2005-05-23T11:02:08.040-07:00Frank Deford's grammarian analysis of the White Sox is a bit much, but an entertaining listen if you're a word person.
2005-04-26T15:59:52.653-07:00As you may well know, there has been a recent rift between Ozzie Guillen and Magglio Ordonez. Well, here's a rather erudite and insightful comment from Mr. Guillen when asked about Ordonez. From Friday's Chicago-Sun Times:
2005-04-19T14:01:59.940-07:00Last night, the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox were tied for first place in the American League Central. Joe Crede hit one and Carl Everett hit two home runs for Chicago.
2005-04-15T12:15:33.860-07:00Well, it looks like Steve beat me to the A-Rod bashing post. I keep telling myself that I'm going to stop writing about the Stoneboners, especially if it's at all related to the "most storied rivarly in sports," but every once in a while I run into a story (like the most recent one from Joel Sherman of the great ass-wiper the NY Post) that is just too good not to share.
2005-04-15T10:09:02.423-07:00According to the Associated Press, Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez saved an 8 year-old boy's life the other day:
2005-04-08T09:16:38.616-07:00April 6, 2005. Wednesday night, top 8, Safeco Field. Nick Punto on 3rd, Luis Rivas on 2nd (running for Justin Morneau, who had been struck in the helmet by Ron Villone), Matt LeCroy on 1st. Jacques Jones at the plate. Jones hits a fly ball to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. Punto tags from third. Dan Wilson bobbles the throw from Ichiro, and while doing so throws his leg into the baseline, forcing Punto to choose between getting tripped and leaping awkwardly toward home plate; Punto chooses the latter, missing home plate entirely. Punto does score, howver, because Wilson doesn't bother to look back to see him scrambling for the plate like a catfish on a driveway. So: trying to trip a guy who's running toward home plate is not a nice thing to do. I agree. But then Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer, refering to an incident between the Twins and White Sox last year, makes the following statement:
2005-04-08T09:20:05.293-07:00Cleveland's starters, Jake Westbrook and Kevin Millwood, have combined for 14 innings without giving up an earned run. Their offense has scored 3 runs in 18 innings. Their closer, Bob Wickman, has an ERA of 108.00. The "Tribe" is 0-2.
2005-04-05T14:33:01.946-07:00In our attempt to be less curmudgeonly (is that a word?), I wanted to do a quick go-round to see what's happening in the world of baseball during this oh-so wonderful time when hope springs eternal.
2005-04-05T12:31:15.463-07:00Alrighty, we're back in business ... hopefully this time around we'll be a lot less bitter and vitriolic in our posts but no guarantee and, truth be told, I'm sure about one-third into the season something is going to piss off one of us enough that we'll feel compelled to vent right here.
2004-09-07T14:17:33.466-07:00I realize that the following post is only going to add to our horrible reputation as bitter baseball dilettantes ... heck, maybe we should change our need to the Drunk on Beer and Whiskey League ... but sometimes you just got to call people out for being fucking idiots. And so, today, my anger is going to be vented (yet, once again) at the spankees.
"I wanted to show the fans that we have the same courage and the same attitudes all New Yorkers have had in fighting back from that terrible episode on 9/11," Steinbrenner said in the statement. "New Yorkers never give up and the Yankees never give up."
