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Sports nostalgia and useless facts

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Draftback: 80's Quarterbacks

Took a different rout with the next Draftback by just focusing on the top quarterbacks to come out of each draft with brief comments on each class.   1980 Good depth but not one star came out of this class. Marc Wilson only had one year as a starter that he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. Mark Malone had to follow Terry Bradshaw and he was just awful. David Woodley had his 15 minutes of fame when he started Super Bowl XVII but he was not a good quarterback and only lasted until 1985, although as an 8th round pick you’d have to consider him a good value pick. Gary Hogeboom now of course now best know for being a contestant on Survivor.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Marc Wilson, 15th overall by L.A. Raiders, BYU, 14391 yards 2. Erik Hipple, 85th overall by Detroit, Utah State, 10711 yards 3. Mark Malone, 28th overall by Pittsburgh, Arizona State, 10175 yards 4. Gary Hogeboom, 133rd overall by Dallas, Central Michigan, 9436 yards 5. David Woodley, 214th pick by Miami, LSU, 8558 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Gene Bradley, 37th overall by Buffalo, Arkansas State   1981 Very little depth although did produce two pretty good quarterbacks from small schools in Neil Lomax and Wade Wilson. Rich Campbell was selected 6th overall by the Packers in one of the all-time draft blunders as he threw just 68 passes in the NFL. They passed on Ronnie Lott to pick Campbell. Whoops!   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Neil Lomax, 33rd overall by St. Louis, Portland State, 22771 yards 2. Wade Wilson, 210th overall by Minnesota, East Texas State, 17283 yards 3. Dave Wilson, Supplemental pick by New Orleans, Illinois, 6987 yards 4. Mark Herrmann, 98th overall by Denver, Purdue, 4015 yards 5. Bob Gagliano, 319th overall by Kansas City, Utah State, 3431 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Brad Wright, 96th overall by Miami, New Mexico   1982 Basically just Jim McMahon and a whole lot of nothing. Mike Pagel hung around for a long time as a back up. Does feature one of the greatest busts in sports history as the Colts drafted Art Schlichter as the 4th pick overall who’s career would derail very quickly due to the fact that he was a degenerate gambler.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Jim McMahon, 5th overall by Chicago, BYU, 18148 yards 2. Mike Pagel, 84th overall by Baltimore, Arizona State, 9414 yards 3. Oliver Luck, 44th overall by Houston, West Virginia, 2544 yards 4. Matt Kofler, 48th overall by Buffalo, San Diego State, 1156 yards 5. Art Schlichter, 4th overall by Baltimore, Ohio State, 1006 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Mike Kelley, 149th overall by Atlanta, Georgia Tech   1983 This draft doesn’t need introduction as it produced three Hall of Famers. Todd Blackledge was the one true bust of this famous 1st round and it’s amazing that he went so high. Bad luck back-to-back years for the Colts as we all know Elway was drafted #1 by them but whined his way into a trade.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Dan Marino, 27th overall by Miami, Pittsburgh, 61361 yards 2. John Elway, 1st overall by Baltimore, Stanford, 51475 yards 3. Jim Kelly, 14th overall by Buffalo, Miami, 35467 yards 4. Ken O’Brien, 24th overall by N.Y. Jets, UC Davis, 25094 yards 5. Tony Eason, 15th overall by New England, Illinois, 11142 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Jeff Christensen, 137th overall by Cincinnati, Eastern Illinois   1984 No first round quarterback in this draft but it did produce decent depth with one standout in Boomer Esiason and a Super Bowl winner in Jeff Hostetler. I don’t know how Jay Schroeder ended up with 20,000+ yards passing.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Boomer Esiason, 38th overall by Cincinnati, Maryland, 37920 yards 2. Jay Schroeder, 83rd overall by Washington, UCLA, 20063 yards 3. Jeff Hostetler, 59th overall by N.Y. Giants, West Virginia, 16430 yards 4. Randy Wright, 153rd overall by Green Bay, Wisconsin, 7106 yards 5. Steve Pelluer, 113th overall by Dallas, Washington, 6870 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Rick McIvor, 80th overall by St. Louis, Texas   1984 Supplemental The ’84 Supplemental Draft was different from any other as it was to draft the rights to USFL players (those who NFL teams didn’t own the rights to already) and a handful of CFL players. The draft was three rounds with 84 picks. Steve Young was #1 overall and was only one of two quarterbacks from the draft to throw a pass in the NFL. Young had already signed with the Los Angeles Express so he wasn’t eligible for the regular draft.   1. Steve Young, 1st overall by Tampa Bay, BYU, 33124 yards 2. Frank Seurer, 76th overall by Seattle, Kansas, 340 yards   1985 In terms of overall depth there was very little as there was no quarterback picked in the first round and only 11 quarterbacks selected overall, but a very good group of quarterbacks did come out of this draft all with very different career paths. Due to quirk the in the draft rules at the time because he wasn’t a senior Bernie Kosar was able to declare himself eligible after the regular draft and be taken in the supplemental draft so he could play for his hometown Browns.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Randall Cunningham, 37th overall by Philadelphia, UNLV, 29979 yards 2. Bernie Kosar, Supplemental pick by Cleveland, Miami, 23301 yards 3. Doug Flutie, 285th overall by L.A. Rams, Boston College, 14715 yards 4. Steve Bono, 142nd overall by Minnesota, UCLA, 10439 yards 5. Frank Reich, 57th overall by Buffalo, Maryland, 6075 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Scott Barry, 168th overall by San Francisco, UC Davis   1986 Lots of quarterbacks drafted in the first few rounds but some what of an underwhelming group led by Jim Everett and Mary Rypien. Featured a pretty big bust in Chuck Long. I always hated Bubby Brister. Come on his name was Bubby!   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Jim Everett, 3rd overall by Houston, Purdue, 34837 yards 2. Mark Rypien, 146th overall by Washington, Washington State, 18473 yards 3. Bubby Brister, 67th overall by Pittsburgh, NE Louisiana, 14445 yards 4. Jack Trudeau, 47th overall by Indianapolis, Illinos, 10243 yards 5. Hugh Millen, 71st overall by L.A. Rams, Washington, 6440 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Robbie Bosco, 72nd overall by Green Bay, BYU   1987 Doesn’t the have star power of the ’83 Draft but this was a very deep quarterback class with four first round picks. Just outside the Top 5 in passing yards was Packers quarterback Don Majkowski who had one great season in 1989 but injuries derailed his career. Draft does feature a huge bust in Kelly Stouffer who the Cardinals picked 6th overall. A first round bust by the Cardinals? Go figure.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Vinny Testaverde, 1st overall by Tampa Bay, Miami, 45252 yards 2. Rich Gannon, 98th overall by New England, Delaware, 28743 yards 3. Jim Harbaugh, 26th overall by Chicago, Michigan, 26288 yards 4. Steve Beurlein, 110th overall by L.A. Raiders, Notre Dame, 24046 yards 5. Chris Miller, 13th overall by Atlanta, Oregon, 19320 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Doug Hudson, 186th overall by Kansas City, Nicholls State   1988 Although it did produce two quarterbacks who started Super Bowls, this was an incredibly weak class with zero depth. No quarterback was taken until the 3rd round when the Cardinals picked Tom Tupa who’s long term future ended being as a punter. Of the 13 qb’s selected, only five threw a pass in the NFL. Did feature two CFL standouts in Danny McManus and Kerwin Bell.   Top 5 Passing Yards   1. Chris Chandler, 76th overall by Indianapolis, Washington, 28484 yards 2. Stan Humphries, 159th overall by Washington, NE Louisiana, 17191 yards 3. Tom Tupa, 68th overall by Phoenix, Ohio State, 3430 yards 4. Scott Secules, 151st overall by Dallas, Virginia, 1311 yards 5. Kerwin Bell, 180th overall by Miami, Florida, 75 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Don McPherson, 149th overall by Philadelphia, Syracuse   1989 Pretty much the Troy Aikman class although I suppose Rodney Peete had his moments. Cowboys picked Aikman #1 overall and then took Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft. Many thought Walsh would be better than Aikman. Many of us don’t know anything.   1. Troy Aikman, 1st overall by Dallas, UCLA, 32942 yards 2. Rodney Peete, 141st overall by Detroit, USC, 16338 yards 3. Billy Joe Tolliver, 51st overall by San Diego, Texas Tech, 10760 yards 4. Steve Walsh, Supplemental Pick by Dallas, 7875 yards 5. Timm Rosenbach, Supplemental Pick by Phoenix, Washington State, 3676 yards   Highest Pick Not to Throw a Pass: Jeff Graham, 87th overall by Green Bay, Long Beach State

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Draftback: 1993 NFL Draft

Installment two of my whoever knows how long part series where I give very little insight to past NFL Drafts. The '93 draft had a lot intrigue going as it was your classic draft where the top two picks were expected to be quarterbacks but it was only a question of who the New England Patriots would select, Rick Mirer or Drew Bledsoe, and who the Seattle Seahawks would end up with.   1. New England - Drew Bledsoe, QB, Washington State Okay so he isn't going to be a Hall of Famer but Bledsoe has put together a pretty good career that just peeked early. At least New England did pick the correct quarterback here.   2. Seattle - Rick Mirer, QB, Notre Dame Boy Bill Walsh really took a hit in the "genius" department when he proclaimed Mirer was the next Joe Montana. He had a decent rookie year but it was all downhill from there.   3. Phoenix - Garrison Hearst, RB, Georgia His first four years in the league were plagued with knee injuries and he was looking like a bust but turned his career around in San Francisco. Ended up with just under 8,000 career rushing yards.   4. N.Y. Jets - Marvin Jones, LB, Florida State Jones was probably the #1 rated player going into the draft. Decent player but never became star everyone projected him to be.   5. Cincinnati - John Copeland, DT, Alabama Just decent.   6. Tampa Bay - Eric Curry, DE, Alabama Bust. Only 12 sacks in his seven year career.   7. Chicago - Curtis Conway, WR, USC Decent career. More than 8,000 yards receiving and over 50 touchdowns is nothing to be ashamed of.   8. New Orleans - Willie Roaf, T, Louisiana Tech Arguably has had the best career of any player from this draft and pretty much a lock for the Hall of Fame.   9. Atlanta - Lincoln Kennedy, T, Washington Forgot he played for the Falcons. Was rated even with Roaf going into the draft, obviously didn't have the career of Roaf but was still a pretty good lineman.   10. L.A. Rams - Jerome Bettis, RB, Notre Dame ESPN killed any love I could have for Bettis and they do that for a lot athletes for me. Anyways good pick for the Rams, too bad for them they didn't hang on to him.   11. Denver - Dan Williams, DE, Toledo Workout wonder who moved up the board but was nothing special. Hey that never happens.   12. L.A. Raiders - Patrick Bates, S, Texas A&M Bust. Lasted only three years, left the Raiders before the 1995 season without notice, lots of off the field problems.   13. Houston - Brad Hopkins, T, Illinois Been a rock at tackle for the Oilers/Titans franchise, good pick.   14. Cleveland - Steve Everitt, C, Michigan Pretty good but only lasted seven years.   15. Green Bay - Wayne Simmons, LB, Clemson Showed flashes of brilliance early in his career but never reached his full potential. Was killed in a car accident a few years ago.   16. Indianapolis - Sean Dawkins, WR, California Made a career out of being a second or third option but not what you want out of a 1st round pick.   17. Washington - Tom Carter, CB, Notre Dame Average at best who cashed in on a big money deal with the Bears in 1997 who waived him two years later.   18. Phoenix - Ernest Dye, T, South Carolina Injury riddled, short career that was spent primarily as a back up.   19. Philadelphia - Lester Holmes, G, Jackson State Nothing special, started for three teams.   20. New Orleans - Irv Smith, TE, Notre Dame I don't know why but I always thought he'd up being good. He wasn't.   21. Minnesota - Robert Smith, RB, Ohio State Like Hearst injuries hampered him early in his career but he turned it around. Not your typical pro football personality as he had his best year in 2000 and then promptly retired.   22. San Diego - Darrien Gordon, CB, Stanford Average corner but an excellent punt returner.   23. Pittsburgh - Deon Figures, CB, Colorado Just another average corner.   24. Philadelphia - Leonard Renfro, DT, Colorado Lasted two years, yup that's a bust.   25. Miami - O.J. McDuffie, WR, Penn State Had a few decent years but lacked the size to become a great NFL wideout.   26. San Francisco - Dana Stubblefield, DT, Kansas Maybe remembered more now for being a big contract bust for the Redskins but was a great pick for the 49ers.   27. San Francisco - Todd Kelly, LB, Tennessee I remember my friends all thinking Kelly was going to be great and that we thought Stubblefield was a bad pick. Probably had to do with Kelly having a much easier name to say. Nothing career.   28. Buffalo - Thomas Smith, CB, North Carolina Solid cover corner.   29. Green Bay - George Teague, S, Alabama Decent player who's best known for being the guy who hit Terrell Owens when he posed on the Dallas Cowboys' star.   Other Players of Note   37. Cincinnati - Tony McGee, TE, Michigan 40. N.Y. Giants - Michael Strahan, DE, Texas Southern 52. Minnesota - Qadry Ismail, WR, Syracuse 70. Denver - Jason Elam, K, Hawaii 74. Kansas City - Will Shields, G, Nebraska 79. Minnesota - Gilbert Brown, DT, Kansas 82. Tampa Bay - John Lynch, S, Stanford 118. Green Bay - Mark Brunell, QB, Washington 170. Seattle - Michael McCrary, DE, Wake Forest 181. L.A. Raiders - Greg Biekert, LB, Colorado 196. Dallas - Brock Marion, S, Nevada 207. N.Y. Giants - Jesse Armstead, LB, Miami 214. Houston - Blaine Bishop, S, Ball State 219. San Francisco - Elvis Grbac, QB, Michigan 222. San Diego - Trent Green, QB, Indiana

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Baseball Tonight

I decided to watch Baseball Tonight because apparently I want to punish myself, might as well make an entry out of it. Watching people analyze one week of baseball is always hilarious anyways especially when it’s done by the likes of Harold Reynolds and John Kruk. Who cares about sample sizes? Tigers/Brewers in the World Series!   -Chris Berman is doing the show because it’s the Sunday of the Masters and he must do Baseball Tonight every Masters’ Sunday every year to show off his green jacket. He genuinely thinks people care. The world would stop if we didn’t see him squeeze all that fat in his green jacket.   -Berman can’t believe that the Phillies let Vincente Padilla go and Kruk and Reynolds agree. Gee I know the guy had a 1.50 WHIP last year, what kind of a nut lets go of a pitcher like that? Hey he’s 2-0 so I’m sure he’s on top of Kruk’s Cy Young list.   -Kruk went on a mini-rant about how Jim Leyland gets things done his way and that the Tigers are going to manufacture runs and he's not going to baby pitchers (woo hoo Tommy John surgery for everyone!) "because the more you baby pitchers the more they pitch like babies." Of course the Tigers "manufactured" 17 homeruns this week. Maybe Leyland has all of his players smoking too? OMG nicotine is a performance enhancing drug!   -Berman loves Kevin Millar. He loves him. It hurts him seeing him play such a shitty first base. This man has waaaaaay too many man crushes.   -Now Reynolds criticizes the Blue Jays for leaving Roy Halladay in too long, which Kruk agrees with. What happened to not babying pitchers? Well Halladay already has had shoulder surgery so I suppose Kruk just believes in running a pitcher into the ground and then baby him after he has surgery.   -Berman asks the panel, who is the best lefty in baseball? Steve Phillips says Cliff Lee. Hey I can’t believe this guy isn’t a GM still, can you?   -They are playing Godsmack as bumper music to commercial breaks. Way to keep with the times ESPN. What demographic are they targeting exactly?   -They are doing a countdown of Barry Bonds’ 20 greatest moments and #14 is him being intentionally walked with the bases loaded in a meaningless game. Ya that was exciting.   -Chipper Jones’ injury is shown and I swear Berman gets a hard on every time a player gets hurt because he gets to his patented soft tone voice where the producers cutout the background music because this a very serious situation and Chris Berman is talking. At the end of the Braves/Giants highlights Berman says “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” Comedic genius I tells ya.   -Diamond Cuts, it’s extreme highlights with nu-metal! Seriously who are they targeting? Are there really viewers sitting around through the whole show wanting listen to Godsmack to overly produced baseball highlights? At least it’s not like last year where they would do features on other no longer relevant bands talking about baseball.

