The 2013 Baseball Thread

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The Cid
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:56 pm

With all the hype and attention the Pirates are getting, can we drop the "Pittsburgh's such a small market" nonsense? The Pirates apparently have a national fan base.

TRADE DEADLINE THOUGHTS:

-I like the Red Sox' deal for Jake Peavy. Iglesias was having a tremendous rookie year, but he's not supposed to be much of a hitter and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play, a statistic designed to measure luck because of course sabermetricians figured out how to quantify luck) is high enough to cast doubt. His value will probably never be higher than it is right now. The Red Sox, then, don't have to surrender an even bigger prospect to get a pitcher, which is what they needed most. Peavy isn't the best one out there, but he was affordable.

-MLB still hasn't handed down the Biogenesis suspensions. This is notable because they're absolutely screwing every team with a player involved. Texas, Detroit, and the Yankees all need to know where they stand so they can make a deadline move. With no suspensions, the Rangers and Yankees are hung out to dry. (Detroit getting Iglesias from Boston will fill a hole, as their shortstop is likely to be suspended.) Do not, for a second, believe that this is an accident. Selig is punishing the teams. (And he shouldn't. If the teams are responsible, so is the commissioner of MLB, so where's that resignation?)
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:20 pm

John Henry bought the Boston Globe yesterday. Just flat out, what-the-hell, bought the Globe. For further reference on how baseball-crazy we are in Boston, this is being considered a major conflict of interest by many, as though Whitey Bulger had just bought the paper.

One day we're going to wake up, look up the news, and find out John Henry is our new overlord.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:57 pm

The Kansas City Royals have been on an extremely hot streak and are now tied in the standings with the New York Yankees.

Say it with me everybody: Baseball has parity now. The days of the "we have no money" excuse are officially dead.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:48 pm

I think it's a little early to crown parity king, isn't it? To declare victory and, head high and arms akimbo, gaze in satisfaction upon the egalitarian utopia we have wrought seems a little premature. I mean, if the Royals have to "have been on an extremely hot streak" just to be tied with the Yankees, once, then that's not exactly everyone bobbing along at the same level.
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: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:01 pm

It's part of a long pattern.

Start with Moneyball. The same guy, Billy Beane, is still running what is now a first place Oakland team. That's now eleven years of being a contender.

Tampa Bay, at a bigger financial disadvantage than anybody else, has been good for five years with no sign of slowing down.

Pittsburgh has the best record, in terms of win percentage, in baseball right now. While this seems like a novel thing, keep in mind they were in playoff contention until September last year.

Cincinnati is still in the playoff hunt and this would be their third playoff trip in a row.

Cleveland, if the season ended today, makes the playoffs.

In fact, if the season ended today, only three truly "big" markets make the MLB playoffs: Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, some of the teams with more resources than anyone else sport a losing record: Anaheim, Toronto, neither Chicago team is any good, the Mets, the Phillies, even the preseason favorite Washington Nationals.

Every disadvantaged team has found a way to compete. The Royals being in contention isn't even that unexpected--their team looked better than average on paper before the season.

Meanwhile, look at teams like Philadelphia and the Angels. Those teams have a lot of money, but that money's tied up in players they're currently paying, most of whom seem to have passed their career peak. Improving requires prospects they don't have or money they're already spending. The future, then, looks bleak for those teams. Even the Dodgers, for all the money they've spent lately, have gotten most of their spark from two guys they brought up in their own organization: Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig.

I think it's time to say it. The Royals are just further evidence.
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:16 am

I think the Royals have gone past the "Not half-bad" threshold and are in danger of reaching the pretty good team level.

What will be interesting is to see how Pittsburgh overcomes the pitfalls of success. Tampa Bay has done it; I'd be interested to see if Pittsburgh learns as well.

Yankees have a bigger problem than A-Rod. Have you seem their starting pitching?

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:55 pm

ampersand wrote:I think the Royals have gone past the "Not half-bad" threshold and are in danger of reaching the pretty good team level.
Exactly. Their roster showed flashes of this capability over the years, now it's coming together. They're not exactly a powerhouse, but being in a crowded AL playoff race is nothing to sneeze at.
ampersand wrote:What will be interesting is to see how Pittsburgh overcomes the pitfalls of success. Tampa Bay has done it; I'd be interested to see if Pittsburgh learns as well.
Pittsburgh's biggest problem has been their ownership denying that Pittsburgh is anything but a hopelessly small market. I hope they don't continue to do this now. As it stands, they have fans showing up for their road games. Tampa Bay doesn't get that. Oakland doesn't get that. Pittsburgh is the only "small market" with a national fan base. So they need to stop behaving like the poorest of the poor, because it was a lie then and we have proof now.
ampersand wrote:A-Rod.
First - I've really had it with that damned nickname. Nicknames are reserved for ballplayers. Can we drop the nickname crap with this guy?

