Monday, February 28, 2005

Mr. 3000

I collected my 3000th hit today.

It was a changeup, low in the zone. The only thing I could do was make contact just above my shoetops and flip the ball into left field barely out of the reach of the diving shortstop, but it counts just like all the other hits in my career.

That'd be nice, wouldn't it? Well, I don't think 3000 hits on my blog quite matches the thrill of a ballplayer collecting his 3000th hit in the major leagues, but it still feels pretty good. I've been counting hits since December 31th, which makes today is exactly 60 days from that point. Nice, round numbers. Mmmm, hmmmmmmm.

I'll take a quick second to give thanks to all of you that have stopped by, and another second to give a hearty thanks to those that have come back. Also, those blogs on the sidebar deserve thanks as well, because many of the guys running those blogs have been more than kind to me, giving advice to me when asked, giving constructive criticism, and providing those links back to this site -- meaning, of course, fresh, new readership to keep me motivated.

On another note, me Pappy has chimed in with an interesting angle to the Bonds/steroids/oh-my-god-are-we-still-talking-about-this discussion. You can check out our running battle here. My Pops is a pretty smart guy, which makes it even more fun to disagree with him at every possible juncture. I've heard rumours he tried to stick me back in the womb, but my head was just too large to go back in. No worries, though, as my ego now dwarfs the size of my head, rendering it irrelevant.

And, by the way, Pops, Livan Hernandez still hasn't learned a knuckleball, as much as you wanted him to try one. However, the new 21 year-old phenom pitcher for my other favorite team, the Kansas City Royals' Zack Greinke, has learned it and is toying with the idea of using it occasionally in live games this year (though the organization, I believe, would frown a bit at that). If Greinke does somehow incorporate a knuckleball into his already impressive repertoire -- one that includes a fastball thrown anywhere from the mid 80's to mid 90's, a breaking ball that can be darned-near an eephus pitch, a nice slider that he also changes speeds on, and a couple different deliveries -- well, suffice it to say, if the kid adds a knuckleball to all of that, his scouting reports will probably start reading like this:

Zack Greinke, Royals: hitters, good luck. This guy throws all kinds of crap at all kinds of speed, and we don't have much of a clue as to when he'll do what. Just freaking sit on a fastball -- it's your only chance.

The Royals are coming to town June 7th through June 9th, folks. As much as it hurts to say so, the Royals are normally a team many wouldn't mind skipping. However, if Grienke's starting any of those games, I'd suggest you skip the skipping and check him out. You'll be in for a treat. By hook or crook, I'll be there.

Friday, February 25, 2005

An Analogy

Think about this for a moment. Oh, and make sure you read this entire post, if you're going to read it at all.

Let's say you are living near an area where they are building a bridge. A very impressive bridge, one that rivals the size of the Golden Gate Bridge, modern and imposing. On the very day the bridge is being completed, you happen to have a day off and decide to check it out up close. As the work crews are finishing, the architect, crew foreman, and head engineer walk up to you.

"What do you think of it?" they ask you.

"It's beautiful," you reply.

"Do you think it'll hold up?" they ask.

Now, how would you reply to that question? The architect, foreman, and head engineer are asking you, who have no real knowledge of bridge building, if this new bridge will do its job.

I know how I would react. Something along the lines of, "How the heck should I know if it'll hold up? I don't know anything about engineering, contruction, or architecture. You're asking the wrong guy."

Would I be going too far to assume that those of you who are as ignorant as I in these fields would answer in the same, general fashion?

If this is true with my hypothetical bridge example, then why are so many people willing to give their opinions on the subject of steroids and their effect on the human body as it relates to major league baseball?

I'd make another assumption that the vast majority of the people discussing this issue do not hold degrees in either chemistry or biology, and are not major league baseball players. Yet in every discussion I've had on this topic, those who believe steroid use, without a doubt, gives players an unfair advantage -- they argue so passionately, so ardently, that one would swear they were an authority on the subject. And how much reading, how much research have they done, really? I mean, the people with degrees in those fields have gone to school for eight, ten years just to be able to study more in those fields. Eight to ten years, just so they can start learning more. Yet people are arguing facts related to these fields after, maybe, an hour or two of reading on the subject? Color me skeptical.

Don't get me wrong, I have an opinion, too. It's almost impossible not to form an opinion of some sort, as we humans are wont to do so even when we have next to no knowledge of the subject.

My opinion? Quite frankly, I believe that Bonds likely did take some sort of steroid substance, and that he probably had an idea of what it was when using it. However, I also believe it unlikely that the use of steroids could give a player a significant advantage over his competition.

My problem with Barry Bonds, if it were proven he did knowingly take steroids of some sort, would not be the consumption of the drug itself, it would be with the idea that he himself thought it would give him an advantage. Although technically, by the rules, it wouldn't have been cheating, it's close enough in my book. I'd be as hard on Bonds as many others are now.

Despite my opinion, I will not engage in crucifying Bonds without proof. The court of public opinion is against Bonds, but that is supplied mostly by the media's prosecution of him.

