Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bravo for Bowls!

Finally there's a college football column I can agree with. He's too professional to say that Wetzel's an idiot (but I know he's thinking it). His bigger point is maybe the best argument of all for the bowls:

Bowls are fun.

It's not complicated. They're fun. A bowl game is fun to go, fun to be a fan at the game, fun to watch on TV. I can't wait tomorrow to roll out of bed and catch Michigan in th--wha? Wait, you're joking, right? Seriously? No, that's can't be correct. Really? Whew. That blows.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Big Unit

The Giants signed Randy Johnson to a one year deal for $8 million (plus incentives).

I like it. When he's healthy, Johnson can still a pretty good pitcher. Last year he made 30 starts and had a 3.91 ERA. Obviously, the key part of that sentence is "when he's healthy". Johnson's actually been fairly durable--just two years with fewer than 30 starts since 1999. Of course, he'll turn 46 this fall. (At the same time, it's worth noting that occasionally a power pitcher ages well.) If he does stay healthy, Johnson should get to 300 wins, which would be cool.

I think the Giants have a legitimate shot at the playoffs next year, with The Franchise (who I still worry about), Matt Cain, Johnson, and Zito in the rotation. They're lucky to play in a crummy division.
Last year, though, their problem, was hitting. Their batting average was actually in the middle of the pack, but they were next to last in runs, and you gotta score runs to win.

Hitting is still the big problem. I sure hope the organization is now going to try to get some, or else it'll be another long year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yankees, Pitching

Last year, in the face of a weak staff, the Yankees did nothing. The result was pretty predictable, even if the details (Mussina was terrific, the rookies, not so much) were not.

Unfortunately, they did not make the same mistake this year. Like everyone else, I think Sabathia's great. Burnett is good when healthy, although it's worth noting that he has a five year deal and has reached 200 innings twice in the last five years, somewhat like some of their previous signings. (Sorry, Schlamp.)

But all in all a huge step up for them. They went from a rotation of Mussina, Pettitte, Wang, and then assorted rookies and castoffs to Sabathia (a clear #1), Burnett (#2, potentially a #1 when healthy), Wang (a #3), maybe Pettitte (?), then the rookies. I think it's fair to say that Sidney Ponson won't get another 15 starts next year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's that time of the year again

Earlier I criticized Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel for blasting the BCS without proposing an alternative.

In fairness, he's now proposed something. Unfortunately, his proposed playoff is flat out impossible. It has zero possibility of being implemented.

Sixteen teams, four rounds of games. No chance. Why? Let us count the ways:

-The last two teams would play 17 games. There's no way college teams could play that many games.

-When would they schedule the games? College students have exams in December, to which he says: "college athletics has never allowed academics to stand in its way before." Actually, yes it has. That's one reason teams don't play in December.

-College presidents don't want a playoff. To which he says "Presidents are notoriously weak-spined and revenue desperate. Pressure and cash can change opinions in a hurry. They follow the herd." Really? If they're weak spined, why haven't they caved and had a playoff already?

A sixteen team playoff might be possible if we could redo everything about college football, i.e. create a different sport. I consider that unlikely, though, and there's absolutely no chance that this idea has any possibility of ever happening.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


With Maddux retiring, we can look at the final comparison of his wins with Clemens.

After last year I thought that Maddux would pas Clemens this year and have a shot at getting to 361 wins and #6 all time. That won't happen, but I doubt anyone will pass him again.

And get ready for a slew of articles saying how great he was. Too many times, these articles are written about undeserving players. Not this time.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maddux Retires

Apparently Greg Maddux is calling it quits. I do think someone else will eventually get to 300 wins, but I'm not so sure anyone will ever get to 350. I suspect he will always be the greatest player ever whose last name ends with the letter x.

It goes without saying that he will get into the Hall on the first ballot. It does mean there's no chance that Mussina gets in on the first ballot.

And, as a public service, I would like to remind you that chicks dig the longball:

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rickey Henderson

Some Hall of Fame decisions are easy. Rickey Henderson is on the ballot this year.

If he is not voted in on the first ballot, the Hall should disband immediately. Normally one might argue about, say, the best centerfielder or first baseman in history. But one could also consider position in the lineup, instead of position in the field. Does anyone doubt that Rickey Henderson is the best leadoff hitter in history?

It's unfair to focus on just one year, but in 1990 his OPS was 1.016, he stole 65 bases and was caught just ten times. He was an outrageously good base-stealer: in 1998, when he was 39 years old, he had 66 steals and was caught 13 times.

In fact, given his quotability, I'm already giddy at the thought of his acceptance speech....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mussina, Jesse Haines

Schlamp, I won't argue that Jesse Haines belongs in the Hall of Fame. Whether he belongs is certainly debatable.

However, I will point out that (a) he played for the Cardinals, so he must be good (whoo-hoo!); and (b) he won two rings (1926, 1934). So his career was superior to Mussina's in at least two ways.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dan Wetzel

As sportswriters go, I think Dan Wetzel is unusually bad, which is saying something. His most recent column exemplifies why.

He complains about the Big 12's selection method for choosing which team to put in its championship game. Three teams have one loss: Texas beat Oklahoma, which beat Texas Tech, which beat Texas. The conference decides who goes to the championship game by virtue of which team is ranker more highly.

Wetzel says this is bad, "jokes" about whether a team's color scheme should come into play (HA! good one!), and includes the following paragraph:

Maybe Texas should hire Barack Obama’s advisor David Axelrod for the rest of the season because it might be in trouble due to a scheduling quirk. Next week Oklahoma will have another big nationally televised opportunity to impress voters against highly ranked Oklahoma State. The Longhorns, meanwhile, seem like the team everyone forgot.

What does this mean? I have no idea. (Axelrod? Scheduling quirk? Wha?)

But what he never bothers doing is making any kind of suggestion about what they should do about it. If it's so bad, one would think he would have a better idea.

As for me, I think it seems pretty reasonable. Years ago the Big 10 would only let one team go to a bowl game and if two teams were tied, the athletic directors would vote to determine who went to the Rose Bowl. The Big 12 could have their athletic directors vote, but that's obviously prone to politicing as well. So all in all, seems to me that using a poll is as good a method as any other.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Mussina retired, which makes my previous argument that he's in the Hall of Fame moot. I figured he'd pitch at least another year or two. Now I'm not so sure. Hard to believe, but he only had one full season with an ERA under 3.00. That's not so good. Never won the World Series, never particularly dominant. I'm not sure durable guys should make the Hall.

On the other hand, 270 wins in the Steroid Era is impressive. And he finally won 20 games this year.

I figure he gets in eventually, but not on the first ballot.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No We Can't!

Well I like Obama but I wasn't happy to see that he supports a playoff in college football.

As I've said before (and before), the problem with a playoff is figuring out how many teams to invite. Playoff proponents gloss over this question, but it's actually enormously important. Just check out the comments here. People argue for six teams, eight teams, twelve teams, sixteen teams, etc.

Until playoff proponents can give a rational argument for a certain number of teams, there's no reason to discuss a playoff.

Case in point: 2005. Texas and USC were undefeated and they met for a (fantastic) national championship game. Should they have been forced to play Penn State and Oregon, each of which lost a game earlier, before playing each other? No!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AL Cy Young

Cliff Lee won the AL Cy Young, with Roy Halliday in second. This is unquestionably the correct result.

But quite a few voters revealed their foolishness. Francisco Rodriguez came in third, which is just stupid. The first problem is those seven voters who put him second, ahead of Halliday. Anyone that foolish should have their voting rights revoked immediately.

In fact, there's no reason to even put F-Rod third. Yes, he had a lot of saves, but saves are silly. If you're going to give a reliever your third vote, at least look at the statistics. Of American League relievers, F-Rod had a good year and a lot of saves, but the following closers had a lower ERA: Joakim Soia (surely you've heard of him), Mariano Rivera, and Joe Nathan.

