistical, smug, vainglorious, narcissistic, corrupt, disingenuous, cunning, deceitful, and pompous all become adjectives of endearment.

Vainglorious? Did you punch this into or something?

... That silver might be added as America's fourth official color.

Like, on the flag? But wouldn’t it look stupid?

Oh, you're saying the Patriots are THAT good?! I get it, I think.

... That "check your egos at the door" no longer has meaning.

But isn’t that like, their motto or something? Wouldn’t it have MORE meaning?

... That Hef has to let Brady back into the mansion.

He’s not allowed in the mansion?

Oh, you made that up, to make up the antithesis and use it as a joke? Do I laugh now or wait for the next joke? What is going on?

... That dynasty finally has a one-season definition forever.

One-season definition? Forever? Finally?

So you’ve been waiting for the term dynasty to have a one-season definition, which is stupidly impossible?

I’ll let you know when Scoop answers my questions.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let Me Trample on a Dead Man's Accomplishments a bit

Mike Freeman over at CBS Sportsline has written a little column ranking the best athletes in New York/Boston history. It’s the type of column that is fun to read and so subjective and off-the-cuff that it’s pointless and unfair to really criticize. If 1,000 people were to go through the same exercise, you’d have 1,000 different lists. His focus seemed to be a blend of athleticism combined with results. That’s intentionally vague. His number one choice is Lawrence Taylor. Now you may have Mickey Mantle in front of LT, but he had Mantle 25. See? Subjective as fuck.

So I’m not going to pick on the ordering of the list, but there’s one person whose ranking/description I just can’t let go. To start, I’ll show you all the basketball players on the list (note that he did take length of service in the region into account, in some way):

18. Willis Reed, Knicks: Playing hurt is also part of being a great athlete. Yet he was more than a tough guy. He had the athleticism to take on much bigger centers when he was just 6-9.

17. Robert Parish, Celtics: Quick feet for a big man.

14. Bob Cousy, Celtics: Redefined the point guard position.

12. Reggie Lewis, Celtics: Brief, potent career but might have been another Michael Jordan.

9. Julius Erving, Nets: On the New York Nets from 1973-1976 so he counts on the New York side. One of the best pure athletes the NBA has ever seen and he rocked that 'fro too.

7. Larry Bird, Celtics: Fluid, slick and born with radar for eyes.

2. Bill Russell, Celtics: Not your prototypical athlete but one of the few to excel at all of the athlete qualities mentioned above.

Honorable mention (not in any order): Walt Frazier, Kevin Garnett, Patrick Ewing, Bernard King, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, John Havlicek (might have deserved to be in the top 25), Dave DeBusschere, Earl Monroe, Dennis Johnson.

This is a little like looking at one of those paintings where there are a number of things “wrong” and you’re supposed to find 25 of them in 5 minutes. Like – hey the clock is upside down and, say what?, he’s writing with a shoe instead of a pen and, look silly!, that dude’s feet are on fire. Or something sort of like that.

So, who cares right? Freeman could do the same thing to a list I put together. But this one is just so off I have to focus a little on it:

12. Reggie Lewis, Celtics: Brief, potent career but might have been another Michael Jordan.

Let’s just start with the observation that Bernard King of the Knicks was a much better basketball player than Reggie Lewis, and he was a more athletic player than Lewis. He played for the Knicks for 4 years, while Lewis played for the Celtics for 5 and a half.

I watched a fair amount of Reggie Lewis when he played and I would rank Paul Pierce ahead of him in both the basketball ability and the athleticism front. Though neither are/were the prototypical super-athletic 2-guards that you can find out there….like Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler (for Lewis contemporaries) and Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter (for Pierce contemporaries). But whatever.

Reggie Lewis’ game was the mid-range jump-shot. He could penetrate, and certainly did from time to time, but he didn’t make a habit of it, and he wasn’t exceptional at it. It wasn’t his game. He didn’t have a post game to really speak of. He was lights out on pull-up 16-18 footers. He managed to shoot over 48% for his career with a game focused on the mid-range jumper. He didn’t drive all that much, and he didn’t get the line very often – about 4 free throws a game for his career (Pierce is double that). He didn’t shoot threes much at all, and when he did they did not go in most of the time (20% career). He was a good, but unspectacular open floor player and I don’t remember him being either bad or great on defense. I think he was above-average, but not really in the discussion for all-league caliber. For the record I do remember Jordan (who he's compared to here) doing whatever he wanted against him, but that's not really a knock on Reggie. I don’t remember his defense as much as his offense, obviously. His rebounding, assists, steals and blocks were solid but unspectacular. Again, he could nail jumpers. A few times a year he'd go hard to the hoop and put down a two handed dunk. But so did random guys like Doug West, John Starks and Robert Pack, and with much more athleticism I may add.

