Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Proof NBA Referees Are Terrible

During yesterday's game between the Celtics and Blazers something odd occurred. Portland scored a basket... with six players on the court. Even more incredulous, the referees allowed the basket to stand. Mike Callahan said in a statement after the game that the field goal wouldn't have counted if the officials saw it beforehand. Hmm, really Mike?

Here's video of the bizarre play. Witness the strangeness for yourself. SI's Ian Thomsen comes down hard on the incident, calling it the worst official decision he has ever witnessed at a sporting event. To me, it's another example of why Tim Donaghy was not the biggest referee problem with the NBA. Constant incompetence by the refs has plagued the league for years. Superstar calls, favoring the home team as well as inconsistent officiating between the regular season and the playoffs has been the hallmark of NBA refs. This is only the latest, and perhaps most obvious, example.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Go Read Shark Bytes

Jerry Tarkanian, legendary former coach of UNLV basketball, writes a blog for the Las Vegas Sun called Shark Bytes. Most of the Shark's two dozen or so entries deal with the NCAA screwing him over throughout the years, but there's other good stuff here as well.

Two of my favorite stories are the slippery recruitment of Sam Bowie and when Jimmy Valvano begged one of Tarkanian's players not to punch him.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Slowest Hurricane Ever

What a disastrous two-minute drill by Miami at the conclusion of tonight's Emerald Bowl. The Cal Bears scored a late touchdown off a turnover and held on for the 24-17 victory. But really it was QB Jacory Harris and the Hurricane offense who gave the game away.

After Harris fumbled deep in his own territory the Bears found the endzone with 2:41 left in the game. Check out the play-by-play for the final possession. Miami needs a touchdown... so it runs nine plays and gains twelve yards. Yikes. Harris inexplicably took his time calling plays, ran with the ball when he should have thrown it away and failed to get out of bounds when necessary. Coach Randy Shannon was so frustrated he called Miami's final timeout after the clock was stopped following an incomplete pass.

That might have been the worst two-minute I've even seen. It made the Philadelphia Eagles offense look like the 2007 New England Patriots.

Mariners Sex Toy

So I'm browsing the online MLB Shop for Seattle Mariners t-shirts (I'm a huge M's fan in case that wasn't obvious) and I come across this ghastly item:

Maybe I'm crazy, but maybe this really looks like a Felix Hernandez, Ichiro and Erik Bedard sex swing doll.

Forever Collectibles Seattle Mariners Team Celebration Ornament

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Origin of a Certain Kind of Awesomeness

I've read about the story of how John Tesh came up with the beat that became the theme song of The NBA on NBC. To actually hear it from the man himself is, wow, what a treat.

And the legend of "Roundball Rock" grows.

UPDATE: Tesh tells the story on his blog. And you can download the song for free!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mariner Fans Are Pessimistic And/Or Realistic

Do you expect your favorite MLB team to be competitive in 2009?

Give M's fans credit; we aren't blatant homers. I agree with the majority of Washington state and believe Seattle will not be competitive. That being said, I expect the Mariners to field a .500 ballclub in 2009 with an eye toward long-term success.

I really can't emphasize how happy I am with new GM Jack Zduriencik and the direction he's taking this franchise. Also credit has to go to Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong. These two have meddled in baseball operations for far too long but now they finally are backing off and letting smarter guys run the show.

Chase Utley Is More Valuable Than Ryan Howard

Back in October the Philiadelphia Phillies won the World Series. The team's success was mostly attributed to a trio of infielders: 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley and SS Jimmy Rollins.

The mainstream media and many fans consider Howard, the slugging first baseman and former MVP winner, as the best player on the team. Most people would say Rollins (also a former MVP) is the second-best, followed by Utley.

And those people would be hideously incorrect.

wOBA* = weighted On Base Average (Park Adjusted)
In essence a variant of OPS that uses weighted values to determine a player's offensive production. For example, walks and singles are both worth 1 using OPS because they both advance the batter one base. However using wOBA* a single is more valuable than a walk (.77 to .62) because in the event of a single there is a chance that the defense will create a error, thus creating additional bases. Also other baserunners can advance more than one base on a single.

Park-adjusted alters statistics to what they would be in a neutral park. A right-handed hitter who plays games in Petco Park would have better numbers if he played at Fenway Park. For example, 320-foot flyball to left field would be a out in San Diego but a home run in Boston. The same player with the same skillset would produce vastly different numbers playing in those different stadiums, so park-adjusted tries to correct inflation and deflation created by the unique dimensions and quirks of MLB parks.

Number of runs saved over 150 games. Defense is the most subjective and controversial to quantify using statistics. For this post I'm using information provided by Tiger Tales. The defensive stats are Zone Rating, Revised Zone Rating, Probabilistic Model of Range, Fielding Bible, Ultimate Zone Rating and Fan Fielding Survey. All of these are considered valid, although no single metric is considered "the" statistic to measure defense. Generally speaking, +20 is incredible and -20 is horrible. Knowing all this I considered these numbers and what I've personally seen from and read about the players to determine their defense.

Win adjustments made to defensive positions. Since it's more difficult to find talent who can play catcher, shortstop and center field those positions receive the biggest win boosts. Conversely, it's easier to plug in people at first base and DH, so those positions receive the biggest losses.

Playing Time
Expressed as a decimal. If a player plays a full season then it's 1. If a half season then .5 and so on.

WAR = Wins Above Replacement
How many wins a player is worth compared to freely available talent (i.e. decent minor leaguers).

Market Value = WAR x 4.25
How much a player is worth in the free market (in millions).

So why do the numbers hate Howard so much? Because he's a feast-or-famine free swinger. He creates an out two-thirds of the time, with about half of those coming on strikeouts. And while Howard may be the most prolific home run in baseball he doesn't possess all-around power, with only a career-high in doubles of 26. Plus he's a below-average defender (-10 < x < 0) at a position where it's easy to find someone with a decent glove.

Meanwhile, Utley is a stellar defender (5 < x < 15) at a position where good gloves are difficult to find. Also his offensive production is stellar. He has great all-around power and gets on base (i.e. prevents outs). In fact, Utley actually accumulated more total bases than Howard in 2008.

Some would point out something like Howard's obscene RBI totals and argue he's more valuable because he produced the most runs for the team. A stat like RBI isn't an indicator of talent but rather circumstance. Players can't control who's on base, who's pitching, what stadium they play in or a lot of other issues. And of course, Howard needed guys like Rollins and Utley on base to drive in. Placing Howard in a bad offense and environment (Washington) would skew his peripheral numbers but not his true skillset.

The spreadsheet I used can be found here. Player wOBA* can be found at StatCorner. And here's a list of the top fifty players of 2008 that uses different sabermetrics than I did. Guess what, it's not crazy about Ryan Howard either.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Disaster Averted

U.S.S. Mariner lost the College Scholarship because a popular progressive blog constantly bombarded its readers to vote for another progressive blog. Politics, sheesh.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending. USSM Readers (including yours truly) contributed to a Dave Cameron scholarship fund and raised $8,826.76. Furthermore, the college scholarship rewarded him with $2,000 for being the runner-up. This is awesome, much like the Mariners offseason.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He Said What?

