Saturday, April 26, 2008

Are You Ready...

I'll never understand why people piss away an April afternoon on the draft. Actually, there are many people- buffalo wing-eating fat bastards- who treat this day as a holiday. The easy answer is that people are morons, but I'm trying to look deeper.

(err, that image is probably copyright of the NFL or something...if you're going to use it, give the NFL a rusty trombone so we don't get in trouble)

Granted, I'm not terribly into American football. My needle to all is that it's rugby for fairies, realizing that American football is played by fairies and tough men alike. The game itself bores me, probably because there's a break after every play and because most participants have no game. They think they're playing Madden.

As for watching football, it bores the shit out of me. It puts me right to sleep, for which I'm thankful because I need my Sunday nap. Again, there is a style issue, something beyond my perception that watching is for buffalo wing-eating fat bastards. The NFL has too many rules and there are too many technicalities and too much specialization. As I'm always flying under the radar, I'm not much for rules. It's communist. There, I've said it.

In general, watching sports has become increasingly overbearing. Sports programming is packaged to attract new viewers, who don't view sports as do, say, those who care and know enough about sports to blog about sports. This destroys the game for the rest of us.

As it pertains to the NFL, we're subjected to the flawed analysis of uneducated, washed-up jocks, full of malapropisms the way they used to be full of juice. It's always overdone, week in and week out, as the saying goes. Today's draft is like their prom night. Let me know how it turns out. I've got a party to attend, with some more mature women and some more of their friends.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Apple Doesn't Fall...

Now that, apparently, Hank Steinbrenner is not going to go away, I suppose I'll have to acknowledge his presence in baseball.

He talks out of his ass. (Aside- I hate to have to give a pump to the worldwide leader, but the operative quote rips them. Of course at the worldwide leader, it's always all about them.)

Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is...That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans...Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.

Without addressing the validity of his statement (OK, I chuckle at "...restore the universe to order."), it's scary how much this mongoloid sounds like his old man. It's like I'm watching the same show.

He seems to have all of the leadership qualities of his father. He understands that you have to man up and get it done because there are results and there are excuses...and excuses are unacceptable. Hey, I'm all for that. While it seems obvious, the point is lost on far too many.

However, he seems as if someone has mussed up his hair...why show everyone that? Why, when you have 26 rings, let the enemy know that it burns your ass that they've won two? Leaders don't roll like that. New Yorkers don't roll like like that. We see these beaneaters that have infested this town. We see them in at the ballparks. We know Red Sox Nation is bullshit. We don't need to tell them so because there's no need to engage them...don't piss on one if you see one on fire.

Tangent...

Disclosure: The Mets are my favorite team, but I don't hate the Yankees. Generally, I don't cheer against them because I don't cheer against New York (I've spent enough time away from the Apple to have seen that people can't stand us). I take no pleasure in their success or failure. I do, however, detest their fans- who are, by and large, mongoloids, glory hunters, or both- and I don't hesitate to needle the mongoloids.

Back to Hank...

Hank doesn't get it. Of course he wouldn't. It's part of the larger issue, which is that he has absolutely no credibility. Does being the Boss' son qualify him? The only qualification George has is that he scored one of the greatest deals in sports history. It certainly isn't that he knows how to run a baseball operation. During his reign, the Yankees have won only when there were people in place with the balls to stand up to him.

Hank doesn't even have that. He's the owner's punk son, all grown up and only now (at 51) emerging from his father's shadow because of the latter's waning ability to cast one. Having learned nothing from his father's bungling and otherwise shitty managing, it's now his turn to play the heavy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

LES sen, what?!

<<flashes Rickey Henderson gang signs to no one in particular>>

I'm driving home from the fun job late last night- actually I was driving home from the bar at which I stopped after the fun job- and I'm trying to get to the Williamsburg Bridge. We natives should know that the way to get there on a weekend night is to approach from the west and be as far south- below Houston- as possible.

The bar was too far north and east, so I was shit out of luck. I bump up on the snarl on Third and bang a left...he, he, he, I'm going to be slick and go to Sec...wait, Second's probably going to suck, too, fuck it, let's keep going east. Ave A looks like shit. Oh man, I fucked up. Now I'm going into the crack den and I'm going to have to wheel back around. I should have just paid the fin and taken the Midtown.

