The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Lost in Translation

I spent Thankgiving week halfway around the globe in Barcelona, my wife and I having cashed in a nest egg of Frequent Flyer miles for a pair of almost-free tickets. Had a great time over there except for the loss of a beloved, custom-made jacket and the trickle of surreal baseball news coming to me one paragraph per day in the International Herald Tribune. From the NL MVP vote, where Ryan Howard beat out Albert Pujols, to the AL vote, where Justin Morneau edged Derek Jeter to the free agent signings of Alfonso Soriano by the Cubs (eight years, $136 million) and Juan Pierre by the Dodgers (five yars, $44 mil), I felt like everything had been lost in translation. No comprendo.

First, the awards. A few weeks ago, in a conversation about the Gold Gloves, I started calling them the Fielding Grammies, a reference to The Simpsons' take on the Grammy Awards:
Homer: Oh, why won't anyone give me an award?

Lisa: You won a Grammy.

Homer: I mean an award that's worth winning. ["award show"-style music plays while a disclaimer scrolls by on the screen, reading, "LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Mr. Simpson's opinions does not reflect those of the producers, who don't consider the Grammy an award at all."]
Well, to the the Fielding Grammies, we can now add the MVP awards, a/k/a the the Hitting Grammies, or if you prefer, simply the Ribbies (because that criterion seems to be the only one that justifies the voting). I'd love it if Jeter had won, but my reaction to Morneau winning has more to do with the fact that he wasn't even the most valuable player on his team, that honor rightfully belonging to either Johan Santana or (if you feel pitchers have no part in the discussion) Joe Mauer. David Laurila of The Royal Rooters of Red Sox Nation solicited a response that put me in heady company with some heavy hitters including Bill James, Pete Palmer, Peter Golenbock, Jim Callis, Jayson Stark, and fellow BPers Joe Sheehan and Kevin Goldstein:
My thoughts can be summed up in a word: "Horseshit." Morneau isn't the most valuable player on his own team. Or even the second. And any BBWAA writer who can't figure that out for himself ought to root for the XFL to come back so he can find a sport to which his mental capacity is more suited.
Sheehan's take on the MVP votes is better digested at length at his usual haunt:
The writers got it wrong, plain and simple. They identified two guys who had lots of RBIs on good teams and voted for them, ignoring all of the other information available. They ignored defense, they ignored doubles, they ignored OBP, they ignored pitchers and the value they have… they collectively saw the shiny things, got distracted, and further diminished the value of the awards they give out each year. The Most Valuable Player award is redefined to fit the storyline every year, but when it’s defined as "having lots of RBIs and good teammates," we’re well past the point of a defensible argument.

The problem isn't the results of any specific vote. The problem is that we have no expectations of anything better. We've simply conceded that the people charged with delivering these honors will make it up as they go along, picking the story they liked the best and inventing a rationaliztion to fit. So in some years, being an up-the-middle guy matters. In some years, having lots of guys on base in front of you matters. In some years, you win the award on style points. In some years, you win it on numbers. "Value" doesn’t matter, except in sentences like, "statistics don’t really capture the value of" Player X. The ballots attached to those lines quite often then list guys in order of their RBI counts.

...But I'm getting caught up in the outcomes, which is a mistake. Don’t consider the outcome. Consider the process. The process for determining the nominally "official" MVP vote is that it's restricted to a subset of a subset of the people who cover the game for a living. There was a time when the BBRAA [sic] was representative of pretty much all of the people who covered baseball. That hasn't been true for a long time, and it gets less true each and every year. There's a strong argument that the BBRAA represents the dying wing of baseball coverage.