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Where'd They Go?: 1997 Pittsburgh Pirates

In a recent entry kkk talked about how excited Pirates' fans were in 1997 over the small glimmer of hope the team provided that year. Now I haven't really given any thought to the '97 Pirates before now and nor has anyone outside of Pittsburgh but I need excuses for an entry so by god I'm gonna talk about '97 Pirates.   The Pirates currently hold the longest active streak of losing seasons in baseball at 13 seasons (well on their way to 14) and 1997 was the closest they've come to sniffing .500 since the departure of that guy Pedro Gomez follows around 24/7. As a Golden State Warriors fan I know the Bucs fan's pain and what it is like to get excited about mediocrity. The high watermark for them in '97 was on August 25th they were 67-64 and just three games out of first place. Now a team being just three games over .500 being only three games out in late August tells you that the N.L. Central was pretty bad in 1997. They would lose their next four games and never be over .500 the rest of the year although they would not be mathematically eliminated until September 24th. The division was almost as bad as N.L. West was in 2005 as the Astros would take the division crown with just 84 wins. The Pirates would finish 79-83 with a second place finish, five games out of first.   One thing to keep in mind about this Pittsburgh team is that they had a pathetic $10.7 million payroll, by far the lowest in baseball in 1997 so any success they certainly had to be considered overachievers. The Reds had the highest payroll in the N.L. at $49.7 million but the Bucs finished ahead of them. Now I take a look back at the Little Bucs That Sorta Could and where they've went since.   C: Jason Kendall (.294/.391/.434, 40.9 VORP, 22 Win Shares) - Just his second year but he had already emerged as the team's best player. He was a rising star but as well know in 1999 he'd have a horrific leg injury although he'd comeback in 2000 and have one the best years of his career which he'd parlay into an obscene contract that the Pirates would spend a few years trying to unload. Finally after a very good 2004 season he was traded to Oakland where unfortunately for the A's, and me, he'd hit catcher career wall in 2005.   1B: Kevin Young (.300/.332/.535, 26.5 VORP, 12 Win Shares) - Mainly a 4-A player Young put up solid numbers in a platoon with Mark Johnson in '97. In 1999 he'd have himself a pretty good year but that would be bad news for Pirates fans as he'd get a four-year, $24 million contract after that and hit like crap for the duration of the contract. Young really signifies what is wrong with the Pirates organization as after slugging just .399 in 2001, just awful for a first baseman, they still managed to give him 525 plate appearances the following season. They finally cut him loose during the 2003 season.   2B: Tony Womack (.278/.326/.374, 32.5 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - Aww the stat geek punching bag. After cups of coffee the previous three seasons this would qualify as Womack's rookie season and it he wasn't half bad. But it was obvious from that year already that he wasn't a reliable option as a lead off hitter, although he'd fool teams for several years just because of his speed, as he had only 43 walks in 689 plate appearances. He was traded to the Diamondbacks for the 1999 season, where he'd pick up a ring in 2001. Had two very short stints after trades in 2003 with the Rockies and Cubs. Then in 2004 with the Cardinals he'd have his career year at age 34 and convince the Yankees that he could be their regular second baseman for 2005. Whoops! What was so great about the Yankees signing Womack was that everyone knew he would suck. So congratulations to everyone for being right for once. Now currently with the Reds.   3B: Joe Randa (.302/.366/.451, 32.2 VORP, 16 Win Shares) - Acquired from the Royals before the season in what would be the first of five trades he's been in, he had a decent season. He's really the type of guy that would be useful for a good team that had a big hole at third base for a cheap price. Problem is he ends up on bad teams all the time who count him to be a key hitter in their line up. Following the season he'd be taken in the expansion draft by Arizona who'd unload him the same day to Detroit for Travis Fryman. Just another one year stint there and he'd be traded to the Mets who'd trade him six days later to Kansas City where he'd find a home for six years. Spent 2005 between the Reds and Padres and has now comeback to Pittsburgh to recreate that '97 magic!   SS: Kevin Polcovich (.273/.350/.396, 14.6 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - Who? No really, I have no memory of this guy. This would be his rookie year at age 27 and he'd only spend one more year in the Majors. He was one of six guys to have more than 10 starts at shortstop for the Pirates in '97 including aging veterans Dale Sveum, Kevin Elster, and Shawon Dunston.   LF: Al Martin (.291/.359/.473, 33.1 VORP, 13 Win Shares) - You always have to feel sorry for a guy who has to replace a legend but that's what Martin had to do. The typical numbers he put up would have been very good if he was a great fielding, center fielder but he was a poor fielding, corner outfielder. He also was awful against left handers so he often had to be platooned. Traded to the Padres before the 2000 season he'd bounce around from there to Seattle, be out of baseball in 2002, and then finish his career in 2003 with the Devil Rays. Al Martin Fun Facts: Arrested in 2000 for bigamy and made up a story about playing football at USC. Yes because no one pays attention to USC football.   CF: Jermaine Allensworth (.255/.340/.339, 4.6 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Simply a prospect who never panned out and no surprise with those numbers. Traded to the Royals during the 1998 season who'd flip him to the Mets less than two months later where he'd last appear in the Majors in 1999. Last seen in the independent Northern League.   RF: Jose Guillen (.267/.300/.412, 1.5 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - This was Guillen's rookie year at just 21 years old as the Pirates hot shotted him from High A ball and he was clearly not ready yet they kept him up all year playing him in 144 games. It was this incredibly stupid decision that contributed to Guillen having a very slow start to his career. Traded to the Devil Rays in 1999 he'd be released by four different teams until in 2003 he'd breakout with the Reds. He'd be traded in a deadline deal to Oakland and then sign with the Angels on a surprisingly cheap deal as there were rumors of attitude problems. This would come up in late September in a key series with the A's where the Angels would suspend him for the rest of the season for an unknown clubhouse altercation. You know when a team in the middle of the pennant chase essentially dumps it's starting left fielder, who was having a pretty good year, that's probably a sign that the guy might have some problems. Currently he's with the Nationals where he wants to beat up Pedro Martinez or something. Maybe he should beat up Jim Bowden.   Pitchers   Esteban Loaiza (104 ERA+, 25.0 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - Loaiza has made a career out of being very average and '97 was no different and is probably now the definition of a journeyman starter. Pirates traded him to Texas during 1998, who would trade him to Toronto during 2000. After a miserable 2002 season he signed on the cheap with the White Sox and out of no where had a Cy Young caliber season. Then traded to the Yankees for Jose Contreras in a deadline deal which would turn into an absolute nightmare for him and the Yankees. Signed with the Nationals in 2005 and then signed a three-year, $22 million deal with the A's that I'm absolutely hating.   Jon Lieber (96 ERA+, 17.0 VORP, 9 Win Shares) - Yet another pitcher who's put together an average career. Pirates traded him to the Cubs for Brant Brown after 1998 (that turned out well) where he'd have a 20 win season in 2001. Late in 2002 he'd have Tommy John surgery which would cause him to miss the entire 2003 season. The Yankees gambled on him before 2003 knowing he'd miss the season and he'd comeback for 2004 to be a moderately succesful pitcher who Yankee fans fell in love with. Now currently with the Phillies.   Jason Schmidt (93 ERA+, 12.6 VORP, 8 Win Shares) - Oh here's a painful one for Pirates fans. Acquired in a late season dump of Denny Neagle the year before, Schmidt was a hot shot prospect. Now typically leaving the Braves seems to be career suicide for a starting pitcher. After two decent seasons, shoulder problems with derail Schmidt as he would miss four months that season. He'd struggle at times in 2001 and it was uncertain if he'd ever regain form. So during that season, with him eligible for free agency following the year, the Pirates traded him to San Francisco for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. In 2003 Schmidt would emerge as one of the best pitchers in baseball and follow that up with a very good 2004. Injuries have again slowed him down since but safe to say the Pirates wish they had gotten a little more in return for him.   Steve Cooke (100 ERA+, 10.7 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Another Pirates prospect that was probably rushed too soon. He had a pretty good rookie year in 1993 but shoulder problems would pop up the following season, probably due to throwing 210 innings at age 23, and he'd barely pitch at all the next two seasons before finally returning to full action in '97. But his shoulder and elbow were thrashed, he'd sign with the Reds but make only one apperance for them in 1998 and was out of baseball by 1999.   Francisco Cordova (118 ERA+, 32.9 VORP, 13 Win Shares) - Young, overused, Pirates pitcher with shoulder problems. See a theme? Cordova broke out in 1997 as a potential rising star pitcher and had a combined no hitter against the Astros in July. He'd follow it up with a very good 1998 season and Pirates fan's hearts were all a flutter. But those pesky shoulder problems would pop up in 1999, he'd only throw 95 innings in 2000, and that was it for his career. Really too bad as he looked like he might be the real deal.   Closer: Rich Loiselle (139 ERA+, 16.3 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - Pirates pitcher with injury problems, this is just getting depressing. Loiselle set a Pirates rookie record with 29 saves in '97 and then had a decent '98 season before elbow problems would effectively end his career. He'd have multiple surgeries and comebacks over the following few years but he'd never be effective again, his career over by 2001.   So there you have it. I just spent more time than anyone every will on the 1997 Pirates. What do I win?

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Bored

 

Award Redo: 1981 A.L. MVP

I had been looking for an excuse to do an entry on one of the most bizarre years in baseball history and the A.L. MVP pick in 1981 was controversial so might as well do a redo. 1981 featured the strike to end all strikes, until the 1994 strike trumped it of course. The players went on strike on June 12th that year over free agent compensation and did not comeback until August 9th, losing 712 games in the process.   Now the owners decided to come up with an idea to drum up some interest back in the sport to bring back a jaded fanbase after the strike ended: a split season. The standings as they were for games played before the strike would be considered the first half and then the second half would be the games played after the strike ended. An extra round of playoffs would be added where the division champ of the first half would meet the division champ of the second half. Now if the entire nation didn't say "What are they fucking stupid?" when the announced this, then they should have. My guess is the owners came up with this idea to try to recoup some of the revenue they lost from the strike by getting an extra round of playoffs.   You don't even have to be a baseball fan to see the obvious problems with the idea. First off the season restarted it meant all the division leaders thru June 11th had already clinched a playoff spot: Yankees, A's, Phillies, and Dodgers. These four teams had essentially nothing to play for beyond pride for two months as they already knew they were going to the playoffs. Doesn't really get the competitive juices flowing, you know? Second problem was the nightmare scenerio where teams who had better records overall for the entire season being left out of postseason play due the split season where otherwise they would have been division champions. Hey guess what? It happened.   St. Louis finished with a 59-43 record overall, 2 games better than second half N.L. East champion Montreal and 2 1/2 over first half champ Philadelphia. But it got much worse in the N.L. West. Cincinnati finished 66-42 overall, 4 games better than first half champ Los Angeles and 6 1/2 games better than second half champ Houston. The Reds had the best record in baseball in 1981 and did not go the playoffs. Let me repeat that, the team with the best record in baseball did not qualify for the postaseason. I'm surprised there wasn't riots in the streets of Cincinnati. The madness doesn't stop there as in the A.L. West, Kansas City won the second half title but finished the season 3 games under .500 overall. So we have the best team in baseball not in the playoffs and a team with a losing record in the playoffs. Almost makes you think they would have been better off shutting down the season like they would 13 years later.   Oh ya the A.L. MVP. Rollie Fingers won the award marking the first time a closer had won it. Already gone over this in the 1984 and 1992 redos that closers should not be winning the MVP. He would beat out Rickey Henderson in a very tight race. My only guess is that the resut was due to Fingers being the established, World Series hero while Henderson was only his second full season. It's also pretty rare for players with low homerun totals to win the award as he only hit six homeruns in the short '81 season. His teammate Tony Armas was the only other player to receive a first place vote and finished 4th overall despite being, ironically enough, the 4th best player on his own team that year.   Actual Results   1) Rollie Fingers 2) Rickey Henderson 3) Dwight Evans 4) Tony Armas 5) Eddie Murray 6) Carney Lansford 7) Dave Winfield 8) Cecil Cooper 9) Goose Gossage 10) Tom Paciorek 11) Dwayne Murphy 12) Kirk Gibson 13) Steve McCatty 14) Bobby Grich 15) Jack Morris 16) Al Oliver 17t) Buddy Bell 17th) Robin Yount 19) Bill Almon 20) Jerry Mumphrey 21t) Mike Hargrove 21t) Alan Trammell 23t) Steve Kemp 23t) Greg Luzinski 23t) Dennis Martinez 23t) Ken Singleton 27t) George Brett 27t) Dave Stieb   #10 .336/.389/.439, 68 RC, 133 OPS+, .301 EQA, 32.4 VORP, 18 Win Shares   #9 .294/.360/.464, 66 RC, 138 OPS+, .310 EQA, 34.7 VORP, 16 Win Shares   #8 .259/.348/.493, 62 RC, 146 OPS+, .308 EQA, 29.3 VORP, 20 Win Shares   #7 .326/.379/.509, 78 RC, 151 OPS+, .315 EQA, 39.6 VORP, 17 Win Shares   #6 .294/.360/.534, 73 RC, 156 OPS+, .319 EQA, 40.1 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #5 150 ERA+, 1.49 K/BB, 1.08 WHIP, 51.9 VORP, 18 Win Shares   #4 .304/.378/.543, 72 RC, 164 OPS+, .325 EQA, 49.1 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #3 .320/.363/.495, 75 RC, 151 OPS+, .316 EQA, 42.0 VORP, 22 Win Shares   #2 .319/.408/.437, 76 RC, 150 OPS+, .323 EQA, 45.6 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #1 .296/.415/.522, 90 RC, 163 OPS+, .333 EQA, 47.7 VORP, 26 Win Shares   Damn what kind of self hating A's fans am I to not give the award to RICKEY~? Also I'm taking an award away from a player who has his number retired by the A's. What have I done!?   Anyways as I mentioned in my entry about my first game that Evans has been very under valued over the years. Also have a couple of other good players who have been forgotten in Cecil Cooper and Bobby Grich. Hey and look STEVE McCATTY!!! What you don't remember Steve McCatty? Ya okay '81 was his only good year and he should have won the Cy Young. I guess a similar parallel would be 2003 when Esteban Loaiza blew away any other year he had but couldn't get the Cy Young. I did actually come close to putting Fingers at #10. Oh and that Tom Paciorek card is awesome.

