Ya I'm really digging into the archives now. This one just stood out to me because Dick Groat won the MVP. Not Hank Aaron, not Willie Mays, but Dick Groat. For those who don't know Groat was a light hitting but excellent defensive shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit only 39 homeruns in his 14 year career with 2 of them coming in his MVP winning season. Now it certainly is possible for a non-power hitter to be a legit MVP candidate but probably only Ozzie Smith was good enough defensively to make up for a complete lack of power to be an MVP candidate. Groat also drew very few walks and was no threat at all on the basepaths as he had only 14 career steals.
There are probably three reasons Groat won the MVP. 1) Won the batting title, 2) Played on the N.L. Champs, and 3) This cover of Sports Illustrated in August of that year that described Groat as the "Fiery Leader of the Pirates." See he's the leader of the best team in the league, how isn't he the MVP? I'm sure he was clutch and had intagibles also. Basically Dick Groat was overrated. Interesting enough his teammate Don Hoak finished 2nd in the voting and he also was not deserving of being voted that high. Hey maybe the writers disagreed on who was real leader of the Piartes?
One other note on the voting was in the 5th place was Cardinals closer Lindy McDaniel. Hey who knew in 1960 writers were already overrating closers? I honestly don't even know if they were called closers back then.
1) Dick Groat 2) Don Hoak 3) Willie Mays 4) Ernie Banks 5) Lindy McDaniel 6t) Ken Boyer 6t) Vern Law 8) Roberto Clemente 9) Ernie Broglio 10) Eddie Mathews 11) Hank Aaron 12) Roy Face 13) Del Crandall 14) Warren Spahn 15) Norm Larker 16) Stan Musial 17) Maury Wills 18) Vada Pinson 19) Joe Adcock 20t) Smokey Burgess 20t) Frank Robinson 20t) Larry Sherry 23) Pancho Herrera
.297/.343/.497, 95 RC, 134 OPS+, .304 EQA, 32.3 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.298/.354/.500, 91 RC, 139 OPS+, .311 EQA, 36.4 VORP, 25 Win Shares
149 ERA+, 1.88 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP, 55.0 VORP, 24 Win Shares
.297/.407/.595, 111 RC, 169 OPS+, .339 EQA, 53.3 VORP, 23 Win Shares
140 ERA+, 3.42 K/BB, 1.06 WHIP, 62.1 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.304/.370/.562, 114 RC, 143 OPS+, .308 EQA, 51.7 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.271/.350/.554, 115 RC, 145 OPS+, .310 EQA, 63.2 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.292/.352/.566, 119 RC, 155 OPS+, .325 EQA, 52.6 VORP, 35 Win Shares
.319/.381/.555, 126 RC, 160 OPS+, .331 EQA, 62.2 VORP, 38 Win Shares
.277/.397/.551, 121 RC, 165 OPS+, .340 EQA, 59.6 VORP, 38 Win Shares
Didn't these 1960 baseball writers know that Groat only had a .283 Equivalent Average? Idiots!
No Pirates make the list as they were just a very good team without any true standout player. Not sure why Mathews and Aaron received so little support as the Braves finished 2nd to the Pirates.
New feature! Well I'm gonna burn out on redos eventually so decided to come up with a new idea. I'll take the subject from a Sports Illustrated cover from this date and look at what that person did on that date (if anything), what happened in their sport on that date, and what may have happened in other sports on that date. I definently won't be doing this everyday as it'll probably just be a once in a while thing. I think I'll focus on only covers from my lifetime and typically the main subject will be baseball as retrosheet.org makes researching a breeze. Also to get some perspective on what sports fans were thinking about the time I'll try to dig up threads from the Google message boards. Okay it will be really to find incredibly stupid opinions from sports fans. So the subject of the first one comes from May 7, 1990:
Ken Griffey Jr. at the age of 20 was already becoming a superstar and was the rare commodity of a young player with an insane amount of hype actually living up to it.
Griffey's 1990 numbers coming into May 7th, 1990: 26 games, .385/.425/.596, 5 homeruns, 18 rbi
Mariners record going into May 7th, 1990: 12-14, 5th place in A.L. West, 7 games back
Griffey on May 7th, 1990: Went 0-2 with two walks, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Mariners lose at home to the Red Sox 5-4. Boston scored four runs in the 3rd inning off of Mariners starter Erik Hanson on two, two run doubles by Tom Brunansky and Dwight Evans. Mariners manager Jim Lefebvre is ejected in the 4th inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Other MLB action on May 7th, 1990: Detroit's Cecil Fielder hit his 11th homerun of the season in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers. Oakland's Jose Canseco homers twice in a 5-1 win over the Yankees. Atlanta's Jeff Blauser hits his first two homeruns of the season including a two run homer in the top of the 9th off Cubs' closer Mitch Williams as the Braves win 9-8. Montreal's Andres Galarraga hits a game winning double in the bottom of the 9th as the Expos beat the Giants 7-6 after the Giants had scored three in the top of the 9th to tie the game. N.Y. Mets' Frank Viola improves to 6-0 on the year in a 7-1 win over Houston.
Other Sports action on May 7th, 1990: In the NBA the Chicago Bulls beat the Philadelphia 76ers 96-85 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. In the NHL the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitols 4-1 in Game 3 of the Wales Conference Finals, taking a 3-0 series lead.
Fun with Google on May 7th, 1990: A brief thread on who was more valuble: Ryne Sandberg & Jose Oquendo? No really.
In my 1989 A.L. MVP redo, I made reference the Orioles surprise run at the A.L. East title that year after their miserable 1988 season and that gave me my next subject for a Where'd They Go? entry.
Pretty much can sum up the Orioles '88 season by looking back at their first 21 games of the season.
April 4: Brewers 12, Orioles 0
April 6: Brewers 3, Orioles 1
April 8: Indians 3, Orioles 0
April 9: Indians 12, Orioles 1
April 10: Indians 6, Orioles 3
April 11: Indians 7, Orioles 2
April 12: Royals 6, Orioles 1
April 13: Royals 9, Orioles 3
April 14: Royals 4, Orioles 3
April 15: Indians 3, Orioles 2
April 16: Indians 1, Orioles 0
April 17: Indians 4, Orioles 1
April 19: Brewers 9, Orioles 5
April 20: Brewers 8, Orioles 6
April 21: Brewers 7, Orioles 1
April 22: Royals 13, Orioles 1
April 23: Royals 4, Orioles 3
April 24: Royals 3, Orioles 1
April 26: Twins 4, Orioles 2
April 27: Twins 7, Orioles 6
April 28: Twins 4, Orioles 2
It finally ended on April 29th in Chicago with a 9-0 win over the White Sox and their rookie starter Jack McDowell. Six of the 21 losses came against the Royals who Baltimore would go 0-12 against in 1988. Hey but after an 0-21 start you have no where to go but up but "up" for the Orioles was playing 32 games under .500 the rest of the season, ending up with 107 losses. Here's a look bacK at the team who epitomized losing for me as a kid.
C: Mickey Tettleton (.261/.330/.424, 15.8 VORP, 9 Win Shares) - Released by the A's right before the start of the season, in limited playing time Tettleton showed some of the power he'd display in future years, breaking out the following season with 26 homeruns. Traded to the Tigers after the 1990 season he'd play their four years and then three years in Texas, his career over after 1997.
1B: Eddie Murray (.284/.361/.474, 46.0 VORP, 21 Win Shares) - Once Cal Ripken is inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, this Orioles team will be one of three teams from the 1988 season with more than one Hall of Famer on it's roster. Murray was still very productive into his 30's but this would be his last full season in Baltimore as he was traded to the Dodgers during the offseason for Juan Bell, Brian Holton, and Ken Howell (ehhhh). Tested the free agent waters mutliple times going for L.A. to the Mets after 1991 and then to Cleveland after 1993. He would make a return visit to the Orioles in 1996 via trade to hit his 500th homerun. Split time between the Angels and Dodgers in 1997, his final season. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
2B: Billy Ripken (.207/.260/.258, -16.3 VORP, 4 Win Shares) - I have to imagine having Billy play the full season with brother Cal was a publicity stunt as there was no way Billy should have been playing a full season with Major League team, even one as bad as the Orioles, circa 1988. Outside of a decent 1990 season the younger Ripken never developed. Left Baltimore after 1992 he bounced around the Majors to Texas, Cleveland, Detroit, with even a return visit to the Orioles in 1996 mixed in.
