Sunday, February 07, 2016

Broncos 30, Panthers 21

A rare non-baseball post.

See what I did in the title?

I made a prediction about the Super Bowl. Like everyone else in America, from President Obama to your mom.

No self-respecting sports writer would avoid making a Super Bowl prediction.Which probably explains why I can't find Mike Lupica's prediction.


A week ago: "Super Bowl won't affect Peyton Manning's legacy."

Today: "Super Bowl 50 stakes sky high for Manning, Cam Newton."

Followed by this doozy: "The Panthers will have the two best players on the field in Super Bowl 50 Sunday night. That means Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly ..." Screech. Full stop. Nothing against Kuechly, but give me a break.


There's a lot of words about the Big Game and I sure didn't read all of them. But I don't see a bottom line prediction anywhere. What a joke.




Wednesday, February 03, 2016

I think Tanaka is the best pitcher on the Yankees.

Just an opinion.

It's kind of interesting to review the Yankees' starting staff and realize it is full of young power pitchers.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mike Lupica doesn't like ballplayers who play for the New York Yankees.

He says "no kidding," but he really is kidding. It just isn't funny:

"Before long, we will start to hear that 'Pride of the Yankees II,' the inspirational story of Alex Rodriguez’s comeback, is in development in Hollywood.

I think Jay Z should play him.

No kidding, eventually we’re going to start hearing that this guy is more beloved than Yogi was."


Guffaw.


Let me help you with your Hollywood options:

"That Art of Standing Around: The Story of 2015 Gold Glove Winner Yoenis Cespedes"

"It Ain't Cheating if They Don't Catch You: The Mike Piazza Story"

"No Rings and No MVPs: Let Me Call a Sports Radio Show and Explain How This is David Wright's Breakout Year"

"Cocaine, Cocaine, and More Cocaine: The Mets Ring of Honor"

"Not as Smart as You Think You Are and Shut Up About the DH Already: The Life and Times of  Gary Cohen"

"Annuities and the Future Value of Money: Explaining Bobby Bonilla's Contract"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

50% of nothing is still nothing.

Once again, I conclude that nobody watches baseball on TV:

"When the Mets came to terms with Yoenis Cespedes, Sandy Alderson did not only ink a bona fide game changer, he signed a player who is a TV ratings changer — something the Yankees, as of today, do not have."

Nobody will watch regular season baseball games to see Yoenis Cespedes.


"In 2015, before the Mets acquired Cespedes from Detroit, SportsNet New York was averaging a 2.25 household rating, 202,911 total viewers, on its Mets telecasts. Once Cespedes arrived in Queens, the average rating increased by nearly a full point and total viewership increased by over 100,000 viewers."

Exactly.

A paltry 300,000 viewers.



"Who on the current Yankees roster can produce those kind of results? Alex Rodriguez? That’s doubtful. Last season, on the comeback trail, A-Rod was a curiosity. This season, his story is not as compelling, unless the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network uses him in the booth when he’s not playing. Perhaps the Bombers’ Trio Grande — relievers Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman — will quickly turn into eyeball magnets."

It will be easy for the YES Network to attract more viewers than Mets games.

Just put on some replays of NFL games.

Or maybe a live feed  of Isaac Mizrahi selling new slippers in a variety of colors.


"Cespedes is backed by a charismatic choir, the best young starting pitchers in baseball, major attractions in their own right. This gives the Mets a good chance of pushing the ratings needle to the max from jump street on a nightly basis.

Still, the ultimate ratings generator is winning — no matter who is doing it. Success is what eventually captures the 'floaters,' front running fans (and there are a significant number of them) who glom on to the hot baseball team in town and jack up the TV ratings.

Now, they lean Mets. After all, they did make it to the World Series.


With Yoenis Cespedes."

These floaters that Raissman always talks about ... where are they? The Mets got a 3.0 with the floaters.

The Mets will get big ratings when they play the Yankees, the Nationals, and if they have a rematch with the Royals (Opening Day, of course). The rest of the time, regular season baseball games get tiny ratings.

Cespedes is not a monumental superstar by any means. He is, like, the 4th-best LFer. He isn't the second coming of Babe Ruth.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Three words: Return on Investment.

Mike Lupica is stupid:

"There is only one team, still, in baseball history that spent more than $200 million on baseball players and actually won the Series. That was the 2009 New York Yankees. Their payroll that year was around $210 million. They have spent more than $200 million a year for every year since that (the way they did for the five years before that), and haven’t won since."

This is very difficult to explain to stupid people, but this does not prove that spending a lot of money hurts a team's chances of winning the World Series.

Only one team can win the World Series every year, understand?

Another way to look at this test: In the 11 years under discussion, the Yankees won the World Series 1 out of 11 tries. The other 29 teams combined won the World Series 10 times out of 319 tries.

