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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Hot Stove Video, Revisted

Happy belated Turkey Day, everyone. Here are the third and fourth post from the Bronx Banter video series that ran last week, starring Alex Belth, Cliff Corcoran and myself: Part Three is about Derek Jeter's future, and Part Four covers our take on Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case. Speaking of which, I'm still waiting for a new set of data to fire up this year's JAWS series (grumble, grumble), and when I do, I'll let loose a post about the Moose.

Also, here's last week's radio hit on Boston's WWZN. I'm down to every other week during the offseason so the Basketball Prospectus guys can get a shot. Yes, there's a basketball equivalent to BP, complete with Bradford Doolittle's Hit List-style power rankings, the Hops List. Anyway, the WWZN crew is back to afternoon drive times, meaning that I can put an extra hour of sleep under my pillow on those Wednesday mornings.

Back to grinding away at player comments for BP09...

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Hot Stove Video

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but my pals at Bronx Banter recently moved into some upscale new digs at Sportschannel New York's website, Congrats to them on the move and the recent expansion of their blogging staff.

As part of their arrangement, BB and SNY are collaborating with some experimental video blogging recorded in the latter's studio, with Alex Belth playing host to two guests as they break down various issues of the hot stove season. I was honored to have Alex invite me to be on the debut show along with BB co-consipirator Cliff Corcoran; we covered the Yanks' possible pursuits of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, among other things, but technical difficulties prevented our first takes from being aired, and last week a series of new segments with YanksFanSoxFan's Mark Lamster and the Daily News's Anthony McCarron went up covering those primary free agents. Alex invited Cliff and me back for a re-shoot, and we did four segments that will air this week.

The first two are already up. In Part One, we examine the Yankees' options on the free agent market beyond Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe (the subject of one of our lost segments, alas). My Brewers-fan relatives won't be too happy to hear me touting Ben Sheets as an option for the Yankees, but I laid it out there on the table. If the Yanks are silly enough to risk a long-term deal on the injury-prone Burnett -- and they seem to be firm on not going five years, at least -- they may be able to do better with a more incentive-based shorter deal with Sheets.

In Part Two, we look at some options for hitters beyond Mark Teixeira. I spent a lot of time talking about free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, late of the Diamondbacks, and how the Yanks' rumored interest in him points to the organization's dissatisfaction with Robinson Cano. I am not a Cano fan, not anymore -- he's immensely talented, but completely vapid, and his strike zone judgment is, to put it frankly, for shit. He walked 26 times in 634 plate appearances last year while hitting .271/.305/.410, year-to-year drops of 35, 48, and 78 points in those triple-slash categories, and his fielding was awful as well. the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus system, which uses a panel of expert evaluators to review each play and compare whether an average player would have made it, saw Cano at -16 last year, "good" for the 35th ranking in a 30-team major league set; for comparison in 2007 he was at +17. Hudson was at -4 last year, down from +20 the year before, but he's got a much longer track record of success.

Part Three should air tomorrow, and Part Four... I don't know when it will air, actually; the two segments are re-takes on topics we covered the first time, one on Derek Jeter's eventual destination on the diamond, and the other on the recently-retired Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame chances. I'll be back with a link when those air.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Mirror, Mirror

Aside from being busy, busy, busy with Baseball Prospectus 2009 work, I've done a couple of articles for BP that have been, or will be, mirrored over at

The first is on the AL MVP race, using BP's Wins Above Replacement Player metric to evaluate the cases of the top-ranked candidates. The BP version is here with a running comment thread, the SI version, which cuts many of the external links and was re-edited after the fact (not my preference, but it's their site) is here.

Dustin Pedroia wound up taking home the honor, and by the standards of the BBWAA electorate it was a fairly reasonable choice: though Cleveland hurler Cliff Lee (who won the Cy Young award last week) and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera both accumulated higher WARP totals and Toronto ace Roy Halladay (Cy runner up) matched Pedroia's, Boston's second baseman was the the most valuable (in WARP terms) player on a team that made the playoffs, with 9.8 WARP. Teammate Kevin Youkilis, who finished third, had higher OBP and SLG numbers, but even with the credit for sliding over to play third base during Mike Lowell's absence, Pedroia's strong fielding at second base elevated him above his teammate, who tallied 8.4 WARP, tenth in the league.

