Friday, August 29, 2008

Chris Coste Interview

Over at my regular blog, I run an irregular series of short interviews with various writers. The latest victim? Phillies catcher and author Chris Coste. Enjoy...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pedro, Part I

Last night's line for Pedro Martinez:
5 IP, 5 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 8K, 2 HR

Last night's line for the Mets' much-maligned bullpen:
7.1 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 12 H, 4 BB (including 2 IBB), 8 K, 0 HR

The pen may have blown a 2 run lead. But Pedro's the one who let it get whittled down to 2 from 7. Or, to put it another way, the pen's ERA last night was 3.68. Pedro's was 9.00.

Then again, who cares when we've got media tropes to cling to.

Nein! Nein! Nine!

Can we please stop turning the New Haven little league mess into some kind of political referendum?

The kid was too good for his competition. Fine. Bump him up a league and there you go. Every issue of ESPN has some story or other about a famous pro athlete who was too good for his middle school/age group/junior varsity, wasn't allowed to play with kids his own age, and had to play with the big kids. It happens all the damn time with no fuss and bother.

Except, of course, that the kid's coach decided to defy the league mandate and pitch the kid anyway. It's not like they said he couldn't play; he was doing just fine at second base. But this wannabe Billy Martin decided that he was going to go all Buford Pusser on the little league - which, last time I checked, was about the kids - and when he broke the rules, the other team got pulled off the field.

So I don't particularly blame the league. I certainly don't blame the kid. I don't particularly blame the coaches of the other team, who, when confronted with an act showing calculated disdain toward the dictates of the volunteer group they were all working for. I do blame the coach, whose need to win appears to have reached such a pathological level that he decided his need to have this kid pitch for him was more important than the entire league.

And it's nothing more than that. So the talking heads who were doomsaying about how this was a result of "everyone gets a prize for participating" culture while waxing rhapsodic about how they all got taken out for ice cream after their games, win or lose, well, they can put a sock in it until they can find irony with something other than a magnet.

ZOMG Replay

So exactly how many disputed home run calls are there in a given game, anyway? A given week? Two? Three?

Yeah, that's going to slow down games a lot.

Sigh.

All Hail Uncle Cholly!

First things first: The Phillies had absolutely no business winning this one. Down 7-0? Forget it.

Except they clawed back into it, keyed by the suddenly rejuvenated Jimmy Rollins, and took it in deep extras, with Kyle Kendrick warming up in the pen. And the key? Charlie Manuel's willingness to go unconventional with his bullpen. Specifically, he didn't save closer Brad Lidge for the mythical lead the Phillies might never get. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but in extra innings, there are no save opportunities for the home team.) No, Uncle Cholly sent Lidge out there in the 9th, down by a run and desperately needing to keep the gap from getting any bigger, and Lidge delivered.

And Rollins? On fire. Three steals, five hits, a homer...that's a couple of mighty impressive games he's strung together.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your first-place Philadelphia Phillies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God, No!

MLB Trade Rumors is speculating that the recently released Mike Lamb could be a good pickup for the Phillies, who recently ran ex-Expo Andy Tracy out there for his first major league AB since 2004.

To which all I can say is "things aren't that bad, are they?"

A Nod to the Big Guy

Generally, I find Hall of Fame debates to be silly. They're a great way to fill up column inches, but the guys doing the voting generally don't read those columns, and so they end up being a way to incite readers to frothing because their favorite players have been left out of the discussion. Never mind that those guys might be bobblehead-worthy at best; everyone's got rabid supporters who want to be heard RIGHT NOW. These are the folks who think that Omar Vizquel holds a candle to Ozzie Smith; who think Don Mattingly = Lou Gehrig, who are thumping that Jeff Reardon candidacy (and yes, they're out there) as hard as they can.

But tonight, I join them when I say Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer. 535 homers, no matter what era, matters. Say what you want about the time in which he played, you still don't see a lot of guys zooming past ol' double-X in the career homers rankings. Besides, there's never even been a whiff of performance enhancers associated with Thome; the dude's just big.

The arguments against him, near as I can tell, consist of A) He played at a time when lots of people hit home runs, B) he played lousy defense before he was a DH and C) he's not David Ortiz. The only answers to this are So, Yeah, and So what? The guy has hit 535 home runs, and he's not done yet. He has taken reasonable doubt and clubbed it into the fourteenth row of the left-center field bleachers. Based purely on the merits of his career, he should go in.

Of course, he won't be judged just on those merits. He'll be dinged for relatively few postseason appearances. He'll get nicked for relatively low batting averages and MVP election results. He was never flashy, but he always was good, and Dewey Evans and Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo can tell you that's no way to get into the Hall of Fame.

But he's hit 535 homers, and he's not slowing down much. It's a cold hard number that even the Bill Plaschkes of the world can understand (assuming it's presented in a one-sentence paragraph), and it's a number that says "I'm one of the best. Ever."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Notebook

So let me get this straight: A Cuban tae kwon do competitor was disqualified for taking too long after an injury, and reacted to his disqualification by attacking the judge (who, presumably, also knows tae kwon do, or he wouldn't be judging it)? Call me crazy, but if you're well enough to go berserk on the official, you're probably well enough to get back in there.

