An amazing music video featuring a World Series game between the Cubs and the A's was unearthed recently.
It was 1992. The Oakland A's, behind Tony La Russa, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and the Bash Brothers, were only a year removed from a three-year run in the World Series. The Cubs, meanwhile, had been to the playoffs once in eight years, and Greg Maddux was only just beginning his stretch as the greatest pitcher alive. Away from sports, Garth Brooks had friends in low places, Pearl Jam was destroying the charts, and Uncle Jesse was breaking little girls' hearts all over the world. Not to be forgotten, Chicago Cubs fan Richard Marx was dreaming of a World Series win for the North Siders.
From this early-'90s potpurri, a music video was born. No, it wasn't "Jeremy" or even that silly Beach Boys video that had Uncle Jesse up on stage drumming. Not even close.
Losing Manny Ramirez for a quarter of the season isn't automatically a death knell. Pedro Martinez has just one good start against a good opponent this year, but that's the scheduler's fault. I'm hardly off the hook for advancing the claim that he won't make it to ten starts, and if losing Martinez was one of my major theories about what would lay hope low in Beantown, losing Ramirez for a month and a half might make you think I'd peg this as the beginning of the end.
Placed OF-R Manny Ramirez on the 15-day DL (fractured finger); purchased the contract of UT-B Bry Nelson from Pawtucket. [5/14]
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Jonah Keri has ably analyzed the Colon trade and its ridiculousness for the Expos. I want to focus on the deal as an indicator of the shadiness and shame implied by the league's ownership of the Expos.
First, some background. For better and for worse, Major League Baseball is a legal cartel. As such, it may be thought of as a sort of open, friendly conspiracy (it conspires to keep any competing league from offering top-level baseball in North America). Nothing wrong with that in itself -- we happily put up with cartels in most of our major sports, and in other areas of life as well. And as long as I the consumer understand the arrangement, benefit from it, and have some kind of recourse to get out from under it, what's the problem? No one makes me spend money on MLB or the NFL. If I have a beef with one of these cartels, I can always boycott their sponsors, or push for new laws to rein them in, or just go to Longhorn games instead. So far, so good.
But for their own long-term health, sports leagues must convince their consumers that they field a fair product, or else the entire attraction of honest competition is ruined. By this token, baseball's fans must be able to believe that MLB holds itself in check by various means, whether in the structure of the amateur draft, or in a player's arbitration calendar, or in the rules of the waiver wire. These rules (and many others) allow for open explanations of events: The Red Sox signed Johnny Damon fair and square under the free agency rules; the Yankees got stuck with Jose Canseco's contract because the Rays really were looking to unload him via waivers; there's only so long the Expos can hold onto Vlad Guerrero thanks to his free-agency calendar. And so on.
Whether we like an individual piece of news or not, we have reason to believe that matters were handled out in the open. The league's internal rules are made even more potent in this regard since they're monitored by a powerful player's union and, at least in theory, by an independent press.
Onto the problem at hand. The very nature of the league's ownership of the Expos raises the specter of misconduct - of a violation of consumers' trust - because it subverts this system of checks. Because the league now controls the Expos' players, this specter extends not just to Expos fans, but to fans of other teams (like the Red Sox), and to followers of the league as a whole.
Protestations of innocence from Selig & Co. are irrelevant. Maybe the Commissioner does have firewalls in place such that he holds no sway on the Expos' day-to-day operations. It doesn't matter. Again, it is the very nature of the arrangement that opens the way for back-channel, conspiratorial explanations for events. Indeed, given the current arrangement, it actually becomes logical to entertain such notions.
When Jose Canseco finally announced his retirement last week, I thought little of his case for Cooperstown, citing him as a one-dimensional player, with too much of his value wrapped up in a five-year span. However, after reading Joe Sheehan's Tuesday edition of the Daily Prospectus, I slowly began to rethink my position.
When it comes to baseball-related discussion, there are few topics that pique my interest more than ones involving the Hall of Fame. It's just the seriousness of it all, I suppose. What is the definition of a Hall of Famer? Does anyone really know? If Kirby Puckett is now enshrined in Cooperstown, does that mean Al Oliver should be too? How much preference do you give to peak value? What's really so special about 3,000 hits? Don't you just hate Pete Rose?
Nevertheless, when it comes to arguing my favorite cases, the one system I have found to be the most consistent and fair in its analysis is not something that is based on a formula, per se, or a series of benchmarks like 500 home runs or 300 wins. Rather, the method I have found to be most logical in its evaluation is a Bill James tool called the "Ken Keltner List."
The Keltner List is a set of 15 questions that are used to evaluate the merits of a potential Hall of Famer, not necessarily to replace statistical analysis, but to complement its weaknesses with a dose of common sense. As described by James, in his book The Politics of Glory:
Nevertheless, when it comes to arguing my favorite cases, the one system I have found to be the most consistent and fair in its
analysis is not something that is based on a formula, per se, or a series of benchmarks like 500 home runs or 300 wins.
Rather, the method I have found to be most logical in its evaluation is a Bill James tool called the "Ken Keltner
The Keltner List is a set of 15 questions that are used to evaluate the merits of a potential Hall of Famer, not necessarily to
replace statistical analysis, but to complement its weaknesses with a dose of common sense. As described by James, in his book
The Politics of Glory: