Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nils is Angry Part 2: More Grantland

This, from the Bill Simmons mailbag:

Q: I know the Blue Jays don't make much noise on ESPN unless Keyser Soze is dressed in white and allegedly feeding them signs from 420 feet away, but tell me you saw Brett Lawrie's grand slam celebration? It's impossible not to love this guy right now. He's hitting the lights out, he plays like it always means something and you can see all the Jays loving his reaction/laughing at him/awkwardly scared that he might hurt them. You've gotta love that reaction from a rookie as a sports fan. Despite being the Boston homer you are, you've also got to be worried about the Jays in the AL East over the next few years — a bona fide slugger, young quality starters, a young and developing core, a good farm system and a GM that can talk teams into selling him their shirts for 50 cents on the dollar and they ask him if he wants their underwear for free. Are you worried? Slightly Nervous? Scared Shitless?
— Aaron, Toronto

SG: You guys are in our division?


That's right, unless you're the Red Sox, you are totally inconsequential. Fuck you, Bill Simmons. You're awful and you're not funny. When someone emails you a question, maybe you could, I dunno, answer it? Or even pretend to know about something that doesn't involve Boston sports? You are a complete ass.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things that could be on other teams' rosters...

...had FRANCO had his way at the deadline:

-two injured starting pitchers who were on the Pirates' 2011 opening day roster.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

FOX Sports came to Pittsburgh today

They liked the fact that we have a baseball stadium, and they were impressed that we still have a team.

Actually they weren't so offensive.

I wasn't pissed off enough to blog until the 9th, and what did it was this:

"And here is Hanrahan, he's been a journeyman through his career. You know, from Washington... and um. Well he never really found a place. But then he, well, Clint Hurdle found a place for him in Pittsburgh. He pulled him aside in Spring Training and told him 'you are my closer' and that's really important for a journeyman to hear."
That's me paraphrasing, but I'm not too far off from what was said.
"He pitched mostly the 7th and 8th while with Washington."
Yeah, only 57 games finished in his two and half years there. Mostly just a set-up guy.

"Hanrahan has done something that I think is a lost art these days. He's learned to walk... the ladder. He can start belt high. Then go up. Then go up again with the fastball. And then you know, he has a wipe out slider."
First of all, every really good pitcher in baseball "walks... the ladder." You probably wouldn't know it though, because the colloquial phrase is actually "go up the ladder." Secondly, Joel Hanrahan is awesome because he isn't just a high-heat guy. He capitalizes on the lost art of pitching to both sides of the plate with the cheese. THAT is what separates good relievers from shoddy specialists. And yeah, there's a slider he throws. Really, just let me give you some advice FOX: when broadcasting a Bucs' game in the future, all you need to say about Hanrahan is these twelve words-- "97 mph on both sides of the plate, with a diving slider."

Whatever, let's end with this moment of Zen:

"This is what Clint Hurdles looks for, he likes... character. And these guys had every opportunity to punt today."

"And tonight on FOX, a full hour of COPS, followed by two episodes of Family Guy and The Cleveland Show!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nils is Angry Part 1

I've seen some really ridiculous and dumb sports-related stuff over the past few weeks. I've been extremely busy though, so I haven't had a chance to vent. Instead, I've let the anger fester. I'm still busy, so I'll have to distribute my anger efficiently.

First up is this awful piece on Grantland about Barry Zito. Grantland is a project by Bill Simmons, who is better known for writing about shit that I don't care about. It usually involves some pop culture references I try to avoid (which is why I'm reading about sports) and stories about Boston sports moments that drove him and his father to tears. The Zito piece was written by Chris Jones. I don't have time for a true FJM, but let's take this thing down:

1. The beginning part that talks about Scott Boras's mainframe? How he didn't see the decline in performance? I can tell you right now that Scott Boras had no interest in how Barry Zito performed AFTER he got his huge contract. Boras was only concerned with making his client look as good as possible so he can make as much money as possible. Shut up with mainframe/battleship talk. Or save it for something that actually involves mainframes and battleships. I might want to read that.

2. The first third of the article ends with, "That binder destroyed Barry Zito." Zito got a 7 year, $126 million contract with the Giants. Jones spends some time talking about how Zito is all spiritual and weird and how signing a big money contract surely affected him. Expectations were too high, etc. This is completely wrong. Barry Zito was the essentially the same pitcher his last three years in Oakland as he was his first three in SF. Take a look:

Year FIP
2004 4.50
2005 4.34
2006 4.89

2007 4.82
2008 4.72
2009 4.31

Indeed, Zito's decline began well before his big contract. Boras did a great job marketing his client, and the Giants were dumb enough to give him a big contract. The entire premise of this story is wrong.

3. There are some gems toward the end, where Jones tries to be profound. Here are some selections:

"Except — there were things about Barry Zito that defied measure. Numbers couldn't explain everything about him. They could explain nothing about him, in fact."

Whoa, slow down there, man. I need a minute to process that. Of course numbers can't explain everything about him, but I just used them to explain some things about him (see above). And I didn't need any annoying footnotes.

"Instead, in the coming days and months and years, all that weight, all that expectation, all that godforsaken math, it pushed Barry — Barry, not Zito — off his delicate and particular balance."

