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Sports nostalgia and useless facts

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'08 Player Rankings: Closers

List contains the top 30 in Saves. I know you will all be shocked that K-Rod isn't #1.   Closer Rankings   1. Mariano Rivera, Yankees   17.3 Win Shares 34.0 VORP 10.3 WARP3   Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO  HBP  WP  BFP  IBB  BK  ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP +--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+-----+-----+----+-----+ 2008 38 NYY AL   6   5  64   0   0   0  60 39   70.7   41   11   11   4    6   77   2   1   259   0   0  1.40  4.44  317 0.665     2. Joe Nathan, Twins 3. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox 4. Joakim Soria, Royals 5. Kerry Wood, Cubs 6. Brian Fuentes, Rockies 7. Brad Lidge, Phillies 8. Francisco Rodriguez, Angels 9. Bobby Jenks, White Sox 10. Takashi Saito, Dodgers 11. Jose Valverde, Astros 12. Billy Wagner, Mets 13. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers 14. Matt Capps, Pirates 15. Huston Street, A's 16. Trevor Hoffman, Padres 17. Francisco Cordero, Reds 18. B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays 19. Kevin Gregg, Marlins 20. Jon Rauch, Nationals/Diamondbacks 21. Salomon Torres, Brewers 22. Brian Wilson, Giants 23. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals 24. Mike Gonzalez, Braves 25. J.J. Putz, Mariners 26. Brandon Lyon, Diamondbacks   27. George Sherrill, Orioles   5.0 Win Shares 5.8 VORP 3.4 WARP3   Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO  HBP  WP  BFP  IBB  BK  ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP +--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+-----+-----+----+-----+ 2008 31 BAL AL   3   5  57   0   0   0  49 31   53.3   47   28   28   6   33   58   1   1   239   6   0  4.73  4.53   96 1.500   28. Troy Percival, Rays 29. Todd Jones, Tigers 30. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

Bored

Bored

 

2008 Bowl Bubble #3

ACC   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS/Orange, Chick-Fil-A, Gator, Champs Sports, Music City, Meineke Car Care, Emerald, Humanitarian, EagleBank   Locks: Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech   Bowl Eligible: Wake Forest   Bubble Teams: Clemson, N.C. State, Virginia   We finally had a team be eliminated for bowl consideration this week, that being Duke. N.C. State stayed alive with a stunning blowout win over North Carolina and they finish with a home game against Miami on Saturday. I misspoke last week I said the winner of the Clemson/Virginia game would become bowl eligible. Clemson actually needed two wins since they've played two I-AA teams this year and you can only count one of those games towards bowl eligibility. Their last game will be at home against South Carolina. Wake Forest could be in trouble if they don't beat Vanderbilt this week to pick up win #7 and if there ends up being more eligible teams than bids for this conference, they likely will have to go hunting for an at large bid which could be tough with a 6-6 record.   Notre Dame   Bowl Tie-ins: Cotton, Gator, Sun   Wow, don't think anyone anticipated them losing to Syracuse. This puts the USC game as almost a must win for the Irish or they could be staying home for bowl season. You can forget about the Gator Bowl if they finish 6-6 but the Sun Bowl would still be possible. Remember they are considered a Big East team when it comes to bowl selections and the rule is bowls must invite 7+ win teams over 6 win teams if there are not enough available slots in a conference. The Big East has six bids and currently four teams with 7+ wins. If Rutgers and South Florida pickup win #7 that would fill of the Big East slots and Notre Dame would have no where to go except hope for an at large bid although the same 7+ win rule applies for at large bids as well.   Big East   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS, Gator/Sun, Meineke Car Care, International, Papajohns.com, St. Petersburg   Locks: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, West Virginia   Bowl Eligible: Rutgers, South Florida   Bubble Teams: Louisville   So with Notre Dame's bowl hopes in doubt, the Big East might get to keep all six of their bids. Very big game for USF against UConn tonight to get that all important win #7 because the following week they are at West Virginia. Louisville's season will be on the line in two weeks at Rutgers.   Big Ten   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS/Rose (two bids?), Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City   Locks: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin   I was a bit presumptuous last week in stating that if Ohio State won they were on their way to a BCS bowl and the reason is because of what is happening in the Pac-10. Oregon State is one win away from getting the Rose Bowl bid which would put USC into the at large pool and the Fiesta Bowl would likely jump all over them. That would send Ohio State off to the Capital One Bowl. It then remains to be seen if the Motor City Bowl will be an open bid or not.   Big XII   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS/Fiesta (two bids), Cotton, Holiday, Gator/Sun, Alamo, Insight, Independence, Texas   Locks: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech   Bubble Teams: Colorado   There are no changes in this conference. Again Colorado must beat Nebraska on Friday to keep their season going or then the Independence Bowl becomes an open bid.   Conference USA   Bowl Tie-ins: Liberty, GMAC, Texas, Armed Forces, New Orleans, St. Petersburg   Locks: East Carolina, Houston, Rice, Tulsa   Bubble Teams: Memphis, Southern Miss, UTEP   Marshall was eliminated yesterday with a loss to Rice. Of the three bubble teams, UTEP has the longest odds as they finish the season at East Carolina. Memphis and Southern Miss play conference bottom feeders Tulane and SMU respectively.   MAC   Bowl Tie-ins: Motor City, GMAC, International   Locks: Ball State   Bowl Eligible: Buffalo, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan   Bubble Teams: Akron, Bowling Green   I can now safely call Ball State a lock after they beat CMU on Wednesday thus eliminating any chance that they will have to rely on an at large bid. CMU and WMU may have to sweat a little because Buffalo will be attractive to the International Bowl.   Mountain West   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS, Las Vegas, Poinsettia, Armed Forces, New Mexico   Locks: Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, TCU, Utah   Utah is on their way to the BCS now so the conference will get five bids. I was probably the only one watching UNLV last night blow their chance at their first bowl bid in eight years as they were stunned by lowly San Diego State and their season is now over. UNLV's loss ends up being Colorado State's gain as they became bowl eligible with a win over Wyoming.   Pac-10   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS/Rose (two bids?), Holiday, Sun, Emerald, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Poinsettia   Locks: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, USC   Bubble Teams: Arizona State, UCLA   As covered in the Big Ten section, Oregon State is a win away from going to the Rose Bowl and likely giving the conference two BCS bids assuming that USC beats Notre Dame and UCLA. Stanford broke my heart yesterday with a listless performance against Cal and has been eliminated. The conference now will have no more than six eligible teams at the most with the ASU/UCLA elimination game this week. The winner of that game will still need another win the following week in their rivalry game to become bowl eligible. Poinsettia Bowl is now a WAC bid.   SEC   Bowl Tie-ins: BCS/Sugar (two bids), Capital One, Cotton, Outback, Chick-Fil-A, Music City, Liberty, Independence, Papajohns.com   Locks: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Vanderbilt   Bubble Teams: Auburn   Arkansas was eliminated yesterday with a loss to Mississippi State. Auburn will have to shock the world against Alabama this week to become bowl eligible or the Independence Bowl becomes an open bid.   Sun Belt   Bowl Tie-in: New Orleans, PapaJohns.com?   Locks: Troy   Bowl Eligible: None   Bubble Teams: Arkansas State, FIU, Florida Atlantic, UL Lafayette, Middle Tennessee   Troy crushed ULL yesterday but they haven't officially won the conference yet. I think that Arkansas State can still win the conference by tiebreak if they win this week against a horrific North Texas team and then upset Troy in two weeks. But even if that scenario plays out, Troy is a lock for a bowl bid because the PapaJohns.com would then become a Sun Belt bid since the SEC will not fill it and the conference had a contingency bid. I'm still not 100% sure if the Sun Belt needs a 7+ win team to be pick up that bid officially though so if the Arkansas State scenario doesn't play out, there wouldn't be another 7+ win team in the conference.   WAC   Bowl Tie-ins: Humanitarian, Hawaii, New Mexico, Poinsettia   Locks: Boise State   Bowl Eligible: Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, San Jose State   Boise State can still get a BCS at large invite but you can forget about them getting invited over Ohio State and now possibly USC. The conference did officially pickup the Poinsettia Bowl with Stanford's elimination in the Pac-10. The rest of the conference is still a mess but I think it's safe to assume at 6-6 that San Jose State will definitely not be getting a bid.

