Thursday, December 27, 2007


Wait, Roger Clemens is now going to hire private investigators to look at Brian McNamee, the source of the Mitchell report's allegations against him?

Welllllllll, ok. But why didn't he do it when George Mitchell contacted him? Why did Clemens stonewall Mitchell? This doesn't exactly help his credibility.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Andy Pettitte was named in the Mitchell report for taking human growth hormone and after previously saying he was clean he came out with the following:

If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize. I accept responsibility for those two days. Everything else written or said about me knowingly using illegal drugs is nonsense, wrong, and hurtful. I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn't looking for an edge; I was looking to heal.

What? "If what I did was an error in judgment"? No! It *was* an error in judgment. You were wrong! And you lied about it! By not admitting that you were wrong, you are not accepting responsibility.

And please, "I wasn't looking for an edge; I was looking to heal." Wrong again! Looking to heal is an edge.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rich Rodriguez

Is the new Michigan coach.

Not who I expected. I don't know much about him, but he runs a spread offense that apparently gets a ton of yards. This is a big change. And encouraging. I like it. Change is (sometimes) good.

Rodriguez won 48 games the last five years at West Virginia. Lloyd Carr won 45 at Michigan.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report

The Mitchell report is out and it is big news. Big big big.

There are about a thousand tangents to this story. Here are three:

-I don't think anyone ought to believe that the list of players is comprehensive. Mitchell got just a couple of suppliers to talk. They were surely not the only enablers out there.

-The Players Union is justifiably roasted. The union tried to obstruct Mitchelll at every turn. They would have been *far* better off to just blow the doors open with information and get everything out in public at once. Since information is going to keep coming out over the months and (ugh) years, it's going to be far worse for them. Donald Fehr sees everything as a fight. Sometimes he was right, but in this case he was wrong. And he's going to reap what he sowed for a long time.

-Roger Clemens. Clemens Clemens Clemens. Along with every other named player, he refused Mitchell's offer to talk before the report came out. (Surely this was another canny ploy by the union. Oops.)

The evidence against him is damning. Tom Verducci correlated Clemens' steroid use with his 1998 numbers. Before steroids, he was 6-6 with a 3.27 ERA. After he was 14-0 with a 2.29 ERA. It's worth noting that the last four years before 1998 Clemens was 40-39. It looks like he was indeed on the downside of his career.

The question is what Clemens is going to do. He doesn't have a lot of good options.

I don't know whether he cares about the court of public opinion. He could become a recluse, a la Mark McGwire, and avoid the public entirely.

He could have his publicist issue some bland statement, and retire. Refuse to talk about the past. This is what I bet he'll do.

Or he could come clean. Admit what happened in every detail. It would be fascinating. It would also require honesty and humility. No chance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


2008 is going to be a strange election year. In the last several elections, we've never had as many viable candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, maybe Richardson; Giuliani, McCain, Romney, maybe Huckabee, surely Ron Paul can't win, can he?). In the recent past, each party has had either one or two strong candidates

2004 (Bush; Kerry, Edwards)
2000 (Bush, McCain; Gore, Bill Bradley--remember him?)
1996 (Clinton; Dole, Pat Buchanan)
1992 (Bush; Clinton, Tsongas; Perot)

Anyway, the trend has been to compress the schedule of primaries, because with only a couple of strong candidates, everything would get settled after Iowa and New Hampshire. States keep moving their primaries earlier in the year.

This year may be different. If three strong candidates remain after Iowa and New Hampshire, it may well be that they divide the various states on February 5 too, because no one will have momentum. That would be very odd, and it may well be that the later states (Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont on March 4) will cast the deciding votes.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


I hadn't been to a Niners game before, but a friend of mine came to town to see them play the Vikings. I can now say with certainty that the Niners stink.

The team's been bad for a long time. As evidence of that fact, there were four jerseys that were far and away the most popular at the game today. In rough order, they were: Montana, Rice, Young, Lott. Needless to say, none of those fellows have been, shall we say, "good" in a long time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


So are the Tigers (the Tigers?) now the team to beat in the American League?

They gave up some prospects, but everyone loves Miguel Cabrara and I'm a huge fan of Dontrelle Willis.

Their rotation now includes Verlander (18-6), Bonderman (tons of talent), Willis, and Kenny Rogers (hey, maybe he has something left).

Their lineup was good last year (second in the AL in runs), and now they add Cabrara (.400 OBP, .565 slugging). They're going to score a ton of runs.

My law school roommate is a die hard Tribe fan. I will not reproduce the contents of the email he sent me this morning on this family blog, but suffice to say that he was not happy.

On the other hand, the Tribe is going to be really good next year, with Sabathia and Cabrara coming back. I expect the AL wild card to come out of the central division, not the east.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ranking systems

Ranking sports teams is inherently difficult. What is a ranking supposed to mean--the best team right now or the most deserving team over the course of a season?

The best way to rank teams is by playing a long season and declaring the winner to be the league champion. This is how it's done, for instance, in European soccer leagues. There are 20 teams in England, and they each play every other team for a 38 game season. Whoever finishes on top after the season is the champion. No playoffs, no Super Bowl; a team proves it's the best over the course of the season.

Baseball used to do this, before the playoffs were expanded. Now, mediocre teams routinely win the World Series while superior teams lose in the playoffs.

As I noted before, there's always lots of complaining about college football rankings. I don't think they're perfect, but given the nature of the system (120 competitors, each playing 12 games) they're pretty good.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

College football playoff

Every year sportswriters uncritically dust off last year's column blasting the BCS, how it's so incredibly confusing (it uses computers!), and insisting that a playoff is the only "fair" way to decide the national champion, and that we "need" a playoff.

As I noted last year, the first, and maybe most obvious, problem with a playoff is figuring out how many teams to invite.

This year's chart is interesting. I said last year that undefeated teams from major conferences indisputably deserve to play for the national title. No such teams exist this year, so major conference champions with only one loss indisputably deserve a shot. As it happens, Ohio State is the only such team. The next group is big, because one must include so many two loss teams. I suppose Hawaii ought to be in the list, barely, because they're undefeated, even if they didn't play anybody. Kansas narrowly made the cut because they're a one loss team from a power conference, even if they missed most of the good teams in the Big 12. I left West Virginia out, but barely:

So if one is going to have a "fair" playoff this year, one needs to invite nine teams.

Of all the reasons against a playoff, I think this is the best one. How many teams? It's easy to criticize, but criticism implies there's a better solution out there. If there is, I haven't seen it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Greg Maddux signed a one year contract with the Padres.

He's now just seven wins behind Clemens on the career wins list. I have to think that Clemens is done--no one is going to pay him $20 million to make seventeen starts and go 6-6.

So if he stays healthy, Maddux should pass Clemens sometime next summer.

Meanwhile Glavine signed back with the Braves for one more year. He's probably good for about ten more wins, so he'll finish in the top twenty if he stays healthy.

Clemens goes to the Hall in 2012, Glavine in 2013, and Maddux? I dunno. He still won 14 games last year....

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Sorry for the title.

Lloyd Carr is unquestionably a loyal man. Loyal to his friends, his players, his athletic director. This is a good thing, generally. Unfortunately, his loyalty to Mike DeBord was misplaced and ended up tarnishing his legacy. Mike DeBord may be a good person, a worthwhile friend, but he was not a good offensive coordinator for Michigan, especially not the last couple of years.

In the end, Lloyd Carr was loyal to a bunch of relatively weak assistant coaches. Debord is the most obvious example, but Fred Jackson (running backs coach and "Associate Head Coach"-huh?) has been on the staff forever. Weak assistant coaches are death in college (or pro) football.