You know the famous movie scene about Babe Ruth, where he promises the dying boy he'll hit a home run?

DYING BOY: Hey Alex?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Yes Billy?

DYING BOY, APPARENTLY NAMED BILLY: Could you...*cough*...could you do me a favor at tonight's game?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Sure, Billy, anything. Just name it.

BILLY: Could you...apologize to the paying customers and just go the Hell away? Forever? Could you, could you do that for me? Please?

---
Now, about Biogenesis.

Detroit played this the smartest. They traded for a shortstop who can also fill a utility role if anyone gets hurt in Jose Iglesias, a player who has earned the right to play every day for now although Sabermetrics imply he's been lucky. (Yes, sabermetricians have a stat to quantify luck. It's called BABIP, or Batting Average on Balls in Play. Jose Iglesias' BABIP is astronomically high, suggesting he's in for a rough stretch at some point when his luck runs out.)

Texas looks to be hurt the worst by the suspensions, losing one of their best hitters this season. Without Nelson Cruz, they need Ian Kinsler to climb out of his season-long slump and do so in a hurry. They also might find themselves in dire need of an outfielder with a big bat. Perhaps one they signed to a minor league contract recently. That's right: Manny Ramirez might have to save the day for the Rangers. (Now before they hit the panic button down there in Arlington, remember what I said earlier in the season about every team needing a Wild Card. Considering the only appropriate description of Manny is "Manny," he's perfect for that role.)

In all though, baseball needs to quit the Chicken Little routine about performance enhancing drugs. It brings this outrage upon itself by making it a bigger deal than it already was. When the NFL catches people using these things--which, by the way, happens a lot--their commissioner doesn't consider randomly kicking them out of the sport forever, or breaking every rule he wrote himself about punishment, and he certainly doesn't imply that his office has failed anyone in any way. And people don't get upset when NFL players fail these tests. Meanwhile, Bud Selig weeps publicly and swears loud and booming revenge on everyone who took shortcuts. Hall of Fame voters ignore everyone attached to steroids, meaning that no living human beings went into the Hall of Fame this year. Fans get way more upset than they have any right to be. Writers get really, really pious. That is why baseball looks like "the sport with the steroid problem" over the NFL, or any other sport. Because they freak out every time someone gets one over on them.

Look. This is real simple. Steroids and other performance enhancers are, in different capacities, legitimate medicine. Because they are legitimate medicine, they will continue to exist and they will continue to improve as technology and research improves. So they're going to be out there. Well, like painkillers and ADHD medication, guess what? Some people are going to find that legitimate medicine, and abuse it to their own end. We know this happens because well look at the examples I just gave. Many of us know people who have screwed with that crap. Knowing that, and knowing athletes are extremely rich (often with large social circles), one would imagine that they would have no problem getting their hands on these things. So you can make rules against it and you can punish people who abuse it, and you should. Misuse of legitimate medicine is a really, really awful thing. I don't know why we never bring that up when we talk about steroids.

My point in the above paragraph is that people will always try to get one over. Because medicine is constantly improving, new steroids will come into existence and testing will, as we know as human beings because it is our nature to know these things, lag significantly behind production of new drugs. There will always be something they can't test for yet or don't know about yet. There will always be something that some snake oil salesman convinces an athlete is basically a can of Popeye's spinach. (By the way, it often is little more than snake oil. Look at the Biogenesis list or the Mitchell Report, as many nobodies take this stuff as stars. Steroids don't always work.)

Baseball doesn't acknowledge this at all. They think that if they fight hard enough, weep hard enough, get pious enough about it, that steroids will go away from the game forever and never be a problem again. It doesn't work that way. That's why the NFL doesn't bend itself out of shape every time--because no matter what they do there will still be cheaters and they know this because people have been taking steroids in football since at least the seventies. But imagine what would happen to NFL history if we took the same sledgehammer to it that we take to the "Steroid Era." The Steel Curtain would be wiped from our memory. (That's right: One of the most famous teams in NFL history was tied to steroids through a team doctor. We've barred players from Cooperstown for significantly less.) We'd have to pretend the Broncos somehow took us for fools because Von Miller took something. And we'd all look like idiots the next time someone got caught despite all our outrage.