Overheard at the end of today's episode of PTI:

Tony Kornheiser: Candace Parker and Sheldon Williams have eloped. You have marriage advice for them?
Michael Wilbon: I got great advice. Threesomes keep it interesting.

UPDATE: visuals!

New Yorkers Desperate to Learn More About Backup Outfielder

Mets, Mariners and Indians engage in three-way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reversal of Fortunes

As the American economy is plunging the Seattle Mariners are soaring. Following a historic 101-loss campaign the M's have made nothing but great moves during a critical offseason.

First Seattle hired Jack Zduriencik as the new general manager. He was previously the assistant GM in Milwaukee and was responsible for drafting many of the Brewers' best players (Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in particular). Zduriencik's keen eye for evaluating talent earned him a Executive of the Year Award from Baseball America in 2007.

While Jack's strengths are in traditional baseball scouting he's also well-aware of the new school of evaluation -- something ex-GM Bill Bavasi could never grasp. Zduriencik is creating a department within the Mariners that will handle sabermetrics and other advanced stats. In theory the Mariners will be heading in 2009 with an optimized baseball operations, one that will utilize different philosophies and strategies to select the best players. It's something the good franchises like Boston, Cleveland and Arizona are already doing. To see Seattle embrace this sort of forward thinking is nothing short of fantastic.

The first major imprint of the Zduriencik era was his decision to hire Don Wakamatsu as the new manager. There was some internal debate about who should run the team on the field, yet Jack had the final say and ultimately got the man he wanted. Wakamatsu was a bench coach for the Oakland A's last season and previously coached in the minors. He's notorious for his in-depth preparation before games. And while the crystal ball is hazy as to whether the first-time manager will succeed it's a credit to Zduriencik that he took a gamble on a younger guy and didn't hire a safe but mediocre retread.

Seattle probably won't contend in 2009; its probably a .500 as currently constructed. However, it's starting to put itself in a great position to play baseball in the future. And long-term success, whether in baseball or economics, is the key.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Vote Cameron!

Fact: Fat-ass crappy pitcher and all-around evil person Carlos Silva "earns" $32,000 a day.

Help Dave Cameron, writer of the U.S.S. Mariner blog, win a $10,000 college scholarship. He's being nominated for the influential Open Letter regarding Felix Hernandez's tendency to throw predictable fastballs during early innings.

Vote for Cameron. Why? Because if anyone deserves the money Carlos Silva steals in his sleep it's Dave.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jamie Moyer Stifles Rays, Shits Himself

Phillies pitcher and ageless wonder Jamie Moyer threw 6 1/3 innings against the Rays in Philadelphia's 5-4 over Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Moyer pitched the gem despite suffering from a major stomach virus:
On Friday night, the eve of his first-ever Series start, his stomach virus became even more severe.

Not only was Moyer suffering from diarrhea, but he also was sweating profusely.

"It was so bad I had to change the sheets twice," his wife Karen said. "He ruined two pillows. Our comforter is at the cleaners right now.

Thankfully Moyer was wearing "protection" while on the mound.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chuck Chuck Go Away, Don't Come Back Ever

Seattle Mariners President Chuck Armstrong, in all seriousness, says in an interview with
"The easiest thing would be to declare victory and walk away from what we have accomplished here -- building a beautiful ballpark, having the best record in baseball from 2000-03, winning a record 116 games and going to the playoffs in 1995, '97, 2000 and 2001."

"Maybe someone else could walk away and feel good about it, but I can't. I care passionately about this place and this organization, and I am more determined than ever to help get this turned back around."

"I trust my own ability to make good decisions."

Year Record
2008 61-101
2007 88-74
2006 78-84
2005 69-93
2004 63-99
2003 93-69
2002 93-69

Payroll in excess of $600 million over the past seven years. I'm convinced this franchise will never right itself.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lakers Litmus Test

Time to separate the fakers from the realists. Are you a diehard fan or do you dust off that purple and gold flag every spring?

Take the Lakers Litmus Test and find out which Laker you are based on your knowledge of the team's history. Write down your answers as you go along.

Easy: 1 point
1) Prior to Los Angeles what city was home to the Lakers? If you don't know this you might as well stop right now.

2) Before the Staples Center was built where did the Lakers play?

3) Who currently owns the Lakers?

4) Which player on the Lakers has a dad who is the head coach of another NBA team?

5) If college had been mandatory for Kobe Bryant he would have played basketball for which university?

6) What Laker great is the silhouette on the NBA logo?

7) Who had one of the greatest performances in a NBA Finals game with 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists while playing at the center position?

8) Which two current Lakers are local boys, having grown up in Southern California and played college ball at UCLA? Must identity both players for one point.

9) Who is the only person to win a title as a Laker player and then later as the Laker head coach?

10) What was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's government name?

11) Who was the late, great play-by-play announcer for the Lakers?

Moderate: 2 points
1) Who is the all-time franchise leader in points?

2) What player did the Lakers lose in free agency that gave them the first pick in the 1979 draft as compensation?

3) Which pioneer of the triangle offense was Phil Jackson's long-time right-hand man?

4) Name the colleges these Lakers attended: Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher. One point for each correct answer.

5) Who did the Lakers select with their first-round pick in the 2008 draft?

6) Who was Shaq's first Laker head coach?

7) In 1997 Kobe became the NBA Slam Dunk Champion by emulating a move from a former dunk champion and future teammate. Who was this player and what was his dunk called? One point for each correct answer.

Hard: 3 points
1) How many NBA championships have the Lakers won?

2) Who is the only Laker to ever win NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

3) Who is the only Laker to ever win NBA Rookie of the Year?

4) The Lakers have not won a championship since this fan favorite big man left town as a free agent.

5) During the Lakers three-peat earlier this decade there were 7 players who played in the postseason for all three championship teams. Name them. One point for three correct answers. Two points for six correct answers. Three points for all seven.

Have all your responses ready? Hurry up because the answers are right down there!

Answers coming up!

1.1 Minneapolis
1.2 Great Western Forum
1.3 Jerry Buss
1.4 Coby Karl
1.5 Duke
1.6 Jerry West
1.7 Magic Johnson
1.8 Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar
1.9 Pat Riley
1.10 Lew Alcindor
1.11 Chick Hearn
11 possible points

2.1 Jerry West
2.2 Gail Goodrich
2.3 Tex Winter
2.4 Rhode Island, Arkansas-Little Rock
2.5 Trick question; it was traded to Memphis in the Pau Gasol deal
2.6 Del Harris
2.7 Isaiah Rider, East Bay Funk Dunk
14 possible points

3.1 14
3.2 Michael Cooper
3.3 Elgin Baylor
3.4 Mark Madsen
3.5 Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Devean George and Brian Shaw
15 possible points

Count up all your points.