In contrast with Lloyd, Bo Schembechler had tons of very strong assistant coaches. Numerous of his assistants later went on to be successful head coaches at the top level: Don Nehlen at West Virginia, Bill McCartney at Colorado, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr at Michigan, Cam Cameron of Indiana and the Dolphins, and these are just the ones off the top of my head. Oh, and Les Miles too....

Unfortunately, Lloyd'd assistant coaches just weren't as good. He's obviously not the first person to let personal loyalty overshadow incompetence. But it's a shame that it will impact his legacy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Baseball players are not, generally speaking, deep thinkers. Regardless of their intelligence, success in baseball requires a short memory. This is a roundabout way of saying that it's not often that one looks to baseball players for commentary on current events. Every now and again, though, they surprise me. David Ortiz said the following:

It's like they've placed that issue on the same level as Iraq. It doesn't make sense to hear people talk more about whether Barry Bonds used steroids than about people dying in Iraq.

Well said, Papi. Hope the knee heals quickly!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Missouri-West Virginia

That sounds like a depressing national championship game, no? I'm sure the NCAA and its advertisers would prefer that these two teams lose next week and the #3 (Ohio State) and #4 (Georgia) teams move ahead of them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mike Lowell Returns!

And I'm happy. Especially happy this is a three year deal. With some obvious exceptions, the Sox have been disciplined about not signing guys to overlong contracts. As I've said before, not signing Pedro (59 starts the last three years) to a four year contract was a great call.

I doubt Lowell will be as good as he was last year. Last year his numbers were in line with his 2003 and 2004 seasons, but he'll probably regress. Hopefully he'll regress slowly, and they'll get decent production out of him the next couple of years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not what Michigan is looking for

As I mentioned yesterday, Lloyd Carr was an unusual football coach with his erudition and wide range of interests.

I think that perhaps Nick Saban is more typical. After Alabama lost to Louisiana-Monroe (!), he said:

Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.

Well that's embarrassing. Not only is it offensive, but also ignorant, "Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II"? What is he talking about?

When Michigan's Athletic Director says: "I want to know how many driving-under-the-influence (citations) a potential coach has had. I want to know if he's a deadbeat in terms of paying his bills. I want to know anything that is a pattern in terms of past behavior that could be an embarrassment to Michigan", this is what he's talking about. Ugh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More on Carr

Video of his last press conference is here.

The press conference showed all of his great qualities. He started by reciting a poem (?):

By your own soul, learn to live
And if men thwart you take no heed.
If men hate you have no care.
Sing your song, dream your dream,
Hope your hope and pray your prayer.

That's, uhhh, Pakenham Beatty, who's obscure enough that he doesn't have a page on Wikipedia.

I'm not an expert on college football coaches, but I doubt that many of them spend much time reading poetry. I also read that he has a dictionary outside his office, and before they come talk to him, his players have to learn a word and discuss it with him. Again, something tells me that's not exactly the norm among his peer coaches.

Maybe he's a bit of an anachronism, but at least he's anachronistic in the right ways. I haven't always been happy with his decisions on the football field, but I can't remember him *ever* embarrassing the university.

It's a lot more fun to remember his successes. I doubt I will ever have as much fun at a footbal game as I had watching #1 Michigan beat #4 Ohio State in 1997. Nor do I ever expect to see a college football team play as well at #4 Michigan played against #1 Penn State (in State College) that same year. That Penn State game was ridiculous. How often is the #1 team in the country down 31-0 at home in the third quarter?

I'm happy for him. Maybe he held on a year too long, but when you win a national championship, run a clean program, and make your players learn new words, I think you're entitled to hang on a year too long.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lloyd Carr

I was at the Rose Bowl last year when Michigan played USC.

USC won 32-18, but it was 3-3 at halftime, and Michigan would have been ahead but for a bad pass by Chad Henne.

When it became clear that USC couldn't run the ball, their coaches made an adjustment, changed their game plan, threw the ball every down, and broke the game open. That's worth emphasizing. They won the game by throwing out their gameplan and changing.

I think Lloyd Carr is almost a brilliant football coach. He runs a clean program, rarely has a down year, and recruits great players. His only problem, the thing that prevents him from actually being a great football coach, is his stubbornness. I can't remember a game where Michigan made an adjustment mid game and changed their game plan. Never!

His stubbornness also manifests itself in his assistant coaches. Mike Debord has been the offensive coordinator for years, except for a few years when he was a mediocre head coach at Central Michigan. He's not getting the job done, but Lloyd Carr is fanatically loyal to his people.

All of which is a way of saying that it's time for Carr to go. There is a lot to like about him, but his stubborn nature means that he cannot or will not change. If he had brought in an innovative offensive coordinator a couple of years ago, he might well remain at Michigan. Not anymore. There's a time to say enough is enough, and this is that time.

Bring on Les Miles!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday in federal court for lying.

It's worth noting that when he gave his grand jury testimony, he was granted immunity (paragraph 8). So if he'd told the truth, he was immune from prosecution for buying any illegal drugs/steroids/whatever. Of course, if he'd told the truth, he would be in trouble with baseball, the Giants, and perhaps to the two people he really cares about: his dad and Willie Mays.

As for the evidence, paragraph 9 is the unobtrusive hammer:

During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds.

So they must have found positive test results for him.

What does it mean?

I don't know. One could certainly argue that he deserves to be sentenced to community service. This isn't exactly the biggest problem facing this country right now.

On the other hand, the feds may try to make an example of him. Martha Stewart served six months in the Big House for lying about a sale of stock worth $50,000. The feds don't like it when you lie to them. If they do insist on prison, it will have to be a short term. Six months at most.

Why did he lie?

I don't know. Somehow Bonds, who grew up in wealth and privilege the rest of us can barely imagine, has managed to create a worldview where he is the persecuted one. This has been very effective for him--I think it has actually fueled much of his success on the field. But it's not so effective when one is under oath to a grand jury.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

C.C. Sabathia

Sabathia won the Cy Young, followed by Beckett, Lackey, and Carmona. I'm happy the Baseball Writers' Association of America are finally listening to me. Sign me up!

Sabathia deserved it.

However, I couldn't help but note the following, from

The 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985 -- and the first in the AL since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971.

This is a shocking statistic.

It would be more shocking if it were true (or relevant!). The last several Cy Young award winners in the American League are:

2007: Sabathia
2006: Johan Santana
2005: Bartolo Colon
2004: Santana
2003: Roy Halladay
2002: Barry Zito
2001: Roger Clemens (undeserved)
2000: Pedro Martinez
1999: Martinez

So out of the last nine Cy Young winners in the American League, three are white. I recognize that whoever wrote the article apparently believes that baseball players fall into one of the following four categories: black, white, Hispanic, asian (a new innovation). But still. Even the US Census recognizes that "Hispanic" is a cultural term. If one insisted on classifying them based on their ultimate ancestry, Martinez, Sabathia, Colon and Santana are more "from" Africa than anywhere else.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Michigan's loss to Wisconsin yesterday was a microcosm of the entire season. We were way down, made a comeback to make things interesting and give the fans some hope that the team might not be as bad as everyone feared, but in the end the team turned out to be that bad after all.

I don't think Michigan has a chance against Ohio State, which is like Wisconsin, but faster. Fortunately, I stopped caring about the season months ago, so my disappointment will not be surprising.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Curt Schilling is, by all accounts, a loudmouth. By many accounts, he is also a jerk. However, I'm happy he's coming back with the Sox for one more year.

I do not subscribe to the notion that the Sox "owe" it to him to bring him back. They've already paid him tens of millions of dollars, so I don't think they owe him anything. But this is a good contract. I think he'll make every "weigh in", earning himself another $2 million, so really it's a $10 million base with $3 million bonuses for innings pitched (his 151 innings last year would result in a $1.125 million bonus).