If you do not think the media, in general, is biased against Bonds, you are living in a cave, and really should come out and get some sunlight. How do you treat someone who's been a jerk to you for a decade? Do you still treat that person the same as day one? Of course you don't, you become biased against that person. Keeping this bias in mind, do you not think it would influence the flavor of stories about him, influence the columns written about him? Sure, Barry is still a jerk -- I've thought so for many years, personally -- but him being a jerk doesn't make him guilty of anything. Let's think here for a second. We've got Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Ken Caminiti, and Jose Canseco as suspected or known steroid users.

Um, don't you think there's liable to be a few more than that? A few more, at least, who right now are happier than a sow in a mudbath that Bonds is taking 80% of the spotlight just by himself? A few more who will now get away scott-free, because most of the nation is fixed on proving one man guilty, instead of attacking the real problem -- steroids itself.

That would be like you robbing a bank for $100,000 but the police not investigating your theft because some other guy stole 2 million dollars. That wouldn't happen in real life, would it?

Another problem I have is with the arrogance of the media, believing that simply because they ask the question, Bonds should answer, and by golly he should be polite.


If someone accused you of stealing, and asked you questions about it repeatedly over the course of months...

Wouldn't you be surly? Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you have an attitude? People are using Bonds' attitude as a condemnation of his guilt, which is the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. People are at their angriest, their most combative, when accused of something they did not do, not when they're guilty.

I've written quite enough on this subject, and I've got to quit. I hope I've given you all some food for thought, though, and hope that we will all endeavor to get hard, indisputable facts before forming an unwavering opinion on how Bonds should be perceived.

For now, I believe we should be neutral. Personally, I want to see the man swing a bat, not hold press conferences.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

All About the Sidebar

Sidebar. Updated. Go. Look. Click. Link. Enjoy.

Give 'Em Some Stankeye is a blog that just started, and hit the ground running. John Ryder is the giver of Stankeye, and should you cross him, I believe you will be the receiver of Stankeye.

Stankeye. Rich Aurilia was one of the best at giving a pitcher the stankeye, 'specially after a high, tight one that knocked Richie to the ground. Richie would get up, dust himself off, refasten those damned batting gloves of his for the 112,622nd time in the at-bat while glaring lasers at the pitcher, and again assume his batting stance somehow managing to look just like a set, ticking bomb under the 1:00 mark. Dangerous, in a word. Kruk likes to say Richie's batting average after getting knocked down by a pitch was something like .800.

But I digress. Give 'Em Some Stankeye is written in this fine tradition, and it's good. I am still trying to figure out if John really does like A.J. Pierzynski, though, and if he actually does, whether or not I should try and give him the stankeye because of it.

Only Baseball Matters is a well-established blog, written by John Perricone. He is an impassioned writer, which I suppose we all are, but he seems a bit better at articulating his arguments than most. Read his articles on steroids and you'll see what I mean. And before you roll your eyes at more steroids articles, listen to my main point -- John not only makes clear, concise points about the issue, but manages to make it fresh and interesting despite all the glut of steroid-related articles out there. It really is a good indication of his talent.

Did I just get through an entire paragraph without making a wisecrack?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Barry and Buster


Barry Bonds is NOT Jason Giambi. After yesterday's news conference, I want to pose a question to you all. Whether you believe or not that both Giambi and Bonds knowingly took steroids in an attempt to enhance their performance:

Which news conference would you rather listen to?

For my money (or, for my time), it's Bonds. Oh, I'll freely admit I'd be frowning and shaking my head in dismay a lot more during a Bonds news conference, but one thing I won't worry about is Barry not saying what's on his mind. And isn't that what the thing was for? To let Barry get some stuff off his chest? Giambi sorried his way through his press conference, then signed autographs like a good little Yankee. Maybe Mr. Steinbrenner gave him a pat on the head and some table scraps, too. But Barry? Heh, he's the pit bull you always keep one eye on, because you treated him roughly as a puppy -- now fully grown, you don't know what'll happen when you put your hand out. You might not get that hand back.

Many would say the purpose of the news conference was so that the media could ask Barry some questions of their choosing, most of which obviously would center around a certain substance. However, this is where things start to go horribly wrong.

Press conferences are not for the media. They are for the people speaking, the people getting asked the questions. Isn't that who the rest of us are listening to? In this sense, the media is just as arrogant as Bonds has ever been, believing themselves to be delivering the Bonds we love/hate. The media is fully confident of their role in society, and this leads them to believe that they deserve answers when they ask questions. And that is another problem with many in the media. They believe they personally deserve answers. Not for us, the audience without which the media wouldn't exist, but for themselves. Arrogance yet again.

Jason Stark of ESPN quickly put up some reactions to the newconference which echoes some of what I'm saying. Here's an excerpt:

"Nobody wants to hate this guy. Not the fans. Not the people asking those questions Tuesday. Not the men he plays against. Not even Jose Canseco.

"Barry Bonds is the greatest player most of us have ever seen. It's human nature to want to love and admire people like that."

Hey, Jason! You ever heard of jealousy? Talk about being naive. I like Stark a lot, but those statements make me wonder where he's been the last dozen years. Nobody wants to hate this guy? No, Jason, most people hated this guy back when they heard Barry was a jerk, but didn't yet know for themselves. Preconceived notions have never run thicker in professional sports than around Bonds. And heck, for the record, I myself think Bonds is a jerk, but I still cannot help but believe the media (in general) intentionally pushes his well-known buttons, just so they can act indignant and outraged when he lashes out. This other excerpt from Stark's article really drives it home:

"We thought he couldn't get any stranger. We thought he couldn't get any more arrogant. We thought he couldn't possibly get any tougher to love, or even like."

