4.30.2005

PTI

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SMILING!! I LOVE IT!!

The Unified Field Theory of Baseball, by Me, Rob Neyer.



Well, I finally figured out everything there is to know about baseball. That's the good news.

The bad news is: I finally figured everything out about baseball.

Over the years I've covered this great, frustrating, wonderful game, I guess I've gotten a reputation as one of the guys who actually knows stuff, coupled with an aw-shucks writing style and a pleasing quixotic attachment to lost causes: namely, the Kansas City Royals and baseball in Portland. But all that is a bunch of hooey. Because I finally figured it all out.

I have come up with a statistical model that can correctly predict how each ballplayer will do every year, and, consequently, how each team will do. This model will also pretty much predict how every player will do in every single at-bat against every pitcher.

I have debated with myself and my sabermetric colleagues about whether or not to share this information with the world. But I have determined that there are NOT things man was not meant to know. Cold hard dispassionate science must carry the day. Plus, I'm gonna be rich as a god damned king and probably win the Nobel Prize for Economics. What would you do? I thought so.

Some might worry that this information will take all the "fun" out of baseball, but all I have to say to them is, "Nuts to you, troglodyte!" Oh, and "ROYALS IN 2009!"

So, as the Temptations or some other African-American vocal group once sang, "People get ready...."

The Curse of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named



You may be forgiven for thinking that the wind howling down Brookline Avenue the other day was the laughter of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, forever haunting the Olde Towne Team with the memory of that fateful October night in the South Bronx. As yet another Red Sox hurler went down with a leg injury - in scenes eerily reminiscent of the opening days of the star-crossed 1987 season - there was no sign of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, last seen traversing some minor league backwater in search of cannon fodder for the hapless Cubs.

From Presque Isle to Greenwich, Red Sox fans have been sticking pins in their Brockton Rox He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named bobble-arm dolls ever since Jorge Posada, with one bloop double off the running-on-fumes Pedro Martinez, turned their postseason hopes into a pumpkin. Now, it seems, the joke is on us.

David Wells is leaning on crutches in the Big Concourse, shoveling down another plate of chicken fingers. Curt Schilling is embarking on an elvish quest with his Internet fanboy friends. And even noted hockey fan Keith Foulke, the heart and soul of a miracle champion whose magical October, to this reporter, seems a lifetime ago, is treading on thin ice.

And now, a succession of no-hopers - Jeremi Gonzalez, John Halama, somebody named Tim Bausher - are set to trudge up the well-worn path from Pawtucket, bent on proving to the Fenway Faithful that their ownership is truly committed to winning. Ben Sheets isn't walking through that door, Boston. Johan Santana isn't walking through that door. Even Jon Papelbon, the prodigal son of Red Sox Nation, upon whose arm rest the hopes of New England A.C. (After Curt), isn't walking through that door.

Instead, we get Abe Alvarez - a soft-tossing lefty who's actually blind in one eye - serving up beachballs to Dmitri Young and Pudge Rodriguez on Tuesday in Detroit. Alvarez is a nice kid, but he couldn't beat a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Indeed, it's time to get used to the new reality, Sox fans. Having learned nothing from the grim reign of Trader Dan Duquette, these newly-crowned World Champions buy their pitching like government cheese - in bulk, and without checking for mold.

Moribund. Hopeless. Lethargic. Disgraceful. The Curse of the Bambino may have ended when Mark Bellhorn flipped to Doug Mientkiewicz six months ago, but the Curse of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is only beginning. And the Boston Red Sox, deep in the throes of their death rattle after only twenty games of uninspired, flatulent baseball, are a dinosaur - the kind even Carl Everett can believe in.

Dan Shaughnessy is a frequent contributor to ESPN the Magazine.

Week Four



Welcome to the end of week four of the young baseball season, I'm Chris Berman and I hope you're enjoying your Saturday afternoon. There are a lot of questions entering week five as we move into May ... can the White Sox build on their torrid start? ... are the Yankees in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in eleven years? ... will anyone beat the Cards in the NL this year?

The surprising Orioles are loaded with hitting talent and may be poised to make a run. With budding star Brian "Dread Pirate" Roberts, superstar shortstop Miguel "The Bigger They Come," Tejada "They Fall", plus veteran leadership from Sammy "Broken Sosa" Scene and Rafael "In the Palmeiroplane Over the Sea", they're giving their AL East opponents all they can handle.

And what about last night's fantastic pitching matchups? St. Louis - Atlanta had former Oakland teammates Tim "Out" Hudson and Mark Mulder "and Scully" pitching against each other for the first time. While in Houston, we saw the first NL meeting of 300-game winners in over one hundred years, with Greg "Appa" Maddux outdueling Rocket Roger Clemens. And in New York, the Yankee's struggles continued as Roy "Doc" Halladay beat the Big Unit on the back of Eric "Songs in the" Hinske "of Life"'s two-run home run.

Today, Dontrelle "What Chu Talkin' 'Bout?" Willis and Jamie "Principle" Moyer go for their major-league leading fifth wins, the Orioles try to make it six in a row against Tampa Bay, and a whole lot more. Enjoy your afternoon and evening of baseball, and be sure to check for all the scores and highlights on Baseball Tonight, right here, on E$PN!

Kenny's Revenge

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White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has developed a less than stellar reputation for trading during his tenure with the team, thanks in large part to a series of deals with the Oakland A's, most recently one that dealt away closer Keith Foulke, an anchor of the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox team. But this past winter, Williams was determined to right his ship and to put the White Sox back into contention in the AL's weakest division, the Central.

With new manager Ozzie Guillen committed to remaking an aging power-hitting team into the sort of run-and-gun small-ball outfit we're used to seeing in the AL East, Williams began searching the free agent market and trading blocks for potential bargains. Williams believes he found one in Scott Podsednik, a fast outfielder that the Milwaukee Brewers picked up from the Mariners for a handful of Rubles four years ago. To acquire Podsednik's defensive and stolen-base abilities, Williams dealt Carlos Lee, perhaps the team's best slugger.

Many GMs had their doubts about the trade. "Why deal a stud slugger coming into his prime for Willie 'Mays' Hayes?" offered one AL executive. "We all know Podsednik is fast enough to swipe some bags, but is he fast enough to outrun an angry Chicago mob after they figure out that he can't hit to save his life?"

But the White Sox's 16-7 record vindicates Williams' decisions, at least in the early going. "Even a jackass can get struck by lightning once if he sticks a rod up his butt long enough," one NL front-office person told me. While new manager Ozzie Guillen is grateful for the players that Williams has given him, he wants the credit spread for the team's fast start spread around to the pitching staff and, most importantly, new first base coach Tim "Rock" Raines.

