General

Moving On Up

In the interest of making this website look a bit more, you know, real, Peter and I have decided to fork over some dough and will be making an upgrade to the site. Nothing fancy I assure you, but a better format to be sure.

With this, the site might go down for 1-2 days. Please bear with us and be sure to check back soon. We appreciate all who read and comment and hope this will make everything easier to use.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all.

The Blue Jays

While Peter and I obsess about all things Red Sox and Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays have aggressively thrown their hat in the ring. It’s a giant hat…think a Three Amigos sombrero.

Adds:

R.A. Dickey – Reigning N.L. Cy Young Winner.
Josh Johnson – Career 3.15 ERA.
Mark Buerhle – 3.74 ERA in 2012 and career 3.82 ERA.
Jose Reyes – 29 years old with speed and some pop.
Melky Cabrera – While we all finally confirmed what we suspected, if his ability to hide future drug use is good, then you have a good to great player.

These acquisitions added to their existing core of Jose Baustista (27 HR in 92 games in 2012 and 43 HR and 54 HR respectively in 2011 and 2010), Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR in 2012), Brett Lawrie (disappointing sophomore season, but still young), Adam Lind (2nd half far better than 1st half), Brandon Morrow (tore it up as a starter) and Casey Janssen had a fine first season as a closer, make the Jays a frontrunner in 2012.

The Jays have gone all in and the rest of the A.L. East has certainly taken notice, or as a Red Sox fan, I hope they have.

Florida Fire Sale- UPDATED

Interesting news out of Miami where the Marlins have reportedly traded away most of their remaining big contracts. By doing this, the Marlins have now only $16 million committed to their 2013 payroll, not including their arbitration-eligible players.

Now there are two things that this brings up in my mind.

1- The citizens of the Miami area just shelled out a lot of money to build the Marlins a new ballpark. People in Miami were not at all happy with the way this ballpark was financed out of their pockets and these moves will only increase the perception that they have been fleeced.

2- A lot of MLB owners are already upset that Jeffrey Loria received support from other MLB teams when he was making plenty of money. How will this trade make those owners feel?

To me Bud Selig should invoke the “Best Interests of Baseball” clause and block this trade. The Florida fans have been sold out time and again and this latest betrayal could be the death of baseball in South Florida. (We can debate if baseball should be played in South Florida another time, but they spent $650 million on a new stadium so they are stuck with baseball for now.) This trade is a betrayal of trust. Loria destroyed the Expos, are the owners and the Commissioner wiling to let him destroy another team?

UPDATE Keith Law said it really well and added a great word (limicolous) in his assessment of the trade:

Those limicolous owners are the greatest joke of all in this deal, rooking Florida taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, only to make one half-hearted attempt to fill it with a contending team, then surrendering after the season to return to their old business model, playing a skeleton-crew lineup while pocketing all of their revenue-sharing money. This isn’t a bad baseball deal for Miami; it’s not a baseball deal at all — it’s a boondoggle, perpetrated by owners who have pulled one stunt like this after another, with the implicit approval of the commissioner’s office. It’s time for baseball to rid itself of Jeff Loria and David Samson by any means possible. Miami, the state of Florida, and the sport in general will be better off without them.

Scoreless Streak

Quick observation, through 20 innings of baseball today, no runs have been scored in all of baseball. That’s 4 different games covering 20 innings. Guess it really is a pitchers era.

A Good Argument

I’ve never liked MVP voting. How do you define “valuable”? And, even if you use some advanced statistics to prove that a player is the most “valuable” in the league, does it matter if his team is awful? It seems to me that things would be a lot easier if the MVP award was renamed “best player”. But, it’s not so this is the system we have.

This year, Justin Verlander won the MVP in the AL, despite not even appearing on one of the ballots. The writer who left him off his ballot, Jim Ingraham, made a very interesting argument against pitchers as MVP. Here are his words:

“I’d wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year. He hasn’t appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn’t appear in 79 percent of his team’s games in a year. Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team’s 16 games, which would be 21 percent? So that’s part of it. Another part of it is I think they’re apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there’s a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn’t, I don’t think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games.”

That is the most compelling reason against voting for pitchers that I have heard and I think he is absolutely right about it. Starting pitchers don’t appear in enough games to meet the “value” criteria in my mind. Verlander had an amazing season and he was given the Cy Young for it. Instead of burying Ingraham, his fellow baseball writers should take his argument to heart and reform the MVP voting process. Since pitchers have their own award, why not make the MVP a purely offensive award? It won’t solve the problem of figuring out value, but it will make the process a bit clearer.

Win Some/Lose Some

Two big changes are coming to MLB in the near future- 15-team leagues and another wild card. I view the first development as bad and the second as good. Let me explain.

Creating two 15-team leagues means MLB will be forced to play an interleague series almost every night of the regular season. While this doesn’t mean we are going to necessarily have more interleague games (amazingly they have no idea on that part of this move) it means pennant races will be impacted by interleague play.

To me this is incredibly stupid. This isn’t the NBA or NHL where the teams all operate under the same rules. The AL and NL have a huge difference because one league has the DH and the other doesn’t. Obviously, this always applies in interleague baseball, but consider this additional kicker- September callups. AL teams that have interleague games in September will have a huge advantage over teams that don’t because they can pinch hit, much, much more than during the rest of the season. Consider the 2011 Yankees who called up 6 batters and 7 pitchers September 1st. If they had had an interleague series that month, they would have been able to pinch hit and substitute freely as compared to a series in June. Unless MLB does something like the NHL and require all teams to declare x number of players eligible for each game, this will be a major hurdle in the new system. And don’t get me started on the attendance for a KC-Washington game in April….