Reggie's “potent” career consisted of a 17 point-per-game average and one all-star appearance. He was a very good player, and he was still improving at the time of his death (but he was 27, not likely to significantly improve). Perhaps Lewis could have averaged another 4-6 points a game if he didn't have to share the ball so much, but it would be a big mistake to think there was a scoring machine being held back in Boston (for his career, he took about 3 shots per game less than Paul Pierce). It's unlikely that he was even going to be as good as Pierce. So to suggest that he had a snowballs chance in hell of being another Michael Jordan shows either a horrific memory, a lack of basketball knowledge, or zero ability to compare players. He was like a less explosive Ray Allen if Allen drove a little less, shot fewer threes and when he did shoot them he used his left hand or something. As an athlete he did not have jump out of the gym or consistently blow-by the defender type athleticism.

Reggie was by all accounts a great teammate and he reached out to the community frequently. That and his work ethic and professional demeanor made him a fan favorite in Boston. His death had a big impact on the Celtics and the fans.

To look beyond the basketball component for a second, these are some of the non-hoopsters behind Lewis in Freeman's rankings: Mickey Mantle, John McEnroe, Tom Brady, Babe Ruth, Mark Messier, Alex Rodriquez, Ted Williams, Randy Moss and a few others.

Lewis was a very good player, but Freeman’s statement and ranking of him are insane.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Health Sort of Relates to Sports, Right?

Sometimes I sort of feel lucky to live in this day and age. When so much has been discovered, and humans are now so enlightened and educated. Because I am lucky enough to exist in these times, I know that you can’t, say, eat plastic or drink filthy mud water and expect to be healthy. Also, you can’t just sit around every day and expect to have muscles and very little fat. See, you need clean water, protein, and exercise. Shit like that. But WHY? What's the point?

That’s the question that’s often bothered me. WHY? Why can’t I just be a 400 pound fat shit who sustains myself on a diet of Pepsi and Ring Dings? I don’t get it. Lucky for me, my "My Yahoo!" page includes some health articles, and I stumbled on this gem.

Getting in shape reduces death risk

DALLAS - The more fit you are, the longer you're likely to live, according to a large study of veterans that applies to black men as well as white men. The Veterans Affairs researchers found that the "highly fit" men in the study had half the risk of death as those who were the least fit. Being "very highly fit" cut the risk even more, by 70 percent.

Slow down. My world is spinning. But what about the Pepsi and Ring Dings? Does this mean I have to get off the couch?

The research builds on what is already known about the benefits of exercise and fills in some gaps by addressing the effects of fitness in blacks.

So we knew this about white folks, but not about black folks? I knew this! Why didn’t they ask me? They probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this study. There it is assholes….it’s on this page every day! It’s almost like they aren’t reading.

All it took was:

"Dear Jeff at GGAS, does being “highly fit” lessen the risk of death?"

I would have said: "Yes, for all colors and shapes, homies."

"A little bit of exercise goes a long way," said Peter Kokkinos, lead author of the study. "Thirty minutes a day, five days a week of brisk walking is likely to reduce the risk of mortality by 50 percent if not more."

It then goes on to say that the average age in the study was 60. I think that’s a big flaw, as I’m sure the really really really healthy people died a long time before 60. So don’t overdo it out there.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jon Heyman vs. Keith Law Re: Glaus/Rolen

A few days ago, I caught Jon Heyman’s take on the Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus trade and was going to comment on it, but Keith Law has done my job for me. Not my real job, I’m still selling vacuums door to door. Keith can’t take that away from me.

Anyway, let’s see Heyman’s take:

• The Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus trade makes sense -- for the Blue Jays, anyway. They get the better defensive player and a player not involved in the steroid mess. (According to SI, in 2003 and '04 Glaus received multiple shipments of steroids through an allegedly illegal Internet distribution network.) Execs were accused of looking the other way during the Steroid Era; now some of them are disregarding what we already know. You'd think if any team would be sensitive to the issue it might be the Cardinals. Apparently not.

I was pretty sure that was backwards. I was going to comment on it, but someone asked Keith Law during his ESPN chat on Thursday.

Jonathan Rosenberg (Toronto, Ont): Thoughts on the Glaus for Rolen deal.

Keith Law: I have yet to come up with an argument that justifies this deal for the Blue Jays. They got the older, more hurt (back troubles dating back a decade), worse-hitting player who's under contract for an extra year.

They are both injury proned and in a decline phase production wise. But the most important point when talking about a deal between two past-their-prime, injury prone players? How long you have to pay for them.

Glaus is due $12.75 million in 2008, then can exercise a player option for $11.25 million in 2009.

Rolen is due $11 million in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Glaus still managed to produce pretty well when he was in the lineup last year. He had an OPS+ of 120 last year with 20 homers (115 games) and a line of .262/.366/.473.