"You send me down to South America and I can get you ten quickies like Scotty Pip," Guillen says. "But when I go down to the jungle, I'll never find me another Rock. That man is a gift." Designated hitter Frank Thomas agrees. "The foolish man builds his house on the sand, but he built ours on the Rock. And I damn near broke my toe on it this morning! Hot damn this hurts!"

News and Notes

With the Astros coming out the gate so slowly, is there any doubt that we'll see Roger Clemens in pinstripes by midseason? "It's a sure thing," says one scout. "But what's Jaret Wright gonna do, babysit?"

April's biggest surprise according to an informal poll of major league scouts? Not Brian Roberts, but the Arizona Diamondbacks. "They looked like one of the worst teams I've ever seen in spring training, but they're coming to play right now," one told me. "It'll be a heartbreaker when Glaus goes down for the season in the next week or two."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King and I have been emailing about the new Bruce Springsteen record, Devils & Dust, and we both agree that it's the best new album we've heard since U2's last. Bruce, you're the Barry Bonds of music, and you'll always be the boss. Don't ever let them make you piss in a cup, because you're one of the greats. We'll always keep a mic warm for you at Hot Stove, Cool Music. I just know you'll finally make it this year.

4.29.2005

Fantasy Baseball Advice

Ed. Note: E$PN's inboxes are flooded with emails from devoted fans seeking fantasy baseball advice. We get thousands of these emails a week -- far more than our regular columnists can handle! So, voila! Welcome to the first installment of fantasy baseball advice on the new BBTN blog. And who better to be dishing out strategy and advice than the men who play the game every day! Today's experts are Mets pitchers and sure-fire Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine. E$PN sat down with them during their off-day Thursday and they didn't hold back in their effort to give you, the fans, the best fantasy advice anywhere on the internet.



Q: I'm in desperate need of a closer for my roto league. One league manager is willing to trade me Eric Gagne, but he wants a top-line starter in return. This could be a great deal for me if Gagne is healthy once he comes off the DL. Do you think this trade is worth the risk?

Jim H., Trenton NJ


Pedro Martinez: If he's so healthy, why is he on the DL? He's no real pitcher. Real pitchers don't get injured. He isn't tough. When I pitch against him I'll knock him down.

Tom Glavine: As a pitcher, it's tough to come back from injury. You have to weigh the risks. I think Gagne will come back hungry, but he'll need to exude a strong-minded work ethic in order to return to the peak of his superlative talents. If he works at it even one-third as much as I have during my career, then I say you should trade for him.

Q: What's with Mike Lowell's slow start? Is it time for me to dump him?

Harold W., Sacramento, CA


PM: Dump him. He hits like .150 this season. Even I can do that, I bet you I will hit .150 this season, and I have to pitch also. He is not a good player. He is a girly girl primadonna, he cares about his hair, not baseball. No good.

TG: That's a very tough decision. On one hand, the MLBPA worked hard to get him that $7.5 million per year and he needs to earn it. On the other hand, I'm sure he's working excessively hard to ameliorate his hitting to acceptable levels. He used to be the star of that infield and now he's been upstaged by the signing of Carlos Delgado. If he's anything like me, he won't let a big money free agent signing upstage his performance. He needs to stay focused on his job, like I did when the Braves signed Maddux. If he's intimidated by his own teammate then his skills will deteriorate multiplicatively. But I don't think that will happen. Keep him on your team.

Q: Jeff Suppan is my #3 starter, and he's giving me wins and a decent ERA this season, but not much else. Should I attempt to trade up for a better starter?

Sally R., Denver, CO


PM: A pretty girl who likes baseball, I like this. But Suppan is no good. The Cardinals are no good. I crushed them myself in the World Series last year. You need a new starter.

TG: Suppan is a good starter on a great team. I'm sure that he's trying to get better all the time. You'd think that 16 wins guarantees you more than $4 million a year, but I digress. But I don't see Suppan as a 200-IP a year pitcher anymore. He's not a guy who can give you nine innings. With all the star power in that clubhouse, it's got to have a deleterious effect on his mental game preparation. He's always got to take a back seat to Edmonds and Pujols. I know what that's like. I'm not sure he can get over that hump. If you can get good value for him, trade him.

Q: In my keeper league, I've informally asked another manager about a trade of Orlando Cabrera for Bobby Crosby. I think Cabrera will be better this season, but for the future I'd rather have Crosby. The rest of my infield is really weak this season though, I'm in fourth place mainly on the strength of my pitching. I'll have to see what the other manager says, but if he's down with the trade, then do you think it's a good idea?

Gerry C., Charlotte, NC


PM: Cabrera is a little punk. He worked two month last year and won a World Series. I worked seven years in Boston for that. We would not win the World Series without me, Manny, Derek, Nelson, Foulke and especially my Game 3 win. Like I said to the girl, I am the Cardinals new daddies. I will beat them again this October. But Cabrera is not somebody for your team. Crosby I will knock down if we face him this season. These little players are troublesome, they need to be shown Mr. Fastball. But you don't need Cabrera. He only cares about winning the easy way. I win the hard way. Also, of course your pitching is making you near the top of your league. Baseball is 95% pitching. You need pitching, not little shortstop men like Cabrera.

TG: Crosby won the Rookie of the Year award last year, so you know he's a hard worker. Oakland expects a lot out of their young players, and Crosby is so he is used to working in an excessively pressured environment. If he can vociferously maintain his focus as he gains experience and market value, then I think he's a splendid long-term investment for you.

Ed. Note: That's all the time we had this week. Next week, we hope to bring you even more fantasy baseball advice from the best minds the game has to offer. No, not the BBTN staff, the players themselves! LOL. Have a lucky fantasy weekend!

Here Comes the Judge

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Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Chief Justice Bob Watson. Please rise.

Alright everyone, you may be seated. Let’s get right down to the matter before the court. Some of you may be questioning my interpretation of Seligian sentencing guidelines in the matter of Piniella v. Francona. Let it be known that my interpretation of the statutes has been nothing but equitable and just, and authorities on the relevant case history from the Southern District of New York have seen fit to bless my decision. In this complaint, defendant Arroyo clearly had the greatest exposure, both because he was the only defendant who 1) struck his intended target with Projectile A, and 2) recorded an entire album of himself reinterpreting the expert vocalizations of such celebrated recording artists as Fuel, Creed, and Collective Soul. It would be a failure of the court to not provide redress for these grievances.

For all those who would question the impartiality of the Chief Justice, and point to the decision rendered by this court in the matter of Sheffield v. House as an example of bias and judicial activism, I can only say that by questioning the eminence of my office, you question only your ability to reason about the most elementary challenges of polite society.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this court is adjourned.

(Sidebar to Mr. Steinbrenner: The routing number of my financial institution is Y4NK335. Thank you.)

Bleep Bleep



All right - you know who the f-ck I am. Welcome to BLEEP BLEEP. It's my regular blog thing where I talk to you, the fans. Yay for me. I've got a half-empty bottle of Jack, I've got a glass full of ice, and I'm feelin GOOD for once. Gimme some g-ddamn questions!

