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The Iceman Cometh
Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Date: 2008-05-20 11:06
Subject: A couple of random thoughts
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I realize it's been a while. Too long in fact. I don't have a good excuse, so I won't make one up.

1 - Depending on the likelihood of this story, summer of 2014 in Cooperstown could be a who's who of pitchers from the 90's.

Let's start with the obvious. Greg Maddux has been hanging around to get to 350. He's not capable of getting past the 7th inning anymore, and the Padres (his hometown team) are terrible, and not likely to immediately improve. His HoF credentials are beyond reproach, and will be a shoo-in first ballot HoFer.

Right next to him on that stage will likely be Tom Glavine. Also owning more than 300 W's, and also likely to retire at the end of this season, there will be a nice symmetry to his entering the Hall with Maddux.

You can't mention those two without adding John Smoltz. Clearly his Wins total pales in comparisson, but the whole of his accomplishments don't. Only Dennis Eckersley would scoff at his combined total of saves and wins. Only Randy Johnson has more K's amongst his peer pitchers (RC doesn't count). So combine those credentials with the necessity of MadduxGlavineSmoltz entering the HoF at the same time, and he's likely a first ballot guy. He's currently battling shoulder trouble, and has acknowledged that he has probably started his last major league game. A retirement at the end of 2008 seems likely.

Then there's the strikeout king of the generation. Randy Johnson will be 44 by the end of season. He has been effective, but not dominant this season, and has battled his own injury issues over the last few years. While he certainly could continue beyond the end of the year, he's only under contract through the end of 2008. His mid 4's ERA and declining K numbers indicate that the end of the line is likely near for Randy Johnson.

So can you imagine if Pedro leaves the game at the end of the year as well? That class will have over 16,000 strikeouts and over 1300 wins. Wow.

2 - My David Ortiz is done rant....

I've always thought of Ortiz as being a lot like Mo Vaughn. The immediate paralells are obvious. They're both left-handed-hitting, heavy-set, Red Sox first-basemen. What I didn't realize was that their career paths were eerily similar as well.

Mo Vaughn turned 27 in December 1994. At that point, he had 72 major league home-runs in 1507 ABs. David Ortiz turned 27 in December 2002. At that time, he had 58 major league home-runs in 1477 ABs.

And then they turned it on. Over the next 5 years ('95 through '99, opening day age 27 through 31), Mo Vaughn's average season featured a .313 batting average, 0.956 OPS, with 38 HRs and 118 RBIs. For '03 athrough '07 (again 27 through 31), Ortiz' average season was a .302 batting average, 1.015 OPS, with 42 HRs and 128 RBIs. In their primes, both players were high on the list of feared middle-of-the-order hitters.

And that's all the data we have on Ortiz. Entering this year, he's a career .289 hitter, with 266 HRs in 4,215 ABs. At the same time 8 years ago, Vaughn was a career .301 hitter, with 263 HRs in 4,352 major league ABs. Yes. At age 32, they're only 3 HR's apart.

So how did Mo do in 2000? Well that was his second year in Anaheim. His batting average dropped a little (.272 - his worst season since '92) but he still hit 36 HRs and drove in 117 runs. Still a very productive middle-of-the-order hitter.

And then it all went south.

He missed the entire 2001 season with a biceps injury. In 2002, he struggled with weight problems, but still hit 26 HRs. His career would end the following season due to a degenerative knee condition. After turning 32, Mo Vaughn only hit 65 more HR's.

The most disturbing part of that last paragraph to Sox fans is the mention of a "knee condition." Ortiz had to have off-season surgery to repair damaged catrilage in his knee. He says he feels fine, but given his start, you have to wonder if the knee is 100%.

I don't expect Ortiz' decline to start in ernest this year. Mo had a 36 HR year after turning 32. Ortiz should get to the 35 HR plateau for a 5th year in a row, but that will likely be accompanied by a drop in batting average. But given their similairities (in both girth and production), it wouldn't be surprising to see his numbers decline quickly after this season.
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Date: 2008-01-09 08:20
Subject: Someone watched "Weekend at Bernies" one too many times
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Seriously. This is a plot worthy of Jon Silverman.
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Date: 2008-01-04 16:11
Subject: Watch this show
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The 5th and final season of The Wire begins on Sunday night. I've shared with you Bill Simmons' praise. Now LZ Granderson weighs in.