Rolen had a robust 89+ OPS + with 8 homers in 112 games and a line of .365/.331/.398. He was decent in 2006, but his 2005 was another injury year.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fun With Words: Dwyane Wade Edition

For whatever reason, I just thought this was amusing.

In the current ESPN the Magazine (Wade on the cover), there is a story about how driven Wade is or something. It includes this:

He enlarges his vocabulary, one word a week. "Immaculate was one," he says. "Cohorts. Lethargic. As in, 'I've been busy trying to get this lethargic team back on track'."

Did someone give Wade a "boost your 8th grader's vocabulary" book as a joke?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hall of Fame: Arguments of Convenience

We’re all sick of Hall of Fame talk, so I’m hesitantly putting up the post I drafted about a week ago but never got around to it. Jayson Stark just posted his Hall of Fame picks today (which included Jack Morris, who is discussed below) so I’m not the only one late to the party.

The main gripes that I have with most Hall of Fame arguments are as follows:

- They cherry pick stats
- They ignore key statistics.
- They rely on arbitrary thresholds.
- The voter decides based on “gut” or if they felt that a player was a Hall of Famer.
- They use statistics that are not necessarily indicative of Hall of Fame performance.

The purpose of this post is to show you how easy it is to support someone’s HOF inclusion based on convenient arguments and cherry picked stats while ignoring what should be fairly obvious disqualifiers.

First, here’s Buster Olney’s brief (I’m sure summarized) support for Jack Morris:

Jack Morris, like Gossage, is in his ninth year on the ballot, after winning 254 games, including three 20-win seasons. There were four instances in which he finished in the top five in the Cy Young Award voting, and he was named an All-Star five times, twice as the starting pitcher. He led all pitchers in the '80s with 162 victories, 133 complete games, 332 starts and 2,443 innings. He held the AL record for consecutive starting assignments before that mark was broken by Roger Clemens in 2001. I put an "X" through the box next to Morris' name.

Based on this excerpt, Morris could be a Hall of Famer, but he really shouldn’t be. He has a lifetime 3.90 ERA and, including his superb game 7 in Game 7 of the ’91 World Series, he was actually about as good in the postseason as he was in the regular season. A 3.90 ERA would be the highest in the Hall of Fame. In fact, his lifetime ERA+ is only 105, which means that adjusted for ballpark he was only 5% better than league average over the course of his career. As a point of reference, Rick Reuschel, in about as many innings, was at 114. 105 is the province of Denny Neagle, Jamie Moyer, and Zane Smith. Morris was a workhorse who ate innings, had great run support, and pitched one of the finest games in MLB history, given the stage.

There have been many dissertations on why Morris is not a Hall of Famer so I’ll stop there, but instead I’ll propose the Hall of Fame inclusion for a different pitcher using the same general methodology (but different measures) as many voters. Here goes:


Player X had a career ERA+ of 122, meaning his park-adjusted ERA was 22% better than his contemporaries. Despite his late career injuries, he still threw almost 3,000 innings with a career ERA+ better than Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn, and Steve Carlton (the fact that these 3 are lefties is purely coincidental). During his prime years, he had a run of consecutive ERA+ of 138, 142, 145 and 172 while tossing more than 260 innings in each year. He posted two additional years of ERA+’s in excess of 130. 172 is better than Roger Clemens posted in 1986 (Cy Young and MVP that year), and better than the very best years in the careers of Glavine, Juan Marichal, and Jim Palmer. He was named to seven All-Star teams and he started two in a row. Despite playing on some bad teams, he finished with a career winning % of .562, better than Don Drysdale and Fergie Jenkins. He was in the top seven in the Cy Young voting four times, and he collected MVP votes on 3 occasions. He led the league in ERA once and was top five on five occasions. He led the league in innings twice and was top five in shutouts four times.

During his career he was one of the toughest pitchers in his league to hit. He led the league in lowest hits per nine innings twice and was in the top seven on eight occasions. He threw a no-hitter, and I believe he threw five one-hitters (can’t find one-hitter stats). He had a no-hitter broken up with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning in two consecutive starts (which is unreal). He also had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth, which was ultimately a two-hitter. I remember watching that game on TV against the Yankees, and I’ve never seen pitches have so much movement. His career hits allowed per nine innings is better than Carlton, Drysdale, Marichal, Spahn, Greg Maddux, and Curt Schilling. He had the lowest ERA of any pitcher in the 1980’s (who threw at least 1,600 innings), he was second in wins and he led all 80’s pitchers with 27 shutouts. He had a better career strikeout to walk ratio than Jim Palmer.


This player was on the Hall of Fame ballot once, in 2004, and he received 1.4% of the vote. Not enough to ever be seen on the ballot again. He received 7 votes that year versus Jack Morris’ 133.