His numbers are in decline, but hopefully he's got a "crafty veteran" year in him. I don't think he'll convert to a total junkballer, but I don't think he's going to overpower anybody either. I think he's smart enough to know that he's a borderline Hall of Famer. Ten more wins and another good postseason would certainly help push him over the threshhold.

That makes the rotation Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling, Lester, Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz. It's won't be a six man rotation. Last year, these six guys made, respectively, 30, 32, 24, 11, 31, and 3 starts. Lester and Buchholz will get more starts; Wakefield will probably have fewer; Schilling, Matsuzaka and Beckett about the same.

Not a bad rotation. Of course, I said the same thing two years ago and consider how that turned out.....

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

World Series

Dan said it best:


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Game 7


I see two big mistakes by the Tribe coaches. First, obviously, was third base coach Joel Skinner not sending Kenny Lofton around to score on that screamer down the line in the seventh inning when it was still a 3-2 game. I think you gotta send him, put pressure on the Sox and on Manny to make that throw.

On the other hand, it was a hard hit ball, it was caroom-ing toward Manny, and there was just one out. I think it was a wrong decision, but not an easy one.

The bigger mistake was by Eric Wedge, when he took out Jake Westbrook after six innings. Westbrook had been pitching very, very well in his last couple of innings. He'd only pitched 94 pitches to that point, and he was really cutting up the Sox. The first three innings weren't so good, but as he tired, his sinker improved. In the sixth, he pitched great and only threw about ten pitches. He looked good to go another inning or two, and why not?

Big mistake from Wedge. Betancourt's been great all year, but why take out a pitcher who's pitching great?

Game 7

Well, after all I've said about the Albatross, maybe I was too harsh. Nothing like a grand slam to improve my outlook on someone.

Game 7 is tonight and Dice-K is on the mound. Recent events aren't encouraging, but as everyone knows, anything can happen in a Game 7.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Padre Anger

I mean, if I was a Padres fan, I'd be very bitter, but this is just outstanding.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Josh Beckett

Ok, then.

The rest of the staff may be crap, but there can't be much doubt at this point that Beckett is a Big Game Pitcher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I noted at the start of the season that while Clemens has more wins than Maddux, his lead has been shrinking since 1991.

Maddux had a pretty good year last year. Clemens, a little less so, but it wasn't too bad. Both of them had ERAs significantly better than the league average. Clemens, though, seems less likely to come back. I can't imagine that anyone will pay him that much money again.

After this year, Maddux is within striking distance. Clemens' lead was 15 at the end of last season; now it's 7.

Maddux keeps rolling along and I believe he has another year left on this contract. Of course he could get hurt. But barring injury, he looks good for another 10-13 wins next year. I don't know about Clemens.

I still think it's cool that the #8 and #9 career wins leaders are simultaneously active. I can't imagine it will ever happen again. I don't know that Clemens will get to Kid Nichols and Pud Galvin, but I wouldn't put it past Maddux if he stays healthy. Probably not next year, when he ought to finish with about 358 wins. But maybe after the following, if he sticks around. If he stays healthy for two more years, it's possible he could pass Warren Spahn and end up #5 on the all time list.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Will Steinbrenner really fire Torre?

He can't blame Torre for not having any good pitchers, can he? Of the Yankees rotation, Wang was solid, Pettitte was acceptable, Mussina was at best a #5 starter, and Clemens was tired. That staff is just old.

Wang's a legitimate #2 starter, Pettitte a #3, Mussina a #5, Clemens maybe a #4. Phil Hughes unquestionably has a lot of potential. The obvious problem in the staff is no dominant #1 starter, inexcusable for a team with the $215 million payroll. Before the season, who did they think was going to be their #1 starter?

It's hardly Torre's fault that he has an old, tired staff. Their offense could get them through the regular season, but you can't win in the postseason without pitching.

I won't even touch their bullpen. How can they have only two good relievers on the staff?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I don't know who's going to win the Sox-Angels series, but it's certainly not encouraging that nine out of ten ESPN experts pick the Sox. Baseball's a funny game, especially in the playoffs. Conventional wisdom is often wrong.

I also queasy with pitching Beckett, Matsuzaka, then Schilling. I'd rather have Schilling for a Game 5.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Baseball playoffs

I'm not a fan of the playoff schedule, which keeps getting more and more drawn out to satisfy the demands of television. The Sox, for instance, play on October 3, 5, 7, 8, and 10. Five games in eight days? This is very different than the regular season. For instance, one gets to the playoffs by having a deep bullpen, but that's deemphasized with this schedule.

But I'd rather be playing in a crummy postseason schedule than not. You only need three starters in the Division Series, and the Sox will probably go with Beckett, then Schilling, then Matsuzaka. This would put Schilling in Game 5, and he's been comfortable in big games in the past. I suppose the Angels will go with Lackey, Escobar, and Jered Weaver.

As a sidenote, we all can agree to support the Indians. Go Tribe!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Changed my mind again

Now I'd vote

1. Sabathia
2. John Lackey
3. Carmona
4. Beckett

Lackey is slightly better than Carmona in every way. Carmona beats Beckett based on ERA, innings, complete games, and starts.

Sabathia edges Lackey due to more innings, completely games, and strikeouts. But those two are practically even.

And yes, Beckett went from #1 to #4 on my ballot in three days.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cy Young Take Two

As Sox fans know, it's never too late to blow a lead. Turns out there was still time for Beckett to change my mind.

With his performance tonight, I think Beckett should have lost the Cy Young to Fausto Carmona, who will lead the league in ERA, and have two more shutouts, one more complete game, and more innings than Beckett. Does that make up for one less victory? Yes, I think it does.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cy Young

So who wins the Cy Young awards?

In the National League, I'll go way out on a limb and say it's going to be Peavy. When the guy with the lowest ERA also has the most wins, he's tough to beat. When he also has the most strikeouts, he should get every #1 vote.

The American League is trickier. Josh (a) Beckett has the most wins, but no shutouts and just one complete game. C.C. Sabathia has the most innings, four complete games, and a great run down the stretch; Fausto Carmona (who?), has the best ERA and 19 wins; John Lackey has 18 wins so far and two shutouts. Roy Halliday is a horse (7 complete games) but doesn't have the ERA this year. Dan Haren has the ERA and the innings, but there's a big difference between 15 wins and 20 wins.

I go with Beckett, but I wouldn't argue with someone voting for Sabathia.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pennant races

In baseball, I am a traditionalist. I'm opposed to both inter-league play and the wild card.

One justification for the three division setup is that it prolongs the pennant races.

Well, sometimes. But not always. For instance, this year the playoff teams in the American League have been known for a week: Sox, Yankees, Tribe, and Angels. Whether the Sox or Yankees win the AL East isn't really important.

However, consider the case if the American League still had just two divisions. As of today, the Tribe would be in first place, half a game ahead of the Sox, with the Yankees charging hard two games back. It would be a great race.

I recognize that some years the new format is good for creating excitement, but it's worth noting that some years the regular season is cheapened. That's the case this year.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Let me get this straight, the guy who spent $750,000 on Bonds' record breaking home run ball is going to let people vote on what he should do with it?

I'm with Barry: The guy is an idiot.

My first thought was that this guy was a real jerk, because if you're going to spend $750,000, there are plenty of good ways to spend it.

But it turns out that he's already familiar with philanthropy. This whole auction is just all for publicity.

For what it's worth, I voted to put the ball in the Hall of Fame. Like him or hate him, Bonds is important to baseball history.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Ok, I was somewhat traumatized by Michigan football these last couple of weeks. It's taken me some time to adjust my expectations, because I really thought we were going to be good.

We're not good. But we're sure not as bad as Notre Dame either. They are atrocious. They really ought to try recruiting some offensive linemen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Senator Craig

How long until Senator Craig checks himself into rehab for his secret alcohol problem?