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Draftback: 1990 NFL Draft

Draftback...ain't I clever? The NFL Draft is later this month and the point of this blog is a lot of nostalgia so might as well look back at some old drafts, plus I've done no football content to this point. Pretty much picked in 1990 at random and because at first glance the 1st round looks rather uninspiring. I will only be looking back at the first round picks as to hell with going over the whole thing. Don't expect any real insight as unlike baseball there isn't much in terms of statisical analyst to do when it comes to football. There is Football Outsiders but their data only goes back five or six years.   1. Indianapolis - Jeff George, QB, Illinois The Colts traded up to make this controversial choice at the time as it surprised many that he left Illinois early and some weren't even sure he was worth a 1st round pick, let alone the #1 choice overall. All things considered George didn't have that bad of a career but his habit of being a jackass kind of always painted him a bad light. Didn't help that he never made it to a Pro Bowl either.   2. N.Y. Jets - Blair Thomas, RB, Penn State An overhyped Penn State running back who is a bust in the NFL? GET OUT! Actually showed signs of being a good NFL back in his rookie year but bad knees did him in.   3. Seattle - Cortez Kennedy, DT, Miami Seven time Pro Bowl selection who would spend his entire 11-year career with the Seahawks. Definently a good pick here.   4. Tampa Bay - Keith McCants, LB, Alabama Was rated #1 overall by many but he was a huge bust. Last I thing heard on him was he stole a car last year. Ya life didn't turn out to well for him.   5. San Diego - Junior Seau, LB, USC No brainer here, 11 Pro Bowl selections and a future spot in Canton.   6. Chicago - Mark Carrier, DB, USC Good NFL career as he burst on the scene his rookie year with a 10 interceptions on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Year. Selected to three Pro Bowls.   7. Detroit - Andre Ware, QB, Houston Hands down the #1 rated QB coming into the draft and everyone thought he'd be star because he was drafted by a team that had the run and shoot offense. Hey how'd that turn out?   8. New England - Chris Singleton, LB, Arizona Lasted seven years...um ya that's all I got.   9. Miami - Richmond Webb, T, Texas A&M Another good pick here, made it to seven Pro Bowls, playing 11 of his 13 years in Miami.   10. New England - Ray Agnew, DE, N.C. State Halfway decent player who hung around forever it seemed.   11. L.A. Raiders - Anthony Smith, DE, Arizona Pass rushing specialist who was an absolute beast his first few years in the league.   12. Cincinnati - James Francis, LB, Baylor Solid player who played nine seasons with the Bengals.   13. Kansas City - Percy Snow, LB, Michigan State The only thing I remember about Snow was I had one of the "behind the scenes" NFL tapes and one segment was on the Chief's war room before the '90 Draft and they were pretty excited about Snow. He ended lasting a whole three years.   14. New Orleans - Renaldo Turnbull, DE, West Virginia Part of those scary good Saints' linebacker cores from the early 90's. Decent career with his best year coming in 1993 when he had 13 sacks.   15. Houston - Lamar Lathon, LB, Houston You can see this was a very deep linebacker draft. Solid career.   16. Buffalo - James Williams, DB, Fresno State With a common name like that you think I'll actually know anything about the guy?   17. Dallas - Emmitt Smith, RB, Florida Safe to say everyone except maybe San Diego regretted not taking him.   18. Green Bay - Tony Bennett, LB, Mississippi Yet another linebacker who had a solid career.   19. Green Bay - Darrell Thompson, RB, Minnesota 1641 yards rushing, 3.5 YPC, 7 career touchdowns, gone after 1994. Ya not a good pick   20. Atlanta - Steve Broussard, RB, Washington State You know it would have been kind of interesting to see what Broussard would have done in a standard offense rather than the run and shoot. Okay maybe not that interesting but might have given a not so non-descript career.   21. Pittsburgh - Eric Green, TE, Liberty Pretty good tight end who made it to two Pro Bowls.   22. Philadelphia - Ben Smith, DB, Georgia Played six years and really who noticed?   23. L.A. Rams - Bern Brostek, C, Washington I don't think I paid as much attention to the NFL as I thought (and I don't pay that much attention today) I did. The guy played for the Rams so being a 49er fan you think I'd remember the guy with them playing each other twice a year but I don't.   24. N.Y Giants - Rodney Hampton, RB, Georgia Good career, had five consecutive 1000 yard seasons from '91 to '95.   25. San Francisco - Dexter Carter, RB, Florida State 49ers had the right idea drafting a running back as they would end up being correct in their concerns about Roger Craig lasting much longer (he didn't) but Carter wasn't the guy to replace him. Actually led the 49ers in rushing his rookie year but that just tells you had bad their running game was.

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Who Stopped the Rain?

All weekend I had to hear how the A's Opening Night game against the Yankees was going to be a rainout. It rained all day here in the Bay Area and then suddenly tonight it clears up a bit. So I was happy at first that I wouldn't have to stay up until one in the morning tonight to watch the entire game but that changed pretty quick. Barry Zito was chosen as the Opening Night starter even though everyone knows the ace of the staff is Rich Harden. I think manager Ken Macha fell into the manager trap of letting the "veteran" get the start. Zito has a knack for getting into 3-2 counts way too often and against a patient team like the Yankees that will get you killed and they have killed him in recent years. Zito's line tonight: 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. Woof. It's 11-1 Yankees in the 5th inning as I type this so safe to say it's not the hometown heroes night.   In my aborted preview of the A's I had talked about Zito likely leaving after this season and might as well go briefly into that now. Now preface of course my thoughts aren't scewed simply because Zito pitched like Russ Ortiz tonight. I can pretty much predict the media outcry when Zito leaves for a big money deal to a big market team after this season but it will all be moot. He simply isn't worth the money he is going to get as starting pitchers are the most overpriced position in baseball right now. Just take a look at A.J. Burnett. Very talented but very injury prone and has yet to have that breakout season where he emerges as a top of the line starter yet he signed a 5-year, $55 million deal. Her certainly benefitted from a weak crop of free agent starting pitchers but it also shows how painfully overvalued starting pitching is. Zito has had a better career to this point than Burnett, has zero injury history (with his easy delivery he may never have arm problems), and is even slightly younger than Burnett. Barring a disasterous season he'll almost certainly parlay a contract that is at least worth as much as Brunett's and maybe even a a million or two more a year. Can anyone legitimately say Barry Zito is worth possibly $12-14 million a year? Now the fact that you can pencil him in for 220+ innings a year at above average production does certainly make him more valuable than maybe his peripheral numbers would indicate. But really that type of money should only go to the elite pitchers which Zito is by no means. The A's also have three good, young starting pitchers on their staff that they have under their control thru the end of the decade and money like that would be much better spent on a position player (or two).   Now 13-1, Yankees still batting in the 5th. It better be a rain free night with Harden pitching tommorrow or mother nature can kiss my ass. At least Frank Thomas homering in his first at bat with the A's didn't make this night a total loss.   -Brief Final Four thought, the "Greatest Tournament Ever" ended with a big thud. This was the first time since 1976 that the Final Four didn't have a game decied by single digits when Indiana finished off their undefeated championship run. And wow is that Noah kid from Florida is good...and wow is he one ugly mother fucker.

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1986 MLB Rookies

In one of his recent entries kkk talked about his favorite looking baseball cards. This got me be remembering one of my favorite baseball card collecting habits from my childhood, buying those store brand baseball sets. Stores like K-Mart and Toys 'R' Us would have their baseball cards, typically produced by Topps, that would feature star players or rookies. The sets were cheap and the cards were all glossy which was still a very unique feature back in the late 80's.   The first such set I remember buying was the 1987 Topps Toys 'R' Us Rookies set. It was a set of 33 cards featuring the rookies from the 1986 season. I took terrible care of the cards and now I don't even remember where they are but I do still remember those black boarded cards. I couldn't find individual pictures of the cards but I did find a site that showed that displays the entire set. Here are the links:   1. Andy Allanson, 2. Paul Assenmacher, 3. Scott Bailes, 4. Barry Bonds, 5. Jose Canseco, 6. John Cerutti, 7. Will Clark, 8. Kal Daniels, 9. Jim Deshaies OMG Bonds and Canseco's cards were together, it was a sign!!!   10. Mark Eichhorn, 11. Ed Hearn, 12. Pete Incaviglia, 13. Bo Jackson, 14. Wally Joyner, 15. Charlie Kerfeld, 16. Eric King, 17. John Kruk, 18. Barry Larkin See a relatively thin John Kruk.   19. Mike LaValliere, 20. Greg Mathews, 21. Kevin Mitchell, 22. Dan Plesac, 23. Bruce Ruffin, 24. Ruben Sierra, 25. Cory Snyder, 26. Kurt Stillwell, 27. Dale Sveum   28. Danny Tartabull, 29. Andres Thomas, 30. Robby Thompson, 31. Jim Traber, 32. Mitch Williams, 33. Todd Worrell   As you see 1986 produced a pretty impressive crop of rookies and some several infamous names as well. I had been thinking of trying to do a Reward Redo that wasn't an MVP vote but every other award in baseball only allows three players to be voted on a ballot. So I figured I'd do a Top 10 list of the best rookie season from 1986.   In my first entry about my very first game I mentioned that Wally Joyner was robbed by Jose Canseco in the '86 ROY voting and I'll put that claim to the test. They were the only two to receive first place votes on the A.L. side with Mark Eichhorn and Cory Snyder receiving some secondary support. In the N.L. the award was won by Todd Worrell who had already become nationally known as he had been a late season call up in '85 and made the Cardinals postseason roster. He became a household name due to being involved in the infamous blown call by Don Denkinger in Game 6 of the World Series that would eventually cost the Cardinals the series. Worrell was a near unanimous choice as Kevin Mitchell was the only player to a receive a first place vote.   So who was the best rookie of 1986?   #10 147 ERA+, 2.59 K/BB, 1.21 WHIP, 23.1 VORP, 13 Win Shares   #9 .272/.299/.500, 62 RC, 115 OPS+, .276 EQA, 24.6 VORP, 13 Win Shares   #8 .287/.343/.444, 62 RC, 121 OPS+, .284 EQA, 22.1 VORP, 14 Win Shares   #7 .277/.344/.466, 53 RC, 125 OPS+, .290 EQA, 21.6 VORP, 14 Win Shares   #6 .250/.320/.463, 80 RC, 109 OPS+, .277 EQA, 24.6 VORP, 16 Win Shares   #5 175 ERA+, 1.78 K/BB, 1.23 WHIP, 26.5 VORP, 19 Win Shares   #4 .240/.318/.457, 86 RC, 115 OPS+, .286 EQA, 30.2 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #3 .270/.347/.489, 87 RC, 124 OPS+, .290 EQA, 35.4 VORP, 15 Win Shares   #2 .290/.348/.457, 95 RC, 119 OPS+, .292 EQA, 41.1 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #1 246 ERA+, 3.69 K/BB, 0.96 WHIP, 66.4 VORP, 21 Win Shares   Canadian Greats? He was born in San Jose.   Okay I was right that Jose Canseco robbed someone but it was actually Mark Eichhorn. Yes a middle reliever was the top rookie of 1986. He had actually made his MLB debut back in 1982 but didn't get another shot in the majors until four years later. He didn't make a start but pitched in 157 innings (five innings short of qualifying for the ERA title), striking out 166, and posting a 1.72 ERA in what would be by far his best year.   One more thing here's the career Win Shares rankings for the 33 players in that 1987 Topps Toys 'R' Us Rookies set. Ya big shock who's #1.   1. Barry Bonds 661 2. Barry Larkin 347 3. Will Clark 331 4. Jose Canseco 272 5. Wally Joyner 253 6. Ruben Sierra 222 7. Danny Tartabull 188 8. Kevin Mitchell 178 9. John Kruk 156 10. Robby Thompson 155 11. Kal Daniels 112 12. Pete Incaviglia 107 13. Dan Plesac 106 14. Todd Worrell 105 15. Mike LaValliere 95 16. Paul Assenmacher 86 17. Cory Snyder 85 18. Mark Eichhorn 83 19. Bruce Ruffin 76 20. Mitch Williams 75 21. Kurt Stillwell 73 22. Bo Jackson 72 23. Jim Deshaies 68 24. Dale Sveum 55 25. Eric King 50 26. John Cerutti 45 27. Andy Allanson 27 28. Scott Bailes 26 29. Andres Thomas 23 30. Greg Mathews 22 31. Charlie Kerfeld 15 32. Jim Traber 11 33. Ed Hearn 5

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So I had an A's preview typed up...