3B: Rick Schu (.256/.316/.363, 4.4 VORP, 5 Win Shares) - Rene Gonzales played more games at 3rd but Schu made more starts, not that it really mattered. Originally pegged as the guy to the replace Mike Schmidt in Philadelphia as the Phillies actually moved Schmidt to 1st base in 1985 but he never lived up to the hype. Out of organized baseball from 1992 to 1995 made a brief appearance with the Expos in 1996.
SS: Cal Ripken (.264/.372/.431, 55.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares) - Had an off year in '87, Ripken bounced back to have a nice season in the Orioles terrible year. No need to go into the details of his career and will be a first ballot HOF selection next year.
LF: Pete Stanicek (.230/.313/.310, -3.6 VORP, 3 Win Shares) - Orioles had no set outfield all season long with Stanicek making just 46 starts in left but that was the most on the team. This was the only significant playing time he had in the Majors and his baseball career was over quickly after.
CF: Fred Lynn (.252/.312/.482, 16.1 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - Actually didn't finish the season in Baltimore as he was traded at the waiver deadline to Detroit for Chris Hoiles to make way for Brady Anderson. Could still hit for power at this point but it was obvious his career was starting to wide down. Finished his career in 1990 with San Diego.
RF: Joe Orsulak (.288/.331/.422, 12.2 VORP, 9 Win Shares) - Orsulak made a career out of being a servicable, platoon outfielder. First year in Baltimore he'd play there thru 1992 and the join the Mets. Was actually part of a deal in 1997 between the Marlins and Expos that sent Cliff Floyd to Florida and that would be his last season.
DH: Larry Sheets (.230/.302/.343, -7.1 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - Yup not a good sign when your DH puts up those numbers although Eddie Murray actually made the most starts at DH. Sheets was living off his 31 homeruns in the previous year in the homerun explosion of '87. Out of baseball after 1993.
Jose Bautista (91 ERA+, 16.5 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Had put up some fairly impressive numbers in the minors but Bautista's low K rate showed that he wasn't going to be effective in the Majors. Managed to have a couple of decent years with the Cubs as a reliever in 1992/93. Bounced around mutliple teams and orginzations, last appearing in the Majors in 1997 with St. Louis.
Jeff Ballard (89 ERA+, 8.3 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - Tied for the team lead in wins with a grand total of eight he was another young pitcher the Orioles were counting on but had a sub 3.0 K/9 ratio. Some how managed to win 18 games the following year despite awful peripherals. Played a couple of seasons in Pittsburgh, his career over after 1994.
Jay Tibbs (72 ERA+, -10.4 VORP, 1 Win Share) - When you throw almost 160 innings and end up with a single Win Share you know you were bad. Win/Loss record is always deceiving but in the case of Tibbs' 4-15 record it wasn't. Hell how'd he manage to win four games? Actually went 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA the following year in only eight starts but I couldn't find out if he got hurt. Finished career with Pirates in 1990. Despite a short career was involved in four different trades.
Mike Boddicker (101 ERA+, 15.1 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Another veteran who did not finish the season with the team, he was dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline for prospects Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling in a trade that would be scrutinized by Sox fans for several years although he was very effective during his time in Boston. Left Boston as a free agent after 1990 for Kansas City, finishing up his career in 1993 in Milwaukee.
Closer: Tom Niedenfuer (111 ERA+, 10.9 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - Always to be remembered for his two game winning homeruns given up to Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark in the 1985 NLCS. By this point Niedenfuer was no longer the strikeout artist he was but still effective. Signed with Seattle after the season where had an awful year, then finished up his career with a decent year in St. Louis.
Before I got side tracked with my entry on The Baseball Network, I'd put together a redo for the 1995 A.L. MVP. This particular vote was one of the best examples of writer bias and how character plays a part in players winning awards. In an incredibly tight vote Mo Vaughn beat out Albert Belle receiving one more first place vote than Belle. To say this was a joke is an understatement. You don't need EQA, VORP, or Win Shares to tell you that Vaughn was in no way better the Belle in 1995. Let's just look at the standard numbers:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG TB
Vaughn 140 550 98 165 28 3 39 126 11 4 68 150 .300 .388 .575 316
Belle 143 546 121 173 52 1 50 126 5 2 73 80 .317 .401 .690 377
Edit: Fuck, it of course previewed perfectly fine and it comes out like this. Oh well.
How could anyone look at those numbers and pick Vaughn over Belle? Maybe the writers were just blown away that a man as fat as Vaughn could steal 11 bases. Seriously how the hell did that happen? A guy with a 50-50 doubles/homeruns season with a near .700 slugging and playing on the best team in the league would seem like a slam dunk for the writers. Belle led the league in Slugging, Runs, Total Bases, Doubles, Homeruns, and RBI (tied with Vaughn). His resume that year screams MVP. But Albert Belle was perceived as a bad guy, which was true, and Mo Vaughn was perceived as a good guy, which was partially true. There is no other logical explination for it. The writers liked Vaughn and hated Belle. To add to the case against Vaughn he was arguably not even the best player on his own team as John Valentin had a huge breakout season for the Sox.
A quick look at the rest of the voting, Edgar Martinez finished 3rd with four first place votes as the Mariners won their first division title ever. Then there was 4th place...Jose Mesa. The man has since become a walking punchline in recent years but at one point he was a very good closer. Again the closer argument doesn't have to be made again but someone actually gave Mesa a first place vote. Somebody actually thought that Jose Mesa was the MVP of the league playing on a team that had Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Carlos Baerga, and Kenny Lofton. It's vote like that that should get your voting privledges revoked. Other name of note was Tim Salmon who finished 7th who may have made a much more serious run at the MVP if it weren't for the Angels last season collapse.
1) Mo Vaughn 2) Albert Belle 3) Edgar Martinez 4) Jose Mesa 5) Jay Buhner 6) Randy Johnson 7) Tim Salmon 8) Frank Thomas 9) John Valentin 10) Gary Gaetti 11) Rafael Palmeiro 12) Manny Ramirez 13) Tim Wakefield 14) Jim Edmonds 15) Paul O'Neill 16) Mark McGwire 17t) Wade Boggs 17t) Chuck Knoblauch 19t) Gary DiSarcina 19t) Cal Ripken 21) Kirby Puckett
.300/.388/.575, 119 RC, 145 OPS+, .319 EQA, 52.3 VORP, 24 Win Shares
.308/.402/.558, 108 RC, 148 OPS+, .323 EQA, 46.9 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.333/.424/.487, 109 RC, 138 OPS+, .319 EQA, 72.3 VORP, 27 Win Shares
196 ERA+, 4.52 K/BB, 1.05 WHIP, 87.5 VORP, 22 Win Shares
.314/.438/.558, 110 RC, 158 OPS+, .341 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 24 Win Shares
.298/.399/.533, 109 RC, 139 OPS+, .317 EQA, 74.4 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.330/.429/.594, 136 RC, 164 OPS+, .342 EQA, 70.6 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.308/.454/.606, 137 RC, 178 OPS+, .364 EQA, 76.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.317/.401/.690, 150 RC, 178 OPS+, .351 EQA, 85.6 VORP, 30 Win Sahres
.356/.479/.628, 153 RC, 183 OPS+, .372 EQA, 91.0 VORP, 32 Win Shares
I fully expected for Belle to come out on top but I completely forgot about Martinez. When I put it all on paper Edgar was the easy choice and he emerged as the Mariners premier hitter with Ken Griffey Jr. missing half the season due to a broken wrist. As you see Vaughn was indeed not even the best player on his own team. I nearly left him off the list as he came down between him and Mark McGwire who had ridiculous rate numbers (200 OPS+, .370 EQA) but missed 40 games due to injury so I gave the nod to Vaughn.
As I'm sure anyone who follows sports knows that the Los Angeles Clippers won a playoff series for the first time in 30 years and the first time ever since they've been the Clippers. Outside of a very brief glimmer of hope in the early the 90's they have been the model of futility in professional sports. Since I root for the New Clippers (YOUR Golden State Warriors) I figured I might as well jump on their bandwagon. I do have reservations though what with the gratuitous shots of Billy Crystal that will only increase with them into the next round and Donald Sterling getting credit for anything.