The IOC gets this. The NFL gets this. Why MLB can't wrap its mind around "there are going to be cheaters and calling attention to it just makes it look worse" is beyond me. Catch violators, suspend them, don't talk about it, don't make it a circus. How complicated does it need to be?
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:39 am

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:22 am

Kansas City has won 16 of their last 20 games, including the Red Sox tonight in a rather dominating 5 - 1 rout. With Cleveland losing again (as a side note, I've seen Scherzer play in college baseball at Missouri. He was their Ace, but nothing like this.), Kansas City is 1½ to 2 games away from getting 2nd in the AL Central.

I'm not sure what to do with that. I know no one is going to catch Detroit, even if Leyland keeps telling himself otherwise, and gaining any ground in the Wild Card is going to be tough after leapfrogging Cleveland. They'd still would need to chase down Baltimore, Texas, and/or Oakland. It would make a very good year to be in it for almost the whole season.

It's been so long since Kansas City has enjoyed winning, that even far removed from here, I could hear the KC sports fan feel giddy over this surprise of a season. And if Kansas City is giddy, Pittsburgh must be down right happy drunk at the moment. They have the best record in League right now, and I've heard fans asking if it's alright to wave Terrible Towels at Pirate games. Even my fanatical St. Louis Cardinals fan has admitted to me it's alright this year if the Pirates win the pennant this year. I may have to check if he's off his meds though.

I'm thinking this year is shaping up to be Tampa Bay versus Pittsburgh in the World Series that makes FOX wonder if they get beat out by reruns of Shark Week. My second bet would be Los Angeles versus Boston that would make old Lakers - Celtics finals seem gentlemanly in comparison. (By the way, Cid, speaking of Boston, have any problems with the owner of the Red Sox now having ownership of the Boston Herald? Like to hear your thoughts about this.)

I feel really invested into baseball now that I haven't had in quite a while. And that's something I thought I'd never experience again.

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:22 pm

ampersand wrote:My second bet would be Los Angeles versus Boston that would make old Lakers - Celtics finals seem gentlemanly in comparison.
Keep in mind that the Red Sox and Dodgers have no history together except a couple of interleague games and last year's megatrade. Ratings-wise, it would probably be Fox's dream come true to see Boston-LA in the World Series. (They'd also very much like an LA-Pittsburgh NLCS and a Boston-Texas ALCS. This is, as things stand, the optimal ratings scenario.)

Note: Pittsburgh sports teams have nation-wide fan bases. The idea that the Pirates are bad for ratings is a joke.
ampersand wrote:By the way, Cid, speaking of Boston, have any problems with the owner of the Red Sox now having ownership of the Boston Herald? Like to hear your thoughts about this.
Not the Herald, the Globe. The Herald is owned by Newscorp. The Globe, formerly owned by the New York Times, is Boston's primary newspaper and--notably for this discussion--one of the most celebrated sports pages on the planet. And I should also clear up that John Henry has many partners with the Red Sox (including Tom Werner, executive producer of some of the most successful TV shows of the eighties and nineties such as Cheers), but bought the Globe by himself.

A few things:
A) John Henry has been good to Boston. Without public money, he brought Fenway Park into the modern day. His (and Werner's) business influence attracted companies like House of Blues to the area around the park, transforming it as well. (Lansdowne Street wasn't always the nicest place to walk around after sunset.) That was Henry and Werner, not Tom Menino or any of the governors we've had these past twelve years.

B) "Gee John Henry, what do you want to do tonight?" "The same thing we do every night Tom Werner: Try to take over the world!" Since buying the Red Sox, Henry has bought into a NASCAR team, Liverpool Parasite Club, the Boston Globe, a partnership (via Liverpool) with LeBron James, the Red Sox' television network airs Bruins games, the owners of the Celtics adore him and eat out of his hand whenever he pleases. The whole thing kind of looks like The Brain's convoluted world domination plans.

C) The most famous writer for the Globe's sports section is either Bob Ryan (that Andy Rooney-type screaming white haired man on ESPN) or Dan Shaugnessy. Shaugnessy looks a bit like Sideshow Bob, and is pretty well famous in Boston for being the Red Sox' constant critic. He's only ever happy when he has something negative to say. After all, this is the man who coined the phrase "Curse of the Bambino" (which was the title of his book, which as you can imagine sold quite a few copies Back When). I wish I could have been in on the phone call where Henry called him to announce that he's Shaugnessy's new boss. That would have been great.
ampersand wrote: And if Kansas City is giddy, Pittsburgh must be down right happy drunk at the moment.
People really need to understand that Pittsburgh is a unique market, and the only reason--the only reason possible--that you think that they're a "small market" is because their ownership has told you that for twenty one years.