Got your final score? Great. Now find out which Laker you are:

(0-4) Slava Medvedenko - You suck
(5-9) Kwame Brown - Never could get it together
(10-13) Smush Parker - Way too arrogant and lackadaisical
(14-16) Nick Van Exel - Reckless with limited repertoire
(17-19) Eddie Jones - Brief flashes of brilliance
(20-22) Byron Scott - Deserves respect
(23-25) James Worthy - Solid all-around game
(26-28) Elgin Baylor - Surprising people with your talent
(29-31) Kobe Bryant - Humble yourself to achieve greatness
(32-34) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Got game but people hate you
(35-37) Shaquille O'Neal - If only you worked a little harder...
(38-40) Magic Johnson - As close to perfection there is.

For the record I hate the Lakers =)
...and scored 27, which means I'm running the Clippers =(

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jemele Hill Throws Shit Against Wall, Hopes It Sticks

She really should stop declaring certain athletes as all-time greats. As terrible as her "Kobe is better than MJ" argument was, the Page 2 writer blows that piece of trash out of the water with her latest effort. There she declares Michael Phelps as the greatest athlete ever. The claim itself isn't so outlandish (after all, he is the most decorated Olympian ever), but Jemele's reasoning is incredibly misguided. Good Guy At Sports breaks it down.

14 Minutes and Change for Michael Phelps

Congratulations to Michael Phelps for winning eight gold medals and setting seven world records at the Beijing Olympics. The Associated Press was apparently so excited that they forgot to write a story about it:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swing and a Miss ESPN

Courtesy of Awful Announcing:

From the fine folks that brought you Rob Thomas, The Pussycat Dolls and Tim McGraw... ESPN is proud to present the latest crappy music headliner to perform for a major sporting event: the Jonas Brothers!

If Disney tries to cross-promote the chick that ruined the Cruella song during a NASCAR race I might snap.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wearing Trojan Equipment Will Lead to Tingly Balls

Seems like USC football is getting antsy in its pantsy:
Each day, it seems, another player shows up at USC football practice with a pained expression and an uncomfortable gait, feet spread wide, stepping gingerly across the turf.

They are victims of an ailment that has swept through the team during training camp, something that coaches refer to as "a skin irritation."

The players call it "jock itch."

As much as 25% of the team has been affected.
I wonder if Matt Leinart has visited his old team recently.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boss Bound for Super Bowl

Various news outlets are reporting Bruce Springsteen will headline the halftime show for Super Bowl XLIII. Not too surprising since the NFL has been conservative in choosing its musical headliners, as not to upset its constituents.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Beijing Smog Strikes Journalists

Courtesy of Truehoop:

Washington Post's Dan Steinberg and Sally Jenkins go for a brisk run through China's capital. Conclusion? "Don't go jogging in Beijing this week."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What Has Been the Most Important Sports Moment in Your Life?

I'm doing a huge piece on the upcoming 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and I got to thinking... what has been the most significant sports moment in my lifetime? I don't mean personally but society, the world. An instance in sports that defines and changes a generation. I was born in the mid-80's so I'm too young to have witnessed:

* The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds play the first night game in 1935

* Jesse Owens dominates track in Hitler's background during the 1936 Olympics

* Joe Louis knocks out Max Schmeling in 1938

* Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier in 1947

* Palestinian terrorists kill members of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972

* Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman in Zaire in 1974

* Miracle on Ice in 1980

I do however vividly remember watching Mark McGwire break Roger Maris' home run record in 1998. Not only was the moment itself quite surreal (the way the ball was hit so hard and low, no one was quite sure it would be a home run) but the build-up was tremendous. Every morning for months the LA Times would have a giant graphic of McGwire and Sammy Sosa, comparing their accomplishments to the historic '61 season of Maris. This story captivated the country, with mainstream media watching every at-bat alongside enamored baseball fans. The fact that not one but two players were chasing the illusive home run record also added a racial component. The fact a white guy and a Dominican were striving for the same goal made the story even more popular. One only needs to watch the footage of Mark and Sammy embracing one another that historic September night to understand how joyous the moment was to a sport, to a nation.

But beyond the context of athletic competition and its ability to bring people together I believe this moment had influence far beyond a typical sports story.

First and foremost, this moment is a perfect example of the allure and consequences of performance-enhancing drugs, a subject which is perhaps at the top of the current state of sports. During the home run chase McGwire was using androstenedione, a muscle-building hormone. While it wouldn't become illegal until years later people questioned the ethics of using such substances. Years later Mark would be dogged by accusations of also using other, more powerful enhancers. Sitting in Capitol Hill, once again in front of a nation, Mark had an opportunity to reach millions across the country -- to explain himself and reveal the truth. Instead he refused "to talk about the past." His silence on the matter in some sense said it all. Mark was a disgraced cheater. By using illegal substances he was hailed as a hero, reaching the pinnacle of popularity and triumph. But now Mark is reduced to a hermit, residing in a secluded Orange County community and wary to acknowledge the long shadow of his murky past.

Another effect of the home run chase was profiteering off in-game history. At around 50 home runs almost every home run hit by McGwire or Sosa would lead to a rush in the bleachers to retrieve the ball. Inevitably the ball would later be auctioned for profit. Almost every day it seemed a newer, better record-breaker would pop up on eBay -- for a premium price of course. In retrospect it seems like a bizarre experiment in economics and sociology, once that resonates to this day. It seems as life memorabilia from any historic game can be had for a price.

Anyway, I think McGwire hitting #62 was the most significant sporting event of my life. So what say you? Am I wrong? Was Brandi Chastain's World Cup winner more important? Perhaps Marion Jones' fall from grace is a better example of the consequences of steroid use? Maybe it was an event I failed to mention? And what do you think was the most significant sports moment of your life?

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Point About the Brett Farve-Aaron Rodgers Soap Opera That Hasn't Been Discussed Much

Aaron's contract situation:
The Packers signed Rodgers to a five-year contract on July 30, 2005. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, he received a $1.5 million signing bonus and $620,000 roster bonus in 2005, and received a $3.01 million option bonus in 2006. His base salary was $230,000 in 2005 and $310,000 in 2006. If he is the Packers' full-time starter from 2006 through 2009, he will add $8.25 million to his salaries from 2007 through 2009. If he is the full-time starter in 2007 through 2009, add $5.25 million to his salaries; and if Rodgers doesn't become the starter until 2008, he'll add $2.2 million to his salary.
Rodgers only has two more years left on a five year contract. If Farve were to retake the starting QB job this season and play only in 2008 (and that's a big if), it would leave Aaron only one season to play out a five-year contract.

The waffling of Farve and the Packers for the past several seasons has cost Rodgers millions of dollars, not to mention playing time in the NFL. Anyone think Aaron would want to play in Green Bay in 2010 and beyond after the way the franchise has relegated the former first rounder to clipboard duties?