Now for a "tribute" to the Clippers I present the Top 10 best individual seasons by Clippers players since they became the Clippers in 1978 using the basketball version of Win Shares. Again I preface as always I have no idea how reliable this stat is. What this list does show is that Elton Brand has already become the franchise's greatest player, not that this franchise has been full of great players. In fact this past season Brand had the best season ever by a Clippers player.
What other blog will you find Swen Nater content?
1. Elton Brand, '05-'06, 41 Win Shares
24.7 PTS, 10.0 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.0 STL, 2.5 BLK, 2.2 TO
2. Elton Brand, '01-'02, 36 Win Shares
18.2 PTS, 11.6 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.0 STL, 2.0 BLK, 2.2 TO
(couldn't find an image of a Clippers card)
3. World B Free, '78-'79, 33 Win Shares
28.8 PTS, 3.9 REB, 4.4 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.4 BLK, 3.8 TO
4. Danny Manning, '91-'92, 29 Win Shares
19.3 PTS, 6.9 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.5 BLK, 2.6 TO
5. Elton Brand, '04-'05, 28 Win Shares
20.0 PTS, 9.5 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 2.1 BLK, 2.3 TO
6. Elton Brand, '03-'04, 26 Win Shares
20.0 PTS, 10.3 REB, 3.3 AST, 0.9 STL, 2.2 BLK, 2.8 TO
7. World B Free, '79-'80, 25 Win Shares
30.2 PTS, 3.5 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.5 BLK, 3.4 TO
8. Swen Nater, '80-'81, 24 Win Shares
15.6 PTS, 12.4 REB, 2.4 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.6 BLK, 2.6 TO
9. Mark Jackson, '92-'93, 24 Win Shares
15.2 PTS, 5.0 REB, 9.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.2 BLK, 2.8 TO
10. Corey Maggette, '03-'04, 23 Win Shares
20.7 PTS, 5.9 REB, 3.1 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK, 2.8 TO
Vern/Culloden asked to do a redo on this one so I'll put off the 1995 A.L. MVP for another day. 1989 is kind of an interesting year to examine, and hey my favorite sporting year, as Robin Yount won the MVP which I can remember at the time being surprised. Ruben Sierra was the hot young superstar of the moment and he broke out with a great year at age 23 and I always figured he should have won it, without every actually looking to deeply into the issue.
When I'm trying to find an interesting year to do a redo on the first thing I always check are Win Shares. If a player led the league in Win Shares and won the MVP he had to have been at the very least deserving of serious consideration. I had glanced at 1989 before and Yount tied with Sierra for the lead Win Shares so that's partly why I haven't bothered. But there was no clear choice that season, six different players received first place votes, and the Brewers were only a .500 team and the Rangers won 83 games. Usually in a year like this when there is no clear choice it can open the door for an undeserving player on a division winner to steal the award but that wasn't the case. It was a very weak year for offense and is the last time the A.L. homerun leader had fewer than 40 homeruns (Fred McGriff, 36).
The other four players to receive first place votes are an interesting group, due to none of them deserving any serious consideration. Cal Ripken finished 3rd on a the surprise team of the A.L. that season. Baltimore had come off their infamous 107 loss season and started year with a staggering 0-21 start, a record that might never be broken. The rebounded in '89 with a shocking run at the A.L. East title coming up just two games short of the Blue Jays. But even Ripken's writer friendly numbers (.264 avg, 21 hr, 84 rbi) hardly screamed MVP even in a weak year for offense.
Fourth and fifth place went to players on the division winning teams. George Bell received four first place votes even though his teammate McGriff had a far superior year. Dennis Eckersley was next and I don't need to repeat my argument about closers. Eckersley had a stint on the DL and only threw 58 innings although was of course his dominant self when healthy. The last player to receive a first place vote was Eck's teammate Carney Lansford. What was so interesting about this was Lansford finished 17th in the voting so he appeared on hardly any ballots at all yet someone gave him a first place vote. He actually had a very good year, not MVP calibar mind you but hey may have deserved passing consideration for a 10th place vote.
In a year without much offense and no clear choice among the players you would think a pitcher could emerge as the MVP and there was a very interesting candidate out there. Bret Saberhagen won the Cy Young, receiving all but one first place vote, and finished 8th in the MVP voting. With a 23-6 record, 2.16 ERA, and throw in playing on a Royals team that won 92 games I have to say I'm surprised he didn't receive more support from the writers.
One last note about the voting, this season had possibly the worst player (in terms of the season they had) to receive an MVP vote ever. Someone gave Mookie Wilson a 10th place vote, who had been acquired by the Blue Jays from the Mets at the trade deadline. Even a truly great player shouldn't garner an MVP vote if they were in the league for just the final two months of the season. In 247 plate appearances Wilson put up a .298/.311/.370 line. I'm sure he probably had a couple of "clutch" hits down the stretch which I'm assuming swayed some idiot writer to give him a spot on his ballot.
1) Robin Yount 2) Ruben Sierra 3) Cal Ripken 4) George Bell 5) Dennis Eckersley 6) Fred McGriff 7) Kirby Puckett 8) Bret Saberhagen 9) Rickey Henderson 10) Bo Jackson 11) Dave Parker 12) Gregg Olson 13) Bert Blyleven 14) Dave Stewart 15) Don Mattingly 16) Joe Carter 17) Carney Lansford 18) Nick Esasky 19) Tony Fernandez 20) Mike Moore 21t) Wade Boggs 21t) Steve Sax 23t) Alvin Davis 23t) Nolan Ryan 25t) Chilli Davis 25t) Mark McGwire 25t) Mookie Wilson
140 ERA+, 2.98 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP, 65.0 VORP, 22 Win Shares
.315/.379/.439, 103 RC, 132 OPS+, .307 EQA, 53.7 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.305/.424/.496, 104 RC, 156 OPS+, .335 EQA, 51.8 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.339/.379/.465, 112 RC, 131 OPS+, .306 EQA, 59.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.274/.411/.399, 89 RC, 133 OPS+, .325 EQA, 50.9 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.330/.430/.449, 120 RC, 143 OPS+, .324 EQA, 62.5 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.269/.399/.525, 115 RC, 161 OPS+, .335 EQA, 53.9 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.306/.347/.543, 120 RC, 146 OPS+, .314 EQA, 58.8 VORP, 34 Win Shares
178 ERA+, 4.49 K/BB, 0.96 WHIP, 79.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.318/.384/.511, 120 RC, 152 OPS+, .326 EQA, 75.8 VORP, 34 Win Shares
There you have it, Robin Yount was the best choice and in a year with no run away winner the writers actually picked the right guy. Any of the Top 4 would have been fine choices and I shuffled 2 thru 4 a couple of times before settling on it.
I mentioned it my last entry that I was running out of Redo ideas in my lifetime and then I realized I skipped over an obvious one in the 1995 A.L. MVP. I can't believe I missed it because I did the 1995 N.L. MVP already and it also gives me an opportunity to reminisce about one of the worst ideas since New Coke.
Edit: I've decided to do the 1995 A.L. MVP redo in a seperate entry that I'll do in the next day or two and leave this as an entry on it's own.
As I already mentioned on the redo of the 1995 N.L. MVP, we came incredibly close to replacement/scab players starting the season as the strike was still going in March. Although that embarassment was avoided for baseball another would pop up that October. The previous season a national television deal split between ABC and NBC had started which was called The Baseball Network. The name was purely for marketing reasons as there was no actual Baseball Network as all it was is ABC and NBC, I believe on a rotating basis, would have a Friday Night primetime game every week after the All-Star Break. Now there was no feature game as everyone just got a local game which the broadcast team being split between to local announcers of the two teams. It seemed very odd as what was the point of having a national game of the week if all you received was a local game? But the presentation of the games was inoffensive and I suppose it was nice to watch a local game with a national feel to it. The strike of course ended the 1994 season and there was no postseason to cover. The Baseball Network deal was still in place for 1995 and it was the same coverage for the regular season. But then came the postseason....
1995 was the first year that the new expanded playoffs would be used with the new five game divisonal round. The format for it initially was a nightmare as someone thought it was a good idea to pre-determine what divisions would play each other and what division would play the wild card team in the divisional rather than basing it on record. So for example in the A.L., the Mariners played the wild card Yankees despite having the worst record of the divison winners while the two best teams in the league, the Indians and Red Sox, were forced to play each other in the divisional playoffs. Then for the five game series they decided to go with the awful 2-3 format where the team with homefield would actually start the series on the road and then go home for three games if necessary.