Who has a better World Series winning percentage? The Yankees or the Not Yankees?


Even the conclusion is off: "The Yankees haven't won since."

The Yankees have not been under .500 in 20 years. The Yankees draw 3 million fans every year. I know the marketing spiel, but if you really think Hank and Hal expect to win the World Series every year, then you are stupid.

The product has slipped quite a bit, but the brand is incredibly strong and people therefore keep buying the product.

How did the brand gain so much strength? It certainly wasn't because the Yankees signed a lot of inexpensive players.


"The closest thing to a dynasty in baseball over the past several years are the San Francisco Giants, who have won three World Series in the last six seasons. The most money they spent in any of those years was when they were a little over $150 million. The Mets aren’t there now that Yoenis Cespedes is coming back, but they’re close enough. And maybe the people in charge aren’t the dumbest and cheapest in the world after all."

$150 million isn't chump change, but I think we can all agree that the baseball GM discussion has become overwhelming and tiring. Maybe the contract sizes should be secret and we can all just try to enjoy the game on the field.


"And the team that beat them in the World Series in a five-game series that looked and felt and even sounded a lot closer than that, the Royals, a team that has a batting order that is like barbed wire and enough pitching and plays a beautiful game of baseball, they were at $110 million in 2015 when they won their first World Series in three decades."

Right.

Don't ignore the last sentence ... "first World Series in three decades."

I wonder if Lupica understands that this hurts his small-payroll argument or if he's just ignoring all the conflicting data.


"Here is what Tyler Kepner, the fine baseball columnist for the Times, wrote on Saturday:

'Can Mets fans finally trust that the stewards of their team might know a bit about how to run a franchise?' "

I have nothing to add to this observation, but I think it's the first time I have ever seen Mike Lupica credit another person. It's usually "people are saying" or "lots of people" or "some people" or he just makes stuff up.

Can it be that Mike Lupica has suddenly adopted first-class journalistic techniques?


"The great myth of modern baseball, despite all the evidence, is that there’s only one way to win the World Series lottery, and that is by spending an insane amount of money. It doesn’t work that way anymore. An amazing thing has now happened with the Mets: Six months later, Sandy Alderson surprises you again with Yoenis Cespedes. Amazin’."

That's more like it! Garbage journalistic techniques. The "great myth" that isn't a great myth at all.

The bottom ten in payroll in 2015? Guess what? Only one of them even made the playoffs. That was the Pirates at $85 million ... and that's with ten freaking teams making the playoffs.


I actually agree that the Mets played this nicely. It's essentially a one-year mega-contract that will avoid the long-term commitments that quickly lose their value as the players age without help from PEDs.

But it's oddly important for Lupica to act like the Mets are still a small payroll team ... $27.5 million for one player for one year isn't something a small payroll team can do ... and it's even odder that it's important for Lupica to try to make a case that a small payroll teams are outperforming high payroll teams. They aren't.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rather staggering.

"But by taking the three-year deal at an average of $25 million per year — including a rather staggering $27.5 million in 2016 — he is making significantly more per season than either Upton or Jason Heyward, which saves some face for both him and his agents.

'That was hugely important to him,' said a source close to the situation. 'He needed to feel wanted, and $25 million a year does that for him.' "

The contract itself sounds like a good compromise for both sides in terms of overall contract side and protections for both parties.

Yes, Cespedes turned away future guaranteed earnings of $25 million ... which is incomprehensible to most of us. But he's also getting a ridiculous amount of money up front ... I don't know how the Nationals offer was constructed, but it's a 37.5% raise over the $20 million annual average contract offer ... and Cespedes gets an opt-out clause after one year.

Though it shouldn't shock anyone at this point, the implication from the quote from the "source close to the situation" is that Cespedes didn't feel wanted by an offer of $100 million.

I know, I know. I'm thinking the same thing. Someone ought to make me feel unwanted with 1% of that offer.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Sure, come play for the Yankees.

Position shmosition.

We'll figure something out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Just" 88 wins.

Maybe the Mets will win the World Series.

Something tells me their fans will be disappointed if they don't.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The stellar investigative journalism of the Daily News.

Mike Lupica has been swimming in this ocean for so long, he doesn't see the water:

"I keep wondering why all the people who are such experts on baseball drugs now didn’t tell us a whole lot more about them back in the 1990s when they had the chance."

A so-called senior online sports editor at the Daily News recently posted an article about Alex Rodriguez looking at cheerleaders at a Lakers game. Woodward and Bernstein would be proud.

Mike Lupica himself wrote a book about McGwire and Sosa. That was in the 1990s. Why didn't you tell us a lot more back in the 1990s?
 
Or, more to the point, forget about the 1990s ... why don't you conduct some contemporary investigations? Spend 2 weeks and $50,000 hunting down the dealers for Pedro and Piazza?