***

With statements by IOC President Jacques Rogge have made it very clear: the disappearance of baseball and softball from the Olympics after this year is nothing more than a power play. Rogge said baseball would be back as soon as MLB agreed to shut down its season and send those players to the games. In other words, our games are bigger than your games, so do what we tell you to and we'll give you the opportunity to help line our coffers.
To which, of course, MLB said a polite "Screw you, we've got our own international tournament, thanks" and that's where it sits (despite IABF president Harvey Schiller's apparent eagerness to sell out MLB). That's where it should sit, frankly, because it wouldn't just be a case of shutting down baseball season for two weeks during the Olympics. It would also mean shutting down games for qualifiers. It would mean disrupting the season at different points, often in the middle of the pennant races. It would mean inevitable injuries when some third-string situational lefty from the Netherlands decides to take his moment of Olympic glory and use it to put a fastball behind Chase Utley's ear. And most of all, it would mean kow-towing to the corrupt, mismanaged, tantrum-throwing blackmail machine that is the IOC, which has no qualms about using the hammer of patriotism to shame people into making its generally loathsome* executives very rich indeed.
And lost in all this is the irony. The Olympics are crying foul because MLB isn't sending its best professional athletes. How long ago was it that the US was brutalized in the world press for daring to send professional basketball players? How long ago were the Olympics held up as the ideal of the amateur athlete?
It all smells like hypocrisy. And greed. And money.

***

I'm very glad the Olympic basketball team did not act like dickweeds this time around. That being said, most people take that as a baseline for civilized human behavior. We've come a long way, but that doesn't mean we've followed the right road.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Magnets? Really?

So the Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Car Team (say that three times fast) got caught sticking magnets under the gas pedals of their cars to try to fudge their true horsepower whenNASCAR's testing staff checked out their cars.

In other words, they cheated, and to my eyes J.D. Gibbs didn't look the slightest bit repentant at his "shucks, someone done messed up" press conference. NASCAR has always embraced the SEC ethos of "if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying", but these days it's getting ridiculous.

The reason, of course, is that the penalties NASCAR levies for anything up to and including attempted vehicular homicide are negligible. A few thousand dollars, a handful of driver points, maybe a few other slaps on the wrist. If someone did something really bad, a crew chief might get suspended for a race or two. Not the driver, of course. Not the guy the sponsors want out there. It's the crew chief, who no doubt can sit back in the trailer with a headset on and pretty much do his job just as well as if he were in Pit Row.

And if the penalties are a joke, then why not cheat? Even if you're caught, it's not going to cost you anything. But magnets under the gas pedal? That's a good one.

Playing in the NFL is Not a Privilege

I firmly believe that Andy Gresh was put on this earth to torment me for my sins. Gresh's "everyday joe" persona has long since crossed the border into "total and willful ignoramus", and it's now seeking political asylum there.

Tonight's bit of genius involved frothing at the mouth over the Bengals' decision to bring back wide receiver and cell block H favorite Chris Henry. On one hand, he's right - the Bengals' front office and brain trust take a tremendous credibility hit by bringing back the guy who singlehandedly exemplifies the Bengals' lawless tradition of recent years, and whom they'd publicly said they weren't interested in.

That being said, that's not what got Gresh going. No, what had him geysering all over the mike was the notion that Henry had abused the privilege of playing professional football in the NFL.

The privilege.

And about the ninth time I heard those words, I was ready to stop the car and tear down a medium-sized pine tree with my teeth and fingernails because of the sheer stupidity of that statement, and what it implies.

It is not a "privilege" to play in the NFL. If you are playing professional football, it is because one of the 32 pocket dictators called a "head coach" has decided that you can help him win games and sell tickets. That is it. It is not a privilege. It is a job. It is a business transaction between the player, who offers his services and health (long term and short term) in exchange for fame, fortune, and the perks of being a professional athlete in our society. The players inevitably lose t his transaction, because they are all ultimately replaceable, and because the currency they bring to the table is their own physical and mental well-being, at the end of the ride they are inevitably diminished in some way. It is not a privilege, it is a well-paying, hazardous, dangerous profession and considering the revenues that the players bring in by their athleticism and willingness to sacrifice themselves, they are entitled to as much of that pie as they can grab as their due. Nobody pays 50 yard line seat prices to watch Tom Benson, after all.

Do players get privileged treatment during their playing days? Of course. But that's confusing correlation with causation. They get privileged treatment, whether from the police or the media or the dewy-eyed young women at post-game watering holes because of their profession, not as part of it. The privilege falls away once you stop playing for all but the most transcendent few, and it becomes clear that particular sort of treatment is not about the player.