But now onto the actual coverage of the playoffs. They decided that one network would host the entire divison round and then would switch to the other network for the league championship series. This seemed odd and unecessary and of course created an fairly obvious problem, as in how would they televise the entire division series on one network? The brilliant plan the came up with was schedule all four games at the same exact time, 8PM EST/5PM PST, and only provide a regional telecast. You have to stand in awe of the stupidity of this. The NBA could televise every single playoff game of a 16 team first round yet MLB could only figure out how to televise one game a night. So me being California I only was able to see the Dodgers/Reds series for the first three nights of the playoffs and nothing else.
Now I know what your thinking, or if you've forgotten, "now there's no way they did this for the league championships, right?" They did. The Reds/Braves and Mariners/Indians league championships series would be played at the exact same time, every night and the country would be split between them. I'm not even sure how they handled the Reds and Indians coverage. Can you imagine being an life long Indians fan, a franchise playing in it's first ever ALCS, living in Cincinnati and not being able to watch the game?
Thankfully The Baseball Network deal was only for two years and in 1996 a new deal started with Fox televising regular season games and then splitting the postseason with NBC. All division series games were televised but unfortunently we've been stuck with Fox ever since. But when we whine about the awful coverage of Fox or the fiasco with games being put on Fx and ABC Family channel in the past, just remember for one year it was much, much worse.
You know I was going to do a "Steve Howe Memories" entry and just post the lyrics to "White Lines" but thought better of it.
I needed to do something to keep me from punching a wall thinking about the A's sinking $22 million Esteban Loaiza so might as well do a redo. I've been trying to find a year with a truly bad choice for MVP and with the best choice receiving little support and I'm kinda running out of examples in my lifetime so picked out an old one.
1974 was a historic year as Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career homerun record, Lou Brock stole a then record 118 bases, and hey the A's won their third consecutive World Series. The Dodgers paced the National League with 102 wins and their young first baseman Steve Garvey took home the MVP despite not even being the best player on the team. Now you may say it would be unfair to pick apart an older MVP choice as stats such as Win Shares and VORP were a long way from being known and batting average was still considered the best stat to identify a good hitter by the general public. And I say "fuck you", hindsight is a wonderful tool.
Garvey won the award due to having a high average, finishing 3rd in the leauge in RBI, and playing on the best team in the league. But one big mark against Garvey through out his career as he didn't get on base at a very good rate and in '74 he didn't crack the Top 30 in OBP in the league. He was one of three Dodgers to finish in the Top 5 in the voting. Reliever Mike Marshall pitched in a record 106 games, throwing 208 innings, finished 3rd (also win Cy Young) and the always underrated Jimmy Wynn finished 5th. Wynn really played in the wrong era as he'd be much better appreciated now with his good power and great ability to draw walks. Marshall likley received so much support due to the insane number of apperances he made but he also wasn't the best pitcher on the Dodgers, that being Andy Messersmith. Even with his incredible workload as a reliever he only finished tied for 5th on the team in Win Shares.
Brock's record stolen base record resulted in him getting a 2nd place finish and was the only real competitor to Garvey in the voting as he received eight first place votes. Like Garvey though he wasn't the best player on his team as ex-Red Sox and future Dodger Reggie Smith was. In fact Brock was probably a worse 2nd place choice than Garvey was a 1st place choice. The great Johnny Bench and a young Mike Schmidt received solid support but no first place votes.
1) Steve Garvey 2) Lou Brock 3) Mike Marshall 4) Johnny Bench 5) Jimmy Wynn 6) Mike Schmidt 7) Al Oliver 8) Joe Morgan 9) Richie Zisk 10) Willie Stargell 11) Reggie Smith 12) Ralph Garr 13) Ted Simmons 14) Dave Cash 15) Dave Concepcion 16t) Jack Billingham 16t) Cesar Cedeno 16t) Al Hrabosky 16t) Andy Messersmith 20) Buzz Capra 21t) Richie Hebner 21t) Blake McBride 21t) Lynn McGlothen 21t) Rennie Stennett 25t) Bill Buckner 25t) Ron Cey
.321/.358/.475, 104 RC, 136 OPS+, .301 EQA, 48.2 VORP, 26 Win Shares
132 ERA+, 2.35 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP, 67.8 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.353/.383/.503, 116 RC, 143 OPS+, .300 EQA, 50.7 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.309/.389/.528, 107 RC, 157 OPS+, .318 EQA, 51.1 VORP, 25 Win Shares
159 ERA+, 2.22 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP, 81.0 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.271/.387/.497, 105 RC, 151 OPS+, .314 EQA, 45.5 VORP, 32 Win Shares
.301/.407/.537, 110 RC, 168 OPS+, .331 EQA, 52.3 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.280/.363/.507, 114 RC, 143 OPS+, .306 EQA, 57.8 VORP, 34 Win Shares
.282/.395/.546, 122 RC, 158 OPS+, .318 EQA, 68.0 VORP, 39 Win Shares
.293/.427/.494, 108 RC, 159 OPS+, .336 EQA, 80.0 VORP, 37 Win Shares
Morgan didn't receive a whole lot of support but he would win the MVP the next two years but maybe it should have been three in a row. Garvey doesn't crack the Top 10 but he was always overrated. And the Mike Schmidt card is the greatest thing ever although I'm not sure how exciting that image would be in 3-D.
Going into Thursday's games Chicago, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Denver, and Memphis are all pretty much on the verge of elimination. Now they can still lose a game and not be eliminated but they'll have to pull off something that has only been done 11 times since 1984 when the NBA Playoffs expanded to 16 teams and that's comeback from 2 games to 0 to win a series. I need an excuse for an entry so here's a look back at those 11 series.
1987 Western Conference First Round
#5 Golden State over #4 Utah, 3 games to 2
Game 1: Jazz 99, Warriors 85
Game 2: Jazz 103, Warriors 100
Game 3: Warriors 110, Jazz 95
Game 4: Warriors 98, Jazz 94
Game 5: Warriors 118, Jazz 113
You'd think as a Warriors fan I'd remember this series fondly but I have no memories of it because as a kid I was a bandwagon Lakers fan. The only thing I remember about the Warriors in the '87 playoffs was Sleepy Floyd's 51 point game against the Lakers in the West Semis, the Warriors only win in that series.
1990 Eastern Conference First Round
#5 New York over #4 Boston, 3 games to 2
Game 1: Celtics 116, Knicks 105
Game 2: Celtics 157, Knicks 128
Game 3: Knicks 102, Celtics 99
Game 4: Knicks 135, Celtics 108
Game 5: Knicks 121, Celtics 114
I'd guess that no one thought the Knicks had a prayer after giving up 157 points in Game 2. Most impressive about the Knicks comeback was by beating Boston in the Game 5 they ended a personal 26 game losing streak at the Boston Garden.
1993 Western Conference First Round
#1 Phoenix over #8 L.A. Lakers, 3 games to 2
Game 1: Lakers 107, Suns 103
Game 2: Lakers 86, Suns 81
Game 3: Suns 107, Lakers 102
Game 4: Suns 101, Lakers 86
Game 5: Suns 112, Lakers 104
Forgot about this series as the Lakers nearly swept the heavily favored Suns. Very controversial call in Game 5 on a Charles Barkley put back on an air ball where it appeared the shot clock may have expired that forced the game into overtime.
1993 Eastern Conference Finals
#2 Chicago over #1 New York, 4 games to 2
Game 1: Knicks 98, Bulls 90
Game 2: Knicks 96, Bulls 91
Game 3: Bulls 103, Knicks 83
Game 4: Bulls 105, Knicks 95
Game 5: Bulls 97, Knicks 94
Game 6: Bulls 96, Knicks 88
Kincks seemed to determined to end the Bulls dynasty by taking the first two games but it was not meant to be in this the biggest series to have a 2-0 defecit erased.
1994 Western Conference First Round
#8 Denver over #1 Seattle, 3 games to 2
Game 1: Sonics 106, Nuggets 82
Game 2: Sonics 97, Nuggets 87
Game 3: Nuggets 110, Sonics 93
Game 4: Nuggets 94, Sonics 85
Game 5: Nuggets 98, Sonics 94
The first eight seend to ever beat a one seed in the arguably the biggest upset in NBA Playoff history. I just seem to remember Robert Pack playing out of his mind in that series.
