This is incomparably awesome:
I strongly endorse Joe Girardi’s “using Chan Ho Park in high-leverage situations” strategy…
As commenters have pointed out, fairness demands that it be noted that Jim Joyce may have screwed up what would have been a profitable future career as a Republican elected official or BP executive by admitting his egregious error. And given this it would probably better to emulate Galarraga’s remarkable class and grace under pressure.
But since I’m not as good a person as Galarraga, I should explain why I don’t buy the argument that since it didn’t cost the Tigers the game it wasn’t that big a deal. I think this actually stands the truth on its head. While I’m free about criticizing inept umpiring, I try to never claim that umps cost the team a game, because it’s almost always more complicated than that. Cuzzi’s foul call in the ALDS last year was at least as bad as Joyce’s, but it was a pretty minor factor in the Twins loss; Cuzzi didn’t tell Joe Nathan to throw a cookie to Slappy Rodriguez, he wasn’t hitting when the Twins went on to parlay the bases loaded with none out into zero runs, and given the same sequence of events the Twins would have been huge underdogs, tied against a better team on the road. Same thing with Denkinger; it was a bad call, if not quite was bad as Joyce/Cuzzi, but the Cardinals still had every chance to win after it, and Denkinger wasn’t hitting or pitching when the Cardinals went on to be outscored 13-0. The endless whining by the Cardinals and their fans is not merely problematic but unseemly, excuse making by a team that lost and deserved to lose. And as much as it pains me to admit it, the same goes for the Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss. If Holmgren spent less time complaining about the officiating and more time on his two minute drill they might have won.
What was unusual about the Joyce call was that it really was an if-not-then call in which the athletes in question were blameless. Which, combined with the fact that it wasn’t close but was a call a major league umpire should never get wrong, makes it hard to forgive. And while a perfect game might be an “arbitrary” accomplishment, well, Dennis Martinez in 1991 and Pedro’s 27 outs-with-no-support in San Diego in 1995 are two of my most ten most vividly remembered regular season games as a fan, and I don’t think I’m unusual.
Ken Griffey Jr. has retired. It’s impossible to overstate Griffey’s importance to Seattle baseball, or the excitement in the Northwest over the idea of having a genuine Hall of Famer to watch. His years in Cincinnati were less distinguished, of course, and his coda in Seattle lasted just a touch too long. For my part, he reinvigorated my enthusiasm in baseball after a hiatus of six or so years following Donnie Moore’s failure in the 1986 ALCS.
Thank you, Ken. You were my all-time favorite baseball player. Enjoy your retirement.
See also Loomis.
I have created an LGM World Cup Challenge group at ESPN:
Group Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Deadline is June 11.
Speaking of pointless competition, here are the current LGM Baseball Challenge Standings:
|1||Feces Flingers, B. Drunk||366||99||0||0||0||0||0||2801||2801||98.4|
|2||free leonard, M. Ricci||357||98||0||0||0||0||0||2787||2787||98.2|
|3||kolmogorov-smirnov, W. Krummenacher||203||95||0||0||0||0||0||2738||2738||97.1|
|4||C. Quentin’s Unicorn, A. Katz||301||127||0||0||0||0||0||2722||2722||96.7|
|5||HeadlessThompson Gunner, S. Hickey||302||90||0||0||0||0||0||2711||2711||96.4|
|6||Dwarf Mammoths, T. Mohr||233||127||0||0||0||0||0||2700||2700||96.1|
|7||Ambulance Chasers, J. Shurberg||326||67||0||0||0||0||0||2672||2672||95.3|
|8||Bangers and M*A*S*H, N. Beaudrot||337||91||0||0||0||0||0||2644||2644||94.3|
|9||Signal/Noise, B. Petti||252||92||0||0||0||0||0||2619||2619||93.3|
|10||Better Arms on Chairs, B. Mizelle||337||124||0||0||0||0||0||2610||2610||93.0|
It was easy to make fun of his hot-dog bravado in the face of historic incompetence, but ultimately you had to admire the irrepressible joy he took in the game. He made plenty of money but was still willing to go to Edmonton to pitch in the low minors, getting one more year in the game, without any bitterness. R.I.P.
I noted on Facebook that, from a statistical perspective, what makes baseball such an amazing sport is that you can watch it your entire life and still see, on a daily basis, something you’ve never seen before. (It’s a truism, I know, but it has the benefit of actually being true.) In this case, the something in question was watching the wonderfully named Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park home run and initiate a triple play in the same game. John Emerson responded with some humbug about it not being an inside-the-park grand slam, which made me remember that I had seen an inside-the-park grand slam at some time in the remote past.
