Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Exactly Was Jonathan Papelbon Expecting?

Noted Deep Thinker Jonathan Papelbon shot his mouth off again at the conclusion of the Phillies' train wreck of a road trip. Saying that he hadn't come to Philadelphia for this, whatever this is (I'm assuming it's an 8 game losing streak that knocked the aging, wounded Philberts from the Oort Cloud of contention to definite "Sell" mode), he then demanded wholesale changes to the organization a la Boston. Entirely lost on him was the irony that one of the changes that improved Boston was, well, getting rid of one Jonathan Papelbon.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

With Apologies to Tom Abernathy

So do you remember when it was vitally important to debate whether Yasiel Puig belonged on the All-Star team? And all the heated debates over whether he should be selected? And whether it was a slap in the face to guys who'd played years - or at least whole seasons - if he were selected? And you absolutely could not get away from the debate and the rants and the geshrying?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Things A-Rod Was Not Responsible For, No Matter What The NY Post Tells You

By  now, we have all learned the truth: Yankees third baseman is in fact history's greatest monster, and there is no bottom limit to his depravity. He has mouthed off on Twitter. He has failed to inform his bosses as to his whereabouts. He has failed to be Derek Jeter. And, if you believe the Bill Madden types of the world, he is morally equivalent to a crime boss who killed at least 19 people, subverted the FBI and spent decades on the lam. But as we wait for the pitchfork-wielding mob to storm his penthouse apartment and bestow upon him the end he so richly deserves, we should remind ourselves that there are still a few crimes that have been committed by others. For all of his black-hearted, relentless evil, A-Rod did not yet:

  • Vandalize the Lincoln Memorial
  • Get an OB-GYN to clear him to play baseball
  • Commission a painting of himself as Pikachu
  • Talk Disney into buying Times Square
  • Provide morning-after gift baskets for his sexual conquests
  • Get a third-year med school student to clear him to play baseball
  • Cause the managers to run out of pitchers at the 2002 All Star Game
  • Ride a fixed-gear bike through Brooklyn complaining about all the goddamn hipsters in their Mini Coopers
  • Deny that he's down with the Bronies
  • Have Cameron Diaz feed him anything Andrew Zimmern would eat while watching a game in a luxury box
  • Do a guest appearance on Hillbilly Handfishing
  • Write the ending to Mass Effect 3. He did, however, refuse to play a FemShep because Jason Giambi made fun of him.
  • Do a guest appearance on Storage Wars: NY, where he attempted to buy a locker with some cute adirondack chairs but ultimately got outbid by a hairy guy named "Vito" from Staten Island
  • Hook up with an attractive woman from the stands to "play doctor" and then have her clear him to play baseball
  • Help overthrow the rightfully elected government of the Comoros with an army of 16 geriatric mercenaries (which, to be fair, does sound like the Yankees' roster at this point)
  • Steal a box of Thin Mints out of Ichiro's locker and claim it was totally Travis Hafner who did it
  • Much of anything this year

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hall of Fame Voters Are Kind of Dumb

Did not vote for Biggio or Bagwell for the Hall of Fame

So there's nobody living going into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, which is dumb. The voting process for the Hall has so thoroughly embraced the notion of "The perfect is the enemy of the good" that it's gone a step further: The voters' perfect not only is the enemy of the good, it's also dating the good's ex-girlfriend, kidnapping its dog, and leaving flaming bags of poo on the good's doorstep. 
And like I said, this is dumb. The Hall of Fame induction weekend is a chance to make baseball look good. It's an opportunity to bring back memories, to invoke the warm nostalgia that is one of the game's  birthrights. It's an opportunity to celebrate what is good in baseball, with attendant publicity.
Except, of course, the voters have collectively adopted the "well, actually" attitude of the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy, demanding every candidate be so good and so angelic that even playing at the same time as PED guys is enough to invoke a wave of "Not on my ballot" chest-thumping.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Your Handy-Dandy Guide To What People Are Saying About Ryan Braun