If Farve is named the starter for this season then Green Bay would be wise to groom either Brian Brohm or Matty Flynn as the heir apparent to #4, because I doubt Aaron would want to stick around. Whether Rodgers can be a good QB in the NFL remains to be seen... but that's because the Packers haven't given him a fair shot.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Top Ten Things the Seattle Mariners are Doing Wrong With Regularity

10) Not aggressively shopping Arthur Rhodes
It's not the year 2001 but Arthur Rhodes is in a Mariners uniform and mowing down opposing batters. 21 strikeouts in 17.2 innings with a .250 batting average against, Rhodes has been one of the few bright spots for the team. He should be traded to a contender looking for bullpen help. That way the M's can build for the future and Arthur can be part of a pennant race. A win-win situation for everyone. Or as Michael Scott would say, "win-win-win."

9) Starting Willie Bloomquist in center field
One has to hand it to Willie; he makes it tough to include his name on the list despite obvious shortcomings. He has non-existent power (.275 slugging) and a subpar arm. Yet good speed, a versatile glove and a healthy .375 OBP "earns" him playing time. He doesn't deserve to be a regular on any major league team but there are worse situations to be in.

8) Playing Miguel Batista
Whether beginning a game on the mound or coming out of the bullpen Batista has been an equal opportunity offender. 4-11 record, 6.98 ERA, almost one hundred hits and fifty walks allowed in under 80 innings. Yeech. R.A. Dickey and Ryan Rowland-Smith are younger and cheaper alternatives. Miguel should solely be relegated to mop up duties.

7) Coaching Felix Hernandez to throw more fastballs
A preseason edict from the coaches was for Felix to establish the fastball. This has been an ongoing theme and it's a bad one. Hernandez possesses three plus pitches: fastball, changeup and slider. Unless you're Mariano Rivera you want to throw hitters an unpredictable array of pitches. Keep them guessing. This season Felix has thrown the highest percentage of fastballs in his career. While the results have been fairly good an unsettling side effect includes a drop in ground balls. Hernandez is at his peak when he's inducing grounders. Seattle would be well advised to encourage Felix to mix up his arsenal throughout a game.

6) Not aggressively shopping Jarrod Washburn
As of today Jarrod is a member of the Seattle Mariners. If he's still with the ballclub in August that will be bad. He's a flyball pitcher so Safeco suits his game. An average pitcher throwing in an extreme pitcher's park, Jarrod's a serviceable talent with a question attitude. Seattle should try hard to trade him to a potential contender, even if it means eating some of the $9 million owed to Washburn next year.

5) Playing Miguel Cairo
An older, slower version of Bloomquist. He doesn't deserve a spot on a 40-man roster yet alone an occasional appearance in a game yet alone a place in the starting lineup. Naturally a team as misguided as Seattle would allow Miguel to step up to the plate at least three times in half the team's games so far this month. Basically any other player in the league offers more than the washed-up Cairo.

4) Batting Jose Vidro cleanup
Only in the bizarro world of the Mariners universe would a player sporting a .215./.261/.313 line be asked to "protect" the number three hitter. This same player, whose slugging percentage has decreased seven years in a row, is relegated to being a prodding slap hitter. That sort of profile might suit Vidro as a late-inning pinch hitter, but certainly not as a cleanup hitter. Recently he's been demoted to batting sixth, which is progress of sorts. Vidro might be the least productive DH in baseball, which is a sad fact for a franchise that was graced by the great Edgar Martinez so many years ago.

3) Not playing Jeff Clement everyday
He's the best combination of talent and youth when it comes to position players in the organization. Jeff should be given every opportunity to gain experience. Instead Cairo, Vidro and the struggling Johjima take away valuable at-bats. Furthermore Clement has much to improve upon behind the plate, meaning incumbent Johjima needs to have to his workload reduced: Kenji's on pace to play 136 games.

2) Sticking Raul Ibanez in left field
Jim Street threw down some nonsense the other day, portraying Raul as a competent defender. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Ibanez is atrocious with a glove. He's a notch above Manny Ramirez. Raul should be replaced by Jeremy Reed and become the team's DH going forward. That would instantly solve two of the M's most glaring problems: the defensive sinkhole in left field as well as the offensive sinkhole that has been the DH position.

1) Using Brandon Morrow as a closer/set-up man
Last year I referred to him as insanity at 60 feet, 6 inches. Morrow's 2007 campaign ended with him tossing 63.1 IP, 50 BB and 66 K. This year he's been a different pitcher, much more comfortable and confident. His 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio says it all. With this season beyond redemption Seattle should look to the future and begin the long process of converting Morrow into a starter. His arm is too valuable to spend the next decade coming out for the eighth and ninth innings.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Distorting History

A clip featuring Derek Redmond's tragic yet heroic 400m run during the 1992 Summer Olympics:

A Visa commercial celebrating said run:

Notice a difference?

For some reason the Nike slogans "Just Do It" and "Have You Hugged Your Son Foot Today?" have been erased from the Visa ad.

It's sad when a commercial alters the imagery of the Olympic moment it is trying to honor.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Mariners Are Offensively Bad

How lackluster has been the M's bats this year? Rotoworld offers this scathing indictment:
Remarkably, Seattle's designated hitters are now hitting .201/.256/.296 in 294 at-bats for the season. To put that in perspective, Rey Ordonez was a career .246/.289/.310 hitter.
First of all it's ludicrous an American League team could get such little production from the position. The Mariners would be slightly worse off letting their pitchers hit for themselves. At least San Diego and Washington, the only two teams that have scored less runs than Seattle this year, have that crutch to fall back on.

Despite such woeful numbers the M's insist the full-time DH bat fourth in the lineup. I'm sure opposing pitchers are intimidated by the cleanup hitter, what with Jose Vidro's killer .220/.268/.322 batting line.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Roy Halladay Beat Up an Inferior Opponent

Very little shame in getting shutout by one of the best starters of this decade. Roy Halladay, with his obscenely high inning totals and equally obscenely low walk rates, feels like he belongs in a different era of baseball.

After sweeping an almost-as-awful-as-they-are Padres, perhaps Seattle was starting to feel good about itself. Let's see how it feels in the morning.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Three All-Star Relievers

Player A: 35.1 IP, 17 H, 3 BB, 40 K, 21 saves, .76 ERA
Player B: 22.1 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 31 K 3 saves, .81 ERA
Player C: 35.0 IP, 21 H, 20 BB, 33 K, 31 saves, 2.06 ERA

These three pitchers have had outstanding seasons so far in 2008. Two are established names; the third not so much. Can you guess who they are?






Ready for the answers?

A is the greatest reliever in history, Mariano Rivera. C is Francisco Rodriguez, one of the best closers in baseball. Combined they have 10 All-Star appearances. Last but certainly not least is B as in Brandon Morrow, the current closer for the Mariners. He's been nothing short of brilliant coming out for the seventh, eight and now ninth innings for last-place Seattle. In a year of profound futility for the M's Morrow stands out as a beacon of hope.