What is the name of Lallapalooza were you expecting, Stark? Put on some gloves and get a grip on reality, would ya?

Enough about that. Now, let me call someone else an idiot.

Buster Olney! Idiot!

Okay, maybe that's going a bit far, but in checking out Olney's preseason rankings, a few glaring errors jump out -- I'll elaborate on one of them.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked 16th behind the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers, the New York Mets, and the Seattle Mariners.

Now, normally this would be guffaw-guffaw time, especially if the Giants were ranked 15th or above (los Gigantes are ranked 9th by Olney). However, this time, it's just stupid.

The Dodgers have added pitching (though they paid too much for it), and replaced the offense they lost (Adrian Beltre for J.D. Drew, and Shawn Green for Jeff Kent). They won the NL West last season. And now, that team is being ranked behind: 1) an up and coming team, the Indians, but they really didn't get any better over the offseason, and haven't proven a thing, 2) the always-a-bride's-maid-but-never-a-bride team, the Rangers, who, like the Indians, didn't get significantly better during the offseason, and added no pitching, 3) the hope-for-a-wildcard team, the Mets, who just in no way are going to beat out the Atlanta Braves, the Florida Marlins, AND the Philidelphia Phillies for a division title, and frankly, should be happy to finish above any of those three after adding only Pedro to a pitching staff that needed more, and failing to add Carlos Delgado to an offense that needed him, and 4) the Seattle Mariners, whose hopes ride on the shoulders of Mr. Injured, Richie Sexson (who isn't exactly Jim Thome when healthy anyway), and Adrian Beltre, who had a wonderful year last year after he'd stunk up the joint for two years previous.

Out of those fours teams, only the Rangers were a good team and well above .500, the rest were anywhere from a touch below (the Indians at 80-82), to well below (the Mets at 71-91), to just plain low (the Mariners at 63-99). While I realize the Mets, Indians, and Mariners all should improve, will they be 90+ win teams, like the Dodgers were last year? Sure, it could happen, but is it likely to happen?


So hats off to Buster Olney, who figured out a cockamamie scheme to make me defend my most hated sports franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Good job.

Stupid, freaking Dodgers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Closing Out the Nenth Inning

Now that errbody an' they momma has already said two things about the retirement of Robb Nen (and said it better than I could), I'll now add my superfluous additions.

We've been either spoiled, or blessed as Giants fans in regards to closers for a long time now -- take your pick. From Rod Beck to Robb Nen. Both seven letter names, the former choosing the 3-4 defense, while the latter likes the 4-3 defense. Macho names built for, oh, coming in near the end of baseball games and crushing the other team's hopes of mounting a comeback around 90% of the time, or something like that.

They both had character, too. Shooter (Beck) had that trademark handlebar 'stache, and that pendulum-like arm swing that seemed to say to hitters, "Watch this arm, for it will render you ineffective." Nen, I think, had his best look with that carpet goatee, and the arm that would be drenched in sweat after about four pitches. His arm would be saying, "You realize why I am drenched in sweat so soon, do you not? Throwing flame disguised as a baseball may have something to do with it." Of course, there was the toe-tap as well. Many have cited this as a timing mechanism, but personally I think it was an effort by Nen to take a few mph off his fastball, lest he unintentionally knock his catcher over with his velocity. The slider? Heh. To quote Kruk, "unfair".

Now, he has given up, the victim of pushing himself too far in an effort to give himself and his teammates a World Series ring. The Rockies didn't deserve him, anyway.

One more quote, this one from the band Sevendust:

"When I'm gone, don't fill the place that still belongs to me/when I'm gone, say hello for me
"When I'm gone, think about what all this does to me/when I'm gone, say hello for me"

Nen made quite a bit of money over the last two seasons while not making a single on-the-field contribution to the Giants. But I do not think there are many players that I would ever say this about -- he deserved all of it. If there was any possible way he could have been out there, any way at all -- he'd have done it.

Good luck in all of your future endeavors, Robb Nen.

I'm Not Going to Post Anything Good, but Read It Anyway

First, a plea and cry for help.

No, not mental help, although Sanity and I still aren't talking after our last argument. No, not financial help, although Fiscal Responsibility still won't return my phone calls or e-mails.

I need HTML help. Computer help. Stuff help.

See, I updated the sidebar with my picture. In related news, my readership has dropped by 70%.

The picture is too darned big. Heck, I'm into self worship, but I don't want my likeness to span the entire sidebar. I want a thumbnail, but my wittle tiny bit of computer savvy ran out of gas after figuring out how to get the darned thing there in a size that wouldn't throw the rest of the site out of whack.

I also would like to know how to change the colors of the site -- specifically, the dark brown portions on the top and bottom of the page. I want them black, not brown. My site is called Orange & Black Baseball, yet I have Orange & Brown all over the place.

I would play around to experiment, but I'd probably end up blowing up my computer in addition to all of yours.