Instead, it's about the team, and not in the rah-rah way. As long as the player is viewed making a positive contribution - or at least more of a contribution than his replacement might - he's coddled regardless of pretty much anything he might do. Treated with kid gloves. Given second or third or ninth chances. Witness Steve Smith, who's injured two teammates in fistfights. Witness pharmaceutical fiend Bill Romanowski. Witness Leonard Little, who killed someone in a drunk driving incident and then was caught blotto behind the wheel again. Witness Terrell Owens and Nick Kaczur and Adam Jones and Odell Thurman and Todd Sauerbrun and more. The lesson is clear: if you can play, we want you, and everything else is details. That's not privilege. That's cold-eyed evaluation of an asset, and Chris Henry understands this better than Andy Gresh does. Henry knows that as long as he can play well, there will be someone in the league who will hire him, who will make excuses for him, who will say "it won't happen here." And it will keep happening as long as he has the skills and athletic prowess to justify his place on the field. The second he can't, then he'll be cut, cast out, moralized against, and forgotten, and it will start again with someone else.

But as long as he can play, and no matter what people like you or me or Andy Gresh think, then Chris Henry will continue to get hired. Not privileged. Hired.

Of course, Gresh's job hinges on portraying the act of playing football as something noble and unique and wonderful, so he's perhaps got a vested interest in perpetuating that particular myth. But it is a myth, and deep down, I suspect he knows it. If he doesn't, he can just ask Deltha O'Neal. Or Steve Foley. Or, for that matter, Steve Howe. Or Ryne Duren. Or Micheal Ray Richardson. Or Shawn Kemp.

They'd probably tell him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breakdown (Go Ahead And Give It To Me)

There's some handwringing and concern, especially in the analytic side of the baseball community (or, if you prefer, "nerds") about the workload the Brewers are piling onto C.C. Sabathia. The thought process goes something like this: since the Brewers know they've got a whelk's chance in a supernova of re-signing Sabathia, they're going to wring every single inning they can out of him next year. Hence, we're treated to the sight of Sabathia going back out there for the 9th inning of a game where he's got a 7 run lead, as Ned Yost adheres to a "smoke 'em if you've got 'em" philosphy as regards hefty starting pitchers who are shorttimers and throw gas.

The worry, from the stathead point of view, is twofold. One, last year Sabathia clearly wore down right around playoff time, and if the Brewers are planning on making an October push they'd probably prefer a healthy Sabathia to a gassed one. Two, all of this unnecessary workload is making it more likely that Sabathia's going to break down at some point.

To which, I suspect, the feeling from Milwaukee is "that's the Yankees' problem". Or the Dodgers, or whoever; next year is next year, and whatever shape Sabathia's shoulder and elbow are in after 2008 wraps up will be someone else's problem. The Brewers are under no formal obligation to protect Sabathia. Their mandate is to win this year, and to extract whatever it takes from their players in order to do so. If that takes a hypothetical year or five off the back end of Sabathia's career, well, flags fly forever.

Over at Baseball Prospectus they've been advocating this sort of treatment of pending free agents forever as the best way to maximize team resources. From a strict cost/benefit analysis, it makes a lot of sense. You have an asset now, you maximize that asset while you possess it, and what happens after it leaves your possession is Someone Else's Problem.

Except that in the closed system of professional baseball, it isn't entirely SEP. After all, the Brewers may face Sabathia next year, and beyond. The teams they battle for playoff spots will face him, too. What happens this year, the usage patterns and the consequences of those patterns, will resonate with the Brewers for years to come. It will be at a much lower level, of course, than if the big guy is still rocking Bernie Brewer's world, but it will be there.

So, if you're the particularly paranoid, or suspicious, or dastardly sort, you can start to wonder if there is in fact an ulterior motive to what the Brewers are doing with Sabathia. After all, if he breaks next year, he breaks on someone else's payroll, expensively - and he doesn't pitch against the Brewers.

This is not to say that Bob Melvin and Ned Yost are deliberately and maliciously sabotaging Sabathia's ulnar ligaments and career. In fact, I'd be shocked and horrified if they'd even considered it. Both seem like upright, straightforward gents who are baseball lifers, and baseball lifers just don't do that sort of thing. But if I've thought of it, then someone else has thought of it, and maybe, just maybe someone's agent has thought of it and is going to take steps to prevent his client from being ridden hard and put away wet. In its own weird way, the case of what Sabathia did in the Ninth may end up having a profound and lasting effect on how players and clubs interact over impending free agency.

Maddux Redux

Reports all over the place are claiming that the Los Angeles Dodgers Who Don't Go Anywhere Near Anaheim have once again acquired Greg Maddux for their stretch run. Maddux is, at this point, in the Harvey Haddix phase of his career; smarter people than I have argued about whether he's league-average or below league-average at this point, but what he does give you are innings and strikes.

When the Dodgers tried to get Maddux at the trade deadline, there was widespread rumbling that they insisted that the Padres pay all of his remaining salary in addition to taking what was in essence a pile of used sweat socks back. Wisely, the Padres said no to this, but with Brad Penny going down, one would hope that the Dodgers would be a little more flexible in what they're offering.