Note that Senator Craig did have an excuse in the police report: 'Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine” '

From now on, when I'm travelling, I've resolved to use a narrow stance in all airport bathrooms. No sense in giving mixed messages.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Havana Devil Rays

I was happy to hear Obama promoting a more open policy to Cuba for a couple of reasons.

First, of course, our embargo is exceedingly stupid. The reasons are obvious and uninteresting.

But second, if we dropped the embargo it could help solve the disasterous Tampa Bay Devil Ray problem. The franchise stinks. The Devil Rays play in a terrible stadium in front of a pathetic fan base. The team never should have existed.

Since the player's union would never let MLB eliminate a franchise, it only makes sense to move them. But where? I say Havana!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A friend of mine had an extra ticket for the Giants game tonight. We were in the 12th row right behind home plate. They were the best seats I've ever had at the Phonebooth. Zito looked pretty good. From those seats you can really see his curveball curving.

It's a good thing Aurelia drove in the go ahead runs, he had a rough outing at 3rd base with one error and a couple of bobbles.

Lots and lots of empty seats, though, even in the box seats.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Upside of Gagne

He's not signed past this year. Seeing as he hasn't had a single 1-2-3 inning yet with the Sox, the decision about whether to sign him for next year will be pretty easy....

Friday, August 17, 2007


On third thought, he now officially stinks.

He belongs on a mopup role.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

On further reconsideration....

...maybe that Gagne deal wasn't so great idea after all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Michigan has signed up Utah to finish up its 2008 football schedule.

This is a mediocre out of conference schedule. Utah is a respectable opponent; Miami of Ohio and Toledo are not. I see no reason we should be stuck with two MAC teams. Blech.

Utah is better. They had a good season in 2004, and they play in the, uhhhh, Mountain West conference (I had to look it up). Far preferable to the MAC. I think at a minimum, our patsies should be teams of the caliber of Utah. They seem fired up about playing in Ann Arbor; I have to think that other programs would also appreciate the exposure.

I'd also prefer a team like Cincinnati, which has a home-and-home series with Oklahoma (!) set up, with the game at Cincinnati being played at Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals play. I think it would be cool for Michigan to do something similar; although their coach discounts it, I bet they'd agree to play two games in Ann Arbor and one in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Surely Bonds will hit homer 756* this week when the Giants are at home.

There have been a bunch of articles talking about how black fans (74%) are more likely than white fans (28%) to be rooting for Bonds to break the record. (Whew! Good thing there isn't anyone else in America besides black people and white people!)

I say that's nothing. They should check the disparity between Giants fans and everyone else. Giants fans love the guy; I bet 90% are rooting for him to break the record.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Tom Glavine won his 300th game yesterday, prompting a rash of (easy to write) articles about how he'll be the last 300 game winner.

Sportswriters love an easy story, especially one that someone else has already written. It's also a safe article to write, because no one's going to remember it by the time the next pitcher wins 300. Randy Johnson, stuck at 284, is looking like a more and more unlikely candidate for 300, and as I mentioned in May, no one else is close.

So the next 300 game winner isn't going to happen for a while. It could be Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt (if he gets on a team that figures out how to score), or one of the others, but we've got a few years.

I'm sure that similar articles have been written before. The list of 300 game winners contains some gaps. I bet that plenty of people decided that Nolan Ryan would be the last such pitcher in 1990. Although six guys (Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, and Ryan) made it withing 8 years, no one else was on the horizon. At the end of the 1990 season, Clemens had just 116 wins.

Before Gaylor Perry it had been 20 years since Early Wynn won 300. I'm sure there were articles by lazy sportswriters in 1963 too saying that he was the last. I don't think we'll be waiting another 20 years; I think it'll happen sometime in 2021.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More college football rankings

Well, the original ESPN rankings were for the last ten years, and my post listed the top teams for the last 25. In the spirit of matching apples to apples, here's a chart of the last ten years.

The data is the same as in my earlier post, but I've only included points gained in the last ten years. It matches even better with the ESPN one: ESPN's top four are USC, Ohio State, Texas, and Florida, and this chart has Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, and USC. The top eight in each chart are identical, the order is shifted only slightly.

One big change, of course, if Florida State's drop. They go from #1 to #8, and they're not even close to the top. Next year they'll probably drop some more. Michigan could pass Ohio State (uhhh, "The Ohio State University", Sybil), but I'm not about to bet on it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The Sox picked up Gagne today. So long Kason Gabbard, we hardly knew ye!

On one level, it's a little goofy, considering they already have two all Stars in the 'pen. Do they need another? Okajima's been ridiculous, his ERA is 0.87. Papelbon too: his ERA just ballooned up to 2.15.

Obviously Gagne's great, but why get him? I wonder if they're perhaps worried about Okajima breaking down. He's pitched 51 innings this year; in Japan he's generally averaged 50 the last few years. On the bright side, Gagne's cheap, "only" $2.1 million for the rest of the year.

I also read that Gabbard was a soft-tosser, and this was the time to get the most value for him. Maybe, but I'm happy with a soft tosser who throws shutouts!

But then a friend of mine pointed out that maybe this is more of a strategic move than anything else. If the Sox have Gagne, the Yankees don't.

That's got to be it. This hurts the Yankees, and if the Sox can try to keep the Yankees out of the playoffs, they should do so.

Monday, July 30, 2007

College Football

There's nothing going on this time of year in the world of college football.

That's why ESPN just ran a series ranking every program over the last 10 years. They had people vote on it. They voted USC the top program, and I can't really argue with them.

But I've been thinking about this for a while. I think 25 years is a better time frame. I looked at the final AP polls from each of the last 25 years and assigned points based on where teams finished, so Florida gets 25 points for finishing #1 last year, and Tennessee gets one point for finishing #25. But I subtract one point per year, so Texas gets 24 points for finishing #1 in 2005 and Nebraska gets one point for finishing #24. Et cetera. Penn State got one point for finishing #1 in 1982; nobody else got anything.

It's not perfect, but it is interesting. As a way of measuring programs over the last 25 years, it does a pretty good job. Here are the results:

(click to make it legible)

For those who prefer their data raw (and alphabetical):

From looking at the raw data, it becomes clear why Florida State does so well: 1992-2000.

One thing I like about this system is that old victories are worth less. Florida State will lose 19 points next year because it was ranked high enough in 19 of the previous 25 polls, so if it finishes out of the rankings again, it will have 158 points. Similarly, Miami loses 17 points, so if it isn't ranked it will drop to 146.

To point out one interesting thing, almost all of USC's points come since 2002.

As for Michigan, we take a hit, losing 16 points. For us to gain points, we must finish in the top ten. (I doubt we'll pass Ohio State, which loses just 10 points, thanks to mediocre finishes under Earle Bruce.) If we finish #1, we'll gain 9 (=25-16) points to finish next season with 138. But I'm not counting on it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michigan-Notre Dame

I like playing Notre Dame every year. I think it's a good series for Michigan. Apparently it's off the books for 2012 and 2013.

Michigan's athletic director is making some promising sounds about scheduling a tough team. Michigan's athletic director has mentioned playing Rutgers for two games, once in Ann Arbor and once at Giants Stadium. I think that's a great idea, but I hope they don't aim for Rutgers to replace Notre Dame.

As I've mentioned repeatedly, I think Michigan should schedule better teams. Lets play Rutgers AND some other top tier school. (For some reason the online blogs are talking about a Michigan-Georgia series. I think that would be great, but I just want someone on that level.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Goodbye, Julian Tavarez!

On Thursday I figured that Julian Tavarez was out of the Sox rotation, but I figured he wouldn't be replaced until Schilling got back.

Nope. Up comes Jon Lester from Pawtucket. Not a moment too soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sox Pitching

The Cardinals are done, the Sox are "just" stumbling.

