Major League Baseball 2012

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ampersand
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Major League Baseball 2012

Post by ampersand » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:15 pm

Dear Baseball,

Wow, you royally screwed up in the Braun appealling of his fifty-day suspension for doping. You used a part-time lackey to handle Braun's sample, and he decides it could wait until Monday?! And that's what got his appeal overturned? Wow. This wouldn't happen in the NFL or hell even the NHL, for that matter.

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Ampersand, who wonders how much would a DVD of Game 6 between St. Louis and Texas would go for now.

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:53 pm

You know, I was thinking of starting this thread today, but I decided against it because I wasn't sure anyone else was interested yet.

Woo hoo! Here we go...

-Here comes one of my new refrains in sports: you've already made up your mind. It's too damn late. In this case, that's what I have to say about Ryan Braun, the NL MVP, the appeal, steroids, and steroid testing in general. Sports fans in America have taken their time to think about it, but we made our decision many years ago: we simply don't care about athletes using steroids on the professional level.

Oh, some old-school baseball fans care. People who value statistics over things like championships or "the eyeball test" care. To a degree, we all pretend to care because there's a "sanctity of the game" issue hanging over all of it, but that's a lie. It's always been a lie. There's maybe--maybe--a twenty-year window where one can kind of pretend that individual player statistics are pure, clean, and not at all sketchy: 1955-1975. Before that, the game was still in the process of integrating (take it back to Jackie Robinson's debut if you must, but it wasn't like there was an immediate rush to sign black players after Robinson came in), and after that steroids were readily available to anybody who wanted them. So the old greats? Ruth, DiMaggio, Wagner, Cobb, Williams, Young? All played in an all-white league with no talent coming in from other nations such as Japan or the Dominican Republic. So their numbers, in the context of the game all of us know? Completely meaningless. Only a select few--guys like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays--can really claim statistical purity. And that's all we're looking for: an impossible "purity" to statistics so we can say that people we watched in recent years were truly better than those that played before them. Too bad there are far too many variables to actually try and compare players from different eras anyway.
ampersand wrote:This wouldn't happen in the NFL
Mainly because nobody would have cared in the first place if the NFL MVP turned out to be juicing during his MVP season. Nobody. The NFL tests for steroids, but the NFL and its fans don't really care about steroids. If people secretly taking steroids are what makes the NFL so entertaining to so many people these days, they might not admit it but that's what they actually want.

Does a single NFL fan really care that the Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s have been linked (through links to team doctors) to steroids? I've yet to find one. Does anyone complain that the average NFL lineman increases in size every year and yet manages to get faster in the process? Does anybody raise an eyebrow over the minuscule recovery times of injured NFL players? No. They don't. Because nobody cares. We made up our minds already. It's too damn late. Only baseball fans care. And really, baseball fans don't even care.

Besides, even if people still cared, the only people with any ability to take a "high ground" are people who have no favorite team at all. Because at this point, there isn't a franchise that hasn't been dragged through the steroid crap.
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by ampersand » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:38 am

Oh, I know no one cares. And it's not that the NFL fans' wouldn't care, its just that at least they have the sense to use professionals to do it right. Baseball's brass decided to let an part-time amateur handle Braun's sample, and that's where they failed. It's not that no one cared that made baseball look bad, it's how bad they bumbled it to the point that there was doubt in the arbitrator's mind that allowed him to overturn the ruling.

It's just that baseball makes the Keystone cops look like professionals.

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:01 pm

ampersand wrote:And it's not that the NFL fans' wouldn't care, its just that at least they have the sense to use professionals to do it right.
They wouldn't. They don't. Players who get caught taking PEDs are welcomed back after their suspensions like conquering heroes. Baseball players coming off PED suspensions are routinely booed, even by their home fans in many instances.