Mind you, this deal is weird on several levels already. Maddux essentially came out and said LA was the only team he'd accept a trade to, which not only tied San Diego's hands, but also stapled GM Kevin Towers' feet to the floor. But with that being said, the real question is what Towers will be able to extract from Ned "Snowmiser" Colletti and his fabled, Smaug-like hoard of prospects. The Andy LaRoche trade shows that Colletti's death grip on his farm system is loosening ever so slightly; either that, or farm director Logan White's lost a power struggle that we don't know about. But what is certain is that if the Dodgers give up a reasonable prospect for Maddux, and take less money as well, then Colletti's definitely desperate, definitely playing for this year, and probably playing for his job.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Swing and a Miss

For all of the handwringing over the Phillies' pitching, their real weakness is the ability of good pitching to shut down their offense. And once they've been shut down for a bit, then they start to press, and they get shut down for longer. Witness their recent cold streak, wherein the team has averaged roughly three runs per game for the month of August.

Or, to put it another way, when you come in to San Diego to play a Padres team that is throwing guys like Cha Seung Bek out there and starting guys like Luke Carlin and Luis Rodriguez (to say nothing of the return of Brian Myrow), you need to do a hell of a lot better than 6 runs in 3 games. I'd buy that whole "Petco suppresses offense" thing more easily if San Diego hadn't erupted for 8 runs in the second game of the series, more than the Phils put up over the course of the entire series.

They're coming in off the road now, and with luck the cozy dimensions at First Citizens' will wake up the thunder a little bit. If they don't, then the Phils are going to be playing golf this October.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Important Thing To Remember About Steve Smith's Concussion...

...is that at least he didn't give himself this one sucker-punching himself in the head.

Two men he's been teammates with, not quite capable of saying that.

Now, can you imagine what the media frenzy would have been like if Prince Fielder had tried to take Manny Parra's block off the way Smith went after a teammate? Not a pretty picture, is it?

Friday, August 15, 2008

All Hail the Wormkiller General!

I took my father to the Bulls game tonight - just grownups this time, no nephews. The DBAP was packed, which had me scratching my head as we headed for the ticket window. After all, while it was a lovely evening, it was a Thursday and, not to put too fine a point on it, but it was Norfolk. In the words of Officer Barbrady, "Nothing to see here, people."

The surprise continued when I bought our seats at the walkup window. We were most of the way up in the last section in left-center, which meant that there was indeed a full house. Clarity returned, however, when I saw the big banner draped across the top of the stairwell leading into the concourse: Best Buy $1 Concessions Night. One dollar hot dogs, one dollar fries, one dollar popcorn - a great deal. And if the cynic in me notes that they're only missing the soft pretzels to have the Four Horseman of the Saltpocalypse on the menu and they're not dropping drink prices, well, that didn't stop me from taking advantage of the deal.

The game itself was mostly a grace note affair in terms of interest. Norfolk threw a sidearmer out there, and while he kept the Bulls off balance for a while, mostly it was their own impatience that was getting them out after a while. The more patient hitters, like ancient backup catcher Mike DeFelice, waited the guy out and then feasted on meatballs when he was forced to throw strikes. Fernando Perez continued to put on a show in the field and on the basepaths, Johnny Gomes kept on trying (and failing) to hit his way back to the bigs with one swing, and Joel Guzman got picked off first base.

But the real story (apart from the giant motorized shopping car that Wool E. Bull and Story, the Hurricanes' mascot, roared around the warning track in to distribute t-shirts by airgun) was Mitch "Wormkiller General" Talbot. Seven shutout innings, lots of swings and misses with his curveball, and sneaking up as high as 93 on the stadium gun every so often. Admittedly, the lineup Norfolk threw out there wasn't exactly what you'd call challenging - for God's sake, one of their big guns offensively was Tike Redman - but even so, it was a masterful pitching performance, and the highlight of the night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Steinbrenner Smarts

So Hank has opened his mouth again and blamed the Yankees' non-performance on injuries. Which, honestly, you can do to a certain extent, but that's not the point. What Steinbrenner's doing, in my humble opinion, is setting the narrative for the offseason. He's just shielded Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman from blame, in essence formally absolving them of what went down this year.

Well played, Hank'n'Stein. Well played.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I suppose it was inevitable

...that we'd get headlines for post-deadline deal announcements like "Dunn Deal" and "Free Byrd". The Byrd deal is pretty straightforward; Theo doesn't trust A)Charlie Zink B)Clay Bucholz C)the rest of his options, and wants a body he can throw into the rotation so he can keep Justin Masterson in the pen for the playoffs. Of course, if the Sawx blow too many more ten run leads, it may be Jim Mora time.

The Dunn deal is both more interesting and sadder. It wasn't that long ago that the Reds were blessed with a surplus of extremely talented outfielders: Ken Griffey Junior, Wily Mo Pena, Adam Dunn, and Austin Kearns. It was conventional wisdom that how the Reds dealt with this surfeit of talent, and the return they got for carefully trading one away, would go a long way toward determining the future of the franchise.