So, if anyone knows how to help, please feel free to do so with an e-mail or a mini do-it-yourself-you-lazy-ass-Daniel manual in the comments section. I thank you in advance, as would the rest of my readers, I'm sure. The wolves have stopped howling when I walk by, though, so my looks can't be all bad, can they?

Don't answer that.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mays Field vs. SBC Park

SBC Park. Are any of us really sold on that yet? I think there are two groups of people when dealing with this name. Group #1 are those who still use Pac Bell Park, and deny the existence of the multi-initialed, non-nicknameable moniker that's been hung on our beloved diamond. Group #2 are those, like myself, who've become resigned to the name change, and use SBC Park, but always throw in the pause for emphasis and sarcastic tone of voice which serve as our unspoken quotation marks. You know..."SBC" Park.

So. Dealing with reality, what are our real options? Back to Pac Bell? Let's all do a koom-ba-yah chorus Not gon' happen. Pac Man Park is as likely to happen as that.

SBC forever? Ouch. We've had quite a while to come up with something other than that name, something cool. Bank One Ballpark = the BOB. U.S. Cellular One Field = the Cell. SBC = ...the Suckiest Ballpark name Change?

We failed, all of us. We've got Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, the Silicon Valley, the world famous Napa Valley, and one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world, and we've struck out looking. Good morning, good afternoon, good night. Us? No nickname by now? What the heck is wrong with us?

Then, a small glimmer of light. A small spark of hope amongst the chaos and bedlam. A shoot of green in the driest of barren deserts. A new dawn...okay, that's enough of that. Somebody finally had a freaking good idea. And luckily for all of us, it's somebody with the drive to start a blog on the idea, and come up with cool paraphenalia (uh, stuff) to back up the idea. T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers...stuff, man, stuff. Those of you who've wandered my sidebar know my love of stuff, right? Well, there stuff in them thar hills. Ed Bautista and Daniel Ben-Horin are the stuff-holders, the stuff-distributors, the stuff-masters. The stuff-inators.

The stuff is here, at, and if you're wondering why I put that link up twice, it's so that you know how to get there. Oops, I did it again.

...Did I just quote a Britney Spears song? I did. And that alone should show you how serious I am about this idea.

Changing SBC Park to Mays Field officially would be difficult to accomplish. However, changing SBC Park to Mays Field among the fans? Not nearly as difficult. I just made the change about 30 minutes ago. You can do it, too. It's simple, it makes sense, and it honors the best ballplayer of all-time. Yep, you heard right. Willie Mays, best ballplayer of all-time. You can go with the home runs if you want, you can trot out career batting averages, and a host of other offensive stats if you'd like, but I'll take a guy who did all of those things, and played centerfield better than everybody and their momma ever did.

So, visit the site, and show your support by either: a) buying stuff, or b) telling others about the site. I'm gonna buy a t-shirt myself, just as soon as I win another poker game. Gotta have financing, you know.

Tidbits...has anyone ever had bits of tid? It's overrated.

After a few comments and a few e-mails, I'm going to add a couple of tiny, miniscule, not-worth-discussion pieces of info on my friend's POSSIBLE purchase into ownership of the Golden State Warriors.

  • The purchase would not be for complete ownership of the team, only 50%, so a complete change in ownership would not be taking place. Think of this what you, on the other hand, think of that what I will -- he'd own half the team, which in some places is known as 50%. Or half. Take your pick.
  • No figures (as in large, large dollar amounts) have been discussed as of yet, only philosophical such-and-suches.
  • I'll give you the initials of my friend's name. CZ. There ya go, have fun trying to mold them into somebody you've heard of

Well, that'll be all you'll hear from me on this subject for a while, or at least until Something Newsworthy actually happens.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

By the way...

This is me.

I think Willie Mays' statue is about to kick me in the back of the head.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Interesting and Interestinger...

I've been in serious neglect this week, but you can blame my work schedule for that. And no, poker has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of posting lately. Nothing at all.

......... ..... .....

Okay, okay, stop looking at me like that! It IS poker, alright? Happy now?!

One thing I'll say of substance in this post, though, is that I may...MAY being the operative word here -- I may have insider information as to an impending change (perhaps alteration is a better word) in the ownership of the Golden State Warriors. How would I have this insider info, you ask? Well, only because it involves a good friend of mine.

I'll also say that if this change occurs, Warriors fans could have a very good reason to be optimistic about the future of the ballclub. The reason? Because it involves a good friend of mine.

Not sure, of course, how many of you that read my blog are Warriors fans, but nevertheless, I'll keep you all abreast of an significant information regarding this matter in this space.

Take care, everyone, and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Damn, Damn, Damn...

Well, I'll be dropping the idea of writing about Jose Canseco or his "book" right here and now -- there's no way I can be objective after finding out the sucker shot straight up to #1 on the bestseller list. Canseco had better thank his publicist and agent, because the timing of the book's release could not have been better, thanks to BALCO and Jason Giambi. Heck, Giambi should be owed royalties off the dang thing.

It's not all doom and gloom, however, with the news that Johan Santana signed a 4 year, 40 million dollar contract with the Minnesota Twins today. Nice. If he had followed the pattern set by Lance Berkman, Aramis Ramirez, and Ben Sheets (one year contracts), I'd have been absolutely mystified. At least one team believes in locking up a top tier player when he's in his prime. Of course, it's always a gamble for the Twins to put out that much money in any one player with their smaller payroll, but they've been one of the most financially smart teams outside of the Oakland A's for several years now. I think this was a good move for them.