1994 Western Conference Semi-Finals
#2 Houston over #3 Phoenix, 4 games to 3
Game 1: Suns 91, Rockets 87
Game 2: Suns 124, Rockets 117
Game 3: Rockets 118, Suns 102
Game 4: Rockets 107, Suns 96
Game 5: Rockets 109, Suns 86
Game 6: Suns 103, Rockets 89
Game 7: Rockets 104, Suns 94
Rockets were left for dead after losing the first two games at home against the defending West Champs.
1995 Western Conference Semi-Finals
#6 Houston over #2 Phoenix, 4 games to 3
Game 1: Suns 103, Rockets 108
Game 2: Suns 118, Rockets 94
Game 3: Rockets 118, Suns 85
Game 4: Suns 114, Rockets 110
Game 5: Rockets 103, Suns 97
Game 6: Rockets 116, Suns 113
Game 7: Rockets 115, Suns 114
If you were a Suns fan circa 1995 you must have wanted to murder the entire Rockets team. This year's loss was even worse as they blew a 3-1 lead.
2001 Western Conference First Round
#5 Dallas over #4 Utah, 3 games to 2
Game 1: Jazz 88, Mavericks 86
Game 2: Jazz 109, Mavericks 98
Game 3: Mavericks 94, Jazz 91
Game 4: Mavericks 107, Jazz 77
Game 5: Mavericks 84, Jazz 83
Mavs came back from 17 points down in Game 5 and won an a Calvin Booth lay up in the final seconds.
2004 Western Conference Semi-Finals
#2 L.A. Lakers over #3 San Antonio, 4 games to 2
Game 1: Spurs 88, Lakers 78
Game 2: Spurs 95, Lakers 85
Game 3: Lakers 105, Spurs 81
Game 4: Lakers 98, Spurs 90
Game 5: Lakers 74, Spurs 73
Game 6: Lakers 88, Spurs 76
Everyone remembers the Derek Fisher basket in Game 5 in that awful, awful game.
2005 Eastern Conference First Round
#5 Washington over #4 Chicago, 4 games to 2
Game 1: Bulls 103, Wizards 94
Game 2: Bulls 113, Wizards 103
Game 3: Wizards 117, Bulls 99
Game 4: Wizards 106, Bulls 99
Game 5: Wizards 112, Bulls 110
Game 6: Wizards 94, Bulls 91
Signature moment was of course Gilbert Arenas' buzzer beater in Game 5.
2005 Western Conference First round
#4 Dallas over #5 Houston, 4 games to 3
Game 1: Rockets 98, Mavericks 96
Game 2: Rockets 113, Mavericks 111
Game 3: Mavericks 106, Rockets 102
Game 4: Mavericks 97, Rockets 93
Game 5: Mavericks 103, Rockets 100
Game 6: Rockets 101, Mavericks 83
Game 7: Mavericks 116, Rockets 76
The first five games were awesome, the last two not so much.
Before I go into the draftback with the current state of ESPN Classic, why not have a marathon of old drafts? Just edit down the first round of each draft to two hour blocks as I think it would be mildly interesting to see how each player was evaluated as they were drafted. It certainly can't be any less interesting than "classic" pool. What exactly constitutes classic pool anyways? Maybe a match where at the end a guy breaks his pool cue over the guy's head or any match with that hot asian chick. My guess though is that ESPN might not want to air those old drafts and show that Mel Kiper Jr. is really no better than your average draft prognosticater at predicting future success.
Anyways just picked the '95 Draft at random and it features quite a few busts starting at #1.
1. Cincinnati - Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State
Hands down, the #1 rated player in the draft, can't miss, guarenteed star. But he injured his knee in the preseason and that pretty much doomed him for the rest of his career.
2. Jacksonville - Tony Boselli, T, USC
Had the potential to be a future HOF but injuries plus a botched shoulder surgery ended his career early. Selected to five Pro Bowls.
3. Houston - Steve McNair, QB, Alcorn State
Has put together a pretty good career and nearly won a Super Bowl. Injuries have slowed him down in recent years.
4. Washington - Michael Westbrook, WR, Colorado
Big debate over who was the top receiver going into the draft, Westbrook or J.J. Stokes. Did it really matter in the end? One good season and that's about it.
5. Carolina - Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State
Ocassinally has his moments but overall a dissapointing career. But hey he can drink any player in the league under the table.
6. St. Louis - Kevin Carter, DE, Florida
Decent career, led the league with 17 sacks in 1999.
7. Philadelphia - Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College
Probably the poster child for workout wonders who shoot up the draft board but then don't produce on the field. Played only five seasons.
8. Seattle - Joey Galloway, WR, Ohio State
Although was highly rated, Seattle was crticized for taking him over Stokes. Has had to battle some injuries over the years but overall a fairly productive career.
9. N.Y. Jets - Kyle Brady, TE, Penn State
This pick was of course a classic televised draft moment as every Jet fan in the audience wanted them to pick Warren Sapp and they were none too pleased when Brady's name was announced. Not bad numbers for a tight end but certainly not worth a Top 10 pick.
10. San Francisco - J.J. Stokes, WR, UCLA
This was a pretty big deal at the time as the defending champs traded up to get the next Jerry Rice. So much for that. Never cracked 800 yards in a single season.
11. Minnesota - Derrick Alexander, DE, Florida State
Another team that passed on Sapp. Five seasons. 20 sacks. Bust.
12. Tampa Bay - Warren Sapp, DT, Miami
A positive drug test for marijuana (OMG, professional athletes smoke weed? No way!) dropped him in the draft and Tampa ended being the benefactor. Very good career, although massively overrated in recent years.
13. New Orelans - Mark Fields, LB, Washington State
Pretty good career.
14. Buffalo - Ruben Brown, G, Pittsburgh
Good pick, eight time Pro Bowl selection.
15. Indianapolis - Ellis Johnson, DT, Florida
16. Philadelphia - Hugh Douglas, DE, Central State
I suppose the Eagles wanted to make sure they got one good end out of this first round. Selected to three Pro Bowls.
17. N.Y. Giants - Tryone Wheatley, RB, Michigan
Kiper had a big hard on for Wheatley but only put together one good season.
18. Oakland - Napolean Kaufman, RB, Washington
Most felt the Raiders were reaching here. Not a workhorse by any means but when he touched the ball he could make big plays. Retired early to became a pastor. Loser.
19. Jacksonville - James Stewart, RB, Tennessee
Decent back when healthy.
20. Detroit - Luther Elliss, DE, Utah
21. Chicago - Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado
Think Ricky Williams without the talent. A Heimsan Trophy bust? Never saw it coming.
22. Carolina - Tyrone Poole, CB, Fort Valley State
Just an average corner.
23. New England - Ty Law, CB, Michigan
Maybe a tad overrated but not too shabby of a pick here. Selected to four Pro Bowls.
24. Minnesota - Korey Stringer, T, Ohio State
We know what happened here.
25. Miami - Billy Milner, T, Houston
Shitty. Where else can you get in depth analysis like that?
26. Atlanta - Devin Bush, S, Florida State
27. Pittsburgh - Mark Bruener, TE, Washington
Very few catches but made his mark as a good blocking tight end.
28. Tampa Bay - Derrick Brooks, LB, Florida State
Wow, what a first round by the Bucs. Potential future Hall of Famer.
29. Carolina - Blake Brockermeyer, T, Texas
Decent and had a great lineman name.
30. Cleveland - Craig Powell, LB, Ohio State
Played a whole three games with the Browns.
31. Kansas City - Trezelle Jenkins, T, Michigan
Nine games in three years. Yikes.
32. Green Bay - Craig Newsome, CB, Arizona State
Showed a lot of promise when his career started but a knee injury did him in.