Now, they're all gone, and for pennies (or less) on the dollar. We still don't know the shape of the Arizona trade, but even as a salary dump, it's pointless; the Reds are paying too much of Dunn's remaining deal to get any real relief. Plus, it's not like they had any outfield prospects coming up behind him whom they needed to make room for; the world has seen more than enough of the Hairston & Patterson show already. The haul for all four outfielders? Not even a handful of magic beans.
Some random thoughts from Sunday's game between the Durham Bulls and the Richmond Braves...

  • Coming into this season, the big question on Rays catching prospect John Jaso was his defense. If last night was any indication, he's picked it up quite a bit. He blocked several balls in the dirt (actually, the way the Bulls' starter was throwing, it's a surprise some of those balls made it to the plate) and fired off a throw to second from his knees that was dead on target. The Rays may have an interesting dilemma behind the plate next year.
  • The prize of the Adam LaRoche deal with Pittsburgh, infielder Brent Lillibridge, looks completely lost at the plate. You know that bit in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea where the giant squid grabs the submarine and the various crewmen are whacking at it with whatever's handy? He kind of looks like that. After his second at-bat, he was visibly frustrated and angry, which probably didn't help matters.
  • Chris Chambliss still looks like he could kick your ass.
  • Rays CF prospect Fernando Perez can flat-out fly. I mean, I knew he was fast, but...wow. Plus, he's Ivy League. The proud heritage of Columbia baseball, from Lou Gehrig to Gene Larkin, may just get extended.
  • Elliot Johnson has added what can only be described as a "hop" to his swing. It's like he does a half leg kick when he starts the bat moving, and forgets to put his foot down until the last minute. It's weird and vaguely uncomfortable to watch.
  • Scanning the Richmond dugout, I got a definite sense of "Who are these guys?" Apart from Lillibridge and Brandon Jones on the offensive side of the ball, the most recognizable name I saw was Corky Miller - and he was playing first base. Not catcher. Not "defensive replacement for the catcher". First base, the most important offensive position on the diamond*. I'm starting to get the feeling that there are some dark days ahead for Braves fans.

*I know he's filling in for Scott Thormann, who's with the Olympic team, but that still begs two questions. One, if you're missing Scott Thormann, what does that say about the rest of your offense, and two, if the best you can do to replace him is Corky Miller, what does that say about the rest of your player development?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Secret Brett Favre Diaries, Part IV

August 2nd, 2008

Dear Diary, I am so not answering the phone today. Green Bay kept calling and calling and calling, and every time they wanted the same thing. How many times do I have to tell them, I’m not that kind of quarterback?

But you know what? Roger texted me! Guess who’s getting re-instated? And when I am, I’m going to where my old jersey with the grass stains and the mud and the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, just to show Green Bay what they would have been missing!

August 3rd, 2008

Green Bay sent me a box of chocolates and a check for $25M. I didn’t open the chocolates, ‘cause I’m saving them for the offensive linemen, but the note on the box said they were happy to have me back, and they’re hoping we can be together again. They even said my locker is waiting for me! I’m going to Green Bay right now!

God, so many text messages from Tampa Bay and the Jets. It’s like they don’t believe that Green Bay and I are back together for real. Losers.

August 4th

Aaron Rodgers is SUCH a BITCH! Oh, sure, he was saying all the right things like how he was looking forward to having me back and how much he respects me, but it was ALL a LIE! He wants my team, that two-timing system quarterback WHORE!

And Mike McCarthy says that I’m overreacting, and that there’s nothing there, and, and, and…I HATE THEM SO MUCH!

August 5th, 2008

Dear Diary, there are times when you just have to realize that it’s not going to work. Green Bay and I sat down and had a long talk about our relationship, and how we’ve grown and we’ve changed and handled salary cap situations, and it was pretty clear by the time we were done talking that our lives were taking us in different directions. But we agreed that we should be mature about this, and should work together to find the best solution for everyone, and that we don’t want this to be one of those breakups where it looks like Joe Namath in a Rams uniform, or anything like that. So I’m going to be mature about this. I’m going to take a deep breath, and listen to what Green Bay has to say, and see what happens next.

I got a fortune cookie once that said “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I wish I’d gotten that cookie today, cause it is, like, so true right now.

Huh. Another text message from the Jets. You know, they’ve actually kinda got a nice smile.

August 6th, 2008

Ooh! I am SO MAD! That’s so like the Packers, having a conversation with you one minute and then giving a press conference and telling the whole world about it the next. I thought it was just between us that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be their quarterback, but here’s Mikey McBlabbermouth telling EVERYONE just how I felt.

I mean, how can you trust an organization that’s going to do that to you? You share your deepest feelings, and your fears, and your hopes and your dreams, and they call a press conference. I could just die.

That does it. I am not going to practice for them, no sir. I’m flying home right now, and there’s nothing they can do to stop me. And when I get home, I’m going in my room and I’m putting on my music REALLY REALLY LOUD, and I’m not coming out even if they beg me. Which they will, because they’re, like, Green Bay, and that’s what they do.