...and when I went to preview it, it told me to log back in. No biggie it has happened before with previous entries and I've always been able to hit the back button, copy the text, and log back in. But nope not this time. So I really don't feel typing that up again although I'd be even more pissed if this happend with my original A's preview idea where I'd talk about the entire team. I started typing it in a word file a couple of weeks ago but got Bored after seven players so I decided to go with a condensed version (or actually a lazy version) where I talked about six players in particular (Chavez, Zito, Harden, Bradley, Loaiza, Thomas) and that is what I had typed out in the entry. Oh well, I should have known I was gonna be timed out. I do actually have what I said about Chavez already in the Word file so here's that:     And this I had tacked on to the my original entry that I lost which was also in the world file, just stat lines for everyone on the 25 man roster, nothing special:   Jason Kendall   Age: 32 2005: 676 PA, .271/.345/.321, 79 RC, .249 EQA, 18.1 VORP, 14 Win Shares 2004: 658 PA, .319/.399/.390, 96 RC, .280 EQA, 47.5 VORP, 25 Win Shares (Pittsburgh)   Adam Melhuse   Age: 34 2005: 102 PA, .247/.284/.381, 12 RC, .234 EQA, 1.3 VORP, 2 Win Shares 2004: 231 PA, .257/.309/.463, 23 RC, .262 EQA, 9.4 VORP, 5 Win Shares   Mark Ellis   Age: 29 2005: 486 PA, .316/.384/.477, 78 RC, .301 EQA, 41.9 VORP, 21 Win Shares 2004: Injured 2003: 622 PA, .248/.313/.371, 63 RC, .246 EQA, 13.9 VORP, 18 Win Shares   Eric Chavez   Age: 28 2005: 694 PA, .269/.329/.466, 96 RC, .280 EQA, 35.5 VORP, 20 Win Shares 2004: 577 PA, .276/.397/.501, 91 RC, .311 EQA, 45.5 VORP, 18 Win Shares   Bobby Crosby   Age: 26 2005: 371 PA, .276/.346/.456, 48 RC, .283 EQA, 25.4 VORP, 12 Win Shares 2004: 623 PA, .239/.319/.426, 66 RC, .262 EQA, 23.0 VORP, 14 Win Shares   Frank Thomas   Age: 38 2005: 124 PA, .219/.315/.590, 17 RC, .299 EQA, 9.2 VORP, 3 Win Shares (Chicago-AL) 2004: 311 PA, .271/.434/.563, 58 RC, .333 EQA, 34.2 VORP, 12 Win Shares (Chicago-AL)   Marco Scutaro   Age: 30 2005: 423 PA, .247/.310/.391, 45 RC, .251 EQA, 11.0 VORP, 11 Win Shares 2004: 477 PA, .273/.297/.393, 45 RC, .240 EQA, 9.3 VORP, 11 Win Shares   Antonio Perez   Age: 26 2005: 287 PA, .297/.360/.398, 43 RC, .274 EQA, 15.7 VORP, 10 Win Shares (Los Angeles) 2004: 476 AB, .296/.379/.511 (AAA Las Vegas)   Nick Swisher   Age: 25 2005: 522 PA, .236/.322/.446, 63 RC, .269 EQA, 14.2 VORP, 12 Win Shares 2004: 443 AB, .269/.406/.537 (AAA Sacramento)   Mark Kotsay   Age: 30 2005: 629 PA, .280/.325/.421, 86 RC, .263 EQA, 23.2 VORP, 18 Win Shares 2004: 673 PA, .314/.370/.459, 100 RC, .289 EQA, 45.3 VORP, 21 Win Shares   Milton Bradley   Age: 28 2005: 316 PA, .290/.350/.484, 43 RC, .290 EQA, 24.0 VORP, 10 Win Shares (Los Angeles) 2004: 597 PA, .267/.362/.424, 74 RC, .274 EQA, 25.2 VORP, 16 Win Shares (Los Angeles)   Jay Payton   Age: 33 2005: 435 PA, .267/.306/.444, 57 RC, .261 EQA, 12.1 VORP, 12 Win Shares (Boston/Oakland) 2004: 511 PA, .260/.326/.367, 63 RC, .251 EQA, 9.5 VORP, 15 Win Shares (San Diego)   Bobby Kielty   Age: 29 2005: 433 PA, .263/.350/.395, 53 RC, .270 EQA, 12.9 VORP, 10 Win Shares 2004: 278 PA, .214/.321/.370, 32 RC, .249 EQA, -1.2 VORP, 4 Win Shares   Rich Harden   Age: 24 2005: 128 IP, 177 ERA+, 2.81 K/BB, 1.06 WHIP, 40.8 VORP, 12 Win Shares 2004: 189.2 IP, 117 ERA+, 2.06 K/BB, 1.33 WHIP, 41.3 VORP, 14 Win Shares   Barry Zito   Age: 28 2005: 228.1 IP, 116 ERA+, 1.92 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP, 41.8 VORP, 13 Win Shares 2004: 213 IP, 105 ERA+, 2.01 K/BB, 1.39 WHIP, 31.5 VORP, 12 Win Shares   Danny Haren   Age: 25 2005: 217 IP, 120 ERA+, 3.08 K/BB, 1.22 WHIP, 39.5 VORP, 13 Win Shares 2004: 128 IP, 4.15 ERA, 4.55 K/BB, 1.32 WHIP (AAA Memphis)   Joe Blanton   Age: 25 2005: 201.1 IP, 127 ERA+, 1.73 K/BB, 1.22 WHIP, 44.3 VORP, 13 Win Shares 2004: 1761.1 IP, 4.19 ERA, 4.21 K/BB, 1.32 WHIP (AAA Sacramento)   Esteban Loaiza   Age: 34 2005: 217 IP, 105 ERA+, 3.15 K/BB, 1.30 WHIP, 42.1 VORP, 12 Win Shares 2004: 183 IP, 84 ERA+, 1.65 K/BB, 1.58 WHIP, 2.8 VORP, 7 Win Shares   Huston Street   Age: 22 2005: 78.1 IP, 261 ERA+, 2.77 K/BB, 1.01 WHIP, 33.3 VORP, 16 Win Shares 2004: 57 IP, 1.58 ERA, 4.54 K/BB, 0.86 WHIP (University of Texas)   Justin Duchscherer   Age: 28 2005: 85.2 IP, 204 ERA+, 4.47 K/BB, 1.00 WHIP, 30.0 VORP, 11 Win Shares 2004: 96.3 IP, 143 ERA+, 1.84 K/BB, 1.22 WHIP, 30.2 VORP, 9 Win Shares   Kiko Calero   Age: 31 2005: 55.2 IP, 139 ERA+, 2.89 K/BB, 1.13 WHIP, 15.7 VORP, 5 Win Shares 2004: 45.1 IP, 151 ERA+, 4.70 K/BB, 0.82 WHIP, 14.7 VORP, 6 Win Shares (St. Louis)   Jay Witasick   Age: 33 2005: 63.1 IP, 163 ERA+, 2.52 K/BB, 1.30 WHIP, 13.6 VORP, 6 Win Shares (Colorado/Oakland) 2004: 61.2 IP, 125 ERA+, 2.19 K/BB, 1.35 WHIP, 11.1 VORP, 3 Win Shares (San Diego)   Joe Kennedy   Age: 27 2005: 152.2 IP, 77 ERA+, 1.52 K/BB, 1.68 WHIP, -17.5 VORP, 3 Win Shares (Colorado/Oakland) 2004: 162.1 IP, 138 ERA+, 1.75 K/BB, 1.42 WHIP, 36.0 VORP, 13 Win Shares (Colorado)   Kirk Saarloos   Age: 27 2005: 159.2 IP, 108 ERA+, 0.98 K/BB, 1.40 WHIP, 28.3 VORP, 9 Win Shares 2004: Pitched insignificant number of innings in AAA New Orleans, AAA Sacramento, and Oakland   So that's that, this blog will probably turn into an A's blog by the time the season startsso I'm sure I'll touch on some of the subjects from the entry I intended to post.   Oh and my prediction: A's win 97 games, finish first in the A.L. West, and finally win an ALDS series. Anything after that is gravy.

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Award Redo: 2003 A.L. MVP

In a recent entry on Leelee's Blog, she mocked my MVP redo's by bringing up her favoriter player's, Alex Rodriguez, 2003 MVP win. Hey I thought it was funny. But then treble, our resident Toronto Blue Jay fan, made this post: Well obviously I have to settle this heated debate.   Given that it was less than three years ago, many probably remember the MVP debate from that year. A-Rod won the A.L. MVP despite playing on a Ragners team that lost 91 games. Obviously not his fault but as I talked about in the Award Redo: 1987 N.L. MVP entry it is very rare for a player on a last place team to win the MVP and many don't feel a player on a last place team deserves consideration for the MVP. The year before A-Rod lost out to the A's Miguel Tejada with the main reason being that Tejada was on a first place team and A-Rod was on a last place team.   2003 was the ideal year for a player on a last place team to win the award as there was no clear favorite. It is obvious by just looking at the results as ten different players would receive first place votes: A-Rod, Delgado, Jorge Posada, Shannon Stewart, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Vernon Wells, Tejada, and Jason Giambi. Delgado did play on a winning team but not a first place team in Toronto. In a year when there is no clear favorite also some undeserving players get serious consideration. Most obvious was Shannon Stewart who received a groundswell of support late in the season after helping the Twins win the A.L. Central and was deservedly mocked by the stat geeks. Stewart finished the year with fewer Win Shares than A's closer Keith Foulke and I've already gone over before how hard it is for a closer to match the value of an everyday player. Another player who received way too much support was David Ortiz who only played in 128 games yet received four first place votes. His 15 Win Shares were by far the fewest of any player who received an MVP vote.   The A-Rod vs. Delgado debate of course was discussed on the TSM boards back in 2003 and this will be my second voting on the award. In this thread posters voted on all the MLB awards from 2003. As you'll see I was very anti-last place and anti A-Rod at the time although I've relented on my stance against players on last place teams winning the award since. Here was my ballot I posted on September 28, 2003: I was very much drinking the Miguel Tejda Kool-Aid at the time as in retrospect he really didn't deserve any consideration. So time to redo the real ballot and my ballot, but will I change my first place vote?   Actual Results 1) Alex Rodriguez 2) Carlos Delgado 3) Jorge Posda 4) Shannon Stewart 5) David Ortiz 6) Manny Ramirez 7) Nomar Garciaparra 8) Vernon Wells 9) Carlos Beltran 10) Bret Boone 11) Miguel Tejada 12) Bill Mueller 13) Jason Giambi 14) Garret Anderson 15t) Keith Foulke 15t) Frank Thomas 17) Eric Chavez 18t) Carlos Lee 18t) Magglio Ordonez 20) Alfonso Soriano 21) Derek Jeter 22) Pedro Martinez 23) Ichiro Suzuki 24t) Aubrey Huff 24t) Esteban Loaiza 24t) Jason Varitek 27) Mariano Rivera   #10 .307/.389/.522, 106 RC, 126 OPS+, .310 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #9 .267/.390/.562, 117 RC, 149 OPS+, .317 EQA, 66.5 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #8 .290/.338/.525, 117 RC, 128 OPS+, .297 EQA, 69.9 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #7 .317/.359/.550, 133 RC, 131 OPS+, .303 EQA, 71.0 VORP, 26 Win Shares   #6 .281/.405/.518, 99 RC, 146 OPS+, .319 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #5 .250/.412/.527, 112 RC, 151 OPS+, .326 EQA, 63.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #4 .294/.366/.535, 121 RC, 138 OPS+, .312 EQA, 75.9 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #3 .325/.427/.587, 141 RC, 160 OPS+, .339 EQA, 77.9 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #2 .298/.396/.600, 141 RC, 148 OPS+, .324 EQA, 96.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares   #1 .302/.426/.593, 140 RC, 160 OPS+, .338 EQA, 83.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares   Ya stick it A-Rod, you're not CLUTCH~! And god damn do baseball cards suck now or what?   Anyways this was an incredibly close call and I could have flipped a coin but I gave the nod to Delgado. There's a serious case for Manny as well.

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OMG GREATEST TOURNAMENT EVER!!!

The thread title is a parody of the typical comments after the first couple of rounds of every NCAA Tournament. Every single year there are big upsets and "mid-majors" getting past the first weekend and every year it seems to come as a big shock to CBS and ESPN's analysts, or they pretend to be shocked at least. I guess we can chalk this up to the typical short attention span of networks and the people who watch. Really the biggest surprise maybe that no #10 seed made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in ten years but not that CBS or ESPN would notice.   Here's a look back at the "surprises" of the NCAA Tournament in just the last five years and I'll work backwards just to show how quickly people forget how "crazy and wild" past tournaments have been.   2005 -A #14, #13, #12, and a #11 seed win first round games. -#12 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee advances to the Sweet 16. -#5 seed Michigan State advances to the Final Four.   2004 -Two #12 seeds win first round games. -Two #1 seeds are elminated in the second round. -A #8 and #7 seed make it to the Elite Eight.   2003 -A #13, #12, and a #11 seed win first round games. -#12 seed Butler advances to the Sweet 16. -#7 seed Michigan State advances to the Elite Eight.   2002 -Three #12 seeds win first round games. -#11 seed Southern Illinois advances to the Sweet 16. -#12 seed Missouri advances to the Elite Eight. -#5 seed Indiana advances to the title game.   2001 -#15 seed Hampton wins in the first round. -#12 seed Gonzaga advances to the Sweet 16. -#11 seed Temple advnces to the Elite Eight.   So you get the point. This year is really no different from any other. If George Mason reaches the Final Four then we can talk about this being a surprising tournament.   -Speaking of upsets as mentioned in a prior entry I picked Bradley to make it the Sweet 16. I've been near perfect in that Oakland Region as only missed the Alabama/Marquette game. Of course every other upset pick failed miserably and this was probably one of my worst years ever picking the tournament but I prefer just to brag about picking Bradley. Oh and hey did you notice the game? It was Brad/Pitt in the little scorebox. Get it? Brad Pitt! Didn't take them long to drive that into the ground.   -Enough with the gratuitos shots of the coaches wives at the end of games. Does this really bring more viewers in? Is there some sort of extra drama I'm supposed to feel because the coaches' wife is praying? It got really out of hand at the end of the UCLA/Alabama game as literally every five seconds they were cutting to one of the wives.   -One final thing, March Madness On Demand was simply the greatest thing ever. Kudos to CBS and NCAA for agreeing to do this for free when they certainly could have charged a subcription fee for it and made a killing on people wanting to watch games while they are at work. It allowed me to not watch the Cal game (although I tuned in for the final minute to watch N.C. State win, woo hoo!) and for that I will always be grateful.

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Award Redo: 1988 N.L. MVP

Hey look a reader request, Culloden Hastings writes:     Hey take away something from Kirk Gibson? No complaints from me.   Gibson winning the MVP in 1988 always seemed like an odd choice. It always appeared on the surface just to be your typical writer vote where the guy who is SCRAPPY~ or TOUGH~ or a LEADER~ gets more support than he deserves. Gibson's Dodgers have been romanticized by the L.A. media to the point that you'd think they were some dynasty rather than the complete fluke they actually were. It's likely Bill Plaschke pleasures himself every night to Game 1 of the '88 World Series.   Without looking that closely into it before I figured Will Clark or Darryl Strawberry should have won the award. Strawberry finished 2nd in the voting but split some votes with his 3rd place teammate Kevin McReynolds who had quite the good season himself. Clark finished 5th without any first place votes as the Giants hovered just above .500. Also someone of possible consideration was Gibson's teammate Orel Hershiser who went on a record scoreless inning streak at the end of the season.   So was Gibson a bad pick? Is there anyway it couldn't have been Clark or Strawberry? Will I discover time travel and kill Gibson and Hershisher before the '88 World Series?   Actual Results   1) Kirk Gibson 2) Darryl Strawberry 3) Kevin McReynolds 4) Andy Van Slyke 5) Will Clark 6) Orel Hershiser 7) Andres Galarraga 8) Glenn Davis 9) Danny Jackson 10) David Cone 11) Tony Gwynn 12) John Franco 13) Eric Davis 14) Bobby Bonilla 15) Andre Dawson 16) Randy Myers 17) Brett Butler 18) Steve Sax   #10 .273/.363/.489, 83 RC, 139 OPS+, .314 EQA, 48.9 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #9 .296/.347/.429, 86 RC, 119 OPS+, .294 EQA, 55.7 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #8 .274/.366/.476, 102 RC, 142 OPS+, .310 EQA, 50.5 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #7 .302/.352/.540, 113 RC, 149 OPS+, .314 EQA, 58.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #6 .288/.336/.496, 91 RC, 142 OPS+, .312 EQA, 48.3 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #5 .288/.345/.506, 104 RC, 143 OPS+, .312 EQA, 56.6 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #4 148 ERA+, 2.44 K/BB, 1.05 WHIP, 64.8 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #3 .269/.366/.545, 109 RC, 165 OPS+, .327 EQA, 54.4 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #2 .290/.377/.483, 98 RC, 149 OPS+, .324 EQA, 56.4 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #1 .282/.386/.508, 113 RC, 160 OPS+, .332 EQA, 63.1 VORP, 37 Win Shares   As much as it pains me Gibson wasn't a bad choice for MVP although Clark would have been a much, much better pick. So the biggest mistake by the writers wasn't Gibson winning but the lack of support for Clark. Maybe it had to do that the guy was a dick to the media or because his middle name was Nuschler...NUSCHLER! Is that even a name?