If you are going to vote for a reliever at #3 (I would have voted for Lester), F-Rod is your fourth best choice. The best reliever in the AL last year is the same guy who's pretty much been the best the last 13 years: Mariano Rivera. His ERA was 1.40. 1.40! That's dominant even for him. He issued six walks last year. Six! Did I mention his ERA was 1.40?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Franchise

(sorry for the delay, I was busy with, and distracted by the election)

Lincecum won the Cy Young. This is cool for the Giants. I'm happy to be wrong.

I hope I'm also wrong about overworking him. He pitched 146 innings last year and 227 this year. I just hope he didn't hurt himself this year.

And for the guy who didn't have Lincecum in his top three? Awful. Yes, Lidge was good this year, but there's no way he belongs on the ballot. He pitched 69.1 innings. Webb, Lincecum, and Santana all pitched more than three times as many. A closer can only win a Cy Young when there's no dominant starter, and this year there were three.

Besides, every time I think of Lidge I think of this.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Michigan. Sigh.

Incidentally, I went to Ann Arbor last weekend for my ten year law school reunion. Aside from the other festivities, there was a football game against Illinois.

Michigan looked awful. That's not true. After the first quarter, Michigan was ahead 14-3. The vibe was positive, happy, relaxed. Life was good.

Then it all went awry, and Michigan played three quarters of truly awful football. Everything went wrong. The offensive line couldn't block, Threet couldn't throw, and the defensive secondary thought it would be a good idea to soak in gasoline and light themselves on fire.

Michigan's defense, the "strength" of the team before the season, gave up 402 yards in the final three quarters (yes, I am enough of a loser to add it up).

We Michigan fans are in unchartered territory. Michigan presently has the longest bowl streak in NCAA history, 33 years. The last time Michigan did NOT go to a bowl game was after the 1974 season. It's worth noting that before 1975, only one Big Ten team was allowed to go to a bowl--the champion went to the Rose Bowl. If more than one team from the conference had been allowed to go to a bowl, Michigan's bowl streak would date to the 1968 season, or 40 years.

I think this is the year it ends, which would be jarring. I have no living memory of Michigan not going to a bowl, and I distinctly remember Michigan losing the 1978 Rose Bowl to Washington, because we were terrible in the first half and dominated the second half (this is why I never liked Warren Moon growing up).

So this whole situation is bizarre. Michigan has had its ups and downs, but the concept of completely throwing a season away is foreign to us. I certainly hope it's only for one year.

As a sidenote, it seems someone was dropping a whole lot of acid in Pasadena in the fall of 1977.

Monday, October 06, 2008


So it's Sox-Devil Rays and Dodgers-Phillies.

I think it's fair to say that Major League Baseball (i.e. Fox Sports) is hoping for a Red Sox-Dodgers series. Rays-Brewers would have been their ultimate nightmare, and maybe the dream matchup would have been Cubbies-Sox.

As a sidenote, baseball's a funny game. Jed Lowrie knocked in Jason Bay for the winning run.

The Rays worry me, but there's no need to worry about that right now. I'm happy the Sox are back in the ALCS.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Idiotic Sportswriting

Exhibit A.

This column is so stupid, it's difficult to know where to start. So in no particular order:

How on earth can Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia be the TOP TWO choices for MVP in the National League? Sabathia was terrific, but he played in 17 total games. Brandon Webb had twice as many starts, and twice as many wins. How can Webb not be more valuable to his team?

The Manny selection is even worse. He was great, but he played in 53 games for the Dodgers--less than a third of the season! He cannot possibly be as valuable as someone who played the entire year.

Most ridiculously, the obvious winner, Pujols, is fifth (fifth!) on his ballot. Pujols had a far more dominant offensive year than Howard, even if Howard's (less important) homer and RBI numbers were better. Pujols also is a fantastic defensive player. Howard is not.

OBPSlugging HR RBI
Pujols.462.653 37 116
Howard.339.542 48 146

NL Cy Young
The foolishness continues. It's easy to plug Sabathia's numbers into yesterday's chart, although we have to add innings to the mix because a pitcher who pitches a lot of innings is significantly more valuable to his team than one who doesn't.


Sabathia had a great half season, but you don't win the pennant with half seasons. Anyone who votes for him over the other three should forfeit the right to vote for future awards.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cy Young

Well the Giants kept running Lincecum out there because they wanted to get him a Cy Young.

I think it was a mistake, but we won't know that until next year. For now, I think that Johan Santana has pitched his way into the discussion with 14 consecutive quality starts down the stretch.

I think it's close:

RecordERA Strikeouts
Webb22-73.30 183
Lincecum18-52.62 265
Santana16-72.53 206

Innings (226.2, 227, 234.1), complete games (3, 2, 3) and shutouts (1, 1, 2) are effectively indistinguishable.

I dunno. The problem here is that the guy with the most wins has the highest ERA. Webb shouldn't be in the discussion, based on ERA, but 22 wins is a lot of wins. I suppose I'd vote Webb, Lincecum, then Santana, but I wouldn't argue with any arrangement of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina made the Hall of Fame today, when he won his 20th game of the season. You know it mattered to the Yankees because Mariano Rivera came on in the 8th.

Before the season I had by doubts about his chances. Having 20 wins stands out on his resume. More accurately, never having a 20 win season stood out on his resume. I don't think he's a first ballot kind of guy, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet that he makes it eventually.

Of course, this year isn't the end. He's now at 270 wins. I also doubted that he would ever get to 300 wins (which means certain enshrinement in the Hall). I don't think he can get there in two years, but if he stays healthy for three, I think he'll win 300 games easily.

More College Football

The column I mentioned on Thursday looks a little more silly today. Georgia and Florida join USC as one loss teams. Note that this will soon lead to a variety of columns saying that "The BCS got lucky" because all these teams lost.

No. It isn't luck. It's very rare for more than two teams from power conferences to go undefeated. It happened once since the old conference tie-ins were eliminated: in 2004 (USC, Oklahoma, Auburn). While possible, it's unlikely that more than two teams will go undefeated this year, at least more than two teams from power conferences. It's certainly premature to start complaining about it.

Friday, September 26, 2008


And sometimes criticizing sportswriters works out perfectly.

Of the six contributors to the premature BCS bashing, five assumed that USC would go undefeated (kudos to David Fox, who pointed out that USC loses a conference game or two every year).

As a sidenote, Oregon State? Huh? They were clobberedby Penn State three weeks ago.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dumb Sportswriting of the Day

Writing about college football is easy. Whenever you need a quick story, just bring up the BCS and complain about it.

But this is a good one. It's September and they are already hyping the possibility of too many undefeated teams! Guys, can we at least wait until conference play starts?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


After tonight's start (4.1 innings, 4 ER, raising his ERA to 2.66), I don't think The Franchise can win the Cy Young over Webb. They both can make one more start, but Webb already has 22 wins and Lincecum has just 17. He's now up to 220 innings. Last year he only pitched 146.

The Giants are mad if they let him make his final start. It would be really stupid. The risks are too high for no reward. He's had a great year. With his nine strikeouts tonight, he has 252 for the season, which gives him the Giants season record over Jason Schmidt. The Cy Young talk has been fun. But now the time to give up and get ready for next year.

Lincecum is maybe the most valuable pitcher in baseball right now. He's a young potential #1 starter, and the list of #1 starters under 30 includes Webb, Johan Santana, Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and not a lot of other pitchers.

But while Sabathia will be printing money in free agency the next few years, the Giants have a few years of Lincecum on the cheap.