...The more likely path is that the BBRAA awards are replaced, in the minds of the people within the game and the fans that follow them, with something else. For my money, the IBAs [Internet Baseball Awards] would be a perfect replacement. If you compare the IBA results with BBRAA results for the history of the former, the IBAs hold up much better. The difference between the two is largely that the BBRAA awards have precedent on their side and the advantage of publicity. With each error-filled vote, though, the credibility of these awards erodes just a little, and eventually, it’ll be whittled down to nothing.
Sheehan's anti-BBWAA sentiment is so great he's taken a page from the Republican tack of slumming the opposition ("The Democrat Party"), presumably referring to them as Riters (or maybe it's just Retards, which is worthier of a giggle if hardly politically correct).

[Update: Sheehan clarified the acronymn, with the R meant to stand for Reporters: "The organization has made it clear that it exists as an advocacy group for the people who cover baseball games on a daily basis for print publications. My argument is simply that they don’t get to co-opt the term "writer," not in this era..."]

Oh, and if anybody wants my IBA ballot -- Jeter, Santana, Verlander, Leyland in the AL, Pujols, Arroyo (yes, Arroyo), Martin, and Randolph in the NL -- have at it.

Over at the Pinstriped Bible, Steven Goldman's pulled together charts showing just how often MVPs go to the RBI leaders. In the AL, it's happened 27 times in 65 years since 1932; in the NL it's 27 going back to 1929 (both had rules preventing players from winning awards multiple times up until those dates, if I'm not mistaken, hence the cutoffs). Taken together, that's 40 percent of the time the RBI leader has won. Meanwhile, guys finishing below fourth in ribbies won just 16 times in the AL in that span, 23 times in the NL. Jeter's 97 RBIs -- from the number two spot in the batting order, mind you -- ranked just 22nd, clearly proving his moral inferiority to Morneau, at least in the eyes of voters.


Meanwhile, the guys on Baseball Prospectus were even awaiting my characteristically bombastic reaction to the Pierre signing, to which I responded, "What, you couldn't hear me screaming, 'Stupid Fucking Flanders!' all the way from Barcelona? I'd pay Kenny Lofton that money at his age before I'd let Pierre have a dime."

Let's get this straight. Pierre is a great bunter and a speedy guy, he doesn't microwave puppies and hasn't missed a game in four seasons. But he's NOT a very useful, $9 million a year ballplayer, not if he's hitting .292/.330/.388 as he did last year for Chicago, or .276/.326/.354 as he did the previous year in Florida; both of those years put him below a .260 Equivalent Average; in other words, he's doing more to hinder his teams' ability to score runs than to help. Gee, thanks!

The Dodgers have a fine outfield prospect named Matt Kemp who tore it up on initial arrival before encountering some confusion about the strike zone, but who's about a half-season of Triple-A away from becoming a fixture in the big leagues. He's raw but incredibly athletic, and PECOTA loves him almost as much as the scouts do. He's permanently shut out of centerfield now, and if he shifts to left, he bumps Andre Ethier, who spent much of his rookie season hitting an over-his-head .340; if he shifts to right he's stopping the potential move of James Loney, who hit .380 in Las Vegas (the top batting average in the minors, mind you, though we know that's not worth a hell of a lot in the PCL; just ask Mike Marshall) and acquitted himself well in Dodger blue filling in for Nomar Garciaparra at first base.

The Dodgers, of course, re-signed Nomar to a two-year deal, necessitating some kind of move for the kid, who's well-regarded as a prospect and at least athletic enough to play the outfield. If that deal doesn't have me nearly so worked up, it's only because the Pierre deal is throw-the-baby-out-the-window worse; one of my BP colleagues who understands player projections (cough) said it "might be the worst deal in baseball history."