"Larry - what would you say is the biggest surprise so far this year?" [J. Cortbang - Minneapolis, MN]

J., I'd have to say that the awful performance of the Houston Astros so far is sickening. It makes me want to move to Germany so I can play in the Autobahn traffic. Outside of Clemens, Lidge, Lane, and Biggio, that team isn't worth a g-ddamn. That fat jerk Berkman is out somewhere "rehabbing" - yeah, right, have another Ho-Ho, Rerun. And if I have to watch Jeff Bagwell swing over the top of a Sally League curveball because of his glaucoma and bursitis and gout and what the f-ck ever, I'll drive down to Minute Maid Park and weld a f-cking walker into his hands so he takes the f-cking hint.

"Hey, Larry. Looking good on BBTN. How do you feel about the Padres and the Philles, the two teams you used to manage, struggling so far this year?" [M. Jonstone - Brooklyn, NY]

First of all, f-ck you - I know I look good, so I don't need some limp loser typing with one hand telling me how I look. Also, do I know you? If not, why the f-ck are you calling me by my first name? Call me Mr. Bowa, or call me Janitor, 'cause I'll mop the f-cking floor with you if you keep testing me. And believe me when I say that I won't f-cking flunk. -sshole.

Second - who gives a sh-t about the Padres? They traded away Ozzie Smith, for the love of f-ck, and their best hitter ever was some fat Twinkie-eating jerk that only hit singles. "Oooh, but they've been to the World Series twice." Yeah, and they won ONE GAME between the two. Lookin' real good. And, what, they're playing in a doghouse now? F-ck that - they can shove that place, their piss-sh-t uniforms, and their Bochyball straight up a sump pump.

And, yeah, Ed Wade, f-ck you. How's it feel to be right? Yeah, it was MY fault those losers couldn't take a little criticism. I told you, they don't want to win. You could hire that John Tesh-looking f-ck to MOTIVATE them to STOP SCRATCHING THEIR BALLS and PLAY SOME F-CKING BASEBALL, and they'd still suck the stink off a fart. You could probably bring in the hottest Hooters girls to take showers w/ each other, and they'd still be limp soft pansy-ass LOSERS. I'm glad you fired me, Wade, glad I tell ya! F-CK YOU AND YOUR F-CKING HORSE.

Thanks for f-cking writing, M! NEXT!

"Mr. Bowa, a fantasy baseball question: I'm in a 5 X 5 league, and I have a deep starting pitching staff (Santana / Harden / Morris / D-Train / Wells / Miller), but my SS situation's been screwed over by Nomah's crotch. Someone offered me Miguel Tejada for Johan Santana. Should I try countering w/ D-Train, or just accept the trade as is?" [B. Ankielbiter; Newington, CT]

Oh for the love of f-ck do you really think I give a sh-t about your stupid-ass fantasy team? Look, you want some advice? Take your hands off your f-cking dick, take a shower, put on some CLEAN underwear, and go get laid. Or, if you're too chicken-sh-t to actually talk to a person w/ tits besides yourself, send your dumbsh-t question to one of those other E$PN nerds, like Cockcraft, or Fondlecock, or Otis Spunkmiter or what the f-ck ever those zit-covered pizzas call themselves. Sh-t.

One more, and then I gotta go do something important w/ my life.

"Hey, LARRRRRRY - how does it feel to be a knock-kneed little b-tch that doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, LARRRRRRRRY? BTW, your wife says hi." [T. Houston; Kissamyass, ND]

HOUSTON! You gimpy little slut. You still taking strike 3 like a prison b-tch, you little turd burglar? I've got hairs on my balls that're bigger than you. Yeah, talk about my wife, you punk - keep on talking when I trace your f-cking IP address back to your little tarpaper shack out in the middle of West Tumblef-ck and give you the business end of a Louisville Slugger. Not that you know what it's like to swing a bat, you dick jockey. Yeah, why don't you say hi to your cute wittle pissant buddy, Scottie Rolen? Both of you can eat the corn off of my cob. I bet you're the one that made up this sh-t about me, didn't you? Like I f-cking write poetry - I'M A MAN, YOU B-TCH. You got something to say to me, say it to my face, or to my fist, you no-talent pine-riding sh-tstain. JUST TRY ME HOUSTON.

F-ck it. That's it. Thanks for reading, -ssholes.

Well Done RBIs



As you know, one of the bigger stories this past week was Alex Rodriguez. On Tuesday night, he hit three home runs and drove in ten runs. That performance but A-Rod near the top of the RBI charts in the majors - he has 26 going into tonight's game, only one less than Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee. A-Rod also has 8 home runs, which is #1 in all of baseball. While Alex's hot start might signal a return to his days as a Ranger superstar, those numbers are misleading.

Out of all those home runs and RBIs Alex has, most of them have come in two games - 2 HR and 6 RBI against Tampa Bay (in the 19-8 blowout following George Steinbrenner's inspiring speech to his players), and the 3 HR, 10 RBI performance against the Angels. In the other 20 games, Alex only has 3 HRs, and 10 RBIs.

As a second place hitter, those numbers are OK. Your job in the 2 hole is to move runners over and get on base for the heart of the order. Someone like Jay Bell was the perfect #2 hitter - he moved runners over with groundouts and sacrifice bunts, and he could swing the bat, too.

Joe Torre moved Alex to the #5 spot recently, which is an RBI hole. Your responsibility there is to drive in runs. Averaging 1 RBI every 2 games isn't going to get it done, especially when you have guys like Tony Womack and Bernie Williams always getting on base for you.

Someone once told me a famous quote: "Consistency is a little hobgoblin." I don't think that's true at all, especially when it comes to driving in runs. Ken Singleton, from the YES Network, pointed out that consistency is a key when it comes to RBIs, and I agree. You want guys in your cleanup and 5th spots to have the ability to get runners in from 2nd and 3rd on a consistent basis. It doesn't do your team any good when you drive in 10 runs one night, and then drive in 2 for the rest of the week. That's going to cost you some wins. Get a guy that can spread those 10 RBIs over an entire series, and he'll win you a lot of games with his bat.

That's why I don't think Alex Rodriguez is really back to doing what he's capable of. New York is a tough place to play, and after last year's postseason, Alex is still trying to get a handle on things and justify his salary. If he can learn to be more consistent, though, he'll be helping out the Yankees in the long run.

Triumph of the Will

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Gentlemen, it is truly an honor and a privilege to be contributing to this, your esteemed endeavor in electronic publishing, and I shall attempt in a most earnest fashion to contribute what value and insight I can to its pages. My only hope is that I can measure up to the range of analytical sophistication already on display. I shall try.

