Friday, July 31, 2009

Atlanta Braves Insist on Getting Nothing for A Lot

January 19th, 2007 - Traded Adam LaRoche and Jamie Romak to Pittsburgh for Mike Gonzalez and Brent Lillibrdige

July 31st, 2007 - Traded Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones to Texas for Teixeira

July 29th, 2008 - Traded Mark Teixeira to Los Angeles Angels for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek

July 31st, 2009 - Traded Casey Kotchman to Boston for Adam LaRoche

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mr. Ombudsman

We'd like to know a little bit about you for our blogs
We'd like to help you get Walsh to explain himself
Look around you, all you see are disapproving eyes
Browse across the web until you feel the heat

And here's to you, Donald Ohlmeyer
Sports fans read you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God help you please, Mr. Ombudsman
Websites hold a place for those who say
(What's in play... hey, hey, hey)

Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes
Shove it in your memo with your QB
It's a little secret, just ESPN's affair
Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids

Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mr. Ombudsman
Big Ben loved her more than you would show (Wo, wo, wo)
But wait one sec, Mr. Ombudsman
Shannon Brown can't catch the same ol' break
(Equal stakes... hey, hey, hey)

Sitting at the table on a Monday afternoon
Going to the editors debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Ev'ry way you critique it, you lose

Where have you gone, Charlie Hustle
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
What's that you say, Mr. Ombudsman
Schreiber has left and gone away
(Hey, hey, hey... hey, hey, hey)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Weekend the Indians Treated the Mariners Kinda Like How Americans Treated the Indians

Brutal. Being outscored 31-6 at home by one of the worst teams in baseball was the nail in the coffin for the 2009 Mariners. Can't complain too much though. Seattle baseball provided me a lot of good memories this summer. But perhaps more importantly it gave hope. Gone are the days of horrific management. No more franchise-crippling decisions. Nope. Don Wakamatsu and Jack Zduriencik bring competence and competitiveness to the Mariners. The future looks bright.

But the present day isn't so cheery. The Mariners are 7.5 games behind the red-hot Angels. Since the wild card era there have been 22 teams with at least an eight-game lead in the division entering August. Only one did not make the playoffs. That was the 1995 Angels and the year of the miracle M's. Fat chance of history repeating itself.

Seattle will be selling. Jarrod Washburn will almost assuredly be dealt. Possible trade chips include Russell Branyan and David Aardsma. Erik Bedard might have been swapped if he wasn't a glass cannon. While any deal will bring pieces for 2010 and beyond we can all but close the book on this season.

Players Suspended by Roger Goodell

Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Because of Wiki there's an easy place to find information on all the NFL players suspended by the commissioner under the league's personal conduct policy.

Since Goodell took over in August 2006 he has punished:

Adam Jones - entire 2007 season
Pacman's various acts of foolishness, culminating with the making it rain strip club shooting, cost him a whole year.

Chris Henry - 8 games
Henry's crimes weren't as severe (DUI, drugs and sex acts with minors) or frequent as Jones'... but that's like saying GM isn't as screwed as AIG. Both fucked up. He was later released by the Bengals only to be resigned by Cincinnati. Henry performed poorly last season and is looking to rebound... along with pretty much everyone else on that team.

Terry Johnson - 10 games
"Tank" had a long history of weapons problems prior to his guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge for illegal possession of handguns. Less a month after the June 2007 suspension was announced the Bears released Johnson. He found a home with the Cowboys and then later the Bengals.

Michael Vick - indefinite
I think you may have heard about this.

Adam Jones - 4 games
Jones was traded by the Titans to Dallas during the 2008 NFL Draft. Like any real Cowboy he found trouble. In October Pacman got into an altercation with his bodyguard. Due to his previous transgressions Jones was suspended once again by Commissioner Goodell. After the 2008 season he was released.

Donté Stallworth - indefinite
In March a drunk Stallworth struck and killed a man with his Bentley. He plead guilty to DUI and manslaughter charges and served 30 days in jail. Additional penalties, including a lifetime suspension of his driver's license, have been levied to the Browns receiver. There is no indication he will be reinstated in the near future.

Now as a free Vick awaits his impending suspension it'll be interesting to see how long Goodell punishes him. Sources say the artist formerly known as Ron Mexico will be sidelined between two and six games -- that is, if any NFL team actually takes the on and off the field risk of signing him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If the Mariners Were a Sergio Leone Movie Part II

My midseason look on the Mariners back in 1007 was so good that it's time to bring the format back. Why wasn't there one for 2008? Maybe I was lazy, maybe the Mariners were on their way to losing 101 games as well as their minds.

But 2009 has been a refreshing change for a franchise that needed it. It began in the winter when Seattle hired Jack Zduriencik as General Manager. Zduriencik, formerly in charge of scouting with the Milwaukee Brewers, radically changed the Mariners by emphasizing speed, defense and value. He also brought on first-time manager Don Wakamatsu who has instilled discipline and accountability.

And, looky here, the M's are still in contention. The preseason favorite Angels, despite having suffered through tragedy and injuries, remain ahead of the pack like they're accustomed to. Plus Texas can't be messed with like in years past. But Seattle isn't going away.

While the future remains a mystery let's look back at the 2009 Seattle Mariners a little past the midway point of the season:

The Good

Ichiro Suzuki - His best offensive season in years, excellent defense and psyching out Yankees fans. Once again nothing short of brilliant.