Bored

Bored

 

20 Years Later

2006 will mark 20 years of sports memories for me and I'm finally starting to feel like an old fart who reminisces about the good 'ol days. Fact is I was an old man when it came to sports when I was a kid as I loved sports history and researching useless sports facts which is still one of my favorite things to do. Regulars to sports folder have seen this most recently with my several useless fact posts in the Comments that don't warrant a thread, um thread, but that died off fairly quickly and figured it'd probably be more appropriate to post useless stuff like that in a blog.   So to make this all about me, I'll take a look back at my first ever live sporting event: 5/11/1986, Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics. As to memories about the actual game I have little to none. I only remember my family and I sat in the Plaza Level (2nd deck) of the Coliseum on the first base saide. My dad bought me an A's bobblehead, the old school ceramic ones not the plastic ones that you get today, which I promptly broke about a week later. Anything I remember from the game now comes from looking at the boxscore from Retrosheet. It featured a great "name" pitching of Oil Can Boyd vs. Moose Haas. The A's trailed 6-4 going into the 9th but a Carney Lansford homerun started a rally. They had 1st and 2nd with two out but pinch hitter Dusty Baker grounded out to the pitcher (wasn't hot enough for him?) to end the game with a Red Sox victory. That makes me feel old right there that Baker who will be in his 13th year of managing this season was playing in my very first live MLB game.   Now to look back at the starting line-ups from that game and just throw in a few comments about each player with their stats from 1986.   Red Sox   1. Dwight Evans RF (.259/.376/.476, 41.4 VORP, 24 Win Shares) - Doesn't get nearly the publicity for the Hall of Fame of his outfield mate Jim Rice, mainly because Evans fell off the ballot without notice while Rice remains a serious candidate. It's odd as Evans was equal the hitter of Rice and was unquestionably the superior defensive outfielder. Evans bests Rice in career Win Shares 347 to 282. Very underrated during his playing days and post career. Hopefully he'll get more notice when he comes up on the Veteran's Committee ballot.   2. Wade Boggs 3B (.357/.453/.486, 82.0 VORP, 37 Win Shares) - Roger Clemens would win the MVP in '86 but it should have been Boggs. I'm not sure where this myth that Boggs wasn't a feared hitter comes from beyond that he wasn't a power hitter but circa 1986 pitchers should have been pretty fucking scared to face Boggs.   3. Bill Buckner DH (.267/.311/.421, 21.5 VORP, 13 Win Shares) - Yes I'm sure you can see the irony in Bucker at DH in 1986.   4. Jim Rice LF (.324/.384/.490, 61.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares) - I was on the Rice for HOF bandwagon a couple of years ago but I've jumped off since. If he ever gets in I won't have a problem though but it wouldn't be much of an oversight either if he never gets in.   5. Don Baylor 1B (.238/.344/.439, 29.1 VORP, 16 Win Shares) - Mr. HBP who lucked into playing on three straight A.L. Champions on three different teams form '86 to '88 (Red Sox, Twins, A's).   6. Rich Gedman C (.258/.315/.424, 26.0 VOP, 18 Win Shares) - This was the last of a decent three year run for Gedman but he hit the wall the following season.   7. Marty Barrett 2B (.286/.353/.381, 38.0 VORP, 22 Win Shares) - Good season in a largely unspectacular career. I only remember him going beserk in the Red Sox dugout in the infamous Game 4 of the '90 ALCS when Roger Clemens was ejected.   8. Steve Lyons CF (.250/.312/.363, 0.4 VORP, 2 Win Shares) - Bad player and possibly even worse announcer. Claim to fame was playing literally every position and dropping his pants during a game when he was with the White Sox.   9. Ed Romero SS (.210/.270/.283, -3.9 VORP, 2 Win Shares) - I found edromero.com but it sadly it was a lounge singer not the baseball player.   A's   1. Tony Phillips 2B (.256/.367/.345, 22.7 VORP, 17 Win Shares) - Vastly underrated player who's best days would come away from Oakland. By no means a superstar but he just simply got a base a lot and could give you solid defense at multiple positions. He did smoke rock though. Has congress investigated the performance enhancements of crack?   2. Dwayne Murphy CF (.252/.364/.386, 18.9 VORP, 15 Win Shares) - Another underrated player. Probably would have been better appreciated if he played today as he got on base at a good rate, could hit for power (although by '86 he'd lost it), and was one of the best defensive outfielders of his era. Didn't help him that he played along side one of the greatest outfielders ever during his prime in RICKEY~.   3. Jose Canseco LF (.240/.318/.457, 30.2 VORP, 21 Win Shares) - He hit the first homerun I ever saw live in this game (not that I remembered it) but he was on the juice so it should ERASED FROM THE RECORDS!!!! Anyways the guy was a prick and by '89 I hated him. Wally Joyner absolutely got robbed in the '86 ROY voting by Canseco.   4. Dave Kingman DH (.210/.255/.431, 4.8 VORP, 8 Win Shares) - Awww Dave Kingman, never saw a pitch he didn't like. Really how long would he have lasted today with more emphasis on OBP? It amazes me a guy with so much power could draw so few walks. He'd hit 35 homeruns that year which is the record for most homeruns by a player in his final season but the average and on base tell you why no one was calling him up after '86.   5. Bruce Bochte 1B (.256/.357/.337, 12.8 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - No this isn't the Padres' manager. Is the answer to a trivia question, who was the A's starting 1B before Mark McGwire?   6. Carney Lansford 3B (.284/.332/.421, 32.8 VORP, 19 Win Shares) - Good hitter who was fun to watch because of his unique batting stance. Was my mom's favorite player and she probably would have fucked him she had the chance. Then I would have had to kill him.   7. Mike Davis RF (.268/.314/.454, 30.3 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - Was the A's "star" if you will the season before. Traded to the Dodgers after the '87 season where he did nothing but he drew a walk in front of Kirk Gibson's homerun in the Game 1 of the '88 Series. Thus I want him dead.   8. Alfredo Griffin SS (.285/.323/.364, 34.2 VORP, 17 Win Shares) - Never much of hitter but his glove kept him in the league for 18 years and had a badass JheriCurl.   9. Bill Bathe C (.184/.208/.359, -2.8 VORP, 1 Win Share) - Yes he was the back up catcher with those numbers, not that starter Mickey Tettleton did a whole lot better (.204/.325/.389, 11.3 VORP, 8 Win Shares).   Okay that's enough nostalgia for one night.

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1987 N.L. MVP

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

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1979 N.L. MVP

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

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1988 N.L. MVP

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

Bored

Bored

 

OMG GREATEST TOURNAMENT EVER!!!

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

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Bored

 

Where'd They Go?: 1997 Pittsburgh Pirates

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

Bored

Bored

 

Draftback: 1993 NFL Draft

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

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1996 A.L. MVP

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?   Actual Results 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   #10 .289/.381/.546, 131 RC, 133 OPS+, .313 EQA, 54.0 VORP, 30 Win Shares   #9 .326/.420/.583, 153 RC, 148 OPS+, .332 EQA, 76.3 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #8 .297/.396/.637, 140 RC, 157 OPS+, .333 EQA, 85.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #7 .328/.411/.527, 129 RC, 137 OPS+, .320 EQA, 84.2 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #6 .311/.450/.612, 138 RC, 166 OPS+, .348 EQA, 83.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #5 .349/.459/.626, 152 RC, 178 OPS+, .364 EQA, 92.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares   #4 .341/.448/.517, 130 RC, 142 OPS+, .330 EQA, 99.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares   #3 .312/.467/.730, 142 RC, 203 OPS+, .381 EQA, 91.6 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #2 .311/.410/.623, 153 RC, 157 OPS+, .337 EQA, 80.9 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #1 .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.

Bored

Bored

 

Where'd They Go?: 1988 Baltimore Orioles

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.   Starting Rotation   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.

Bored

Bored

 

Award Redo: 1960 N.L. MVP

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.   Actual results   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   #10 .297/.343/.497, 95 RC, 134 OPS+, .304 EQA, 32.3 VORP, 26 Win Shares   #9 .298/.354/.500, 91 RC, 139 OPS+, .311 EQA, 36.4 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #8 149 ERA+, 1.88 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP, 55.0 VORP, 24 Win Shares   #7 .297/.407/.595, 111 RC, 169 OPS+, .339 EQA, 53.3 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #6 140 ERA+, 3.42 K/BB, 1.06 WHIP, 62.1 VORP, 25 Win Shares   #5 .304/.370/.562, 114 RC, 143 OPS+, .308 EQA, 51.7 VORP, 31 Win Shares   #4 .271/.350/.554, 115 RC, 145 OPS+, .310 EQA, 63.2 VORP, 29 Win Shares   #3 .292/.352/.566, 119 RC, 155 OPS+, .325 EQA, 52.6 VORP, 35 Win Shares   #2 .319/.381/.555, 126 RC, 160 OPS+, .331 EQA, 62.2 VORP, 38 Win Shares   #1 .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.