As a Yanks fan, I loathe both players, the latter with far more intensity. Every mannerism of his grates, from his painfully forced scowl to that ridiculous batting stance to that bushy beard, about which the less said, the better. But still, there's no thumb on the scale here; SI wanted a WARP-based piece, and the players ranked how they ranked, so it was my job to shape the arguments around that.

The real winner, however, is BP subscribers, who now have access to sortable WARP statistics, something I've been clamoring for since the moment I joined the group. It lacks a position filter, and the key pitching stat, PRAA, is only available via a separate set of sortables (PRAR is in the first set. Don't ask why), but it's a big improvement upon what was there: nothing. Exciting changes to WARP are on the way in time for this year's upcoming JAWS series, by the way, so don't get too wrapped up in these numbers.

Anyway, the other mirrored piece is a Hot Stove preview of the NL West, which is already on BP and should be up on SI later today (at which point the BP version will become free). Just like at a Passover seder, four questions are asked. Here's what I had to say about the Dodgers:
What Do They Need? Though the Dodgers won just 84 games, they showed in the postseason that they were a better team than that once their injured players had healed up. They begin the offseason with no fewer than 13 free agents, including three starting pitchers (Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, and Greg Maddux), three starting infielders (second baseman Jeff Kent, shortstop Rafael Furcal, third baseman Casey Blake), and left fielder Manny Ramirez, whose arrival from Boston at the non-waivers trade deadline catalyzed the offense and turned him into a mega-celebrity the likes of which hasn't been seen in Dodger blue in decades. Despite the number of free agents, at most two rotation slots and two infield slots need covering, and while they have the resources to fill some needs from within, an offense that ranked eighth in the league in Equivalent Average and 13th in slugging percentage — one that hasn't seen a hitter surpass 20 home runs since 2005 — could really use some muscle.

What Do They Have? They've got a lineup with five starters who will be 27 or younger in 2009, counting 23-year-old Blake DeWitt, a springtime surprise who began the year at third base amid a rash of injuries, and who was shifted to second once Kent was sidelined by knee surgery; where he'll play depends upon how the winter unfolds. They've also got a premier player development system offering multiple options for their infield (Chin-Lung Hu, Tony Abreu, and Ivan DeJesus Jr.) and their pitching staff (James McDonald, Scott Elbert), and, further down in the system, talent to deal if they're so inclined. Thanks to the handiwork of GM Ned Colletti, they also have two expensive, unproductive outfielders who want out of LA in Juan Pierre (owed $37.5 million through 2011) and Andruw Jones ($22 million for one year plus signing-bonus payments stretching into 2010), not that they'll find many takers.

What are they likely to do? They've already started playing hardball with Ramirez, withdrawing an initial offer of two guaranteed years and $45 million that wasn't going to get the job done anyway; headed towards his age-37 season and coming off a combined .332/.430/.601 line with 37 homers, he's seeking a six-year deal. If he's willing to go below four years, the sky's the limit on what the Dodgers might offer, and if he settles for four, they could bite the bullet and re-sign him. Beyond Manny, it's up in the air as to whom among their own free agents they'll pursue. Blake is a possibility, and Furcal may return if he's willing to re-up with a three-year deal, even though he was either absent or subpar for about half of his expiring contract; as the Cubs found out, the Dodgers are a different team when he's atop their lineup. More likely, they'll target a short-term deal for Orlando Cabrera. In the rotation, neither the injured Penny nor Lowe are likely to return, so the Dodgers will enter the high-stakes bidding for California native CC Sabathia — if the Yankees haven't already closed that deal — and they may pursue Randy Johnson, who just filed for free agency after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the Diamondbacks. Contrary to early off-season rumors, they're unlikely to deal Russell Martin or anyone else from their young nucleus to fill needs.