Brandon should be stretched out to eventually become a starter (much like Joba Chamberlain, but with more patience). In fact his dominance as a reliever is in a way bad for the Mariners because it takes time and effort away from properly developing as an inning eater. If he turns into an awesome closer that's great. But a good starter would be a better goal. Regardless, every M's fan should rejoice in watching Morrow mow down the opposition -- even if it is in short stints.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Still Not a Good Time to Root for a Certain Baseball Team Situated in the Northwest

Checking in one month later...

Your team still has the worst record in the AL Majors.
Your GM was fired.
Your manager was fired.
Your second-best prospect has been demoted to the minors.
Your best starter is injured.
Your second-best starter and most valuable pitcher is injured.

Seattle Mariners, this is your life!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Other Shoe Drops

John McLaren, the incompetent manager of the Mariners for about one season, has been fired. This is neither surprising nor scapegoating, as Seattle has been nothing short of stunningly awful when it was expected by many to be a high-priced contender.

Although this move won't salvage the season it is the correct decision. The M's will hopefully start reevaluating their situation with an eye toward the future.

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Down, One to Go

Bill Bavasi, architect of the worst team in baseball, has been fired. For the immediate future it offers little comfort to Mariners fans. This sad sack of a franchise is still going to struggle this season, possibly losing over a hundred games with a payroll excess of $110 million.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps, just maybe, ownership will wise up for once and a hire a strong baseball mind. The name most M's fans will clamor for is Chris Antonetti? Who is Chris Antonetti. He is Assistant GM of the Cleveland Indians as well as among the smarter and most coveted GM candidates in baseball. Over the last several years Boston, St. Louis and Pittsburgh have all seriously considered him to run their respective ballclubs.

Chris has learned from Mark Shapiro and baseball people rave about Antonetti's people skills and statistical savvy. He's the right guy for Seattle. U.S.S. Mariner says it best: Chris Antonetti for Mariners GM NOW

UPDATE: 6/17/08: A great read on who Chris is and what he represents.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Food for Thought

Since 1969 the NBA has given out a Finals MVP Award. There have been only eight players who have won the award more than once:

6-time winner
Michael Jordan

3-time winners
Tim Duncan
Shaquille O'Neal
Magic Johnson

2-time winners
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Larry Bird
Hakeem Olajuwon
Willis Reed

Considering Kobe Bryant has about five years left in the prime of his career I'm guessing #24 won't win half a dozen Finals MVP awards. Right now he has one less than Cedric Maxwell and Chauncey Billups.

Monday, June 09, 2008

These Seattle Fucking Mariners Are a Bunch of Shitty Cocksucking Assholes

Several days ago in the midst of $117 million disaster of a season that finds the Seattle Mariners with the worst record in baseball Mount St. John McLaren exploded:

Just this morning the first real victim of this tragedy emerged as the M's fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland. His replacement? Lee Elia. Yes, that Elia.

If there aren't going to be any good times in Marinerville there might as well be fun times.

Sit tight this summer Seattle baseball fans! Tune in for a hundred losses and a thousand meltdowns!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Reason to Hate the Seattle Mariners

They do not approve of reality TV lesbians.
Sirbrina Guerrero says she only gave her date a peck, but a mother sitting with her son complained to security and, as a result, they were told to stop or leave.

"We were eating garlic fries. The last thing we wanted to do was make out with each other. Honestly, that's what it was."

According to MTV's web site, Guerrero was also a contestant on the network's reality TV show "A Shot At Love 2 With Tila Tequila.
Just a terrible story all around really.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Worst Franchise in Sports

The Seattle Mariners are now the worst-run organization in sports. Congratulations to Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, Bill Bavasi and John McLaren.

The New York Knicks, the reigning champions, have relinquished the crown. After years of mediocrity on the court it appears James Dolan has finally come to his sense. Isiah Thomas is no longer running the team or sexually harassing colleagues. Instead the recent hirings of former longtime Pacers GM Donnie Walsh and former Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni indicate a positive sign for Gotham basketball. The Knicks will probably still be bad but at least they're improving. The same cannot be said for the Mariners.

Bill Bavasi and John McLaren. I say this in all seriousness when I accuse this duo of being the most incompetent one-two GM-manager punch in all of sports. Bavasi has been in charge of both the Angels and Mariners. Despite running two high-revenue franchises that compete in a four-team division Bill has never had a team of his reach the playoffs. Zero postseason games in a decade. Hell, even Isiah led the Knicks to the playoffs during his heinous reign. As for McLaren, I've discussed his in-game incompetence multiple times here. While John has not been blessed with the greatest roster (thanks Bill!), McLaren has failed on so many levels to put his team in a position to win. Batting Jose Vidro third, starting Miguel Cairo, putting Raul Ibanez in left field, giving Richie Sexson ample opportunities at the plate... all of these moves chip away at the notion that McLaren is a smart manager. Soon the evidence comes crashing down and the M's are left to pick up the pieces.

Just how bad has Seattle been in recent years? The numbers speak for themselves.

(year, payroll, record, division standing)
2008 , $117,666,482 , 18-33 , 4th place
2007 , $106,460,833 , 88-74 , 2nd place
2006 , $87,959,833 , 78-84 , 4th place
2005 , $87,754,334 , 69-93 , 4th place
2004 , $81,515,834 , 63-99 , 4th place

2007-08 , $88,877,161 , 23-59 , 5th place
2006-07 , $81,672,615 , 33-49 , 4th place
2005-06 , $92,904,104 , 23-59 , 5th place
2004-05 , $94,067,539 , 33-49 , 4th place
2003-04 , $84,523,891 , 39-43 , 3rd place (1st round)

Assuming Seattle finishes last in the AL West again this season that'll make it the fourth time in five years the Mariners have been cellar dwellers in their division. Even the lowly Knicks couldn't replicate that dismal milestone. One wonders the amount of national scorn the M's would receive if they played in Los Angeles or New York.

There's no reason Seattle should not be successful and competitive. It's a big market team that owns a monopoly on professional baseball. The closest MLB franchise is 800 miles away. The M's have every resource to acquire good players and quality personnel. But until Lincoln and Armstrong step down or let smart baseball people be in charge of baseball decisions the Seattle Mariners will continue to be two steps behind the curve.

Get a clue guys. Or keep hemorrhaging money and losing games.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Losing the SuperSonics Hurts Basketball, Funny Bone

While I'm busy lamenting one Seattle sports franchise -- the one tied with the San Diego Padres for the worst record in baseball -- another will soon be leaving the city for good.