Sure, blame math. I don't even know why you're blaming math. Did they make him do math problems?

And one final mega-gem:

"That's the real tragedy of Barry Zito. It's not that he was reduced to a mathematical proof in the winter of 2006. It's that in the summer of 2011, he has become one: Sometimes the sum of faith and belief and love still isn't nearly enough."

This makes no sense. It looks like a Mad Lib that asks for a noun. Let me try:

That's the real tragedy of this concluding statement. It's not that it was reduced to a mathematical proof in the winter of 2006. It's that in the summer of 2011, it has become one. Sometimes the sum of faith and belief and love still isn't nearly enough.

That was fun, but I'm still angry!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

AP: Jim Thome accused of having not done steroids


Unlike Bonds and Rodriguez, Thome has largely eluded suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. His country-strong physique was never chiseled like some of the hulking sluggers who proliferated his generation.

From the moment he belted his first homer—off Steve Farr on Oct. 4, 1991— to the big one on Monday night, Thome has always seemed like a natural.

First homer Thome:

A couple homers later, circa 1998 Thome:

I grew up in Cleveland during the heyday of Thome and Ramirez. They are both two of the best hitters the game has ever produced. But don't tell me they weren't juicing. Bonds was arguably the third best baseball player of all time, ever. That isn't mutually exclusive from the fact that he juiced.

Thome was great. Then he inflated like a balloon. Then there was a crackdown on roids and he went AWOL. Then he reappeared and was okay. Then he made a few more adjustments and got closer to his old form. Then he declined, while still gaining weight.

Don't tell me he didn't put some juice in his body. I don't blame him if he did. In fact, I'd rather just hear about it than deal with the media saying stupid shit like he was a natural, or he was different from A-Rod and Bonds.

Same with Ripken and Junior. These guys were the best and they weren't jerks. I'm completely willing to dig them, even if they juiced. I'm also willing to dig them if they never juiced.

All I ask is that the media not do any special favors for people they haven't deemed juicers, yet.

Neal Huntington haters gonna hate

And players gonna play.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

FTC gets preachy again

A few weeks ago, I posted something about Big League Stew and other outlets getting touchy over the "rice and beans" gaffe. It was a media cycle feedback loop that wanted to be offended by something a guy said, and not by the billion dollar industry's institutional racism.

We're back for round two...

BLS reports that Tony Bruno made an angry comment on twitter, where he called the Giants' pitcher an "illegal alien" as a slur.
Yes, it's possible to get heated and angry during a sporting even when you're a fan. But you just don't call someone an "illegal alien" — much less type it into Twitter and distribute it to your 12,000+ followers — by accident.
Man, I would love to agree with that statement (firstly because it's true, and secondly because BLS does do some nice work), but I'm still too busy being offended by MLB's gross lack of concern, staging the All Star Game in the racist hotbed that is Arizona.

Alright, maybe I'm asking some of you to make a stretch here, seeing a connection between one guy using a slur, and another guy tacitly supporting status quo racism. My point from the last soapbox still stands: if we're going to bust people for saying something offensive, we need to use the opportunity to call attention to the Chief Wahoos in the room.


Edit: Going back and re-reading the BLS quote listed above, I'm even more inclined to distance myself from it. Specifically, I don't dig the "by accident" clause. I mean... the dude had a lapse of good judgment and he hated for a few brief seconds; then he calmed himself down and deleted it all. That is kind of an accident. To imply that it's not, is to accuse Tony Bruno of some deliberate, calculated racism. One more time, folks: deliberate, calculated racism = some dudes who don't give a shit about offending people, because offensive logos sell merchandise. Accidental racism = some dude who just gets casually offensive once, because he's a bonehead with a microphone.

FRANCO goes back in time...

but not before going forward, first.


(At Rise: FRANCO arrives in North Oakland on September 25th.)

FRANCO: Oh shit! I have class! By the way, the Pirates are below .500 by about six games.



(At Rise: FRANCO blogs for FTC a couple weeks ago.)

FRANCO: Sell! Sell! Sell! Correia sucks! Maholm sucks! Karstens sucks!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Even John Kruk is not amused

This man sucks my will to live

Derrek Lee: hits home runs; plays defense; understands math

Pop quiz! Which one of those three things is false?

On why we're losing...
“I think these guys are tight a little bit,” said Lee, acquired from Baltimore in a trade last Saturday. “I think they feel the excitement of this city and all the support they’re getting and really want to please everyone. It’s only natural, but we’ll figure it out.”

Derrek, Derrek, Derrek.... No.

That's not it. The reason we're losing is because ...ahem... we're not very good.

Kevin Correia is a meatball who had a tremendous first half. Paul Maholm is a... he's a... well, let's put it this way: we had exactly two Paul Maholms last year, and traded one of them in the offseason, instantly becoming a better team. Garrett Jones is a better hitter than about 20 people on the team, and he's pretty ho-hum. Basically: our pythag had been shown-up for the better part of four months; it's fixing the glitch now.

Oh yeah, it's also got something to do with a dumbass manager who won't play our best pitcher except in mop-up duty, and one or two umps who sucked our blood last week.

But mostly we're losing because math says we should. Not because we're "pressing."