Friday, November 11, 2005

Short takes

  • More predictable silliness from the awards voters. Chris Carpenter was named the NL Cy Young. This was a fine choice, if you were living in a cave and missed September (5.73 ERA in 6 starts). As it is, he just wasn't close to Roger Clemens, and was probably behind Andy Pettitte and Dontrelle Willis as well. But voters still worship at the idol of wins. Rob Neyer wrote that these awards just aren't really important anymore. In the past, no one (not even the leagues) had access to full and comprehensive statistics, so it was up to the sportswriters (who hopefully saw all their team's games and followed the whole league) to say who the best was. Nothing has changed since then, in spite of the fact that the average fan has easy access to the same information as the writers. The average fan can see any baseball game at any time, via satellite TV or the internet. There is no reason to think that the most informed and educated fans are any dumber than the people that vote on these awards. Sure, the smart fans make mistakes, but it couldn't be any worse than the present system. The present system of voting is like anything that's been around a long time: it is this way because it's always been this way, not because there's anything particularly intelligent about the arrangement. Not only that, but only members of the print media can be in the BBWAA. This is because it was formed back in the days before ESPN. But considering that the print media is fast becoming a minority, they still have not agreed to share power, logical though it may seem, because they cling to whatever power they have like helpless weaklings on a lifeboat. It's not just the lack of sense and intelligence that the voters exercise, but the amazing degree of self-righteousness and pretentious behavior that the exhibit. Nowhere in the world will you find a breed of smug, ignorant, angry and bitter assholes quite like the sports media. And that's just the nicer ones. It's even worse in New York and Philly ...
  • Free agency is here, and teams are ready to overpay to the point of silliness. Paul Konerko will get a lot of money based on his World Series performance. I've heard some otherwise intelligent commentators (Peter Gammons, for one) suggest that the White Sox need to kept just as close to last year as possible. You shouldn't tamper with what works, they say. This is stupid and preposterous. The opposite problem is what teams face: when a team wins the World Series, they feel pressured to avoid improving it, lest they should mess with what "works." The infrequency with which teams repeat as World Champions should tell you how good an idea this is. It involves a lot of luck to win the World Series, and luck isn't nearly as reliable as talent if you want to get back. Too many teams sign mid-level guys to big money because of postseason heroics, which then fail to get them back to the Series. There is no magic chemistry that will get you back to the Series, and it is the ignorant pursuit of that chemistry that actively keeps teams from achieving it. Why do people delude themselves so? As Thomas Edison once said, "There seems to be no limit to which the average man will go to avoid conscious thought and contemplation."
  • Can you believe that Bud Selig is still screaming about competitive balance? I've never heard someone in the public arena make so many laughable and demonstrably false arguments in my life (outside of politics). I loved it when he called the cheap, small-market Twins a "fluke" when they won the AL Central in 2002. So they repeated in 2003 . . . and 2004. He says the Marlins (the 2003 World Champion Marlins) can't compete in their current stadium. Neither can the Athletics, who have a better record than every AL team except the Yankees over the past 6 seasons. Selig says that the league will be dominated by the Yankees. Yes, just like the Yankees dominated the Diamondbacks in 2001, the Angels in 2002, the Marlins in 2003, the Red Sox in 2004, and the Angels again in 2005. The most dominant team in baseball (according to Selig) hasn't won the World Series in 5 years. What's wrong? And how does he explain the fact that 3 of the last 4 World Champions were a Wild Card that didn't even have the best record in their division? Or the fact that in the past 18 years, the team with the best record in baseball has won the World Series exactly twice? ('98 Yankees and '89 A's). Selig is a buffoon who can't even come up with a good cover story for his plan to rape the South Florida taxpayers for more money. Any self-respecting con artist can actually fool people into giving them money. Not only is Selig a poor commissioner, he sucks as a con man.
  • John Brattain of the Hardball Times says that the Marlins might trade their best hitter, Carlos Delgado, in order to take his contract off the books and convince the voters to give them money. At least Al Capone had the decency to call what he was doing a Protection Racket. Brattain has this to say about the threats against the Twins, A's, and Marlins: "They can’t threaten relocation to Washington D.C., Portland and Las Vegas are no closer to having a temporary major league ready stadium (let alone the kind of publicly financed retractable roof virtual ATM machine that Selig uses in lieu of Levitra) than Dildo, Newfoundland is. So how can you open up a can of Extortion Whoop Ass on these communities without a "viable" threat? Of course there’s the upcoming CBA negotiation too, and if this offseason goes all spend-happy, what is Selig going to use against the MLBPA to convince them to give more free money to billionaires who mismanage their baseball business and still expect to reap obscene profits without actually working for it -- er, that the game needs more competitive balance and parity so the Yankees don’t keep winning the World Series forever? Well ownership "won" the right to unilaterally contract in the last negotiation, and Selig has never let minor details like common sense, logistics and being realistic to get in the way of a bargaining position. Expect the other “C” word to reappear in 2006. Selig says contraction is not even on the radar screen so you know that it probably is."
  • Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm going to do some more work on my survey of saves and closers before I present it. But I plan to do a study (a formality) of teams that won the World Series, what they did the year after, and how they fared. It should give me some concrete example to supoort my hypothesis.

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