  • "Ryan Braun owes the fans an apology" = "Ryan Braun owes me an apology"
  • "Ryan Braun owes the kids an apology" = "Ryan Braun owes ME an apology"
  • "We should remove the statistics of players caught using PEDs from the record books" = "I am angry and don't understand interconnected systems. What do you mean there were pitchers involved in all those home runs?"
  • "Ryan Braun gets the worst of this because he will always be known as a cheater" = "I don't understand that for $100M, you can buy a big fat jug of Don't Give A Crap"
  • "Ryan Braun is the Lance Armstrong of baseball" = "I just skimmed the whole Lance Armstrong thing because, you know, cycling, so I have no idea what Lance Armstrong actually did."
  • "The Brewers are better off without Braun this season" = "I understand that the Brewers are in fact better off not paying another $3M and change to a guy who's going to be at 60% the rest of the way. Also, I believe they've manufactured a ton of Caleb Gindl jerseys"
  • "I pay their salaries" = "I pay a tiny fraction of their salaries, and am attempting to use that fact to claim moral standing so I can rant" 
  • "I'm as angry about this as anybody" = "My producer suggests it would be a really good idea if I were angry about this"
  • "We should let team void the contracts of steroid users" = "I firmly believe players will lie and cheat to earn multi-million dollar contracts, but that owners - whose ranks include a war profiteer, guys with ties to Bernie Madoff, and Jeff Loria - would never lie or cheat or spike someone's Gatorade to keep from paying them. I also believe that Smurfs are real."
  • "Alex Rodriguez is the Lance Armstrong of baseball" = "OK, the Ryan-Braun-is-Lance-Armstrong thing didn't work"
  • "Alex Rodriguez is going to claim he's injured and can't play so he doesn't get suspended so the Yankees can have insurance cover his salary" = "I have never actually dealt with an insurance company"
  • "I feel bad for all the clean players" = "I wrote a lot of stuff cheering on McGwire and Sosa in the 90s"
  • "I look at Chris Davis and I know he has to be doing steroids" = "I have the mutant ability to detect steroid use with my eyes"
  • "I see 300 pound linemen doing 4.9 40s and know they have to be doing steroids" = "I have the mutant ability to detect steroid use with my eyes"
  • "We don't actually know what PEDs do to help baseball players" = "I have actually read the literature on the subject, and will now get hammered as a steroid apologist"
  • "Players who shoot up make it unfair for the other guys" = "Except the guys on my favorite team, who should be getting tattooed with cortisone shots so they get back on the field as soon as possible"
  • "First time steroid users should be banned for life" = "I have conveniently forgotten that I own three Andy Pettite jerseys"
  • "What do you think this means for baseball?" = "Please tell me this will be bad for baseball"
  • "Why don't people care about PEDs in football?" = "I am still dealing with having gotten picked last for kickball in elementary school, and have not yet come to grips with the fact that where the popular kids are concerned, nobody gives a crap if they break the rules."
  • "This is proof baseball's drug testing program doesn't work" = "I don't understand that the drug program that catches people is working, and the drug program that doesn't catch people isn't"
  • "Alex Rodriguez is the Whitey Bulger of baseball" = "I have no idea who Whitey Bulger actually is or what he did, but his name came up on my Twitter feed"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Quick Plug For Somebody Else's Stuff

If you've read my posts on the NFL you know that I'm a fan of the advanced statistics calculated and promulgated by the guys at Football Outsiders.

For the last few years I have picked up PDF versions of their Football Outsiders Almanac during the NFL preseason. It's a great read and gives good context for the upcoming season. I personally use it to prepare for the fantasy league that I play in, but I've never won a dime in that league so maybe you should take my advice with that in mind.

