Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wow. If the Giants get Zito, what a coup! If anyone's worth it, I think it's Zito. He's never missed a start. Ever.

He's durable, and I assume he'll have an easier time in the National League. He could easily with 20 games the next couple of years. (I think projecting beyond that is too speculative for pitchers.)

Assuming, of course, the Giants score any runs. Last year the Giants were 15th in on base percentage, 10th in slugging. They were an old, slow team. Granted Pac Bell Park is a pitcher's park, but they still need to score. It's not a good sign when Omar Vizquel leads your team in hitting!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Finally, some good news.

The Sox are giving J.D. Drew another physical. Apparently they found something wrong with his shoulder.


They "expressed concern at the issue"? How about expressing some concern that he's averaged 120 games over the last five years? This is a really stupid signing.

Note that in the distant past I also thought that Mike Lowell was a bad signing. Ahem.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Six years; $103 million. Is Daisuke Matsuzaka worth it?

I don't think anyone knows. I'm happy they didn't pay more. I'm guessing it'll be a better deal than the Mets' Pedro contract (4 years, $53 million).

Also, I note that Matsuzaka's had to undergo various assorted foolishness. Welcome to Boston.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I think a college football playoff is a bad idea. It's a bad idea for many reasons, but I'd like to look at perhaps the most obvious.

How many teams do you invite?

Much of the chatter in favor of a playoff is that it would be more "fair". I disagree. If we look at the historical numbers we can see why this is.

Every year, there are some teams that indisputably be included in a playoff: the major conference undefeateds. This year, Ohio State is the only such team.

Every year there is also a second tier, teams that if we invite one of them, we must invite all of them. This year, there are two such teams: Florida and Michigan.

The problem is that the number of teams in these categories fluctuates every year. Looking at the last ten years, here's a chart showing how the number of deserving teams varies:

There was some subjectivity in deciding the second tier teams, but not much. (Handy data is available at and

So how many teams do you invite? If you have one game, you've got a great matchup in 2005, 2002, 1999, and 1997. The other six years, a one game championship game would be unfair. And so on, for different numbers of games.

If you want more than one game, we always end up with between three and six deserving teams. It's just not possible to create a fair system.

Fortunately, the world keeps turning just fine without a fair college football system. In fact, one could argue that the sport does quite well. There are no shortage of fans. There's certainly no shortage of money! What's the problem with the system we have now?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are the Red Sox insane? J.D. Drew for 5 years and $70 million? The same J.D. Drew who's accumulated 500 at bats in a season once? The same J.D. Drew who's played in more than 140 games twice in eight full seasons? The same J.D. Drew who's always hurt?

When he's healthy, yes, Drew is Mickey Mantle. But he's not Mickey Mantle. The proper comparison is Eric Davis. Like Davis before him, Drew has all the talent in the world, but also like Davis, Drew has yet to play a full season. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Sox are crazy to pay a part time player this kind of money.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Among my other interests, I follow efforts to eradicate non-native species. I'm happy to see that the National Park Service is going to eliminate nonnative deer from Point Reyes. I love Point Reyes. It's a fascinating place, and I've probably hiked every trail in the park.

I only wish they'd be more aggressive about these nonnative deer. Shoot them all and shoot them now! It would be better for the ecosystem to get rid of them sooner, not later. The Marin Humane Society is just wrong. (They should focus on cats and dogs and not say stupid things about wild animals.)

Nonnative feral pigs on the Channel Islands off Los Angeles pose even more severe problems for the whole ecosystem. They should also be shot.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sixteen millions of dollars for Bonds.

Will he be worth it? As Steven Colbert would say, "I don't trink so."

His numbers, are declining, but more worrisome is the decline in games played. Maybe he's good for 130 games next year. These days he doesn't have any speed, so he clogs the bases when walked, and doesn't cover much ground in left field.

As I've been saying for years, Bonds should bat second. Especially this year. Certainly no lower than third. If he batted second, it's reasonable to assume there would be plenty of games where he could get three at bats in by the 6th inning, and then come out of the game.