It also strikes me as terrible that Houston was the team that got picked to move. I understand that they wanted to lower the number of teams in the NL Central, but if so, wasn’t the obvious move to RETURN the Brewers to the AL? (That’s right kids, the Brewers were an AL team for the first 29 years of their existence, right up until the end of 1997.) I get the argument that Houston isn’t geographically near any of its rivals, but they have a 50-year history in the NL. And, while it is jet travel, these teams travel in a manner most of us can only dream of. Sure, it’s a drag to get on a plane and travel for 81 nights a year, but plenty of people do it without the benefit of chartered planes and five-star hotels.

What I think baseball got right is the addition of a wild card to each league, but with the critical proviso that they will play a one-game playoff versus the other wild card. Baseball instantly made September important for a lot of teams again. Now, winning the division really will matter. Last year’s Boston and Atlanta collapses aside, we have entered a lot of Septembers recently when the divisions and wild card were almost settled. I think back to 2010 when the big question for the Yankees was should they go all out to win the division, or rest players knowing they had the wild card. Now, that choice is obvious. And, the extra playoff spot gives more teams a chance. This is a great idea and it lengthens the playoffs by a single day. Congrats to MLB on nailing it.

What do you think?

Thank You Baseball

From the amazing final night of the regular season to playoffs that gave us 38-out of a possible-41 games, this has been a great year for baseball. Congrats to the Cards, and especially to the guy who won $250,000 tonight on them.

As we head into the offseason, here are my ten wishes:

1- MLB and the players union figure out a way to avoid the missteps of the NFL and the NBA and sign a new deal before the current one expires in December. Or at least before pitchers and catchers are due to report.

2- Albert Pujols takes a page from the “Book of Jeter” and realizes that he should be a Cardinal for life.

3- MLB realizes that as great as the Cardinals victory was, deciding homefield in the World Series based on the All-Star Game winner is unfair to everyone.

4- The Yankees don’t negotiate against themselves with CC Sabathia and remember the mistake they made with A-Rod.

5- The Pirates have a great offseason that sets them up to finish well over .500 in 2012

6- I don’t read another thing about Yu Darvish being a phenom until he actually faces some major league hitting.

7- Boston ownership stops cowering behind the press and either comes out and makes their accusations directly or puts a cork in it.

8- The Yankees remember all of those young pitchers they have been developing on the farm when they plan for 2012.

9- MLB either eliminates the wild card or creates a second one in each league and a wild card round of the playoffs, best-of-3, to make winning the division important again.

10- Interleague play is scaled way back and the Astros stay where they belong- in the NL.

Thanks for your support during another season. I’ll be back later this weekend with some more about Sabathia and the opt out, which must be exercised by midnight Monday.

That Was Amazing

If you are a baseball fan and you didn’t witness Game 6 last night, you should feel shame. I have seen a lot of amazing things on the baseball diamond, but watching the Cardinals come back from two-run deficits in the 9th and 10th and then win it in the 11th has to be one of the greatest games ever.

And the amazing thing is that it looked like the game would be remembered for terrible baseball. The two teams made FIVE errors. Matt Holliday got picked off of third by Mike Napoli. (I’m still not sure how that happened.) But that was all erased by an amazing ending.

Someone once said, “The two greatest words in the English language are ‘Game Seven’,” and that’s what we have tonight. Tomorrow’s forecast in New York is for freezing temperatures and a chance of snow, but before that starts we get to enjoy one last day of summer- savor it.

A Bad Trend

Courtesy of Sportswatch, here are the Nielsen numbers for Game 2 of the World Series showing male viewers, broken down by age group ….12-17 (2.2), 18-24 (2.8), 25-34 (5.6), 35-49 (6.0), 50-64 (9.0), 65+ (14.3). In a separate tweet he notes that the median age of a viewer watching Game 1 was 52 while that of Game 1 of the NBA Finals was 40.

I’ve written about this issue a number of times. But as a baseball fan I can only hope that someone in the MLB offices realizes they are losing the youth of this country. Perhaps these numbers will be a wake up call.

What they mean is that 2.2% of 12-17 year-olds were watching Game 2 while 14.3% of the over-65 demographic were. The reason MLB might pay attention to these numbers is that advertisers really don’t care about anyone over the age of 49. The 18-49 demographic is what advertisers desperately want to reach and if MLB can’t deliver those viewers, advertisers won’t pay premium money for ads during the World Series. Sadly, last Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game drew 16 million viewers and a 6.0 share of the 18-49 audience. That means a regular season football game between two sub-.500 teams (at the time) had more viewers than baseball’s biggest series of the year.

Will the lack of young eyeballs force baseball to make some changes? I hope so. Earlier World Series games would be a great start. It also seems to me that baseball could easily speed up the games if they actually enforced the strike zone and starting calling pitches above the belt, but below the armpits, as strikes. There are plenty of other innovations they could try, but they need to get serious soon. A generation has already grown up without a love of baseball. MLB cannot afford to let that pattern continue.

Hysterical Mash-Up of Baseball Personalities by the Batting Stance Guy

My favorites are Gammons and Kurkjian.