Note that baseball is the only sport where that "outrage" has ever occurred. That's the double standard that gets under my skin. It's a scandal when a big name baseball player cheats. Meanwhile, Ndamukong Suh is bigger than most NFL defensive linemen, faster than most NFL defensive linemen, and has such trouble controlling his anger during games that he forgets where he is and stomps on people. Hmm, if only there were a substance that was known for making people bigger, stronger, and uncontrollably angry. I just spent five minutes looking up NFL players to check their height and weight. With the exceptions of kickers, some wideouts, and a select few tailbacks, all of them are bigger now than Barry Bonds was during the BALCO-infused height of his powers in 2003.
ampersand wrote:It's just that baseball makes the Keystone cops look like professionals.
Yes, because this happens all the time, as these appeals go through all the time. Oh, wait, this is the first time an appeal has actually gone through and changed anything. Apparently, all the other times they've gone to a tester, that person has done things right. But you're right, this one incident just should remind us how baseball is the sport with the uncontrollable steroid problem. Meanwhile, every football player gets bigger, basketball players are bigger now than they were fifteen years ago, and hockey players are getting big enough to deliver neck-breaking hits. But yeah, shame on baseball.

I guess I might be more outraged--or outraged at all, really--if Ryan Braun's possible PED use actually decided something besides a symbolic and always controversial individual award. But if all we're talking about is the NL MVP? Pfft, that's nothing to get upset about.

EDIT
On to happier--well, okay, other--subjects. It's freaking Spring Training.

-Good news and bad news. The bad news is that I have not been this skeptical and upset at one of my favorite sports franchises since the Celtics decided not to fire Doc Rivers after having the worst season in franchise history. The good news is, every time I get this way, the team I'm upset about ends up winning a championship. Not only did the Celtics win it the next year after that awful season, but the 2002 Buccaneers won the Super Bowl after whacking Tony Dungy mafia-style the year before. So if those comparisons are apt, I can expect a wonderful team this year that I will never forget, followed by a slow and unstoppable march toward irrelevance. ...Yay?

-Also, my New Year's Resolution for 2012 was, in part, to blame everything bad that happens to the Red Sox on Liverpool Football Club. I am taking this seriously. I know some anti-LFC songs now. ("Sign on/Sign on/With a pen in your hand/and you'll nee-verrr worrrk aaa-gaaainnn!!!!") So just in case I go off on a few anti-Liverpool rants and you're wondering why, that's why. (Manchester United is getting the same treatment during football season.) Too bad I can't make fun of Luis Suarez's racism, since racism is pretty much just part of the game under the UEFA umbrella.

-Has Vegas released their odds on which new Yankee pitcher is going to fall off of the MLB map? How many times are we going to see this in New York and Boston before these teams stop paying through the nose for every promising pitcher that turns into a pumpkin in the AL East? The safe bet this year is that it will be Kuroda, who really didn't want to go to New York but didn't have a lot of offers elsewhere. Though, as good as he can be, Pineda has two things going against him. One, his name sounds too much like the word "pinata" to not end up in a bad pun on the back page of the Daily News. The other is that he put up really good numbers in a division not well-known for big hitters that has three home fields that favor the pitcher tremendously. (The only "hitter's park" in the AL West is Arlington. Meanwhile, there's not a single "pitcher-friendly field" in the AL East, and the three best teams in the division play in bandboxes built for homers.)

-I refuse to take the Miami Marlins seriously. Their new uniforms look like neon signs, which I guess is appropriate for Miami, but still. They've done this twice before--spending big over the winter to build a really good team--only to realize they couldn't really afford it and sell everyone off for pennies on the dollar three years later. Wake me when they have something sustainable.
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by Seir » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:30 am

And the Mets have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Yo Mav, I'm real happy for you and Imma let you finish but Hirschoff had the best sig trends of all time.