Many of you may have become aware in recent days that the city in which I make my domicile, the Fair District of Columbia, has at last rejoined the ranks of urban centers supporting a professional baseball team. They are called the Nationals. For too long, our lovely hamlet has been without the favor of a local nine, so I will endeavor to banish from memory that our new heroes formerly alighted across the Northern border in a bid to escape service in our conflict with the Maoist rice farmers of Northern Vietnam.

Alas, 'tis true that we are not all without our ideological skeletons. Nonetheless, we should attempt -- Mr. William Kristol -- to keep our former Trotskyist proclivities from escaping into public view. On that score, to prevent the allegiances of our new hometown boys from becoming a matter of public confusion, I recommend that First Baseman Nicholas Johnson immediately be shorn of his unfortunate thatch of facial hair. Allusions to the former Islamofascist regime in Kabul should be kept well clear of the ballyard.

But I digress. Forgive me, reader. Though the young Nationals squad has arrived in the nick of time to rescue our nation's capitol from hardball purgatory, I would be remiss in not engaging in my ritual lament about the sad, eroded state of Our Great Game. It has been tainted by the scandal of performance-enhancing drugs and tarnished by the outrageous shenanigans that transpired between the World Champions and their A-ball inquisitors at that hellish dome in Florida. These are troubling specters all. What White Knight will ride to the game's rescue? I know not. But I do know this, dear reader: though from time to time I may peer at events through trembling fingers, I can never long defer my gaze from our lovely national pasttime.

Now, I must depart. Nancy is calling again, ghosts of ancient ardor swirl, and there is little time.

Clemens, Maddux, and the Pud



Much like the time Dwight Gooden and I appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated, two legends of the game take the mound opposite each other tonight in Houston. The Cubs Greg Maddux and the Astros Roger Clemens are both 300 game winners and this matchup promises to be one of the year's most sizzling duels. Jayson Stark tells me that this is the first time two NL 300 game winners have faced off against each other since Jim O'Keefe and Jim "Pud" Galvin tangled in the 1800s! I never got a chance to see Pud pitch (lol I'm not that old Boomer!) but I can tell you for a fact that these two pitchers you'll see tonight are cut straight from Pud's mold.

Maddux and Clemens couldn't be less alike but they have so much in common. Maddux will paint the outside corners all night long while Clemens will just rear back with the flamethrower and throw the smoke right past the batter. Both are 300 game winners though. Both slice their opposition up quickly too--don't expect this duel to last longer than a Texas sitcom.

This early season classic will be one for the books. Throw out all the records for this rivalry, these are two 300 game winners and that's all you need to know. Tune into WGN tonight and enjoy the fireworks. I'm so pumped that when they introduce Clemens and Maddux I'm going to get goose bumps in my hair. I've gotten them in my arms before, but never in my hair!

Pay Rickey



What’s up, y’all? When “Baseball Tonight” asked me to write about baseball for their site, I was running wind sprints in Journal Square. That’s how much Rickey loves the game. It’s April, and he’s running around Newark like a chump.

No misrespect intended to the rest of the Newark Bears, but Rickey Henderson is a truly gifted, dominant baseball player. I’m 46 years old, and I’m playing against a bunch of girls!

I wanted to call this column “Pay Rickey,” because that’s what people need to do. Pay Rickey. If Tony Gwynn was making a comeback, people would pay Tony. People love Tony Gwynn. People hate Rickey. They say, “Tony Gwynn gave 110%.” Rickey gave 140%! They say, “Tony Gwynn was a five-tool player.” Rickey is a six-tool player!

Here are some other players that Rickey Henderson is better than:

Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants: Now, people always ask me, “Rickey, you must have took some steroids!” I never did that. Barry Bonds, though, he took some steroids. You can tell, man, because dude’s head is really big. Your head gets really big when you take steroids! Rickey’s head, man, Rickey’s head is as small and beautiful as it was in 1979. Rickey never took steroids. Barry Bonds’ head is bigger than John Kruk. You tell me who’s the Hall of Famer.

Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: People say Ichiro is the next Rickey Henderson. Ichiro has 157 stolen bases. Rickey Henderson has 1406. Therefore, Rickey is exactly nine times as great as Ichiro. People say Rickey is egotistical. Rickey never wore a jersey that said “Rickey”! And Ichiro cheats. He starts running before he swings. Even though Rickey is a lefty, he's so confident in his baserunning abilities that he actually bats right-handed.

Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres: Dave Roberts is a punk. People said that was the most famous stolen base in history. I asked them, “How many of Rickey Henderson’s stolen bases were more famous than Dave Roberts? All of them!”

Julio Franco, Atlanta Braves: Julio Franco ain’t even an outfielder, but he’s four months older than me. When people say, “Rickey, you’re too old!” Rickey says, “What about Julio?”

Rickey Henderson appreciates the love. Pay Rickey!

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor



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4.28.2005

Feel You From The Inside



Howdy, folks. I'm Jeff Brantley, E$PN color commentator and regular BBTN analyst. Now that April's heading out to pasture, I wanna take a look at what's going on with I'd have to say is the hardest job in professional sports (besides being a security guard at a Yankee / Red Sox game) - being a closer. (I guess it's also tough for some gofer to find a picture of me wearing a suit. Come on, kid - you ain't getting college credit for downloading porn on your modem!)

My boy Kruk Fu's already touched on Danny Kolb's gutty performance so far this year. Believe me, I know what it's like when you're out there with the game on the line and your stuff's not working for you. Sometimes it's like trying to catch a greased pig with a snake, and when you're holding down a 3-run lead and you've got Lenny Harris looking out at you like you said something nasty to his momma, it's tough. But Kolb's a gutty guy, and he's a large reason why the Braves are doing as well as they are.

Now, I know it's early in the season, so there are some things that look strange out there in Statville. Like Brandon Lyon leading the majors with 10 saves. A couple of years ago, the Red Sox threw him out there as part of that "closer by committee" nonsense, and we all know how that turned out. It's been said plenty of times before, but it's worth repeating - you gotta have set roles for your pitchers. There's a closer, there's a set-up man, there's your stopper, there's your mop-up guy, and there's Jesse Orosco. You can't go around and keep everyone on edge with a zapper just because of what some computer print out says about someone's Pythagorean rate against righties when he ate a bag of Salt Water Taffy from Provincetown for lunch. That's a bunch of egghead mumbo jumbo. These sorts of folks will tell you that Lyon's .302 batting average against, or his .453 slugging percentage against, are signs that he's gonna start spitting up pea soup any day now. Listen - a save is a save, and any way you can get a save is a good way. If you get the job done, then congratulations, kid - hit the showers, and buy yourself a nice steak dinner on me.