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Tournament Randomness

-So Monmouth blew out Hampton 71-49 in the play in game tonight. Hampton had the worst RPI of any team with a winning record in the entire country and you can thank those conference tournaments for that. Now every year after this game ends the ESPN analyst has to talk about the school getting it's first ever NCAA tournament win, which always annoys me, and tonight was no different. Did Monmouth really win a tournamnet game? After all it is the "play in" game which by the wording of it seems to indicate that the winner of the game gets into the tournament. In my view Monmouth has now qualified for the tournament while Hampton has failed to do so. Monmouth will win its first real tournament game if it were to beat Villanova, which we know won't happen.   -The other postseason tournament started tonight, the NIT. I normally never pay attention to it but after a lackluster year Stanford finds themself in it, snapping their 11 year NCAA tournament streak. They beat Virginia 65-49 in their Opening Round game as UVA looked like a team that traveled 3000 miles for a game they didn't want to play which tends to happen in the NIT as motivation plays a big factor in how long a team lasts in it. Cardinal travel to play the biggest snub of the NCAA Tournament, Missouri State for their next game where they'll probably get slaughtered but hey for one night at least Stanford didn't look like mediocre team they are.   -Due to Stanford's lack of success they didn't have as many t.v. games as past years when they were a Top 10 team thus I paid a lot less attention to college basketball this year. This of course creates a problem filling out a bracket but sometimes less knowledge is a good thing. My typical formula is to look a trends for past tournaments. Things such as usually one 13, one 12, and one 11 seed will pull off a 1st round upset and at least one double digit seed will get into the Sweet 16. Of course this strategy is very hit and miss as it can really be a guessing game when it comes to picking true upset (#9 over #8, #10 over #7 aren't upsets). But I prefer doing this as I rarely play for money, including this year, so it makes it more interesting to try to have some low seed teams picked out that I can root for on the first couple of days. So here's my true upsets for the first round with very little actual research going into it:   Southern Illinois over West Virginia Bradley over Kansas Utah State over Washington   I then have Bradley beating Pittsburgh to become the 3rd #13 seed ever to get to the Sweet 16. Ya I've really lost it on that one. Northern Iowa is my #10 seed getting to the Sweet 16 after upsetting Ohio State. Other things of note is I having Syracuse beating Duke in the Sweet 16 which may just be my disgust for Duke but a #1 seed getting bumped for the Elite Eight is usually a strong bet. Everyone seems to be picking Tennessee to be an early exit so I put them into the Elite Eight before losing to UConn. I have Oklahoma reaching the Elite Eight which again I've probably lost it on that one. Then to finish it off I have Iowa getting all the way to the national championship game before losing to UConn.   -Annnnnnnnnnnd time to finish this off with some useless facts. Here's the biggest first round upset of every tournament since they expanded to 64 teams in 1985.   1985: #13 Navy 78, #4 LSU 55 1986: #14 Cleveland State 83, #3 Indiana 79 1987: #14 Austin Peay 68, #3 Illinois 67 1988: #14 Murray State 78, #3 N.C. State 75 1989: #14 Siena 80, #3 Stanford 78 1990: #14 Northern Iowa 74, #3 Missouri 71 1991: #15 Richmond 73, #2 Syracuse 69 1992: #14 East Tennessee State 87, #3 Arizona 80 1993: #15 Santa Clara 64, #2 Arizona 61 1994: #12 Wisconsin-Green Bay 61, #5 California 57 1995: #14 Weber State 79, #3 Michigan State 72 1996: #13 Princeton 43, #4 UCLA 41 1997: #15 Coppin State 78, #2 South Carolina 65 1998: #14 Richmond 62, #3 South Carolina 61 1999: #14 Weber State 76, #3 North Carolina 74 2000: #11 Pepperdine 77, #6 Indiana 57 2001: #15 Hampton 58, #2 Iowa State 57 2002: #13 UNC-Wilmington 93, #4 USC 89 OT 2003: #13 Tulsa 84, #4 Dayton 71 2004: #12 Manhattan 75, #5 Florida 60 2005: #14 Bucknell 64, # Kansas 63

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1998 Men's Basketball Tournament

Next Thursday and Friday will be what I consider the best two days of the year in sports. There is simply nothing more fun from a viewing standpoint than the 1st round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. 16 games both days with basketall all day long on CBS. You know you won't get through the day without seeing something exciting. I had originally scheduled both days off from work but someone in my department was let go last week and I do the work of two people as it is I might be going in Thursday so we don't fall behind. But for at least a day and a half I'll just be gorging myself on college basketball.   My favorite tournament by far was the 1998 tournament, simply because Stanford had ended a 56 year drought and reached the Final Four. After being a perennial doormat on the west coast for a number of years, Mike Montgomery had legitimized the program. After 1st round losses in 1989 and 1992, in 1995 Stanford picked up their first tournament win since the 1942 National Championship. Next year they'd nearly upset Marcus Camby and UMass in the 2nd round. In '97 they would end Tim Duncan's college career by beating Wake Forest in the 2nd round before losing in overtime to Keith Van Horn and Utah in the Sweet 16.   For the '97-98 season they would return with much of same team at the core but with one big loss in All-American point guard Brevin Knight. Junior Arthur Lee would take over the point with the rest of the line up being Kris Weems, Pete Sauer, Mark Madsen, and Tim Young. One of their last games of the regular season was a 32 point humiliation by Arizona. Although just their fourth loss of the season many doubted Stanford would last in the tournament. I can still remember after they were given a #3 seed, Digger Phelps whined about them getting such a high seed on ESPN's selection show and it was the only team he thought was seeded too high.   Some people's doubts seemed warranted after they had a surprisingly tough game from the College of Charleston in the first round. After that they though they would blow out Western Michigan in the 2nd round and then just beat the shit out of Purdue in the Sweet 16. Now the Purdue game wasn't a blow out but the Boilermakers were expected to out physical Stanford with well publicized inside duo of Brad Miller and Brian Cardinal. But led by Mark Madsen and freshman Jarron Collins they just punished the Purdue duo the entire game. Then came the regional final against upstart Rhode Island led by their backcourt of Cuttino Mobley and Tyson Wheeler. As the #8 seed they had upset #1 seed Kansas in the 2nd round and then eliminated the feel good team of the tournament Valparaiso. I fully expected Stanford to beat them but by the end of the game was just a wreck as URI controlled most of the game. Then came one of the great individual performances in the final minute of a game.   Mobely hit two free throws with 59.3 seconds left to put URI up 71-65. Arthur Lee then took over the game.   -Lee hits an off balance three pointer with 52 seconds left, 71-68 URI   -Stanford fouls with 49.8 seconds left, Mobely hits one out of two free throws, 72-68 URI   -Lee feeds Mark Madsen inside for two with 40.7 seconds left, 72-70 URI   -Stanford fouls with 38.8 seconds left, Preston Murphy hits two free throws, 74-70 URI   -Lee drives the length of court, scores and is fouled with 32 seconds left, hits the free throw (didn't miss the entire tournament), 74-73 URI   -Lee strips Mobely after the inbound, the ball gets knocked to Madsen, he dunks and is fouled with 26.2 seconds left, hits the free throw, 76-74 Stanford. I've watched that play on tape probably a few hundred times and I'll never get tired of it.   URI would unrravel after that, turning the ball over the next posession, then Tyson Wheeler would miss three free throws, Lee would hit two more free throws, a URI half court shot at the buzzer would end the score at 79-77 Stanford. Lee scored 10 points and had the key steal of the game in the final minute. Stanford advanced to play Kentucky in the Final Four. Everyone, and I mean everyone, pretty much was preparing for a Kentucky/North Carolina final as Stanford and Utah were after thoughts. The Cardinal would lose to Kentucky in a forgotten classic 86-85 in overtime. I think it gets forgotten as one of the great tournament games because it didn't have that dramatic finish or an upset that other great games get remembered for. It was just a incredibly well played game by both teams and Dean Smith after the game on CBS said it was the best game he'd ever seen. I remember not even being upset after they lost as they weren't expected to give Kentucky any sort of a challenge and they played so well that I couldn't be mad that they came up short. It's the one game where a favorite team of mine lost that I would still watch on tape years later.   1998 Tournament Results   March 12, 1998   East Region #1 North Carolina 88, #16 Navy 52 #8 Charlotte 77, #9 Illinois-Chicago 59 #4 Michigan State 83, #13 Eastern Michigan 71 #5 Princeton 69, #12 UNLV 57 #14 Richmond 62, #3 South Carolina 61 #11 Washington 69, #6 Xavier 68 #2 Connecticut93, #15 Farleigh Dickenson 85 #7 Indiana 94, #10 Oklahoma 87 OT   West Region #1 Arizona 99, #16 Nicholls State 60 #9 Illinois State 82, #8 Tennessee 81 OT #4 Maryland 82, #13 Utah State 68 #5 Illinois 64, #12 South Alabama 51 #3 Utah 85, #14 San Francisco 68 #6 Arkansas 74, #11 Nebraska 65 #2 Cincinnati 65, #15 Northern Arizona 62 #10 West Virginia 82, #7 Temple 52   March 13, 1998   Midwest Region #1 Kansas 110, #16 Prairie View 52 #8 Rhode Island 97, #9 Murray State 74 #13 Valparaiso 70, #4 Mississippi 69 #12 Florida State 96, #5 TCU 87 #3 Stanford 67, #14 Charleston 57 #11 Western Michigan 75, #6 Clemson 72 #2 Purdue 95, #15 Delaware 56 #10 Detroit 66, #7 St. John's 64   South Region #1 Duke 99, #16 Radford 63 #8 Oklahoma State 74, #9 George Washington 59 #4 New Mexico 79, #13 Butler 62 #5 Syracuse 63, #12 Iona 61 #3 Michigan 80, #14 Davidson 61 #6 UCLA 65, #11 Miami 62 #2 Kentucky 82, #15 South Carolina State 67 #10 Saint Louis 51, #7 UMass 46   March 14, 1998   East Region #1 North Carolina 93, #8 Charlotte 83 OT #4 Michigan State 63, #5 Princeton 56 #11 Washington 87, #14 Richmond 66 #2 Connecticut 78, #7 Indiana 68   Midwest Region #1 Arizona 82, #9 Illinois State 49 #4 Maryland 67, #5 Illinois 61 #3 Utah 75, #6 Arkansas 69 #10 West Virginia 75, #2 Cincinnati 74   March 15, 1998   Midwest Region #8 Rhode Island 80, #1 Kansas 75 #13 Valparaiso 83, #12 Florida State 77 OT #3 Stanford 83, #11 Western Michigan 65 #2 Purdue 80, #10 Detroit 65   South Region #1 Duke 79, #8 Oklahoma State 73 #5 Syracuse 56, #4 New Mexico 46 #6 UCLA 85, #3 Michigan 82 #2 Kentucky 88, #10 Saint Louis 61   March 19, 1998   East Region #1 North Carolina 73, #4 Michigan State 58 #2 Connecticut 75, #11 Washington 74   West Region #1 Arizona 87, #4 Maryland 79 #3 Utah 65, #10 West Virginia 62   March 20, 1998   Midwest Region #8 Rhode Island 74, #13 Valparaiso 68 #3 Stanford 67, #2 Purdue 59   South Region #1 Duke 80, #5 Syracuse 67 #2 Kentucky 94, #6 UCLA 68   March 21, 1998   East Region #1 North Carolina 75, #2 Connecticut 64   West Region #3 Utah 76, #1 Arizona 51   March 22, 1998   Midwest Region #3 Stanford 79, #8 Rhode Island 77   South Region #2 Kentucky 86, #1 Duke 84   March 28, 1998   Final Four Kentucky 86, Stanford 85 OT Utah 65, North Carolina 59   National Championship Kentucky 78, Utah 69

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Kirby Puckett Moments

I'm not someone to get overly sentimental about someone famous dying. If I didn't know someone personally I just don't have a lot of emotions. Sure it's sad they died but in the end I can't feel an overt emotional connection to them, whether it be Eddie Guerrero or now Kirby Puckett. Being that I'm 27 years old, Puckett was of course in his prime when I was a kid. I personally don't have any unique Puckett memories, everyone remembers his Game 6 homerun against the Braves, and my perspective on him is a little odd being an A's fan. The Twins were their biggest rival during the late 80's and early 90's in what was really a great, forgotten rivalry. Naturally I couldn't stand the Twins or Puckett and I would dread the A's every trip to the Metrodome.   So in an attempt to do some sort of "memory" post I figured I'd go to retrosheet.org and scan Puckett's daily lines and pick out some of his great games.   May 8, 1984 - Twins 5, Angels 0 Puckett's MLB debut where had four hits. He'd hit safely in 19 of his first 20 games.   April 22, 1985 - Twins 9, Mariners 5 Puckett hits his first career homerun off of Matt Young after not hitting one his rookie year, he went 3 for 5 on the day.   July 18, 1986 - Twins 7, Orioles 3 Puckett's first multi-homerun game, leading the game off with a homerun off of Scott McGregor.   August 1, 1986 - Twins 10, A's 1 In the same game where Bert Blyleven gets his 3,000th strikeout, Puckett hits for the cycle getting it with a homerun in the 8th off of Darrel Akerfelds.   August 30, 1987 - Twins 10, Brewers 6 After going 4 for 5 with two homeruns the previous day he follows that up with a 6 for 6 two double, two homeruns performance.   October 24, 1987 - Twins 11, Cardinals 5 Goes for 4 for 4 as the Twins force a Game 7.   May 13, 1989 - Twins 10, Blue Jays 8 Puckett goes 4 for 5, all of his hits are doubles.   June 26, 1989 - Twins 4, A's 3 Puckett goes 3 for 5 and hits a walk off homerun against Todd Burns in the 10th inning.   October 13, 1991 - Twins 8, Blue Jays 5 Went 4 for 5 the previous game, hits a 1st inning homerun off of Tom Candiotti, finishes this game 3 for 5 as the Twins win the ALCS and he wins the series MVP.   October 26, 1991 - Twins 4, Braves 3 Needs no introduction.   August 14, 1992 - Twins 9, Mariners 6 Hits two homeruns, six RBI, includes a grand slam in the 3rd inning off Brian Fisher.   July 13, 1993 - American League 9, National League 3 Wins All-Star game MVP, 2 for 3 with a homerun off Terry Mulholland.   August 15, 1993 - Twins 12, A's 5 Goes 5 for 5 with a two homeruns in the second game of a double header.   August 10, 1994 - Twins 17, Red Sox 7 Matches his career high with seven RBI, which he did against the Red Sox earlier in the season, hitting two homeruns with a grand slam in what would end up being their last game of the '94 season before the strike.   Puckett's Year-by-Year Win Shares   1984: 16 1985: 19 1986: 26 1987: 29 1988: 32 1989: 27 1990: 22 1991: 21 1992: 31 1993: 18 1994: 20 1995: 20  