Bored

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Draftback: 1984 MLB Draft

Next up is 1984 and I selected this particular year as it features easily the worst #1 pick of the 1980's. The Mets had the #1 pick and they wanted to draft Mark McGwire but could not agree on a contract so they settled for this...   1. Mets - Shawn Abner, Outfield, High School Abner never put on a real Mets uniform as he was traded to San Diego after the 1986 season in the Kevin Mitchell/Kevin McReynolds deal. .227/.269/.323 line in 392 ML games with only 13 career Win Shares.   2. Mariners - Bill Swift, Pitcher, Maine Another player involved in a Kevin Mitchell deal, traded to the Giants in a five player deal after the 1991 season. It was in San Francisco where Swift broke out, winning the ERA title in 1992 and winning 21 games in 1993. That was his peak though as he had elbow, shoulder, and other various arm problems through out his career going back to his Seattle days.   3. Cubs - Drew Hall, Pitcher, Morehead State Fewer than 200 IP in the Majors, primarily as a reliever.   4. Indians - Cory Snyder, Shortstop, BYU Could hit for power but had zero plate discipline. In 1987 he stuck out 166 times with only 31 walks.   5. Reds - Pat Pacillo, Pitcher, Seton Hall His 85 walks in 149 innings at Triple-A in 1986 was a bad sign. Only a little over 50 IP in the Majors.   6. Angels - Erik Pappas, Catcher, High School Nice strikeout/walk numbers (53/48) but results weren't pretty when he put it in play in his very short career. But hey he was the MVP of the 2002 European Baseball Championships.   7. Cardinals - Mike Dunne, Pitcher, Bradley I must have had thirty 1988 Topps Mike Dunne cards. Traded to the Pirates in the Andy Van Slyke/Tony Pena deal right before the 1987 season. On the surface had a very impressive rookie year (13-6, 3.03 ERA) but his poor K/BB ratio (72/68) spelled doom for any future success.   8. Twins - Jay Bell, Shortstop, High School Yet another #1 pick traded before they reach the Majors. Traded to Cleveland in 1985 in a deal for Bert Blyleven. Good hitting shortstop who lasted 18 years.   9. Giants - Alan Cockrell, Outfield, Tennessee Didn't make his ML debut until 1996 for a cup of coffee with the Rockies.   10. A's - Mark McGwire, First Base, USC My favorite player of all-time. I want him in the Hall of Fame but under the current circumstances might never get in.   11. Padres - Shane Mack, Outfield, UCLA Very good hitter but only played nine years filled with several nagging injuries.   12. Rangers - Oddibe McDowell, Outfield, Arizona State One of the great first names in baseball history. Already a regular player by 1985 but beyond a decent second year, not much of a career.   13. Expos - Bob Caffrey, Catcher, Cal State Fullerton An Olympian but never a Major Leaguer.   14. Red Sox - John Marzano, Catcher, Temple Believe it or not actually played in 10 different ML seasons but only 301 games played in that span.   15. Pirates - Kevin Andersh, Pitcher, New Mexico I searched his name on Google Groups and there was a total of one entry.   16. Royals - Scott Bankhead, Pitcher, North Carolina One decent year in 1989 but otherwise an erratic career.   17. Astros - Don August, Pitcher, Chapman College Traded for Danny Darwin late in 1986, had a decent rookie year but was a mess after that.   18. Brewers - Isaiah Clark, Shortstop, High School Brother of mid-90's Padres scrub Phil Clark. That's all I got.   19. Braves - Drew Denson, First Base, High School Only 41 career ML at bats.   20. White Sox - Tony Menendez, Pitcher, High School Threw over 1000 innings in the minors, only 29 in the majors.   21. Phillies - Pete Smith, Pitcher, High School Traded to Atlanta after the 1985 season in a deal for Steve Bedrosian, the Braves hot shotted him from Double-A in 1987 which probably doomed his career. Threw almost 200 innings at age 22 in 1988 and it's no shock he had arm problems after that.   22. Yankees - Jeff Pries, Pitcher, UCLA The Yankees first, 1st Round pick since 1979 (kept giving them up for free agent signings) and never made it to the Majors.   23. Dodgers - Dennis Livingston, Pitcher Oklahoma State One of several bad 1st round picks by the Dodgers in the 80's.   24. Giants - Terry Mulholland, Pitcher, Marietta College Hasn't been effective in about seven years but he's left handed so he's still getting a Major League salary at 103 years old.   25. Orioles - John Hoover, Pitcher, Fresno State Pitched just two games in the Majors.   26. White Sox - Tom Hartley, Outfield, High School Never made it.   Other Picks of Note   1st Round (Compensatory) Expos - Norm Charlton 2nd Round Braves - Tom Glavine 2nd Round Yankees - Al Leiter 2nd Round Cubs - Greg Maddux 3rd Round Astros - Ken Caminiti 6th Round Cardinals - Lance Johnson 6th Round Cubs - Jamie Moyer 12th Ruond Mets - John Wetteland (did not sign) 13th Round Expos - Jeff Brantley (did not sign) 14th Round Brewers - John Jaha 15th Round Angels - Chuck Finley 17th Round Angels - Dante Bichette 20th Round Red Sox - Jack McDowell (did not sign)

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Mavericks & Heat: Top 10 Individual Seasons

For the first time in 35 years the NBA Finals will feature two franchises who have never reached the Finals before. So like I did for the Clippers after their historic playoff series win, here are the Top 10 individual seasons for both franchises according to the basketball version of Win Shares.   I guess it shouldn't be surprising that the best individual season for both franchises are from this past season. The Mavericks list is dominated by one player who may end up holding the 10 best seasons in franchise history by the time he's done and appears on his way to becoming one of the greatest players of all-time.   Dallas Mavericks Top 10 Individual Seasons   1. Dirk Nowitzki, '05-'06, 52 Win Shares 26.6 PTS, 9.0 REB, 2.8 AST, 0.7 STL, 1.0 BLK, 1.9 TO   2. Dirk Nowitzki, '04-'05, 47 Win Shares 26.1 PTS, 9.7 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.5 BLK, 2.3 TO   3. Dirk Nowitzki, '02-'03, 45 Win Shares 25.1 PTS, 9.9 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.0 BLK, 1.9 TO   4. Dirk Nowitzki, '00-'01, 43 Win Shares 21.8 PTS, 9.2 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.2 BLK, 1.9 TO   5. Dirk Nowitzki, '01-'02, 42 Win Shares 23.4 PTS, 9.9 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.1 STL, 1.0 BLK, 1.9 TO   6. Dirk Nowitzki, '03-'04, 33 Win Shares 21.8 PTS, 8.7 REB, 2.7 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.4 BLK, 1.8 TO   7. Steve Nash, '02-'03, 32 Win Shares 17.7 PTS, 2.9 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.3 TO   8. Steve Nash, '01-02, 31 Win Shares 17.9 PTS, 3.1 REB, 7.7 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.0 BLK, 2.8 TO   9. Rolando Blackman, '83-'84, 30 Win Shares 22.4 PTS, 4.6 REB, 3.6 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.1 TO   10, Derek Harper, '89-'90, 30 Win Shares 18.0 PTS, 3.0 REB, 7.4 AST, 2.3 STL, 0.3 BLK, 2.5 TO     Miami Heat Top 10 Individual Seasons -Yes Udonis Haslem but no Glen Rice. I've said before I'm not sure how reliable this is.   1. Dwyane Wade, '05-'06, 41 Win Shares 27.2 PTS, 5.7 REB, 6.7 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.8 BLK, 3.6 TO   2. Tim Hardaway, '96-'97, 39 Win Shares 20.3 PTS, 3.4 REB, 8.6 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.8 TO   3. Alonzo Mourning, '99-'00, 38 Win Shares 21.7 PTS, 9.5 REB, 1.6 AST, 0.5 STL, 3.7 BLK, 2.7 TO   4. Tim Hardaway, '97-'98, 33 Win Shares 18.9 PTS, 3.7 REB, 8.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.2 BLK, 2.8 TO   5. Anthony Mason, '00-'01, 33 Win Shares 15.9 PTS, 9.5 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.3 BLK, 2.2 TO   6. Shaquille O'Neal, '04-'05, 32 Win Shares 22.9 PTS, 10.4 REB, 2.7 AST, 0.5 STL, 2.3 BLK, 2.8 TO   7. Dwyane Wade, '04-'05, 32 Win Shares 24.1 PTS, 5.2 REB, 6.8 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.1 BLK, 4.2 TO   8. Alonzo Mourning, '96-'97, 27 Win Shares 19.8 PTS, 9.9 REB, 1.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 2.9 BLK, 3.4 TO   9. Udonis Haslem, '04-05, 27 Win Shares 10.9 PTS, 9.1 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK, 1.4 TO   10. Alonzo Mourning, '95-'96, 26 Win Shares 23.2 PTS, 10.4 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 2.7 BLK, 3.7 TO

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Where'd They Go?: 1986 Cleveland Indians