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:14 pm

I immediately dislike the idea of an expanded baseball playoff. Several reasons:

1: It's a one-game playoff. Baseball does not work that way. At the end of a 162-game season where even low-impact pairings get together for at least three games at a time, we're going to have a winner-take-all fight for the Wild Card. So what does this do to teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, who focus on pitching rotation depth to prove their worth? It means that one of their greatest strengths is of zero use to them in that one game. One-game playoffs benefit teams that can hit the Hell out of the ball and don't necessarily have a deep pitching rotation. (Note that the Red Sox are such a team, and yet I'm against this move.)

2: Really? After what just happened, you're going to add playoff spots? Aside from the rare trade deadline where a major player is on the move, I have never seen anywhere near as much national interest in regular season baseball as there was on the last day of the 2011 season. Well, guess what? Had the new system been in place, the final day of the regular season would have been rendered meaningless. The entire final month, in fact, would have been pretty much meaningless. Not that Major League Baseball has ever had a problem convincing casual fans to watch a 162-game regular season or anything.

3: Yes, punish the wild cards. That makes perfect sense, except... As it turns out, baseball's six divisions aren't always on even footing. Watch: within the next three years, we will see a scenario where both of a league's Wild Card teams have a better record than one of the same league's division champions. But one of those teams will be eliminated after one game, and the other is now at even more of a disadvantage than before. So let's say the Toronto Blue Jays fight hard, spend what they can, and end up sneaking off with the second Wild Card spot. Well, they play Tampa Bay, New York, and Boston for just under a third of their entire schedule. Meanwhile, the AL Central is full of tomato cans. But the Central champion gets a comfortable playoff spot, while the Blue Jays get one road game for all of their hard work.

4: Parity in sports is a myth. Stop trying to attain it. The National Football League has gone well out of its way to try and ensure that every team has the same opportunities to win. Dynasties are, to hear the NFL tell it, a bad thing. Of course, it hasn't worked out that way. The NBA is dominated by a few teams. How many hockey teams are good this year that weren't also good last year? Doesn't seem like many. There's only so much talent to go around in a sport, and only so many superstars. Teams either do what it takes to win or they don't. Teams like the perennial baseball powerhouses do what it takes. The Pirates and the Oakland Raiders among many other franchises? They just don't. No decree or rule change is going to stop that.

-I'm glad that Bobby Valentine is eager to participate in the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. At the same time, he had the Jeter play all wrong. It's not that Jeter was out of position, it's that Jeremy Giambi didn't slide. If he had, no shovel pass is getting him at home. Giambi slides, the A's move on to the ALCS. But he didn't, so the play was there for a heads-up player to make.

-Either Tim Wakefield or Jason Varitek will make a very good manager some day. I also expect at least one of them to stick around Boston and hover around the franchise forever like Johnny Pesky has done and like Curt Schilling is now doing. It's the smart play. Anyone connected with 2004 can, in their own way, own a piece of this city. (Put it this way: there are more than a few Bostonians who purchased Kingdoms of Amalur simply because Schilling's company made it. You think there are other sports cities who would do things like that?)

-I am utterly astounded by how the offseason went. The Chicago Cubs built a braintrust to run their team, and that braintrust promptly decided not to make a single move of any significance. Albert Pujols chose Anaheim over owning an entire sports city the way only a handful of athletes ever have. The Miami Marlins spent the most offseason money. Nobody wanted to sign a contract with San Francisco. Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers despite the Tigers already having a better first baseman than Prince Fielder. The Pittsburgh Pirates traded for A.J. Burnett for no reason at all. Andrew Bailey was traded for "just give us Andrew Bailey and shut up about your movie."

-Speaking of which, here's a section I like to call Cid creates a better ending to Moneyball.

...Billy Beane, Not Paul DePodesta (who was, in the book, Paul DePodesta), and Phillip Seymour Art Howe watch in horror as Jeremy Giambi's baserunning blunder costs Oakland a spot in the ALCS. As revenge, Beane goes and casually mentions the name of a new designer steroid (that does not work so well) to Giambi, causing him to have a mediocre career while his brother makes millions.