Other Players of Note
37. Washington - Cory Raymer, C, Wisconsin
38. St. Louis - Zach Wiegert, T, Nebraska
47. Arizona - Frank Sanders, WR, Auburn
48. Indianapolis - Ken Dilger, TE, Illinois
50. Philadelphia - Bobby Taylor, CB, Notre Dame
60. Pittsburgh - Kordell Stewart, QB, Colorado
74. New England - Curtis Martin, RB, Pittsburgh
79. Indianapolis - Zack Crockett, FB, Florida State
90. Green Bay - Antonio Freeman, WR, Virginia Tech
132. Carolina - Frank Garcia, G, Washington
181. Atlanta - Travis Hall, DT, BYU
192. Detroit - Cory Schlesinger, FB, Nebraska
196. Denver - Terrell Davis, RB, Georgia
206. N.Y. Giants - Charles Way, FB, Virginia
230. Green Bay - Adam Timmerman, G, South Dakota State
After talking about the mediocre '97 Pirates and doing the 1996 MVP redo it got me thinking about my favorite losing A's team, the 1996 version. The A's by this time were well removed from their three consecutive pennant winning teams with only Mark McGwire and Terry Steinbach left from those glory days. The team was predicted to be one of the worst in baseball going into season mainly due to having a starting rotation who's "#1 starter" was Todd Van Poppel. Oof.
To add insult to injury with the low expectations they were also forced out of their home park for their first homestand. The Oakland Coliseum was undergoing a massive reconstruction to accomodate the Raiders who moved back to Oakland the previous year. The old bleachers and old giant scoreboards were torn down and a monstrosity that the locals would soon call Mt. Davis (in fact I think I came up with the name first or at least that's what I tell myself) in "honor" of Raiders' owner Al Davis. It was to make the stadium more football friendly and it was basically Oakland's way of bending over and taking it in the ass for the Raiders while completley ignoring the A's in the process. The stadium wasn't anywhere close to being ready and the A's first six home games were moved to Las Vegas. The construction would go on during the season with jackhammer sounds becoming a regular ballpark experience the first couple of months of the season and it was a major embarassment for the franchise.
But as it turned out they weren't horrible, not any good mind you but they managed not to finish last in the A.L. West and for a brief period of time after the All-Star Break they looked like they might break .500. After beating the Blue Jays on July 26th they were 54-50 and within five games of first place but that would be their peak. They would still be at .500 by mid-August but then they had a stretch where they lost 13 out of 16 which effectively buried their season. They finished the year 78-84 which was a small victory for a team expected to lose over 90 games. As I talked about in the '96 redo, offense was completely out of control that season and the A's took full advantage hitting a team record 243 homeruns which made them very entertaining to watch even if they weren't that good. Fortunently Van Poppel wouldn't stay the staff's #1 starter for very long as he'd get bombed and the former top prospect's Oakland career would come to an end later in the season when he was put on waivers. But the rest the rotation was horrible as advertised with a hodge podge of marginal prospects and never weres.
So here's a look back at my favorite losing team and where they went.
C: Terry Steinbach (.272/.342/.529, 40.3 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - At age 34, Steinbach hit a career high 35 homeruns, 19 above his previous high which came nine years earlier. Draw your own conclusions. This would be his last season in Oakland as he'd sign with his hometown Twins to finish out his career, retiring after 1999.
1B: Mark McGwire (.312/.467/.730, 91.6 VORP, 29 Win Shares) - This was McGwire's first full season since 1992, although he still started year with another trip to the DL, and he would have the best year of his career to that point. Really I just look at this numbers still in awe and this season was more special to me than his '98 season only because he was still in Oakland of course. He of course was traded to the Cardinals at the trade deadline in 1997 as the franchise hit rock bottom in a deal that is best forgotten. Retired after 2001.
2B: Tony Batista (.298/.350/.433, 15.9 VORP, 9 Win Shares) - The A's actually had a three headed monster here with former second baseman of the future Brent Gates and awful utility infielder Rafael Bournigal. Batista was a midseason call up and won the everyday job the last two months of the season. After showing promise he had an awful '97 season and was left unprotected in the expansion draft where he was picked up by Arizona. Since then had stops in Toronto, Baltimore, Montreal, Japan, and now with Minnesota.
3B: Scott Brosius (.304/.393/.516, 43.4 VORP, 19 Win Shares) - After mediocre numbers his first few years in the league Brosius brokeout with a very good year both offensive and defensively. His production then dropped like a rock in '97 and was traded to the Yankees for Kenny Rogers soon after the season ended. He'd become a World Series hero in 1998 with them which fooled them into keeping him as their regular 3rd baseman for the next three years although his final season in 2001 wasn't bad.
SS: Mike Bordick (.240/.307/.318, -5.6 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - Bordick had been living off a good year offensively in 1992 for a long time and I forgot how truly awful he was offensively. Only kept an everyday job due to his defense. Last season in Oakland as he signed with the Orioles. In 2000 out of no where the first half of the season he suddenly started hitting for power which got Mets' GM Steve Phillips all excited so he traded Melvin Mora for him. Ouch. He'd then promptly go right back to the Orioles after the season. His final year was in 2003 with Toronto.
LF: Jason Giambi (.291/.355/.481, 26.6 VORP, 15 Win Shares) - Yes you're reading that right: LF, Jason Giambi. He came up as a 3rd baseman but that was occupied by Brosius who was very good defensively and Giambi's future position at 1st was of course filled by McGwire. Phil Plantier, yes that Phil Plantier, actually started more games in left than anyone for the A's but let's just pretend like that didn't happen. Giambi did get a fair amount of time at 1st when they'd DH McGwire. As for Giambi's defense in left...it was like if Lonnie Smith & Manny Ramirez had a kid. It was bad, really bad. As we all know Giambi was with the A's thru 2001 and then became the poster boy for selling out by signing with the Yankees.
CF: Ernie Young (.242/.326/.424, 7.6 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - This was Young's only full season in the Majors. He could hit some homeruns and play pretty good defense but couldn't hit a breaking pitch to save his life so no surprise why he didn't last long. He's become a Crash Davis type of player as he's still hanging around the minors hitting homeruns and gets the occasional cup of coffee, most recently with Cleveland last year at age 34.
RF: Jose Herrera (.269/.318/.378, -2.2 VORP, 5 Win Shares) - Was acquired in the Rickey Henderson/Steve Karsay deal in 1993, never really developed and this was his 2nd and last year in the Majors. Out of baseball after 2000 but looking at his Baseball Cube page apparantly tried to make a comeback last year with the Orioles' Double-A team but only played in five games.
DH: Geronimo Berroa (.290/.344/.532, 33.0 VORP, 16 Win Shares) - Berroa was a long time minor leaguer who outside of a spending a year with the Braves in 1989 as a Rule V draftee hadn't been given much of a shot in the Majors. Finally in 1994 at age 29 the A's signed him and he became a fan favorite beacuse he basically put everything into every swing, putting up some pretty good numbers. Traded to the Orioles in 1997 and his production fell off from there. Brief stops in Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Out of baseball after 2001.
Don Wengert (86 ERA+, 16.2 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - I should preface that the A's nine pitchers make 10 or more starts in '96 so I'm going with the four guys who made more than 20 starts as they obviously didn't have a set rotation all year. After showing promise early in the minors, Wengert couldn't get Triple-A hitters out by the the A's pitching woes forced them to use him on the big club which was a theme for A's pitching in the mid-90s. Traded to the Paders after 1997, he'd bounce around to the Cubs, Royals, Braves, and Pirates. Out of baseball after 2002.
Doug Johns (80 ERA+, 4.7 VORP, 4 Win Shares) - Not really a prospect as he debuted at age 27 the previous year and his low K rate in the minors pretty much told you he wasn't going to make it in the Majors but again the A's didn't have many options. A's waived him the following season. Did spend a couple of years as a reliever and spot starter with the Orioles, was done with baseball after 1999.
John Wasdin (80 ERA+, 0.8 VORP, 4 Win Shares) - A former first round pick, he again couldn't get Triple-A hitters out but was forced into the rotation and was absolutlely lit up in this his rookie year. Traded to the Red Sox for Jose Canseco of all people the following season he's had a second career as a sometimes effective middle reliever although usually not. Had stops in Colorado, Baltimore, Toronto, and now with Texas although currenlty in the minors.
Ariel Prieto (116 ERA+, 27.3 VORP, 8 Win Shares) - Before the Hernadez brothers made it cool to find Cuban pitchers there was Ariel Prieto. He was very much hyped as a future star but '96 was the only year that was ever moderately effective as I suppose he was the Hideki Irabu of Cuban pitchers. Last appeared in the Majors in 2001 with Tampa Bay although still hangs around the minors most recently with the Marlins Triple-A team although doesn't appear on any roster this year.