Joe Carter and Cory Snyder of the Clevleand Indians graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's 1987 Baseball Preview issue. It declared the Indians as the best team in the American League. The ’87 Indians would lose 101 games. How could this happen? No one is picking a team who was terrible the year before to win a pennant and indeed the year before the Indians were the surprise team of baseball. There have plenty of looks at the infamous ’87 Indians so I figured I’d look at the ’86 team that led to their label as preseason contenders the following season   Going into 1986 the Indians were coming off a 102 loss season but would put together their best team in 27 years, leading the Majors in runs scored. They were never serious contenders in the A.L. East to the Red Sox in ’86 as their highpoint was on July 23rd when they were 51-41, five games out of first place. After terrible month of August (12-19) they hovered around .500 but won 9 of their last 12 games to finish 84-78, their first winning season since 1979.   C: Andy Allanson (.225/.260/.280, -9.3 VORP, 0 Win Shares) – 101 games played, 0 Win Shares. Wow. Allanson was a rookie and brought absolutely nothing to the table. On top of those stomach turning offensive numbers he also committed 20 errors. Played with the Indians thru 1989 then bounced around to Detroit, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and California.   1B: Pat Tabler (.326/.368/.433, 28.7 VORP, 16 Win Shares) – Tabler would have made an awesome middle infielder with his numbers but problem was he played first base. ’86 was his best year as he finished 4th in the A.L. in average but he had almost no power with a career .379 SLG. Traded to the Royals in 1988 for Bud Black, then traded to the Mets in 1990 (the fifth trade of his career), and finished his career with two years in Toronto.   2B: Tony Bernazard (.301/.362/.456, 48.2 VORP, 25 Win Shares) – The top A.L. second baseman in 1986 per Win Shares, this was also Bernazard’s career year (possible trend?). Traded midseason the following year to Oakland in what would be his last year in the Majors before a brief comeback with the Tigers in 1991.   3B: Brook Jacoby (.288/.350/.441, 30.0 VORP, 21 Win Shares) – Only 26, Jacoby appeared to be a rising star but would peak the following year with a 32 homerun season. Fell off a cliff performance wise after age 30, the Indians traded him to Oakland in 1991 and then return to Cleveland a forgettable final season in 1992.   SS: Julio Franco (.306/.338/.422, 41.9 VORP, 18 Win Shares) – Allegedly 27 years old at the time, Franco was one of my favorite non-A’s players as a kid because of his bizarre batting stance. He was awful defensive shortstop and was moved over to second base in 1988. After that year he was traded to the Rangers for Pete O’Brien, Oddibe McDowell, and Jerry Browne where he’d win the batting title in 1991. Signed with the White Sox for the 1994 season where had a terrific year but during the baseball strike decided to play over in Japan for the ’95 season. He returned to Cleveland in 1996, released late in 1997, signed with Milwaukee, and then went back to Japan in 1998. Played in Mexico in 1999 but did appear in one game for one at bat for the Devil Rays in September. Played the next two years in Mexico but the Braves purchased his contract late in 2001 and has since made a surprising return as solid, platoon player. This year joined the Mets at age 117.   LF: Mel Hall (.296/.346/.493, 29.4 VORP, 18 Win Shares) – Hall was the very definition of a platoon outfielder. In 1986 the left handed hitter had just 26 at bats against left handed pitchers. Basically a decent hitter against righties but completely useless against lefties. Traded to the Yankees before the 1989 season and I’ll just post his awesome bio on BaseballLibrary.com to talk about the rest of his career.     CF: Brett Butler (.278/.356/.375, 18.3 VORP, 20 Win Shares) – Very good leadoff hitter he was the master of the bunt single. Was a late bloomer as his prime was actually in his early-30’s. Signed with the Giants after 1987, played there for three years then became one of the most hated players by Giants fans when he signed with the Dodgers after 1990. Traded late in 1995 to the Mets and then came right back to the Dodgers, retiring after 1997.   RF: Joe Carter (.302/.335/.514, 49.9 VORP, 28 Win Shares) – Although later recognized more for his playing days with the Blue Jays, 1986 was actually Carter’s best year (trend!). Indians traded him to San Diego after 1989 for Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, and Chris James. Almost exactly a year later he would be traded in a blockbuster deal to Toronto with Roberto Alomar for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. Played for the Blue Jays for seven years and of course became a World Series hero in 1993. Split his final season in 1998 with Baltimore and San Francisco.   DH: Andre Thorton (.229/.333/.392, 7.0 VORP, 9 Win Shares) – Thorton was washed up at this point after being an unsung, very good DH for several years. Played in only 36 games the following year hitting just .118, his final season.   UTL: Cory Snyder (.272/.299/.500, 19.5 VORP, 13 Win Shares) – I figured I’d throw Snyder in since he was on that infamous S.I. cover and it was partly the hype behind him that led to the Indians being overrated going into the following year. He hit 24 homeruns in only 103 games as a rookie but no one bothered to notice his .299 OBP and that he struck out 123 times with only 16 walks! Having 100+ more strikeouts than walks is hard to do and Snyder did it three more times in his career. Traded in 1991 to Toronto, then signed with San Francisco, and then played two years in Los Angeles.   Rotation   Tom Candiotti (116 ERA+, 47.6 VORP, 17 Win Shares) – This was Candiotti’s first full year in the Majors and he was the Indians only good pitcher in 1986, leading the A.L. with 17 complete games. Traded to the Blue Jays in 1991 in a five player deal. Then signed with Dodgers who he played with for six years. Signed with the A’s after 1997 then released during the 1999 season but was picked up for a return to Cleveland. Signed with the Angels before the 2000 season but did not make the team.   Ken Schrom (91 ERA+, 12.4 VORP, 10 Win Shares) – The Indians offense helped the mediocre pitcher to 14-7 record and an All-Star selection. Posted a 6.50 ERA the following year which would be his last in the Majors.   Phil Niekro (96 ERA+, 7.3 VORP, 9 Win Shares) – I doubt we’ll ever see another rotation with two knuckleballers on it and besides everyone knows only Doug Mirabelli can catch them. Anyways Niekro was 47 at this point and was no longer effective. His final year come next season as the Indians traded him in August to Toronto who released him a few weeks later. Picked up for a purely sentimental final start with the Braves and retired after the season. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.   Closer: Ernie Camacho (102 ERA+, 9.9 VORP, 7 Win Shares) – A former 1st round pick of the A’s he had an injury filled, sporadic career and this was one of only two years that he threw more than 30 innings.

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Where'd They Go?: 1987 Boston Red Sox

My 1987 A.L. MVP Redo helped me find my next “Where’d They Go?” subject as there was one team that year that had three players in my top 10, that being the Boston Red Sox. Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Dwight Evans all had great years and having three players of that caliber playing for the defending A.L. Champs you’d think that'd lead to a successful year. They finished 78-84. What happened?   Obviously three stars can not lead a team of 25 to a championship. After you got past those three and Mike Greenwell the ’87 Sox were a terrible team. They spent just one day over .500 (8-7 on April 22nd) the entire season. The major problem was pitching as they posted 4.77 team ERA, only Baltimore and Cleveland were worse. The bullpen was particularly awful with an ERA of 5.42 and only 16 saves. Maybe the most glaring problem for the Red Sox was they were seemingly a completely different team on the road. They were a very strong 50-30 at home. They were a miserable 28-54 on the road.   C: Marc Sullivan (.169/.198/.238, -14.7 VORP, 2 Win Shares) – 14 OPS+. 14! How is that even possible for a non-pitcher? Sullivan was part of a three headed non-hitting monster at catcher for the Sox along Rich Gedman and John Marzano. The previously reliable Gedman heldout the first month of the season and then had a thumb injury midseason. How in the world was Sullivan in the Majors you ask? His dad Haywood Sullivan was co-owner of the Red Sox at the time. Aww nepotism. This would be Sullivan’s last year in the bigs.   1B: Dwight Evans (.305/.417/.569, 57.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares) – Dewey was moved to first in July after they released Bill Buckner. Evans struggled badly at first and I’m not sure why they chose to move him to first instead of rookie Todd Benzinger who got the majority of time in right field the remainder of the year. I guess maybe the thinking was with Evans being 35 they wanted to attempt to extend his career by moving him to first. Stayed with the Red Sox thru 1990 and spent his final year in Baltimore. Deserved a lot more support for the Hall of Fame than he got, which was almost no support at all.   2B: Marty Barrett (.293/.351/.351, 18.1 VORP, 16 Win Shares) – Barrett had a decent year after his career year of ’86. In 1989 a knee injury cut his year, and eventually career, short and rookie Jody Reed took his job from there. Left the Sox after 1990 and had a brief stint in 1991 with the Padres before being released.   3B: Wade Boggs (.363/.461/.588, 90.1 VORP, 32 Win Shares) – Boggs was well into his peek here with another MVP caliber season winning his third of four straight batting titles. This was the one year that Boggs showed serious power as he hit 24 homeruns in an assumed juiced ball year. His production dipped severely in 1992 and after that year he signed as a free agent with the Yankees where rebounded with a great year in 1994 and won his only World Series ring in 1996. Closed out his career with the Devil Rays, retiring after 1999. He actually gave his HOF cap rights to the D-Rays as part of his contract but thankfully the HOF changed it’s rules and players no longer are able choose the cap they wear on their plaque. Inducted with a Red Sox cap last year.   SS: Spike Owen (.259/.337/.343, 10.7 VORP, 9 Win Shares) – Owen sure made a career out of being a weak hitter and unspectacular defensive shortstop. Traded after 1988 to the Expos where he’d spend four years. Traded again after 1993 to the Yankees. In 1994 with the Angels he put up a shocking .310/.418/.422 line in 82 games but he went back to his usual numbers in ’95 which was his final season.   LF: Jim Rice (.277/.357/.408, 9.9 VORP, 8 Win Shares) – This was the year where Rice seemed to age about five years as he was hobbled with knee problems. Moved to DH the following year but that failed to really extend his career and he retired after 1989. His HOF support is continuing to grow and though he’ll have no shot for 2007 with the Ripken/Gwynn ballot, I will not be surprised if he is elected on the 2008 ballot over the more deserving Tim Raines.   CF: Ellis Burks (.272/.324/.441, 17.4 VORP, 15 Win Shares) – Solid rookie year for Burks who was just 22 at the time. Had his first of many injuries in 1989 when he was limited to 97 games due to a shoulder injury. In his 18 year career he only played more than 140 games in a season four times but when he was in the line up he was usually great. Signed with the White Sox in 1993 for one season and then signed with the Rockies. Traded in a deadline deal to the Giants in 1998 and played there thru 2000. Spent the next three years in Cleveland and made a return to the Red Sox in 2004 but only played in 11 games.   OF: Mike Greenwell (.328/.386/.570, 41.9 VORP, 17 Win Shares) – This was Greenwell’s “rookie” year but he had played parts of the last two seasons and started 61 games in left, 28 games in right, and 15 games at DH. Really broke out the following year finishing in the Top 5 in the A.L. in average, OBP, SLG, hits, rbi, and a few other categories. He finished 2nd in the MVP voting but would never come close to match that year again. Would spend his entire MLB career in Boston, leaving after 1996 to play in Japan.   DH: Don Baylor (.239/.355/.404, 9.7 VORP, 7 Win Shares) – Boston stats only as Baylor would be traded with a month left in the season to the Twins. He was playing on borrowed time at this point although he would have a great World Series. Played his final year in 1988 with Oakland.   Rotation   Roger Clemens (154 ERA+, 92.8 VORP, 28 Win Shares) – Who?   Bruce Hurst (103 ERA+, 40.2 VORP, 15 Win Shares) – Hurst was the only other competent pitcher on the Sox, starters or bullpen, although this wasn’t a particularly good year for him. Oddly enough made the All-Star team but Clemens didn’t. Signed as a free agent with the Padres in 1989 and had arguably his best year posting a 2.69 ERA. Had three good years in San Diego but a shoulder problem hampered him in 1992 and he found out after the season he had a torn rotator cuff. Only would pitch 51 innings after that, traded to the Rockies midseason in 1993 and then spent 1994 with the Rangers.   Al Nipper (84 ERA+, 4.5 VORP, 6 Win Shares) – Nipper was a junkballer who fooled some hitters a few years earlier when he first came up to the Majors but by this time he was figured out. Sox traded him and Calvin Schiraldi to the Cubs in an absolute fleecing to get Lee Smith. Nipper actually did pitch fairly well splitting time between starter and reliever in ’88. Was released right before the 1989 season and did not pitch in the Majors that year. Not sure if he was injured or in the minors. Pitched 24 innings for the Indians in 1990, his final year.   Jeff Sellers (86 ERA+, 10.7 VORP, 6 Win Shares) – Supposedly had great stuff but apparently never knew where it was going. Traded after 1988 to Cincinnati in the Nick Esasky deal and never pitched in the Majors again.   Bob Stanley (91 ERA+, 8.8 VORP, 5 Win Shares) – This was a forgettable return to starter for Stanley who’d only made two starts in the previous six years. The workhorse reliever was moved back to the bullpen the following season and had a good year but struggled in 1989, announcing his retirement at the end of the season.   Closer: Wes Gardner (84 ERA+, 7.0 VORP, 4 Win Shares) – Red Sox didn’t really have a closer for their awful bullpen but Gardner picked up 10 of the 16 saves. Spent the following year as a long reliever/fifth starter and had his only productive year in the Majors. Traded to the Padres after 1990, splitting his final year with them and the Royals.