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My Team U.S.A. (baseball)

This Tuesday the United States plays its World Baseball Classic opener against Mexico. As widly documented by now several top players have pulled out from the U.S. squad and other countries thus we aren't getting a true showing of the world's best. The best example of this is now the inclusion of the ancient and no longer effective starting pitcher Al Leiter to the U.S. roster. As much as George Steinbrenner has voiced his displeasure with the tournament he didn't say anything about being upset over Leiter being added to the team as he is not even expected to make the Yankees. Now even with Leiter on the team the U.S. still should win the um, whatever they give away to the winner, but the U.S. men's basketball team should always win the gold in the Olympics too.   So I've decided to pick my own United States roster. Every U.S. born player is available to me in this fictional scenerio. I'll use the same roster set up as the current U.S. team has: 4 starting pitchers, 10 relievers, 3 catchers, 7 infielders, and 6 outfielders.   Starting Pitchers   Roger Clemens Roy Oswalt Jake Peavy Dontrelle Willis   Relievers   Neal Cotts Justin Duchscherer Brad Lidge Scott Linebrink Joe Nathan B.J. Ryan Scot Shields Huston Street Billy Wagner Dan Wheeler   Catchers   Michael Barrett Joe Mauer Jason Varitek   Infielders   Travis Hafner Jeff Kent Derrek Lee Alex Rodriguez Mark Teixeira David Wright Michael Young   Note: Let's be real, A-Rod is the best shortstop in baseball even if he plays 3rd now so I'm putting him at short. Hafner doesn't play the field really but there is the DH in the tournament and the way he rakes righties you'd need to have him in there.   Outfielders   Adam Dunn Jim Edmonds Brian Giles Aaron Rowand Gary Sheffield Vernon Wells   Ya, Aaron Rowand. I was having hard time picking the 6th outfielder so I went with a defensive specialist. It does give me three center fielders but really you can stick Rowand in a corner late in the game for someone like Dunn or Sheffield. Ya, ya no true lead off hitter on the roster but with this many big bats you don't need one. Giles would make a good lead off hitter with his excellent plate patience.   ****BONUS MATERIAL****   Just as I finished this I figured, why not pick the Un-American team? No, no not Venezuela. I'm gonna pick a team of U.S. players you wouldn't want representing Team U.S.A. I'm only taking into account players who regulars last season as obviously I could pick an entire team filled with bench scrubs or guys who had cups of coffee in the Majors.   Starting Pitchers   Mark Hendrickson Al Leiter (oh the irony) Joe Mays Eric Milton   Relief Pitchers   Doug Brocail Jim Brower Brian Bruney Jason Christiansen Mike DeJean Alan Embree Travis Harper Dan Kolb Braden Looper Matt Thorton   Catchers   Brad Ausmus Chad Moeller Chris Snyder   Infielders   David Bell Aaron Boone Bret Boone Royce Clayton Doug Mientiewicz Aaron Miles Kevin Millar   Outfielders   Eric Brynes Steve Finley Terrence Long Corey Patterson Scott Podsednik (ya I said it!) B.J. Surhoff

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Award Redo: 1999 A.L. MVP

Since I'm on the starting pitcher theme I'm going with another year where a starting pitcher was in serious contention for the award. Pedro Martinez went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA in 1999 and finished 2nd in the A.L. MVP voting. He would actually receive more first place votes than any other candidate, eight, but fell 13 voting points behind the winner Ivan Rodriguez. 1999 was the height of the offesive explosion during the late 90's which is now labeld the steroid era. It's not surprising Martinez received so much support as a pitcher putting up those kind of numbers with the game being dominated by offense.   Rodriguez's MVP win has been ridiculed heavily by the stathead crowd. With so many great offensive performances during the year his numbers paled in comparison to many others. Of course his excellent defense earns him bonus points and his numbers in many other years would have been MVP calibar but not in 1999. Given his win and Pedro's strong showing maybe it was a little writer backlash against the "arena baseball" that was being played that year. In all of this though the biggest contributer to Rodriguez's win may have been teammates Roberto Alomar and Manny Ramirez splitting their votes as they finished with the exact same number of first place votes and ended up tied for 3rd overall. If a couple of first place votes had been switch to the other one of them would have won the MVP.   So how bad of a choice was Pudge? Was Pedro Martinez really the MVP? Should have one of the Indians won it?   Actual Results   1) Ivan Rodriguez 2) Pedro Martinez 3t) Roberto Alomar 3t) Manny Ramirez 5) Rafael Palmeiro 6) Derek Jeter 7) Nomar Garciaparra 8) Jason Giambi 9) Shawn Green 10) Ken Griffey Jr 11) Bernie Williams 12) Carlos Delgado 13) Juan Gonzalez 14) Mariano Rivera 15) Alex Rodriguez 16) Omar Vizquel 17) Matt Stairs 18t) John Jaha 18t) B.J. Surhoff   #10 .309/.384/.588, 136 RC, 143 OPS+, .317 EQA, 69.3 VORP, 24 Win Shares   #9 .315/.422/.553, 134 RC, 148 OPS+, .332 EQA, 75.6 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #8 .285/.384/.576, 132 RC, 138 OPS+, .312 EQA, 75.7 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #7 245 ERA+, 8.46 K/BB, 0.92 WHIP, 101.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #6 .324/.420/.630, 151 RC, 160 OPS+, .336 EQA, 86.1 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #5 .323/.422/.533, 127 RC, 140 OPS+, .324 EQA, 86.4 VORP, 35 Win Shares   #4 .357/.418/.603, 133 RC, 152 OPS+, .335 EQA, 97.0 VORP, 32 Win Shares   #3 .342/.435/.536, 139 RC, 157 OPS+, .330 EQA, 90.6 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #2 .333/.442/.663, 151 RC, 174 OPS+, .352 EQA, 89.3 VORP, 35 Win Shares   #1 .349/.438/.552, 149 RC, 161 OPS+, .337 EQA, 118.0 VORP, 35 Win Shares   Really who else could it have been? The guy is the MVP every year! FACE OF BASEBALL~!   Anyways for the all the hype Jeter gets as a living legend, 1999 was truly the one year where he was out of this world and he's never really come close to it since. It's so far above any other year he's had you could call it a fluke at this point. But it is interesting that in this year he didn't come that close to winning the MVP. As much as I mock the Jeter lovefest by New York media/fans, ESPN, and Fox I do feel that he is some what underrated by non-Yankee fans who are so sick of the hype. Maybe it's possible non-New York writers are the same way. Also when you look at the little support Bernie Williams had there could have also been a bit of a Yankee backlash after their historically dominate 1998 season. Who knows, maybe Jeter's legend didn't truly reach ridiculous levels until his insanely overrated play in the Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS when THAT FAT FUCK JEREMY GIAMBI DIDN'T SLIDE!!!!   Oh and going back to the original subject of the thread, Martinez like every year had to a skip a few starts and that has always hurt his potential MVP credentials. It's really a tribute to his great season that despite only making 29 starts he would crack the Top 10. And yes Rodriguez was a very bad choice as MVP although he came very close to being in the Top 10 and I flip-flopped between him and Green for the 10 spot.

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Bored

 

Award Redo: 1995 N.L. MVP

Okay back to the redos. In the last two redos I took away an MVP from a closer, Willie Hernandez and Dennis Eckersley. Since I've established that closers should not receive serious consideration for the MVP award and now to turn the focus to starting pitchers. In the last three redos a starting pitcher cracked the Top 10 but I didn't give any of them serious thought for the #1 spot. In today's game with five man rotations and relaitvely stricter pitch counts a pitcher it is difficult for a starting pitcher to rack up the innings to match the value of an everyday player. You have to go back to 1980 to find the last starting pitcher to throw over 300 innings in a single season, Steve Carlton. Since that year three closers have won the MVP award but only one starting pitcher, Roger Clemens in 1986. It seems very odd that closers now seemingly have a better shot to win an MVP than starting pitchers.   Now this brings me to a year that a starting pitcher received serious consideration for the MVP and deservedly so, 1995. Remember 1995? The strike was still going on by Spring Training and we came very close to seeing replacement/scab players fielding Major League teams in games that counted but it ended right before Opening Day. I can even remember an exhibition game at the Coliseum with scab players right before the strike ended. The start of the season was pushed back to late April and the season shrunk to 144 games.   That year Greg Maddux had probably the best season a starting pitcher has had in my lifetime. He went 19-2 with 1.63 ERA, which was actually slightly higher than his previous year but he had better peripherals. He would win the Cy Young unanimously and finish 3rd in the MVP voting with seven first place votes. 2nd place went to Dante Bichette who benefitted from Coors Field and the Rockies surprise run to the Wild Card in the third year of exsistence. The winner would be Barry Larkin. Larkin's win has been perceived as possibly not deserving since '95 as he followed up that year with an even better season in '96 and I'd count myself as one of the doubters to this point. One interesting result in the '95 voting was the complete lack of support for Barry Bonds who finished 12th overall as the Giants floundered at the bottom of the N.L. West.   So was 1995 finally a year a starting pitcher should have won an MVP? Was Barry Larkin's win undeserving? Did Dante Bichette really have a better year than Barry Bonds?   Actually Results   1) Barry Larkin 2) Dante Bichette 3) Greg Maddux 4) Mike Piazza 5) Eric Karros 6) Reggie Sanders 7) Larry Walker 8) Sammy Sosa 9) Tony Gwynn 10) Craig Biggio 11) Ron Gant 12) Barry Bonds 13) Mark Grace 14) Derek Bell 15) Jeff Bagwell 16t) Andres Galarraga 16t) Charlie Hayes 18t) Vinny Castilla 18t) Chipper Jones 20t) Fred McGriff 20t) Pete Schourek 22t) Jeff Conine 22t) Tom Henke   #10 .340/.364/.620, 131 RC, 130 OPS+, .286 EQA, 54.7 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #9 .326/.395/.516, 113 RC, 143 OPS+, .309 EQA, 56.3 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #8 .368/.404/.484, 105 RC, 138 OPS+, .312 EQA, 56.5 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #7 .298/.369/.535, 108 RC, 145 OPS+, .309 EQA, 50.4 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #6 .306/.397/.579, 110 RC, 155 OPS+, .320 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #5 .302/.406/.483, 104 RC, 141 OPS+, .317 EQA, 71.7 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #4 .346/.400/.606, 105 RC, 172 OPS+, .338 EQA, 72.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #3 .319/.394/.492, 96 RC, 134 OPS+, .311 EQA, 77.1 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #2 .294/.431/.577, 125 RC, 168 OPS+, .339 EQA, 77.0 VORP, 36 Win Shares   #1 259 ERA+, 7.87 K/BB, 0.81 WHIP, 94.0 VORP, 30 Win Shares   I'm starting to remember why I stopped collecting baseball cards, too damn many of them by the mid-90s.   So there you have it, Greg Maddux should have been the first N.L. pitcher to win the MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968. But in retrospect Barry Larkin was hardly a bad choice and was a deserving candidate as again with most years there always a few good candidates. There is a very good case to be made for Mike Piazza as well. As it turns out beyond Bichette's 2nd place finish and Bonds lack of support the '95 voting wasn't too bad. Okay there was one bizarre result with Charlie Hayes getting four voting points. Even his baseball writer friendly numbers were nothing special (.276 AVG, 11 HR, 85 RBI) and he played on a losing team.

Bored

Bored

 

Conference Tournaments are the Tool of the Devil!

Time to take a brief break from the nostalgia. On Tuesday the first conference tournaments in college basketball will tip off and thus starts the two weeks of the season that render the regular season meaningless. The idea that with two weeks left in the season that almost every team in college basketball has a chance to qualify for the tournament is insane. The majority of conferences every team qualifies for their conference tournament. It is technically possible for a team to go winless in its conference yet qualify for the field of 65. What is this the Special Olympics? Everybody is a winner!   First starting with the major conferences…what is the point? Almost every winner in the conference tournament of a major conference was getting into the tournament anyways. Really why should beating a conference team on a neutral court (well depending on where tournament is being played which I’ll get to) matter in qualifying for the tournament? You likely won’t meet another conference team in the real tournament until the Elite Eight or Final Four and typically a team who’s chances of getting into the real tournament are depending on how they play in their conference tournament aren’t going to get that far. Also if a major conference team goes undefeated in conference play, like Duke at the moment, what do they have left to prove? Why should they risk injury in essentially meaningless games for them? For a team like Duke the ACC tournament is almost like an exhibition because they’ve already wrapped up a #1 seed. Can you imagine what would happen if J.J. Reddick were injured in a nothing ACC first round game? Okay that would be worth just to see Dick Vitale openly weep on live television.   Now with the smaller conferences it does a get little more tricky. Defenders of the conference tournaments will say this is the only exposure they get which is a valid point. But what really bothers me about conference tournaments for smaller conferences is a team can have their entire season wiped out by one bad game or a team that has absolutely no business getting into the tournament can have one hot week qualify four the tournament just to get annihilated by a #1 seed. These smaller conferences where they will only get one bid there is always a chance a team with a losing record or just hovering over .500 will get into the tournament just because they won three straight games in early March in their weak conference. By not including the best team from every conference they are just devaluing the overall strength of the real tournament. If you actually included the truly best teams from all these smaller conferences maybe every once in a while we’d get an interesting #1 vs. #16 game.   A glaring problem with conference tournaments is that many are played at the same venue every year thus some teams get home court advantages ever year. Duke and North Carolina will always have more fans in the ACC tournament as its played Greensboro, NC every year. UCLA and USC will always have home court in the Pac-10 tournament as it always played in Los Angeles. It’s ridiculous especially in a conference like the Pac-10 where there is an NBA arena in every region of the conference that would be perfectly capable of hosting the tournament on a rotating basis. Why is there this refusal in most conferences to rotate where the tournament hosted? Sure it’s all about ticket sales but you can’t tell me in each conference there is only one venue that can put a decent number of people in the seats for a tournament.   I’d personally like conference tournaments to go away. You win your regular season title, you should get an automatic bid. If there was a system in place where if there was a tie for a regular season title that they had a one game playoff between the top two teams then that would be perfectly fine. In fact why can’t there just be a conference title game for every conference between the 1st and 2nd place teams (or division winners in conferences like the SEC and Big XII) in every conference this time of year rather than this nonsense where the 11th place team gets to extend its season? For smaller conferences most of them only get their title game televised by ESPN anyways. To be honest I’m not even sure all these small conferences should get a bid but that’s for another entry. But they’re here to stay and ESPN can romanticize them all want but really they’re celebrating how pointless it was to watch the last four months of games.