So there.

PS-Tampa Bay didn't call me today. I am so over them.

August 7th, 2008

Dear Diary,

I think the Jets and I are going to be very happy together. It’s so nice to be with someone who really loves me and wants me and appreciates how special I am. And the best part is, I won’t have to throw out any of my green clothes.

Who’s the luckiest quarterback in the world? Me, diary. Me.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Secret Brett Favre Diaries, Part III

July 27th, 2008

I am so bummed. Minnesota called and said they can’t date me because, like, their Uncle Roger said that dating within the division is totally gross and if we got married and had running backs they’d have, like, nine heads or something.

July 28th, 2008

I cannot believe the nerve! Green Bay called, and they told me that they would pay me not to come to training camp! That I should stay home and not go out and be happy.

Do I look like that kind of quarterback to you? Do I, diary? I don’t think so.

I am so applying for reinstatement.

July 29th, 2008

Guess who’s re-in-sta-ted? Guess who’s re-instaaaaa-ted?

July 30th, 2008

So, ummm, I’m not, like reinstated? At least, not yet. ‘Cause Minnesota's Uncle Roger hasn’t read the letter or something, which makes me mad, because I used my best stationery and everything. You know, the one with picture of the pony on the envelope that smells like strawberries? I love strawberries. I wonder if they’ll have them at training camp.

August 1st, 2008

I woke up this morning and there was this weird noise outside. So I looked out my window, and there was Tampa Bay. And Tampa Bay was standing there with a CD player, and it was playing a song that I’d never heard before, but it was really pretty and all about my eyes, which was kind of weird, because you’d think Tampa Bay would want to talk about my arm or something.

Then the police came and chased Tampa Bay away because they were wearing a ratty raincoat and Mrs. Romanowski down the block thought they were a flasher or something.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Secret Brett Favre Diaries, Part II

July 2, 2008

Like, omigod, I hope this works. I gave Bus a note to give James Campen to give to Mike McCarthy to give to Ted Thompson to tell him I still totally think Green Bay is cute.

July 3, 2008

Green Bay got the note! Ted gave Mike gave James gave Bus a note to give back to me!

July 4, 2008

They said that Green Bay still thinks about me sometimes, but, like, that Green Bay has to be sure that I’m, like, really committed to making this work.

Whatever. Like they should ever have reason to doubt me. When I say I'm going to do something, I like totally do it.

July 5, 2008

Wow, Green Bay is, like, so persistent. They sent me another note, and some chocolate, and some flowers, and a Miley Cyrus CD with a note that says “WILL U BE R QUARTERBACK 4 SHUR?” Well, yeah, like I think so. I mean, what else am I going to do?

July 8th, 2008

So Green Bay called! And they asked the question. They asked if I was ready to dedicate myself one hundred percent to football.

And you know what I said, diary? You know what I told them?

I finally said “Yes!”

July 9, 2008

OMG, I am SO ANGRY! Green Bay called a press conference and told ALL THEIR FRIENDS that I had, like, tried to get back together with them, but that they had said NO/ That is, like, so unfair!

July 11, 2008

Fine. If they don’t want me, I don’t want them. You know who’s cute? Minnesota, that’s who’s cute. Chicago, that’s who’s cute. I’ll bet both of them would love a quarterback like me. And the best part is that Green Bay, like, totally hates them forever and stuff, so seeing me with one of them would drive Green Bay nuts!

July 12, 2008

Wow. Minnesota is REALLY cute.

July 13, 2008

Dear Diary, Minnesota called. I think I’m in love. They told me they’ve been watching me for years, and they think I’m totally hot at quarterback, and that they think they can make me happy!

I look good in purple, don’t you think? It doesn’t make my butt look big or anything.

July 14, 2008

And there I was at home totally thinking how hunky Minnesota is, and Greta called, and she said, “What’s up, Brett?” and I said, “like, nothing, but I’m really sad, you know” and she said “Why?” and I said “I’m so bummed that I broke up with Green Bay but, you know, I really couldn’t trust Ted Thompson any more,” and Greta said, “Like, why not?” and I said “Well, he asked me if I wanted to be his quarterback and when I said yes he said he’d moved on, and then I started thinking about all the times he didn’t make the personnel moves I asked him to or hire the coaches I wanted him to or put Coke Zero in the vending machines at Lambeau, and, you know, it was just really difficult to trust, you know?” and Greta said “Oh, I, like totally understand” and I said “You do?” and she said, “Oh yeah, like, totally.”

Greta’s my bestest friend ever.

July 16, 2008

Bus is so cool. He told everyone that Green Bay couldn’t have broken up with me because I haven’t even filed for reinstatement yet. I wish I could date someone just like Bus. Only not Bus. Cause that would be like dating my brother, or something.

July 17, 2008

OMG THEY’RE JEALOUS!

Green Bay was SO MAD today! They said they saw me talking to Minnesota and they totally freaked out over it!

They still care!

I should call them. But I can’t.