As a sidenote, I feel the same way about Lester, who's just six months older than Lincecum. With the Sox clinching the postseason today, they should give him a short tuneup before the playoffs and that's it. Don't risk him; he has 204 innings this year and 63 last. He'll also have at least one start in the postseason.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

AL Race

The Sox are still chasing Tampa for first place. (Never thought I'd write *THAT* sentence)

Barring a huge collapse, which is still possible given the Sox pitching situation (no, I don't trust Bartolo Colon in the rotation), the postseason pairings are predictable. As of today, the Sox are 1.5 games behind the Rays and lead the wild card by 6.5 games over the Twins and 7.5 over the Blue Jays and Yankees.

The Angels will play the wild card team with the winner of the East against the winner of the Central (either the Chisox or the Twins). The Sox want to win the East because the Angels are such a nightmare.

The way things are going, though, the best thing the Sox can do is hope someone else beats up on Tampa (thanks, Minnesota), because they seem to have Boston's number.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Michigan-Notre Dame

I watched the first half of the game and some of the third quarter, before I (fortunately) had to leave to go to a wedding.

It was not, shall we say, a great game. Michigan fumbled the opening *TWO* kickoffs and was down 21-0 after about ten minutes.

However. I saw plenty of good things and I'm with mgoblog on feeling encouraged. Everyone knew this year was going to be ugly, but we made some progress. We found a quarterback and a tailback. Threet made some good throws and played well. Sam McGuffie looks like our tailback for the next several years, unless he gets hurt (he's a little guy, which makes me nervous).

On the other hand, our defense, supposed to be the strength of the team, was bad. And it's very, very important for our receivers to catch the ball on kickoffs.

Now Michigan has a bye week, which is what they need. Threet should spend it working with the first team offense and hopefully the team will also work on not fumbling.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Notre Dame

I don't like Notre Dame. Not at all. They were terrible last year and I laughed. Unfortunately, Michigan might just be that bad this year. I'm not sure this columnist was joking when he predicted a 3-0 Michigan win in five overtimes.

In the meantime, my fellow Michigan comrades posted an instructive interview with Charlie Weis.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

AL Cy Young

The standard answer on the American League Cy Young is the Cliff Lee has it sewn up. Which he probably does. A 21-2 record is ridiculous, and he leads the league with an ERA of 2.28.

Howeva. Roy Halladay. 18-9 ain't bad either, he's won his last five starts, and has eight complete games. Lee is ahead, but if he has a couple of bad starts and Halliday keeps pitching like this, he could lose it....

Yes, I'm ignoring Francisco Rodruiguez. Lee has more than triple the innings and a lower ERA. Game over.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Webb Slipping

As someone (Schlamp?) pointed out, Webb is in fact doing his best to lose the NL Cy Young.

Brandon Webb hasn't won a game since I first posted. In his last three ugly starts, his ERA's gone from 2.74 to 3.41. That ain't good. Maybe he's hurt.

The Franchise was knocked around last week too, but it was only one bad start. Tonight he got his 16th win, brought his ERA down to 2.54 and went 8.1 innings, moving ahead of Webb. It was Webb's to lose and he may be losing it.

There is a ridiculous CC Sabathia meme going around. He's having a great second half, but no one actually believes that he has a chance. It's just a way for sportswriters to generate some words.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Go Yankees (?)

I'm in the unfamiliar position of rooting for the Yankees, as they are playing in Tampa. The Sox are up seven games on New York and trail Tampa by four, but if they and the Yankees keep winning, the Sox can make a run at Tampa.

Is it tempting fate to say that the Yankees are out of it? Yes. And they're not completely out of it. But for them to get back into it, they'll have to pretty much sweep their remaining five games against Tampa.

That would make for a very interesting race indeed going down the stretch....

Monday, September 01, 2008


I was juuuust a little bit early on my prediction of when Maddux would pass Roger Clemens. July, September, what's the big difference?

He tied Clemens today with 354 wins, tied for eighth on the list.

Can he get seven more wins at move ahead of, uhhh, Pud Galvin and Kid Nichols? Depends on whether San Diego or the Dodgers needs him next year. I don't think he'll pitch anywhere else.

Ron English

Ron English was Michigan's defensive coordinator the last two years. He was there for the Very Good (2006) and The Not So Good (2007). I always liked him; I thought the brilliance of 2006 mostly outweighed 2007.

He was fired by Rich Rodriguez and landed at the University of Louisville, where things look good:

Was there anything to like? Yes. The Cardinal defense was spectacular. Listen to me -- it was spectacular. It held UK to 73 yards on the ground. Dixon's jaunt at the end was a gift, and not preventable given the degree to which the game had slipped at that moment. Ron English deserves a lot of credit for turning an unsure group into a physical unit that gave Hartline no good looks down the field, harassed him incessantly, and bottled up the Dixon/Locke combo before it could get started.

I'm happy he landed. He'll be a head coach some day. Maybe some day soon.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good Work, Gentlemen


Sox Injuries

The Sox are 4.5 games behind the Blue Jays, 3 games ahead of the ChiSox and 3.5 games ahead of the Twins for the wild card. So these are important games.

Yesterday, the starter was a man named Michael Bowden, making his first big league appearance. Their first baseman was named Jeff Bailey, and Mark Kotsay (late of the Braves) played right field.

The good news is that they won, but this is a banged up team.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


It's gonna be a loooooooong year. Utah played poorly, except for their kicker, who was fantastic.

Actually our defense played pretty well. Utah got a lot of yards in the first half, but just 22 points, and they held them to 3 points in the second half.

However. Michigan's offense was awful. Atrocious. The offensive line was astonishingly bad. This is expected (scroll down to Offensive Line). I know we have a new offensive line, but 37 yards rushing? 37? Really? 37 yards rushing?

Bad bad bad. Bad.

Friday, August 29, 2008


The Sox may make the post-season if Beckett is out, but in the playoffs they're toast without him.

There's no way a rotation of Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, and Paul Byrd wins in the playoffs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lincecum and the Cy Young

The Chronicle advances the (inevitable) Hometown Paper's Ridiculous Cy Young Award argument by pushing The Franchise.

Ehhhhhh, no. Lincecum is having a very good year. You can make a great argument that he's the clear second place winner. But as of today, Brandon Webb has more wins (19-15), more innings (188-185), more complete games (3-0), and more shutouts (1-0). Lincecum beats him on ERA (2.43-2.96) and strikeouts (210-157), but that's it. Oh, and Webb's team is in first place, nine games up on the Giants (not saying it should be a factor, but it is). If the season ended today, Webb wins, and if he gets to 20 wins, it's about over.

Maybe Webb will have a couple of bad starts, or maybe the Giants will skip Lincecum's last start once he gets over 200 innings. We shall see.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Synchonized Diving

Two best comments I've heard about synchronized diving:

Is the official sponsor NAMBLA?


Appears to be some elegent gay suicide pact.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pitch Counts Never Die

Someone, I assume Cho, said:

Hey Drake -- In SI this week, Nolan Ryan said he once threw 242 pitches in a start. Why are today's pitchers such babies?

Most obviously, I'm not aware that pitchers today are babies. (Roy Halladay pitched his eighth complete game of the season today.) I would note that (as I've said over and over) pitch counts matter WHEN PITCHERS ARE YOUNG. NOT AFTER THEY TURN 25.

Nolan Ryan, for instance, didn't throw 200 innings until 1972. He was 25 before that season started. Why was he such a baby before he turned 25?

Also, Nolan Ryan was a physical freak. For every Nolan Ryan, I'll give you a Fernando Valenzuela who pitched 285 innings at age 21 and was done at age 29. The single data point of Fernando is as valid as the single data point of Nolan Ryan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eliminate Baseball!

I like baseball. I like the Olympics. Baseball is going to be eliminated from the games after this Olympics, and I think that's great.