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World Series DVDs: Game 3

1975 World Series – Reds 6, Red Sox 5 10 Innings (boxscore and play account)   -Like Game 2 this game is incomplete on the disk. With one out in the bottom of the 7th a screen comes up acknowledging that a portion of the game is missing from the archives. Now when the action returns I have no idea what part of the game until a couple minutes later when the announcers mention that it’s the top of the 9th. It would have been nice for them to add a graphic telling you what part of the game they had jumped to. Thankfully the Dwight Evans’ game tying homerun in the 9th isn’t missed.   -The video quality is the poorest so far of any of the games. Makes me wonder if they’ll be able to put together any pre-70’s World Series sets or not.   -Curt Gowdy wonders aloud if Pete Rose can get to 3000 hits or not. Considering he’d already cleared 2500 that year at age 34 I can’t imagine to many people thought there’d be much doubt about that.   -I’m amused again by the fact that Joe Morgan apparently didn’t like runners trying to steal when he was up. That’s not SMARTBALL~ Joe!   -Clay Carroll comes into pitch in the 7th with the Reds up 5-2 and Tom Brennaman (part of the rotating announce crew that I mentioned in the Game 1 entry) calls it a “saving situation” which tells you how much the role of relievers has changed. Carroll wasn’t the Reds primary closer though as he only had 7 saves during the regular season.   -1975 technology gone mad: With Johnny Bench up in the 9th, NBS puts an image of Bench's wife over the upper righthand corner of the screen (see the screencap) and continue to shoot a side camera angle of Bench for the first three pitches with his wife looking on. I hope Fox producers have never seen this.   -Big controversy in the bottom of the 10th as with Cesar Geronimo on first and none out, Ed Armbrister comes up to pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot specifically to bunt. He lays down a terrible bunt right in front of home plate. As Carlton Fisk tries to get to the ball Armbrister gets in his way. Fisk gets to the ball but uncorks a wild throw to second that gets by the bag and Geronimo advances to third while Armbrister ends up on second. Fisk is furious and rightfully so as it should have been interference. A couple of batters later Joe Morgan ends it with a base hit (sorry, "manufactured a run") and the Red Sox drop a second straight heartbreaker.   -During all of this the crowd was rather subdued for a World Series extra inning game.   1979 World Series – Orioles 8, Pirates 4 (boxscore and play account)   -Like Game 2 the network graphics are missing from the footage of this game. Hope it’s not this way the rest of the series.   -Al Michaels fills in for Keith Jackson as Jackson has to do a college football game the next day. It’s been too long since I heard Michaels call baseball.   -Both teams are wearing classic whites and greys for this game rather than the usual softball uniforms.   -Michaels calls Three Rivers a beautiful ball park. Well this was 1979 and it was very much the age of the giant, multi-purpose stadiums so maybe Three Rivers was considered nice for the time, what do I know?   -Unfortunately Cosell still hasn’t said anything particularly interesting in the entire series although he goes on a couple of mini-rants about the baseball writer’s blaming ABC for the bad weather or something, couldn’t quite figure out what he was talking about.   1986 World Series – Mets 7, Red Sox 1 (boxscore and play account)   -Vin Scully mentions that Oil Can Boyd has hepatitis. Well that’s good to know.   -Now in the ‘75 Series in Cincinnati when Carlton Fisk homered in the 2nd there seemed to be a decent number of Red Sox fans in the stands. Now for this series for the first two games in New York when the Red Sox would make a big play there was seemingly not a single Red Sox fan in the stands. This took me by surprise as today at every Red Sox road game there are thousands of bandwagon…uh I mean lifelong SAWX fans in the stands no matter where the game is played. Then what is interesting as the ’86 Series goes to Boston after Lenny Dykstra leads off the game with a homerun there is a noticeable number of Mets fans in the crowd and even a very light “Let’s Go Mets” chant starts.   -Oil Can Boydism: Quoted earlier in the year after a game that was fogged out in Cleveland as saying “What do you expect when you build a stadium near the ocean?”   -With the Mets up 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth the Red Sox fans start doing…the wave!? The wave in Fenway Park? Who knew?   -Scully makes a somewhat interesting parallel from the previous World Series where another high strung pitcher in Joaquin Andujar made the start in Game 3 and lost the game that let the Royals back in that series.

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Where'd They Go?: 1993 Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have been one of the more proud franchises in baseball history. That was until Mike Ilitch bought the team after the 1992 season. Before their ownership the Tigers had never endured more than four consecutive losing seasons. This year’s Tigers are just 17 wins away from ending 12 years of futility and are very likely to reach the postseason for the first time since 1987. But Ilitch's first year as owner was the Tigers last succesful one.   In the Tigers last winning season of ’93 they lead the Majors in runs scored with 899. They were of course helped by the hitter friendly Tiger Stadium but the offense was genuinely good. The pitching on the other hand allowed a Major League high 188 homeruns which although helped/hurt by Tiger Stadium the pitchers were genuinely bad. The Tigers started the season red hot as after a 12-1 spanking of the defending champs Toronto on June 12th they were 38-22 with a four game lead on the Jays. But just 10 days later a 12-9 loss to Baltimore would start a 10 game losing streak that they could never fully recover from.   C: Chad Kreuter (.286/.371/.484, 30.2 VORP, 16 Win Shares) – This was only one of two seasons that Kreuter played over 100 games in and was by far his best year. This would be the second of seven teams he would play for in his career. Went to Seattle in ’95 and then spent the following year with the White Sox. They traded him with Tony Phillips to the Angels in 1997. The Angels sent him back to Chicago late in 1998. Spent the following year in Kansas City and finally found a stable job with the Dodgers for three years. Began 2003 back where he started in Texas but was released a month into the season.   1B: Cecil Fielder (.267/.368/.464, 27.8 VORP, 17 Win Shares) – Fielder hit 30 homeruns with 117 rbi but those were quiet, big numbers as he was only 5th among Tigers regulars in slugging. He remained a very steady performer but never came close to his huge 1990 season. Tigers traded him to the Yankees for Ruben Sierra in 1996 where Cecil would have a good World Series going 9 for 23. His power numbers would slip dramatically after this and was washed by ’98 being released by both the Angels and Indians. Tried to make a return to Toronto in 1999 but failed to make the team. Has spent his post career gambling away the millions he earned and is now estranged from his son Price Fielder.   2B: Lou Whitaker (.290/.412/.449, 36.4 VORP, 19 Win Shares) – Sweet Lou’s career was winding down at this point but when he was in the line up he was still very productive. Would retire after 1995 when he played in just 84 games but put up a strong .293/.372/.518 line. One of the great tragedies in Hall of Fame voting as he received only 15 votes in his first year of eligibility, failing to stay on the ballot despite being very comparable to his HOF contemporary Ryne Sandberg. Whether Whitaker deserves to be in the HOF or not is open for debate, I believe he does, but it is a joke that he couldn’t even receive enough support stay on the ballot for more than a single season.   3B: Travis Fryman (.300/.379/.486, 56.7 VORP, 28 Win Shares) – This was Fryman’s breakout season at 24 but it would end up being his best season. He actually started more games at shortstop (81 to 68) but I had a choice of talking about Alan Trammell or Scott Livingstone so I of course put Fryman at 3rd. At the start of the year Fryman was at short and Trammell was at 3rd but the Tigers would realize that Fryman was much better defensively at 3rd and flipped them back. Traded to the expansion Diamondbacks after the 1997 season but would never suit up for them as he would be flipped to Cleveland two weeks later for Matt Williams. Would play the rest of his career with the Indians, highlighted by a great 2000 season, and retired after 2002.   SS: Alan Trammell (.329/.388/.496, 40.6 VORP, 17 Win Shares) – Coming off a year where he only played 29 games due to a broken ankle, the other side of the Tigers long time middle infield duo was also still productive when he was in the line up. Trammell of course spent his entire career in Detoit, retiring after 1996. Has faired better in HOF voting than Whitaker but is no where close to being elected, appearing on just 17.7% of the ballots in the most recent election.   LF: Tony Phillips (.313/.443/.398, 46.3 VORP, 25 Win Shares) – The previously light hitting, utility man Phillips had emerged as one of the top lead off hitters in the game due to his great ability to draw walks (132 in ’93) and this was his best year. Would spend one more season in Detroit before signing as a free agent with the Angels. Signed with the White Sox in ’96 who then traded him the previously mentioned deal with Chad Kreuter back to the Angels. In August of that year he would be caught smoking crack in an Anaheim hotel and really who hasn’t? He was released by the Angels before the 1998 season, then picked up by the Blue Jays two months later who would trade him after a month in a deadline deal to the Mets. Returned to Oakland in 1999 for his final season in the Majors.   CF: Milt Cuyler (.213/.276/.313, -7.4 VORP, 2 Win Shares) – A passable rookie year in 1991 some how convinced the Tigers to keep trotting Cuyler out to center for a couple of more years although in just in part time duty, he still played too much. Mysteriously still found part time Major League work for a few more years including a trip to Boston in 1996. But in 1998 he had a historic year with the Rangers putting up a jaw dropping .500/.571/1.333 line. Even with a batting average heavy OBP those number are insane. Oh wait it was only in 7 at bats…never mind.   RF: Rob Deer (.217/.302/.381, -3.1 VORP, 5 Win Shares) – Everybody’s favorite no batting average power hitter, Deer was a poor man’s Dave Kingman. Okay Deer actually could draw walks but holy shit he could not make any contact at all. He was about as true a “three outcome hitter” as you could get and the primary outcome was a strikeout. Did not finish the season in Detroit as he was traded to Boston in August. This appeared to be his last year in the Majors but in 1996 made a comeback with the Padres. In true Deer fashion he went 9 for 50 (seven of the hits for extra bases) and struck out 30 times.   DH: Kirk Gibson (.261/.337/.432, 15.4 VORP, 9 Win Shares) – Fuck him.   Utility: Mickey Tettleton (.245/.372/.492, 31.7 VORP, 24 Win Shares) – Tettleton started 51 games at catcher, 38 in RF, 35 at 1B, 16 in LF, and surprisingly only 3 at DH considering he couldn’t play any position well but hit for enough power that you needed him the line up everyday. Signed as a free agent with Texas after 1994 and spent his final three years there.   Rotation   Mike Moore (82 ERA+, 3.0 VORP, 7 Win Shares) – A big free agent signing for the Tigers before the season leaving the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum for Tiger Stadium proved very hazardous to Moore’s ERA. The Tigers offense carried him to a 13-9 record. Never effective in Detroit, retired after 1995.   John Doherty (97 ERA+, 15.3 VORP, 9 Win Shares) – I remember little to nothing of Doherty and found little to nothing about him. His baseball-reference sponsor says he hurt his arm so I’ll believe it. Tigers waived him before the ’96 season and was picked up by the Red Sox, pitching in only three games.   David Wells (103 ERA+, 28.3 VORP, 10 Win Shares) – Was released right before the season by the Blue Jays, Wells would end up saving his career in Detroit. Tigers would trade him to the Reds in 1995 in a deadline deal. Spent the next year in Baltimore before signing with the Yankees where he became the GREATEST PITCHER OF ALL-TIME or something. Traded for Roger Clemens before 1999 to Toronto and then traded to the White Sox before 2001 in the “oh we didn’t know Mike Sirotka’s arm was dead” deal. After an injury filled year there he would return to the Yankees for two years. Played with the Padres in 2004 and then joined the Red Sox where is now just fat and injured.   Bill Gullickson (80 ERA+, -2.1 VORP, 5 Win Shares) – The long time mediocre Gullickson was just about at the end of his career here and would retire after the following year.   Closer: Mike Henneman (163 ERA+, 18.3 VORP, 11 Win Shares) – One of Henneman’s better seasons. Struggled badly the following year but rebound in 1995 where he’d be dealt in a waiver deal to Houston for Phil Nevin. Spent his final year in ’96 with Texas.