I'd rail against this some more, but know that Stupid Flanders will get his wagon fixed when I write that Dodger essay for BP07. I'm not convinced the bleeding has stopped yet, not with the report that the Dodgers are in the mix to trade prospects or youngsters -- Andy LaRoche? Chad Billingsley? -- for Manny Ramirez. Ramirez may be one of the best hitters ever to grace God's green earth; I say so every chance I get because the man is 11th all-time in Equivalent Average (.331), behind only Babe Ruth (.367), Ted Williams (.365), Barry Bonds (.356), Lou Gehrig (.346), Mickey Mantle (.342), Albert Pujols (.342), Frank Thomas (.339), Rogers Hornsby (.337), Mark McGwire (.333), and Stan Musial (.332). As good as he is, he's entering his Age 35 season, and a severe defensive liability who doesn't have the luxury of hiding at DH. For the privilege of taking on the remaining $40 million or so of Manny's deal, the Dodgers shouldn't have to mortgage the farm.

Deep breaths, Jay, deep breaths into the brown paper bag...

• • •

I know a good chunk of my readership is considerably younger than my going-on-37 years. But if any of you are old enough to remember the text-based Adventure game that was in vogue back when the Apple II was king, you should check out this bit of genius from Derek Zumsteg of U.S.S. Mariner. Zumsteg puts himself into Bill Bavasi's shoes at the Winter GM meetings, Adventure style:
You are in a hotel lobby.
Jim Hendry is here.
"I just signed Alfonso Soriano!" Jim Hendry says.

> examine Soriano contract

Alfonso Soriano signed for $136,000,000 over 8 years.

> I hate you and wish you would die.

I don't understand that.

Jim Hendry performs his Dance of Joy.

> punch Hendry

You catch Hendry unaware!
Hendry is wounded!
The other GMs look at you with awe.
Hendry runs away!
Some GMs applaud you.
That ain't even the half of it...

Friday, November 17, 2006


Cool Things

The only baseball I ever retrieved at a ballgame was at a Walla Walla Padres game in 1980; my grandparents lived in that sleepy little Washington town, and as my grandfather took us to many games in the early '80s I saw future stars like Tony Gwynn and John Kruk play many times. Other future major leaguers on the Padres included Jimmy Jones, Greg Booker, Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams and current Padres GM Kevin Towers; I've got programs with many of their autographs.

Anyway, on this particular occasion somebody hit a foul ball, and my brother and I chased it down the leftfield line, past where the grandstands ended (Borleske Stadium was a Low-A ballpark, and as such, rather rudimentary), near the Padre bullpen. Upon picking the ball up, for some reason I let the Padre bullpen catcher sign it.

I kept the ball; it still sits somewhere in my childhood bedroom, and I always followed the career of the guy who signed it. That guy was Bob Geren, and according to a report, he's about to become the new Oakland A's manager.

Geren hit .254 with two homers and 16 RBI in 1980, his second go-round at Walla Walla. That winter, he was the player to be named later in a major trade between the Padres and Cardinals, sent to St. Louis along with Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley and Gene Tenace for catchers Terry Kennedy and Steve Swisher (whose son Nick is a current A), pitchers John Littlefield, Al Olmstead, John Urrea, and Kim Seaman, and futilityman Mike Phillips. Whitey Herzog then turned around and flipped Fingers, Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich to the Brewers for Sixto Lezcano, David Green, Lary Sorensen, and Dave LaPoint, a move which helped build both teams for the 1982 World Series (though I think the Brew Crew got the better of that).

Geren had slogged it out in the minors for ten seasons before getting a cup of coffee with the Yankees in 1988. He had a fine rookie campaign in 1989, hitting .288/.329/.454 with nine homers in 205 at-bats while backing up Don Slaught. Promoted to the starting role in 1990, he didn't hit (.213/.259/.325) and the Yanks went 67-95. He lost his job to Matt Nokes in 1991, serving as the backup (.219/.270/.289), then floated around for a couple of years before getting a final shot with the Padres in 1993. For his career he hit just .233/.283/.349. He was much better behind the plate, nailing 37.7 percent of would-be thieves.

