ESPN Watch: Loss of Perspective

I caught the 7AM replay of the December 14 SportsCenter. It's hard to know if the commentators are actually getting stupider themselves, or if ESPN is deliberately searching out dumber and dumber contributors. Steve Phillips analyzed the most recent White Sox trade and concluded that the White Sox rotation was now "One of the best ever." Best ever? Even though I'm writing this at 8:30 in the morning, I feel like I need a stiff drink before responding to that point.

So a rotation of John Garland, Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras, and Freddy Garcia are among the best ever even though ...

  • Not one of those pitchers won 20 games.

  • 13 of Buehrle's 16 wins came by one run.

  • Freddy Garcia has had only one season with and ERA below 3.8

  • Contreras and Garcia were tied for first in Wild Pitches in the majors. Contreras was also tied for the lead last season.

  • The Sock highest on the K list was Contreras, at # 34, right behind Jeff Weaver.

  • Vazquez was rated as almost exactly average (99 ERA+) last season

Thank god that the producers at ESPN haven't completely lost their minds and showed us a few teams in the last two decades that have had dominant starters. The A's in '89 and '90 were mentioned, as well as the Braves from about '91 to '96. I'm sure that any real baseball historian could come up with a slew of other teams, and I'll admit I'm partial to the 2002 A's. If you've got any favorites that I clearly don't know about, drop us some comments and let us know. We're a bit weak on our baseball history.

Still, I think we can all agree that Phillips was either engaging in self-satire at such an involved level that it was impossible to distinguish form sincerity, or that he simply doesn't know very much about baseball. I'll admit I lost a lot of respect for him a few weeks ago when he admitted to knowing of rampant steroid use in the Mets minor league system in the ESPN 15-page expose. It's clear that a lot of people knew, coaches, players and trainers, but you would think that as a journalist he would have considered it his duty to have brought this information to light earlier.

Is the Sox rotation one of the best ever? The answer is no. Are they the best in the majors? Very likely. The Cubs are hampered by injury, the Astro's will likely lose Clemens, and the Marlins sold everyone but Dontrelle. But isn't calling them the best rotation in the majors enough? Do we have to go to ridiculous lengths to praise them, making ourselves look foolish in the process? They've been a media darling most of the last nine months, but I'll let them throw a few pitches before bronzing them.


Joining the 22nd Century

Well, not exactly, but the Friendly Confines can now be access through various newsreader services. If anyone out there needs another format, just leave suggestions in the comments and I'll get it up ASAP. Just one note, for those of you with gmail accounts, you can put us right on your Individualized Google homepage.

Stay tuned for more baseball comments; hopefully our crack staff can make some sense of the trades made so far this offseason. Until then, let's just hope that A-Rod get a chance to make a takeout slide on Jeter in the World Baseball Classic.


Anonymous Sources: December 9, 2005

Compare these two statements:

"Player A has made it known he's willing to play any position but pitcher and catcher."

"I have the same position [on moving] as I always had... " Player B told the newspaper. "I said that I'm not going to change from [my position]."

Compare these numbers

Player A, 32, 10 seasons)

1071 4363 765 1395 305 50 191 740 86 29 307 444 .320 .367 .544

Player B, 30 (in January), 7 seasons

802 3255 505 912 199 16 162 465 169 43 157 676 .280 .320 .500

Now I'm sure you already know who Players A and B are. You probably knew when I began but they are (A) Nomar Garciaparra and (B) Alfonso Soriano. Given the numbers, given the attitude, who would you rather have? Just a rumination on the value of players, and the value of team players.


Dr Loria or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Fire Sale

From the way things look right now, when we start the 2006 season, the Devil Rays will be the more recognizable team in Florida, and, honestly, there will only be 31 major league teams playing. In a sense, contractions will have happened, in a roundabout way. If the season started today, this would be the starting lineup for the Marlins.

1B - Jason Stokes / Joe Dillon / Mike Jacobs
2B - Josh Wilson
SS - Hanley Ramirez / Robert Andino
3B - Alfredo Amezaga
LF - Chris Aguila
CF - Reggie Abercrombie / Eric Reed
RF - Miguel Cabrera
C - Matt Treanor / Josh Willingham
P - Dontrelle Willis

I recognize two of those names, which is why my choices for infielders are probably completely wrong. Wilson, Ramirez, Andino and Amezaga are all listed as SS. This is a minor league team with the exception of two players. I'd list a possible five man rotation, but beyond Dontrelle, I can't tell who the starters are for the Marlins. If I knew the minors better, I might be able to pull something together, but as it is I'm stumped.

But in a sense, this can't be the minor leagues, because this team, this year, is Major League.

I can see you're confused.

While Rachel Phelps looked far better than Loria ever would in a bikini, while Willie Mays Hayes hits and runs better than Cabrera, and while the Marlins do not have any players who actively practice voodoo, this is the fictional Indian team from the movie. Loria is going to put an awful team on the field, let them rack up about 90 losses for the next few years, and then aggressively demand a new stadium in about 2008 or 2009 or threaten to move the team when the lease at Pro Player Stadium runs out in 2010. His argument is going to be that without a new stadium, the team can't remain competitive, that "there must not be a stadium gap!"

The good news in Dr. Strangelove is that it was all over after the bomb was dropped, that we never had to watch the aftermath. We're going to get a front row seat this year.