It appears increasingly likely that despite lawsuits filed by the city as well as former owner Howard Schultz the Seattle SuperSonics will bolt for Oklahoma City. Never mind the NBA losing a tremendous franchise with a rich history and a championship banner. What we're really losing is awesomeness like this:

Damn you Clay Bennett.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not a Good Time to Root for a Certain Baseball Team Situated in the Northwest

Your team has the worst record in the AL.
Your best prospect has been demoted the minors.
Your most talented prospect has been suspended indefinitely.

Seattle Mariners, this is your life!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Number Two Is All Big Brown

Big Brown cruised to an easy win at the Preakness, thus completing the second leg of the Triple Crown. Hopefully the horse doesn't crap out at the Belmont Stakes.

Another Question

The critical Game7 Western Conference Semifinal between the New Orleans Hornets and San Antonio Spurs will be played Monday.


Game 6 was played on Thursday, meaning the deciding contest will come a full four days later. Typically during the playoffs there is a day off between games if they are both played in the same city and two days off if the games are played in different arenas (giving players an extra travel day). Three days in between games has been a recent trend by the NBA, which has unfortunately stretched the playoffs into mid-June. Four games, however, I believe is a first.

David Stern believes stretching out the playoffs gives the games maximum TV exposure. That may or may not be true; the increased ratings this year are mostly the byproduct of several exciting matchups, some which went to the maximum seven games. What is true, however, is the time between games blunts the excitement for the fans. Giving NBA followers four days until the penultimate "Game 7" won't give them more time to discuss and analysis the upcoming game; it'll give them four days to get distracted by other things happening in their lives.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Joey Crawford is officiating tonight's pivotal Game 5 Western Conference Semifinals between the New Orleans Hornets and San Antonio Spurs.


Crawford was suspended late last season after threatening Spurs superstar Tim Duncan to a fight. One wonders if NBA Commissioner David Stern really cares about whether a fair game is called or not. He quickly cleaned up the Tim Donaghy scandal to avoid a PR fallout, but other than that incident the league has done very little to ensure consistent and high-quality officiating. Already during these playoffs the Pistons were beneficiaries of a three-pointer that shouldn't have counted in what ended up being a close game.

And Crawford just handed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a technical foul. Whether that call was completely deserved or out of spite, fans shouldn't even have an option to consider. Crawford should not be refereeing Spurs games only a year after his outburst.

The NBA: where a really long postseason marred by officiating controversies happens.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

R.I.P. 2008 Seattle Mariners

The latest rendition of Emerald City baseball died tonight. Or at least its playoff hopes died. Not that it wasn't already on life support. Fans and the media had high expectations for a team coming off a 88-win campaign. Once it stumbled out of the gate things quickly fell apart. The front office has already given manager John McLaren the dreaded vote of confidence. Attendance is dwindling. It's only early May but Seattle sits in the AL West cellar at 14-22, a full eight games behind the Angels. Tonight's familiar dreadful non-showing on offense (second straight shutout, 7th time to score two or less runs in eight games) and a pathetic "fight" to boot were the straws that mercifully broke Seattle's back.

In order to win 90 games this season (for all intents and purposes the bare minimum to win a divisional title in most years) Seattle will have to play .600 baseball the rest of the schedule. It's not going to happen to such a dysfunctional and untalented team as this one so no use hoping for the unlikely. Better to cut ties now and keep the goodbyes as painless as possible.

Adieu 2008 Seattle Mariners. You came, you saw, you couldn't hit with men in scoring position.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Chinese Defense Like Swiss Cheese

We last visited Yi Jianlan's mini milk movie last December, where the emphasis was more on invisible violins and unspoken lesbian allegiances rather than the actual level of play. And on closer inspection... Chinese basketball is in trouble.

The People's Republic has high hopes for its hoops squad, but with Yao Ming possibly missing the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing due to a foot injury defense will need to be a priority. And the Chinese have much work to do.

Playing man-to-man defense when the guard is at least half a foot shorter than the ballhandler is terrible strategy. Jianlan, with the obvious physical advantage, has the option either to shoot over the defender or...

...take it to the hole! Nice defense. What is he trying to block anyway? Kobe, LeBron & Co. will dominate in Beijing unless the Chinese are willing to step up their game.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Move Over Battle at Kruger

There's a new coolest YouTube ever. Introducing Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. Perhaps the greatest video game anything in the history of the universe.

From the developer:

The Great B-Ball Purge of 2041, a day so painful to some that it is referred to only as the "B-Ballnacht". Thousands upon thousands of the world's greatest ballers were massacred in a swath of violence and sports bigotry as the game was outlawed worldwide. The reason: the Chaos Dunk, a jam so powerful its mere existence threatens the balance of chaos and order. Among the few ballers and fans that survived the basketball genocide was Charles Barkley, the man capable of performing the "Verboten Jam"...

Flash forward 12 years to the post-cyberpocalyptic ruins of Neo New York, 2053. A Chaos Dunk rocks the island of Manhattan, killing 15 million. When the finger is put on the aging Charles Barkley, he must evade the capture of the B-Ball Removal Department, led by former friend and baller Michael Jordan, and disappear into the dangerous underground of the post-cyberpocalypse to clear his name and find out the mysterious truth behind the Chaos Dunk. Joined by allies along the way, including his son Hoopz, Barkley must face the dangers of a life he thought he gave up a long time ago and discover the secrets behind the terrorist organization B.L.O.O.D.M.O.S.E.S.
Is there anything else left to say?

Monday, April 28, 2008


Don't tell Roger Clemens that Hannah Montana is fifteen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

History Says This Year's NBA Champion Will be...

UPDATE 4/25/08: Added Fact #3.

Originally posted 4/17/08

I figured I would throw out some interesting tidbits before the start of the NBA postseason.

First of all the playoffs are going to be two months long. I love basketball but it's going to be a gauntlet getting through this postseason. On the plus side this year's rendition figures to be quite exciting. At least in the West. Here are the 16 teams vying for the Larry O'Brien trophy:


Los Angeles
New Orleans
San Antonio

Now, I'm a firm believer in lesson in the past can be applied to the future. And history tells us that although there are over a dozen teams playing for a championship only a select few will truly be in contention.

Fact #1: there have been 58 NBA Championship teams. Only ten of those teams did not have a Hall of Fame center or power forward:

1975 Warriors (beat Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes)
1979 Sonics (beat Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes)
1989 Pistons (beat a HOF center for title)
1990 Pistons
1991-93, 1996-98 Bulls (some dude named MJ)
2004 Pistons (beat future Hall of Famer Shaq O'Neil)

In order to win a championship a team must have a Hall of Fame -- not good, not great, but all-time great -- big man inside the paint. By glancing at this year's rosters we can quickly eliminate several squads from consideration:

Detroit (I love Rasheed but he's not a HOF)
Cleveland (LeBron barely has a functional team around him)
Washington (Unfortunatey the NBA isn't the ACC)
Toronto (I was on the fence with Chris Bosh)
Philadelphia (LOL)
Atlanta (Al Hortford may be in the conversation down the road)

Two teams survive this test. Kevin Garnett already has a HOF career and Dwight Howard is well on his way. Anyway, onto the West and a couple surprises.