The Olympics are great because they're different than any other competition. I'm not really very interested in the pole vault, or swimming, but once every four years I care enough to pay attention. What makes a good Olympic sport? To me, it must be a legitimate world championship, ideally in a sport that gets little attention outside the Olympics. It should also be from a worldwide sport, i.e. lots of participants from many countries. Track is a great Olympic event because anyone can run and compete.

Under this rationale, baseball should be out. Major League Baseball teams do not let their players participate in the Olympics, so the best players (from America, Japan, Venezuela, Canada, Dominican Republic, etc.) don't play. The American team is all minor leaguers. Additionally, I think the new (and very cool) World Baseball Classic is going to become very popular. This will become a true competition between nations, like the World Cup for soccer.

I found this old SI article about the procedure for eliminating events. It's interesting reading. Golf did not make the Olympics this time. Golf would be almost as silly as baseball. There are already many, many golf events out there. It has a wide following, and hardly needs more exposure.

This is also the last Olympics for softball. I'm not a big fan of softball because, as one article I read emphasized, America is too good. It's not interesting if one country completely dominates.

Eliminating these sports also helps with limiting the size of the Olympics, a worthy goal mentioned in the SI article. I don't see a need to add any more sports; I think the Olympics would be better off allowing more countries to send athletes in existing sports. For instance, I think it's much better to let ten small countries send an additional sprinter or two, even if those sprinters have no chance, than to allow golf.

Lincecum Hurt

Well the good side of Lincecum taking a ball of his knee is that it may prevent him from overworking his shoulder.

After that last start, he's up to 162 innings. The Giants should be very extremely careful in bringing him back. If he needs to miss a start or two, now's the time to do it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dumb Olympic Events

Last night I wanted to see some of the Olympics, and NBC happened to be showing synchronized diving.

Synchronized diving is perhaps the stupidest event in Olympic history.

All events that rely on judging bug me to some degree, but this one has the additional foolishness of being a "team" event where the two teammates don't interact. At least in figure skating they have to work together.

Besides being really dumb, it's unnecessary. The Olympics already have 10 meter and 3 meter competitions for men and women. Synchronized diving is the exact same thing, just with two people. Is there a need for more diving events?

There are plenty of worthy sports in the Olympics, where world class athletes get a chance to display their talents. I favor events that don't have judges--track and field, swimming, crew (of course), etc.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


My cousin and her husband, a dedicated Dodger fan, visited San Francisco and we went to the game tonight. It was a terrific game. Tied 1-1 after 8, the Giants brought in their closer Brian Wilson (wait, not him; I meant Brian Wilson, sorry). After one scoreless inning, they yanked him and brought in Tyler Walker for the 10th, who immediately gave up a homer to Jeff Kent. The Giants came back and won it, but still, there was no reason to take Wilson out. He's their closer, their best pitcher. If Billy Sadler (who?) can throw two innings, Wilson can throw two.

The pregame ceremony was cool. They had the best Giants outfielders of the last 50 years came out of the dugout. Most of them aptly reflected the quality of the Giants over the last decades (i.e. Candy Maldonado, good thing he wasn't busy). There was one spot left in the ceremony. Then they played the music from The Natural and Willie Mays slowly walked in from center field. Everyone was cheering and then Bonds suddenly strolled out from left.

I didn't clap for Bonds, but I was happy to cheer for Willie Mays. As far as I'm concerned, he should always enter the field to The Natural.

A snide person would have noted that Willie Mays came out to The Natural; the comparison with Bonds was unstated....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fred Lewis

Fred Lewis is the replacement for Barry Bonds in left field for the Giants. I would say that he's no Barry Bonds. Then I read this, and I was right. He's no Barry Bonds.

I'm going to root for him.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I'm also worried about Jon Lester. He's a great story (cancer survivor, World Series clinching start, etc.). He's been terrific this year, if not the best pitcher on the staff, then second best to Matsuzaka, but I'm worried he won't last through the season.

He's 24 and he's pitched 146 innings this year; his previous career high was just 63. It's a tight race and if the Sox do go to the playoffs, he'll be asked to pitch into October and go well over 200 innings. In his case, because he's a it older, I'm less worried about the total number and more worried about the increase. I hope he doesn't run out of gas.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lincecum, Cain

The Chronicle is apparently reading this blog.

As I mentioned before, Eddie, I do think he should go 200 innings this year. But not many more.

Incidentally, he didn't make the cover of Sports Illustrated, but Matt Cain is having a pretty good year too. Although he's 7-9 at the moment, his ERA is 3.60 (with a win tonight). He's a few months younger than Lincecum, and he's thrown 155 innings this year. He has more experience--he threw 190 two years ago and 200 last year. I worry that the damage has already been done. Those 190 innings were at age 21, the 200 at age 22. That's earlier than almost everyone on my earlier list.

The Giants have the potential for a great young staff. Even Zito sometimes remembers how to pitch. There's no reason to put them at risk by pushing them much above 200 innings this year.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ed Cho Stop Reading Now

Ed Cho does not believe in pitch counts, nor innings thrown, etc. (He's also a communist, but that's not important right now.)

ESPN briefly mentioned that The Franchise has thrown 149 innings this year for the Giants. Last year he threw 146. He was 23 when the season started. Compared to the 16 pitchers listed in my earlier post (the 16 winningest pitchers since 1960), his innings are about average, if he gets to 200 this year. Of course, using these pitchers as a comparison skews the average, since by definition they did not burn out early. If I were the Giants, I'd shut him down once he gets to 200 innings.

They should not take any chances, seeing as they are 11 1/2 games out of first in baseball's weakest division.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Football schedules

ESPN has published out of conference schedules for Big 10 schools, and it ain't pretty:

Illinois: Missouri (St. Louis), Eastern Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan (Detroit)

Indiana: Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, Central Michigan

Iowa: Maine, Florida International, Iowa State, at Pitt

Michigan: Utah, Miami (Ohio), at Notre Dame, Toledo

Michigan State: at California, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame

Minnesota: Northern Illinois, at Bowling Green, Montana State, Florida Atlantic

Northwestern: Syracuse, at Duke, Southern Illinois, Ohio

Ohio State: Youngstown State, Ohio, at USC, Troy

Penn State: Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, at Syracuse, Temple

Purdue: Northern Colorado, Oregon, Central Michigan, at Notre Dame

Wisconsin: Akron, Marshall, at Fresno State, Cal Poly

There are a total of just fifteen "respectable" opponents on this list. No one plays more than two respectable nonconference games.

Missouri for Illinois (normally an unimportant game, but this year both teams are good), Iowa State and Pitt for Iowa, Utah and Notre Dame for us, Cal and Notre Dame for State, Syracuse and Duke (nominally) for Northwestern, USC for Ohio State, Oregon State and Syracuse for Penn State, Oregon and Notre Dame for Purdue, and Fresno State for Wisconsin.

I've long complained about this watering down of our schedule. As before, it's easy to compare to USC, which is the model of difficult schedules:

2008: Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame
2009: San Jose State, Ohio State, Notre Dame

Commendably, the Pac 10 plays a complete round robin, so they have one less out of conference game. San Jose State is weak, but that's one poor game in two years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Sabathia

Aaaaaand it only gets worse for the Cardinals. Now it's three consecutive complete game wins for Sabathia.

I think the Cards are done. If Carpenter had been healthy they could have stuck around, but I don't think they can last.

Dave Duncan is still the best. Kyle Lohse is now 12-2, after having won 12 games total the previous three years. He's still 29, so maybe he'll end up a long term quality starter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Giants Cleaning House

It should have happened a couple of years ago, but finally it looks like they're ditching the old guys. Ray Durham is gone, which needed to happen. Even if they get nothing for him, at least they're not spending money on him.

Omar Vizquel needs to be next. As the Chronicle points out, though, it could be tough to deal a guy hitting so far below the Mendoza line (.166? Wow, that's awful). It's not exactly new news that he can't hit, but it's better to admit it now than waste more at bats on him.