Consider the present rotation of Matsuzaka, Beckett, Kason Gabbard, Wakefield, and Julian Tavarez. The first two are fine. Gabbard pitched a shutout (!!) his last start, which would be nice if it lasts, but it was the Royals.... Wakefield has been mediocre the last month, but he still eats innings and has terrible luck. Tavarez strung together some quality starts in May and June, but he's been awful.

That makes two reliable starters and three question marks. A team with two reliable starters is a .500 club, and they're 20-22 since June 1. When Schilling returns I think he replaces Tavarez. It can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stick a fork in the Cardinals

Oooo-kaaaaaay, raise your hand if you though Kip Wells (!!) would throw 8 shutout innings and beat Dontrelle Willis today.

The Cardinals are done. They're in third place, nine games behind the Brewers and the Cubbies are starting to play well. It's over.

Their present "rotation" includes Wells (4-12), Wainwright (yes, he struck out Beltran with the bases loaded to win the pennant last year; this year he's 8-7, the "ace" of the "staff"), Thompson (that's, uhhh, Brad Thompson, of the 5.06 ERA), Braden Looper (the less said the better) and now apparently Mike Maroth (5.20 ERA but hey he's lefthanded). In other words, they have five guys who should be #4 starters at best.

The offense isn't any better. Rolen is, as always, hurt. Edmonds is old. Pujols is having his worst season since 2002 (ok, he's still pretty good, can't criticize Pujols).

I think it's maybe time for LaRussa to declare victory in his quest to prove that he's the Smartest Manager in Baseball History and more on. It's just not working. Obviously it would be better if Carpenter and Mulder were pitching, but they're not. It's time to start again and think about 2008.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tim Wakefield

I like Tim Wakefield.

But he can't buy any luck. Since the start of the 2006 season, he's 17-20. In his 20 losses, the Sox have scored 19 runs. (That's presumably the number when he's pitching, sportswriters are apparently too lazy to figure out the total runs they've scored in his losses, which is 44. Forty four runs in twenty games is pretty crappy!)

His ERA's up to 4.69, which isn't great, but it's not too bad for a #4 starter. This outing will put him at 119 innings, which is 14th in the American League, terrific for a #4 starter.

I hate to jinx his streak, but he also has a decision in every start this year. That's just odd.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Julio Franco

The Mets released Julio Franco, who's had himself a rather impressive career.

I read that early in his career he faced Jim Kaat, who pitched to Ted Williams. That's pretty cool. I remember Jim Kaat from the 1982 Cardinals. Apparently he accumulated 75 innings that year, although I just remember him coming in as a lefthanded specialist to get one batter out here and there. It looks like he actually started two games in 1982 too. Kaat also had a rather impressive career. Twenty-five years in The Show, and he finally won the World Series in season 24.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I like Beckham. By all accounts, he's a great teammate, a very down to earth guy.

Will he Transform Soccer in America? Beats me. He can't help but raise the profile of the MLS.

I pay more attention to soccer than basketball these days. I watch some of the Champion's League games in Europe, and as many of the USA games as I can. I haven't paid much attention to MLS, but I will watch next Saturday when the Galaxy play an exhibition against Chelsea.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sox Salaries

I read something today that this is the last season for Schilling, Mike Lowell, and Matt Clement (whoa, was that ever a disaster!), and the Sox clear about $30 million off the books.

Now this is good news. Lowell is having a great year, though he often cools down in the second half, and I was wrong about him in the past. I can't see him getting another $9 million, assuming they resign him.
I don't think Schilling's going to get $13 million again; his last few seasons haven't been deserving of that kind of contract and his last really good year was in 2004 (when he was very good).
It's fair to say that Clement's $8 million is completely wasted money and he ain't coming back.

Now they just have to be intelligent about how they spend.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Even the All Star Game can't distract me completely from the ongoing disaster and tragedy of Iraq.

We're going to lose.

I'd love it if Iraq became a stable democracy, a beacon for human rights and democracy in a region without either.

But it's not going to happen. Not this year, not next, nor the year after that. There are enough people in Iraq who don't want peace they they'll get their wish. It is an ongoing tragedy, but there is nothing we can do about it. Does anyone outside the White House really think that Iraq is going to be a functioning democracy in six months? One year?

If we are going to fail, I'd prefer to fail sooner than later.

We're going to pull out before the job is done. If not this year, than next, or the year after. What we're doing now isn't working. The Democratic party gave up supporting this war long ago. More and more Republicans, to their credit, are finally starting to admit what everyone knows, that it's not working. Most recently, Senator Domenici has joined Republican senators Lugar, Voinovich, Warner, Hagel, Alexander, Gregg, and Gordon Smith in calling for us to pull out.

Unfortunately, history gives us plenty of examples of regions of the world that were drenched by blood in what we would now call a civil war. How long did it take Italians (who were all the same religion!) to form a democracy? Germany? Northern Ireland? The Balkans?

It's time for us to declare victory and bring our troops home.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Retrosheet and copyright

Someone (Cho, presumably? due to the emphasis on pitch count and the Cubbies) commented to my last post with a few interesting details about Warren Spahn's last start.

I did note that claims to have copyrighted this information.

Ehhhhhh, not so much. This is where my real life kicks in.

It so happens that I know something about copyright. Retrosheet can't copyright a box score, any more than Major League baseball can copyright a statistic. You can't copyright a fact. The baseball case was just argued in June, so it hasn't been decided yet. It's not surprising the MLB is retreating from its initial claim that it had copyright on statistics and has moved to claiming copyright on logos. And if MLB doesn't own the right to statistics, doesn't either....

It's the All Star Break

A reasonable time to look at my predictions.

And dang, was I ever wrong about Zito. Does "disappointing" even begin to describe his season? Look at his stats. I'm not sure why his ERA has skyrocketed. His WHIP is about the same as last year, he's on pace to give up *fewer* homers, and hitters actually have a lower batting average against him (which I assume is often true when one moves from the American to the National league) this year. He's now most expensive #5 starter in history.

While I was off on Zito, I sure was right on J.D. Drew. That was a dumb signing from the getgo. He had a great year in 2004, but it's not too hard to see a trend since then. Mistakes are more painful when they're blindingly obvious.

I was also right on Edmonds. He was an obvious mistake. He's been awful this year, and they're stuck with him for another year after this one.

Monday, July 02, 2007


I'm obviously not a big fan of Clemens.

However I am a big fan of baseball history. And my dad's favorite pitcher was Warren Spahn. Today Clemens got his 350th, the first to do so since Spahn in 1963. Somehow (what are the chances?) the guy who caught Spahn was named Joe Torre. Really, what are the chances? It's a funny game....

There's a pretty good chance that Maddux will get to 350 next year, if he stays healthy, but after that we'll be lucky to see anyone else get to 350. For now, though, I hope Clements keeps pitching. Bring on Kid Nichols!

Monday, June 25, 2007


I went to the Giants game tonight, which Pedro Feliz won in the 11th. To his credit, Bonds played all 11 innings and scored the winning run (though it wasn't close).

It was cool to see Lincecum. He's got electric stuff, striking out the side in the top of the first. But not such great control (four walks and 115 pitches in 7 innings). There were plenty of 95 mile-per-hour balls way high out of the strike zone.

The Giants need to make some smart decisions this winter. Next year, with no Bonds and no All Star game, attendance will drop even more.

It must have been Costume Night tonight. Many members of the (announced) crowd of 41,140 came dressed as empty seats.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Baseball Players

It's not news that baseball players aren't brain surgeons. They're also great at spewing out a lot of garbage in interviews.

But still. When Jeter was asked about the possibility of Clemens getting career win 350 yesterday (he lost to Colorado, though he pitched well) he said the following:

"It's longevity and consistency, I don't think you'll see anyone else get to that number."

Ehhhhh, Derek ol' buddy, ever heard of a guy named Maddux? You may be interested to learn that he's won 339 games in his career. It's pretty reasonable to think that he'll have a chance at "that number", assuming he stays healthy.....