What Should They Do? The Dodgers likely can't afford both Sabathia and Ramirez, and given their current posture, they're not favorites to sign either. One alternative to the latter whose name has yet to surface is Adam Dunn, who's reached the 40-homer plateau for five straight years and just turned 29. Though he lacks Manny's charisma, even moving into the least hitter-friendly park of his career, he'd be an imposing middle-of-the-order presence, and he's hardly a major step down defensively. Beyond that, and assuming no Sabathia signing, a one-year deal with Johnson could make sense given his 2008 performance, and a fungible inning-eater to account for the youth of Clayton Kershaw (and possibly McDonald) is in order—perhaps someone like Randy Wolf or Jon Garland. As for the infield, between Hu, DeJesus, DeWitt, and Abreu, the Dodgers can probably cover two of their three infield vacancies, so they should focus on signing the best free agent they can for one position and letting the kids fight for the remaining spots.
Furcal appears to be on several teams' radars - the Giants, A's, Cubs and Braves may all be in on him, making a return to the Dodgers on a deal of less than four years highly unlikely. The Ramirez front has been quite since open season began on Friday, with house yenta Peter Gammons backing my suggestion that Manny and the offensively anemic (in both ways) Giants may find love. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have expressed some interest in Sabathia, who would fill the Manny-sized void left via Ramirez's likely departure. Between the Dodgers, Yankees and Brewers, I'd say there's a pretty good chance I'll be rooting for the big fella somewhere next year.

Back with an actual link to the SI version later. Update: it's here, with a sidebar offering handy links to the rest of the series.

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Friday, November 14, 2008



I've got an AL East Hot Stove preview up at Baseball Prospectus and mirrored at In the preview I address four basic questions for each team. Here they are in the context of what I had to say about the Yankees:
What Do They Have? The Yankees' top asset is money, including more than $75 million in 2008 salaries coming off the books via the free agencies of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano and Andy Pettitte. They'll need cold, hard cash to fulfill their biggest needs, since the values of their most tradable young players, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano, are so depressed as to make selling low inadvisable. They have young, unproven pitching to deal, starting with Ian Kennedy, who fizzled (0-4, 8.17 ERA in nine starts) following a promising late-2007 showing. Phil Hughes, who will compete for a starting slot, is likely off limits, but names like Mark Melancon, a potential future closer, and Dellin Betances, a 6-foot-8 behemoth, could surface -- not that they'll be moved.

What Do They Need? In missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993, with an offense that slipped from an AL-best 6.0 runs per game in 2007 to a mid-pack 4.9 last year, the Yankee lineup looked increasingly outmoded. With Giambi and Abreu both free agents, they have holes at first base and right field, and it's imperative that they get younger at one position if not both. Further down the wish list is upgrading center field; Johnny Damon is in a defensive decline and Cabrera is taking a Triple-A refresher course. No less glaring is the need for starting pitching, given that 13 pitchers started for the Yankees last year, with the blueprint hinging on youngsters Joba Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy having blown up in GM Brian Cashman's face; all three got hurt, with the latter two so ineffective that they failed to garner a single win. Chamberlain and Chien-Ming Wang (also coming off injury) are assured spots, but the rest is up for grabs, and Cashman plans to overstock the larder to avoid repeating last year's Sidney Ponson-ocalypse.

What Are They Likely To Do? They'll pursue the biggest of big game, namely CC Sabathia, who will command a nine-figure deal, but will face competition from multiple teams including the Brewers, who have a $100 million offer already on the table. Expect them to chase former Red Sox nemesis Derek Lowe as well as A.J. Burnett, who opted out of the remainder of his five-year, $55 million deal in Toronto after setting career highs in innings, wins and strikeouts. They won't net all three but they'll shoot for two and augment that by re-signing either 20-game winner Mussina (if he surprises everyone and shuns retirement) or Pettitte, who's coming off his highest ERA since 1999. As for the lineup, [Mark] Teixeira is an ideal fit both offensively and defensively; he would also be the youngest regular aside from Cano and Cabrera. They'll need to break the $100 million mark to outbid the Angels, the Red Sox and others for his services. In right field they may offer the 35-year-old Abreu arbitration, a route that could net him a higher salary than he would average via the three-year deal he seeks but won't get here. They may also explore swapping Cabrera for the Brewers' Mike Cameron, but may have to sweeten the pot to get Milwaukee to bite.

What Should They Do? If the Yanks can only go nine figures on one player it should be Teixeira, given the need for youth and the dearth of A-list first basemen in the free-agent pool. Otherwise they face unappealing solutions like Kevin Millar or an aging Giambi. One alternative would be to trade for the aforementioned [Nick] Swisher, who can play first base, right field or even center field; he would provide flexibility as the winter market evolves. As for the pitching, Burnett's legacy of injuries should make a team still smarting from the Pavano and Jaret Wright debacles think twice. Lowe, by contrast, is a reliable groundballer who's every bit as effective and much more durable, with at least 32 starts in seven straight years.
Mere hours after that went up at BP, word came over the wire that the Yanks had in fact acquired Swisher in a five-player deal with the White Sox, sending futilityman Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez (a second-line pitching prospect whose stock fell with a lousy year in Triple-A) and Jhonny Nunez (a live arm acquired from the Nationals for infielder Alberto "Attorney General" Gonzalez) and receiving another live arm, Kanekoa Texeira (no relation to the first baseman; note the different spelling), in return.