The chickens are coming home to roost for Sabean. He tried to patch together an old lineup for years in hopes of getting to the World Series with Bonds. 2002 seems a long time ago.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

C.C. Sabathia

C.C. Sabathia is just dominating in the National League with complete game wins in his last two starts.

Although it's tough for the Cardinals, it's great for baseball that the Brewers could pick him up. I think it's a demonstration of baseball's vastly increased revenue. Teams are sharing more revenue, which is better because teams like the Brewers (who've been awful for decades) have a shot at the playoffs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I can't resist.

There has been a lot of talk about how Obama is energizing young people in this election.

As of today, Obama's Facebook group has 1,154,734 supporters. John McCain's Facebook page has 169,280.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brandon Jennings


I read about Brandon Jennings recently. He's a high school kid who, instead of playing one year at Arizona, is going to play in Europe

Sportswriters reactions ranged from glee because the NCAA is somehow going down (huh?) to announcements from Lute Olson that he'll no longer sign players who will say for just one year (riiiiiight).

I think it's good and I read exactly one column that started to touch on why. I follow neither high school basketball nor the Italian pro league. I have no idea whether this will be good for Jennings or not.

But it seems to me that the NBA shouldn't be unhappy. Part of the whole point of preventing kids from going pro right after high school was to try to ensure that they were more developed and well rounded both on and off the court. I'm sure that Jennings would grow as a person and as a player at Arizona, but nowhere near how he'll do at, uhhh, Pallacanestro Virtus Roma. I say good for him. I expect he'll learn quite a bit and he'll be a better player if and when he enters the NBA draft next year.

What's the problem?

Monday, June 30, 2008

College Football Last Ten Years

Just as I did last year, I can also list the top college football teams of the last ten years, which is probably more relevant to high school kids anyway. Same rules as my last post, but no points for any season before 1998. Last year was Ohio State (ugh), Oklahoma, Texas, and USC. This year:

USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Texas are again the top four, although USC is in first. Look for that to continue next year. LSU is rocketing up the charts. Michigan, Miami, and FSU continue to fade. Hopefully we won't keep slipping.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

College Football

As I noted a year ago at this time, there's nothing happening in college football right now. So I figured I'd update the chart of the most dominant programs of the last 25 years. As before, the #1 team last year (LSU) gets 25 points, the #25 team gets one point. Teams lose one point per year, to the #1 team of 2006 (Florida) gets 24 points down to the #24 team, which gets one point, and so on. There are a few changes from last year:

Florida State is still in first, but their lead is shrinking fast, and will shrink again next year. They will lose 18 points, so they must finish #7 just to stay even. Similarly, Miami will lose 17 points. Those programs will eventually start to move up again, but probably not next year. Ohio State is tied for #3; and they only lose 11 points next year, so figure they will continue to rise. Ugh.

The biggest improvement was Missouri, which rode its #4 finish last year all the way to #36. They may well improve again next year, but not as much.

Just one school dropped out entirely. That would be Virginia. Next year, East Carolina and Fresno State better finish ranked, or they're gone. Meanwhile Missouri, Cincinnati, and Hawaii are new to the list.

As for Michigan, we dropped from 5 to 7, and we'll need to finish in the top ten next year or else we'll lose more points. It doesn't look good. Oklahoma and USC passed us last year, and this year could be Texas and LSU.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I thought Greg Maddux would pass Clemens sometime in July. I was wrong. Maddux last won on May 10 and is stuck on 350 wins.

Lately, he's been outstanding. He's had five consecutive quality starts with no wins and one loss to show for it. His ERA is 3.17. He's having a great year.

His problem is his team. The Padres have scored even fewer runs than the Giants. Which is why they're tied for last place in the NL West.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kevin Garnett

Part of the joy of being a Celtics fan this year is having Kevin Garnett on the team. I'd known about him peripherally in the past, but I paid more attention this year. He's such a likeable superstar because he cares so much.

I found this interview from a couple of years ago, when he was with Minnesota and things weren't going well. It's remarkable:

Seriously, I'm not sure I've ever seen something quite like this.

When he says he doesn't like losing, he's not kidding. When he says it's not about him, it's about his team, he's not kidding.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I went to the LA Galaxy-Earthquakes game last night in Oakland. I'd never seen an MLS game, and they had a good crowd, apparently the largest crowd in MLS history.

Beckham was quite good, probably the best player on the field. In person, you can see that he generally plays far wider on the field than anyone else. Everyone else would be bunched up on one side and he would be all alone on the other waiting for the ball. I would imagine that's because he's used to somewhat better teammates. For fifteen years he played at the best clubs in England and Spain, with better teammates, who are somewhat more used to using the entire field.

He's still an extremely accurate passer. He's got great vision and can pick out any of his teammates on the field, not just where they are, but where they will be when his pass gets to them.

Like the article said, he isn't very physical these days, or at least he wasn't last night. Maybe after all his ankle trouble last year, he made a decision to try to avoid getting hurt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sox Pitching

The Red Sox rotation presently consists of:

Bartolo Colon (4-1 with a 3.41 ERA. Yep, we all saw that coming)
Tim Wakefield
Justin Masterson (huh? He's 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA)
Josh Beckett
Jon Lester

I don't think anyone anticipated this.

After Schilling got hurt, the starters were Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield, and Buchholz. Colon and Masterson have actually been better than Beckett, so one can't complain.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NBA Refs

Now this is news.

The NBA ref who bet on games is alleging that the NBA urged its refs to throw the 2002 playoffs to the Lakers over the Kings. This is juicy.

Curt Schilling, of all people, described the problem that NBA refs face:

Every SINGLE play up and down the floor has MULTIPLE fouls being committed by multiple players. These guys are in close, every play. They are beating the crap out of each other, and the refs see it. That makes me think that the game is called and paced exactly how the refs want it to be.

Everything's a foul; it's all at the complete discretion of the refs about whether to call it.

Just wait until Congress gets involved. As they've shown before, Congress loves to dig into this stuff. NO ONE does Sanctimonious like members of Congress.

As a sidenote, the Celtics presently lead the series 2-1, so in theory they could win the next two games. I would bet dollars to donuts that the series will at least go back to Boston for Game 6. Zero chance the Celtics win the next two games.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I was a Celtics fan growing up and then spent many years not caring because the team was so bad for so many years.

I'm watching again. Obviously, Game 2 was a lot of fun.

However. In a courtside seat of the new Garden was a Laker fan wearing an AC Green jersey. This raises all sorts of questions.

-why AC Green (note: this individual did not appear to be AC Green)?
-was this the only AC Green jersey ever purchased?
-seriously, why AC Green? Are there any other famous players for the Lakers?
-AC Green last played for the Lakers in 2000. His "glory years" were in the late 80s. Was this jersey really purchased then?
-this fan had tens of thousands of dollars to spend on that seat. If you have that much cash, would you really be seen in a fifteen year old AC Green jersey?
-is there an age limit on men wearing basketball jerseys in public?

Friday, June 06, 2008


The New York Times has an interesting article about Carly Fiorina, who's advising McCain. Her tenure at HP was not much of a success and she was fired.

But she was always good at sales. The article includes a marvelous quote:

“Well, see, the good news about business is, results count. And the results have been very clear. The results have been crystal clear. From the day I was fired, every quarter, even before they had a new C.E.O., has been record after record. That doesn’t happen unless the foundation’s been built.”

Sooooooo, after she was fired, HP's had record results every quarter, and we're to take that as evidence that she is a success? What's Michael Brown doing these days?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Momentous Day in United States History

Today, June 3, 2008, at approximately 8:15 PM EDT, Randy Johnson struck out Mike Cameron, passing Roger Clemens for the second most strikeouts in major league history. He now trails only Nolan Ryan (by about 1100 strikeouts; he's never gonna catch him).