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I went to the Giants game on Tuesday. It was not a very interesting game, which is surprising considering the storied rivaly between the Giants and the Blue Jays (have I mentioned that I hate interleague play?).

However, when one is at the game, and when one sees the Giants play, one is struck by how poor their hitters are. Seriously, look at the starting lineup; it stinks.


I know, I know, batting average isn't a great measure of offense. But the numbers are similarly grim for on base percentage and slugging percentage. The Giants have one good hitter, Bonds. Benjie Molina and Ryan Klesko aren't bad, but that's it. Dave Roberts, who I love (sorry Schlamp), should not be leading off, and it only gets worse at the bottom of the lineup.

As I've previously noted, it's a shame because the Giants pitching, especially their staff, is terrific. Arguably the best in baseball.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I was talking with someone about my earlier post about the win differential between Clemens and Maddux, and how that may have influenced Clemens to come back again. (I'm keeping track; the gap is at 11 after Clemens' win yesterday.)

I learned that another legacy Clemens is perhaps thinking about is strikeouts. Turns out that Randy Johnson recently tied him in career strikeouts, although Clemens went back ahead of him with his win yesterday. Assuming everyone stays healthy, it'll be tougher for Clemens to stay ahead of Johnson. Clemens just isn't a strikeout pitcher anymore. It looks like he made an adjustment in 1999 when he signed with the Yankees and his strikeouts dropped. He's been losing ground every year since 1997, except for 2003, when Johnson only made 18 starts.

The numbers:

Note: Nolan Ryan is still waaaaaaay ahead at 5714. He's got nothing to worry about.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Of course, I support all Michigan sports teams. Today in baseball Michigan beat #1 Vanderbilt 4-3 in the 10th. The losing pitcher for Vandy was David Price. I happened to read about him this morning--according to Sports Illustrated he'll be the first player taken in the baseball draft.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


It had to happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


For the sake of their future, the Giants really need to get rid of Bonds after this season. Or pay him a lot less. (He's mentioned that he'd like to get to 3000 hits, which would require him to play next year.)

He's costing the Giants $16 million this year, and even with Bonds in the lineup, they're only 10th in runs.

Which is a shame, because their pitching (uhhhh, the starters anyway) is good, and they have the potential for a dominating rotation in a year or two. Consider:

  • Matt Cain has had some hard luck, but his ERA is almost a run under the National League average.
  • Tim Lincecum is living up to the hype, so far.
  • Noah Lowry (!) has been better than Cain.
  • Matt ("Lazarus") Morris is the staff ace.
  • Oh, and then there's Zito. I have to think he'll come around, even if for now he's the most expensive #5 starter in baseball history.

That, folks, is a rotation. For 2009, the Giants *MUST* ditch Bonds and get some hitting, because if these guys pitch anything like this, they're going to be very impressive. The team is perfectly set up to move past Bonds, but to do so they actually have to move past him.

(Oh, and Russ Ortiz, thanks for playing. Welcome to long relief, until someone gets hurt.)

Monday, May 28, 2007


Not the movie.

I'm mildly obsessed with career wins, specifically 300 game winners. Presently Clemens has 348 and Maddux 337, a rare instance where two pitchers in the top ten are active.

Barring injury, Glavine will almost certainly get to 300 this year--he's at 295 right now and is pitching well. The Very Large Unit is at 282. He won't get there this year. Maybe next year, if his back will let him.

Who's next? No one, not for a while. If we look at active 200 game winners, none of them will get to 300. Mussina's 38, and I doubt he has 59 wins left in him, considering the last four seasons he won 57. He appears to be running out of gas.

Boomer, Jamie Moyer (quick, who knew he had more wins than Pedro or Schilling?), Kevin Brown (why is he on the "active" list?), Kenny Rogers, Pedro (love him!), and now Smoltz, who may have had a chance if he didn't spend four years relieving, but now is making a very strong case for the Hall of Fame...none of them are going to get there.

Looking further down the list, the next likely candidate is Tim Hudson, who's a long 176 wins away. It's possible that he could average 15 wins for the next twelve years. I think a better bet is Roy Oswalt. He's won a lot of games already, but he has to get on a team that score some runs for him. The rest of the list--Buerle, Halladay, Sabathia, etc.--is so far away that speculation is pointless, no matter how good Johan Santana is. It's at least ten years away, probably more. So after Glavine and Randy Johnson, there won't be any 300 game winners until, oh, 2018, maybe 2020.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Al Mamaux?

Eddie, dude, tell me you didn't go through the list of all baseball players ever to unearth Al Mamaux.

On the other hand, he (Mamaux) had a very respectable career, was traded for Casey Stengal and he played with Ruth, Gehrig, and Wally Pipp. He's worth discussing, and I hereby elevate him above Mike Maddux.

Pending future discoveries, I think we can agree on:

1. Greg Maddux
2. Sandy Koufax
3. Harvey Haddix
4. Milt Wilcox (I should have remembered him)
5. Claude (Jimi) Hendrix
6. Al Mamaux
7. Mike Maddux
8. Double X

Haddix beats Wilcox due to more wins and also his legendary Greatest Game Ever Pitched, which coincidentally is also the Greatest Game Ever Pitched And Lost.
Both beat Jimi, who is dinged due to suspicious gambling.

Incidentally, Foxx gets bonus points for being in a poem, though inevitably Gehrig got the best stanza.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pedro Martínez

As I've mentioned before, I love Pedro. I think he's great. Physically, he's Greg Maddux, except he throws threw 95 miles per hour.

However, I'm really happy the Sox didn't sign him to the four year deal that the Mets did. I hope he comes back and is great, but if he gets back in August, he'll get at *most* maybe ten starts in the regular season. So in the first three years of his contract, he'll have 31, 23, and 10 (at best) starts. That's not many starts for $13.5 million per year.

Just as important as signing the right players is *not* signing the wrong players. This was a good contract not to sign.

Uhhh, except for the Yankees. They can afford to blow all kinds of money and it doesn't make as much of a difference.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Michigan Football Scheduling

I like it when Michigan plays a tough football schedule. As I've noted before, I'm embarrassed that we're playing Appalachian State this year, although playing Notre Dame and Oregon makes for a respectable out of conference schedule.

Now comes word that we've scheduled Toledo next year. Blech. What's the benefit of MAC schools? Either we clobber them, and get no respect, or they stay close, and we look even worse. (The third alternative, actually losing, though horrifying to contemplate, is surely inevitable.)

But don't we have to schedule weaklings to have a shot at the national title game? USC has done fairly well these last few years. Consider it's upcoming schedule:

2007: IDAHO, Nebraska, Notre Dame
2008: Virginia, OHIO STATE, NOTRE DAME (hell of a home schedule!)
2009: SAN JOSE STATE, Ohio State, Notre Dame

Note also that the PAC 10 has nine conference games, so their schedule is more impressive than ours off the bat. No MAC schools here. Kudos to USC, and shame on us.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jerry Falwell

Lately I've tried to avoid politics and focus on baseball and similar more intellectual somesuch, but this obituary (?) speaks so eloquently that I can't help myself.

Christopher Hitchens can be, ahem, somewhat over the top as a writer, although sometimes he's right on target.

My favorite quotes: riffraff who allowed Falwell to prove, almost every week, that there is no vileness that cannot be freely uttered by a man whose name is prefaced with the word Reverend.

and the first sentence, which Hitchens surely worked on to make incendiary:

The discovery of the carcass of Jerry Falwell on the floor of an obscure office in Virginia has almost zero significance, except perhaps for two categories of the species labeled "credulous idiot."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Michigan Homerism

Braylon Edwards was a great wide receiver at Michigan, even if it was a little frustrating the way he was always good for one drop per game.