2004-08-27T15:42:16.180-07:00I know that we here at Beer and Whiskey have been known to be a bit on the surly side (what with our rampant use of words like annoying to describe just about everything under the sun that doesn’t fit neatly into our world view) but this just needs to be said (again): Tom Verducci is an a-hole or more precisely he’s a stupid a-hole idiot. In a recent column for SportsIllustrated.Com (and why is it that the venerable magazine whose product is, in my opinion, far superior to ESPN: The Magazine can’t manage a web page nearly as entertaining and intelligent as the four-letter network), Verducci posited that Edgar Martinez should not be in the hall of fame because he was a DH. Specifically (or more precisely), a reader asked Verducci that if Piazza, a very mediocre defensive catcher, could make the Hall of Fame based on his offensive numbers then why not a DH. Verducci, in response, says: I don't think Piazza is that awful defensively. Is his throwing terrible? Yes. But he blocks balls OK and calls a decent game. But ask yourself this: how much better would his numbers be if he never had to worry at all about playing defense? No wear and tear from catching. One hundred percent of his time devoted to hitting, including watching video or taking swings in an indoor cage in between at-bats during games. I will always consider DH a specialist's role, an easier job than playing the game the way it was designed to be played. There are precisely three things about this statement that really pisses me off. Now, I shouldn’t totally vent out at Verducci because he’s only repeating the same incredibly inane and inaccurate observations that seem to run rampant in the world of “conventional” baseball thinking: that Edgar was a career DH, that it’s easier to play the game as a DH because of the wear and tear factor from playing defense, and that the DH somehow goes counter to the way the game was “designed to be played.” The Right Way to Play the Game? The latter point irks me the most so I’ll start there: WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS MEAN? Hey, Mr. Verducci, according to the first set of baseball rules written down by Alexander Cartwright in 1845 a ball hit out of the field of play was considered a foul. In other words, the homerun is not really a part of the game as “it was designed to be played” by the founding fathers of the game. So, should we just eliminate homeruns too so that we can remain faithful to the heart of the game? Oh yeah … and while we’re at it, why don’t we just get rid of this nine-inning bullshit since, again according to the original rules, you’re supposed to play the game until someone gets twenty-one runs. Why stop there? Let’s also move the pitcher’s mound back to its original distance of 45 feet so that we don’t give these hitters an unfair advantage that would ruin the spirit of the game. Look, I’m not some panglossian cheerleader that thinks all change is good. Part of the beauty of baseball is its rich history and that we can compare players from different eras with a greater degree of accuracy than other sports can. But to rely on some dumb-ass argument about the “way the game was supposed to be played” is just asinine. Baseball has always evolved and everytime it evolved there have been critics who have decried that baseball was losing its spirit: when the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first team of paid professionals, when homeruns became an integral part of baseball, when teams began moving out to the west coast, when free agency became a reality, and, of course, when the DH came into existence. Is DH a cush-job? As for wear and tear, while Verducci certainly has a point when it comes Piazza (after al[...]
2004-08-09T18:26:39.126-07:00A quick note on why people hate the Yankees and why Mariner fans should not fret: There are two kinds of baseball fans: those who love the Yankees and those who hate them. I, of course, fall within the latter but, to be honest, it’s not so much that I hate the Yankees but, rather, that I hate what the dumb-ass media has to say about the “most storied franchise in baseball.” A few days ago I was sitting around watching the Yankees/A’s game on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball. At one point, Bobby Crosby made a throwing error to first and the commentator (who was, quite fortunately, not Joe “The Idiot’s Guide to Baseball” Morgan) proclaimed, “If you want to beat the Yankees, you can’t make mistakes.” Oh really? So does that mean you can make mistakes and still win against every other big-league team? I realize the Yankees won Saturday’s game but that had absolutely nothing to do with the throwing error. The next day I was stuck at the car dealer getting my car fixed. Fortunately, they had a TV in the waiting room and I got to watch a bit of the Yankees/A’s afternoon rubber match. When Olerud hit his two-RBI single early in the game, the commentator mentioned Olerud’s hitting woes this season in Seattle and then added, “but things are a little different when you put on the pinstripes.” No, jackass, things are a little different when you have Bernie Williams hitting behind you rather than some sorry-ass switch hitter like Spiezio. And while we’re on the subject of Olerud … Jim Caple had an article about a week ago on the sorry state of the Seattle Mariners with particular focus on Mr. Olerud himself. For those of you who may not be familiar with the story or just don’t want to suffer the ordeal of reading through an entire article written