No doubt some of these Poindexters are saying stuff like, "Migeul Batista can't strike anyone out", or "Danny Graves has eight walks in only nine innings", and "Shingo Titsuki already gave up four home runs". What these folks don't understand - and, really, it's what burns my bush about all this stat nonsense - is that you can't stick a number on heart. To close out a game, you have to be made of sterner stuff than most men. You have to want to be out there with the game on the line. You have to give 110% every single time you throw that ball over the plate. And you have to be stupid enough to forget what happened when you didn't get the save - hey, Kruk, you ever think of learning how to throw a curve? Ha ha - just joshin' you, Crisco, you're all right.

Anyway, these folks complaining about K rates and VORP and WARP 3 and that Star Trek stuff just don't get it. I know about being a closer. I retired with over 170 saves to my credit, and I got them any way I could, because that's what they paid me for. I'll leave it up to you folks at home - you can believe the voice of experience, someone that's been in the trenches, or you can believe what some math major that's never touched a jock strap wrote in some book. And that's all I have to say about that.

Kruk the Police

aaa_krunk

My big story of Thursday in the Bigs? Greg Zaun, maybe the best catcher in baseball right now other than team leaders like Mike Piazza and Mike Matheny. Oh, and Ausmus. Can't forget Aussie. But Greg Zaun — and I'm not one to talk, but he's getting up there! — hit his third home run of the year tonight against the Devil Rays, giving the surging Blue Jays a W and another big bat to add to that potent lineup led by guys who know how to play the game the right way, like Hillenbrand, Hinky, Catalanottotolanoto and Koskie.

The Jays are a young team, but they've got some veteran leadership in a guy like Z. He's like a general out there, or Tom Bergeron, the catcher in my favorite movie Major League. (AND he hosts my favorite TV show America's Funniest Home Videos!! Hey Harold – NUTS!!! HAHA) But, and not to be redundant or nothing, the guys who coach and manage that team should be shot. Or at least taken back behind the barn and wrestled with a little bit, because here we are like a seventh into the season and Zaunny's only got 60 ABs so far. He's hitting a homer like every five ABs or something. And Jayson Stark says that NO 34-year-old Canadian catcher has done that before, so while all of you talk about steroids and stuff, I'll just be laying here eating Gammo's tuna fish and watching Greg Zaun rake like the Lawnmower Man.

Private PS to Bobby Valentine (IF YOUR NOT BOBBY VALENTINE DO NOT READ): You're darned right I'm keeping things handsom! Watch it with the yellow fever!! Save me some!!! Don't forget to eat, and remember TOLEDO!!!!!!!

For Bonds, a Season Challenged



As the crisp breeze rolled in from the Pacific like a poisoned quail, the man grunted laboriously as his foot slapped down on the concrete, the echo sounding like the call of the aluminum bats they use to wallop ground-rule doubles at college campuses not far from where this ordinary man stands, his ordinary jaw thrust forward, his ordinary hand gripping the railing's cold metal like a drunken eel that just won't let go of his ordinary fingers. But this was no ordinary man. This was Mr. Barry Bonds, either the greatest hitter of all time or the biggest sham since Sam and the Pharaohs.

Mr. Bonds was emerging from his first session to rehabilitate his knee, and while his trainers seemed to indicate that it went well, Mr. Bonds was unhappy.

"Can't you leave me alone?" he barked at me. "Look at what you're doing to my family!"

Mr. Bonds quickly threw one of his crutches at me and grabbed his son, stuffing his boy's head into his armpit and using his lanky frame as a makeshift crutch. I kept awaiting the boy's yelps of protest, but instead he simply stared at me, his eyes both furious and placid as his father's underarm sweat dripped down his nose.

"Do you enjoy humiliating my son like this?" he asked.

I had been warned that Mr. Bonds had fallen apart. Pedro Gomez, ESPN's reporter devoted solely to the Bonds Beat — as the West Coast offices jealously called it — had told me so just before I "lost" him in an industrial-sized garbage compactor. I thought his warnings were the desperate last words of a man who was about to be crushed to death by milk cartons, but it turned out that the weak sister was telling the truth: Mr. Bonds had lost it.

I knew what it was like when a man's paranoia got the better of him: I did run the Times sports section, after all. There's a moment when your fears suddenly see mirrors all around them, and the worst of it seems to be true. Sometimes when Howell Raines would start in with the Bear Bryant speeches, I swear to God he looked out at us and saw a sea of Crimson Tide players suited up and ready to square off against some invisible team. "Is it real?" I could see him wondering, only to be snapped back into reality by another Pulitzer landing on his desk.

Mr. Bonds was in this same space at this spring dusk, and I quickly understood that this wasn't a Peter Gammons moment. This was the time to duck into the shadows before frustration convinced me to check Mr. Bonds' stomach for bloating and to gnaw on his neck for a quick blood sample. I am a responsible journalist — show me a box score and I'll show you a lede — but sometimes even Dick Schaap had to miss a deadline and turn in a column wavering like a knuckleball in a stiff headwind, the stitching dancing toward a finale that stretches into infinity, a candle in the wind. Buy my Joe Torre book.

April Is the Cruellest Month


[Glad am I, Roger Angell, to join thee in thy noble enterprise. Glad, and thrilled, and humbled. To finally be logged on, after all this time; and to be asked to contribute to a 'blog by my good friend Peter Gammons...well, it is humbling, and unnerving, and enriching. I shall endeavor -- much like LaTroy Hawkins -- not to humiliate myself overmuch. ]

Let us speak of the new season; O the short-haired joy of spring, the renewal that sleeps deep within us all! O those ivory boys! those bronze and mahogany and ebon men, the ones in the funny pants with the antiquated stirrups, the ones who hold the sticks of thunder, wield the tawny mittens, grip tightly the tightly-wound spheroid of cow! There are wonders in this game, and in each new year. Let us explore some of them, so far.

First, we alight in the Bronx. Under the watchful eagle's gaze of his caudillo, George Steinbrenner, less a man than a stern father figure or, verily a god, a very miracle occurs: Alex Rodriguez, or "A-Rod," propelling three home runs into the forgiving blue-blackness that is Yankee Stadium's bleachers . Can there be any denying that there is still some magic left in the old girl? (By old girl, of course, I mean Yankee Stadium, not Alex Rodriguez.)

But he is an old story, this Rodriguez of the big money, of the ill-conceived slap, of the asinine nickname. Let us talk of the new and surprising gods: Clint Barmes? Brian Roberts? These are names known only by the statheads, the nerd patrol, the geek squad -- by which, of course, I mean a wonderful group of men, of which I am a proud member. Every year, some new young turks jump up for a stunning April, perhaps meandering into May, only to come crashing down to Earth, Icarus-like, their waxy wings clipped by the cruellest joke of all: the regression to the mean.

I know it all, and I love it all, friends and enemies, my brothers and sisters in the struggle; that is my blessing and my curse. I am like the Watcher in the comick books: I can watch, but I am constrained from doing anything to affect outcomes. When I see the Cincinnati Redlegs trotting out that aged (but still so young!) workhorse Ken Griffey, Junior, keeping their pact with long-suffering fans but condemning that young sweaty firebrand monikered Wily Mo Pena to more time on the pines, my crazy heart weeps anew. But do anything about it, I cannot. I must leave that to those new gods of the noble sport, the Epsteins, the Podestas, the Beanes and Melvins and Minayas.