After his playing career ended, Geren got a job in the Red Sox organization, managing at three different stops from 1994-1998. He joined the A's org in 1999, managed a year in A-ball then three at Triple-A Sacramento, served as the A's bullpen coach for three years, and as Ken Macha's bench coach last year. Despite the A's extended search for a successor and the presence of another viable candidate on the staff (Ron Washington, recently named the Rangers manager), Geren's ascension to the managing job always had an air of inevitability about it, given that he had a history with GM Billy Beane (he was Beane's best man at his second wedding).

I have no idea of his personality or his managing style, or how he'll fare with the A's, but following his road to this job over the past quarter of a century has been a pleasurable little slice of fandom. That ball always meant a lot to me, and now it means even more.

• • •

It's been awhile since I stopped evangelizing about the mighty, but Sean Forman is cooking up some awesome stuff this winter. In partnership with Retrosheet, B-R now has box scores, game logs, and player splits, all going back to 1957. Even better, those new features extend the capabilities of Retrosheet's data. Click on a pitcher's game log and then on the red Innings Pitched column and you can see a breakdown of his performance in every inning. Click on his Situation In/Out, and you can see who was at bat, on base, and in the field when he entered the ballgame, and what the score was. Handy charts also tell you how often he worked on X days of rest, when he was used, and how many multi-inning appearances he made.

For hitters, the game logs are pretty cool as well, telling you what innings he played (if he entered or departed the game midway), and the red Plate Appearances column produces a summary of what transpired in each trip to the plate. Categories at the bottom of each game log summarize the longest hitting, on-base and homerless streaks. The Box Scores include very detaileld, easy-to-read play-by-play accounts, a huge improvement on Retrosheet's presentation, not to mention ESPN's. I wish I'd known about all of this while writing up my BP07 player comments, as the site is so much faster to load and easy to navigate.

Anyway, Forman's rolling out a new subscription service as well, and he's got a blog summarizing recent changes to the site. Did I call B-R the best thing since sliced bread? Hell, it's the best thing since the invention of the wheel...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Clearing the Bases, But Not My Desk

The picture above is a rather typical shot of my home office these days, with books, magazines, papers, gadgets and discs strewn everywhere. I'm nearing the end of my second set of player comments for Baseball Prospectus 2007, and since I'm about to head out of town for a long Thanksgiving break, I thought I'd crawl out from under the rubble for a quick post during lunchtime.

• There's been plenty of discussion about the absurdly high posting fee the Red Sox bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka -- $51.1 million dollars, and that's before dollar one goes into his contract. The Yankee/Red Sox angle on this is interesting, sure, as is the list of Matsuzaka's statistical comparables, a group that includes "most of the true right-handed rotation aces in the game over the past four seasons," according to Baseball Prospectus' Clay Davenport; atop of the list is Roger Clemens.

But to me the more intriguing angle is Matsuzaka's stuff as a pitcher. Will Carroll has a fascinating breakdown of his repertoire, complete with YouTube videos. Most of the discussion centers around the mysterious gyroball:
So what does the gyroball do? According to Dr. Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois, the "pure gyroball" has a rifle spin that is perpendicular to the direction the ball is traveling. In essence, the ball spins clockwise (from the pitcher's perspective) while traveling from mound to home. This spin causes the pitch to drop more quickly than a normal fastball. Tilting the pitch to the side, so that the spin is somewhere to the right of perpendicular, causes the pitch to rise or at the very least not drop as quickly as a normal fastball. This video is the closest I have seen to a pure gyro. You'll notice that the ball drops rather than moving laterally.

...[T]he second variation of the pure gyroball is what I've assumed was the gyroball until recently. The work of ESPN's Patrick Hruby and Dr. Nathan have led me to discover that the "gyroball with side force" is the pitch that I have been teaching. By tilting the axis of rotation slightly up, the ball now moves laterally, away from a right-handed hitter. By tilting it down, the ball moves in on a right-handed hitter. In the time I've taught the pitch, one of the strangest actions was that occasionally the ball would break in rather than out, something that I simply couldn’t explain until now. This "side force" pitch should also break down, something that's not always seen. I think that the pitch is often thrown as something of a combo of the "side force" and "lift force" variations.