Dave Stieb shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer, and to anyone with a solid head on their shoulders, I was clearly cherry picking my stats and making arguments that are convenient to my cause while ignoring disqualifiers. I even threw in a little personal nostalgia. I could have mentioned that I know a couple people named Dave, which might be enough to warrant a vote if I were Woody Paige.

I guess my point is that I could do this for dozens of players who should not be Hall of Famers. It’s the same thing a ton of voters do for Morris. They decide, with their gut, and then find convenient arguments that support the case while ignoring things that don’t. That’s what Olney has done above, and he supported a guy that was better than Dave Stieb in my mind only because he threw 800 more innings. That’s a lot; 32% more innings, and I give Morris a lot of credit for that (it’s still just 49th all-time). In the innings they both did throw, Stieb was his better by most measures. Jack Morris’ best ERA+ year was tied for Dave Stieb’s sixth best. His second best was a mere 5% better than Stieb’s career average. Five percent isn’t much, and remember that it’s the career ERA+ margin between Jack Morris and Mr. Joe Average Pitcher.

Now after reading about Stieb, please go back and read Olney’s excerpt above and you’ll see where the frustration comes from. Read Jon Heyman’s here and you’ll slam your head into your desk.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hall Crap II: The Return

Dave Buscema of the Times Herald-Record (what a crazy redundant name - hi I work for the NY Examiner-Enquirer Tribune!) gets a vote. Let’s get to it.

First Hall of Fame ballot no easy decision

NEW YORK — After seemingly endless analyzing, re-analyzing and agonizing that often threatened the sanity of everyone around me as well as my own, I finally had decided.

Okay – so starting out we know two things:

1.) This was Buscema’s first HOF ballot.
2.) He took it very seriously, and spent a ton of time doing analysis.

So I noted the time at 12:52 p.m. yesterday as I typed a message to a colleague, confidently announcing an end to the chaos, along with the names of the players who would be checked on my first Hall of Fame ballot.

Those player’s names only being checked after endless analyzing, re-analyzing and agonizing. Gotcha.

Nearly four hours and one scratched out name later, I actually submitted the damn thing.

Then, you made a sandwich and took a big nap to rest your tired, analysis-drained head.

After a week in which my ballot occasionally varied from having anywhere from one to six names, the final tally was two:

Goose Gossage.
Jim Rice.

I can tell this is going to be awesome. At least no Jack Morris.

Amazingly, they are the players my instinct initially told me to select.

Because you made a classic mistake and decided up front and then crafted your logic around those conclusions. You rationalized. This is not amazing.

By the end of this process they were not deemed worthy due to nostalgic memories of my youth, but because they had survived a rigorous, yet imperfect inspection that inspired pride in my new status as a voter and ultimately a confidence in the voting philosophy I was creating as a standard for the future.

This guy is super fucking grandiose, isn’t he? Let’s get to the rigorous inspection! A new standard for the future? I’m going to be looking for how exactly this analysis is going to change the current paradigm (which generally sucks). Will he be talking sabermetrics or doing graphs and shit?

In the end — after I had allowed myself to be lobbied into a vote for Tim Raines before frantically re-opening the case to change my mind — I discovered a thought I will now use as my guide:

If a player's status somehow came down to my vote, he has to make me feel worse for keeping him out of the Hall than inducting him.

So this rigorous new standard is…..gut. Guess what? That’s what they all do buddy.

My Hall of Fame standard is not based on who is already in — I had no say in those players, though I did compare these candidates to players I would have selected for the Hall in the past. I want an elite Hall, in which only the best players — if not of all time, at least of their era or position — enter.

My hall of fame standard is not based on who is already in, but I did compare the players to who is already in. Hmmmm, then aren’t you sort of basing, in at least some way, who to vote for based on who is in? If only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were in……would you vote for Jim Rice?

Now, players who have some sort of pioneering legacy could also earn points, which is why Gossage gets in as one of the game's first and best closers — in real life, not stats. Gossage was a true "fireman" who escaped jams rather than prevent them by coming on to start the ninth.

So, you’re basing it on the elite players of all time (or, a much easier test, at their position)….buuuuut pioneering legacy gets you some points! I think this will help Jeffrey Leonard, he of the “one flap down” home run trot. Plus Mel Hall, who used to put a batting glove in his back pocket so that it waved bye bye when he rounded the bases – which he took like 17 minutes to do. That guy was awesome – for that reason. He's in the pioneer wing of my Hall of Fame.

Rice qualifies as the best left fielder of his era and stood up fairly well by averaging 90 RBI for his career, along with that run of 12 years when his combination of home runs (natural and realistic), RBI and average made him widely thought of as the game's most feared hitter.