by Caple, Olerud’s one of those “fan favorites” because he’s a local boy who has done his hometown proud (as well as his alma mater, Washington State University). The Mariners at this point are just sad beyond sad. In 2001 they had that magical 116-win season and then followed up with back-to-back 93-win seasons (although they missed the playoff both times). While most everyone, myself included, thought the Mariners would hit hard times I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how hard those times would be. For all the talk there is on the miraculous turnaround in Detroit, scant attention seems to be paid on the incredibly disastrous turnaround in Seattle. The Mariners are on pace to LOSE 100 games this season. This following three seasons in which they averaged 100 wins! As Aaron Gleeman pointed out a month ago in the Hardball Times, Seattle’s winning percentage at the time was .252 less than last year’s while the Tigers winning percentage .211 better … and this was before the Mariner’s began their 2-21 road-losing streak. Oddly enough, however, following the boys in teal has been just as exciting (if not more so). Sure, it’s never quite as fun when your team loses game after game after game but at a certain point a fan has to stop thinking about wins and losses and instead just think about individual performances especially when those individuals happen to be a bunch of rookies. The most notable of these young rookies is, of course, Bucky Jacobsen. While he’s certainly not the second coming of Hank Aaron he certainly may be our generation’s Harmon Killebrew (and that ain’t bad). While he can certainly look more than a tad silly when he misses on a breaking ball, he’s also shown some amazing plate discipline. In 67 at-bats, he’s posted a .328/.418/.642 (avg/obp/slg). That ain’t no typo either … he’s really got a .418 OBP. I kno[...]
2004-08-03T11:39:56.423-07:00Before either of them makes his first start for his new team, I just want to put my two cents down on the Loaiza-for-Contreras deal, since most of the coverage I've read really only talks about what Loaiza will purportedly do for the Yankees and what Contreras has not done for them. Sportsline gives a moderate edge to the Yanks, saying that "the Yankees acquire the runner-up in last year's AL Cy Young Award voting in exchange for the inconsistent Contreras." This is fairly typical of the coverage, which tends to read things off of Loaiza's resume (Cy Young runner up last year, All-Star); of course, it's even more obvious than usual that none of these writers have been paying any attention to the White Sox this season. You want to talk about inconsistent? Okay, Contreras has certainly been that, but Loaiza this season has been consistent in only one area--his decline; he put up an ERA of 3.71 in March and April, 3.68 in May, 5.35 in June and 6.89 in July. Here are his hits allowed vs. innings pitched, last year versus this: 2003 196 H, 226.1 IP 2004 156 H, 140.2 IP Last year, Loaiza gave up 17 home runs all season; this year, he's already given up 23--with two months to go. He has an ERA of almost 8.00 in his last 7 starts. And yet, Brian Cashman doesn't seeem to think that we've already seen the best we're ever going to see out of Loaiza, and neither do most of the sports writers. At the beginning of the year, nobody thought Loaiza was going to come close to last year's numbers; now, everyone thinks New York got the better end of the deal because of them. Meanwhile, everyone's mumbling about how Kenny Williams just traded away last year's Cy Young runner up--many of the same people who were mumbling that Loaiza would never put up those kinds of numbers again. Loaiza's success last year came largely because he learned a new pitch--the cutter--which allowed him to mow down all kinds of hitters who thought they knew him. But when the final weeks of the season rolled around, and the White Sox needed big wins out of him against the Twins, who had already seen a lot of the new Loaiza, he lost both starts. As 2004 opened, his velocity was down, his arm slot was dropping, and he didn't look much at all like the Cy Young runner-up Chicago fans remembered. Not only did opposing batters know there was a new pitch to look for, but it wasn't coming at them as fast. That didn't stop Joe Torre from inexplicably selecting Loaiza as the White Sox's lone representative for the All-Star team, though his 4.37 ERA and .283 opponents' batting average hardly seemed worthy of the honor. Perhaps, in retrospect, we should see this as an audition? Why else select a guy who was nowhere near the top in any category (Loaiza) over guys who were near the top in several (Thomas, Konerko)? It's not as if Kenny Williams hasn't made some bad pitcher-for-pitcher trades in the past (okay, let's say that Kip Wells + 2 for Todd Ritchie was worse than bad), but everyone seems to think that Cashman pulled the wool over his eyes on this one. Let's remember that no one doubts Contreras's stuff. It's incredible. Loaiza's stuff, on the other hand, seems to have left the premises (along with a lot of his pitches); he can hardly hit 90mph anymore, which wouldn't be such a problem if it weren't for the fact he doesn't exactly fit the Jamie Moyer mold. Contreras, enigmatic as he has been, still has a huge upside, whereas Loaiza appears to be in the midst of not only a regression to the mean, but a rather swift decline. For a moment, let's remove the names Loaiza, Contreras, Williams and Cashman and just say this: "Here's a former 21-game winner whose vel[...]
