There are few things in this world that confound me more than our obsession with other people’s opinions.
Honestly, why is it that we spend so much time caring if Martin Sheen is anti-war, Dennis Miller is pro-war, or if Leonardo DiCaprio is pro-hazlenut? So what if a reliever having a somewhat surprisingly good year is uncomfortable with guys who like other guys, in a different way. Big deal.
I’m referring, of course, to last week’s comments in the The Denver Post from Rockies pitcher Todd Jones, which read: “I wouldn’t want a gay guy being around me. It’s got nothing to do with me being scared. That’s the problem: All these people say he’s got all these rights. Yeah, he’s got rights or whatever, but he shouldn’t walk around proud. It’s like he’s rubbing it in our face. ‘See me, hear me roar.’ We’re not trying to be close-minded, but then again, why be confrontational when you don’t really have to be?”
Once again, I spent my day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Due to rain and wind, we weren’t able to go out on the track, but we did discover that I will be the one in the car tomorrow morning. We’ll go out at around 200 mph and I’m as scared as I am excited. I’ve seen major league fastballs before, and standing in the pits watching Tora Takagi fly by me at 229 mph was every bit as awe-inspiring. The car rushes down the long straight, sucking up air, whooshes by with 800 horsepower screaming, and then vanishes into a tunnel they call a turn. They’re going to strap me into one of those tomorrow. I’m not sure if I wouldn’t rather face Roger Clemens when he’s cross-eyed and angry.
The Red Sox channel the spirit of Jerry Remy to shake off their sloth-like ways, the Reds ask who’s on third, and the Padres would be nuts to convert Oliver Perez to closer. Plus more news and notes from Boston, Cincy, and San Diego.
Welcome to the third and final instalment of my look at the meaningfulness of the first few dozen games of a team season. (Go back and review Parts 1 and 2 here. There will be a test later.) This final article looks to merge a team’s starting record with its established performance over the past few years, to come up with a formula that most accurately projects its final record based on the available data. Warning: If you thought Part 2 was laden with too many equations, you’re not going to like Part 3 any better.
I ended Part 2 with a projection that the Royals, based on their 17-5 start, are projected to finish with about 97 wins. The folly with that logic should be self-evident, but let me share some evidence with you to make the point a little more clear.
When the Royals’ record reached 13-3, my inner circle of fellow Royals fans finally got serious about questioning whether such a strong start really meant anything in light of the team’s 100-loss season in 2002. I decided to look for comparable teams throughout history that had gotten off to a similar start. Using my database of all teams from 1930 to 1999, I found a total of 75 teams that started the season either 12-4, 13-3, or 14-2. Sixty-three of those teams, or 84%, finished above .500. As a group, they finished with a .545 winning percentage.
But it’s not all roses. Because I then whittled down that group to look only at those teams that had played less than .420 ball the previous season, which corresponds to a 68-94 record or worse.
The Yankees’ minor-league cupboard is nearly bare, but Drew Henson isn’t part of the solution. The Marlins play rotation Yahtzee after Burnett and Redman go down. Plus the Pirates’ offense continues to struggle sans Giles et avec Lofton.
By the time you read this, it’s possible that I’ll be moving faster than a heater from Roger Clemens or Kerry Wood, faster than Mark Prior or Randy Johnson, or even faster than a Jamie Moyer plus a Doug Jones. How is this possible? In my duties covering the Indianapolis 500 for ESPN 950, I’ll be the backup “driver” for one of the two-seat Indy Cars that are set to take select journalists around the fabled track. I’m still hoping Greg Rakestraw gets the shot he deserves, but after standing on the “yard of bricks” at the start/finish line today, I would be lying to say I didn’t want the chance to go around at speed.
Watching those cars fly by at twice the speed of a Billy Wagner fastball–with some to spare–is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. Here’s a couple of links of what I might just be doing tomorrow. Let’s just hope the next UTK isn’t “Will Carroll smashed into the SAFER barrier at 200 mph, fracturing every bone in his body.” There’s a lot of things I don’t have in common with Jason Priestley and some of them, I’d like to keep that way.
Last night, the White Sox lost their 10th game in 14 tries, dropping a rain-shortened 5-1 decision to the Mariners. In addition to lowering their record to 15-16, by scoring just one run their runs-per-game fell to a meager 4.2, placing them 12th in the American League (and 10th in Equivalent Average).
Why do the White Sox suck at the plate? This team was third in the league in runs scored last year, and they return essentially the same cast of characters. I expected them to have one of the better offenses in the league, thanks in part to a full season of Joe Crede at third base, and the arrival of Miguel Olivo behind the plate. Those two players, in fact, have been part of the problem; Crede is hitting .235/.259/.353 and Olivo, splitting the catching duties down the middle with Sandy Alomar Jr., is at .222/.236/.389. Mix in the failure of Aaron Rowand to be an adequate stopgap in center field (.133/.300/.167 in 60 at-bats before his demotion), and you can see that the White Sox infusion of youth has failed badly.
A.J. Burnett doesn’t think Jeff Torborg and Brad Arnsberg had anything to do with his injury. Mark Prior doesn’t think he should back down when facing Barry Bonds or anyone else. Todd Jones just doesn’t think.
The Angels won’t have as big a hole to fill with Darrin Erstad out as they think, the Orioles could actually benefit from Segui and Cordova going on the shelf, Jody Gerut and Gerald Laird get well-earned opportunities, while Jermaine Clark doesn’t.
Jim Evans broke into Major League Baseball in 1972 as the youngest umpire ever at age 23. His career spanned 28 seasons, including 18 as a crew chief. He umpired four World Series, eight League Championship Series, three All-Star games, and was the plate umpire for Nolan Ryan’s first no-hitter. Currently, Jim is the owner and chief instructor of the leading professional umpire-training academy, the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, founded in 1989. He recently chatted with BP about his career in the bigs, the intricacies of the rule book, and a few dustups with ornery managers.
On Tuesday, Florida Marlins’ starter A.J. Burnett underwent Tommy John surgery, after exploration of the elbow revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The surgery went well, and Burnett’s expected to return fully healthy down the road. Previously, pitchers who have had this surgery take about a year, maybe a year and a half, to get back on the mound and eventually return to form. The procedure and rehab have become something of a commonplace miracle, despite the fact that the rehabilitation regimen’s about as appealing as a porta-potty at the Stockton Asparagus Festival.
The real issue here isn’t Burnett, however unfortunate his injury is. We wish him the best, and I have no doubts that he’ll push the rehab envelope and get back as soon as he can. The real issue here is painfully obvious–was this avoidable? You’ve already seen a number of perspectives about pitcher abuse, injury likelihood, and the very nature of pitching itself, so I won’t go into too much detail here. I think the real interesting issue here is a long-underlying one that’s been talked about, but never really addressed. That issue is the balance between performance, overwork, responsibility, and accountability when it comes to handling pitchers. So let’s put aside the specific case of Burnett, and examine the issue.
Milton Bradley reminds us why we shouldn’t give up on good prospects, Fred McGriff has fallen off the face of the Earth, and Greg Colbrunn was last seen wearing cement sandals at the bottom of Puget Sound. Plus other happenings with the Indians, Dodgers, and Mariners.