Ladies and gentleman, we have entered a new era of hall of fame voting as set forth by Dave Buscema. We are now looking at Homeruns that are deemed “natural and realistic” – this really helps Jose Oquendo’s case – his barely cleared the fences! We are also now looking at Runs Batted In (RBI, to you sabermetrically inclined) and Batting Average. Note that 90 RBI a year is sufficient. Batting Average of course is the result of a complex divisional-related computation whereby “Hits” are divided by “At-Bats” and a percentage is derived. We don’t call it Batting Percentage though, because that sounds too nerdy.


Based on unique talent, Raines nearly got my vote as one of the best leadoff hitters of all time and Tommy John received a last-ditch look because so many of his 288 wins came after he served as the pioneering guinea pig for an arm surgery that has saved a ton of careers.

So add a point for “pioneering guinea pig”. Unbelievably I think this should also help the case of Jose Oquendo, who played all 9 positions over the course of an MLB season. I also think Louis Polonia was a guinea pig for using a glove bigger than his arm. But I’m not sure what either of these experiments proved. But they are both in the pioneering guinea pig wing of my HOF.

But John — and to some extent Bert Blyleven — lost points with me for compiling numbers through longevity rather than a dominating run. It's the Hall of Fame, not endurance.

Nothing wrong with that opinion I guess. They should just call it the Hall of Dominance. That’s a kickass name and it would only have dominating guys in it. Also, Colin Cowherd wouldn’t be able to say that Jose Canseco should be in because he’s, like, wicked famous.

Ultimately though there is the criteria offered by the Hall itself — "the player's record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." To me, you can be lacking a little in some of those areas if you have an abundance of the others.

But integrity, sportsmanship and character are enough to keep out those who hurt the game in the steroids era. So Mark McGwire does not get my vote, because I can't imagine why he wouldn't "talk about the past" before Congress if he was clean. I have five years to decide on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but I lean toward a no for now.

This is a justifiable position if you view the steroid era that negatively. I love it. McGwire? Now that guy hit some dingers!

Raines' name was removed from my ballot at the last possible moment.

When he was in his first full season with the Expos, Raines admitted cocaine use, sought help and is thought to have been drug-free ever since making a mistake when he was a "young, young, young 20," as he said in one interview. The rest of his career and status as a great teammate and leader was enough to make me consider overlooking the offense because cocaine is an addiction more than a performance enhancer, but three things finally tore at my gut enough to take him off my ballot for now:

I don’t understand why Tim Raines' relatively brief battle with cocaine addiction ever gets mentioned. Can we let the guy get over a drug problem he had at the very beginning of his career? It was over 25 years ago. Mickey Mantle was an alcoholic and no one gave a shit. What if we found out that Manny Ramirez drops acid before every game? That would be awesome. The thing here is that Buscema is going to beat the shit out of the cocaine issue and not vote for him because of it.

1. He admitted sliding headfirst the year he used because he kept coke in his uniform pocket and didn't want it to fall out — which is an act as disrespectful of the game as you can imagine.

No, that’s an act that shows his level of addiction. Disgracing the game would be if he received a “steal” sign at first base and then angrily pointed back to the dugout with his “Fuck you I aint’ stealing – I’ll break my vile” sign….which I think goes middle finger/head shake/finger on side of nose with snort sound/shrug. This isn’t as disgraceful as cheating or gambling on games in which you are a part of the outcome.

The most disrespectful thing I can imagine would be a player hitting a home run 700 feet, then refusing to round the bases because he thinks the game is stupid and then taking off his uniform and pissing on it before saying he was retiring to go work for big tobacco, because that’s more meaningful, rewarding and fun.

2. As a player whose key Hall of Fame attribute was his speed, I want to examine a little further whether the use of a stimulant could have enhanced his performance whether he used it for that purpose or not.

I’ll answer this for you. Tim Raines was not one of history’s best base stealers because he did cocaine. The Pittsburgh drug trials were in 1985 - and I believe he was well done his drug use before say age 20 even. I’m not sure exactly when Raines used, but his stolen base numbers were 1981= 71, ’82 = 78, 90, 75, 70, 70, 50, 33, 41, 49, 51, and 45 which leads us to 1993 season when Raines was passed his SB prime (he was 32) and caught some injuries. So, Dave, let me know what your research RE: "Impacts of Cocaine on ability to steal bases" yields over the next 12 months. That’s looks like a pretty normal distribution to me.

3. He wasn't a surefire Hall of Famer without that issue by any means; in fact, I had only seriously considered him after several compelling columns turned my head.

Raines is a more murky issue for me than a straight cheater, but going back to the rule I created for myself, at this moment I can live with Raines not having a plaque.

So that’s it? Raines is out because you don’t know if cocaine helped him steal bases and you can sleep at night without him in? What happened to rigorous inspection? What happened to creating a standard for the future? Why is Raines a more murky issue than Mark McGwire? Why am I asking you all these questions when you’re not reading this?

That doesn't mean I won't reconsider after more time to ponder and research. Which brings up another lesson/rule I discovered.

What is your research going to be? Give a little leaguer some cocaine to see if he starts stealing bases at a higher rate? Actually, that would also be fun. I fully support this.

I had vowed not to be one of those voters keeping players out on their first year because "he's not a first ballot Hall of Famer." I figured a Hall of Famer was a Hall of Famer or he was not. But with a ballot in my hand, I've realized it's not that simple. Some players require more time, thought and research than others.

Why do all Hall voters seem to act like the names on the ballot are complete surprise to them? They act like they show up one day and are handed an envelope with a bunch of names in it, with no prior knowledge, and are asked, right then, to decide their hall worthiness. What the hell are these guys doing for 5 years after the player retires? Why can’t you start determining hall worthiness THEN?

Blyleven is one, as his 287 wins, devastating curve ball and consistently low ERA will make me seek out some of his contemporaries to discuss him this year. For now, he was a no because he won 20 games just once in 22 years and never even led the league in ERA.

Yeah, we need more time to determine if Bert Blyleven is Hall of Famer. He retired in 1992! And for all your newfangled rigorous changing-the-future voting practice, you rest on “he never led his league in ERA and he only won 20 games once”. You know who won an ERA title and one 20 games 1 time? Teddy Higuera, Bill Swift, Mike Scott, Mike Boddicker and Rick Sutcliffe. Does that mean they are better, or were all better at their peaks, or more dominating than Bert?

He’s fifth all-time in strikeouts and he has a better ERA+ than two of the guys in front of him – Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton. He has more K’s and a better ERA+ than “compilers” like Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins. Wins are a sucky measure.

He then goes through his ballot (every player) in a sort-of addendum to his column. Here are a few.

Bert Blyleven – Plenty of people stumped for him, both in stuff I read and people I spoke to and a look at his career made me think long and hard. He’s fifth all-time in strikeouts, has an impressive 60 shutouts and is known for having one of the best curves in the game. And I can let the mediocre win-loss record go a bit because he played for so many poor teams and excelled in the postseason when given the chance … but ultimately I still would have liked to have seen at least a little better winning percentage and/or more Cy Young votes, an ERA title and more than one 20-win season in 22 years. I’ll re-examine next year.


I can let the win-loss record go because of the poor run support…. so he didn't need to win more, but I’d like to see him win more, get more Cy Young votes (which dopes vote on based on wins), an ERA title, and win more. But the guy has only been retired for 15 I need more time. Makes sense.

Tommy John – Didn’t make it for me this year since he was a product of longevity more than stardom. But in paving the way for future pitchers by rehabbing from the arm surgery named for him, I’m going to give him a closer look next year.

Take your time, Dave, he only retired in 1989. He's only 64 years old. The surgery is always cited when talking about Tommy John. Unless he did the operation HIMSELF in the dugout to keep pitching in a close game, I don’t give a fuck. It should based on what he did on the field, not what a doctor did on the operating table.

Don Mattingly – Is your screen wet from my tears here? I’ll admit it, this one was more heartbreaking than I thought. I thought he’d be an easy no because I was now a full-fledged professional rather than the star-struck fan I was of him as a kid.

How old is Dave Buscema? Like 30? 35? To have a HOF vote you need to be in the BBWAA for 10 years. Did he start covering a pro team for a newspaper at like 15?

Jack Morris – Great big-game pitcher; his 1-0 World Series victory is considered one of the best games ever pitched and he was one of the best pitchers of his era. But that 3.90 ERA is high and so many of his wins came thanks to a strong offensive Tigers team. I will look longer and harder at him in the coming year, but my gut says his regular seasons needed to match his postseasons a little more.

Jack Morris – career regular season = 3.90 ERA. Career playoffs = 3.80 ERA.

Tim Raines – My column offers a detailed analysis of the tough time I had with him. As one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, Raines compares decently with Lou Brock – who I consider a bona fide Hall of Famer. But he’s not quite Rickey Henderson and so the black mark on his record early stopped me just enough to take more time to think.

He’s not the best leadoff hitter ever and one of the best baseball players ever like Rickey Henderson, so he’s not in. Christ that’s a tough comparison.

If Raines were as dominant as Henderson, I might have been able to deal with his admitted cocaine use during games (keeping stuff in his back pocket is the real killer there) when he was just 20 years old. And I still might even get past it because the voting criteria including “character” and “integrity” could still fit since Raines admitted the use himself rather than waiting to get caught and it seems to have been for one season. But I need more time to think about that and compare it to performance-enhancing use. My gut says it doesn’t compare and I might still vote for Raines eventually. For now, it was a no.