So I get to Ave B and I cannot believe what I see: white people everywhere, holdin' the block down. Clubs, bars, more drunk white girls than Penn Station, looking for cabs...cabs come in here? At this point, I don't mind the crawl, so I roll down Ave B to check out the whole scene.

Alphabet City and LES were always rough and tumble neighborhoods. The boricuas used to hold down Alphabet City and some real bruhs ran the PJs in LES, but were talking 120 years of ghetto, going way back to when the Italians and Jews rolled there. There were a few hangout spots down there for the brave souls. But, back in my formative years- when Dinkins was Mayor- all I would see down there were crackheads.

Now, I play soccer down there, so I'm not exactly oblivious to the ongoing gentrification. The Village Voice sign atop a building on Bowery and Kenmare says it all: "Welcome to McHattan." A previous sign read, "Where have all the crack whores gone?"

Still, I've recently been on Ave C and it doesn't look all that cleaned up. It's sill looking almost like the barrio. I didn't realize that they've done a job on Ave B, so I was caught flatfooted. I figure that, even 10 years ago, there's no way that these people could last a hot minute after dark down there. 20 years ago? Fuckin' fuggedabadet, they'd have been hacked up and the crackheads would have smoked what wasn't sold for scrap.

It goes back to an earlier post, where I explained how the town's been made safe for these pikers. New York, NY, a hell of a town. It's crazy what they've done with the place...and they're just getting around to knocking down all the dumps and throwing up "luxury" condos. Luxury condos...in LES...go figure.

It really didn't take that long to get home.

Screwjob Revisited

No, not that screwjob. Since it's semi-final day, and it's showing on the (self-annointed) worldwide leader, I submit the 1991 NCAA National Semi-final, played on 3/30/91, between Duke and and the erstwhile undefeated UNLV Runnin' Rebels.

With the NCAA and officials firmly lodged up Duke's ass, Duke managed to derail the Rebels' undefeated season and avenge the previous year's prison raping, defeating UNLV 79-77 in what went down as one of the most significant upsets in Final Four history.

Having watched that game live, I observed the three cheap/phantom fouls called on Greg Anthony- I know it's hard for anyone who watched him in the NBA to believe, but Greg Anthony was the MAN in college- and watched Stacy Augmon play the game with his hands doused in motor oil.

Augmon played so inexplicably badly, repeatedly blowing the simplest of plays, that I had to think that he was bought and was shaving (the spread was UNLV by 9).

The NCAA establishment hated UNLV so much (granted, UNLV was more blatant about its cheating than Bill Clinton) that, for years, they did everything they could to bury UNLV. This took the form of fouling out Anthony.

In the previous year's final, UNLV destroyed a petrified Duke squad. Duke was intimidated by the entire UNLV squad, but it was most noticeable when Moses Scurry was on the floor. Surely, a couple of them shit themselves when Scurry would scowl at them. It was not without reason, as, while Scurry was a marginal player, he gave the impression that, if he hadn't left his gun in the locker room, he would have stuck up the front row. He seemed fit to do it anyway, but relented only out of favor to Coach Tark.

Scurry wasn't around in 1991, Duke had a year to build up its courage and had freshman Grant Hill. There fear was gone and Duke played well, which made for an excellent game.

All that said, the Rebels should have won this game by double digits. Anderson Hunt and Anthony had good games, but Augmon was in somebody's pocket, UNLV didn't get the ball to Larry Johnson nearly enough and Duke-friendly officiating kept Anthony in foul trouble and the game tight.

You wouldn't have known it was a tight game from the atmosphere. Watching it again, I had forgotten how dead the place (the dome in Indianapolis) was. Granted, it was the early game, but, as hated as UNLV was, you'd think that everybody in there (KU, UNC fans) would have ganged up against them. I also forgot about that fucked-up high-top fade hair style black dudes used to wear.

Anyway, once Anthony fouled out (about the 4-minute mark), I knew right then that UNLV was done. Having already seen the officials call two bullshit fouls on Anthony (one ticky-tack and one phantom), I knew they had a hard-on to foul him out. The fifth foul was one of those bullshit college charging calls. It wasn't charging, even for college, but Anthony was never going to get that call. Of course, the rebroadcast didn't show the replay; good job there, worldwide leader.

Duke eventually tied the game and had possession with ~40 seconds. They missed the shot and, in the scramble for the rebound, the officials found a foul to call on UNLV. In the strictest sense, it was a marginal foul, as, in going for the ball, the UNLV player bumped into Laettner- part of the long line of Duke's punk-ass white boy big men- who had position, but that is not a call you make, especially on a loose ball in a tie game with under 15 seconds to go, unless you're looking to call something.