What, did something else important happen today?

Election Day

It's worth pointing out that if our fine state government hadn't moved our presidential primary, then Californians would vote on Obama and Hillary today and would decide the Democratic nominee for president.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I was wrong about Randy Johnson. I thought he would pass Clemens sometime around the 4th of July. Instead, it'll probably happen this week. Johnson struck out 19 guys in his last two starts and he's now tied with Clemens. I think Johnson pitches Tuesday, so he should pass him then.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

USA Soccer

We played England today and lost 2-0. It wasn't really close; England was waaaaaaaaaaaay better than us.

This is not necessarily an indictment of our team. England looked good. Enough to make one wonder how this team could tie Macedonia (Macedonia???) in 2006. (If I was the Queen of England, I'd totally fire the coach who couldn't beat Macedonia. Oh, wait, they already did that. Firing him isn't enough; off with his 'ead!)

I'm just happy that our national team is playing these hard games. England's really good. Next week we play Spain in Spain, and then Argentina the following. Those three teams in consecutive games are outstanding competition for us. I think we need to get tougher and more used to playing the most difficult teams if we want to advance farther in the World Cup.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 pitching

I don't wish to alarm anyone, but Bartolo Colon is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA for the Sox. This means I have to pay attention. I sorta thought he was long out of baseball, but he actually pitched last year for the Angels. He won the Cy Young in 2005, so although it seems he's coming back from the dead, it's really just been a couple of years. I can't imagine him lasting all season, but who knows?

Now that he has two victories, I take back my earlier snide comments about his physique.

Monday, May 26, 2008


We have a spacecraft taking pictures on Mars.

If you don't think that's really cool, there's something wrong with you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Giants Win!

The G-men won 3-2 in ten innings today, based on Omar Vizquel's hitting. Vizquel is back from injury and hitting .281, which is better than last year's .246. The Giants better win a lot of 3-2 games, because their offense is as bad as expected.

As of today, they've scored 168 runs, tied with Kansas City and ahead of only the Padres, who are terrible. In 48 games, they're averaging 3.5 runs per game. Not so good, but not surprising either.

On the other hand, their pitching has been surprisingly bad. Team ERA is 4.46, just 12th in the National League.

Lincecum has been their only good starter. The other planned starters are either bad (Cain, Zito--6.25 ERA!!), or hurt (Lowry). Hence the nine combined starts for Kevin Correia and Patrick Misch (who?). It's gonna be a long year.

On the bright side, it's going to be really easy to get tickets.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Bonds Indictment

The feds indicted Bonds again. A copy of it is here.

To review the bidding, he was first indicted in November.

What hasn't changed is the key paragraph 9:

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

Each count of the indictment points to testimony by Bonds in front of the grand jury that he didn't take steroids.

Legal sidenote: a grand jury is like a jury, except it does investigations, not trials. It's made up of ordinary people, and it sits in private, not in public. This grand jury was investigating BALCO, so it questioned all sorts of people related to that case, includikng athletes (Bonds, Tim Montgomery, Giambi, etc.)

A grand jury can give you immunity, which means that you won't be prosecuted for anything you say there, as long as you tell the truth. So if Bonds told the truth to the grand jury, even if he admitted taking steroids, he couldn't be prosecuted for it.

However, if you lie to a grand jury, they're going to come after you. Giambi's hitting prowess is vanishing, but at least he's not under criminal indictment.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Clemens, History

Roger Clemens isn't going to pitch again. Even Yahoo Sports has removed him from their active list. So he'll retire with 354 wins.

Maddux just won game 350, so he ought to pass Clemens sometime in July.

As I noted a year ago, Clemens' lead has been shrinking since 1991.

In addition to "Winningest Pitcher of His Generation", he'll probably lose the "Strikeout King of his Generation" title sometime later this summer too, if Randy Johnson stays healthy. I tracked the strikeout difference between them earlier. Clemens got a few more strikeouts since that last post, while Johnson was hurt, and they were about tied last year. So far Johnson is punching out 5.6 guys per start. As of today, Clemens is 28 strikeouts ahead of him:

Randy Johnson's back could give out at any time, but if he can stay healthy, he should pass Clemens around the Fourth of July.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


With my spaghetti tonight, I'm having Whole Foods All Natural Roasted Red Pepper pasta sauce. Why let the world know? Well, the lid says "Best before JUL/24/05". I guess it was in the back of my shelf and somehow has been passed over the last three years.

Now I don't expect any ill effects (it smells just like normal pasta sauce), if the paramedics need to figure out what it was the put me in the hospital, kindly direct them to the inside of my refrigerator, where I will keep the leftover sauce.

That is all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Randy Johnson

I apologize for the delay. I'm now back in action.

And I'm starting with Randy Johnson and my moderate obsession with winning 300 games. Johnson's presently at 286, having gone 2-1 this year. Last summer I doubted his chances. They're still not great, but I'm rooting for him.

Can he get 14 more wins this year? I doubt it, especially if his ERA continues to be 5.06. It seems that his back could give out at any time, and I don't see him going through another long rehab. If he can't get it this year, will he want to come back in 2009? Let's just hope he makes it this year.

He doesn't have to be "The Man" in Arizona. The Snakes are looking gooooood at 23-12. Maybe he can pick up some wins against other teams' #4 and #5 starters. I hope so.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Olympic Torch

I hoped to see the Olympic Torch this afternoon so I went down to the Embarcadero about 1 PM. The original route was along the Embarcadero and would end in front of the Ferry Building.

I saw the torch in Boston in 1996. A guy ran beside the Boston Public Garden followed by a Georgia State Police BMW, which was bizarre (BMW must have been an official sponsor). The BMW was driven by a obese man in a Georgia State Police uniform, which was, well, not so bizarre.

Today was different. Lots of shouting, Chinese Flags, Tibetan flags, people chanting, etc. I got a free Save Darfur shirt and I was all set. There was a fair amount of people yelling at each other nose to nose, and occasional shoving, but thankfully no violence.

I couldn't help but notice the rather limited repertoire of debate skills by the pro-Chinese government crowd. Waving their brand new Chinese flags, they would generally chant "Liar Liar Liar" when a large contingent of people with Tibetan flags walked past. Often they would should "How much are you being paid to be here?" Which raises the question of how much *they* were being paid to be there.

A few of them tried to shout in my face, which I countered by talking back to them. Their first line was to ask why I would oppose China in Darfur when the US was in Iraq. They seemed surprised and puzzled that I opposed the Iraq war. Then they tried to point out that China never attacked other countries. After I mentioned Korea and Vietnam (where China was clobbered), this tack was swiftly modified to 'China never occupies other countries'.

There was some irony to all of the pro-China marchers. They were participating in public debate, where different viewpoints can be aired and people can disagree. It's the sort of event that couldn't happen in China itself.

In the end, I think changing the route was the correct decision. There was a risk of violence if the city had insisted on running the torch along the Embarcadero. The Chinese Government had hoped to have a cheesy preposterous tedius gala ceremony at the end. Thanksfully, the city pulled the plug on that. There's no need for someone to get hurt (the Chinese Government already has plenty of blood on its hands; no need to spill any more).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I admit, I thought that Cardinals were going to be bad this year. Really bad. They may well still end up as a bad team, but for now they're 5-2, half a game behind Milwaukee. Then again, I didn't think the Cardinals would have a team ERA of 2.32 and five quality starts in the first seven games. (All hail Dave Duncan!)

That probably won't last (Kyle Lohse, for example isn't going to sport an ERA of 0.00 all year), but if the staff can hang on until their actual starters get back later this year, maybe they have a shot at winning the division. There aren't any dominant teams in the division (sorry Eddie), so maybe 90 wins will be sufficient. This is a start.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

12 runs. 5 games.