When thrown "properly," this variation on the pitch breaks hard away from a righthanded hitter. While I'll stand by my guesses that the pitch will break in feet rather than inches, Dr. Nathan's calculations that the pitch wouldn't break more than a normal slider interest me. I believe there may be some "optical illusion" to the pitch. Since it is normally thrown to initially travel towards the batter, the sharp break back to the plate may be throwing off our views. However, I have watched this pitch from every angle. I’ve stood in against it, and hate it every time. I have stood behind the catcher and behind the pitcher. I have even seen it thrown in games, and to me and others around me, the pitch appears to move more significantly than a slider.

...I've been teaching this pitch to a small group of pitchers for a couple of years, though I don’t evangelize the pitch. I find that most pitchers that throw it say that the pitch puts less stress on them than sliders do. I've worked with one minor-league pitcher who told me that it's as easy on his arm as a fastball. I am hoping that we can find out with high-speed video whether this is the case or not.

What's lost is that Dr. Himeno, the Japanese physicist that discovered the pitch, and his team have essentially created three, perhaps four pitches with their research and one grip. For pitchers with a great kinesthetic sense and the willingness to work on the pitch, the mechanics created by Himeno's supercomputer-based research have created a whole repertoire of pitches. I think it’s more likely that in the short term we’ll find that most pitchers will be as I believe Matsuzaka is now--working on the pitch, but not in complete control. When Matsuzaka told Jeff Passan of Yahoo that he hadn't perfected the pitch, I now believe that he meant that he could not control which variant he was actually throwing, rather than he did not throw the pitch at all. It holds that a pitch that cannot be controlled isn't thrown much, something born out by scouting data.
Carroll's article has already sparked some debate, including a pro scout who contacted another BP author to counter some of the article's observations. I'm sure that those comments will work their way into the discussion in due time, but the bottom line seems to be that this pitcher stands to inject something legitimately new into the American game. We'll have a better idea once he's actually stateside and his videos can be dissected by every scout and armchair pitching coach as to exactly what that is, but the chance to see such innovation with our own eyes has to rate among next season's most tantalizing prospects, regardless of your rooting interest.

Gary Sheffield to the Tigers: we always knew his alliance with the Yankees would end in tears, tears of rage. Still, it's just Gary Being Gary, always offering beat writers a much livelier take than, say, Derek Jeter's postulations on the proper application of pants (thanks to Nick Stone for that one).

Still, not a bad return from the Tigers in those three minor league pitchers. Here's what prospect buff Kevin Goldstein said yesterday in a chat at BP:
I LIKE [Humberto] Sanchez, but I'm not crazy about him. Good stuff, but consistent conditioning problems and at the same time, he's played four full seasons, and he's yet to get through even ONE without missing significant time.

[Kevin] Whelan might be a little underrated, however. I like anyone who throws four different fastballs, and he has true set-up man potential.

[Anthony] Claggett, despite some eye-popping numbers, is pretty marginal on a stuff level. He's your classic plus slider/average fastball minor league reliever -- a combination that rarely works as guys move up.
Jaret Wright to the Orioles: absent the medical reports, I trumpeted his acquisition by the Yankees three winters ago, and I was oh so wrong. I will gladly pay $20 never to see him pitch again, though given that he's still in the AL East, I'll have to settle for never having to root for him again.

Chris Britton, the reliever they acquired in trade, is a big and beefy beast with low 90s heat coming off a promising rookie year (53.2 IP, 3.53 Fair Run Average, 44/14 K/BB, 0.496 WXRL). He'll fit in nicely at the front end of the bullpen, saving Scott Proctor some wear and tear.