And there are one million storylines to explore, too many in fact: the redemption of Milton Bradley! the insouciant dominance of the new pitching breed, especially the exuberantly talented Dontrelle Willis -- but will he be a hothouse flower once more? -- and the surly humility of Johan Santana! O America, yea, verily, you do not deserve this pastime, even as faded and irrelevant as it has become!

----Okay, I'm Audi 5000. Catch you on the flip-flop. Gammons, you're buying.

Book Club: "Moneyball" by Billy Beane

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Hey fans, Joe Morgan here. When I found out that my colleagues over at the Baseball Tonight mothership had started their own blog, I immediately recognized an opportunity to kick off some serious discussion about my favorite book and yours, "Moneyball," by Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane.

By now many of you "Moneyball" followers are no doubt aware that your patron saint, the lonely night watchman Bill James, has officially jumped ship, switched camps, named names and turned out the lights on this whole sorry notion that stats can mean anything other than what we baseball men say they mean. That's right, folks, I get the New York Times in Cincinnati. It seems that Mr. James regrets characterizing clutch hitting as a myth, and wishes to atone for his sins. Well, it's about time, Mr. James. Leave those sample sizes where they belong -- at the Filene's Basement sale with my wife.

Now, as for Mr. Beane: Any fan looking at the numbers can see that the A's have stolen only two bases this season, whereas their opponents have swiped 23 bags. Furthermore, Oakland is second in their division to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have stolen 24 bases so far this year and appear as though they are ready to steal a lot more. Why? Because they are a team that knows how to win. What has Billy Beane ever won except maybe some book award that nobody cares about anyway? Anyhow, I hope all you stat geeks can now see how this works. You'd think a bunch of business-school rejects would know that the only way to get ahead is to steal.

Alright, I'm signing off for now, fans. Please be sure to send along your thoughts about "Moneyball," and to share them with the rest of the guys as well!

More Cowbell Than You Will Ever Need



My editors thought it would be a good idea for me to stop in here, since I'm one of the few regular contributors at E$PN who has experience running a website (you might remember my days as the Boston Sports Guy). So I'm Bill Simmons, and unlike the regular contributors to this blog, you haven't seen me on TV.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised when I heard that BBTN was starting a blog. My buddy Hench got 3-1 odds in Vegas that this blog won't last four months. I thought it was a rash gambling decision, but he's riding a high because he stands to win $450 if the Rockets beat the Mavs. I told Dad about the blog, and he said "They're starting a blog? They should just stick to TV and talk more about hitting" before grumbling something about Bronson Arroyo. He's a character, my Dad.

Now I know these guys write the occasional column on the E$PN site, but when you think about the BBTN crew, "internet savvy" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Can you picture HR and Kruk sitting awake at night, responding to all of the scathing comments in their comments boxes? They might pull it off, though. If Donald Trump can resurrect his late 80's celebrity status and become one of the biggest stars on TV, then anything can happen (seriously, in 2001, what odds could you have gotten in Vegas betting on "Donald Trump having a massive hit TV show within three years"? You could have gotten better odds betting on Ian Ziering becoming the next James Bond). This blog will either be an amazing success or it will crash and burn spectacularly. There's no inbetween. Either the hits will go through the roof or it will the online equivalent of Brenda and Dylan getting held up at the Mexican border after their ill-thought out trip to Baja. At least that gave us a James Eckhouse performance for the ages. That talk he had with Brenda afterward, when he forbade her to ever see Dylan again -- he should have won a special Emmy just for that two minute performance. That was a "Save Until I Delete" moment on TiVo if there ever was one (too bad there was no TiVo back then. Can you imagine if there had been? On second thought, I'd have maxed out my TiVo's memory chips on 90210 and OJ trial coverage, leaving no room for saving the Ron Artest incident so that I could watch it 583 times over the past five months. These are the things that keep me awake at night).

I explained this to BBTN and suggested that they get in a few net-savvy baseball guys to help keep the blog's momentum moving. You don't think Rob Neyer would kill to mix it up with Kruk on the topic of clutch hitting? Actually, never mind the blog, they should ditch it and send John Kruk and Rob Neyer on a three-week tour to A-ball. Have them drive from ballpark to ballpark, watching games together, videotape everything they say and do, and make it into a reality show for E$PN2. It would be one part Mulder and Scully, one part "The Simple Life". That's a can't-miss prospect, unlike the players they'd be watching during their travels. Can you imagine?

Kruk: That Hollandsdale kid, he's a flamethrower, he's hitting 95 on the gun no problem. He could pitch in the bigs right now.

Neyer: His K/BB ratio last year in the Peachgrass League was only 1.8/1. And he's already 25 years old. I mean, we can't be certain that he'll make it to the bigs, but right now, I'd say it's likely that his control issues will get him no higher than AA ball.

Kruk: In high school, I used to sit on kids like you.

A whole ten episodes of this? Who do I have to talk to in order to make this happen?

Anyhow, I'm just about out of time here, and I haven't even said anything about the Red Sox! Many readers have written to me wondering where Pedro's performance with the Mets ranks on the Vengeance Scale. If he keeps pitching this way for the rest of the season, then it should place somewhere between Shaq in Miami and Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" video. But yeah, with Wells and Schilling injured, and Pedro rubbing his success in Boston's face, things aren't looking good for the Sox. At least Nomar is injured, we can feel good about that. Really though, who didn't see that coming? Nomar's injury is the least surprising thing to happen in baseball this year. Even Coby getting voted off on "Survivor" two weeks ago was more surprising than that.

And if the blog doesn't work out, don't worry, there's always "Page 3"!

4.27.2005

RANK INDEX - Week of April 24, 2005

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Every week, the BBTN blog will feature a guest commentator offering his or her thoughts on how teams are faring in Major League Baseball. This week's guest commentator is renowned Phillies slugger JIM THOME. Online, Jim can also be found at The Dugout, the official chat room of Major League Baseball.]




hi! i'm jim thome (TOE-mee, not thome), and this is my JIM THOME RANK INDEX! i hope you enjoy reading it!

JIM THOME RANK INDEX

GOOD TEAMS

1) YANKEES – pink pinstripes don't make any sense. with arod coming around (finally!) (he was terrible last year) (JETER SUCKS AROD ha ha ha) and their pitching getting better (randy johnson! buddy groom! colter bean!), they should be in first place next week. also, they have lots of money. rumor has it they want to trade for a first baseman with some pop in his bat. they should ask about me!