2004-07-29T16:06:06.906-07:00It's the bottom of the 7th inning and the White Sox trail the Twins by a run, 4-3. Here's what the first six batters do:
2004-07-20T15:33:14.423-07:00Yesterday's game between the White Sox and Rangers was played in Arlington, Texas. In the first inning, Sox left fielder Carlos Lee hit a home run into the left field seats. A fan immediately picked up the home run ball and threw it back onto the field. As I witnessed this, I thought, "What is this idiot doing? Does he think this is Wrigley Field or something?" And, lo and behold, the camera returned to the fan in question to reveal that he was indeed wearing a Cubs jersey. At a White Sox-Rangers game. In Arlington, Texas.
2004-07-20T15:25:17.096-07:00Again, to the folks running the show in Boston: Curt Leskanic lost his job as closer for the Kansas City Royals. As in the we're-15-games-out-of-first-place-but-things-aren't-so-bad-that-we'd-have-Curt-Leskanic-as-our-closer Kansas City Royals. Apparently that has not given you pause. Maybe last night did. Incidentally, Keith Foulke blew his 5th save of the year. Keith, if you throw away, away, away, then the hitters will look away, away, away, and that is where the ball will fly, fly, fly.
2004-07-14T22:32:26.480-07:00Ok, no more long-winded, incoherent posts. I'm switching to shorter (and more regular) posts starting ... right ... now. I realize that every year people whine and gripe about the all-star roster and who should and shouldn't be on it. There's never going to be a roster that satisfies everyone. And every year, there is always one or two players who get voted on by the fans despite whatever miserable numbers that player have put up in the first half (a la Jason Giambi's whopping .241 average this season). Ok, so I'm not going to whine and gripe about whether player X deserved to be on the roster and player Y didn't deserve to be on the roster (except to say that Johan Santana -- the official pitcher of Aaron Gleeman's blog -- was robbed). No, instead, I just want to point out what seems to me to be an incredibly odd little anomaly on this year's American League roster. Eight of the fourteen teams have only one representative. Detroit, Boston, and Anaheim have two each. Boston would have had a third had Curt Schilling not pulled himself out for injury-related reasons. Likewise, Oakland would have had two if Hudson had not injured himself. The Yankees of course lead the pack with nine (Vazquez being chosen as the replacement for Mulder). Ok, thus far, no big surprise. Now, the Rangers have five. A small surprise but not really considering what a hot start that team has had this season. No, here's the crazy anomaly, the Cleveland Indians (42-45) also have five. Yes, you heard that right ... the flippin' tribe have five members on their all-star roster. How the hell does this happen? As the folks over at Tribe Tracker have recently reported, the five tribesmen themselves were being asked that very same question. The five Indians All-Stars arrived in Houston on Monday for the All-Star Game to a reception as frosty as when the Geek, a young John Cusack and the other guy crashed cool guy Jake Ryan's party in "Sixteen Candles." Everywhere they went, the five players from Cleveland had to defend being there. Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox and Joe Nathan from the Twins both questioned the selection of five Indians. But they weren't alone. ** By the way, "the Geek" in Sixteen Candles was played by Anthony Michael Hall -- the ubergeek in the John Hughes' universe -- who you may recall (assuming you were one of the few people able to actually sit through Billy Crystal's incredibly painful homage to the Yankees, *61) played Whitey Ford. The folks over at Indians Ink have a picture of the five all-stars (although you'll have to subscribe to actually read the accompanying article). Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the tribe and I'm certainly not suggesting that those players don't deserve to be there but what I don't get is how a team with five all-stars manages to put together such a mediocre season. Heck, Tampa Bay has a better record and only one all-star representative (oh, where art thou, Victor Zambrano?). They are sixth in team batting average, eighth in slugging, and twelfth in team ERA (that's out of fourteen teams!). In other words, I'm not going to question the propriety of those five tribesmen being on the roster only just asking why five all-stars can't seem to play together as a team very well. The last time a team with a losing record had so many all-star representatives was back in 1972 (The Royals also had five). So, play ball! [...]
