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....