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 Retrosheet.org 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, Retrosheet.org 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!