Los Angeles (I know what you're thinking and the answer is no.)
New Orleans (David West is barely an All-Star)
San Antonio
Houston (A healthy Yao might be a different result)
Denver (There is no way in hell this team will win the title)

Andrum Bynum is very young and talented but he's not even the best center playing at Staples. And Pau Gasol is simply a two-tier PF. Hell, he's not even the best power forward playing at Staples. But who knows? Maybe DJ Mbenga has been holding back his mad skillz until now...

I'm not sure anyone will argue about Tim Duncan's resume. The Suns have two future Hall of Famers in Shaq and Amare Stoudemire. Dirk Nowitzki (2007 MVP, three All-NBA first teams, 7-time All-Star) is a lock for enshrinement as well. Carlos Boozer is an interesting case. He's 26, twice an All-Star and was in the top ten in MVP voting. The last two years he's been averaging 21/10/3 and finally get the recognition he deserves.

After the first stipulation only six teams remain: Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Utah, Phoenix and Dallas. Now onto the second part of the equation.

Fact #2: since 1987 only six NBA head coaches have won a championship. Gregg Popovich (4 championships), Pat Riley (3), Larry Brown (1), Phil Jackson (9), Rudy Tomjanovich (2) and Chuck Daly (2).

One part HOF big man, one part HOF coach, add a quality point guard, sprinke in some good role players and mix thoroughly. That's the recipe for a champioship. Not surprisingly franchises which have had legendary big men and coaches over the recent years (Pistons, Rockets, Lakers and Spurs) went to enjoy multiple title runs.

Only two franchises didn't have a great center or power forward and went on to win it all in the past two decades. First was the 2004 Pistons, which was coached by Larry Brown, one of the greatest minds in basketball history (and the only coach to win titles in both college and the pros). The other franchise was Jordan's Chicago Bulls. And finally:

Fact #3: the last 12 NBA champions have been the 1 or 2 seed within their conference. This interesting nugget courtesy of SI's Ian Thomsen.

So looking at the 2008 Playoffs, which teams have HOF bodies inside the paint, a HOF mind on the sideline and a high seeding?

San Antonio

There you go. History suggests the Spurs are once again in line to win this year -- much to the chagrin of ABC Sports and bandwagon basketball fans everywhere.

Photoshop Fun

The trade that shouldn't have been is one month in. Of course, it's way too premature to conclusively declare either Baltimore or Seattle as the winner of the Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three pitching prospects deal. But the early returns obviously favor one team. While Bedard has thrown quality (1-0, 11 IP, 8 hits, 10 K) the Mariners ace hasn't been dominate. Also injuries have limited him to only two starts.

Meanwhile, the two major pieces the Mariners dealt away have exacted revenge on their former ballclub:

Adam Jones vs. Seattle
7 games, 23 AB, 2 runs, 7 hits, 4 doubles, 4 RBI

George Sherrill vs. Seattle
5 games, 4.2 IP, 2 hits, 0 BB, 1 K, 5 saves

It's early, but Round 1 goes to the Orioles.

Shifting to basketball... last night at Game 3 of the Houston/Utah series Jazz fans tried to give new meaning to the word whiteout:

Looks like Ric Bucher was on to something.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How I Would Like the Oakland Raiders to Do the 2008 NFL Draft

Oakland Raiders, laughingstocks of the National Football League for the past several seasons, had a bit of a breakthrough in 2007. Although they went 4-12 last year the Silver and Black demonstrated a level of competitiveness and (six losses by 10 points or less) and competence under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin that had been sorely lacking in the Bay Area.

Following that encouraging campagin it's been a busy offseason in Oakland. To summarize, the big additions were CB DeAngelo Hall, FS Gibril Wilson, WR Javon Walker and DT William Joseph. Major losses include DT Warren Sapp, OT Barry Sims, WR Jerry Porter and return specialist Chris Carr.

The Raiders have only five selections in this year's draft. In order to take the next step the team needs to address several areas of deficiency. Barring any trades, this is a realistic Raiders draft board I wish would happen this weekend:

Round 1, Pick 4 (4)
Chris Long, DE (Virginia)

Let's see. Oakland needs a pass rusher to complement Derrick Burgess. Oakland fans would love a high-character, high-motor guy. Howie Long, Chris' father, was a Hall of Fame lineman for the Silver and Black. The Raiders can't do any better than selecting the All-American prodigy.

Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis and Vernon Gholston are other players that would greatly improve the Raiders run defense. Darren McFadden, possibly the best prospect in the draft and certainly the most exciting (and marketable), plays a position where the Raiders have an arsenal of good options. Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes, Lamont Jordan and Michael Bush (who missed last season with an injury) aren't elite running backs but a team doesn't need a Pro Bowl in the backfield to win. Remember the Giants won the Super Bowl with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and an aggressive defensive line.

Round 4, Pick 5 (104)
Lavelle Hawkins, WR (California)

Even with the addition of injury-prone Javon Walker the Raiders receiving corps is far from stable. Last year's top wideout, Jerry Porter, signed with Jacksonville. Ronald Curry, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Drew Carter hardly strike fear into the opposing team's defensive coordinator. Although DeSean Jackson received most of the accolades playing for California it was Hawkins who was the most consistent receiver for the Golden Bears. Take at look at their collegiate numbers:

Games Receptions Total Yards TD
Hawkins 42 159 3729 19
Jackson 36 162 3293 29

Note: Hawkins played seven games at community college before transferring to Cal.

Lavelle doesn't have DeSean's burst he's nearly as productive and would be a great addition in the middle rounds for a team looking for a vertical passing game.

Round 6, Pick 3 (169)
Oniel Cousins, T (UTEP)

The Raiders should select at least one offensive lineman in this draft. Cousins is a converted defensive tackle who's big (6'4", 308) and quick. Despite playing the O-line for only two years Oniel was named All-Conference USC first team in 2007. There's a good chance Cousins, a workout wonder, won't be on the board by Round 6. If that's the case Oakland could still get G Drew Radovich or T Geoff Schwartz.

Round 7, Pick 6 (213)
Marcus Monk, WR (Arkansas)

An imposing athlete at 6'4", 222 pounds and the all-time leader in receiving TD at Arkansas, Monk was highly productive his first three seasons. A series of leg injuries curtailed his senior campaign (16 catches, 144 yards, 3 TD), which in turn has the once mid-round draft prospect on the outside looking in. Monk has durability issues but his upside makes him a worthwhile gamble that could pay off huge.

Round 7, Pick 19 (226) (From Vikings through Jets)
Thomas Williams, OLB (Southern California)

Played the linebacker unit and special teams for the Trojans. Not the fastest or strongest guy on the field but always plays with passion. At the very least he's a guy with an unrelenting motor who's all about the team. Sounds like a diamond in the rough.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two Months of Playoff Basketball Is Too Much

A tentative schedule of the 2008 NBA Playoffs has been released. If you like days off in between basketball games you're in luck. If both the Conference and Championship Finals play out to a maximum seven games NBA fans are looking at a bloated postseason that stretches from April 18th till June 18th.