2004-07-12T15:35:30.813-07:00Ok, here's the rather longish post I promised. Again, thanks to all of you who've written in with links, suggestions, questions, ideas, etc. Many I've written directly and others I will address indirectly below. To begin with, however, I would like to post a response to Mr. BK's questions regarding the term "southpaw" and the corresponding vectors of baseball fields. 1. Are all major league diamonds oriented to the east? [related: Is it regulation or custom? Which vector is parallel to the equator: the first-base line, or the line between the mound and plate?] Traditionally, home plate always faced east so that the sun would be behind the batter; however, in the era of large stadiums (that can block out direct sun in the batter's eye) and night baseball this tradition has been abandoned. There are no rules as to the orientation of any particular vector. There are, however, three main configurations in use today: Parks such as Jacobs Field, the Skydome, the Juice Box, and the new Citizen's ballpark have run straight south to north from the plate to the mound (some might be slightly off the axis but it's pretty close). The most popular, however, tends to be where the first baseline runs along a West-East axist (west being homeplate). Your beloved Wrigley field would be one such example as would Orioles Park at Camden Fields, Shea, and Pro Player. The third option, one rarely used, and really kind of odd, is when the first baseline runs at a north to south axist (again, with homeplate being on the north end). The only two I know of that follows this configuration is the Ballpark in Arlington and the Great American Ballpark. 2. Are all retrieved batted balls switched out for new ones? Technically, this is up to the discretion of the umpire (which is why you always see him looking at a ball when it is retrieved). If the ball has any marks or scuffs on it then yes it is not put back into play (and saved for either the minor leagues or for batting practice depending on the condition of the ball). An average MLB game will go through about 90 balls which is about two dozen more than the average number of balls used between 1919 (the end of the deadball era) and and 1994. The reason for the jump after 1994 is that teams began to give out foul balls to the fans. This was part of a general directive on the part of MLB to be more fan-friendly in light of the bitterness attached to the cancellation of the 1994 season due to the player's strike. And back to our regularly scheduled programming ... Not too long ago, I was in Portland for my occassional biblio-fix at the legendary Powell's City of Books. I had selected about forty books to take into a corner and peruse. Generally, I read the first chapter of a book to figure out whether or not to purchase it. By the way, The Rookie, is a far better movie than it is a book (the book's title officially being The Oldest Rookie. Jim Morris's narrative voice is incredibly annoying (yes, there's that ugly word again) in its hagiographic and self-aggrandizing tone. One book I did end up purchasing was Art Thiel's Out of Left Field: How the Mariners Made Baseball Fly in Seattle. Unlike the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Cardinals, and (even) the White Sox ... there aren't a whole lot of books about the Mariners. Heck, unless you count the infamous Ball Four there isn't much about Seattle baseball period. Art Thiel is a sportswriter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and I generally find him worth reading on a regular basis but not particularly excit[...]
2004-07-12T13:02:11.686-07:00I realize the Cubs are more popular (marketable) than the White Sox, even in Chicago, even though it's been 87 years since the Sox won a World Series, which doesn't exactly pale in comparison to the 96 years it's been for the Cubs. Fine. I realize that in the Chicago version of those Fox Sports Net "Where [insert regional market] Fans Come First" commercials, they digitally insert Cubs logos onto people's tattoos and t-shirts, rather than White Sox logos. Fine. I realize that even though the White Sox outdrew the Cubs for the entire decade of the 90s there is a wide perception (relentessly reinforced by certain corners of the Chicago media) that no one goes to White Sox games. Fine. That doesn't really bother me.