...Beane, Not Paul, and HoffHowe watch their Athletics load the bases in the bottom of the 9th inning of game seven of the 2003 ALDS, down by only one run with nobody out. Thinking that they are about to tie the game, Beane begins to imagine what the ALCS might be like. Then, Derek Lowe comes in from the Boston bullpen, strikes out three guys, flips off the Oakland bench, and points to his crotch. It is suggested in the ending that Lowe later would go on to plow Beane's wife.

...Thanks to outside-the-box thinking, working within their budget, and the teachings of a brilliant manager, it finally happens. The underdog team sweeps the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS, moving on to the ALCS against their huge-money counterparts. Six brilliant games ensue. In game seven, with a tiny lead, the heroes turn to their young wonder pitcher, who buckles down and...gets three outs. The crowd goes wild. The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the...oh, wait, Moneyball was about the team that never won a damned thing.

...Former Senator George Mitchell, working with Major League Baseball and presumably played by Gary Oldman, lists Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada among the many players found to have used performance-enhancing drugs, casting the shadow of doubt over the validity of the Moneyball strategy. Beane plays out the rest of his career as the general manager of a losing team.

By the way, all of those endings actually happened. That's how the story really ended...
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by ampersand » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:41 pm

Cid, you should join my crazy Cardinals fan smashing Chicago Cubs kitsch with a baseball bat to relieve your anger.

By the way, you should totally blame the Red Sox and Yankees for the one-game wild card playoff for making winning your division and wild card race completely irrelevant. And frankly, last year's regular season ending was a complete fluke that will probably never happen again. There needs to be some benefit for winning your division (even if the postseason is a crap shoot)!

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:18 pm

ampersand wrote:Cid, you should join my crazy Cardinals fan smashing Chicago Cubs kitsch with a baseball bat to relieve your anger.
I'm not really angry at the Cubs though. Theo Epstein did some great things in Boston, but it's Francona I really miss. I'm just surprised they didn't make a gigantic free agent move like signing Pujols or Fielder. That's kind of what Theo likes to do.
ampersand wrote:By the way, you should totally blame the Red Sox and Yankees for the one-game wild card playoff for making winning your division and wild card race completely irrelevant.
I don't understand or agree with anything in this statement. Division races still matter, and you can't punish teams for running away with the division. That will come and go. The wild card race is very relevant (though less so now), having run down to the final day in both leagues last season.
ampersand wrote:There needs to be some benefit for winning your division (even if the postseason is a crap shoot)!
This is too severe. One game knockouts are fine for the NFL and college hoops, but not baseball. Three games, believe it or not, would actually be better. (Again, the team that builds for rotation depth is kind of screwed in a one game playoff. Also, if you're going to add a "playoff team," shouldn't they get to sell tickets for at least ONE home playoff game? How would it help a small market team to be the second wild card and lose that road game? Home playoff games are a big deal.)
ampersand wrote: And frankly, last year's regular season ending was a complete fluke that will probably never happen again.
In both leagues at once? Perhaps. One at a time? Well, it happened in 1969 (the Cubs) and 1978 (the Red Sox), as well as once in the seventies with the Phillies, and twice in a row not too long ago with the Mets. So there's that. Also, it almost happened to the 2006 Cardinals. I'm sure there must be more examples of these kinds of collapses.
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by collegestudent22 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:58 am

The Cid wrote: By the way, all of those endings actually happened. That's how the story really ended...
Didn't the actual film ending ALSO happen? Or did they not beat the Royals after letting them come back from an 11 point deficit and then lose to the Twins in the post-season?
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:02 pm

collegestudent22 wrote: Or did they not beat the Royals after letting them come back from an 11 point deficit and then lose to the Twins in the post-season?
They did beat the Royals in such a manner. That win kept Oakland's American League record winning streak intact. They did lose to the Twins that year, but that's part of what bothers me about the Moneyball story: it wasn't even the biggest underdog story in the American League in 2002. Baseball actually wanted to contract the Twins as late as the middle of that very season because they had so few resources and had such trouble filling their stadium.