Closer: Billy Taylor (111 ERA+, 16.0 VORP, 10 Win Shares) - Taylor was your typical losing team closer who no on notices because save situations don't become that important for losing teams. He was passable but nothing special. But good 'ol Steve Phillips saw his decent save totals and traded Jason Isringhausen for him at the trade deadline in 1999. Oops! Taylor didn't even make the Mets postseason roster. Made stops in Tampa and Pittsburgh, done after 2001.
Just trying to mix up the entires and come up with something different I figured with the NBA Playoffs starting Saturday it'd be time to do an NBA entry. Being a Golden State Warriors fan it's hard to get nostalgic about much of antyhing so I figured I'd pick the year that they last made the playoffs, the first post-Jordan year, and an NBA Finals that was overshadowed by a slow speed chase of a white Ford Bronco. I wasn't sure where I'd go with the entry but one thing that I'm trying to look more into are the sabermetric side of basketball statistics. It's not nearly as well known as baseball sabermetrics and I'm not completely sure how reliable they are.
There's two stats that have caught my interest, John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating and the basketball version of Win Shares that was created by the guy who runs basketball-reference.com. I actually did an entry a couple of months ago using Win Shares to compare how well players from the 1989 NBA Draft faired in their careers. Now since I'm not sure how reliable these are, and I didn't want to do a carbon copy of my Award Redos that I do baseball's MVP, I figured I'd just compare the All-NBA teams from the '93-94 season as voted by the media and who were the top players according to these two statiscal formuals.
'93-94 All-NBA Teams (media version)
F: Karl Malone, Utah (22.9 PER, 37 Win Shares)
F: Scottie Pippen, Chicago (23.2 PER, 32 Win Shares)
C: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston (25.3 PER, 43 Win Shares)
G: John Stockton, Utah (22.5 PER, 38 Win Shares)
G: Latrell Sprewell, Golden State (15.9 PER, 28 Win Shares)
F: Charles Barkley, Phoenix (22.8 PER, 26 Win Shares)
F: Shawn Kemp, Seattle (22.9 PER, 32 Win Shares)
C: David Robinson, San Antonio (30.7 PER, 52 Win Shares)
G: Kevin Johnson, Phoenix (20.6 PER, 28 Win Shares)
G: Mitch Richmond, Sacramento (17.7 PER, 18 Win Shares)
F: Derrick Coleman, New Jersey (21.4 PER, 25 Win Shares)
F: Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta/L.A. Clippers (21.4 PER, 25 Win Shares)
C: Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando (28.5 PER, 47 Win Shares)
G: Gary Payton, Seattle (17.8 PER, 27 Win Shares)
G: Mark Price, Cleveland (22.7 PER, 26 Win Shares)
Now here's the top players by position using Player Efficieny Rating
5. Chris Webber, Golden State (21.7 PER)
4. Eric Murdock, Milwaukee (20.4 PER)
5. Reggie Miller, Indiana (20.2 PER)
6. Rod Strickland, Portland (19.9 PER)
Now using Win Shares
4. Otis Thorpe, Detroit (31 Win Shares)
5. Horace Grant, Chicago (30 Win Shares)
6. A.C. Green, Phoenix (29 Win Shares)
3. Mookie Blaylock, Atlanta (30 Win Shares)
4. Stacey Augmon, Atlanta (29 Win Shares)
Probably the most interesting thing is Robinson and O'Neal both coming out ahead of Olajuwon who won the league's MVP and then had that incredible postseason. Sprewell making the All-NBA first team appears to have been way off and I have no problem agreeing with him being overrated. The high PER for Eric Murdock looks a bit odd and he didn't fair to well according to Win Shares (only had 15).
Time for another redo, this time with one of the most controversial votes ever. 1996 was a year dominated by offense. In the A.L. six teams hit over 200 homeruns, the Baltimore Orioles setting a new record with 257 (broken the very next year by Seattle). Teams in the A.L. averaged 5.39 runs per game and even in the "Steroid Era" that mark hasn't been topped since. Eight A.L. players hit 40 homeruns or more including Brady Anderson's shocking breakout year with 50.
In a year with several players having MVP claibar seasons the vote itself really came down to two players, Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez. Gonzalez would beat out A-Rod by just three voting points as he received one more first place vote than A-Rod. This result would be rightfully criticized as A-Rod clearly had the better year but Gonzalez playing on a division winner and being the more established player certainly influenced the voters. But it was the way A-Rod lost the award that would be so interesting and controversial.
First thing was Ivan Rodriugez received a first place vote which was bizarre because he had no where near an MVP season. He'd finish 10th overall, the next highest vote he received was a 5th place vote, and he appeared on less than half of the ballots. Clearly the majority writers did not view Pudge as a legit candidate. It was theorized by some that the writer who voted for I-Rod had meant to vote for A-Rod but accidently switched their names on his ballot. This seemed a bit far fetched and I don't think an answer as to why the writer voted for Pudge was ever cleared up so chalk this up to just a typical idiot baseball writer.
Next was the Seattle Mariners' beat writers as they would both give their first place votes for A-Rod's teammate Ken Griffey Jr. and both voted A-Rod third behind Juan Gonzalez. The other 26 A.L. writers gave A-Rod his ten first place votes and only gave Griffey two first place votes. The Mariners' writers had ironically prevented a Seattle player from winning the MVP.
But the biggest controversy about the vote involved Oakland A's beat writer John Hickey. He voted A-Rod 7th while no other A.L. writer voted him lower than 4th. He tried to justify voting A-Rod that low essentially because people viewed Ken Griffey Jr. as the MVP of the Mariners and he only voted Griffey 5th so he just had to vote A-Rod lower than him. Of course most people are idiots and most people don't do any research or otherwise they would have realized A-Rod had clearly the better year and that Griffey was really only a marginal candidate in a year with so many big offensive seasons.
So just how bad of a choice was Gonzalez? Also should A-Rod have been an absolute slam dunk winner or was there another candidate who you could argue for?
1) Juan Gonzalez 2) Alex Rodriguez 3) Albert Belle 4) Ken Griffey Jr. 5) Mo Vaughn 6) Rafael Palmeiro 7) Mark McGwire 8) Frank Thomas 9) Brady Anderson 10) Ivan Rodriguez 11) Kenny Lofton 12) Mariano Rivera 13) Paul Molitor 14) Andy Pettitte 15) Jim Thome 16) Chuck Knoblauch 17t) Jay Buhner 17t) Bernie Williams 19) John Wetteland 20) Roberto Alomar 21) Terry Steinbach
.289/.381/.546, 131 RC, 133 OPS+, .313 EQA, 54.0 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.326/.420/.583, 153 RC, 148 OPS+, .332 EQA, 76.3 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.297/.396/.637, 140 RC, 157 OPS+, .333 EQA, 85.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.328/.411/.527, 129 RC, 137 OPS+, .320 EQA, 84.2 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.311/.450/.612, 138 RC, 166 OPS+, .348 EQA, 83.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.349/.459/.626, 152 RC, 178 OPS+, .364 EQA, 92.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.341/.448/.517, 130 RC, 142 OPS+, .330 EQA, 99.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares
.312/.467/.730, 142 RC, 203 OPS+, .381 EQA, 91.6 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.311/.410/.623, 153 RC, 157 OPS+, .337 EQA, 80.9 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.358/.414/.631, 157 RC, 160 OPS+, .341 EQA, 111.8 VORP, 34 Win Shares
Aura? Did I already mention how much baseball cards have sucked in the past decade?
So there you have it A-Rod was the true MVP in 1996 and really there's no one you can argue over him. There's plenty of guys who had incredible years and there's a lot of agruments for the rest of the list as even as I was typing it I thought of switching guys around but stuck with what I originally came up with. Probably the most interesting case would be McGwire who's numbers are just sick but he only played 130 games. If he managed to play 150+ there would have been a case for him and he may have even made a run at 61 that year (hit 52). Juan Gonzalez was indeed an awful, awful pick as I didn't give him any consideration for the Top 10.
Vern asked for it so here it is. All the attention goes to the quarterbacks in the draft but there are some pretty impressive players at other positions that came out of this draft. This draft did live up to the hype.
1. Baltimore - John Elway, QB, Stanford
Right FBI Agent: Don't worry Mrs. Simpson we've helped hundreds of people in danger. We'll give you a new name, a new job, new identity.
