Archive for the ‘Sports – MLB’ category

Does This Make Me A Fair Weather Fan?

May 11, 2009

The Mets have now won seven games in a row and are in first place all by themselves. Johan Santana has an ERA under one. Carlos Beltran is batting .375. The bullpen – the biggest problem last year – looks good. My reaction? I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care.

After the historic collapses of the last two years I am paying no attention at all to my favorite team until they either clinch a playoff spot or are eliminated from playoff contention. I won’t watch them any more than anyone else. I refuse to read updates about the team. I’m not even rooting against the Phillies and Braves. Until the post season is set, the Mets are just another team.

It’d be one thing if they had been an awful team for the last two years. It’s not hard to stick with your team when they stink. There’s no stress involved in a last place finish. Having them come thisclose to the playoffs only to blow it as no team had blown it before? That hurts.

To avoid that pain I’m assuming they will do the same thing again this year. I can’t prevent a collapse. I can, though, prevent myself from emotionally investing in the team’s success. Thus, when the collapse occurs it makes no difference to me.

I don’t think that makes me a fair weather fan, either. Sure, it seems like it fits the definition. But a fair weather fan is someone who never followed a bad team but then becomes a fan when that team starts winning. In my case, I am refusing to follow a GOOD team. Also, this is a quid pro quo. I don’t want to experience the last two years again. The only way I can control that is to cut off my support. The Mets, though, can change things by winning games in September. They do that, I come back.

Until then? They’re dead to me.

Forget The Trial, Throw Him In The Hudson And See If He Sinks

April 14, 2008

Oh. My. God. If this happens, it will be the most asinine, ridiculous, stupendously stupid prosecution ever:

The Yankees officially reversed the jersey curse yesterday — extracting from the new stadium’s concrete a David Ortiz shirt planted by a Red Sox-obsessed hardhat hoping to hex his team’s arch rivals.

Then they warned the traitorous construction worker, Gino Castignoli, to watch his back, saying criminal and civil charges could be on deck.

Trost speculated that Castignoli could be on the hook for criminal mischief.

A spokesman for the Bronx district attorney said, “We can’t speculate” on possible charges.

Trost said that even if Castignoli ends up safe from charges, “we’re thinking of a civil case, looking for money damages.”

Yesterday’s excavation alone cost the team $50,000, Trost said, even though the actual digging took two workers just 15 minutes.

Are you kidding me? So you’re telling me that if I hired some voodoo magician to put bad mojo on Nick Saban prior to next year’s Alabama-LSU game, and then Satan went and dropped 50k on a counter hex, I’d somehow be civilly and criminally responsible for his insane belief in the occult? That is absurd. He spent the money because he’s insane, not because of my silly joke.

At worst, this Castignoli guy committed a technical trespass, one with zero damages. That jersey, left alone, could in no way have caused any cognizable injury to the Yankees. Had the Yankees acted rationally, they would have suffered absolutely no harm. Instead they spent 50k trying to undue a “hex.” If they want to waste money because they believe in fairy tails, that’s fine, but let’s not waste government resources protecting them from the consequences of their own stupidity.

As an aside, which was the biggest waste, the 50k to remove the jersey, or the money spent on A-Rod hoping he’d lead them to a World Series?

A Question About Last Night’s Yankees Red Sox Game

April 14, 2008

The Sox won, even though the Yankees almost came back from a six run deficit. One of the Sox relievers who let the Yankees back in the game was Mike Timlin, who, according to the box score, gave up three hits and one earned run without recording an out.

Here’s my questions: What’s Timlin’s ERA for last night’s game? My understanding is that a pitcher’s ERA (the average amount of earned runs he surrenders in a nine inning game) is calculated by dividing the number of earned runs by innings pitched and then multiplying the results by nine. So if Ace Pitcher surrenders three earned runs in six inning, his ERA would be 4.50 (3 runs/6 innings pitched = .5, then .5 x  9 = 4.50). But for  Timlin – because having failed to record an out he technically pitched zero innings – that calculation would produce an ERA of 0.00 (1/0 = 0, then 0 x 9 = 0). That can’t be right. So what is it? Is there another calculation? Or do we use a type of legal fiction and just say he pitched a third of an inning, even though he didn’t, so that his ERA is 27.00? Or is his ERA infinity; he’ll just keep on giving up runs without ever recording an out?