This also is a nice sign for smaller market teams, as Kevin Agee mentioned over at his blog. For all of the Carlos Beltrans that leave the small market team as soon as the big money beckons, there's a Johan Santana that decides that being a multi-millionare is enough, and being a mega-multi-millionare is unneccessary.

I applied for the mega-multi-millionare job over at Wal-Mart the other day, but for some reason I was laughed at. It's nice work, if you can get it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Daniel's Gambling Blog

Well, whichever one of you wished me luck (that is, if any of you wished me luck at all), I must thank you. I won one on Friday and Saturday night, meaning my $110 or so dollars I've been up 'til this point is now more like $260. Whoo hoo!

Saturday's was one of the oddest endings I've had in a live game. After going at it for about 30 minutes with myself and my buddy Dave trading chips back and forth, the decisive hand was played. Dave's pair of pocket two's was beaten by my pair of three's on the river to end it. Really, it was a better heads-up game than that sounds, but I don't think he thought I was going to call his all-in, and I really shouldn't have called with queen/three offsuit, but as long as I won I'm not going to complain. You just don't expect a game to end with a pair of three's beating a pair of two's, though. Perhaps it was because we were still playing at about 3:00 in the morning and were punchy, eh?

I'm really wanting to write a bit about Jose Canseco's "book", or "Jose Canseco's" book, if you prefer. Being that I think he's dumber than a sack of rusty crowbars, I have a bit of trouble calling it simply Jose Canseco's book, because that moron would have had to have an ocean's worth of help to even write a postcard. However, I'm going to attempt to collect my thoughts into something cohesive and objective, which is difficult when dealing with something so obviously as selfish as "his" book is. We'll see where this attempt takes me.

Other tidbits that are causing me to shake my head:

  • I'm still a bit incredulous over some of the results with these potential arbitration cases. Aramis Ramirez, one year contract. Ben Sheets, one year contract. Lance Berkman, one year contract. Johan Santana, still not signed. Actually, I'm going to backpedal a bit. I'm incredulous with the aforementioned when compared to what some players have been getting this offseason. With Derek Lowe, Eric Milton, Roger Clemens, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, and others getting top dollar (and all overpaid to some degree, in my opinion), I'm finding it a bit hard to figure why these proven top-notch players still have yet to put some ink on some long-term contracts. I would have much less of a problem with those first set of players getting 10 million plus per year than most of the second set. I guess being in your prime and coming off your best season isn't all it's cracked up to be, eh?
  • All the talk over Jason Giambi's press conference strike me as a little...I dunno, a little bit of an incredibly, profoundly stupid waste of time. What, exactly, are people looking for him to say? Do they want him to lie, so that everyone can write about how big of a liar he is...again? Do they want a confession, rife with tears (that they would say are fake) and a plea for forgiveness (which they would reject)? Giambi's press conference should have lasted about one second, which should have consisted of Jason grabbing the mic and saying, "My bad" in a clear, strong voice. Doesn't that sum everything up just fine?

Friday, February 11, 2005

That's a bad blogger! Bad Blogger!

I didn't have an entry last night, and this measly entry is all for tonight. The reason is poker. Actually, the reason is because I'm addicted to poker. Actually,in actuality the reason is because I've actually been bringing in more money than I've been losing. At last count, I'm up $110 in the...oh, I don't know, about 2 1/2 months I've been playing. Yeah, it's only taken me 2 1/2 months to make $110, about 30 or 40 of which I could easily lose tonight.

Just a hint -- if I miss a weekday entry, you can bet (more gambling!) it's because of poker. I'd like to tell you it's because I'm out with a beautiful woman, but lately my dates have been so far apart that they'd need binoculars to see each other on the calendar, so I won't use that particular lie just yet.

Wish me luck, and since I have...oh, my gosh...a weekend off, I can throw in an entry or two in the next two days.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sabean's Contract Has Been Extended! Uh, yay?

The Giants have made an announcement announcing something that apparently happened late last year. Brian Sabean's contract has been extended through 2006, and that means...Something. What exactly, I don't know.

I would clap my hands in glee, but have Sabean's moves been that good? I would curse in frustration, but have Sabean's moves been that bad? One could, I suppose, break down all of Sabean's moves one-by-one, and make up a scoresheet to determine if he's ahead or behind. However, I'm much too lazy to do all of that, and besides, only four years of Sabean's tenure will really matter, anyway, and that's the 2002 through 2005 seasons.

2002 - obviously, because of the World Series appearance, and near World Series title (curse you, Scott Spezio, curse you...).