It's not. The Pirates have a national fan base. Which is why every other story in MLB right now concerns "welcome back to the Pirates!" Their ownership wanted people to believe they have no support so they could cheapskate the city, get a new ballpark with tax money (and it's beautiful), and pocket luxury tax revenues as "profit" for several years. It seems that they've been caught and they are now trying to win, which is wonderful. If ownership cheaps out on Pittsburgh again this winter, fans should picket the stadium.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:32 pm

The Cid wrote:The Herald is owned by Newscorp.
Correction: This is not true. But the Boston Herald is not the paper Henry purchased.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:47 pm

Five weeks to go!

-Atlanta and Los Angeles seem to have run away with their respective divisions. The Dodgers have been the best team in baseball since mid-June, and the Braves are at the front of the game's weakest division.

-The Braves also have baseball's best overall record, thanks in part to a winning streak that happened right after Turner Field installed a Waffle House. I've heard about teams getting credit for their "grit," but that's ridiculous.

-Best record in the AL belongs to Detroit right now. Leyland is firmly in control of the AL Central Manager's Duel, six games up on Terry Francona's Cleveland Indians.

-Toughest division right now is the NL Central, where Pittsburgh (!!!!!) and St. Louis are tied for first and Cincinnati's only 2.5 back. Fortunately, division opponents play each other a lot down the stretch. Pittsburgh gets six games against both of their big division opponents in September.

-The Rangers hold a 2.5 game lead over the Oakland Athletics. This despite losing Nelson Cruz to a performance enhancing drug suspension. Yu Darvish is an unbelievable pitcher. The Rangers are still a machine. Of course, Oakland's still got the Moneyball guy. Six more games between the two teams.

-The AL East is going to have a crazy finish. The Red Sox (!!!!!!) have a one game lead over Tampa Bay, 5.5 over the Baltimore Orioles, and 7 games above the Yankees. They play a total of eight games the rest of the way against non-division opponents, playing the rest of them against division rivals. While the collapse of 2011 is still fresh in people's minds up here, having just beaten the Dodgers in a series (and being the only team to do so since June) on the road is a big deal. I am fired up.

-NL Wild Card is pretty much determined already. The second and third place teams in the NL Central have a huge lead over the next team in the race (Arizona), and a collapse by any of those teams is unlikely. Now, how does it shape out? I think everyone wants Pittsburgh to win their division and get a full playoff round (at least one), but if they don't...well, it's not like Pirates-Reds is one of baseball's best rivalries. Oh, wait, it absolutely is, and that could very easily be our Wild Card game.

-Meanwhile in the AL, the Wild Card could be just about anyone. The AL East and West runners-up are safe bets, but Cleveland's only 1.5 games back (and beware Francona), Baltimore's a full 2 GB, and the Yankees are still right there only 3.5 out of the second WC spot. If the season ended right now it would be Tampa Bay hosting Oakland, which would be awesome. Moneyball Wars between baseball's two poorest contenders.

-Slightly less meaningful, but not too much: Kansas City could finish above .500. Small consolation for a non-playoff team, but it proves to the fans (who were starting to trickle in) that the Royals are on the right track and getting better. Unfortunately for the Royals, they're in a division with the Tigers.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:59 pm

Haha, those poor Royals fans...
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: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:41 am

So...did the Dodgers bring up Puig too early? I kind of feel now if they held him back from the Majors in a year, he would be less likely the pull the antics he's had this season.

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:26 pm

ampersand wrote:So...did the Dodgers bring up Puig too early?
*Twitch*

Are. You. Nuts!?

Yasiel Puig is hitting .346. That's an obscene number. With 13 homers and 8 steals. He's already one of the best players in baseball. They did not bring him up too early.
ampersand wrote:I kind of feel now if they held him back from the Majors in a year, he would be less likely the pull the antics he's had this season.
I feel like baseball players don't grow up for the most part. They're either crazy or they're sane. Nobody ever calms down.

Puig's antics aren't that big of a deal. The Dodgers aren't saying why he got benched this last time, so no sense in overreaction. He's a rookie from Cuba living in LA and he's a sensation. I imagine there's some culture shock there, and you're not going to get rid of that in a year with the Albuquerque Isotopes (yes that's really the Dodgers' AAA organization).

Now if the Dodgers had stopped Carl Crawford from picking a fight with a team the Dodgers have played all of three times ever in baseball history, that would have been nice. But all in all, Mattingly sitting Puig is a good move. That's what managers do with rookies. And this rookie is a Hell of a player.
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