This is a great first move by the Yanks given the switch-hitting Swisher's versatility. Though his .219 batting average was the lowest among batting title qualifiers (502 plate appearances), his .332 OBP and .410 SLG (via 24 homers) show that his raw skills are intact. As noted in the Rays' section of the BP piece (cut from the SI version, apparently, grumble grumble grumble), "He maintained his good power and plate discipline despite suffering through a season in which his BABIP [Batting Average on Balls In Play] fell by 52 points for no good reason given his line-drive rate." In other words, Swisher's drop in batting average was primarily due to bad luck, mainly via a .204 BABIP versus lefties; it was a still-low .266 versus righties. If the problem persists, he can be platooned with lefty-mashing Xavier Nady. Swisher, who'll be 29 later this month, is owed about $22 million including the buyout of his 2012 club option ($10.25 million); the Yanks' ability to take on salary strikes again.

As for Betemit, having watched him closely for the better part of the past two and a half years as a Dodger and a Yankee, I have to admit that I've turned bigger cartwheels upon him leaving than upon him arriving in both instances. A switch-hitter who can play all four infield positions in a pinch is a handy asset to have, but the guy is just less than the sum of his parts, a league leader in Equivalent Underwhelming. Granted, some of that may be managerial misuse; he needs a restraining order against lefthanded pitching, and his defensive numbers at third base are consistently below average via the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus system, totaling -17 over the last three years. He may have a big year in the homer-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field, and playing under Spanish-speaking Ozzie Guillen instead of crusty old farts like Bobby Cox, Grady Little, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi may indeed help his cause; I've started to wonder how much his frequent travels are related to makeup issues (he looks horrible in eyeliner!). I have no first-hand knowledge, but the way he stumbles into opportunties and then quickly gets cast aside leads me to believe he's got a lousy work ethic, a bad attitude or suspect hygiene. I wish him the best but won't be surprised at all if he continues sliding off the map.

Bac to the Yankees, what that means for their winter going forward is unclear. All signs indicate that they intend to blow Sabathia away with an offer that could be in the neighborhood of six years and $150 million once he hits the open market at midnight on Friday. At the very least it signals that Teixeira is a lower priority, which I think is a mistake. But Swisher prevents the Yanks from coming off as desperate in their pursuit; they no longer have the "Teixeira or Bust" sign around their necks, and that's a good thing.

Finally, I had plenty more to say about Teixeira on Wednesday's WWZN "Young Guns" radio spot, albeit more in the context of the Red Sox, as well as lots of other Hot Stove chatter. Check it out.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Preacher Roe (1915-2008)

I have saved the closing words for Preacher Roe, who soon will be eighty-three. Roe is retired but vigorous in West Plains, Missouri, and proud that every one of his grandchildren has gone to college. "I know one of these days the good Lord is going to come calling," Preacher says, "and when that happens I certainly hope he sees fit to send me up to heaven. But heaven will really have to be something to be better than what we all had long ago in Brooklyn."
—Roger Kahn, Boys of Summer, "An Epilogue for the 1990s and the Millennium"

The death of Elwin Charles "Preacher" Roe marks the passing of yet another former Brooklyn Dodger from their storied heyday. A native of the Ozarks, Roe was one of the NL's top southpaws for the better part of a decade, as well as one of the game's more colorful raconteurs. He was 92, according to the New York Times obituary, 93 according to Baseball-Reference; either way, he led a long, rich life.

Roe wasn't a particularly religious man; his nickname sprung from an early childhood fondness for a Methodist minister who took him on horse-and-buggy rides. He was anything but a stereotypical backwoods rube; for one thing, he was college educated (Harding University of Searcy, Arkansas). "He enjoyed playing the role of a country bumpkin, but he wasn't one," said former Dodgers teammate Ralph Branca. "He was real smart and real crafty on the mound."