• If disappearing Jaret Wright from my view is worth $20, I'll kick in $50 to be rid of Carl Pavano. Supposedly the Rockies are interested; I couldn't wish for a better place to exile him, and I would call the trade a win for the Yanks even if all they receive is Dante Bichette's 1995-vintage laundry.

J.D. Drew to Outta My Face: From the standpoint of the Dodgers, he was always a risky horse to bet on five times in a row, and public commentary be damned, Ned "Stupid Flanders" Colletti should be clicking his heels together over the chance to reallocate that money to a less fragile hitter. If he's not, then somebody ought to gently bash him over the head with a fungo bat.

As for Drew's move, yes, he publicly stated he was likely to return, but there's a reason Scott Boras timed that out clause as he did, knowing it would coincide with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Hate him or hate him (there really isn't any option), you have to respect the fact that Boras wasn't born yesterday. He's the absolute best at looking out for his clients' interests, damn the PR torpedoes, and Drew has always followed his lead towards the biggest pile of money.

As for my feelings as a Dodger fan, well, I have warmer fuzzies for Jeff Kent than I do for Drew, which is saying something. I can't blame him for making a sound business decision given the stupid money that will apparently be thrown around this winter. But I sincerely wish him nothing but the worst as far as his playing career is concerned, and I hope he starts shedding body parts like a leper. Particularly so if he signs with the Red Sox, who are rumored to be pursuing him for a four-year deal; that consolidates my schadenfreude into one low monthly payment. Drew's bloodless style will stand in stark contrast to the man he replaces, Trot Nixon; both are injury-prone, but fans always understood that Nixon's absence was related to his gritty, all-out style of play. Drew? Not so much.

• Jon Weisman has some clear thinking about Drew. And in this busy winter, I can certainly relate to his sentiments on finding the time to blog, and I don't even have kids yet. Congrats to one of the nicest guys around on his new(ish) gig at Variety and on his tantalizing TV and movie blog Screen Jam.

• A nice article from last summer on a pair of artists, Greg Maddux and Vin Scully. I think I may just cue up that September 18 game, which will sit on my TiVo all winter the way the 2003 ALCS Game Seven did, keeping me warm on those barren, baseball-free nights.

• Sad post-playing career articles are a dime a dozen; the Sammy Stewart crackhead one, catching up with an Orioles pitcher of the late '70s, was typically bleak, but that's only the latest in a string of drug-related tales.

I felt a great deal more for this article on former Padres pitching prospect Jay Franklin. I'm too young to remember his brief career -- 0-1, 6.35 ERA in 5.2 innings best remembered for surrendering Hank Aaron's 638th home run in 1971 -- but I caught up with it years ago in the service of a feature about ballplayers named Jay. I didn't know much of him beyond that, however. Apparently Franklin, who blew out his arm and faded away before he could make it big, suffers from debilitating depression and paranoid delusions. "Right now, I'm just existing," he says. "The deck's stacked against me. That's how I feel. There's a song that came out years ago that says, 'I'm dying inside, but nobody knows it but me.' That's me in a nutshell." Sad and harrowing.

Here's hoping the attention helps his plight a little.

• I couldn't possibly have stayed sane the past two years without Keith Olbermann's work on MSNBC's Countdown. Once upon a time Olbermann was the merely the former SportsCenter kingpin who'd gone on to "serious" if puzzling work as a pundit. Now I think he's one of the most important voices in mainstream media, his sports background a mere footnote. Glad to see he's getting his due. You've come a long way, dude.

• The undead rising from the grave to ink minor-league deals: a sure sign of the apocalypse. Or the Hot Stove League; I get them confused these days...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Circus Has Left Town

How apathetic am I about the outcome of the 2006 World Series? Well, it's Wednesday, and the Series ended last Friday, with the Cardinals defeating the Tigers, four games to one. World Champeens, and I'm only just now getting around to blogging it. I guess I missed the parade.