I don't know how he is in the NFL, but I was very impressed at this. Sure, he's rich, but there are plenty of people who are a lot richer than he is who aren't putting up a million dollars. And this could really do some good, if he gets 100 kids to college. He's clearly serious about this.

Note that this is on top of the $500,000 he gave to the Michigan athletic department to endow a scholarship. (Braylon's dad, Stan Edwards, also played for Michigan. Note his excellent brown three piece suit in the photo gallery.)

He makes me proud to be a Michigan fan. It's almost enough to make me watch the Browns again. Ehhhh, not really.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Yesterday's post got me thinking. Not to get all Bill James, but there can now by no doubt that Maddux is the greatest pitcher in baseball history whose last name ends in x.

Obviously, the previous titleholder was Sandy Koufax, who, or all of his brilliance, was good only for six years.

Other contenders, off the top of my head, include Harvey Haddix, and Greg's brother Mike Maddux. Am I missing anyone?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Great Pitchers

Greg Maddux threw a 96 pitch complete game tonight for his third victory of the year. That puts him at 336 career wins, tenth in history behind, uhhh, Tim Keefe. If he stays healthy, and if the Padres score enough runs, he's got a decent shot of passing Keefe this season.

Meanwhile Clemens has 348 wins, and will pick up a few more this season. This is, by definition, rare. I can't imagine there will ever again be a time when two of the ten all time winningest pitchers are simultaneously playing. (If Maddux gets seven more wins, it'll take 342 to even make the top ten, and in this day and age I don't see anyone getting to that point ever again.)

Because Clemens and Maddux have such a good overlap, we can compare their win totals. Clemens started in 1984, Maddux in 1986. This chart shows Clemens' lead, which was 59 wins in 1991 and has been shrinking ever since:

I have no idea whether it's true, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was at least part of Clemens' motivation to come back again. He wants to be the greatest pitcher of his generation, and that's a bit tougher to justify if someone else of his generation has more wins....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nope, no need of Clemens

I'm not saying that Sox must have Clemens to get to the playoffs. But if Josh (à) Beckett's blister problems are going to resurface, it starts to look a little goofy to have said"We don't need him."

You can *always* use more pitching. Always always always. Ahem.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fremont A's

Are the A's really going to move to Fremont? I always figured this was a bargaining position to put pressure on Oakland. I didn't think they were really serious.

Maybe they are. I guess the thinking is that it gets them closer to San Jose. But it takes them a whole lot farther from San Francisco and Oakland. It's so convenient to BART to A's games. There's no chance I'm going to drive all the way down to Fremont to catch a game.

I think it'd be a mistake to move. Sure, their attendance will increase if they get a new stadium. The Coliseum stinks, and Mt. Davis was a bad addition. But attendance would also increase if they built it in Oakland, and I have to think that if they built it near BART, they'd get more people in the long term.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Browns. Sigh.

I was once a huge Browns fan, but after Art Modell moved the team, I haven't watched a single NFL regular season game. I watch the Super Bowl for the ads, but that's it.

In theory I still want the Browns to do well. Then I heard that they drafted Brady Quinn. Ugh. I don't watch the NFL, but I do like college football. I'll say this for Quinn: he was quarterback at Notre Dame, and he has a great name for a quarterback at Notre Dame.

But he's not very good, especially for a player coached by supposed offensive genius Charlie Weis. He played three good defenses last year: Michigan, USC and LSU, and lost all three. Quinn was awful against Michigan. Once we got pressure on him, he was wildly inaccurate.

It seems to me that if he was rattled by Michigan, SC, and LSU, it's going to get a lot worse in the NFL. Those three defenses are pretty good, but NFL teams are going to be a lot faster. I'd be happy if he turns out to be an NFL QB, but I never understood the hype to start with, and I sure wasn't convinced by watching him play poorly as a senior.

It's easy to ignore the NFL when the one team I would care about stinks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Warriors! (?)

I went to the Giants game last night, where the Rockies walked Bonds thrice and got him out once.

Amusingly, the Warriors mascot was there. While the Giants mascot just looks stupid, the Warriors guy ain't so bad.

I'm prepared to follow the herd and jump on the (crowded) Warriors bandwagon. Go Warriors!

(At least until the end of the season. Then I'll go back to not caring about the NBA.)

Monday, April 30, 2007


Well the Giants are over .500, which is an improvement.

But their fundamental problem is their lack of runs. I believe that runs are pretty important in baseball. Bonds has been clobbering the ball lately, but their overall offense still stinks. If he gets hurt, they're really in trouble.

Their pitching has been great. Now they just need to score.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More on baseball costs

Cho makes a good point, that baseball is still cheaper than other pro sports. It's also far cheaper than college football. When I was at Michigan, students tickets (i.e. the cheapest ones) were $50 apiece, and you had to buy the whole season. Taking a family of four to a Michigan football game is surely well over $300 these days. (Taking a family of four to a Michigan basketball game, ehhhh, perhaps a little less....)

Or consider the movies. If tickets are $9 apiece, and one buys four sodas and four containers of purported popcorn, it could easily cost $60 to see a movie.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


The Yankees have had a bunch of injuries this year, but I get the sense that had Kei Igawa (!) not come out of the pen to shut the Sox down today, the whole team would have crumbled.

That would have been sweet.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Baseball Costs

Every year they come out with a new Team Marketing Report, which chronicles the cost of attending a baseball game for a family of four. It adds up the cost of two adults tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, two caps, one program, and parking.

Every year sportswriters uncritically accept this number and wail that baseball is "out of reach for the average American". It is a lot of money. "$287 to attend a game at Fenway, that's absurd!"

It's also completely ridiculous, and I have yet to read a story that points out some of the absurdity. For instance, why the two hats? They're not really part of the cost of the game. You can buy hats anywhere. For that matter, why the two beers? I stopped drinking beer at baseball games years ago when I tired of paying $7 for it. Why always include parking? Along with *thousands* of other fans, I normally take public transit to A's games (and I walk to Giants games). Fenway, for instance, is extremely well served by public transit. For that matter, when I do drive to Oakland, I can just park across the street for free and walk to the game--no $14 parking for me!

But do sportswriters ever bring up these factors? Nooooooo. That would require critical thinking.

However, thanks to Microsoft, it's easy to adjust their chart for a more realistic cost. The following is a modified chart, taking into account 2 adult tickets, 2 child tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 sodas.

Whoa! The numbers look a little different! Granted, they're still high, but it looks a lot more reasonable. And kudos to the Yankees! Cheaper than both Houston and St. Louis.

The numbers aren't perfect. The ticket prices are listed as "average"; if one was trying to save money, one might think that the better option would be to buy tickets for special promotional events. But one point of this analysis is that I'm spending about 30 minutes on it. Any sportswriter could also spend 30 minutes and come up with a more interesting story, or they could mindlessly parrot the same story about how it costs $287 to take the family to Fenway.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Gonzales

I had to drive to a meeting today and so I listened to the Gonzales hearing. He was awful. He's in so far over his head.

Does anyone defend him now? Is it possible to defend him now? I heard him being questioned by Jeff Sessions. Gonzales insisted that he had no memory of the key November (that's November, 2006, i.e. a few months ago) meeting where they talked about who to fire. Sessions, who's not exactly a leftie, was not impressed.

Or, from another Republican Lindsey Graham: "But at the end of the day, you said something that struck me: that sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time. If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?”

I didn't like John Ashcroft because he was an ideologue. But that presupposes that he had ideas. Gonzales? No ideas.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Alberto Gonzales = Incompetent

Talking about the meetings about firing the US Attorneys, he says:

During those updates, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.

What's with the "to my knowledge"? Might he have made decisions about who they were firing without using his knowledge? Does he have any knowledge?

(Full statement is here.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

King Felix!