July 25th, 2008

Dear Diary,

I know Bus said not to call the Packers, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I totally had to tell them that I missed them and that I was coming to camp! And Ted was just so cold! He told me that I couldn’t come to camp, and that he didn’t want me at camp, and that I wasn’t even reinstated!

I told him I could be reinstated if he wanted me to be. For Green Bay, I’d do it. I’d so totally do it.


July 26th, 2008

I heard from ESPN who heard from SI who heard from The Sporting News that Green Bay is, like, totally trying to set me up with someone else. I caught the Jets looking at me, and Tampa Bay, and, like, EWWW!

Totally ewww. I mean, they’re not even really New York.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Secret Brett Favre Diaries, Part I

March 3, 2008

Dear Diary,

I know that Green Bay and I have been together for, like, forever, but I dunno. It just seems like something has gone out of the relationship and all. Oh, I know, Green Bay still worships me, and now that I know that it’s just friends with that…Aaron Rodgers person, I feel better about things between us. But I still want something more. Maybe some time apart would be good for us. Maybe I should just end things. I think that’s a great idea, really. I really shouldn’t be tied down like this.

March 6, 2008

That’s it. I told Green Bay that I’m dumping them. It’s over. It’s not Green Bay, it’s me. I even cried, and so did they, and it was so exciting! Best day ever, even if I am sad to leave Green Bay. Oh, well. We can still be friends.

March 12, 2008

I KNEW IT! Green Bay is already together with that SLUT Aaron Rodgers! They must have been planning it all along!

March 17, 2008

Wow. Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers seem so happy together. They’re planning for the draft and everything.

March 24th, 2008

So, I, like, called, Green Bay, and told them I missed them. Green Bay was like, so excited! They said they’d be right over, and that they missed me, and that they wanted me back, and that they were only with Aaron Rodgers ‘cause Rodgers kinda reminded them of me. I’m so happy!


March 28th, 2008

Green Bay is coming to see me! Me!


March 29th, 2008

OMG. So, like, Green Bay got here, and they wanted, like, a commitment. With, like, a contract, and a ring, and minicamp, and everything. I can’t go through with that. Why do they try to force me into things? I’m a free spirit! Why can’t they just let me be me?


April 14, 2008

Trying to learn cross-stitch. ZOMG, this is really hard!


May 7, 2008

Bored now. Bored, bored bored.

I wonder what Green Bay is doing.

May 18th, 2008

Green Bay sure looks happy. Just wait. They’ll see. They’ll miss me. And when they ask me to come back, I’ll say “No.” I’ll tell them about all the times I suggested personnel moves, and they said no, and laugh at them. And then they’ll be sorry!

June 7th, 2008

They haven’t called. Why haven’t they called?

June 16, 2008

They called!!!! I came home from pottery class, and there was a message on my machine, and OMG it was Green Bay!

I am so, like, totally not calling them back right now, though. I can’t seem like I missed them too much.

Squee!


June 18, 2008

Talked to Green Bay. Green Bay wanted to know if we could maybe get back together for a season. You know, be serious. I told Green Bay I didn’t know.

June 20, 2008

Green Bay said that if I couldn’t be serious, they had to move on with their life. And I was just about to say yes!

I think.


(Part 2 coming tomorrow. All dates ganked from nfl.com)

Snapshots from Saturday Night - Team USA versus Team Canada

For your viewing pleasure.

Apologies for the quality of the camerawork; I'm not very good at this sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not That I Have a Dog In This Fight...


...but one of the things that amuses me is when commentators start railing about how baseball needs instant replay to make sure the game doesn't have "that one bad call that costs someone a World Series game and taints it forever."


Well, we've already empirically proven that one false. 'cause, like, '85 signaled the end of interest in baseball as we know it. But we know that it would never happen in football, right? Right?


OK, so let's not ask the Seahawks about that one. After all, it was just the Super Bowl, after all, and everyone knows nobody's cared about football since then. Still, it's got to be exclusively an American phenomenon, right?





Right. Never mind.

Manny Being...Something

You can probably trace it back to Boras.

Recently, Manny Ramirez switched agents to Scott Boras. The math was simple - if the Red Sox (or any team) picked up Manny's option at $20M for next year, Boras got nada. If Manny got a new deal, Boras would get his percentage.

Do the math.

And then read Peter Gammons' pieces over at ESPN discussing how Manny would only accept a trade to a team that wouldn't pick up his options, or how Boras told Theo Epstein that if the Red Sox agreed not to pick up the option Manny would behave for the rest of the year, or how Manny sat out games with a knee that apparently hurt so badly that he couldn't remember which knee it was when the Sox told him to take an MRI.

Do the math.

Gammons claims Manny was talking openly about his upcoming 4 year, $100M payday. While the possibility remains that Boras contacted a team and worked out an under-the-table deal (see: Drew, J.D.), it's more likely that Manny was dreaming, as I can't see any team shelling out $25M/year for a declining bat with no glove, no wheels, and no inclination to show up. Even the Los Angeles fan base will figure out that Manny being Manny isn't the same as Manny being a Dodger soon enough.