Enough with the cocaine! Holy shit you have pounded that into the ground.

XJim Rice -- He was on my ballot. Then off. Then on. And so on. Ultimately, I looked at his 12 dominant seasons and a career average of 90 RBI a year along with his average and pure home run power and decided he was too dominant for too long to leave out. He’s a Hall of Famer for me.

No mention of him in the field, where he was below average. Or his home/road splits. Just 90 RBI a year and a .298 average and “pure home run power”, which translated into 382 dingers. This is not revolutionary thinking that was promised.

Alan Trammell – Great all-around shortstop; sort of a little brother type to Cal Ripken in the link toward today’s offensive minded shortstops. Ultimately, despite an excellent career, I felt he wasn’t quite good enough to get the call. He’s just short of Ripken in the all-around shortstop mode and not the Wizard Ozzie Smith was at short.

Okay – so Tim Raines is out because he’s not Rickey Henderson and Alan Trammell is out because he’s not Cal Ripken at the plate and Ozzie Smith in the field. That seems harsh.

Don't worry, plenty of time to think about it in 2008.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hall Crap

Just so you don’t think I’ve been totally useless over the holidays, I did devote about 45 minutes one day to tearing apart Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame ballot, but in the midst of some quick research, I noticed that Firejoemorgan had already taken it on (here and here).

Heyman’s post is peculiar in its (sort of) defensiveness, but it’s really no different than most HOF columns. It was filled with cherry picked stats from a guy who says that we shouldn’t rely on stats (we only shouldn’t rely on meaningless stats like the ones Heyman uses). Anyway I stumbled on Tracy Ringolsby’s column for the Rocky Mountain News regarding his Hall voting. Here, I’ll show them with commentary!

Time for one last pitch ? which will be swung at and missed.

That’s his first sentence. What the fuck? Either there’s a question mark in the sentence or there’s no capitalization to start the second sentence (fragment). I didn’t just get back from the grammar rodeo so I'll try not to discuss these things, but I’m also not a real f’ing writer like Tracy is.

I mostly like that he’s saying the voters will get this first vote wrong, which is unfortunate because Tracy’s a voter and he gets everything right.

Shortstop Dave Concepcion is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th and final time. He has managed to draw the 5 percent support each year to get another shot, including being named on 13.6 percent of the ballots cast last year - 74 of 545.

Sounds like this guy is clearly not a Hall of Famer. Could the voters be THAT wrong? .

Concepcion is often overlooked because of the talent of the Big Red Machine, but he was the stabilizing force up the middle.

Nebulous and meaningless. Where does stabilizing force fall in the weighting of Hall of Fame worthiness? My guess? It’s somewhere after being one of the top 5 home run hitters ever (more later). I would argue that Concepcion gets TOO MUCH HOF recognition because of the talent of the Big Red Machine. If he played for the Royals, no one would give a shit. Playing on the Reds didn’t seem to hurt the prototypical marginal Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

He hasn't come close to being enshrined, though, because the intangibles he adds to his statistics never have been seen as enough to gain the support.

Right, why are they?

Oh, you're done, thanks.

He'll get at least one more vote in his final year of consideration by veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Others who will get at least one vote:

Here Ringolsby starts with Blyleven and Gossage with some commentary. I have no problem with those picks or his reasoning (though he’s pretty brief).

* Jack Morris led pitchers in victories in the 1980s, made 515 consecutive starts, which was a record until Roger Clemens broke it in 2001, and is tied for second all time with 14 Opening Day starts, two shy of Tom Seaver.

Sooooo, did the guy pitch at a HOF level? I have no friggin’ idea based on these numbers. Opening day starts is the stupidest stat ever cited for a HOF argument, and the fact is that it is ALWAYS cited to support Morris, which shows you how weak his case is when you actually look at the numbers and take your head away from the awesomest game of all awesome games that he pitched in the 1991 World Series. See the FJM link above for Morris-opening day talk. It is, in my opinion, the worst number ever thrown out to support someone’s HOF worthiness. Most wins of the 1980’s is an obvious function of timing (if you care about wins, I don’t value pitcher W/L record very much). Jack Morris did lead the 1980’s in wins, beating out Dave Stieb and Bob Welch. Guys like Seaver and Carlton died off in the 80’s and Clemens and Maddux just got started, so it’s an obvious function of timing and how good the Tigers were. Morris was a great pitcher in many respects, mostly with regards to his durability, but I'm not voting him in when I get my BBWAA vote in a couple of years (that's easy to get, right?).

* Lee Smith was replaced by Trevor Hoffman as the game's all-time saves leader, but the seven-time All-Star did have 13 consecutive seasons of 20-plus saves, including 10 of at least 30.