Anyway -- gratuitous plug here, I'm not getting a cut or anything -- Football Outsiders Almanac 2013 is now up for sale in PDF at the FO store and I'd encourage you to check it out.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rick Reilly Is On Drugs

I am certain Rick Reilly is on something.
I have no proof for this. But I look at his columns today and they're much, much longer than they used to be. You can't tell me he's writing this much without stimulants. I mean, you look at his back page pieces for SI back in the day versus his longer-form essays for ESPN.com now and he's producing way more words than he ever did before. It's not like he's suddenly going to acquire a larger vocabulary, not at his age, so he's got to be on something.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Great Moments In People Who Have Never Had To Talk To A Lawyer Yammering About Sports

"Sources: Braun Didn't Answer PED Questions"
That's the headline in ESPN.com.  Faced with a possible suspension, which he will certainly fight in court, Ryan Braun refused to answer questions about PEDs from reporters.
Now, there are two types of people in America. There are the people who will read that and immediately think "AHA! HE'S GUILTY!" Because, you know, he didn't answer questions and stuff.
And then there are the people who have ever dealt with a lawyer. Because if you are involved in a legal case, one that potentially has millions of dollars' worth of personal repercussions on the line, the first thing your lawyer tells you to do is shut the hell up. Because, to be blunt, it is the smart thing to do. You don't talk, you don't say things that can be taken out of context and used to beat your head in when you get to trial.
Of course, if you don't say anything on something like this, they'll paint you as guilty anyway. But it's way less quotable. And all the chowderheads who think that Braun's first responsibility is to satisfy their curiosity - or more accurately, provide them with ammunition for their preconceived conclusions - as opposed to seeing to his own legal defense and welfare, well, I wish them joy of any future run-ins with the legal system.
I think they might change their minds about talking.

Apologies and Mea Culpas

You don't do a mea culpa in the passive voice.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Right Now...

Somewhere, LeBron James is writing Dwight Howard a thank-you note.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

I Play For Smart People

We're not even at the All Star Break and already the howling has started in certain quarters about how, if the playoffs started today, it would be a ratings disaster because the playoffs wouldn't consist exclusively of the Yankees and Red Sox, possibly cloned to fill all the playoff slots but ensuring large TV markets). The spectre of *gasp* a Pittsburgh or an Oakland sneaking into the postseason, instead of the large market teams that Fox is banking on, will apparently trigger the zombie apocalypse, the heat-death of the universe, and a reboot of "Boy Meets World" (Note: One of these has already happened. Danielle Fishel, call me.)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Shocked, Shocked to Find FameMongering In This Establishment

So some media types are shocked – shocked, I tell you – to discover that Dwight Howard may be enjoying the public nature of his free agency courtship because it makes him feel like a star. Because he likes the attention, and this is apparently bad, you see.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Dozen Burning Sports Questions, Answered

A-Rod vs. Brian Cashman - actual footage
Sports talk radio is mainly in the business of chewing cud, which is to say taking simple stories and gnawing on them endlessly until they're bland, mushy, and possibly in the digestive tract of a cow. With that in mind, here's Sportsthodoxy's official take on some of the most contentious issues out there - and by "contentious", we mean "taking up the most on-air segments right now"

Q: Should Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig be an NL All-Star, despite only having a month in the major leagues?
A: Yes. Because the all-star rosters are slightly larger than my graduating class from high school so he won't be bumping anyone "worthy", and since All-Star games are designed to pique fan interest, it makes sense to put the most interesting guy in baseball in there. Also: Roger Pavlik, All-Star.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Sportsthodoxy Fisks The News

I always liked the tag line of The Daily Show back when Craig Kilborn was hosting: "When news breaks, we fix it."

This morning I was reading the latest scoop on Aaron Hernandez from ESPN, and I noticed a few questionable turns of phrase.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities of Brotherly Love

You can get a jump on Homer Bailey, but not on Father Time
In the dim and dusty corners of the baseball trade rumor market last week, there was a report that the Boston Red Sox were interested in Phillies third baseman and Iconic Texas Ranger Michael Young. However, the rumor was pretty much discounted immediately because the Phillies' GM, Ruben Amaro Jr., has said that nobody's going anywhere, that the club could still make a run, that he has to see what it looks like when the whole team is healthy, etc. etc.