You surely won't find something unless you look for it. So why aren't you looking for it? Why do you condemn some players and protect others?

Yeah ... the light bulb goes on ... why do you protect some players and condemn others? Why isn't the Daily News obsessed about Mejia? He plays baseball right here in New York! He was suspended two times in one baseball season! I mean, listen, fellas ... he has friends, he has cousins, he has dealers, he was in New York this whole time. Look under a rock and see what you find, huh?

What about Tim Peterson? If I mentioned the name "Tim Peterson" to the Daily News sports writing staff, their reaction would be just like yours: "Who?"

This guy. Mets minor leaguer suspended for 80 games. Just happened.

So why doesn't anybody in the sports journalism business in New York find out where this guy got his PEDs? Was his supplier the only supplier in supplier history who had exactly one client? Where are the other customers and how deep does this go in the Mets organization? And what is your justification for ignoring all other PED users with all the ink you've spent on ARod?

How does this easily identifiable bias fit into your understanding of the ethics you learned in journalism school?


What do you think will happen when Lupica takes on MLB HOF voting?

It isn't pretty.

He's a never-was mystified by the death of an institution:

"Who passed the law that everybody who does have a Hall of Fame vote in baseball has to explain his/her ballot to us?"

The first principle of journalism is the search for information. Why would any journalist or columnist take an anti-explanation stance? Lupica's job is to cook omelets, but he's anti-egg.

As the baseball HOF strains itself to retain any relevancy to new baseball fans, the only hope is to meet the fans halfway. You can't fool us anymore. The information is widely available and you're no longer the gatekeepers.


Lupica also doesn't know the meaning of the words "irony" and "moralizing":

"You think any of the people accusing Hall of Fame voters of being judgmental and self-righteous about steroid users ever process how judgmental and self-righteous they’re being?

Of course that would involve a level of self-awareness — or at least irony — that is almost impossible to find in the media sometimes.

But it really is my favorite part of the whole process, the moralizers accusing anybody who disagrees with them … of moralizing!"


Lupica is accusing others in his field of lacking self-awareness ... and I just spit coffee all over my laptop.


I will briefly take the bait here and explain what Lupica chooses not to see.

It's difficult to address Lupica's non-specific grievances, because they are non-specific. All HOF voters are individuals and so are their critics. But I'll try to explain the other side in general terms.


1. HOF voters are often inconsistent and perplexing.

2. HOF voters use steroids as an excuse to exclude players they don't like. That's not a valid anti-cheater ethical position.

3. HOF voters invoke the morals clause when it comes to surly interviewees who used steroids. Meanwhile, the HOF is full of racists, wife beaters, drug users, and cheaters.

It's OK if HOF voters are judgmental and moralizing. The problem is, their judgment is off and their moralizing is insincere.







Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mike Piazza took steroids and he is not the first steroid user to make the Hall of Fame.

So when the headline shouts "no juice," the headline is incorrect.

I don't know for sure that Piazza took steroids, but I'm not an idiot. I don't have to prove it in a Court of Law, I just have to intelligently observe what is right in front of my face.

For 100 years, human beings were not blasting baseballs 450 feet to the opposite field, and then suddenly a 65th-round draft pick is doing it on the regular.


Next year will be interesting not because of Manny (no chance), but because of writer favorite Pudge Rodriguez throwing things for a loop. A 'roid-head who didn't actually hit an unseemly number of HRs and who was an "old school" favorite for a long time. So we'll see how dedicated the voters are to their dubious anti-'roid principles.


This blurb also caught my eye:

"Starting pitchers Curt Schilling (39.2% to 52.3%) and Mike Mussina (24.6% to 43%) and longtime Seattle DH Edgar Martinez (27.0% to 43.4%) also made sizable gains from last year."

Edgar Martinez at age 37: .324/423/.579, 37 HRs, 145 RBIs, 31 doubles, 100 runs.

Ken Griffey Jr. at age 37: .277/.372/.496, 30 HRs, 93 RBIs, 24 doubles, 78 runs.


Edgar Martinez at age 40: .296/.406/.489, 24 HRs, 98 RBIs, 25 doubles, 72 runs.

Ken Griffey Jr. at age 40: .184/.250/.204, 0 HRs, 7 RBIs, 0 doubles, 6 runs, quit baseball and drove home to Florida in the middle of a road trip.


So when you make a case for Edgar Martinez's HOF candidacy, you are making a case for a man who used PEDs.

Without the benefit of PEDs, 37-year-old men playing professional baseball don't hit 37 HRs and drive in 145 runs.


I'm not saying in the history of the world, no one else has accomplished this. Hank Aaron also accomplished this. Babe Ruth.