2003 - obvious again, because of all of the changes in the team following their success the season before. Most times teams appearing in championship games/series in a sport will simply gear up for another run the next season, making only minor adjustments in their roster. Not so the 2003 Giants. From the year before, the following changes happened: the manager changed (Dusty Baker to Felipe Alou), the 2nd baseman changed (Jeff Kent to Ray Durham), the 3rd baseman changed (David Bell to Edgardo Alfonzo), the CF changed (Tsuyoshi Shinjo/Kenny Lofton to Marquis Grissom), the RF changed (Reggie Sanders to Jose Cruz, Jr.), the closer changed (Robb Nen to Tim Worrell), 3/5ths of the starting rotation changed, and of course there were changes to the bullpen. Despite all these changes (or because of them), the 2003 team actually won five more games than the 2002 team, though if one looks closer (specifically the Pygathorean standings), one can see that the 2002 Giants were the better team (they scored more runs than the 2003 team, while allowing less runs during the regular season).

2004 - the most recent failures usually hurt more than the older ones, but the thing that stands out about last year's team was the ease with which one could spot the weakness of the team: the bullpen. The 2002 and 2003 teams both had very strong bullpens, with only a couple of weak links for each year, while the 2004 team was the exact opposite, with only a couple of relievers having good seasons, and the rest either being shaky or just plain bad. The absense of Joe Nathan and Worrell seem to be the easiest blame for this -- one was traded away, and the other wasn't re-signed. Worrell's replacement, Matt Herges, stunk horribly, adding to Sabean's liability for this season.

2005 - well, Sabean's identified what he believed to be the problems with last year's team, and he made changes/fixes in the form of Moises Alou, Omar Vizquel, Mike Matheny, and Armando Benitez. Time will tell here.

In essence, to me, Sabean's extention means as close to absolutely nothing as it can. Sabean's year will have to be 2005, because if any or all of the players he's brought in fail in some way, they'll have virtually no chance to turn it around, being that they're all at an advanced age. If M. Alou, Vizquel, or Matheny underperform, it will more than likely be because they've lost it for good. If Benitez underperforms, the Giants bullpen will likely stink again, because stabilizing the bullpen is exactly why Benitez has been brought in. While Benitez could conceivably come back after a subpar 2005, any performance dropoff in the other three players is a death sentence to themselves and the Giants, because of their ages and their multi-year contracts. For the amount they've been signed for, Sabean will find it extremely difficult to move/trade those players next offseason if they tank this year.

So while I sometimes poke fun...okay, while I always poke fun at the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers for putting all their fragile eggs into one poorly made basket for 2005, the Giants really aren't any different, and in a sense are worse. For one, the Tigers and D-Backs don't have Barry Bonds on their team, and secondly, those two teams are attempting to contend, while for the Giants, contention is supposed to be a foregone conclusion. The stakes are much higher for Sabean than for most other teams, because everyone is watching, and Barry Bonds' internal clock is ticking.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Scratching and Clawing for News

Now that the Superbowl is over, the only Major Sport going right now is basketball (and, in a surprise newsflash, the Golden State Warriors are bad like a a barrel-full of rotten dill pickles). With my attention not likely to be diverted to such futile pursuits as hoping the Warriors could just look competitive for a week, I can now focus all of my vast mental resources to baseball...okay, I can now make an attempt to focus all of my questionable mental resources to baseball. Like that better?

The problem is, there isn't much likely to happen of consequence with the Giants until spring training, at the earliest, so look for more of my stupid read-the-transaction-wire-and-comment type of posts, with a little bit more of personal stuff thrown in. It's either that or cut down to posting once or twice a week. And I know you wouldn't want me to do that, right? Right? Rig...hey, where are you going?

  • Magglio, Magglio, wherefore art thou, Magglio? Detroit? What the #%$& did you do that for? Seventy-five million? Oh, okay. For some reason, it seems like there can't be any middle ground with this 5 year, 75 million dollar agreement between Magglio Ordonez and the Detroit Tigers. It'll either be great, or it'll be horrible. The Tigers, in a fit of competence, did put some insurance in the contract against Maggs' questionable knee, but did they put some insurance in there against Maggs' move from one of the top hitter's parks to a pitcher's park? Call me crazy, but I'm doubting that for some reason.
  • Former Giant Jose Cruz, Jr. is now an Arizona Diamondback, after a trade that sent Casey Fossum to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Cruz to Arizona. The Diamondbacks are looking to make him their centerfielder, which means their quest for Eric Byrnes or Mike Cameron is over. Cruz' offensive numbers don't look too good as a right fielder, but they look okay for a centerfielder. He walks very well, has some power, and has good baserunning skills, as Giants fans know. I haven't witnessed Cruz play much centerfield, but I believe he has the range to do it, and of course his arm is simply top-notch. However, when one thinks of Cruz playing center with Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green flanking him, it doesn't look so good (doesn't look so good being a synonym for "very bad" in this instance). Cruz will be spending a lot of time cleaning up the messes and leftovers of his left and right fielders, I think. Overall, if Cameron couldn't be acquired, I think this is a decent move for Arizona. I don't think Byrnes over Cruz would have been any sort of significant upgrade.
  • Speaking of Eric Byrnes, would everyone laud him for his hustle like they do if the guy had short hair? I'm thinking a lot of that perceived hustle is simply because his hair flies all over the darn place whenever he does more than jog, making it look like he's expending a bunch of energy. Give the guy a crewcut, and then see if it looks like he's putting out more effort than everyone else.

Alright, I'm going to call it quits for now, mainly because I'm saving other baseball news commentary for tomorrow's post. Yeah, I'm cheap like that.