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MVP Watch #8

For the first time this year I actually had to give more than a second of thought for who would take the #1 spot in the N.L. MVP race. As the Cardinals have slumped so has Albert Pujols and Carlos Beltran has now tied him for the M.L. lead in Win Shares. Pujols hangs on to the top spot for now but we now finally have a race. Chase Utley is hot, David Wright is not, and Ryan Howard makes his first appearance of the year.   #10 Ryan Howard, Phillies .294/.378/.625, 78 RC, .308 EQA, 41.0 VORP, 17 Win Shares   #9 Nick Johnson, Nationals .294/.425/.521, 82 RC, .317 EQA, 39.1 VORP, 19 Win Shares   #8 David Wright, Mets .308/.383/.545, 86 RC, .302 EQA, 37.1 VORP, 20 Win Shares   #7 Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks 175 ERA+, 4.31 K/BB, 1.14 WHIP, 58.3 VORP, 17 Win Shares   #6 Chase Utley, Phillies .328/.390/.557, 86 RC, .301 EQA, 52.7 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #5 Alfonso Soriano, Nationals .290/.362/.594, 93 RC, .304 EQA, 43.0 VORP, 23 Win Shares   #4 Miguel Cabrera, Marlins .326/.422/.547, 90 RC, .319 EQA, 47.4 VORP, 21 Win Shares   #3 Lance Berkman, Astros .322/.411/.621, 96 RC, .324 EQA, 46.7 VORP, 24 Win Shares   #2 Carlos Beltran, Mets .284/.388/.626, 93 RC, .318 EQA. 52.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares   #1 Albert Pujols, Cardinals .319/.428/.684, 98 RC, .344 EQA, 56.3 VORP, 27 Win Shares     Hey did you hear the news? David Ortiz has won the American League Most Valuable Player award. ESPN told me so. All kidding aside after not even being on my radar until recently Ortiz has made a big jump on my imaginary ballot and if he keeps this up he could even possibly grab the top spot by the end of the year, but for the moment he's still not even the Red Sox MVP in my view. Travis Hafner has grabbed the top spot back but it wasn't without reservations and I gave consideration to everyone in the top 4 this week for the #1 spot. Carlos Guillen and Justin Morneau both make their first appearance in the Top 10.   #10 Vernon Wells, Blue Jays .319/.382/.597, 79 RC, .314 EQA, 52.3 VORP, 17 Win Shares   #9 Jason Giambi, Yankees .249/.407/.578, 82 RC, .322 EQA, 35.3 VORP, 18 Win Shares   #8 Justin Morneau, Twins .323/.378/.605, 85 RC, .313 EQA, 41.9 VORP, 19 Win Shares   #7 Carlos Guillen, Tigers .307/.389/.511, 75 RC, .304 EQA, 42.0 VORP, 20 Win Shares   #6 David Ortiz, Red Sox .291/.395/.627, 90 RC, .324 EQA, 51.3 VORP, 19 Win Shares   #5 Jim Thome, White Sox .298/.417/.627, 91 RC, .332 EQA, 49.5 VORP, 19 Win Shares   #4 Manny Ramirez, Red Sox .319/.429/.633, 91 RC, .338 EQA, 52.7 VORP, 22 Win Shares   #3 Derek Jeter, Yankees .350/.425/.487, 88 RC, .317 EQA, 54.9 VORP, 22 Win Shares   #2 Joe Mauer, Twins .365/.446/.525, 75 RC, .328 EQA, 52.8 VORP, 22 Win Shares   #1 Travis Hafner, Indians .306/.430/.641, 103 RC, .348 EQA, 62.4 VORP, 19 Win Shares

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College Football Wrap Up 9/17

Game of the Day: Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33. YEAAAAAAAAH! DOING IT FOR THE CONFERENCE!!!   Anyways this was interesting as between the first two Oregon possessions and their last two possessions, the Sooners dominated this game by the score of 33-10. The talk of Dennis Dixon looking like Vince Young is funny just because it shows the media's lack of imagination. Hey look he's black and wear's #10...next Vince Young! This was definently the wildest finish of the year so far and as much as the refs screwed the Sooners on this their defense had a role in blowing this in the end. Good defenses don't blow a 13 point lead with under three minutes left in the game. In the end I think it's still tough to gague how good either one of these teams are.   The WTF Score of the Day: Southern Illinois 35, Indiana 28. Okay I'm stretching it here as beating the Hoosiers isn't really an accomplishment.   The "I always preferred the Bounty Bowl" Game of the Day: Clemson 27, Florida State 20. This was a wild game that was overlooked due to Clemson's loss to Boston College last week. It featured FSU blocking an extra point and returning it for two points and then blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown. This game is also another sign that FSU just isn't the program they once were as it used to be impossible for ACC teams to leave Doak Campell with a win.   The "What do you mean Brady Quinn isn't Jesus Christ?" Game of the Day: Michigan 47, Notre Dame 21. Not that my Pick 'Em contest is a proper gague of what the country thought of Michigan's chances but only one person out of 40 picked them to win. Quinn's Hesiman chances are gone but those stomping on the Irish's grave shouldn't get too excited just yet. If you look at their schedule they could still very well end up being 10-1 going into Southern Cal which means they'll be back in the national title picture come the end of November.   "New Orelans doesn't care about black coaches" Game of the Day: Tulane 32, Mississippi State 29. Hey I agree it took way too long for a black head coach to be hired in the SEC but the Sylvester Croom era needs to come to an end. Before a 22 point 4th quarter just make this a game, the Bulldogs had scored a total of seven points through the first 11 quarters of the season.   Whack Pac Wrap Up   Washington State 17, Baylor 15. Did a Wazzu/Baylor match-up really have enough demand to play it in Seattle? Anyways the Cougars may have a shot at a bowl game this year.   California 42, Portland State 16. Ooooo I'm so impressed.   Washington 21, Fresno State 20. Now here was an under the radar upset that received zero notice yesterday. Huskies blocked a Fresno extra point to tie the game with under five minutes to go.   Arizona State 21, Colorado 3. Gee you think they are having problems learning Dan Hawkins system in Boulder?   USC 28, Nebraska 10. This was a weird game because either people are getting on USC for not scoring more or for Nebraska for not making it closer. Really for me this game went about as expected beyond the Huskers suddenly deciding not to throw the ball.   Arizona 28, Stephen F Austin 10. Well if anything for the Wildcats the win over BYU is looking pretty good now as the Cougars crushed a decent Tulsa team in week 2 and then this week took BC to overtime on the road.   Navy 37, Stanford 9. They lost Mark Bradford for the season last week and now Evan Moore is hurt again. This is by far the worst BCS team not named Duke. Did I mention I hate football?