2) WASHINGTON - nick johnson better get hurt on May 22nd - i have a bag of big league chew riding on that! fun fact: brian schneider and christian guzman are both hitting .200. that's not good. not hitting any homers yet isn't good, either. (note to yankees: i can still hit them! and i can look real mean at the plate!)

3) PHILADELPHIA - pat burrell showed me how to flick bottle caps yesterday. it was fun! i hit the phanatic with a few, and then i tackled him and kicked him a few times. then i found out it was a girl in the costume. uh-oh spaghettio. my wife was not happy about that. brett myers: cy young award. no, wait - jon leiber: cy young award. hey bud selig - make two awards! (hey! i forgot i hit a homer! awesome! we win!)

4) LOS ANGELES - no, wait, not the dodgers. did the angels move there? i don't remember. their cal angel unis were great. i saw in the paper that they're being called LAA now, which is funny. it reminds me of the sound of music, which is a really good movie. music is great! i like david eckstein's hustle. he's a great player. troy glaus, too.


BAD TEAMS

1) ATLANTA - HA HA HA HA we will beat you this year! brian jordan and raul mondesi are old! and rafael furcal is drunk all the time. i know because he took me to a strip club with andruw. i had milk. no champagne room for me. (also the mets, the marlins, and washington suck.) (wait, did i say washington was good? i was wrong!)

2) CLEVELAND - HA HA HA HA that's what you get for not signing me to a long-term contract! ryne sandberg of yahoo! told me that cleveland doesn't have a good lineup - he's right! he's going into the hall of fame this year, which is great. i bring that up because the hall of fame is in canton, which is near cleveland. you can look it up.

3) PITTSBURGH - tike redman has one home run. i have one home run. i'm not tike redman. i'm jim thome. (brian cashman - call me! we can win it together! pride in pinstripes! BLACK pinstripes!)

4) KANSAS CITY - they sent calvin pickering down to triple a. that's too bad, as he has a good home run stroke. they brought back ken harvey, though. he has a better average than calvin, so they should be ok. i think zack grienke is fifteen. he should be in little league with elian gonzalez. ROFFEL

ok! that's all the time we have for today! remember, kids - keep your feet on the ground, and keep swinging for the fences! (casey kasem said that.)

Pacific League Roundup




Hey boys, just checking in from the land of the rising sun, or, as I like to put it, the land of the risingest win percentage of the smartest gaijin skipper on this damn island. We're 18-8 and have the best record in Japan -- what did I tell you, give me the wheel and I can make even the most broken down jalopy drive like a Benz.

Glad to see you're getting up on this new technology, we've been using blogs all season, to check out good restaurants on the road, compare new notes on bats and gloves, etc. check us out at: chibalottemarines.blogspot.com

These Chiba guys are great -- fantastic work ethic. We've got six or seven that are a lock for the All-Star team. Plus I've got Tony Batista and Jolbert Cabrera to pal around with. Talk about a pure game over here!

How about those Metropolitains, huh? See what happens when the Wilpons finally take my advice and open up the wallet?

So, Kruky, can't say the show's gotten smarter since I left, you knucklehead, but at least you're keeping things handsome.

Sayonara!

Bobby

--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Pardon the Interruption



Pardon the interruption, but I'm Tony Kornheiser, and I'll start today's post with a sad farewell to former defensive back Johnny Sample. Sample died of heart disease on Tuesday according to the Philadelphia medical examiner's office. Sample was probably best known for intercepting a pass in the 1969 Super Bowl.

And now, as for my esteemed colleague and co-host Mike Wilbon, who is so obsessed with winning, that he would consider taking a pass on one of the greatest winners of all time, Roger Clemens, whom he HATES, just because he (Clemens) is ONLY 1-0.

Mike, your BOY, Luis Vizcaino is 2-1 as of April 27. At this rate, He would be 22-3 by the end of the year. MIKE! WOULD YOU CHOSE TO HAVE YOUR BOY LUIS VIZCAINO OVER ROGER CLEMENS!? WHAT SAY YOU?!?!?!?!

On another note, I love this weblog thing! LOVE IT! Look at me! I've got a picture to go with my column, and nothing like the crappy BLACK AND WHITE one with my columns for the Post! AMAZING!

LOOK AT ME! I'M SMILING!

From the Hills of Feerrott

curt_shonda

Hola, Red Sox Nation and Baseball Tonight fans. Thanks for having me, and thank you, Jesus, for inventing the computer. Since this ol' bum ankle has me waylaid on the DL once again I thought I'd add to the jibber-jabber around these parts by sharing some of my thoughts on every baseball fan's OTHER favorite pastime: Everquest.

I love Everquest so much that sometimes I wonder if it's a temptation sent to me by SteinbrennerSatan (lol!). Don't tell anyone, but there are times when I'm out on the mound in some snoozer against the Yankees or something, and my mind's more on Cylc, my Everquest character, than on what Jason's flashing to me between those meat-slab thighs of his. Cylc, as my good pal Doug Glanville knows, is a Dwarvin Cleric, a tough little guy with more spells than Johnny's got back hair. (Hey now!)

Some might call this racist, but I'm partial to the dwarves when it comes to EQ. If you read any biology textbook, you'll quickly learn that the dwarvin race is in many ways superior to our own. Their skin (if you ever get the chance to touch one you really should) is much more leathery, allowing them to withstand attacks from even the Raging Monolith. When the tough gets going, the dwarves say "where?"

Although my belief in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ prevents me from completely transforming myself, if I could choose to be a race other than my own, it would definitely be dwarvin. Heck, I'd even be Bingbong — Doug's Dwarvin Paladin — so long as I could keep my fastball and I wouldn't have to spend many nights around those blasted Aviaks in the Faydwer region. Lemme tell ya, that'd be no fun!

Well, I'd like to talk more, but the winds of Oggok are calling me yet again. If you have any Everquest, Red Sox or Jesus questions, just leave a note here and someone from ESPN will get in touch with me. Go Sox! Amen.

Like a Blogging Stone



I was on the phone with Sut the other day and he told me about the new Baseball Tonight blog that the studio guys had put on the internet. He and I had a good laugh, we both thought it was a lot like taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning--everyone knows about it but you don't want to be the one to say anything to the pitcher, you just leave him alone. So a couple days later Harold Reynolds and I grabbed a bite to eat after a telecast and we were talking about this blog and he asked me to write a few thoughts from the booth perspective. Before I could even tell him I didn't know anything about John Wilkes, he stuck me with the check and was out the door!

Don't get me wrong, there's some prodigous talent here. I think you're going to see a lot of insight pretty quickly on these pages. You know that Gammons will bring consistency and that unique perspective on the often overlooked AL East post in and post out. Kruk has always shown that he can handle his words. At the end of the day, I wouldn't be surprised to see this bunch win two, three Webbys for their work. The talent is there. The drive is there. You just need that one person to step up and say, "I'll lead these bloggers, I'll take this place to a new level." And I think you're going to see that pretty quickly.