Homer: (Raising hand) Oooh, I want to be John Elway! (Homer starts day dreaming about being John Elway. The ball is snapped to Homer and he dives over the pile into the endzone.)
Announcer: Elway takes the snap and runs it in for a touchdown! Thanks to Elway's Patanent last second magic the final score of Super Bowl XXX is Denver 7, San Francisco 56.
Homer:(Back to reality) Woo Hoo!
2. L.A. Rams - Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU
Probably due to his numerous contract holdouts Dickerson gets left out a lot now when talking about the greatest running back of all-time but he deserves consideration. How about that the #1 and #2 picks lived up to the hype? Doesn't happen very often.
3. Seattle - Curt Warner, RB, Penn State
A Penn State running back who wasn't a bust, strange. Had two 1400+ yards seasons.
4. Denver - Chris Hinton, T, Northwestern
Obviously didn't stay in Denver as he was traded to Baltimore in the Elway trade. Seven time Pro Bowl selection.
5. San Diego - Billy Ray Smith, LB, Arkansas
Took us to the 5th pick to find a non-Pro Bowl player but Smith was decent. Now an awful analyst on FSN's college football show that no one watches.
6. Chicago - Jimbo Covert, T, Pittsburgh
Certainly sounded like an offensive lineman. Two Pro Bowl selections.
7. Kansas City - Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State
First true bust of the draft and it's fitting he was the one true bust of the famous quarterback class.
8. Philadelphia - Michael Haddix, RB, Mississippi State
Now we're getting some busts. Career high in rushing yards was 311.
9. Houston - Bruce Matthews, G, USC
Simply one of the greatest offensive lineman ever. Selected to 14 Pro Bowls.
10. N.Y. Giants - Terry Kinard, S, Clemson
Decent, 31 career interceptions.
11. Green Bay - Tim Lewis, CB, Pittsburgh
Had 12 interceptions in his first two years but a neck injury forced him into early retirement in 1986.
12. Buffalo - Tony Hunter, TE, Notre Dame
Only lasted four years.
13. Detroit - James Jones, RB, Florida
Hung around for a while but never cracked 1000 yards and only 3.6 career ypc.
14. Buffalo - Jim Kelly, QB, Miami
Didn't join the Bills until 1986 as he spent three years in the USFL with the Houston Gamblers. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
15. New England - Tony Eason, QB, Illinois
You'll get differing opinions on whether Eason was a bust or not though he had a couple of good years but flamed out pretty quick.
16. Atlanta - Mike Pitts, DE, Alabama
Played 12 years despite not being all that good.
17. St. Louis - Leonard Smith, DB, McNeese State
Lasted nine seasons.
18. Chicago - Willie Gault, WR, Tennessee
Never really broke out as a star but was a big time deep threat.
19. Minnesota - Joey Browner, S, USC
37 career interceptions, six Pro Bowls.
20. San Diego - Gary Anderson, RB, Arkansas
Solid all-purpose back who had almost as many receiving yards as rushing.
21. Pittsburgh - Gabriel Rivera, DT, Texas Tech
Paralyzed in an accident while driving drunk during his rookie year. Take a bow loser.
22. San Diego - Gill Byrd, CB, San Jose State
Holds franchise record for interceptions with 42.
23. Dallas - Jim Jeffcoat, DE, Arizona State
Never a star but lasted 15 seasons and had 102 career sacks.
24. N.Y. Jets - Ken O'Brien, QB, UC Davis
I don't believe in '83 the draft had an audience yet but it would have been pretty fun to have seen Jets' fans react to them drafting a QB from UC Davis. Selected to two Pro Bowls.
25. Cincinnati - Dave Rimington, C, Nebraska
Unspectacular seven year career.
26. L.A. Raiders - Don Mosebar, T, USC
Played every o-line position in his 12 year career.
27. Miami - Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh
28. Washington - Darrell Green, CB, Texas A&I
Another all-time great to close out the first round.
Other Players of Note
32. L.A. Rams - Henry Ellard, WR, Fresno State
37. N.Y. Giants - Leonard Marshall, DT, LSU
39. Buffalo - Darryl Talley, LB, West Virginia
49. San Francisco - Roger Craig, RB, Nebraska
61. Kansas City - Albert Lewis, CB, Grambling
64. Chicago - Dave Duerson, S, Notre Dame
84. Washington - Charles Mann, DE, Nevada
110. L.A. Raiders - Greg Townsend, DE, TCU
167. Miami - Reggie Roby, P, Iowa
203. Chicago - Richard Dent, DE, Tennessee State
223. Miami - Mark Clayton, WR, Louisville
276. Cincinnati - Tim Krumrie, DT, Wisconsin
289. San Francisco - Jesse Sapolu, C, Hawaii
310. Denver - Karl Mecklenburg, LB, Minnesota
334. Miami - Anthony Carter, WR, Michigan
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
.336/.389/.439, 68 RC, 133 OPS+, .301 EQA, 32.4 VORP, 18 Win Shares
.294/.360/.464, 66 RC, 138 OPS+, .310 EQA, 34.7 VORP, 16 Win Shares
.259/.348/.493, 62 RC, 146 OPS+, .308 EQA, 29.3 VORP, 20 Win Shares
.326/.379/.509, 78 RC, 151 OPS+, .315 EQA, 39.6 VORP, 17 Win Shares
.294/.360/.534, 73 RC, 156 OPS+, .319 EQA, 40.1 VORP, 21 Win Shares
150 ERA+, 1.49 K/BB, 1.08 WHIP, 51.9 VORP, 18 Win Shares
.304/.378/.543, 72 RC, 164 OPS+, .325 EQA, 49.1 VORP, 21 Win Shares
.320/.363/.495, 75 RC, 151 OPS+, .316 EQA, 42.0 VORP, 22 Win Shares
.319/.408/.437, 76 RC, 150 OPS+, .323 EQA, 45.6 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
.308/.371/.580, 113 RC, 153 OPS+, .311 EQA, 49.5 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.293/.388/.548, 112 RC, 142 OPS+, .313 EQA, 58.1 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.338/.416/.539, 123 RC, 155 OPS+, .331 EQA, 69.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.295/.417/.580, 136 RC, 156 OPS+, .328 EQA, 73.0 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.303/.392/.383, 90 RC, 105 OPS+, .288 EQA, 59.1 VORP, 33 Win Shares
.370/.447/.511, 135 RC, 158 OPS+, .341 EQA, 90.8 VORP, 29 Win Shares
.284/.398/.583, 122 RC, 162 OPS+, .332 EQA, 69.4 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.293/.399/.593, 112 RC, 155 OPS+, .330 EQA, 78.7 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.286/.459/.597, 115 RC, 176 OPS+, .353 EQA, 65.2 VORP, 33 Win Shares
.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.
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?
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
.307/.389/.522, 106 RC, 126 OPS+, .310 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.267/.390/.562, 117 RC, 149 OPS+, .317 EQA, 66.5 VORP, 23 Win Shares
.290/.338/.525, 117 RC, 128 OPS+, .297 EQA, 69.9 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.317/.359/.550, 133 RC, 131 OPS+, .303 EQA, 71.0 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.281/.405/.518, 99 RC, 146 OPS+, .319 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.250/.412/.527, 112 RC, 151 OPS+, .326 EQA, 63.5 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.294/.366/.535, 121 RC, 138 OPS+, .312 EQA, 75.9 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.325/.427/.587, 141 RC, 160 OPS+, .339 EQA, 77.9 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.298/.396/.600, 141 RC, 148 OPS+, .324 EQA, 96.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares
.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.
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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-#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.
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?
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
.273/.363/.489, 83 RC, 139 OPS+, .314 EQA, 48.9 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.296/.347/.429, 86 RC, 119 OPS+, .294 EQA, 55.7 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.274/.366/.476, 102 RC, 142 OPS+, .310 EQA, 50.5 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.302/.352/.540, 113 RC, 149 OPS+, .314 EQA, 58.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.288/.336/.496, 91 RC, 142 OPS+, .312 EQA, 48.3 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.288/.345/.506, 104 RC, 143 OPS+, .312 EQA, 56.6 VORP, 28 Win Shares
148 ERA+, 2.44 K/BB, 1.05 WHIP, 64.8 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.269/.366/.545, 109 RC, 165 OPS+, .327 EQA, 54.4 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.290/.377/.483, 98 RC, 149 OPS+, .324 EQA, 56.4 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.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?