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Finally

I never got to truly appreciate the A's run in the late 80's and early 90's because really as a kid how can you appreciate or understand the major accomplishments of your favorite sports team? I was spoiled rotten by the A's and 49ers to point that I pretty much expected my teams to always be in the hunt for championships. I was 12 years old when the A's beat the Red Sox 3-1 in Game 4 of the 1990 ALCS to sweep that series and win their third straight A.L. pennant. That game of course is best known for the premature, and hilarious to me, ejection of Roger Clemens in the 2nd inning. The A's winning was expected and their postgame celebration was fairly subuded. The A's that year would be swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, a result that was even more shocking that their loss the Dodgers two years earlier. Little did we know it would be 16 years and five postseason failure later that the A's would win another playoff series.   1992 was the end of that dynasty and I unfortunately witnessed the nail in the coffin live in person, courtesy of the bat of Roberto Alomar. I attended Game 4 of that year's ALCS, the first A's playoff game I ever had a chance to go to. Well okay that isn't entirely true as I was at Game 3 of the World Series on October 17, 1989 but...that's another story. In that game in 1992 with Blue Jays leading the series 2 games to 1 the A's jumped Jack Morris with a five run third inning. They led 6-1 going into the 8th inning and the game was in the bag and the A's were back in the series. But Tony LaRussa pressed his luck a bit with an aging Bob Welch and left him in to start the 8th who was promptly met with an Alomar double. LaRussa hooked him for Jeff Parrett who had been very reliable during the regular season but became very unreliable here. He gave up back-to-back singles to Joe Carter and Dave Winfield to make the game 6-2. No matter, the A's had Dennis Eckersley and LaRussa would now rely on him to get a two inning save. But Eck would then give up rbi singles to John Oledrud and Candy Maldanado to make it 6-4. But it still seemed fairly secure but that ended quickly in the 9th. Eckersley just didn't have it that day as he gave up a lead off single to Devon White and then...Alomar hits one of the biggest LCS homeruns in history. I still remember those annoying Blue Jays wives sitting in one section waving around their blue "J's" as Alomar circled the bases. What did I do, along with my brother? We left. Ya too young and stupid to realize how lame it is to leave a tie game in the ALCS in the 9th inning but that's what we did. I would miss Mark McGwire bunt, yes BUNT, in the 9th inning and then a horrible baserunning miscue by A's fans cult hero Eric Fox that would send the game to extra innings. I would then miss the Blue Jays eventually win on that most exciting of baseball plays, the sacrafice fly, in the 11th. So really I didn't end up regretting our decision to leave early.   But thanks to Eric Chavez and Marco Scutaro I'll be going to another ALCS game, either Game 1 against Detroit or Game 3 against New York. I want to say how happy I am that Eric Chavez played a big role in today's win. The guy has been nothing but a scapegoat for irrational A's fans since fan favorite Miguel Tejada left. Sure he hasn't lived up to the hype and promise he showed just a few years ago but the guy deserved to finally shine in the spotlight.

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2006 Player Rankings: Rightfielders

2004 Top 3 1. Bobby Abreu 2. J.D. Drew 3. Lance Berkman   2005 Top 3 1. Brian Giles 2. Vladimir Guerrero 3. Gary Sheffield   2006 Rightfielder Rankings   1. Jermaine Dye, White Sox 2. Bobby Abreu, Phillies/Yankees 3. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels 4. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners 5. Michael Cuddyer, Twins 6. J.D. Drew, Dodgers 7. Alex Rios, Blue Jays 8. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers 9. Brian Giles, Padres 10. Brad Hawpe, Rockies 11. Austin Kearns, Reds/Nationals 12. Moises Alou, Giants 13. Jacque Jones, Cubs 14. Mark DeRosa, Rangers 15. Geoff Jenkins, Brewers 16. Casey Blake, Indians 17. Milton Bradley, A's 18. Juan Encarnacion, Cardinals 19. Nick Markakis, Orioles 20. Xavier Nady, Mets/Pirates 21. Jeff Francoeur, Braves 22. Randy Winn, Giants 23. Shawn Green, Diamondbacks/Mets 24. Trot Nixon, Red Sox 25. Kevin Mench, Rangers/Brewers 26. Jeremy Hermida, Marlins 27. Reggie Sanders, Royals 28. Jason Lane, Astros 29. Jeromy Burnitz, Pirates 30. Jose Guillen, Nationals

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Bowwwlllsss

Let me say first off I hate the bowls. Okay scratch that I kind of like them but I hate the bastardized system we currently have that helps determine an undisputed champ about half of the time and in the process kills any tradition the bowl system still had. I'm an all or nothing guy when it comes to bowl games. Give me the Pac-10 champ against the Big Ten champ in the Rose, give me the SEC champ in the Sugar, and give me the Big XII champ in the Orange (not the fucking Fiesta) or don't give me any bowls at all, give me playoffs. Give me tradition or give me a real NCAA Division I-A College Football National Champion every year.   But we, or just me I suppose, have to deal with the cards we've been dealt so in that regard I'm going to take a look at each conference in March Madness kind of way to see who is going bowling and who is on the bubble. I'm not going to do any projections as I'm just not Bored enough to take the time to do so as there is still plenty of season left to fuck up any sort of projections. Now this year we've gone back to the 12 game schedule, which I can't stand because it guarentees teams with non-winning records will go to bowl games and thus we'll most likely end up with teams who went 6-7 but still being able to call their season a success because they went to the Birmingham Bowl. Also to make matters worse, as of last season I-AA wins now count every year rather than every four years to become bowl eligible. So if you're in a BCS conference and you are already at six wins, you're going bowling. Now to fill conference bids bowls can not take a 6-6 team over a team with a winning record so it's not impossible that a 6-6 BCS conference team could be left out but it would take an unusual set of circumstances for that to happen beyond a team just flat out rejecting an invite. There's always at least one or two conference bids that can't be filled by it's designated conference.   ACC   Conference bids: Orange/BCS, Chick-Fil-A (ugh), Gator, Champs Sports, Music City, Car Care, Emerald, MPC   Locked up a bid: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech   Near locks: Florida State, Miami   On the Bubble: N.C. State, Virginia   Seminoles have Virginia and Western Michigan at home so they'll definately get to six wins and as bad as they've been it still would be a pretty big upset if Wake Forest won in Doak Campbell. Although if FSU does end up 6-6 and they find themselves invited to Boise I would wonder if they would choose not to go but doubtful they'd wanna piss off the ACC like that. Miami has a much tougher remaining schedule and it's also not out of the realm possibility they could also end up squeaking into a bowl at only 6-6. N.C. State closes the the season with UNC and ECU but before that they need to upset Clemson or Georgia Tech to get into a bowl and after last week's loss against Virginia that doesn't seem likely. Virginia breathed some life into their season with that win but they'll need to win at FSU or Virginia Tech including a win at home against Miami to get to a bowl.   Big XII   Conference bids: Fiesta/BCS, Cotton, Holiday, Alamo, Gator or Sun, Insight, Independence, Texas   Locked up a bid: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M   Near locks: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech   On the Bubble: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State   This conference has been impossible to figure out once you get past Texas and there's plenty of potential jumbling of the standings left to go. I was reluctant to call anyone a near lock but both the Cowboys and Red Raiders have Baylor at home. If either drops that game though they go on the bubble. Now like those two Kansas State does only need one more win and they do get Colorado this but it's in Boulder and don't forget what they did to Texas Tech a few weeks ago. After that the Wildcats have a loss against Texas and then it's a rivalry game at Kansas where all bets are off. Along with the two road games already mentioned, Baylor closes at home against Oklahoma so barring a miracle it's likely the Bears will have to wait another year before ending their bowl drought. Kansas has an outside shot of winning at Iowa State and then winning at home against against the Wildcats. If not they will need to upset Missouri at home to close out the season, assuming they get at least a split in the first two game. Iowa State has done nothing to indicate they can run the table but they are technically still alive.   Big East   Conference bids: BCS, Gator or Sun, Car Care (Navy has a conditional bid), Texas, International, Birmingham   Locked up a bid: Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia   Near locks: South Florida   On the Bubble: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Syracuse   USF I have as a near lock simply because they still have Syracuse at home. An upset at home against Pittsburgh this week would also get the job done. Although Cincinnati is clearly the better team than USF, they are on the bubble as the have West Virginia and Rutgers next and then close out at UConn. I think they can beat UConn but the Huskies may also be playing for a bid so there's no guarentee. UConn will have to win their next three as they close at Louisville. Syracuse could run the table to get to a bowl. And I also could fuck Beyonce.   Big Ten   Conference bids: Rose/BCS, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City   Locked up a bid: Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin   Near locks: Purdue   On the Bubble: Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota   Purdue has been exposed in recent weeks and they have a 13 game schedule so they do need to get to seven wins but you have to figure they can win two out of three against Michigan State, Illinois, and Indiana. If they don't they are in big trouble going into Hawaii to close the season. Indiana can wrap up a bid at Minnesota this week but can you really guarentee a win for a team who already loss to I-AA team in any week? Lose to the Gophers and their chances dim in a hurry. The Spartans can help their chances big time if they win at home against Purdue this week but if the greatest comeback in college football history can't turn their season around, nothing will. Minnesota is toast.   Conference USA   Conference bids: Liberty, GMAC, Birmingham, Armed Forces, New Orleans   Locked up a bid: Tulsa, Houston   Near locks: Southern Miss   On the Bubble: East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, SMU, Tulane, UAB, UCF, UTEP   This conference just blows this year and really doesn't deserve five bids. If Houston were to drop their last three games it's possible they could be left out but it's unlikely and they have very winnable games against SMU and Memphis left. Southern Miss may have played themselves on to the bubble with their loss at home against ECU but they've played all their tough games and I'd be very surprised if they didn't win three of their last four. As for the bubble teams there are waaaaaaaay too many scenerios to go into with ECU and UTEP being the most likely to get the last two bids.   This entry is going longer than I expected so I'll stop now and do another entry tommorrow for the rest of the conferences.