I remember being six or seven years old and watching the Mets play the Cardinals in an afternoon game at Shea Stadium, and thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can definitively say that at approximately 4:30 p.m. on 9 June 1985, I watched Terry Pendleton hit an inside-the-park grand slam off Joe Sambito in a game the Cardinals would go on to win handily. The fact that I can verify vague memories of events that occurred twenty-five years ago astounds me in a way I sometimes forget the Internet is capable of doing.
This realization is obviously not of world-historical importance, merely a reminder that this thing whose existence we take for granted daily represents a fundamentally weird complement to human memory. The fact that at some point in the future I can know who I rode in an elevator with on 28 December 2005 is less weird because I chose to write about riding in an elevator with Grimace. That I can access detailed information about events I have no right remembering in detail is another matter entirely.
I’m not sure what was more painful, watching this game in general or listening to Tim McCarver repeatedly trying and failing to pronounce “Tuiasosopo.”
Another great tribute from Posnanski. Roberts was just a tremendous pitcher for his first 8 years (and had a second wave of very good pitching after joining the Orioles in the 60s), although because of the relative failure of his teams doesn’t seem to get discussed in that light as much as he should. R.I.P.
As someone who cut his baseball fan’s teeth on the Dick Williams Expos, and then became a follower of the Mariners (along with the 60s Giants, one of the few teams to squander even more front-line talent) from watching a wave of exciting prospects in Calgary, for a long time I’ve been fascinated by the Whiz Kids. The 1950 Phillies won the pennant with a very young team whose young core went on to long, productive careers — and yet never came close to winning again. On an interesting recent discussion on his pay site, Bill James argues that this was a product of lazy roster construction: the Phillies kept falling behind because they didn’t care how good the supporting cast was, and especially faced with two outstanding organizations in New York City this wasn’t going to cut it. This is, I think, an important lesson: while a team’s best players are often blamed for a team’s disappointing performance, the disappointment is much more likely to result from the surrounding talent not being good enough. Since I’m not sure about lengthy quotes of stuff from behind the paywall, a couple of relevant classic quotes about my beloved dead team, from the 1984 and 1985 Abstracts, respectively:
To put this in plain, unmistakable English, Doug Flynn does just as much to destroy the Montreal offense as Tim Raines can do to build it. If you give him the opportunity, Doug Flynn can do just as much to lose games with his bat as Tim Raines can do to win them. And Bill Virdon chose to give him that opportunity…My point is that the Expos’ problems, while they may very well have their origin in some aloof, distant intangible, do not find their way into the loss column by some mystical route. The Expos lose games because specific ballplayers fail to do specific things. The Expos have the core of a great team, but they are not ever going to win as long as they surround that core with Doug Flynns and Ray Burrises.
The 1984 Expos, not meaning to slight Charlie Lea or anything, had essentially two strengths. In Gary Carter, the Expos had one of the greatest catchers in the history of baseball. In Tim Raines, they had the outstanding leadoff man in the history of the National League…so what do they do? They trade off the catcher and worry about the center fielder’s throwing arm. It’s crazy, but if you’re losing and you’re frustrated, it seems logical. Losing teams focus their frustrations on their best players…
These remain important insights, I think. In some way, it’s a tribute to Roberts, Ashburn at all that today’s Phillies have taken over their division by learning this lesson: they’re actually supplemented their impressive core with some care and attention rather than (with the exception of the idiotic Abreu trade) taking out some early disappointments on their core players.
Cockcroft and Ravitz have a nice little article on the 30th anniversary of the first fantasy baseball league. The highlight of the story is the discussion of the best fantasy pitchers and hitters from each year, as well as the important rookie performances.
My own introduction to fantasy baseball came in 1999, when I accidentally used my first round draft pick (my very first fantasy pick ever) on Alex Gonzalez (no, the other one). One can never leave such an error behind; at every auction or draft since 1999, some joker sees fit to remind me of the choice. The bitterest pill is that Gonzalez was having by far his best offensive season until he went down with a season ending injury in May. At the time, everyone thought that I was trying to pick either Juan Gonzalez or Alex Rodriguez, but the source of my confusion was somewhat different. In pre-emptive solidarity with a non-trivial contingent of Floridian senior citizens, I simply filled in the wrong bubble. In the alphabetical ranking of AL shortstops in 1999, Gonzalez immediately preceded one Derek S. Jeter…