Sunday night at 8 pm. I'll have it on (in HD) if you want to come over.
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Date: 2007-12-22 14:11
Subject: Some holiday cheer
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This is a treat...

Nice work.
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Date: 2007-12-05 18:38
Subject: The MLB Amatuer draft and its effect on the Majors
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Most of my readers have heard that the Tigers pulled off a blockbuster trade over the last couple of days. They have acquired Miguel Cabrera (on the short-list for best hitter not named ARod) and Dontrelle Willis (and enigmatic talent who could be very good or very bad).

To get these two players, the Tigers had to part with the two crown jewels of their farm system. Andrew Miller was the Tigers' first round draft pick in 2006 draft, and Cameron Maybin is a raw but very talented OF. The Tigers also parted with several other lesser prospects.

Many are saying that Detroit "emptied" its farm system for this deal. While it's true that they dealt many of their higher level prospects, the Tigers need not worry about having an "empty" farm system.

To restock it, they simply need to continue their policy of drafting and signing the high level talents that other organizations consider "unsignable." In this past year's draft, in the final third of the first round, the Tigers were able to draft a high school pitcher who many considered to be the best pitcher available in the amateur draft. 26 other teams had passed on Procello based on his contract demands, but the Tigers were willing to pay. So after agreeing on a 4-year, $8 mil contract, the Tigers had what might be the best amateur pitching prospect in the country.

They then went on to draft 4 more pitchers in their next 5 picks. Their supplimental round choice (Brandon Hamilton) also signed for an above slot amount. The Tigers paid their 5th round pick (Casey Crosby) an enormous $750,000 bonus. Many felt he had 1st round talent, but because he had been offered a full scholarship to the Univ of Illinois, many organizations were leery of paying his contract demands.

Because most major league teams are afraid to pay the high signing bonus demands of top amateur talent, the teams that are willing to pay have an enormous advantage in restocking their farm systems. Yes, none of the pitching talent drafted this year by the Tigers will be major league ready in the next year or two, but in 2010, we could start to see these pitchers reach the big leagues. And that makes a pitcher like Andrew Miller expendable.

So the MLB draft, as currently structured, allows big spending organizations to be more liberal with trading their top talent. This makes them more likely swing a deal for a player like Cabrera or Santana.
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Date: 2007-11-30 00:05
Subject: Since there's nobody around to say this to
Security: Public
How 'bout dem Cowboys?
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Date: 2007-11-28 12:26
Subject: A dumb move
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In Joel Sherman's column in yesterday's NY post, he points out that the bonus structure in ARod's contract is dumb.

And he's right.

Remember when ARod went 3 for 27 while sitting on HR 499? Well, in addition to having the pressure of passing Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Bonds, he has another $6 mil in pressure at each milestone.

Why would the Yankees, with their seemingly unlimited dollars, put more pressure on a player whose psyche is clearly fragile? Just for the chance of saving $30 mil.

Put it this way - If you made the contract 10 years, $305 million, and ARod doesn't get to those numbers, then the entire contract (including the $275 mil guaranteed they're offering now) is bad. Not just the last $30 million.
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Date: 2007-11-19 09:42
Subject: Random thought/question
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Got the 80's list going while I'm working this morning when "Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News comes on. I had the following thought:

Is there a radio-play song that is more strongly associated with a movie than this one?

I mean, when you hear the Jurassic Park theme, or any of 5 JOhn-Williams-numbers from the Star Wars series, you think of those movies. But "Power of Love" absolutely screams Back to the Future to me.

The only other two that come to mind immediately are Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" from The Breakfast Club and "There She Goes" by The La's in So I Married an Axe Murderer. (I had to look up the artist on that one.)
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Date: 2007-11-07 11:25
Subject: Oh Senility
Security: Public
"The Spygate thing has diminished what they've accomplished." - Don Shula

Excuse me?

I'm on record as not being a big fan of the way the Pats have conducted themselves this year. But how does getting caught spying in one game against a TERRIBLE (yes, all caps, that's how bad the Jets are) team diminish going 16-0?

I'm in agreement with Gregg Easterbrook on this one. That none of the other owners asked to see the NE spy tapes says to me that every team is doing something like this. Players have been quoted as saying "Oh, taping the other team's sideline is illegal?" I think it's probably accepted practice in the NFL. But the owners and commissioner just wanted this scandal to go away as fast as possible. So they quickly lowered the hammer on the Pats, destroyed the evidence, and then said, "Nothing to see behind this curtain."