Oh, by the way, after my last poker session, I would like to submit that I hate getting Big Slick (ace/king). I got beat with Big Slick twice consecutively, once by a pair of sixes, and the time after that by a pair of threes. Of course, I usually get beat up with pocket queens (Seigfried and Roy), gotten my lunch money taken with pocket kings (cowboys), and of the two times in over 3,000 hands played that I've actually gotten pocket aces (rockets), somebody just happened to catch a full boat -- threes full of freaking twos. I got called on an all-in by someone with 2/3 offsuit, and they flopped a boat. I mean...

But I'm not bitter or, not me. Ahem.

Monday, February 07, 2005

My Shortest Post Ever -- Except for Those Posts That Were Shorter Than This One


Got your attention? Good. Can you hear me now? Good! (sidenote: I really wish somebody would do that Verizon guy Tonya-Harding style -- he's more annoying than a pocket-full of pennies)

I've linked up El Lefty Malo, a Giants blog that seems to have a touch of cilantro and a dash of sarcasm to go along with some excellent analysis. Go check it out, then come back here and tell me that I'm almost as good as he is so I can feel good about myself. I mean, you'd be lying, but the inside tips I'll provide you with in exchange on How to Lose at Texas Hold 'Em ought to even things up, right?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Baseball Prospectus Pizza Feed

After delaying for no reason, I finally thought I'd let you all know how the Baseball Prospectus pizza feed went last Wednesday in Walnut Creek.

It went pretty well for me, although I got rumblings from a couple different people saying they thought the previous incarnations were better. Having come in with no expectations, I think I was a little better off. Of the three staff members that came from BP, James Click was doing the majority of the talking. They simply fielded questions about baseball in general, and BP-related topics, such as the new Baseball Prospectus 2005 book (coming out on February 22nd), and the 2005 PECOTA projections. If you do not know what PECOTA is, it is a tool used to project a players performance, based on historical data such as the players past performance, his age, other players he is similar to, park-related data...there is more, but I'm too lazy to type it all out.

They answered questions as honestly as they could (with help from Tom Gorman of Fogball), although I noticed some resistance to idle speculation, and secret-revealing questions about PECOTA. Most of the conversation revolved around PECOTA (created by BP's Nate Silver), but understandably, the staff would only talk about the projections themselves, and not the inner workings of PECOTA (such as the mathmatic formulas involved). James Click also cautioned against using PECOTA to predict all players' stats -- PECOTA is useful for players in and around the middle of the pack performance-wise (which most players are), but doesn't do nearly as good of a job with extreme say, Neifi Perez and Barry Bonds.

Other topics of discussion were Zack Greinke (21 year old phenom pitcher of the Kansas City Royals), Billy Beane and the Oakland A's, Barry Bonds and steroids, Sammy Sosa, Paul DePodesta and the Dodgers, and a few other miscellaneous topics. Yours truly probably spoke more than his fair share (while probably eating more than my fair share), but my opinions were respected, and my questions were answered to the best of their ability. I am satisfied.

Another thing that came out of that will result in a few new links. The first two are new Giants links, The New Giant Thrill and Steve Shelby's SF Giants News Diary. Josh helms The New Giant Thrill, and is an impassioned writer. Check out his article on Bonds' alleged steroid use -- you may find yourself adjusting your opinion on the subject a bit afterwards. Steve provides an invaluable service with his news diary -- it's a one-stop shop for Giants news, and I think you'll find yourself referring to it frequently, as Steve does a great job putting Giants-related news on one site.

Also, I've acquired another Cleveland Indians blog. It's called Tribe Scribe, and a smart gentleman by the cool name of Mitchell Below runs it. I spoke with Mitchell at length about a few things, and I'll vouch for his baseball knowledge (yeah, and I know how much you trust my opinions, too). On the first page of his blog he details an online chat with Indian's GM Mark Shapiro, where Mitchell was able to get some pointed questions answered about the Tribe. Check it out, dude.

More fun with, no more women.

Replacement level? Try irreplaceable.

Despite not having played for the Giants or Royals, Cal Ripken is my favorite shortstop of all-time, and this is my favorite baseball picture. Just thought I'd share it with you all.

Hopefully, now that I've learned how to post photographs, this blog will become a little more lively.

It started out as a baseball post, but w-what ha-happened was...

The February issue of Maxim is on bookshelves, but frankly, it should've stayed January for the rest of the year. I stumbled upon a leftover copy of last month's Maxim magazine in my store today, and a couple of hours later, I might have blinked.

(why are there so many words in the picture?)
...................... ......................... . .. ....... .. . ...............
......uh, like, wow.

This in no way means Leeann Tweeden is no longer my top Drool Inducer, but Eva Longoria definitely gives Leeann a run for her money. I'm not going to imitate Kevin Agee from Kevin's Royals Blog and have an official Orange & Black Babe or anything, but...

(Cover your children's eyes, but open yours. Wide. Very wide.)

In reality, this is just a cheap attempt at coming up in more search strings in Google by putting the names of two gorgeous women on my blog (like Eva Longoria and Leeann Tweeden), along with pictures (of Leeann Tweeden and Eva Longoria), and also a way to make some people come back to my blog in the future, not for the content, but in hopes that I may post pictures of more gorgeous women on my blog (like Leeann Tweeden and Eva Longoria) at a later date. I'm a low, despicable creature, unworthy of the shortest, smallest word of praise (unlike Eva Longoria and Leeann Tweeden).