Why Isn’t Congress Investigating Gaylord Perry?

February 13, 2008

They’re all hot and bothered that Roger Clemens (and several others) might have cheated, so why not spend our tax dollars investigating every player who ever cheated? Perry’s in the Hall of Fame even though he was always accused of tampering with the ball. No committee has ever asked Albert Bell or Sammy Sosa about corking baseball bats. The only person who bothered with George Brett’s pine tar was Billy Martin.

Seriously, why do all these attempts to break the rules not merit congressional investigation?

Ohhh, its because Clemens (allegedly) cheated by using steroids.

I suppose that ought to clear it all up, but all I can say is “And?” Look, I’m not arguing about whether or not Major League Baseball ought to ban steroids, or how seriously they ought to enforce the ban, I’m asking why in the world the United States Freakin’ Congress is spending our resources investigating people who cheated at a game. Mindlessly responding “steroids” does not cut it for me; it is not self evident that someone using a drug to alter their body in violation of the rules of Major League Baseball somehow impacts the entire nation to such a degree that Congress has to step into the situation.

In other words, what makes using steroids to cheat sooooo much worse than corking a bat or spitting on a baseball? Both of them equally undermine the integrity of the game. Arguably, steroids might injure the user, but no one who values liberty ought to think Congress has any business protecting people from themselves. I don’t care one bit if Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds want to trade life span and health for All Star appearances. It’s their health, let them decide how to use it. So, given that the external damage is the same – undermining the rules of MLB – why no investigation of spit-ballers?

Barry Bonds, Mike Vick and Nooses in Jena

November 20, 2007

Interesting question on the S’port Yuppie blog:

I’m sure many of you heard about the march on Washington Friday. In case you missed it, people from all over the country led by Al Sharpton marched around the Justice Department to demand more enforcement of hate crime laws. . . .

[I]f the federal government can deem it urgent and necessary to intervene on behalf of dogs (i.e. the Michael Vick dog abuse case) and baseball (i.e. the steroid case with Barry Bonds) can’t we at least agree that more federal action should be taken against a hate crime that symbolizes decades of gruesome, brutal, unjust murders committed throughout this country against a race of people?

What’s next is my attempt at an answer.

To begin, I think the author intended the question to be rhetorical, but the answer is far from obvious. There are two very different issues with each of the alleged crimes. First, should the substantive act be a crime, and second, if so, should it be a federal crime? The first questions involves issues of right, wrong, and the responsibilities of the government. It is not enough to say “x is wrong,” you also have to argue “x is so wrong that x ought to be criminalized.” The second question takes you into constitutional law and general policies of federalism. Like it or not, the constitution does not give the federal government carte blanche to create and enforce criminal laws. Even if it did, the wisest policy is often to leave it to the states.

Given the many issues involved, I think there are several reasonable conclusions about which of the three examples deserves federal intervention. In other words, there are a lot more reasons than just race for a person arguing that federal action was essential for Mike Vick and Barry Bonds, but not for whoever hung the nooses in Jena. It might be a belief that symbolic acts like noose-hanging should never be crimes. Or it might be a belief that because the noose hanging was a completely local event, it does not justify federal interaction. It could be something else. Race could be the reason, too, but not necessarily.

Now, here’s my view on all three cases.

I’ve already explained my reasoning for Vick. His case ought not be a crime at all, and definitely not a federal crime. I love my dog, but no amount of harm done to an animal justifies putting a human being in jail (unless the harmed animal belonged to another human, of course). Even if you think humans ought to go to jail because of harm done to an animal, nothing Mike Vick did hurt anyone outside Virginia. Let Virginia’s government take care of it.