Yep, Our San Francisco Giants! They've scored 0, 2, 2, 4, and 4 runs. One victory. It's going to be a looooooong year. You don't win much scoring 2.4 runs a game.

It could be worse. In fact, it was worse one year ago, when they scored but 14 runs the first 7 games. That team "recovered" to average 4.2 runs per game, next to last in the National League. But last year they had Bonds.

Friday, April 04, 2008

So bizarre it must be true

This is apparently not an April Fools joke.

A bunch of schoolgirls were touring Fenway Park and one of them was attacked by a hawk that apparently lives there. It swooped down and scratched her head, drawing blood. Incredibly, someone was taking pictures at the time.

The girl's name? Alexa Rodriguez. Score one point for the hawk.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day!

I know, the Sox played two games in Japan last week, and Washington opened their new park last night. But today was the real Opening Day.

A lot of results from today's games will carry over for the rest of the season. For instance, the Orioles lost. They're going to do a lot of losing this year. Baltimore is a bad team, and it has to play a lot of games in the division, where the Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays are very good, and the Devil Rays should finish .500. Baltimore will be lucky to win 70 games.

The Giants didn't just lose, they were also shutout. Not for the last time. It's going to be a painful, painful year, even for a team with a great rotation.

And Johan Santana won. That's going to happen a lot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Torch Run

Well this is encouraging.

The police say that they won't restrict protests when the Olympic torch comes to town. Now they just have to release the route.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Naturally, I think this is terrific news.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008


While San Francisco waffles, kudos to Nancy Pelosi:

If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world....The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The Olympic Torch is scheduled to come through San Francisco April 9 on its (schmaltzy marketing-driven) tour of the world before heading to Beijing.

This is all very well and good, except that China is very touchy these days about any protests against its actions in Tibet (i.e. invading a sovereign country, shooting people, etc.). This affects San Francisco because the organizers of the event here are trying to keep even the route of the torch secret to hinder protestors. It sounds like they cannot even stomach the idea that having protestors near the torch--apparantly that might hurt the torch's feelings. They also talk about herding protestors into "free speech zones", which would presumably mean keeping them out elsewhere.

This is horrendous. I was under the impression that our entire country is a free speech zone. It is insulting and absurd to try to limit protestors here, especially people protesting against a foreign government. Eventually, the city will have to back down and the route will become public. I'm sure that when it does, the protestors against China will be out in force, as they should be.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michigan Basketball Wins Tournament Game!


Ehhh, the Big 10 tournament. Against Iowa. It's generally not a good sign when the first sentence of the game summary reads:

Michigan missed 13 shots in a row during a stretch in the second half.

But somehow Michigan won the game. Michigan plays again tomorrow and I believe after that I'll be able to resume not paying attention.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bartolo Colon

The Sox have somehow brought Bartolo Colon to spring training. On the one hand, he won 64 games in four years from 2002-2005 and won the Cy Young in 2005. On the other, he's tailed off badly since then and (how to say this gracefully?) he's looking rather big boned these days.

In the "I don't know which way it cuts" category is the fact that his listed birthday is May 24, 1973. So he's 35 in Dominican Republic Years.

Back when he was in Cleveland, I would complain that he was a headhunter. But that was a long time ago and I'm prepared to let bygones be bygones because it's always good to have more pitching.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

...getting closer...

I went for a run along the Embarcadero yesterday and ran past the Phonebooth. One of its cool features is that one can see the diamond from outside the right field wall.

When I last ran past a couple of weeks ago it was all torn up (they had one of those motorcycle-jumping-dirt-heaps events there a month ago). Now the grass is green and it looks great.

Which is not to say that the Giants will be any good. They had posters up with their marketing slogan this year. The theme seems to be "______ is a gamer." As in "19 years, 11 Gold Gloves, Omar Vizquel is a gamer."

Ehhhhh, he may be a gamer, but he can't hit. Vizquel was the worst hitting shortstop in the National League by FAR last year. He had the lowest OPS of anyone with 500 at bats and Jimmy Rollins had more than TWICE AS MANY total bases. I suppose he is a gamer, though.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Iraq costs

Aside from the cost in blood, this war is also costing us money. Lots of money. Like, two trillion dollars. With a "t".

Here's a story from 2006 pointing out that the war could cost as much as one trillion dollars. Now it's doubled. More interesting is how the Administration originally estimated the whole thing would cost "just" $50 billion. Oops.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mitchell Report

American Lawyer magazine is perhaps not the most widely read publication out there, but it had a moderately interesting article on the Mitchell Report.

Apparently it cost Bud Selig* $20 million. Was it money well spent? I don't know, but it sure would have been a lot easier if he had taken action ten years ago, or five years ago.

The article does make it very clear that Mitchell reached out repeatedly to the Players Association. Roger Clemens can yammer on all he wants about how easy he is to find, but that's hardly George Mitchell's fault. He ought to be complaining to his agents and the Players Association.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Seriously, this Clemens story is gold.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was kind enough to lay out his various lies and half-truths in glorious detail.

Does it really make sense to go after Clemens for perjury? There are, ahem, a few more important problems out there.

As I've said before, jail ought to be for punishment, not deterrence. However, like with Martha Stewart (and Lil' Kim), there's something to be said for throwing the occasional Big Name in jail when there's a clear case of perjury. I bet there were plenty of people who paid attention when Martha Stewart was hauled off, and there would be lots of ballplayers who would sit up and take notice if Clemens went to the Big House.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Schilling Out

I don't know that Curt Schilling will ever pitch again.

That certainly clears up the "problem" of having a six man rotation. Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield, and Buchholz are a pretty good staff. They'll need Julian Tavarez again this year, because there's no way that Lester and Buchholz make 35 starts apiece. Tavarez isn't a bad option for a spot starter.

It wouldn't surprise me if Schilling came back for the last couple of months. Between Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz, they'll need a new arm then anyway. I don't know if the Sox will make the post-season, but since I think Schilling is a borderline Hall of Fame guy right now, another couple of good post-season starts would help his case considerably.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I went for a run yesterday and I noticed that I was wearing Asics shoes, Nike socks, and Adidas shorts. Is that the success of branding, or is that the failure of branding? I dunno.

This is boring. I am so ready for Opening Day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Among the *many* ludicrous things Clemens said yesterday was a bizarre discussion of his availability to George Mitchell. Someone asked him why he didn't respond to Mitchell when Mitchell asked to talk to him when he was preparing the report.

Clemens said that he didn't know that Mitchell wanted to talk with him and went on at length about how easy he is to find, emphasizing how he responded to Bud Selig when Selig asked him to be a member of the USA team for the World Baseball Classic. He blames Bud Selig for not contacting him.

Obviously this is wildly irrelevant. Although he didn't pick up the phone to call Clemens personally, Mitchell DID contact his agents on multiple occasions. I can't imagine that his agents didn't pass word along to Clemens that he was under investigation. It's ridiculous for Clemens to try to blame Mitchell or Selig.

I'd wager that his agents told him that Mitchell was asking about him, but they also advised him to ignore Mitchell, which was the same advice the players union was giving. Oops.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


The Clemens hearings were today, at least the first round. Tom Verducci has a great summary.

At this point, I don't think *anyone* is believable. It's clear that McNamee should never be trusted. I'm sure some of the things he's saying are the truth. But he's now changing his story too many times for me to keep track.

Clemens is also entirely unbelievable. He keeps changing his story, and he never managed to describe why McNamee would lie about what happened.