However, if one is going to make a cheap attempt at getting more attention, doing it with pictures of Eva Longoria and Leeann Tweeden is simply the best way to go about it, wouldn't you agree? Hm?

Oh, yes, and the following is for those who now feel they have reason to doubt that I am serious about making this site entirely about its stated subject matter.

Baseball. There, I said it. Now, this post is baseball-related.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Schmooze moves

I will be attending two functions later today, both at the same place. The first will be a meeting of a few Giants and A's bloggers from the Bay Area. One blog which I haven't mentioned before, but will now (cuz I'm gonna link it), is Elephants in Oakland. Upon reading through it, the two adjectives that came through to me were: dedication (to the A's), and enthusiasm. We're all dedicated and enthusiastic about our fave teams, but it just seems to me there's another level to it on that blog.

I'm also going to link Athletic's Nation, simply because it's one of the best sites I've visited, not only in content, but layout and presentation as well.

My fellow bloggers and I will be discussing...something baseball-related. What exactly, I'm not sure, but it'll be good. I'm going to try and jot some notes and give a small summary of what was talked about. As a side note, I'm very happy to have been invited, as I've only had this blog up for a little over a month.

The second function is the Baseball Prospectus pizza feed. The Baseball Prospectus staff will be there, as will many other local baseball fans. I'm sure there'll be a plethora of baseball talk here as well, as well as the comsumption of mass quantities of pizza. Talking baseball and eating pizza for hours? I dunno for sure, but that sounds like something that I was born to do.

Wishing Upon a Semi-Star

It looks as if the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks are in the running to make a trade with the New York Mets for CF Mike Cameron.

Hey, maybe I'm just dumb, but isn't this what the Brian Sabean should be trying to do? With the Three Aged Amigos in the outfield, and with the only possible upgrade at this point being CF where Marquis Grissom patrols, why isn't this move being considered? Cameron is so obviously better than Grissom defensively that it hurts, and offensively...well, why don't we have a peek?

Mike Cameron, 2004 (career): .231(.248)/.319(.340)/.479(.440), 30 HR, 22 SB
Marquis Grissom, 2004 (career): .279 (.273)/.323(.319)/.450(.417), 22 HR, 3 SB

We can see a few things easily just with the surface numbers, and that is that Cameron trumps Grissom in the areas of walks, power, and baserunning -- Grissom used to be Cameron's equal on the basepaths, but after 16 years of major league baseball, the steal is no longer a part of Grissom's baserunning game (although I definitely wouldn't call Grip slow). Grissom is much better at getting hits than Cameron is, which obviously has value at certain times, but Cameron is on base just as much as Grissom despite the difference in batting average -- showing just how bad Grissom is at drawing walks.

So, I give Cameron a small edge offensively at this point, but let's dig a little deeper into the numbers:

Cameron, 2004 (career): 1 strikeout every 3.45 AB's (3.61), 0.57 g/f ratio (0.83)
Grissom, 2004: 1 strikeout every 6.77 AB's (6.66), 1.34 g/f ratio (1.40)

Cameron has a definite problem with the strikeout and hits a lot of flyballs, while Grissom is a decent bet to put the ball into play and hits a lot of groundballs. I'll let you decide which you prefer, but Grip grounded into 22 double plays last year, which is simply excruciating to watch. I'll call this part even.

Finally, a look at their OPS vs. left and right-handed pitching over the last three seasons (both are right handed hitters)

Cameron vs. lefties: .812, vs righties: .775
Grissom vs. lefties: .985, vs righties: .717

So Cameron holds his own vs. right handed pitchers, which is good for a full-time player. Grissom? While he is a lefty-killer, righties give him a lot of difficulty. At this stage of his career, Grissom would really be best suited as a platoon player, not an everyday player.

Overall, I give a small edge to Cameron on the offensive side of things, as I like his on-base skills and extra pop over Grissom, not to mention his speed advantage on the bases. I wouldn't blame Sabean, however, if he decided Cameron's small offensive advantage was not worth the extra millions he'd have to dish out to Cameron in 2005. However, when coupled with the large defensive advantage Cameron would lend, I think acquiring Cameron would've been a very smart move.

Besides, Cameron is only 32 years old, and...oh, THAT'S why Sabean isn't going after Cameron -- he's just a baby!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mo' betta Giants Blogs

There are some good Giants blogs on that there sidebar. Visit them. Now.

Eric's Appropriately Critical Baseball Blog is one blog where one never has to worry that the writer isn't saying exactly what's on his mind. He's also the newest addition to my sidebar, which means that if you visit him now, you'll build up enough karma to...I dunno, find loose change in your pockets or something.

Fogball is written by Rob Assalino and Tom Gorman, who are Real Writers. Being a Real Writer is imporant, because when you say things it's a lot more likely that you know what you're talking about. This is not only a good reason to visit their site, it's also a good reason to Pay Attention when reading what they've written. Yes, I like Capitalization, and I Overuse It With Wild Abandon.

Also, remember that Waiting for Boof has morphed into (insert space-like echo voice here) McCovey Chronicles (more echo)!