As fans, we often ask too much from our athletes when they are on the field; we also simultaneously ask too little of them as human beings. But the one thing that we are justified in asking for is effort. Take the money, play the game, and we'll gladly pay your salaries.

Manny Ramirez broke that compact, and Manny almost certainly doesn't care. But for whatever infinitesmal bit it's worth, I care. So the hell with you, Manny Ramirez. Enjoy Los Angeles. Thanks for 2004. But I won't be shelling out to see you play, the only small power of protest left to me.

But what the hell, I'll try it anyway. After all, it seemed to work for you.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

U! S! A!

Went to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Saturday night to see Team USA take on Team Canada in the last round of Olympic warmups. I went solo and walkup, which made for a pleasant evening of ballgame viewing; without other folks with me, I was free to wander the park as I wished, and to take in the game from various angles as it progressed.

Team USA won handily, with Trevor Cahill handling the Canadians early on and Nate Schierholz and Matt LaPorta, among others, supplying the thunder. The atmosphere was both enjoyable and collegial. Both teams got cheered, the U! S! A! chants were good-humored, and there was applause for good plays and good hitting on both sides.

Other random notes:

  • Cahill was mostly sitting at 90-91, and occasionally had trouble with his control low. Beyond that, however, he just manhandled the Canadian lineup. They barely even made good contact off of him.
  • Rockies prospect Casey Weathers handled the ninth, and he was absolutely dealing. 96 on the gun, and that loud "smack" in the mitt that echoes off the center-field fence. Warming up, he threw the ball past his bullpen catcher a few times, but once he was in the game, control was not a problem.
  • Mike Koplove, sidearming reliever, is a relatively small guy. Blaine Neal, fastballing reliever, is a very large guy. Watching the two of them head off to serve as "lookout" guys for Weathers and his catcher while the guy was warming up was very "Stan and Ollie".
  • Louis Marson, catching prospect for the Phillies, is a new Official Hero of Sportsthodoxy. Sitting in the bullpen, he ignored a few fans from Philly who were trying to get his attention until one of them shouted "You suck!". (Hey, they ARE from Philly.) He turned to look at them, at which point the guy said, "Sure, now you turn around," and there was some good-natured banter. I yelled back and forth with Marson a little bit, and he was gracious to both fans and his organization-mates, especially Carlos Ruiz. (Lou, if you're reading this, I was the loud guy in the Styx shirt. Then again, those two things do seem to go together.)
  • There was a row of scouts sitting, silently, behind home plate. A few had radar guns, or video cameras. Most spent the game scratching in notebooks and not noticing, say, interested fans peeking over their shoulders.
  • Lots of kids at the game. Lots of kids.
  • The game wrapped up in roughly 2.5 hours, impressive for the amount of scoring that was done. There wasn't a lot of showing off in the batters' box or repetitive throws to first, just fast, clean baseball.
  • LaPorta looked like he was trying to hit six-run homers on every at-bat. When he finally did connect, he bounced a shot off the top of the wall in left-center.
  • Some odd lineup choices for USA manager Davey Johnson. The heart of his order was retreads - guys like Mike Hessman and Terry Tiffee - while big bats like LaPorta batted further down.
  • Interesting to see which teams were on-board with the Olympics and which weren't. Cleveland? Check. The Phillies? Check. Minnesota and the Angels and Colorado, which sent both Weathers and Dexter Fowler? Check. Yankees and Red Sox? Not so much. Which, when you think about it, is sad. They're the Yankees, after all.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Memo to Tim Kurkjian and Steve Philips

It is no longer 2004. Manny Ramirez is a an aging, defensively challenged, injury-prone defensive liability whose trends are definitely downward. He takes at-bats off. He takes games off with phantom injuries. He's expensive, and for all the "Manny takes hitting very seriously" stories we got earlier in the summer, he's quite clearly a pain in the ass. When Peter Gammons throws you under the bus, you've been very, very naughty.

Meanwhile, in Jason Bay, the Red Sox get a guy who is younger, cheaper, under their control for another year, and in the same neighborhood as Manny's level of production. Oh, and he knows what that big leather thing on his hand is for when he stands out in the outfield. Is he, at his best, the player Manny was when he was at his best? No, but Manny's never going to be that guy again, not unless it turns out he's from Gallifrey.

So, really, any analysis of this trade that overlooks the fact that Manny is now 36 and injury-prone is kind of missing the point, and ultimately irrelevant. The Red Sox gave up a couple of semi-prospects they were never going to use and some cash, which they've got plenty of, for a better outfield solution that gives the good production at the plate, another year of certainty as to his status, fewer Scott Boras shenanigns, and most likely lower psychiatric bills for the aging travel secretary Manny shoved a few months back.

In other words, it would have been find to rend your garments over the deal if this had been made in, say, 2003. But it wasn't. It was made in 2008, and Manny is a fading, injury prone lump and a distraction, and getting a guy as good as Jason Bay for him says this trade was a winner.
There was an error in this gadget