Apparently Felix Hernandez will turn out allright after all. My dad was watching the game and he had to call me to tell me about it in the sixth inning.

Apparently Orel Hershiser, who knows a thing or two about pitching, was broadcasting, and said that King Felix has not one but "two Hall of Fame pitches". Not bad.

Incidentally there are always some people who whine that it can't the the World Series, because it's always just the best teams in America. ("How can it be the World Series when they don't invite teams from all over the world?") This is an exceedingly stupid complaint that's probably not worth repeating, and this game succinctly shows why. We had the second best Venezuelan pitcher on the planet beating the best Japanese pitcher on earth. (Or at least I assume he's the best; he was certainly Japan's hammer at the World Baseball Classic.) Hernandez shut down probably the two best Dominican hitters to do so. One could go on and on, but the point is made.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Giants Can't Score!

Sometimes I'm wrong. Sometimes not so much.

I had my doubts that the Giants would be able to score. But I didn't think it would be this bad.

Seven games. Fourteen runs. One win. Ouch.

I've finally moved past Pac Bell Park. Now it's the Phonebooth.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Michigan salaries

The Detroit News posted the following salaries for Michigan coaches:

This strikes me as fairly interesting. Obviously Lloyd makes the big bucks, and Red Berenson does pretty well too. I don't know anything about hockey, but Michigan was national champions in hockey two of the three years I was there, so he must be doing something right. Michigan's swimming teams are dominant, so they have to pay them well.

The new basketball coach, Beilein, isn't on there, but he's supposedly going to make $1.3 million, although that same article had Lloyd at $1.6 million, which the chart has him at "only" $1.1 million. One would think that the Detroit News might be interested in getting its own facts straight.

Note also that Michigan's president, Mary Sue Coleman, apparently makes about $725,000 per year.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The Cardinals look horrendous.

It's one thing to be shut down by Tom Glavine on Opening Eve. He's done it before. It's a little disconcerning to follow that up be being shut down by El Duque.

But then last night they were two-hit by, um, John Mayne. ("John Maine, you're no El Duque.") And they gave up an RBI single to a guy who was born in the *Eisenhower* administration.

Oh, and Carpenter's hurt.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Shows what I know

Well on day 1, Bonds goes out and steals second in the first inning.

Yet another demonstration of why I'm not a major league scout.

Note: Bonds was then thrown out at the plate. His excuse is good enough that I couldn't make it up.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Michigan basketball

I guess I do care after all.

Supposedly we're going to hire West Virginia's coach, John Beilein. I don't know squat about him (or about college basketball generally), but I did see this article about his contract buyout.

The lawyer they quote, Doug Kahn, was my tax professor. In addition to being a great guy, he's a total Michigan homer.

At the end of class the day before the Ohio State game he had a confusing hypothetical about some tax issue for institutions of higher education. The hypothetical's facts were about a grad student at Ohio State and tuition or somesuch. Prof. Kahn called on someone who started fumbling around.

After a few moments of this, Kahn interrupted him: "I think you're missing the threshold issue."


"Should Ohio State be considered an institution of higher education?"

Saturday, March 31, 2007

More Bonds

Eddie thinks I'm oversimplifying and points to this site to show that moving Bonds from third to second in the batting order won't make much of a difference.

First, not to oversimplify, but Cho's wrong.

Second, wow, I consider myself a baseball fan, but that's ridiculous.

My actual argument has changed a little over the years, but it's not based on number of at bats.

Three years ago Bonds was so devastating a hitter than he would change everything in the late innings. For instance, if the Giants were down a run or two, or if the game was tied, and Bonds was up 4th in the 9th inning, the threat of having to face him with the game on the line was very disruptive. I figured that if he moved up in the lineup, it was more likely that he would get that one extra at bat in close games. For instance, if Bonds were scheduled to bat 4th in a the ninth inning instead of 6th, it would put a lot more pressure on the opposing reliever.

Today, the argument is based on his knees. It's in the Giants' best interests to have him play as few innings as possible. Realistically, there are going to be plenty of games where he's good for three at bats and then he'll leave. If they can make that third at bat happen an inning earlier, it could help him. He's sufficiently gimpy/cranky/etc. that an extra inning here and there could make a difference.

Friday, March 30, 2007

In other news, I went to the Giants game last night. The first game of the season is always fun.

(a) Zito looked good, although the game ended in about 2:10. Nobody was grinding out at bats last night.

(b) Bonds can unquestionably hit but he sure can't run. We had great seats right behind the bullpen in left field. He's capable of jogging to make a catch, but generally he just stood there. Granted it's an exhibition game, but he better hit a lot of homers because he's going to clog the bases. Not that I blame him, but if his knees are this gimpy in March, I doubt he'll play in even 130 games this year.

(c) 29,627 fans? No way, no how. MAYBE 15,000.

More Great Sportswriting

Again, by Tom Verducci. Wow, that sounds like fun.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bonds Bats Third

Finally! The Giants should have made this decision years ago.

As I pointed out three years ago, he should be batting second. But third is a lot smarter than cleanup.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Pat Tillman

I didn't pay much attention to the whole Pat Tillman saga when it broke. I admit I figured he was a sort of uninteresting meathead football player. Sure it was a tragedy that he died, but I was disgusted by the Administration's war to start with and their hero workship of a dead man made it worse. Then I read this set of stories on ESPN. (Warning: these are long stories. But Pat Tillman's story isn't simple.) I was so, so wrong.

Having read more about him, Pat Tillman sounds like a damn interesting guy. The story is a scathing indictment of an Administration, along with the Army brass, who wanted a hero. It turns out that Tillman did what he wanted to do, but the last thing he wanted was to be their hero.

The fallout continues. It was clear from the ESPN story that the Army lied and lied again. For several generals, it looks like their lies will end their careers. So be it.

All sorts of people (the Army, the Administration, various commentators) have tried to appropriate a piece of Pat Tillman's glory. They're all wrong. He's an American hero, the rare kind who's too authentic to be pigeon-holed.

This is another case of good sportwriting. Kudos to ESPN (!) was going waaaaay outside its bailiwick to bring a story that wasn't really about sports at all, any more than Pat Tillman's life was about sports.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Matsuzaka

Matsuzaka's durability is such an interesting topic.

The article is interesting, and it raises the possibility that everything we're doing is wrong, but I have many, many more questions.

-What's the normal training regiman for young Japanese pitchers--is he typical?
-Is it common for Japanese pitchers to have so many innings?
-What's the injury history for Japanese pitchers?
-How has his training changed over time?
-How durable are pitchers in Japan--are they all finished at age 35?
-Does Matsuzaka lift weights?
-Most importantly, is he going to blow out his arm in June???

Yesterday I brought up Nolan Ryan. But he didn't pitch much when he was young. Maybe a better example is Livan Hernandez. Something tells me that when Hernandez was growing up in Cuba, he didn't spend a lot of time worrying about pitch counts.....

Also, I complain enough about sports writers, that I should point out that this is a terrific article. Huzzah!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


As if I needed an additional reasons to be excited about baseball: Daisuke Matsuzaka! Whoo-hoo!

I can't even pick out one single highlight from the article. But 250 pitches in one game in high school? No ice? Eight pitches?

Now, in the past, I've been a strong proponent of limiting pitch counts for youg pitchers.

But this whole Matsuzaka thing is nuts. He's an insane workhorse. According to the Sports Illustrated article, maybe I'm wrong. Way, way wrong.

Or, maybe, he's just a physical freak. But Nolan Ryan didn't pitch many innings before he was 25. Maybe everything we know about training young pitchers is wrong.

I just hope that Matsuzaka doesn't blow his arm out.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pete Rose

I have some friends (Eddie) who have, ahem, defened Pete Rose over the years. Presumably, that's now over.

Guilty, guilty, guilty.