2004-07-09T11:41:53.233-07:00Ok, I'm back but this one's going to be brief. I promise to have one of my lengthy (overblown) posts up first thing Monday (or last thing Sunday). I also promise to get to reader mail (and thanks a ton to all of you have written during our short sabbatical). I do want to point out a few things: 1. We have reached the midpoint of the season (or thereabouts) and the Devil Dogs are one game above .500 and only 4 games out of the wild card. 2. The Texas Rangers have not had the collapse everyone keeps predicting they will. Now, conventional wisdom (and we all know that conventional wisdom has been about as valuable as a Paul "released by the Devil Dogs" Abbot fastball) says the Rangers will perish in the horrid August heat of Texas. And it is true that the geniuses at MLB, scheduled 17 of the Rangers's 28 August games at home (including a 15-game stretch followed by one day off and then a 10-game stretch ... yep, that's 25 games in 26 days ... way to go MLB!). But opponents also have to play in the same heat (albeit for only three days). My point being that I think the Rangers may have a less than stellar August but I do not think the dog days of summer will be their undoing. 3. I recently heard Mariner's broadcaster Dave Niehaus mumbling that Bobby Crosby is a leading Rookie of the Year in the American League. Poor Dave. Lord knows, I love him and his sweet baritone voice but that man is seriously losing it. Throughout the season, he had been missing calls, spouting incorrect facts, etc. but the suggestion that Crosby is anywhere near a possible AL RoY is just plain dumb dumb dumb. A .271 AVG and .799 OPS is certainly nothing to sneeze at (heck, that just might make him the third best batter in the Mariners's staff this season) but it's not award winning anything. Now, his limited at-bats due to an early-season injury might make him ineligible but for my money, Joe Mauer is the undisputed RoY not only for the AL but for all of baseball. In 94 at-bats (yes, yes ... a relatively small sample size) Mauer is hitting .340/.402/.638 (avg/obp/slg) with an OPS of 1.020. Those are amazing numbers ... and the fact he's a pretty darn good catcher is a big big plus. 4. When Pudge was a Ranger I couldn't stand the guy ... but now that he's been bounced around like a piece of used tissue, I have to admire his drive and determination. It really does excite me to think that we might see a catcher win the batting title. Sure, it's not as dramatic as seeing a record-breaking homerun but I think it really will be one of those once in a lifetime events. 5. There's a lot of hoopla around the fact 21 of the 30 MLB teams are within five games of a playoff spot. The Mariners aren't one of them and, in fact, they are only three games ahead of the AL cellar (currently occupied by the Royals). This is incredible: a team that won 116 games only three years ago is now scratching at the ground floor. Unflipping believable. 6. ESPN has now made Rob Neyer's articles pay-to-view via subscription. Pisses me off. I would do it if there were a host of other writers I wanted to read. While I find the other baseball writers on ESPN entertaining/amusing, Neyer's is the only one I find really engaging and the thought of paying $35/yr just to read Neyer seems a tad ridiculous. 7. We have reached the midpoint of the season (or thereabouts) and the Devil Dogs are one game above .500 and only 4 games out of the wild card. I know I started with this tid-bit but I think i[...]
2004-07-08T10:52:38.573-07:00I'm not entertaining any arguments about whether Joe Torre is a good manager or not (because no one else gets to manage AL All-Stars all year). I suppose when you work in an inherently corrupt city like New York, where things like garbage disposals in sinks get outlawed in order to keep the mob-run waste hauling business healthy, you find ways to, as they say, manufacture runs.
2004-07-02T10:56:26.210-07:00Where have we been? Good question. Tommy's in the midst of re-acclimating himself to the Pacific Northwest after a long move. I'm just lazy.