Which is why Belichick should be a little pissed off that everyone has gotten so righteously indignant over the whole episode. I'm sure he's thinking "Who are they to judge? They're doing it too." That's not a good enough reason to keep Tom Brady in when you're up 38-0 in the 4th quarter, but it's right for him to be pissed.

But this Shula comment is worse than any of the other indignation we've seen. Hell, the Pats are probably the ONLY team that isn't taping the other team's sidelines at this point. And somehow their accomplishments are tainted by filming half a game against a bad team? This must be the last gasp of a man desperate to preserve what one of the more minor accolades of a hall of fame coaching career.

It's all for naught, because the Pats aren't going 16-0. They will likely be 15-0 going into week 17 when they play in the Meadowlands against the NY Giants. But they will have clinched HFA, and the game will not matter outside of some silly chase for perfection. Meanwhile, given the current standings, the game will be of great importance to the Giants. And oh, by the way, the Giants defense is currently first in the NFL in sacks.

How could Belichick possibly defend playing Brady in a game that doesn't matter against the defense that hits the quarterback more than any other defense in the league? That's simply not logical.

Matt Cassell, Reche Caldwell and Kyle Eckel aren't beating the Giants in week 17.
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Date: 2007-10-29 11:00
Subject: Now it's getting ridiculous
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I'm not normally a crusader for sportsmanship. And as a Cowboy fan, I ought to want to see the Redskins humiliated.

But the display yesterday by the Patriots was shameful.

I haven't written about this yet because I thought they were within a reasonable bound of sportsmanship so far. The Kyle Eckle TD against the Cowboys was the closest thing to "running up the score" they had done, but Belichick was getting a rookie his first TD. I was ok with that. Against the Dolphins, the Pats lead was cut to 21 pts in the 4th quarter when Brady came back in. That same day, an NFL team came back from a 22 pt deficit in the 4th to eventually take the lead. So that was defendable.

But how do they defend this?

Leading 45-0 with 2:02 left in the 3rd Quarter, the Patriots had just gotten the ball after stopping the Redskins on 4th down at the NE 12. They were up 6 (yes, SIX) scores. The Redskins would need to score a TD every 3 minutes the rest of the way, and even then, they would need 3 2-pt conversion just to ti. This game was over.

And yet, here's NE's play log:

Evans run
Brady pass
Brady pass
Brady pass (end of 3rd Q)
Brady pass
Brady pass
Evans run
Brady pass
Evans run
Brady pass
Faulk run
Brady run
Faulk run
Brady pass (TD)

They threw 8 times, up 45. They threw 5 times in he 4th quarter, up 45.

The one cog they cannot afford to lose (Brady) touched the ball on 9 of 15 plays. Regardless of sportsmanship, that's just plain moronic. What's the upside in risking an injury to Brady in that situation?

The only logical answer is that the Pats and Belichick/Brady have some kind Colts-envy at this point.

Think about it. Before the Super Bowl in February, there was a legitimate Brady vs Manning debate. Rings vs Stats. I always argued that Brady was better. He won more, did enough to win with less talent around him, while Manning piled up numbers with help of a very expensive offense. Manning never won because the organization spent so much money on the offensive side of the ball (allowing Manning to play with superior talent to Brady) that there was never enough left for defense, and thus they lost. While it wasn't his fault that the D was bad, the reason the D was bad was part of the reason his offense was so good.

But then Manning beat Brady. And won the ring. Now how could you argue Brady was better? He had a couple more rings? I suppose, but the way this "rivalry" had turned in the last two years (the Colts have won the last three meetings), it was conceiveable that Brady's edge in SB rings wouldn't last long.

So now the Pats have decided to take the stats title away from Manning. The only logical explanation for Brady throwing a TD with 9 mins left in the 4th quarter yesterday is that Brady wants Manning's records.

Meanwhile, up only 17 with 13 minutes left in the game, on 3rd and goal from the 12 (a clear passing situation), the Colts ran a draw play. While I'm sure they wanted to score a TD on the play, the draw was far less likely to work than Manning dropping back to pass. But the Colts understood the bigger picture. No reason to put Manning in harm's way on a pass play. No need for him to throw a 3rd TD. No need to create enemies within the league by running up the score. Their intention was to hand the ball off, and get out with a FG.

So 9 months ago, if you had asked me if I would ever root for the Colts in an Indy vs NE game, I would have told you no chance. But now I find myself in that position.
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May 2008