As for the noose, I won’t apologize for saying someone ought to have the same right to hang a noose from a tree that they would to burn a flag in a public square (or draw unflattering cartoons of Mohammed). Both are pure forms of expression and thus ought to be fully protected by the first amendment. Both are symbols, they do not cause anyone any concrete harm. At bottom, every argument for criminalizing these expressions is some shade of “it offends me.” I have no doubt that the hurt feelings are real, but hurt feelings don’t justify jail time. They’re the very cheap price of a free society. Don’t like the hurtful expression? Counter it with expressions of your own.

Even if you think the government should be policing our opinions and attitudes, the Jena case still ought not be a federal crime. Sure, the case made national news, but who outside Jena, Louisiana could possibly have been harmed by that noose? There is no justification for making taxpayers in Arkansas, Montana, and Maine pay for protecting the sensibilities of people in Jena, Louisiana. It ought to have been a state issue, at most.

Bonds is a little more tricky.

If this was just a case of him using steroids, I would adamantly oppose federal intervention, and probably even state intervention. By taking steroids, he hurt two things: Himself and baseball. Whether it’s smoking, trans fats, drugs, seat belts or motorcycle helmets, I’m of the view that no government has the right to protect people from themselves. As for the harm to baseball, MLB is perfectly capable of solving its own problems. And if they don’t think steroids are a problem? BFD. There’s no need to spend limited government resources protecting a game, even if it is the national pastime.

The problem, however, is that this is one of those “We couldn’t prove you did anything wrong, but you lied while we were trying” cases. Perjury is serious. The legal system depends on people knowing they will be in deep s**t if they lie under oath. So when folks lie, criminal charges are appropriate. Bonds is accused of lying during a federal investigation, so federal charges are the correct charges.

Still, the initial investigation was just so ridiculous. This isn’t the type of case where the government had a legit charge but could not make it stick. This is the type of case where the charge itself was the problem. So even though Bonds committed what would otherwise be a legit federal crime, I’m going to say that I think he ought to walk.

In short, I don’t think the federal government ought to be intervening on behalf of dogs, or steroids, or nooses.

If This Happens, I’ll Be Looking For A New Favorite Team

November 1, 2007

I can deal with the collapse last September, but if the Mets sign A-Rod, I’m gone.

The Secret Identities Of Fox Sports Reporters

October 21, 2007

As I watch game 7 of the ALCS, I’m wondering if I’m the only person who thinks Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal looks like Bob the Enzyte Guy.



It’s the ridiculously toothy grin. Really. Watch the game, next time they cut to Ken on the sidelines, you’ll agree with me.

I’ll also note that I think studio host Jeanne Zelasko is TBN luminary Jan Crouch with a little less makeup.


And Jeanne:

Again, you really need to watch the show to get it, but I’m serious, when she starts yapping on the pre-game, I half expect Kevin Kennedy to throw in a few amens.

We’re All A-Rod Fans Now

August 6, 2007

O.K., choose the correct analogy.

Barry Bonds holding the home run record is to Major League Baseball as . . .

  1. Rosie O’Donnell succeeding Bob Barker would have been to The Price is Right;
  2. An incapacitating illness to George W. Bush would be to the US (I.e., Dick Chaney as president);
  3. Jar Jar Binks was to Star Wars;
  4. The Richard M. Scrushy parkway is to the city of Fairfield, Alabama;
  5. George O’Leary was to Notre Dame;
  6. Mike Strahan’s sack record is to the NFL.

When I saw the replay of home run number 755, I immediately began wondering if there was any other situation in which such a despicable person held such an amazingly noble position. Numbers one through five came from that line of thought.

Not all of the people are despicable, of course, Rosie and Jar-Jar are just ridiculous, O’Leary foolish. Nor are all the honors extraordinary. Star Wars is only a movie, though it is Star Wars. And Fairfield ain’t Paris, thought the RM Scrushy Parkway is it’s main drag.