This was kind of like 2004, except I actually turned the TV on. Not that I'll remember it any better.

Despite having watched my teams, the Dodgers and Yankees suffer first-round eliminations, and then feeling a good bit of disappointment at the Mets falling to the Cardinals in the NLCS, I had a good deal of enthusiasm entering the World Series, particularly for the Tigers. While I'd grown a little tired of hearing about that 119-loss season three years ago, manager Jim Leyland, pitchers Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Francisco Rodney, and shortstop Carlos Guillen made for a likeable and compelling cast of characters to follow deep into October.

But my enthusiasm, which peaked with my Game Two diary for Baseball Prospectus, was quickly siphoned off by a combination of bad weather, bad play, and a visit from my parents. Beyond Game Two, the Tigers' mistakes -- particularly those brutally bad fielding plays by their pitchers and short at-bats by their hacktastic hitters -- quickly became too painful to watch. Via TiVo, having come home from a fantastic dinner out with my folks, my patience quickly grew thin. I found myself fast-forwarding through the ineffective performances of their ballyhooed relievers while the Cardinals landed the knockout punches.

In all, the Tigers made eight errors in five games: five of them by pitchers, one in each game, plus three by Brandon Inge, who's now the anti-Graig Nettles. Eight of the 22 runs they allowed were unearned. And the offense was just brutal. Curtis Granderson 2-for-21, Placido Polanco 0-for-17, Magglio Ordonez 2-for-19, Pudge Rodriguez 3-for-19, Craig Monroe 3-for-20. That's a combined 10-for-96 from more than half the offense, with just three walks and 19 Ks. Meanwhile, Leyland couldn't find a way to get Marcus Thames, who hit .256/.333/.549 with 26 homers more than a single at-bat in the series. When, after the bubbly was flowing in the other locker room he took the blame for not preparing the Tigers to win, he wasn't just whistling Dixie.

As for the Cardinals, well, I have little love for them. Albert Pujols spent the postseason showing off his surly, Barry Bonds side, to which I say, keep doing that and America's juvenile, scatalogical tendencies will take over your name, buddy. Ronnie Belliard grossed everybody out with his tongue and his morbid obesity. Jeff Suppan interjected right-wing politics into the series. I hope he's hit by a bus. Or two. Tony La Russa... don't even get me started. Worst Champions Ever isn't quite the slight it should be -- they call the guy at the bottom of his med school class doctor, right? -- and so congratulations to the team and the fans are in order. But that title about sum up my distaste for this particuar bunch at this point in time.

I will say that I enjoyed the vindication of Scott Rolen, who's long been a favorite of mine; he hit .421/.476/.737 and probably deserved the MVP award that they gave to David "Little Timmy" Eckstein for hitting a couple of fly balls that shouldawouldacoulda been caught. And while Jeff Weaver spent three and a half years disappointing me while wearing Yankee pinstripes and Dodger blue, I wasn't able to work up a good head of steam rooting against him. He pitched the game of his life last Friday, and stuck it to the team who developed him and then traded him some cause for regret.

But really, I had neither the time nor the desire to break the Series down, seek out the best commentary or links. My fellow BP colleague Steven Goldman summed it all up in one sentence: "I'm not ready for the end of the season, but I'm desperately eager for the end of this Series." The only thing I have to add to that is that the real problem with this World Series was that there were too many soulpatches on both sides. Weaver, Inge, Chris Carpenter, and Scott Spiezio, with that stupid dye job. Thank you, Fox, for those disgusting closeups. No wonder this was the lowest-rated series ever. Serves those assclowns right for canceling Arrested Development.

Anyway, the circus has left town, and as we stare into the baseball-free void known as winter, things might get a bit sparse around here (as if they hadn't already?), my enthusiasm for the Hot Stove League notwithstanding. I've got a ton of writing on my plate this winter, involved in a few exciting -- and paid! -- projects that I hope to share with you in time. Stay tuned...


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