There might be somebody else, like, in the history of baseball ... Honus Wagner won a batting title at age 37 in 1911 ... led the league in an unheard-of stat now known as OPS.

So that's three in the history of baseball who were pretty darned good, and I didn't find anybody else, though my search wasn't particularly exhaustive ... and those three are among the game's ultimate immortals ... and Edgar Martinez was probably the best of the bunch at age 37 ... and I didn't check Edgar's steroid-era contemporaries, because I know a lot of them were putting up extraordinary numbers late in their careers.

C'mon, man. Think about it.


We shouldn't be ashamed to use our brains. That's what they're there for.

Piazza took PEDs, Edgar took PEDs, lots of players during this time period took PEDs.

Please, when you vote these people into the HOF, at least do it with your eyes wide open.






Sunday, January 03, 2016

Actual baseball.

"Only Aroldis Chapman and the mother of his child know what happened last fall when Chapman allegedly roughed up this young woman and fired off some shots in his garage and eventually had her hiding in the bushes outside their home.

Nobody knows how Major League Baseball, because of new penalties relating to domestic violence, will deal with Chapman, and whether he will start his Yankee career suspended."

Excellent investigative journalism. "Nobody knows anything, before or after reading my column."


"But what we know for sure about Mr. Chapman is this:

In a pretty short amount of time, we have now gone from Mariano Rivera to him."


Of all the projected cataclysms that faced the mid-2010s Yankees, the replacement of Mariano Rivera has gone ridiculously smoothly.

Remember Rafael Soriano? 42 saves in 2012. 2.26 ERA. David Robertson 39 saves and 3.08 ERA in 2014. Miller, of course, was great last year, with support from Betances and others.

So Chapman will be the fourth primary closer for the Yankees since 2011 who is not Mariano Rivera. So far, so good.


Before I get to strategic baseball discussions that fans care about, let me fully address Chapman's potential character problems: Shrug.


Now on to actual baseball:

1) The Yankee bullpen was already their strength. I think it's sometimes wise to enhance a strength rather than focus on fixing a deficiency.

2) Most observers agree that Girardi's biggest strength is bullpen management. Cashman likely had this in mind when he made this decision to align his team's roster strengths with his manager's strengths.

3) It's time to change the game. Six-man rotations, 25 starts, 5 or 6 innings per start, stay fresh for September and the playoffs.

I know the old school will mock the idea of 150 innings, but it's not so much a matter of toughness or injury avoidance, it's a matter of effectiveness.

The Mets also have an effective model with a deep starting staff. But think about how hard it is to assemble a team like that and how tenuous their success is, even with lots of youth and depth. You expect starting pitchers to go on the DL nowadays.

Relief pitchers are fungible (like that word?).

The league is going to move in this direction, anyways. The Yankees ought to beat everybody else to the punch.







Saturday, January 02, 2016

Yankees will probably trade Miller and Gardner to the Mets for Wheeler.

Just kidding.

But a man who works for the Daily News proposed this nonsense ... and this man is paid money to publicly express his observations regarding professional sports.

As for my personal opinion, I don't think Wheeler is all that good, anyway.

Of course Griffey should get 100 percent of the votes.

"It might actually happen. With 112 ballots made public so far in the BBWAA vote for the Hall of Fame, Ken Griffey Jr. has been named on all of them. While around 350 ballots remain to be seen, there’s a chance one of the finest baseball players of his generation could go into Cooperstown, for the first time, with 100 percent of the vote."

If not Griffey, then Jeter may be the first to finally break this tradition.

Not to say that this means that either of them are the greatest player ever ... it's just a tradition that isn't cute or interesting anymore.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I can't think of one instance where Brian Cashman made an excuse for a bad acquistion.

"But there are worst-case scenarios as well, and the Yankees made this deal without knowing exactly what those could be. Perhaps it's a suspension far beyond expectation. Or the emergence of charges or more evidence or incident reports or cell-phone video. Or something the Yankees haven't even considered. The circumstances with NFL players Ray Rice and Greg Hardy demonstrated that,"

I guess.

How much are the Yankees on the hook for?

All of these contracts are risky, by definition.



"The prudent choice would've been to follow the Dodgers and Red Sox's lead and back away from Chapman, even at the discounted price. The Yankees didn't have to have Chapman, just as the Dodgers didn't have to pair him with Kenley Jansen. With the free-agent market prices seemingly frozen and quality players still unsigned, there could be other cost-conscious ways for the team to get better in the weeks ahead.

But the Yankees made their choice with eyes wide open. And in so doing, they knowingly forfeited all rights to excuses if this turns out badly because of off-field problems."

Oh no.

Not that.

Anything but that.

I think it's the best ever.

Of course, it's all potential at this point.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Five-Inning Games

I like the acquisition. Sometimes, it's wise to enhance your existing strengths rather than focus on your weaknesses.