I wouldn't pay him $16 million. Unless they sign someone, the Giants will again be old, and I don't think they'll be very good. Bonds is plenty divisive in the clubhouse; if the team isn't winning it could get ugly. Maybe they'll make back the money in jersey sales, but I don't know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

So very sad.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

At this point, it's worth wondering. Is Castro dead?

And if he's dead, can we finally end this stupid embargo to trade and travel to Cuba?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hmmm, so either Michigan or Florida will play Ohio State for the national championship. I'm a big Michigan fan, but I have to admit that Florida should probably go. Ohio State beat us already; they shouldn't have to beat us again.

One interesting argument the SEC people make is that the SEC is the toughest conference. I don't know if that's true, but I thought I'd compare the out-of-conference schedules of the SEC with the Big 10.

Big 10 teams have

SEC teams have, in total, two wins against teams in the top 25. Tennessee clobbered Cal at home, and Georgia beat Georgia Tech. All told, the SEC was 9-6 against teams from the six BCS conferences, with one additional loss to a non-BCS conference team (Mississippi State lost to Tulane). Call them 9-7.

Big 10 teams also have two wins against top 25 teams. Ohio State won decisively at Texas and Michigan hammered Notre Dame in South Bend. Both Texas and Notre Dame were #2 when they were defeated. The Big 10 was 7-4 against teams from the BCS conferences, with four losses to non-BCS conference teams (Ohio University, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Nevada). Wisconsin's schedule is especially embarrassing. Ugh.

So to me, the conferences look about the same. Five of the Big 10's losses were by its crap teams (Northwestern, Illinois). I just think that it's wrong to make Ohio State beat Michigan twice. Much as it pains me, we had our chance.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I think the economics of baseball have changed a little. Which is to say that they've changed a lot. Salaries are going to go waaaaaay up with the new TV deal.

Exhibit A: Jim Edmonds. I like him. He plays hard, plays hurt. He's been good for the Cards. But until this year there's no way you pay a guy on the downside of his career $19 million for two more years. Maybe last year was an anomoly. But it sure looked like he peaked in 2004. He's had two years of significant decreases in batting average, slugging, and games played. Not encouraging.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Sox are trying to sign a Japanese pitcher named Daisuke Matsuzaka. They bid $51.1 m-m-m-million just for the right to negotiate. Does the money make sense? I have no idea.

It sort of sounds like when Real Madrid signed David Beckham. Real Madrid paid $41 million to Beckham's old club, plus his salary. I read, though, that they made that money back in jersey sales immediately. Apparently Beckham is so popular in Asia that enough people bought his jersey that Real Madrid made money on the deal before he ever walked on the field.

Maybe it's the same with Matsuzaka. Maybe the Sox figure that they'll make so much more money on jersey sales in Japan that the actual cost to them is much lower. Or maybe not. Maybe he's just a really good pitcher. Beats me.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Well, that's over. Time to resume.

Hall of Fame ballots went out. We're going to have some controversy. First, the easiest. Cal Ripken is in on the first ballot. Duh.

Tony Gwynn is also in on the first ballot. 3141 hits, .388 lifetime average, 20 seasons with the same team, .324 in his last season (!!). In.

Then it gets interesting. Mark McGwire. And, for that matter, Jose Canseco. Actually that's easy too. Regardless of stats, which are pretty impressive, no one in baseball likes Canseco. Not gonna happen.

McGwire is a tough call. Plenty of writers won't ever vote for him, but they're *especially* not going to want him to share the stage with Good Guys Ripken and Gwynn (Gwynn, ahem, obviously didn't use steroids). How good a player was McGwire? He had nine really good years (87, 88, 89, 90, 92, 96, 97, 98, 99). He was hurt in between. Mediocre fielder, no speed. Obviously a year for the ages in 1998. On the other hand, yes, RBI's are a little bit goofy, but he still had fewer than Rusty Staub (and just seven more than Canseco). If he hadn't been hurt in the middle of his career, his numbers would look a lot better. Which is sort of the question. Why was he hurt so much? I don't know, but it looks pretty suspicious.

My guess is that he doesn't make it in. Certainly not this year, I don't think ever. Which won't bode well for Barry Lamar Bonds in a few more years.....