I'm honored and flattered to be along for the ride, and I'll be looking forward to reading these guys' thoughts just as much as you will.

Reporting From the Gammo Quadrant

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Folks, listen, Peter Gammons here. This Web log is really just, it’s a great opportunity for us at Baseball Tonight to reach out to you, the fans, of baseball. I’ve broken a lot of stories in my Hall of Fame career and I promise to save some scoops for you readers out here in the blogosphere. But right now I want to share some thoughts about Alex Rodriguez’ s 10-RBI performance the other night at the Toilet, er, Stadium.

“We could be looking at the beginning of a new era for A-Rod in pinstripes,” said one AL East general manager on Wednesday morning, “But the thing you have to wonder about last night is, I mean, God, aren’t they better off if he just continues to suck? It’s better for the tabloids, it’s better for Jeter because he gets to play the savior, and Steinbrenner gets to put out statements. A-Rod playing well could really ruin their vibe. “ Right. Okay.

There are also questions about whether the whirling vortex surrounding A-Rod’s ego could create a centrifugal force that has a dampening effect on Randy Johnson’s velocity. Johnson is already well off his usual 90-95 mph cruising speed and giving up an uncharacteristic number of home-run balls. “There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that there are problems there,” said one senior scout who has followed Johnson since the Big Unit was being used as an industrial pipecleaner by Montreal factory owners in the offseason. “But Randy is Randy, and he’ll put the pieces together.”

Speaking of putting the pieces together, is there any possibility that we can finally get Harold to learn how to play those bass licks from “Evenflow” for next year’s Hot Stove Cool Music? We gotta spare him the shame of being bailed out by Evan Dando again. It’s about soul, Harold, but it’s also about strong family roots.

PTI



Pardon the interruption, but I'm Mike Wilbon, and when I heard that my boys at Baseball Tonight were starting a blog, I just had to pay a visit and help get things off the ground.

Coincidentally, the Krukker touched on some points that I addressed on my show a couple of days ago. First, let's talk about Roger Clemens -- only one win in his first four starts. It's almost May, and the great Roger Clemens has only won once. This is the same guy who started 14-0 for the 1986 Red Sox and 11-0 for the 1997 Blue Jays. He's the only pitcher ever to start a season 20-1. And now, at 47 years old or however old he is, you're telling me he's got just one win at this point in the season? It's safe to say that this is not the way Roger Clemens wanted to start the year. He's been a winner for his entire career. He's a first ballot Hall of Famer, but age may have finally caught up to him.

Then you've got -- my boy!! -- Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago White Sox. BABY BULLS! BABY BULLS!! Sorry, I had to throw that in there. You knew I would. Anyhow, back to the Sox and their amazing start -- the best start in team history. Every night, the Sox are putting on a clinic on how to play winning baseball. They're doing it the old fashioned way, with small ball and pitching. Of the top 10 AL ERA leaders, three of them play for the Sox. Now that's a dominant pitching staff. Yes, it's a great time to be a sports fan in Chicago, first with the resurgent BABY BULLS and now with the White Sox.

Best of luck to all my boys at Baseball Tonight with their new blog. All right, the Bulls-Wizards game is about to start, so I'll see you knuckleheads later. Until then, BABY BULLS BABY BULLS BABY BULLS!!

HR Department

haroldreynolds

Hey baseball fans, I just wanted to take a few minutes to welcome everyone to this blog of ours. I'm just as proud to be a member of the Baseball Tonight crew as I am of leading American League second basemen in games started, total chances, putouts, assists and double plays back in 1987. Sometimes it pays to show up! Here on this site we'll get more in-depth than we can on the show. We'll talk about why some teams are winning, why some are losing and Peter will even get a chance to rap with you about that God awful music he's always playing to get pumped up before broadcasts. It's called "soul," Peter! Get one! Haha. Anyway, we're as excited about this new venture as I was when I made the all-star teams in 1987 and 1988!

One final thing before I go: keep an eye out for Baseball Bunch, this new TV show I'm doing with my good friend the Phillie Phanatic. It's like Sesame Street set on the field of dreams, with superstar guests like Jose Lima and Bobcat Goldthwait stopping by to add their insights into the game. I'm nervous and excited about Baseball Bunch — kinda like how I felt back when I was picked second overall in the 1980 draft! And we all know how that turned out! Keep coming back for more from the HR Department! Ha!

Leading Off

aaa_krunk

Okay, so this seems to be working. Well, E$PN wanted us to start doing this blog thing but they also weren't sure about doing it on the official site. So they set up this thing for us to get our feet wet. Karl, Peter, HR and everyone else will be here soon -- I got nominated to kick this thing off (funny since I'm too fat and slow to be a lead-off man hahaha). So I wanna talk about Danny Kolb.

I keep hearing people say the Braves screwed up by getting Danny Kolb from the Brewers. That Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone have lost their touch. All these Moneyball people just keep on talking 'ERA ERA ERA,' trying to make a big deal out of the fact that Kolby's ERA is over 8.00 right now. But let me say this to the statheads: you statheads talk about numbers, but I have a number for you: 8-2. That's Atlanta's record when Danny Kolb comes into a game. The Braves record when he doesn't? 4-7. I'm sick of hearing folks talk like he's not a gamer. You don't get over 30 saves in a season without being a gamer.

I talked to Kolby the other day about his treatment by the media and those dweebs on their little computers. I asked him, "How do you feel about the Braves being 7-2 when you make an appearance in a game?" This was before he picked up a hold last night against the Mets. And you know what he told me? He said, "I feel good about that, John, but I'm still not pitching my best." You hear that? This guy's a gamer. His team's 8-2 when he comes into a game, and he still isn't happy. This is a hungry guy. Boy do I know what that feels like! Hahaha! You play for a team like the Brewers long enough, and you just want to win. That's it. Screw the numbers. Show me a win.

Right now, Kolb is in my top five for the NL Cy Young. Of course he won't win it, because too many computer geeks out there get to vote, and those computer geeks don't know what it takes to win. (Even though I'm using a computer I am NOT a computer geek!!!!!) They'll probably talk about someone like Roger Clemens because his ERA is so small it reminds them of their. . . Well, this is a family blog, so I'll leave that to your imagination. But the Astros are only 1-3 in their starts, and the Rocket has yet to win a game. And I don't want to belittle Roger because he's one of the greats, but after winning so many Cy Youngs and championships, you start to lose that hunger. That competitive edge. And I think that's what we're seeing with him right now. Sure, those numbers look great, but how has it helped the Astros as a team?

Anyway, what it comes down to is that if I were making my perfect team, Danny Kolb would be on it. Mariano Rivera has blown more saves than him this year, and everyone agrees that he's a first-ballot hall of famer. Now you tell me, what does that say about Danny Kolb?

Opening Pitch

ESPN Baseball Tonight - Ingame 1

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