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Playoff & Bowl Idea

I don't have to repeat myself when it comes to what I think of the BCS and what I'd prefer to happen in college football...but I will anyways. I view the BCS as a bad compromise that was created to sort of give us the opportunity to have a clear cut national champion while sort of keeping the tradition of the bowls but fails on both levels most of the time. I personally either want a true 16 team playoff system, like every other level of college football, completely removed from any association to bowl games or just go back to the traditional bowl system where trying to match-up the #1 and #2 teams in the country was an afterthought and stop pretending that we're crowning a true Division I-A national champion when no such thing exsists.   But I'm not dellusional, neither of things I want will ever happen. A 16 team playoff would be a cash cow but would have some definite logistical issues where potentially some fan bases would have to travel four times in the span of four to six weeks. Obviously we're also never going to see the old bowl system comeback either. So I've come up with an idea that does in some way combine the playoffs and bowls.   First off there would be an 8 team playoff that would include the six BCS conference champions and two at-large teams. Now in a perfect world we'd just take the Top 8 teams in the country but no conference would ever agree to a playoff system that could possibly prevent them from getting a piece of the pie, which is partly why I think a 4 team playoff will never happen. The two at-large bids would be two highest ranked teams not to win their conference or would also include any non-BCS conference team that went undefeated. As good as Utah was in 2004 I don't think anyone thinks they were the best team in the country but they certainly had every right to prove that they could be beaten and the same goes for Boise State this year. If Boise State beats Oklahoma by double digits and Florida beats Ohio State won't on some level the Broncos would have some right to claim that they should be the national champs?   The first round games would be home goes for the higher seeded team and then the semi-finals would be played at two of the four major bowl sites and then of course at another bowl site for the finals. So for example this year the Fiesta Bowl would be the site of the finals with the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl as the semi-final locations. The Orange Bowl was at the bottom of the BCS pecking order this year so they would be seperate from the playoffs which I'll get to. So here is how the 8 team playoff would look.   Wake Forest at Ohio State Louisville at USC   Oklahoma at Florida Boise State at Michigan   Now as for my bowl idea I want to change how the bowls are selected. The preset bids I feel devalue the overall importance of the bowls and unfairly punish teams for how their conference has performed in the past. A pefect example is the Big East bids this year. Because of the purge of the conference a couple of years ago this year the Big East bids took a big hit. Their #2 bid, the Gator Bowl, now had a deal with the Big XII where they could have skipped over the Big East and send their second place team to the Sun Bowl which is very much a midlevel bowl. Texas' collapse at the end of the season and West Virginia's win over Rutgers prevented that from happening. Then their #3 bid, the less than prestigious Meineke Car Care Bowl, had a deal with Navy to take them as long as they became bowl eligible and leaving the Big East with no alternative. That would send the 3rd place team in the confernece to it's #4 bid, the "new" Texas Bowl which is replacing the Houston Bowl which went belly up to play the 8th place team in the Big XII. This has of course happened as Rutgers, ranked #16 by the BCS, is stuck playing a bowl game against the #55 team in the BCS, Kansas State who happens to be the lowest ranked BCS conference team with a winning record.   Now I understand why some bowls have certain conference tie ins. It wouldn't make sense to have a Pac-10 team play in the Outback Bowl, just as it wouldn't make sense for an ACC team to play in the Holiday Bowl. Travel has to be taken into account and it's completely understandable. But my proposal is have an actual bowl committee that places similar ranked teams in appropriate bowl games. With the current system they set themselves up for bad match-ups. The #9 team playing the #23 team in the Cotton Bowl. The #13 team playing the #28 team in the Gator Bowl. The #25 team is playing the #52t team in the Emerald Bowl. The #19 team is playing the #52t team in the Alamo Bowl. There has to be a better solution.   On the subject of the Alamo Bowl, why is a team like Iowa even in a bowl game? With the preset conference bowl bids they're awarding a team that went 2-6 in it's own conference while beating no one of note out of conference and give them a midlevel bid with a $1.9 million payout. Why is Miami in a bowl game? Half of their wins came against I-AA Florida A&M, winless FIU, and winless Duke. There are a handful of other examples of teams that have no business being a bowl game which comes to the next problem with the bowls, there are way too fucking many of them. 32 bowl games is absolutely nuts. More than half of Division I-A teams are going to a bowl game this year. What is this, the NBA Playoffs?   My proposal to go along with the bowl committee idea and eliminating preset bids is to cap the total number of bowls at 20, which would not include the bowl sites that are part of the playoffs. With the playoffs and the bowls you'd have 48 teams in the postseason which is plenty. Now going back to the Orange Bowl, since in this hypothetical scenerio it would not be part of the playoffs it would be host the two highest ranked teams in the BCS who did not qualify for the playoffs so this year it would be LSU and Wisconsin.   So here is the bowls I came up with using the BCS rankings trying to match-up closely ranked teams in appropriate bowl games. This is some what thrown together so you could argue with the order itself I have of the bowls. I would eliminate bowls that are to reliant on getting their home team into the bowl to hope to make money (Hawaii, New Mexico, etc.) and bowls where there is already another bowl game at the same site (Poinsettia, Champs Sports). Also no team that fails to finish with a winning record should ever to go a bowl game.   Orange: LSU vs. Wisconsin Capital One: Auburn vs. Notre Dame Cotton: Arkansas vs. West Virginia Chick-fil-A: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee Outback: Rutgers vs. Texas Holiday: California vs. BYU Gator: Texas A&M vs. Boston College Alamo: Oregon State vs. Nebraska Liberty: Penn State vs. Georgia Tech Sun: UCLA vs. TCU Music City: Georgia vs. Houston Insight: Oregon vs. Hawaii Independence: Clemson vs. Navy Las Vegas: Arizona State vs. Central Michigan Meineke Car Care: South Florida vs. South Carolina Emerald: Maryland vs. Missouri Motor City: Kentucky vs. Cincinnati MPC Computers: Rice vs. Purdue Texas: Texas Tech vs. Tulsa GMAC: Southern Miss vs. Troy

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HOF Profile: Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser - Starting Pitcher   Los Angeles Dodgers 1983-1994, 2000 Cleveland Indians 1995-1997 San Francisco Giants 1998 New York Mets 1999   2nd year on the ballot   Past HOF Ballot Results 2006: 11.2%   Awards 1988 NL Cy Young 1988 NL Sporting News Pitcher of the Year 1988 NL Gold Glove - P 1988 NLCS MVP 1988 World Series MVP 1995 ALCS MVP   All-Star Selections: 3 (1987, 1988, 1989)   League Leader 1984: Shutouts 1985: Winning % 1987: Innings Pitched 1988: Wins, Winning %, Innings Pitched, Complete Games, Shutouts 1989: Innings Pitched   Career Ranks Wins: 100th Strikeouts: 58th   Hall of Fame Stats   Black Ink: Pitching - 20 (88) (Average HOFer ≈ 40) Gray Ink: Pitching - 129 (130) (Average HOFer ≈ 185) HOF Standards: Pitching - 34.0 (101) (Average HOFer ≈ 50) HOF Monitor: Pitching - 90.5 (115) (Likely HOFer > 100)   Similar Pitchers in HOF: 2 (Catfish Hunter, Dazzy Vance) Other Similar Pitchers: Bob Welch, Milt Pappas, Kevin Brown, Vida Blue, Jim Perry, Dave Stieb, Silver King, Bob Shawkey   Year-by-Year Win Shares & Wins Above Replacement Level (WARP3)   1983: 0/0 1984: 18/6.8 1985: 23/7.7 1986: 12/5.1 1987: 21/9.1 1988: 25/10.3 1989: 21/9.7 1990: 1/0.2 1991: 8/3.1 1992: 8/4.5 1993: 13/5.6 1994: 7/3.2 1995: 13/6.4 1996: 14/5.9 1997: 11/4.5 1998: 7/2.9 1999: 8/3.0 2000: 0/-1.7   Career Win Shares: 210 Career WARP3: 86.2   Would he get my vote?   No. Looked like he was on his way to a Hall of Fame career at the conclusion of the 80's but a torn rotator cuff in April of 1990 cost him over a year and he was never the same pitcher after that. Like with Bret Saberhagen throwing over 250 innings three straight years did not end being a good idea. Hershiser was arguably a better pitcher than his HOF comp Catfish Hunter but Hunter was vastly overrated and a very dubious HOF inductee, while Hershiser was not at the level of Dazzy Vance.

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