Archive for baseball

Bill Simmons Annoys Me

Posted in Sports with tags , on November 3, 2009 by fieldingmellish

Well, that’s about the worst I can say about him. But in Part 2 of his conversation with Will Leitch for New York Magazine, he says something that is, to put it mildly, unsupported by evidence. Get ready for some more FJM Memorial tags!

See, I feel like the NBA is doing better than baseball and the ratings would certainly back that up. The last three World Series were the lowest rated ever. Baseball’s audience gets older each year, and they aren’t replacing it with younger fans, whereas that’s the NBA’s wheelhouse right now. The NBA is grabbing those kids between YouTube, video games, sneakers, and everything else. So that’s one problem. I also think baseball has a real credibility issue with sports fans in terms of trust (because of the steroids thing, which has tainted the past two decades, basically), and the time of the games (interminable); basketball doesn’t have either of those issues (although it does have the lousy ref issue). The union runs baseball; Stern runs basketball. Big difference. And baseball has turned into a small-market/big-market sport — the NBA is protected from that happening to some degree because of its draft and salary cap.

The biggest thing in the NBA’s favor: Don’t they have ten times as many marketable players? Name five baseball players under 30 that could sell a shoe or be the focal point of a commercial. Basketball has, like, fifteen of those guys. And LeBron and Kobe are bigger than any baseball player, by far, nobody comes close. There’s no star power in baseball anymore. It’s pretty much gone. I think baseball is in more trouble than people realize. Part of the reason attendance remained relatively strong is because teams keep opening new stadiums and coming up with these “buy four tickets for the price of one and get four free hot dogs” deals. Well, what happens in 2016 after the new stadium rush has worn off? That’s what I want to see. And again, the length of the games is interminable. For us, we’re used to it. No 12-year-old kid wants to spend four hours watching a baseball game.

Oh, Billy, Billy, Billy. Why do you have to do this to me? I know you love the NBA. I know you’ve been a little colder towards Baseball since 2004.* You can make all the excuses you want. You can whine about how all the stats are too complicated and there aren’t enough big stars and the games are on too late. Guess what? You have become everything you used to hate about sports columnists. You have adopted a cranky opinion, and heavens to Murgatroyd, you’re sticking to your guns.

*It’s almost as if he decided that he’d made his millions riding the wave of Red Sox win World Series! hangers-on and decided to back out. I really thought you were a real fan, Simmons. But by giving up on the team and losing interest after 2004, you have proven to be the worst kind of Boston fan: the guy who’s only happy with losing.

Look, I am as much of a Simmons apologist as anyone. I have spent more than one night smoking pot and reading his old columns. When people make fun of his homerism, I’m there to defend him. When people accuse him of making the same jokes over and over, I stand up and argue violently on his behalf. In short, I have snacked on many a Simmons-sausage over the years. So this idiotic comment puts me in an awkward position.

It’s not his fault he hates numbers, since numbers killed and ate his first pet when he was three. And it’s not his fault this interview was posted before the World Series was a ratings smash for Fox. But this is the kind of knee-jerk, gut reaction flimflam you’d expect from a Bill Plaschke or a Tim McCarver. Just say what you feel, then invent a plausible sounding reason afterwards. Here’s Bill’s argument, broken down:

“I’m just going to assume the NBA has more marketable stars”

This is not exactly good evidence for the rise of basketball over baseball. I mean, just because you love the people in the NBA doesn’t mean everyone does. I mean, I personally can name a bunch of young baseball stars, while I cannot do the same for basketball. This is not evidence either, but I’m not claiming that something totally new is happening.

“Baseball fans are old, NBA fans are young.”

Uh, ok. That sounds like pretty complicated demographic work you’d have to do to ascertain the average age of each sport’s fans. I’d be interested to see your reasoning.


Ah, well, that’s not a reason, that’s a website. You can put dunks on YouTube, but you can also put ridiculous defensive plays and home runs and Julio Lugo grabbing his crotch on there.

Well, the only reason attendance has overperformed in this terrible economy is because of expensive new ballparks.”

OK, now you’re definitely just making shit up. I demand to see the Excel spreadsheet and regression analysis you’ve done to support this. And also, since when was the NBA known for it’s boffo attendance?

I want David Stern to hire me.

I know, Bill. You hate unions, you love David Stern. The line “ The union runs baseball; Stern runs basketball. Big difference” is meaningless. This is not self-evidently a good thing for the NBA, no matter how good David Stern’s balls taste.

Baseball has big markets and small markets and basketball doesn’t because of the celery cap and the droft!

I fucking hate this argument so much. If one could strangle concepts, I would have a piano wire around this thing’s neck right now. It’s been debunked a bazillion times, but let me let an NBA man spell it out for you: Bill Simmons’ NBA preview, 10/23: “…we know how it’s going to play out — the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Cavs and Magic in some order, then everyone else…” He then explains why he’s still interested despite this situation. Except THIS IS THE EXACT FUCKING THING YOU JUST ACCUSED BASEBALL OF BECOMING! You only care because your team is one of the five! Do you think the 76ers fans and Hawks fan are excited by this development?