Bored

Bored

 

Where'd They Go?: 1989 Chicago Cubs

Okay finally taking a break from the Award Redos...until the next entry probably. For the next Where'd The Go? I wanted to find a team that was a complete fluke. A team that had success one year with no winning seasons in the years prior and then no winning seasons in the years after which where the '89 Cubs qualify. Actually I could have also picked the '84 Cubs but decided to go with the more recent example.   Cubs history of futility is well documented and every time they have a glimmer of success it becomes big news. Before the '89 season there last winning season had been 1984 and their next winning season after would not be until 1993. In '89 the fielded the second youngest team in the National League with several key players who were rookies or second year players. Managed by future Joe Torre cabana boy Don Zimmer the Cubs went on a magical run to the N.L. East title with a 93-69 record before Will Clark pretty almost single handily dispatched them in the NLCS. Given how young they were it figured they were a nice core to lead this team to a championship down the line but they never even came close after 1989. Here's a look back as to where this team went.   C: Damon Berryhill (.257/.291/.341, 6.0 VORP, 12 Win Shares) - Just his second year Berryhill had pretty much established self as an unspectacular catcher who'd bounce around the Majors for a while and that's what he did. He had rotator cuff surgery in September of that year so he was not on the postseason roster and was filled in by rookie Joe Girardi. He'd be traded to the Braves a couple of years later where he'd be their regular catcher during the 1992 postseason. Had one year stints with the Red Sox, Reds, and Giants before calling it quits after 1997.   1B: Mark Grace (.314/.405/.457, 43.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares) - Another second year player, Grace was a rising star at this time and this would end up being one of his best years. He would lead the Majors in hits during the decade of the 90's which will probably get his some mild HOF support but really isn't one. Played withe Cubs thru 2000 before signing with the Diamondbacks where he'd pick up a World Series ring in 2001.   2B: Ryne Sandberg (.290/.356/.497, 56.8 VORP, 28 Win Shares) - I to this day have never met someone named "Ryne". Anyways he had usual good season in '89 and would finish 4th in the MVP voting. He would retire during the 1994 season but then unretire before 1996 to play two more years withe Cubs. Inducted into the HOF last year.   3B: Luis Salazar (.282/.316/.414, 13.0 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - The actual regular 3rd baseman in the regular season was Vance Law but he was just terrible so the Cubs acquired Salazar from the Padres at the waiver trade deadline. Not that he was much better than Law but he did hit surprisingly well for them the last month of the season and the NLCS. Maybe that ended up being bad for the Cubs as they hung onto him thru 1992 where he did nothing of note.   SS: Shawon Dunston (.278/.320/.403, 29.1 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - I always figured they made a mistake on Shawon's birth certificate and he just never decided to fix it. It probably wasn't even until the mid-90's that I realized how to spell his name right. Could hit for a decent average and some power for a shortstop but couldn't draw a walk to save his life and just awful defensively but stuck around for 18 years. With the Cubs thru 1995 then bounced around to the Giants, back to the Cubs, Pirates, Indians, back to the Giants, Cardinals, Mets, back to the Cardinals, and then a 3rd stint with Giants where'd he retire after 2002.   LF: Dwight Smith (.324/.382/.493, 31.5 VORP, 16 Win Shares) - Smith may have epitomized the '89 Cubs. With numbers like that in his rookie year you would have thought he was on his way to big things. Alas it didn't happen. Stuck around with the Cubs thru 1993, split time with the Angels and Orioles in 1994, and then spent two season with the Braves where in 1995 he got to pick up a World Series ring as a bench player.   CF: Jerome Walton (.293/.335/.385, 25.9 VORP, 17 Win Shares) - Remember how excited you'd be to have the rookie card of any rookie who did anything without noticing they weren't that good to begin with? That was Jerome Walton for me. He won the 1989 N.L. ROY and that was about it for him in terms of relevance. Played with the Cubs thru '92 and then bounced from the Angels, Reds, Braves, Orioles, and to the Devil Rays.   RF: Andre Dawson (.252/.307/.476, 19.3 VORP, 13 Win Shares) - By '89 the beating Dawson's knees to playing all those years on the Olympic Stadium turf started to catch up to him. He did rebound the following year for one more good year. With the Cubs thru 1992 and had two year stints with the Red Sox and Marlins before retiring after 1996.   Pitchers   Greg Maddux (128 ERA+, 35.4 VORP, 20 Win Shares) - Hey who's this guy? Only 23 years old at the time Maddux had already broken out with a strong year in 1988 and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 1989. He'd post a 2.18 ERA in 1992 and as Cubs fans painfully know he'd sign a big money free agent contract after that season with the Braves where he'd become one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Of course returned to the Cubs in 2004 where he is still active.   Rick Sutcliffe (103 ERA+, 22.5 VORP, 14 Win Shares) - . This was Sutcliffe's last decent season as injury limited him to 23 starts the next two years. Would pitch two years with the Orioles and then a brief stint with the Cardinals in 1994 before retiring.   Mike Bielecki (121 ERA+, 29.7 VORP, 16 Win Shares) - By far Bielecki's best season and part of the fluky nature of the '89 season and his long term future was in the bullpen. Traded with the Berryhill to the Braves after 1991, he'd three different trips to Atlanta with one year stints with the Angels and Indians mixed in.   Paul Kilgus (86 ERA+, -14.1 VORP, 3 Win Shares) - With those numbers you can tell Kilgus wasn't Major League material. Was acquired in the Mitch Williams/Rafael Palmeiro trade before the season this would be his last season as a regular starter. Had cups of coffee with the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Cardinals.   Scott Sanderson (96 ERA+, 7.1 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Marginally effective pitcher that would play 19 years and who'd luck into signing with the defending World Champion A's after '89. Then went to the Yankees in 1991 where he'd have a good year then hung around the Majors thru 1996 primarily with the Angels.   Closer: Mitch Williams (137 ERA+, 13.2 VORP, 12 Win Shares) - What can be said about this guy that hasn't been already? It's amazing he had any sucess at all with his lack of command. Achieved a bit of a cult status in 1989 due to his wild delivery. Dealt to the Phillies after 1990 where you know what happened in 1993. Then traded to the Astros after that year where he'd never be the same.   A little story about Williams, he had a very brief stint with the Royals in 1997 where I saw him pitch one of his last games ever live against the A's on April 25, 1997. He was out of the Majors in 1996 but some how made the Royals out of Spring Training. The Royals were crushing the A's 10-3 and there were probably only about 3,000 people left in the park by the time Wild Thing came in for mop up duty in the 9th. We gave him a mocking standing ovation when he came out figuring he'd probably make the inning exciting. He'd walk Matt Stairs on four pitches to start the inning and went 3-0 to Scott Speizo and the little of us there were going nuts. He'd then recover to strike out Speizo and strike out the side of Scott Brosius and Tony Batista. Ya that was a bad omen for the '97 A's.

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1992 A.L. MVP

Let's see so far I've taken away MVPs from Andre Dawson, Willie Hernandez, and Willie Stargell. But now I have to do something truly painful...take away an MVP from a former member of the Oakland A's. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it.   In 1992 Dennis Eckersley was the A.L. MVP & Cy Young winner just like Hernandez eight years earlier. Eck was his usual dominante self at that time with a 51 saves, 1.91 ERA, 8.45 K/BB Ratio, and 0.91 WHIP. There was one problem. Eck defined what the closer position has become today and that is one inning and done. In '92 he pitched 80 innings which as it turned out would end up being the most innings he'd ever throw as a closer. But a pitcher throwing 80 innings can't even come close to being truly the most valuable player on his own team let alone entire league. Now I loved Eckersley, he was a great story as a recovering alcoholic, and I fully supported him getting into the Hall of Fame due his unique career line. This is the guy who during a two year span in 1989 and 1990 in 131 innings, he had 128 strikeouts and walked only seven batters...SEVEN! But he was quite possibly one of the worst choices ever for MVP.   Now in 1984 redo I said Hernandez wasn't deserving of serious consideration for MVP but that he may cracked the Top 15 and even though he wasn't the best choice for Cy Young, he wasn't a bad choice either. I can not say the same for Eckersley as it'd be quite a while before I'd reach him on a list of the most valuable in 1992 and there were a handful of pitchers who were much more deserving of winning the Cy Young such as Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and Kevin Appier. As for value to his own team Eckersley was no where near as valuable as Mark McGwire and Rickey Henderson that season. He was very important to the A's winning their 4th division title in five years but you have to play eight innings to get to him and other players have to make bigger impacts for them to come out on top...which you can pretty much say about every closer today.   So today I take away the MVP from an Oakland Athletic...but maybe I'll just turn around and give it to another? Maybe it was one of the three Toronto Blue Jays in the Top 10? Or maybe it was someone who received no first place votes? Ya okay you probably figured it out by now.   Actual 1992 Results   1) Dennis Eckersley 2) Kirby Puckett 3) Joe Carter 4) Mark McGwire 5) Dave Winfield 6) Roberto Alomar 7) Mike Devereaux 8) Frank Thomas 9) Cecil Fielder 10) Paul Molitor 11) Carlos Baerga 12) Edgar Martinez 13) Jack Morris 14t) Brady Anderson 14t) Roger Clemens 16) Juan Gonzalez 17) Ken Griffey Jr. 18) Pat Listach 19) Jack McDowell 20) George Bell 21t) Mike Bordick 21t) Mike Mussina 23) Albert Belle   #10 175 ERA+, 3.35 K/BB, 1.07 WHIP, 64.9 VORP, 26 Win Shares   #9 .315/.394/.467, 107 RC, 138 OPS+, .316 EQA, 58.4 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #8 .343/.404/.544, 116 RC, 163 OPS+, .344 EQA, 76.4 VORP, 24 Win Shares   #7 .290/.377/.491, 108 RC, 137 OPS+, .316 EQA, 54.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #6 .312/.354/.455, 104 RC, 128 OPS+, .305 EQA, 63.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #5 .329/.374/.490, 116 RC, 138 OPS+, .315 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #4 .320/.389/.461, 110 RC, 140 OPS+, .325 EQA, 67.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #3 .268/.385/.585, 105 RC, 175 OPS+, .350 EQA, 64.7 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #2 .310/.405/.427, 98 RC, 129 OPS+, .322 EQA, 67.9 VORP, 34 Win Shares   #1 .323/.439/.536, 136 RC, 174 OPS+, .361 EQA, 89.3 VORP, 33 Win Shares   Hey take away an MVP from a former A's player and give it to a current A's player, GENIUS!   Thomas did not receive a single first place vote. He and the White Sox were slightly better the year before and he finished 3rd. He only hit 24 homeruns but had 46 doubles so he gets punished for supposed loss of power. Some how Joe Carter received four first place votes despite the great year Alomar had. Okay I know why, the almighty RBI but even he didn't lead the league that year as Cecil Fielder did. George Bell received three voting points with a spectacular line of .255/.294/.418 but Shane Mack didn't receive a single vote.

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1979 N.L. MVP

You know I really did want to avoid doing three straight entries of the same feature but dammit I'm loving doing this and this blog is basically my own playground to geek out on useless information so might as well keep doing what I love. Besides there's only two of you reading this.   The 1979 N.L. MVP vote had the most unique result ever: a tie. A TIE!?!? What kind of a crap is that? There's no ties in baseball! I was only one year old at the time but I imagine there must have been riots across the country after this result was announced and if there wasn't there should have been. Fuck the hostage crisis, this was the biggest crisis in America in November 1979.   Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell shared the award in '79. Well I don't know if they shared, I'd assume they made two trophies otherwise that'd be a pretty cheap thing for MLB to do. Now what was odd, beyond the tied result, was Hernandez easily beat Stargell in first place votes, 10 to 4. There's no rule for a tiebreak but clearly more voters felt Hernandez was the MVP. In 3rd place was Dave Winfield who received the same number of first place votes as Stargell although due to the Padres poor performance Winfield probably was left off a few ballots all together as he finished 61 points behind the co-winners.   So for over 26 years we've been stuck with this tie...until today. I will settle the debate. Get out your magic markers kids and get ready to cross out one of those names. Or will you be crossing out both of them?   Actual 1979 results:   1t) Keith Hernandez 1t) Willie Stargell 3) Dave Winfield 4) Larry Parrish 5) Ray Knight 6) Joe Niekro 7) Bruce Sutter 8) Kent Tekulve 9) Dave Concepcion 10) Dave Parker 11) Dave Kingman 12) George Foster 13) Mike Schmidt 14) Steve Garvey 15t) Omar Moreno 15t) Pete Rose 17) Gary Carter 18) Bill Madlock 19) J.R. Richard 20) Phil Niekro 21t) Joe Sambito 21t) Tom Seaver 23) Johnny Bench 24) Andre Dawson 25) Garry Templeton 26) Gary Matthews 27) Dave Collins 28) Bob Horner   #10 .314/.331/.458, 102 RC, 113 OPS+, .276 EQA, 63.4 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #9 .303/.395.449, 106 RC, 135 OPS+, .306 EQA, 55.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #8 130 ERA+, 3.19 K/BB, 1.09 WHIP, 68.7 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #7 .265/.372/.464, 100 RC, 128 OPS+, .306 EQA, 68.6 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #6 .331/.418/.430, 113 RC, 130 OPS+, .304 EQA, 54.7 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #5 .307/.357/.551, 107 RC, 146 OPS+, .307 EQA, 59.0 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #4 .310/.380/.526, 123 RC, 141 OPS+, .309 EQA, 58.1 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #3 .253/.386/.564, 119 RC, 154 OPS+, .317 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #2 .308/.395/.558, 131 RC, 165 OPS+, .329 EQA, 68.7 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #1 .344/.417/.513, 132 RC, 152 OPS+, .322 EQA, 71.9 VORP, 29 Win Shares   There you have it, you can sleep well at night now that Keith Hernandez is the sole winner of the 1979 N.L. MVP. Someone please inform the widow Stargell that we must take away his half of the MVP award.   Really Stargell had no business even being considered for the award. As you can see the Pirates best player was Dave Parker, who won the MVP himself the year before but since his numbers weren't as good as the previous year the voters penalized him. Stargell was probably only about the 4th or 5th best player on the team that year. But the reason whey he got so much support was because he was really fucking old and he was the "heart and soul" of the We Are Family Pirates and baseball writers get chubbies thinking of stuff like that.