I think part of the problem is that professional athletes aren't used to having anyone actually pay attention to what they say. They are asked dumb questions ("What does this game mean for you?") their whole life, they give the same stock answers ("We're taking things one game at a time") and then repeat. Their job isn't to be honest, it's to perform on the field. They are used to lying, both the big lies and the small ones. Normally, they are the ones who choose what questions to answer and which sportswriters to ignore. Here, the dynamic is reversed. Congress chooses the questions, but they have to come up with something for every one of them.

Outside the bubble, where people actually pay attention to their every word, and where their questioners have the power, they stumble. They're not used to this.

Not surprisingly, these hearings give sportswriters the opportunity to look ridiculous. Jason Stark:

What I'll be looking for -- what you should be looking for -- is who squirms, who stammers, who hedges. Look for body language. Look for who can't recall what.

Hey Jayson, do you by any chance remember the last round of congressional hearings? Do you remember if there was a player who had the whole 'convincing body language' thing down? Remember how that turned out? Maybe don't trust the body language quite to much.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More steroids

For a long time, Barry Bonds and his lawyers would insist that this whole steroids investigation was really just a ploy to "get" Bonds.

While it played well in San Francisco, it wasn't really true, and they're going to have a hard time getting anyone to believe that argument anymore.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hall of Fame

Time to start thinking about baseball.

What active pitchers will make the Hall of Fame?

Maddux, Glavine, and Randy Johnson are clearly in. Clemens may or may not be added to that group pending the steroids investigation.

There there are a bunch of guys who may or may not make it:

Mussina, Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Smoltz, Pettitte. I think we can discard Pettitte too, due to steroids.

Mussina has the most wins, 250. He also has a respectable postseason record of 7-8 with a 3.42 ERA. On the other hand, he won 19 games twice, never won the World Series or a Cy Young, and pitched in just three All Star games. His prospects are doubtful; he's never had a signature moment that everyone will remember.

Then there's Schilling. A late bloomer, he has 216 wins, most of them after the age of 30. However, he's also 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in the postseason, which is outstanding. He has three 20 win seasons. He won three World Series rings and his postseason performances in 2001 and 2004 are legendary. I think he will make the Hall. It would help to have another good year, although that may be doubtful at this point. I still think he makes it.

Pedro Martinez is 36, so he could pitch on for a few more years. As of now, he has 209 wins, with just 93 losses. He has a postseason record of 6-2 and a 3.40 ERA. He's got one ring with Boston and was a member of that potentially great 1994 Montreal Expos team. He also has three Cy Young awards, and six Koufaxian years from 1997-2002 when he went 104-32. In 2000, in the midst of the Steroid Era, his ERA was 1.74. It bears repeating: an ERA of 1.74. I think Pedro would probably make the Hall of Fame today--did I mention the three Cy Youngs?--but with another couple of decent years, he'll be in for sure.

Smoltz is a tougher call. I think he has a completely unique career. I don't know of any other starter who closed for three years and went back to being a dominant starter. He has "only" 207 wins, but he's also 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA in the postseason. The Braves made the playoffs every year, but only have one World Series title. I don't know about Smoltz. He did win a Cy Young but has just one season of more than 17 wins. As of now, I don't think he's in.

Career wins are a strange thing, though. Jamie Moyer has more wins than Schilling, even though Moyer didn't really start collecting them until his mid 30s. And Kenny Rodgers has more than Pedro. But neither of them are going to the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mitt Romney

So long!

When Romney first started running, I figured he would characterize himself as a relatively nonideological, pro-business, socially moderate former governor who would emphasize his management experience and competence. I figured he would be a pretty strong candidate in the general election if he got the Republican nomination.

At some point he must have decided he had to completely reinvent himself as a Bible-thumping conservative, ignoring all of his accomplishments over the last ten years. Then he kept changing messages until no one knew what he was for.

Except extreme partisanship. I find the following quote, which he made in his concession speech, vile and inexcusable:

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This is outrageous. How would a victory by Clinton or Obama be a surrender to terror?

Good riddance, Romney. Go back to your millions and leave the rest of us alone.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Johan Santana

I think Santana is going to be great for the Mets. He's been the best pitcher in baseball the last four years. With the National League's weaker lineups, there's no reason he can't win 20 games next year.

(I would be remiss if I didn't note my outstanding record of analyzing blockbuster pitching deals.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

So Long! Farewell!

Sayonara, Rudy Giuliani!

Finally you can go back to being a jerk, further alienating your family, and making scads of money from Hugo Chavez. We'll miss you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Santana to the Mets?

Sports Illustrated is reporting that Johan Santana will end up on the Mets.

This is obviously huge for the Mets. Life's a lot easier with a #1 starter in the rotation.

Also I think it's crushing for the Yankees. As I've said before, the staff was bad last year. As of now, their 2008 rotation is

Wang (3.70 ERA, a solid #2 starter)
Pettitte (4.05 ERA last year; #3 starter)
Mussina (5.15 ERA last year; a #4 starter at best)
Kei Igawa (67 innings pitched in major league baseball)
and choose among
Phil Hughes (72 innings pitched in major league baseball)
Joba Chamberlain (24 innings pitched in major league baseball)
Ian Kennedy (19 innings pitched in major league baseball)

Pettitte and Mussina are on the downward slopes of their careers. There's a lot of potential among the bottom three guys, but still. Unless the Yankees want to destroy their careers, none of the last three guys is throwing 200 innings next year. They could stay in the bullpen all year, but it seems very unlikely that any of them will make any playoff starts.

The Yankees *needed* Johan Santana. If the Mets end up with him, the Yankees must get someone else to start, right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Sports Doldrums

This is such a boring time of year for sports fans. Spring training is far away. The bowl games are done. I could theoretically care about the NBA, but why start paying attention before the playoffs?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Christopher Hitchens, are you reading this blog?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mike Huckabee on the confederate flag:

You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do.

Shame, Mike, shame.

Monday, January 07, 2008


This Clemens story is going to be great. He just filed a defamation lawsuit against his old trainer, Brian McNamee.

The legal case is so weak that it must be for show.

In nonlawyer talk, to win a defamation case a plaintiff has to show that the defendant made a false statement and that he (the plaintiff) suffered damages. Was McNamee's statement false? Obviously, that's the big debate--whether McNamee told the truth. Clemens would have to show that McNamee lied. Seems unlikely, considering that McNamee testified to the Feds under penalty of perjury.

Even worse for Clemens, it's harder for "public figures" to win a defamation case. The theory is that public figures voluntarily put themselves out there to be praised by people, so they also have to accept more criticism. As a public figure, Clemens will also have to show that McNamee acted with "actual malice". I don't think he can show actual malice.

McNamee made his comments under oath to the Feds. Even if McNamee is lying, and it would be crazy for him to lie under oath, it doesn't make sense that he would have actual malice to Clemens. (I suppose it's theoretically possible that he has a big grudge against Clemens and made all this up to "get" him, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.)

In any event, I'm sure the legal ridiculousness is just starting!

Friday, January 04, 2008

One More Michigan Post least for the next few months.

Michigan's win over Florida was great, of course. I also found it a little sad. In the game, Michigan opened up the offense with four or five receivers and looked to spread out Florida's defense so Henne could pick them apart.

The offense looked great. It was fantastic. Our individual receivers are so big and strong and fast that Florida's defensive backs couldn't cover them one on one.

So the big question is why has Michigan never run this offense before? Michigan has the talent (Michigan always has the talent). Why not open the offense before the bowl game? I know that Henne was hurt much of the year. But why not install the offense from the start of the year? For that matter, why not use it in last year's Rose Bowl?

The problem with Lloyd Carr and/or Mike Debord (Michigan's offensive coordinator the last several years) is that he plays too conservatively. The sad part of this game is that we could have run a more imaginative offense the last several years, scored more points, and probably Lloyd would have gone out after a successful season, not just a successful game.

But that's all in the past. If we can count on Rodriguez for anything, we can know that the days of a dull offense are long gone.