I don’t know what to make of these arguments, generally. Should I care about “saves”? The all-time record for saves in a season is held by Bobby Thigpen. Smith did have longevity, but personally I think a closer needs to be absolutely dominant to be a Hall of Famer (Rivera/Eckersley level), because it’s just not that hard of a position to put up good numbers at (compared to starters, for instance) with respect to saves and ERA. I’m not sure Lee Smith is that guy. Are we going to throw John Franco in the Hall of Fame? He pitched slightly more innings with a better ERA+. No he wasn’t as good, but still… Smith will become a slippery slope. Am I watching a future Hall of Famer when Francisco Cordero takes the mound? I’m inclined to leave him out.

Ringolsby then notes Alan Trammel, who I support.

Can't get caught up in the Jim Rice bandwagon. Can't say that his offensive stats are lights out better than Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy, but while Dawson and Murphy were Gold Glove outfielders, Rice was a designated hitter who survived at times in left field at Fenway Park.

Rice, like lefty Tommy John, are both in their 14th year on the ballot, meaning they make it this year or next or wind up relying on the Veterans Committee for any chance of enshrinement.

I think leaving Rice off (and Dawson and Murphy) is the right thing to do, but “survived at times” is a bit harsh. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t flat-terrible. He played 75% of his games in the field, and the only reason he was the DH on the early Red Sox teams was because they were trotting out an OF of Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans….who were all, like, awesome fielders. True, Rice shouldn’t get credit for playing the field when Yaz was, but I have a hard time holding it against him too.

I guess Ringolsby is saying that Dawson and Murphy aren't HOFers, and they hit pretty well in comparison to Rice (agreed), but they were better fielders too.

No Mark McGwire, either, but it has nothing to do with questions about performance-enhancing drugs. He was a dramatic power hitter, but a Hall of Famer needs to have total greatness.

This is where Ringolsby just loses all credibility with me. Bull-fucking-shit. If you’re taking PED’s out of the question, you're telling me that McGwire isn’t a hall of famer – check out Rob Neyer’s take about a year ago here (insider only). Let’s pretend that that “steroid era” never happened, is he not saying that McGwire doesn’t get his vote? But Dave Concepcion does?

Here’s an excerpt of two paragraphs from Neyer:

If by "one-dimensional" you mean "all he did was hit home runs," then no, that's not precisely true. McGwire drew more than 1,300 walks, and eight times he ranked among the top 10 in walks in his league. He didn't strike out particularly often. He never led his league in strikeouts, and finished in the top (i.e., bottom) 10 only twice. McGwire was not the all-or-nothing slugger we might see in our mind's eye. Yes, he batted .201 in 1991, his worst season, and .187 in 2001, his last season. He also batted .289 as a rookie in 1987, .312 in 1996 and .305 in 2000. McGwire's .263 career batting average was dead-on with his leagues' averages (one of which includes pitchers hitting, obviously, but still ...).

And his summary:

McGwire was, in one sense, a one-dimensional player. All he did was hit. But you know, he really hit. Maybe you don't believe one-dimensional players belong in the Hall of Fame, and if so, you're not by yourself. But that standard has never been applied. Hank Greenberg was a one-dimensional player, and so was Bill Mazeroski. If you're good enough at your one dimension, you're in. And so if we're looking purely at performance on the field, there simply isn't any real precedent for keeping a player like Mark McGwire out of Cooperstown.

His defense was OK, at best, and it's interesting that, according to Baseball Reference, the most similar players statistically to McGwire are Jim Thome, Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado, none of whom have Cooperstown on their horizon.

It’s interesting that you’ve completely bastardized the baseballreference list to support your case. Let’s look at the FULL list.

Jim Thome (826) - Will get some Hall support
Jose Canseco(808)
Carlos Delgado (803)
Harmon Killebrew(783) – Hall of Famer
Willie McCovey (767) – Hall of Famer
Jason Giambi (756)
Juan Gonzalez (739)
Norm Cash (736)
Dave Kingman (732) - career .302 OBP, McGwire was .394 - that's such a difference that it makes me give this "comparable players" thing like little credibility.
Manny Ramirez (730) – Future Hall of Famer, though I'm surprised that McGwire would compare that favorably to him.

Also, Jim Thome has over 500 homeruns and a lifetime OBP over .400. I think there will be some serious Thome consideration given when it comes to Hall of Fame voting – mostly depending on how the current era's Hall voting shakes out. Thome's baseball reference comps include Manny Ramirez, Willie Stargell, Duke Snider, Frank Thomas and McGwire.

Back to McGwire, let’s do a quick rundown:

Career SLG %: .5882. Ninth all-time.
Career HR: 583. 8th all-time.
Career OPS: .9823. 11th all-time.
AB per HR: 10.6 to 1. 1st all time.

McGwire is one of the 5 most prolific homerun hitters in the history of baseball. If you take the convenient stance of ignoring PED's, he's in.