Roe's journey to stardom was a roundabout one. He was signed by Branch Rickey back in 1938, a point in time when his Cardinals owned more than 30 minor-league teams and backed entire leagues. Like so many other players of that era, he got lost in the Cardinals' chain; he had just one major league appearance prior to his 29th birthday before being liberated via a trade to the Pirates at the end of the 1943 season. The Pirates' manager was Frankie Frisch, skipper of the Cardinals at the time Roe debuted.

Roe's first two season with the Pirates were good ones; in 1945 he led the league in strikeouts and earned All-Star honors. A a skull fracture sustained the following year marred his next two seasons and caused him to avoid flying. His career slipping away, he was traded to the Dodgers in a pivotal deal on December 8, 1947. Sent to Pittsburgh were two pitchers plus All-Star outfielder Dixie Walker, who'd led a revolt against the signing of Jackie Robinson the previous spring, culminating with a petition for which manager Leo Durocher suggested a crudely creative use. In return the Dodgers got Billy Cox, who manned the hot corner at Ebbets Field for the next seven years, utilityman Gene Mauch, and Roe.

The wily 33-year-old lefty, who reminded the great Red Smith of an underfed, underpaid country schoolteacher, quickly became a staple of the staff, posting the lowest ERA of any Dodger starter in each of the next four years. He earned four straight All-Star berths from 1949 to 1952, pitched a shutout in the 1949 World Series, and went 22-3 with a 3.04 ERA in 1951, his best season. In his seven years with Brooklyn, he went a combined 93-37 with a 3.26 ERA and 123 ERA+, pitching on three pennant winners (1949, 1952, and 1953) and two agonizing near-misses (1950 and 1951) but retiring before Dem Bums' sole World Championship in 1955.

Roe wasn't an overpowering pitcher. "I got three pitches," he told Kahn in Boys of Summer. "My change; my change off my change; and my change off my change off my change." Slow, slower, slowest. "I'd show the hitters the hummer and tell reporters that if it hit an old lady in the spectacles, it wouldn't bend the frame. But I could always, by going back to my old form, rear back and throw hard. Not often. Maybe ten times a game."

The real secret to Roe's success was his "'Beech-Nut slider," a spitball. In a controversial 1955 article in Sports Illustrated (one that required some sleuthing to uncover in the vault), he told Dick Young the juicy details about his money pitch while advocating for its re-legalization:
"This isn't a confession and my conscience doesn't bother me a bit. Maybe the book says I was cheating, but I never felt that way. I wasn't the only one that did it. There still are some guys wetting 'em up right now. I know one or two of them, but it's not up to me to tell their names. When they get ready to, 'maybe they will. I'm just going to talk about me; why I did it, and why I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

..."The idea is to get part of your grip wet, and the other dry. When the ball leaves your hand, it slips off your wet fingers and clings, just tiny-like, to the dry part on your thumb. The ball jumps on account of it. If it's a good 'un, it drops like a dead duck just when it crosses the plate."

..."One way I figured out to keep my fingers clean, was to wipe 'em on the visor of my baseball cap. It looked like I was adjusting it on my head. I always made certain the visor was kept clean. I even went to the trouble of brushing it off with a towel on the bench between innings.

"It didn't take long for some of the hitters to figure there was something going on between my spitter and the way I fingered the cap.

"That was just fine for me. I started using the gesture as a decoy. That was as good as the pitch itself. From then on, even when I wasn't going to throw a wet one, I'd go to my cap just to cross them up.

"Jim Russell was one of the guys who suspicioned I was getting the spit from my cap. He was playing with the Braves then.

"This one day, I fingered the tip of my cap, and leaned forward to take the sign. Jim backed out of the batter's box and gave me a real hard look. He stepped back in again—and I touched my cap again. He stepped out. We did this three times. Finally, ol' Jim stood there, blind mad, and said: 'Throw the sonuvabuck and I'll hit it anyway.'

"I floated up a big, slow curve. Russell was so wound up looking for the wet one he couldn't unravel himself to swing. He just spit at the ball in disgust as it went by.

"Jim and the other guys who thought I was getting the spit when I went to my cap were close. I tried that in the early days, but I gave it up because it was too dangerous. I had to figure out a way to load up without getting caught. All one winter I wore my baseball cap. I'd be sitting in my living room with it on, and even wore it out in the woods when I was hunting."

Roe's hand strayed to his forehead. It dropped and he leaned forward.