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1984 A.L. MVP

In kkk's most recent entry on K-Mart customer service he made mention of how he had thought Harold Baines didn't get enough credit as a player. Now Baines best season was probably 1984 when he was still an everyday outfielder. Now he was never a serious MVP cadidate and '84 was no different but the MVP voting that year was quite interesting. For one a closer won it in Willie Hernandez of the Tigers. A closer winning an MVP should always raise a few eyebrows as it's pretty much impossible for them to equal the value of an everyday player.   Now Hernandez was far from your one inning and done closers of today. He pitched 140 innings that year which is a ton of innings for someone who didn't make a single start. He was dominating with 112 strikeouts to 36 walks, a 1.92 ERA, and ridiculous 0.94 WHIP. Obviously since he won the MVP, he also won the Cy Young. Now a closer winning a Cy Young is something that probably shouldn't happen too often but can happen and be a legitimate choice. In 1984 there simply wasn't starter with numbers (at least the standard ones) that really jumped out and when a closer has a year like Hernandez did under those circumstances it's not surprising he won the Cy Young. Dave Steib would have been the better choice but of course the writers overlooked him due to only having 16 wins (not his fault). But Hernandez was not a bad choice at all for winning the Cy Young.   Now in 1984 the A.L. was a one team league: Detroit Tigers. They started the year 30-5 and basically it was all over after that as the second place Blue Jays finished 15 games back, who had the second best record in the league overall. Really it's hard to blame the writers for wanting to give a Tiger the MVP that year when they were so much better than the competition. But was Hernandez the right Tiger? Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell finished 6th and 9th in the voting repsectively and as I mentioned before a closer can't match the value of a star everyday player like those two.   But there was something else that was interesting about the '84 A.L. MVP voting, it was who finished 2nd: Kent Hrbek. The Twins that year finished 81-81 and Hrbek didn't crack the Top 5 of any writer favored offensive categories (AVG, HR, RBI). How could a first baseman on the Twins get more votes than a household name like Eddie Murray and a rising star in the media capital of the world in Don Matttingly who played the same position? You would think Hrbek would get overshadowed. This really puzzled me but when you look at the A.L. West that year in conjuction with the Tigers dominance of the East it starts to make "sense" how the writers voted Hrbek that high. See since the Tigers great start eliminated any chance of a pennant race all the attenion went to the West. Now the race in the West was almost as bad as the race in the N.L. West in 2005. The Royals would win the division at 84-78 with the Twins and Angels tied for second just three games back at .500. Royals would have finished 6th in the East with that record. The West was so bad that the last place Rangers were closer to first than the second place Blue Jays were in the East to Tigers. The Twins were neck and neck with the Royals and Angels going into the final couple of weeks of the season when the MVP voting was going on. The Twins would lose six straight to end the season but it was the added attention that Hrbek received and the lack of a race of the East that nearly propelled him to the MVP.   So should have a Tigers position player won the MVP? Should one of the big name first basemen with better numbers than Hrbek have won the award? Or was it someone who received almost no support at all for the award? Now I'll tell you...if your still reading.   For reference here is the actual order of finish in '84:   1) Willie Hernandez 2) Kent Hrbek 3) Dan Quissenberry 4) Eddie Murray 5) Don Mattingly 6) Kirk Gibson 7) Tony Armas 8) Dave Winfield 9) Alan Trammell 10) Willie Wilson 11) Dwight Evans 12) Alvin Davis 13t) Harold Baines 13t) Dave Kingman 13t) Jim Rice 16t) Lance Parrish 16t) Willie Upshaw 18) Brian Downing 19t) Steve Balboni 19t) George Bell 19t) Andre Thorton 22t) Buddy Bell 22t) Lloyd Moseby 22t) Dave Steib 25t) Juan Beniquez 25t) Mike Boddicker 27t) Doyle Alexander 27t) Cal Ripken   #10 .284/.391/.497, 110 RC, 146 OPS+, .318 EQA, 59.5 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #9 .293/.399/.458, 91 RC, 145 OPS+, .327 EQA, 60.6 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #8 130 ERA+, 2.25 K/BB, 1.14 WHIP, 74.3 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #7 .340/.393/.515, 116 RC, 154 OPS+, .328 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 26 Win Shares   #6 .298/.361/.441, 101 RC, 126 OPS+, .302 EQA, 69.1 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #5 .295/.388/.532, 130 RC, 147 OPS+, .321 EQA, 63.0 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #4 .314/.382/.468, 99 RC, 136 OPS+, .308 EQA, 66.4 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #3 .343/.381/.537, 125 RC, 156 OPS+, .328 EQA, 72.7 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #2 .306/.410/.509, 123 RC, 156 OPS+, .335 EQA, 75.8 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #1 .304/.374/.510, 122 RC, 145 OPS+, .318 EQA, 92.2 VORP, 37 Win Shares   OMG SWERVE~!   As you see in the actual results, Ripken is the last name listed. He received just a single a 10th place vote. It wasn't like he was some young player no one had heard of yet, he won the the MVP the year before! But what happens to a lot MVP winners who were on the top team in their league, like the Orioles were in '83, and the following year the team isn't as good the perceived value of that MVP drops like a rock. Really him, Murray, Mattingly, Trammell, or the always overlooked Evans would have made fine choices. Hrbek just missed the Top 10 and Hernandez may have cracked the Top 15 if I extended the list that far but neither were deserving as much support as they received. As you'll see I did include a pitcher in Steib and two players in Yount and RICKEY~ who didn't receive a single vote in '84. The legendary Juan Beniquez, who had 382 plate apperances, received more support than Ripken, Yount, and Henderson. That's pretty bad.

Bored

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Award Redo: 1987 N.L. MVP

There's an ongoing debate about the baseball Most Valuable Player voting: Should it go to the best player in baseball or should it go to the best player on a winning team? I used to be very much on the side of it should be the best player on a winnig team but I've backed off that, although today I still don't think a player on a last place team shouldn't be winning the MVP but don't believe that a player on a losing or middle of the road team should be automatically discarded from consideration.   Whatever side of the debate you are on everyone can agree one of the most bizarre MVP winners was Andre Dawson in 1987. The main reason Dawson won most likely was because he lead the league in homeruns and rbi which is always to grab the attention of the voters. But what was odd about was that Dawson played on a last place team in the Cubs. Now at 76-85 I suppose the Cubs were a "good" last place team but they were never in serious contention in the very tough N.L. East which featured three teams with 90+ wins that year. Also when you looked at Dawson's numbers beyond the homeruns and rbi they weren't that impressive. He hit .287 with a .328 OBP and despite his 49 homeruns who only finsihed 6th in SLG in a year full of great offensive performances. There were several of great candidates on some of the leagues top teams (Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Expos) yet a player on a last place team wins it who's numbers did not blow away the competition. Here's the actual order of finish for the 1987 N.L. MVP:   1) Dawson 2) Ozzie Smith 3) Jack Clark 4) Tim Wallach 5) Will Clark 6) Darryl Strawberry 7) Tim Raines 8) Tony Gwynn 9) Eric Davis 10) Howard Johnson 11) Dale Murphy 12) Vince Coleman 13) Juan Samuel 14) Mike Schmidt 15) Pedro Guerrero 16) Steve Bedrosian 17) Milt Thompson 18t) Bill Doran 18t) Terry Pendleton   So I've decided to redo the voting and give my own Top 10 for that year (note used '88 cards since they'd be '87 photos).   #10 .308/.371/.580, 113 RC, 153 OPS+, .311 EQA, 49.5 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #9 .293/.388/.548, 112 RC, 142 OPS+, .313 EQA, 58.1 VORP, 26 Win Shares   #8 .338/.416/.539, 123 RC, 155 OPS+, .331 EQA, 69.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #7 .295/.417/.580, 136 RC, 156 OPS+, .328 EQA, 73.0 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #6 .303/.392/.383, 90 RC, 105 OPS+, .288 EQA, 59.1 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #5 .370/.447/.511, 135 RC, 158 OPS+, .341 EQA, 90.8 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #4 .284/.398/.583, 122 RC, 162 OPS+, .332 EQA, 69.4 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #3 .293/.399/.593, 112 RC, 155 OPS+, .330 EQA, 78.7 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #2 .286/.459/.597, 115 RC, 176 OPS+, .353 EQA, 65.2 VORP, 33 Win Shares   #1 .330/.429/.526, 119 RC, 149 OPS+, .333 EQA, 78.7 VORP, 34 Win Shares   As you see Dawson doesn't even crack the Top 10. If Raines played anywhere less but Montreal he probably gets more consideration although even in this year he didn't finish higher than his teammate Tim Wallach. Dawson of course played in Montreal originally and had signed as a free agent with the Cubs before the '87 season. It's highly unlikely he would have won the award in '87 with his numbers playing Montreal. Raines truly was one of great, underappreciated players of the 80's.

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Where'd They Go?: 1985 New York Yankees

A week ago on the wonderful baseball stat geek site Hardball Times there was this article about the 1994 Montreal Expos. The article is titled "Where Are They Now?" but it more or less only tells you were they went rather than where they are now, not that I was needing to find out where Freddie Benavides was nowadays. So I figured I'd do the same for another team from the past but have a more approriate title for it. Now for picking the team I was going to go with 1989 Oakland A's or the 1997 Florida Marlins but figured I'd go for something more obscure for the first one so I picked the 1985 New York Yankees. The 80's were considered the dark days for the Yankees, at least by their fan base, but they actually had some very good teams that decade just with no World Series ring to show for it. The best Yankee team of the '80s was the 1985 team which won 97 games but came up two games shy of the Blue Jays for the A.L. East title.   Catcher: Butch Wynegar (.223./.356/.320, 10.9 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - After putting up solid offensive numbers the previous three years, Wynegar hit the catcher wall in '85. He'd spend one more year with the Yankees and then be traded to the Angels where'd he finish out his career.   First Base: Don Mattingly (.324/.371/.567, 78.9 VORP, 32 Win Shares) - Donny Baseball might be a tad overrated by Yankee fans of the 80's but you can kind of understand why when you look at his numbers during the mid-80's. He would of course spend his whole career with the Yankees, retiring after 1995. He won the MVP in '85 but he actually wasn't the best player on his own team.   Second Base: Willie Randolph (.276/.382/.356, 32.9 VORP, 20 Win Shares) - Very consistent, solid performer in the 80's for the Yankees. He'd leave after 1988 as a free agent to the Dodgers. From there he'd be traded the A's during the 1990 season and get to play in his fourth World Series. He'd finish up with one year stops with the Brewers and Mets before retiring after 1992.   Third Base: Mike Pagliarulo (.239/.324/.442, 19.4 VORP, 13 Win Shares) - Aww one of my favorite "names" when I was a kid. Good power but couldn't hit for average or draw walks. He'd flame out pretty quick being traded to the Padres in 1989, ended up with Twins in 1991 and picked up a World Series ring, finshing up with the Orioles and Rangers.   Shortstop: Bob Meacham (.218/.302/.266, 2.7 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - Egads is that an ugly line. If the Yankees had a competent shortstop in '85 maybe they win the East. Maybe Baseball Jesus, The Jeter, will discover time travel and lead the '85 Yankees to World Series title. *fist pump*   Left Field: Ken Griffey (.274/.331/.425, 19.2 VORP, 14 Win Shares) - At 35, Junior's dad was still an okay player. He'd be traded to the Braves for another aging outfielder in Claudell Washington in 1986. He'd make a nostalgic trip back to the Reds at the end of the decade before being released during the World Series run of 1990. Then five days later he'd be picked up by the Mariners in a marketing ploy by having father and son play together.   Center Field: Rickey Henderson (.314/.419/.516, 94.1 VORP, 38 Win Shares) - The man, the myth, the legend, and the real 1985 A.L. MVP. This would be Rickey's best year until he topped it and finally won the MVP in 1990. Of course that was with the A's as he was traded midseason back to Oakland in a trade that still has to have Yankee fans gritting their teeth. The booty for Rickey: Luis Polonia, Greg Cadaret, and Erick Plunk. Woof. Rickey would get his first World Series ring in '89, while Polonia would lead the league having sex with 14 year olds. Running thru where Rickey went:   Oakland Toronto Oakland San Diego Anaheim Oakland N.Y. Mets Seattle San Diego Boston Los Angeles Newark   Right Field: Dave Winfield (.275/.328/.471, 38.0 VORP, 21 Win Shares) - Hey look George Steinbrenner's favorite player. '85 was actually the start of a bit of down time in Winfield's career (for him) before he swung back up the bell curve in 1988. Traded to the Angels for Mike Witt in 1990, would win a World Series with the Blue Jays in 1991, make the late career hometown visit with the Twins for a couple of years, then finish up with the Indians in 1995.   Designated Hitter: Don Baylor (.231/.330/.430, 26.6 VORP, 12 Win Shares) - Baylor was definently a product of the DH extending a player's career. Couldn't pay the field anymore but could still hit a decent number of homeruns so he stayed in the line-up. As mentioned before he'd make a tour of the next three A.L. Champions in the Red Sox, Twins (World Champs), and A's before retiring.   Pitchers   Ron Guidry - (123 ERA+, 58.4 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - This would be Guidry's last good year and he finished 2nd to Bret Saberhagen in the '85 Cy Young voting. He played his entire career with the Yankees, retiring after 1988.   Phil Niekro - (98 ERA+, 27.9 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - If I ever have a son he's gonna learn how to throw a knuckleball so he can earn a Major League salary into his late 40's and support me since I'll have no Social Security.   Ed Whitson - (83 ERA+, -0.5 VORP, 4 Win Shares) - Okay maybe if the Yankees didn't have Ed Whitson making 30 starts in 1985 they win the East. Whitson had a weird career as he did absolutlely nothing of note for 12 seasons then suddenly at age 34 with the Padres he pitches like a stud for two seasons in '89 and '90 then falls off a cliff in '91 and was out of the league after that. OMG HE WAS ON THE JUICE!!!!   Joe Cowley - (102 ERA+, 25.0 VORP, 9 Win Shares) - I really don't know whole lot about Cowley. He'd be traded to the White Sox after the '85 season, pitched decently in '86, traded to the Phillies right before the '87 season where he'd meltdown and was out of baseball soon after.   Closer: Dave Rigehtti - (145 ERA+, 30.0 VORP, 15 Win Shares) - Absolute beast of a closer during the mid-80's. Started to tail off by the end of the decade and the Yankees let him leave as a free agent after 1990. Spent three years with the Giants then made brief stops with the A's, Blue Jays, and White Sox before retiring after 1995.

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