Look, I understand it’s annoying to have to continually talk about how the Yankees payroll is ridiculous and the haves and the have-nots and blabbity blah, bleepity blow. Last year, the Rays played the Phillies in the World Series. In fact,  let’s look at these lists:

  • LA, Orlando, LA, Boston, San Antonio, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, San Antonio, Detroit, LA, Detroit
  • New York, Philly, Philly, Tampa Bay, Boston, Colorado, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Boston, St. Louis

These are the teams that have played in the Finals/World Series since 2004. So, um, which one has more parity? I would say baseball, but even if it’s not clear, it’s pretty obvious baseball is at the very least equal to basketball. And you have already written off all but 5 teams for the upcoming season. So, yeah. Get those fans involved.

See, when you actually analyze the points he’s making, they make no sense. Bill is no stranger to idiotic, gut-based arguments. But this is a new low. I expected better than this, Simmons. It’s not like I’m going to stop reading. But you’re better than this, Bill. Put at least you’re starting to get why I love soccer. So one step forward, one step back into a huge pile of dog crap covered nails.

A Few Thoughts on Twins-Tigers

Posted in Sports with tags on October 7, 2009 by fieldingmellish

Yes, this is late, since the Twins are already losing to the New Jeter Jeters, but I can’t help myself.

  • I love playoff baseball. I think the sport with the best playoffs compared to the regular season is probably hockey, but that’s only because I like baseball so much. There’s something about the insane crowds, the tension of every pitch, the endless viagra commercials, the phrase “everyone is available” followed by a shot of a starter warming up in the bullpen on two days rest. And yes, I feel like I should be wearing suspenders and standing in front of a bunch of old baseball players in a corn field.
  • That said, baseball easily has the worst announcers of any major sport. Well, that’s not true. There’s no Jim Nantz in baseball. But there is Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. And now it looks like TBS is going to unmercifully subject us to Chip Carey and Ron Darling. Now I thought Carey was a sucker for underdogs, since last year he basically spent the whole ALCS stroking himself and talking about Carl Crawford. But not half an hour ago, he ejaculated all over the microphone after Captain Intangibles hit a home run. So basically, he’s just out to annoy me.
  • I used to think Ron Darling was ok, but last night he basically said that the idea of the “Quality Start” stat (6 IP, 3 ER or fewer) would have been laughable in the old days. He was implying that in the old days, starters pitched 6 innings and gave up fewer than three runs every time they went out there. Also, the grass was greener and there were no steroids and children played the game on the sandlots and men were men and blah blah blah. To his credit, Darling himself averaged 2.87 runs per 6 innings and 6.5 IP/Start in his pitching days. That said, shut up. No one could hit in the 1980s.
  • It was a hell of a game. Strategy, intrigue, all that jazz. It’s too bad that we’ll all forget that Jim Leyland left Fernando Rodney out there for over 3 innings. All an American League manager has to do is write a lineup and manage the bullpen. It’s shocking that in the biggest game of the season one of the managers couldn’t even do that.
  • Predictions: Yankees in 3, Red Sox in 4, Cardinals in 4, Phillies in 3. Yes, I will actually predict a sweep once in awhile, unlike everyone at ESPN.
  • Raburn’s slide in the 10th was the dumbest play I’ve seen in awhile. No, he didn’t make up for it by throwing out Casilla. They never should have been in a position for that to be the winning run in the first place!
  • A lineup of commercials: Viagra, Avodart, Avocados(?!), Budweiser, Charles Schwab, Plavix (or something) – It’s pretty obvious who TBS thinks will be watching these games. I think all women and men under 70 should be offended by this development. They should be required to have one commercials for the Nintendo Wii or something.
  • LCS predictions: Yankees in 7, Cardinals in 6. Blech. I hope I’m wrong, but the Jeters are, um, really good.
  • That said, I think the Red Sox have the best rotation in the AL- potentially. They would need Beckett to pitch like Beckett and Buccholz to be good enough that Matsuzaka doesn’t have to start more than once or twice. If they are, hey, you never know, right?
  • Yeah, I think the Jeters will sweep the Cards. And we’ll be subject to an unlimited number of stories about how Derek Jeter gritted and gamed his way to a championship, going 28 for 14 in the World Series with 61 homers and 94 runs batted in and 58 winning smiles flashed, while breaking the records for both gratuitous mentions by announcers with 412* and gamer grittiness with 123 intangibles intangibilated.

*The postseason record is 381, by David Eckstein in ’06. He broke the record held by Bobby Richardson since 1961. The all-time leader in all sports is of course Brett Favre, who just earned his 11 bazillionth unwarranted mention by a sports announcer when a Pakistani Cricket commentator praised him for his grittiness during the third test match against Australia.

  • Even though the Tigers lost, Brandon Inge’s diving stop should go down as one of the best plays under pressure of the decade. It will not, of course, since his team lost and his name doesn’t rhyme with Ferek Fleter.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to do some live blogging for at least one of the games during the Sox-Angels series. Stay tuned!

Scientific Baseball

Posted in Sports with tags , on July 22, 2009 by fieldingmellish

No one has been harsher on Jason Varitek than I have. It’s really hard to accept that “managing the staff” makes up for “not hitting at all.” (Though to be fair, Jason has been average with the stick this year, even with his sparkling .230 BA.) That said, it’s tough to be a big league catcher, and this is a really interesting piece of analysis. Even though Tony Mazz works in the oft-debunked “Catcher ERA,” it’s still a really cool look at how pitchers and catchers work the strike zone in a game. I recommend it.

h/t Neyer