"For hours at a time," he went on, "all I thought about was some foolproof way to get the spit to the ball without getting caught. I said to myself: 'They'll be watching me close after I come away from the resin bag. That is when they'll expect me to do the wetting. I got to set up the spitter before I go for the resin bag. I got to have a secret "source of supply" so I can squeeze the resin bag in my fingers, rub up the ball, and still keep the spit.'

"I fooled around with that idea for a long time. You know, I ain't very quick. Then one day it came to me. Look, you try it. Put your left hand up on your forehead."

Roe got up to demonstrate.

"The meaty part is just in front of your mouth when your ringers touch your brow," he said from behind his hand. "Your two first fingers can just reach the meaty part. 'Spit on the meat,' I told myself, 'and when you move your hand up it looks good and natural like, like you're goin' to wipe the sweat off your forehead.'
Roe was a creative practitioner of the black arts, but he was also much more than that, a valiant competitor and an outspoken proponent of Robinson and of integration in general. One of Boys of Summer's most memorable passages is when Kahn revisits him in West Plains, Missouri, circa 1971. From page 302:
"That Mr. Rickey," Preacher said. "First time he talked to me he told me two things. He said, 'Son. Always be kind to your fans. You get back what you give and when you're through, you're just one more old ball player, getting back from life what he gave.' I heeded that and I wisht someone would give advice to Joe Namath. I don't know the man personally, but I get the impression he ought to walk more humble.

"Second, Mr. Rickey said, 'Remember, it isn't the color of a man's skin that matters. It's what's inside the individual.' And he said some of the people with the whitest skins would be the sorriest I'd meet and some of the darkest ones would be the best, That was 1938. I know now that Rickey hand in mind breaking the color barrier almost ten years before he did. I respect him for that, and I went through my career with that respect always in mind.

"I first seen colored at Searcy, 'cepting colored passing through on trucks and once a year a colored team'd come down from Missouri for an exhibition game in Viola and draw a crowd.

"Now I'm playing with Jack. I'm gonna tell you frankly I don't believe in mixed marriages."

"Neither does Robinson," I said.

"Well some do, and I won't argue with 'em. But as far as associatin' with colored people and conversing with them and playing ball with them, there's not a thing in the world wrong with it. That's my way of looking at the thing.

"Lots of people here reckoned like me. And some did not. A few times people come up to me in the winter and said, "Say, Roe. if you're gonna go up there and play with those colored boys, to hell with ya.' But very few. I always said, "Well if that's how you feel, I considered the fellers I play with, I considered your remark, and to hell with you!"
Here's hoping Roe finds his new accommodations as rewarding as his glory days in Brooklyn. He'll be missed.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Our Long National Nightmare is Over

As a general rule, I avoid overt political content in this space. I started writing about baseball to escape writing about politics and the long-running culture war, and with a few exceptions, I've stuck to that. I might fundamentally disagree with readers on matters far more important than baseball, but I enjoy finding common ground on at least one topic, and I prefer not to alienate them once we've found that ground. Further more, I don't enjoy writing while angry, and for most of the last eight years, we've had A LOT to be angry about.

At last, our long national nightmare of criminally stupid wingnut rule is (nearly) over thanks to the election of Barack Obama as the first Democratic president since 1992 and the first African-American president in U.S. history. What an awesome, momentous day for America. I am damn near beyond words when it comes to describing how proud I am to have been part of it as a citizen and a voter.

At last, we can move past this confederacy of dunces unbound by the rule of law. At last we have a leader that Americans and the rest of the world can respect, a man who inspires hope instead of preying upon fear, a man capable of advancing the fulfillment of this country's promise.

Somewhere, Jackie Robinson is smiling.

I won't belabor the point beyond that except to note that my old nemesis on MSNBC's Connected Coast to Coast panel for the Congressional hearings on steroids in baseball, Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) was put out of a job on election day. A blowhard who didn't know anything about anything when it came to the issue at hand, Shays was so stupefying that I took on the look of a sedated toad while listening to his blathering:

I broke that look out at an election night party for old times' sake and cracked up an entire room. Thank you, Mr. Shays, for adding to the mirth.

• • •

Unlike host Chris Villani (who produced the station's election-night coverage), I did answer the morning bell for today's WWZN-Boston "Young Guns" appearance. My head and stomach were in rough shape from too many Obamartinis and too much champagne, but ragging on Jason Varitek is always worth getting out of bed for. Listen here.

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