Here's another of my revised endings that really happened:

...Brad Pitt's Billy Beane character, Jonah Not Paul DePodesta, and Brant from The Big Lebowski make the 2002 MLB playoffs, only to get beaten in five games by a team with even fewer resources and the odds stacked against them even more than Oakland. Meanwhile, the city of Oakland almost immediately forgets about the Athletics and moves on to the Raiders, led by Rich Gannon and coach Bill Callahan on their way to Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders go on to lose that Super Bowl by an awful lot of points. (Heh. That's right. I just wrote Derrick Brooks and the Buccaneers into a Moneyball ending.) Al Davis then continues to suck money out of the Athletics' pockets for the remaining nine years of his life while the Raiders go into the tank.

OOH! OOH! I have another one.

...Beane becomes a SportsCenter mainstay as his Athletics begin to become playoff regulars. Immediately after the 2002 season, he receives a call from John Henry and Tom Werner, the new ownership of the Boston Red Sox, offering him the position as Boston's general manager. To entice Beane further, they end up hiring the guy who popularized (and more or less invented) Sabermetrics: Bill James. Beane nearly accepts the offer, changing his mind at the last minute to stay in Oakland with the team he built. Oakland then goes to the 2003 playoffs, only to lose to the Theo Epstein-run Red Sox, who go on to win the World Series in incredibly dramatic fashion. The pitchers that brought Oakland back to prominence head to other cities via free agency, former closer Keith Foulke goes on to Boston in 2004, Miguel Tejada leaves, and the A's stop making the playoffs. Just ten years after the 2002 season now immortalized on the silver screen, Billy Beane is no longer even a major candidate for high profile GM jobs. The 2011 Cubs and 2011 Red Sox both decline to so much as call the man. Eclipsed by more successful general managers, Beane plays out the rest of his career in relative obscurity. Someone comes around to make a movie about his greatest success, but even that fails to rekindle the buzz around Billy Beane. Now his Athletics are looking up at a division with two teams that are suddenly big market contenders in Texas and Anaheim.
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:09 am

Happy Opening Day, everybody! I'll be watching baseball all afternoon and night, the minute I get home from work (which should be around 2:45) until the west coast games are over.
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by Deacon » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:18 pm

BOO BASEBALL GO RANGERS
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by ampersand » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:06 pm

Best benefit living in the West Coast: Most games start around 10 am.
Worst curse living in the West Coast: Other than the Angels, there aren't any good teams out in the West. And where I live, I have to deal with Seattle. (But the Pacific Northwest really isn't much of a baseball area anyway. Golf, on the other hand...)

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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by The Cid » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:05 pm

ampersand wrote:Best benefit living in the West Coast: Most games start around 10 am.
I'm at work at 10 AM. I'm out of work by 2:30. Just saying that to say it's awesome living back east.
Deacon wrote:BOO BASEBALL GO RANGERS
I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: the Rangers should be everything Texas wants in a sports team, and they're everything the Dallas Cowboys wish they were.

But I'll warn you, if you watch the Rangers you'll fall in love with baseball. They're a purist's dream team--excellent fundamentals, Nolan Ryan running the show, and everybody's going to love watching Neftali Feliz pitch. Anyone who says "I need to learn a new pitch, guess I'll ask the greatest pitcher of the past generation and one of the best ever" (Pedro Martinez) is a safe bet in my book. You're going to love this team. And if you don't, I don't know, go watch My Little Pony or something if baseball's too boring for you? :lol:
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Re: Major League Baseball 2012

Post by ampersand » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:57 pm

So are we in agreement that it's basically the Rangers/Angels versus Red Sox/Yankees for the AL, and I suppose St. Louis in the NL? Is the NL really that jumbled (note, I didn't say bad)?

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