The gist of the first five, however, is what initially annoyed me about Bonds: In a position that is not only honorable to the person holding it, but is also representative of something larger than the position, is a stupid, or ridiculous, or nasty person. Thus my initial answer was: Just as Dick Chaney would be not only unworthy of holding the office of president but would by holding that office debase the entire United States, so Barry Bonds is not only unworthy of being Home Run King but by being Home Run King has shamed all of Major League Baseball.

Hence the title of this post. Just as everyone would count down the days until the next election should Chaney become president, so everyone is now cheering for the youngest guy to ever hit 5oo home runs to continue his success.

Then I though about it some more. Now I think the answer is number six. Strahan’s sack record is one of the most dubious of all sports records, for two big reasons. One, he did not deserve it, as he recorded the record setting sack late in the fourth quarter of the final game of the year when Bret Favre ran a naked boot leg right at Strahan and then laid down for him. Two, it’s a record in the books only. Strahan had 22.5 sacks in 16 games. But in 1967, before the NFL decided that the sack was an official statistic, (and prior to the expansion of the schedule to 16 games) Deacon Jones had 26 sacks. In short, Strahan holds a meaningless record, and doesn’t even deserve to hold it.

Ditto Barry Bonds.

One, Bonds does not deserve the record. Unlike Strahan, though, who owes his record to another player’s lack of integrity, Bonds is himself a cheater. He owes plenty of his home runs to steroids. I don’t blame him for that any more than I do the other cheaters out there (Mark McGwire, Raffy Palmeiro). Everyone was doing it, and MLB winked and nodded because monster home runs are good for business. But it’s still cheating.

The rampant cheating leads to reason two that Bonds’s record is like Strahan’s sack record. Home runs today do not mean what they did when Hank Aaron was hitting them. Not just because of drugs, either. Expansion means more jobs, which means diluted talent, which means today’s hitters get to beat up on pitchers who never would have even reached the majors in Aaron’s time. Ballparks are more hitter friendly, too (more runs equals more fans). There’s less foul territory, so lots of balls that at one time would have been caught for outs now end up as fouls into the stands. Fences are closer as well, making home runs easier to hit. There’s also Bond’s body armor, which lets him crowd the plate without fear of being hit in retaliation; smaller strike zones; and the conspiracy theories about “juiced” baseballs.

In short, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy or even eighty home runs a season today is not the same thing as it would have been even just twenty years ago. Thus a life time total of 755 home runs today is not the same thing as Aaron’s 755. This is not to say Bonds is anything other than a great hitter. I’m sure that if he’d played in Aaron’s time – with no steroids and against superior talent – he would have been great. But because of the differences between then and now, I give greater more to Aaron’s home runs than to Bonds’s.

So how many more homers would Bonds or any other modern player have to hit than Aaron for me to say the player was a better home run hitter? I do not know. The Home Run Era is too young to make that determination. I became a baseball fan at the tail end of the honest era, when thirty home runs a year was remarkable and a pitcher who had an era above 4.00 would not be an MLB pitcher for long. I guess because that was how I initially learned to “feel” about home runs, thirty or forty homers a year still sounds like an accomplishment. But it really isn’t. In 1986, for instance, Jessie Barfield led MLB with 40 homers, no one else reached 40, and only 13 hit at least 30. Twenty years later,  in 2006, two players had over fifty homers (Ryan Howard and David Ortiz), Barfield would have come in at number 11, tied with Adam Dunn, and 33 players hit at least 30 home runs. Is forty the new thirty then? Would the old forties equate to the new fifties? I don’t know. I guess we’ll know how remarkable the new home run records are when we’ve had a generation or two grow up with them.

In other words, only time will tell if Bonds has done something worth celebrating. Maybe it would even make him more tolerable. Or at least his place in the record books less painful. I’ve never heard anyone say anything nice about Ty Cobb, you know.