Russell Branyan
- Russell is the free agent bargain of the year. He's played at an All-Star level for the Mariners. His power hitting and patience from the left side has been a huge part of the M's offense (sometimes the only part). And his defense hasn't been horrible. It's like he's a Bizarro Richie Sexson... for a fraction of the cost!

Felix Hernandez - Consistency has been the key. No longer is Felix letting his emotions run amok. Again, this is partly a testament to Wakamatsu's demand for accountability. But it's also a huge nod to Felix, whose gameplan and mental toughness are beginning to match his insane abilities. He's a true #1 starter and younger than David Price. Yea, that's scary good.

Franklin Gutierrez - In some backward cosmic way the Adam Jones trade was a good thing. Well, it wasn't but Franklin did eventually become a Mariner as a result. His bat has demonstrated good pop recently, adding to value beyond being an elite center fielder. Mike Cameron 2.0, we love you.

The Bad

Jose Lopez - Rough season for Lopez, who lost a sister last month and continues to struggle at the plate. His power numbers have modestly improved but they've come at the expense of base hits. And while he was never known as a nimble defender his range continues to deteriorate. Seattle may replace him in the starting lineup -- soon.

Ken Griffey Jr. - A lot of nostalgia and walks. Thus describes The Kid's return to the Emerald City. Nobody excepted Junior to start climbing outfield walls and slugging 40 home runs like he used to with the 90's Mariners but... err, I guess we did expect this version of Griffey. The one that's old and creaky at the dish and in the field.

The Ugly

Yuniesky Betancourt - Wait... he's gone? Well, what the hell do I do with my Bizarro Facebook Club dedicated to him??? Damn it, now I have to find a new least favorite Mariner.

Brandon Morrow - He was in The Ugly category two years ago, so it's disappointing to see him here again. Hopefully Brandon and team will finally, finally give him the proper time to develop into a starter. Dude's got a long way to go:

46 IP, 31 BB, 45 K

He's still insanity at 60 feet, 6 inches.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Small Sample Size Alert

A recent Harris Poll asked U.S. adults to name their favorite MLB teams. Not surprisingly the Yanks and Red Sox top the poll. Those east coast rivals are followed by the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies, Tigers, Giants and Mariners (whoo!).

This poll shouldn't be taken too seriously, however. Only 2000 people participated, which is too small to make a lot of declarative conclusions. For example, the Angels came in as the third least-favorite baseball team. I'm sorry but that's just wrong. There's no way that such a successful team with a large fanbase (taking some Dodgers fans with it) is less popular than the Marlins or Nationals.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Worse Pitching Mechanics: Barack Obama or Kenny Powers

Not a very fluid follow through by the president but at least he didn't take out anyone's eye.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Roy Halladay Will Not be a Ranger

The best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, is on the trading block because... well, Toronto sucks. A friend of The Big Lead concludes the Texas Rangers make the most sense.

Two problems. First, I'm not convinced Halladay would want to play for Texas. He has a full no-trade clause and seems unlikely to want to pitch in a bandbox for a team that's merely decent. Despite being in first place in the AL West the Rangers really aren't that good. Considering how devastated the Angels have been this year it's been a fluky ascent to the top if nothing else.

And secondly, uhh, the Rangers don't have the money to take on Halladay's salary through 2010 let alone give him an extension. They're broke. How broke? The team allegedly received a $15 million loan from MLB to pay its employees. Owner Tom Hicks wants to get out of the sports business and GM Jon Daniels does not expect to add payroll.

The Mets, starting with a package of Fernando Martinez and Mike Pelfrey, make a lot of sense.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Another Horrible Loss

Mariners closer and shoddy defense blow a ninth-inning cushion? What year is this, 1998?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Show on NASCAR That Emphasizes a Different Kind of Crash

Got an email from NBC Universal promoting its "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR" program that premieres Thursday night on CNBC.

Is Ben Silverman so desperate that he's reaching out to F-list sports bloggers? I kid, I kid. D-list at least. I was mentioned on Deadspin!!!

Actually, this program couldn't come at a better time for me. On Saturday I witnessed the thrilling conclusion of the Coke Zero 400. Then last night I got sucked into a CNBC Original about the airline industry. And I've always enjoyed Darren Rovell's take on sports business dating back to his days on ESPN.

So watch this and support sports-related NBC programming. Who knows? Maybe they'll get the message and bring back John Tesh. One can hope.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ESPN Ultimate Franchise Ranking Sucks at Math

So ESPN comes out with this year's Ultimate Franchise Ranking which determines the sports teams that offer the best fan experience. The ranking is based on variety of factors including competitiveness, prices and enjoyment.

The Angels came out on top, which isn't too surprising. Artie Moreno, Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia have done an outstanding job of not only assembling a great team but also building the Angels Baseball brand. Obviously they rank very well in those categories. The Angels also were rated the sixth-best (out of 122) in terms of affordability. The ESPN articles goes on to say that the average ticket to a Halos home game costs $20.05.

Uhh, what the fuck?

I went to an Angels game a couple weeks ago. Let me tell you, their tickets are expensive. Don't believe me? Check out the Angel Stadium seating chart and compare it to Dodger Stadium. Most of the non-ritzy sections at Chavez Ravine are cheaper. In fact, the tickets I got for the Angels game would have been 30% cheaper at Dodgers Stadium!

So the Angels may very well be a fun and competitive team to watch. But affordable tickets? Not really. And as for the Clippers being ranked last? I've been to a few of their games too... and I couldn't agree more with ESPN's assessment.