Two months. That's as long as Lent, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Hanukkak combined.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fox Screws Over Baseball and NASCAR Fans... Both at the Same Time

What happened at the end of Saturday's Yankees-Red Sox telecast and the start of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 is being dubbed by some as FOX's "Heidi" moment. The Daly Planet fills in the details.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jim Armstrong Is an Idiot

Jim Armstrong writes for AOL, The Denver Post and occasionally appears on "Around the Horn." In other words he works for three of the worst entities in the media.

Normally I would criticize Armstrong's lazy and moronic article that marginalizes statistical analysis in baseball but Fire Joe Morgan does the job just fine.

Olympic Apples and Oranges

The Olympic torch was showcased for its one and only visit to North America on Wednesday afternoon. How did the trip to San Francisco fare? Depends on who you ask. According to Xinhua, China's official state news, it was a joyous event. The Associated Press paints a much murkier picture, one riddled with anxiety and confusion.

Here's a comparison on how both agencies describe the event as well as my comments:
(Xinhua) Chinese Olympic swimming champion Lin Li, who was the first runner of the San Francisco relay, began her run by holding the torch high and waving to a cheering crowd.
(AP) The first torchbearer took the flame from a lantern brought to the stage and held it aloft before running into a waterfront warehouse. A motorcycle escort departed, but the torchbearer was nowhere in sight.
I watched most of the torch relay on CNN. At the onset (after a half hour delay and various festivities) Lin Li did indeed receive the torch and hold it high to much fanfare. However, the people in the crowd at the opening ceremony were selected by the Chinese Olympic Committee. It was not as if a random assembly of individuals gathered around to cheer.

The AP report is correct. After Li took the torch she and her security entourage ran around the backside of AT&T Park -- far away from what was earlier established as the torch route. They eventually entered a warehouse and did not emerge for quite some time.

(Xinhua) Thousands of people gathered along the route of the relay under a sunny sky to show their support for the torch run in the U.S. city.
(AP) Hundreds of pro-China and pro-Tibet demonstrators blew whistles and waved flags as they faced off near the site of the relay's opening ceremony. Police struggled to keep the groups apart.
The demonstrators did not become as aggressive as those involved in the London and Paris protests. But there was a very large contigent of both sides and neither seemed interested in holding hands with the other. Personally I did not see police struggle to separate the groups. There was an enormous police presence, which did muc to deter violence before it could erupt.
(Xinhua) Supporters of China's role as host of the Games were upholding Chinese national flags and displaying the Beijing Olympic mascot Fuwa on the city's waterfront.
(AP) [The] parade was rerouted and shortened to prevent disruptions by massive crowds of anti-China protesters.
Both statements are correct. The Associated Press, however, is telling the entire story rather than promoting a one-sided narrative.
(Xinhua) The closing ceremony for the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco was relocated on Wednesday while the relay was concluded in the U.S. western coastal city.
(AP) After its parade was rerouted and shortened to prevent disruptions by massive crowds of anti-China protesters, the planned closing ceremony at the waterfront was canceled and moved to San Francisco International Airport. The flame was put directly on a plane and was not displayed.
Xinhua doesn't flatout lie. Instead it resorts to deceptive tactics to prevent any negativity to reflect upon China and its 2008 Olympic efforts. The Summer Games are less than four months away. Pressure from human rights will continue to mount. Chinese subversion seems inevitable. As the world waits 8-8-08 will undoubtedly be the sports story of the year -- whatever that story will say remains to be seen.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Inept John McLaren Strikes Yet Again

The manager of the Mariners is in midseason form, doing his best to ensure Seattle finds ways to lose games all year long.

Entering Sunday's game Seattle had already dropped the first two in a four-game series. But things were looking great this particular day. Felix Hernandez threw shutout baseball for eight innings and the M's were up 2-0 entering the bottom of the ninth. After 97 pitches Felix wasn't feeling well. With J.J. Putz already out with an injury, McLaren had an interesting choice to make. There were four reasonable options. First was Mark Lowe, a flamethrower who recovered from injuries in 2007. Sean Green, a reliable reliever last year, was ready. Ryan Rowland-Smith, the promising southpaw, was also available as well. And finally, Eric O'Flaherty. Eric had been somewhat erratic all year. He had also thrown 29 pitches the previous night. Naturally McLaren decided to go with the arm most likely to be tired. Lowe tried to clean up Eric's mess but failed miserably.

To be fair the loss shouldn't be solely blamed on the manager. Lowe simply didn not pitch well. But O'Flaherty shouldn't have been brought in to close. Green and Smith are competent -- and more importantly -- were fresh. McLaren should have also made defensive adjustments, subbing LF Raul Ibanez and even 1B Richie Sexson. While those two didn't figure in the outcome of this particular game, a good manager needs to stay ahead of the game and adjust accordingly.

Which brings up to today's game. Of course Seattle lost. But it was the manner in which the team lost that should be discouraging to Mariners fans. Where to begin? Perhaps the seventh inning. In a 4-4 ballgame with no outs and Ichiro on first base McLaren orders Jose Lopez -- the hottest hitter on the team -- to sacrifice bunt. Next Raul Ibanez was allowed to hit against LHP Jamie Walker. Raul subsequently grounded out to the pitcher, which moved Ichiro to third. The next hitter, Brad Wilkerson, was pinch-hit for with Mike Morse. Morse struck out to end the inning.


Taking the bat away from your hottest hitter was bad enough. But McClaren obviously doesn't read this blog and figured it was a good idea to let Ibanez bat but pinch-hit for Wilkerson when the numbers suggest the exact opposite would have been a better option.

Memo to McLaren: Ibanez struggles against lefties and Wilkerson hits better against southpaws.

Now to be fair Wilkerson has had a horrible start to the season (and Morse was red hot in Spring Training) but it still wasn't the right move in retrospect and reality. To compound the problem, Morse took over for Wilkerson in right field for the remainder of the game. Sandwiching Ichiro between Ibanez and Morse in the outfield is a terrible defense, one which certainly shouldn't be allowed to play together late in a tie ballgame.

Moving onto the bottom of the eight. Starter Carlos Silva has thrown over 100 pitches. The game is still tied and McLaren needs to bring in a reliever. There's still Lowe (relatively fresh but got hit yesterday), Green (fresh), Smith (fresh), Cha Seung Baek (fresh but doesn't have good stuff), Roy Corcocan (same as Baek) and O'Flaherty (44 pitches in the past two games and got hit yesterday).

Of course McLaren goes with O'Flaherty, who winds up giving up the game-winning HR to Aubrey Huff. Orioles sweep.

Seattle doesn't have the talent to overcome glaring managerial mistakes. And they're paying for those mistakes early and often this season.