I'm almost positive it was the same jagoff that called Anthony's fourth, when Anthony touched the right elbow of Thomas Hill, who was stuck in the air with out a plan, looking to pass off with the shot clock running down. They weren't calling this shit on Duke.

Laettner hits both free throws and UNLV, unable to run a set without Anthony, come down and choke the game away. Ball game over; perfect season over; Dukies win; theeeeeeee Dukies win.

And that was that.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The 6-Inning Pitcher

There is no shortage of baseball pundits that will spout off about today's pitchers being pansies for not being able to go more than 6 innings and needing 4 days rest between starts. They will tell you about Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, et al., regularly going nine.

Of course, with the possible exception of Johan Santana, there is no pitcher currently in his prime that can even hope to get within sniper distance of the above mentioned troika. But, on the whole, I'd argue that today's pitchers are at least as good as those of 30-50 years ago to go six in today's hitting-dominated environment.

Most of the following is anecdotal evidence, with yours truly providing the anecdote. The story probably isn't as clean as I'll present it. I'm not poring over numbers to prove my point; I've seen enough that I know what I see.

My perspective is from 1987 because it is my belief that the major shift towards offenses began in that year. As it was the first year of the Bash Brothers, it marks the beginning of the Steroid Era.

It used to be- meaning pre-1987- that a lineup that had three viable HR threats (I'll loosely define it as someone capable of a 20-HR season) would be considered a very strong lineup. In the '70s, you were hard-pressed to find shortstops that could hold up a bat long enough to swing it.

Without taking into account- for now- all the advantages hitters are afforded by modern resources and a lower strike zone, today's hitters, on the whole, are much more powerful. In this day an age, a team can't compete without having at least five (maybe you can get away with 4 in the NL). The Yankees' entire starting lineup is a HR threat.

It is my contention that, today, because more hitters are capable of hitting HRs (and many of them are HR happy), they are much more willing to strike out in the hopes of hitting one out.

I won't discuss why that is here; it'll give y'all something to do.

Since the hitters are much more willing to strike out, this is means that the pitcher has to throw a greater amount of pitches to each batter. If a pitcher has to throw one more pitch to each batter than he did in (pick: 1966, 1976, 1986) over 27 batters (3 times through the line-up), that's almost 2 innings chopped off a start. If 9 of these 27 batters reach base (assume no double plays), that's 6IP.

I'll look at it two ways.

  • If having those 27 extra pitches would buy you 2 extra innings, it would make a 6-inning pitcher an 8-inning pitcher.
  • If what used to be 3 pitches per batter has turned into 4 pitches per batter, 81 pitches through six innings has turned into 108 pitches through six innings. Unless you're CC Sebathia, at that point, you're in the shower.

Aside- All those extra pitches per batter and all the pitching changes lengthen the game. So do all the extra commercials, but game length is another fight.

Once again, this is a simplified analysis. Maybe some egghead can go find the numbers to support this.

This analysis doesn't even factor in the stress of throwing to today's line-up. That can't be done with such a simple argument. Further, I don't think Bill James & Co. have gotten around to quantifying this. For now, suffice it to say that today's pitchers can't just throw 92-mph fastballs on the outside black and expect half the line up to eventually roll over.

Aside- Let me qualify that. You can if you're Tom Glavine, just substitute 86-MPH meatballs and 8 inches off the black, if the umps will call that for you.

The deeper into a count the pitcher gets, the more he's going to want something to show for it. More bluntly, it's going to fuck with his head and he's going to want to strike this motherfucker out. The pitcher will place an increased emphasis on getting the batter to swing and miss. In their quest, too many pitchers use sliders and curves for that purpose. I'd have to say that at least 40%-50% of today's pitch selection is something other than a fastball.

Sliders and curves, boys and girls, fuck up your elbow and shoulder big time. If you're going to snap off 40 of those per game, you'll need rest, a lot of rest. Even with rest, you will eventually blow out one, if not both. As an example, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure Kerry Wood (remember how nasty he was- throwing sliders that started at your head and broke across the plate- as nasty as anyone, ever) didn't wreck both throwing 75% heat.

Getting everybody off the sauce won't help much. That analysis is also for another time.