Hi, Adrian Beltre here. Yes, that Adrian Beltre. And yeah, I get it, you all think it's pretty hilarious when people try to touch my head and I freak out. I mean, I'm a modern man of the internet, I've seen the gifs and even I have a laugh. Just look at some of these moving pictures, how could you not chuckle:
We like to pretend that we know most of what's happening on and around baseball, but the fact is that we don't. Not really. We know nearly nothing of baseball in the 1800s, we make educated guesses at baseball before the advent of television, and even today, with our newfangled hickeymajigs, our defensive ratings are woefully inaccurate. Now though, we have been given the briefest and tiniest of glimpses into the world of the baseball scout, that unsung hero who, as Kevin Goldstein reminded us during the Up and In podcast days, spends much of his time pooping in McDonald's restrooms.
The Baseball Hall of Fame, when they weren't funding unnecessary steroid research, put together the greatest database of baseball scouting reports ever seen. In the past, these were rarely released, and so people have gone (justifiably) crazy for the Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr, and Chipper Jones reports that are full of glowing phrases like Monster of Mash, Mayhem, and Moxie. However, there is so much more to be unearthed. Because while any scout worth employing could look at those players and see greatness, it's the other players, the mid-rotation guys, the utility infielders, that required someone to take a leap of faith. And these scouting reports document that.
There is David Eckstein's which, in the first sentence of his summary, refers to him as a "gutty gamer." This is perhaps the first published occurrence of the phrase being used on him, it's a historical landmark. Or there's the report filed with the Chicago White Sox that called Tim Wakefield a non-prospect because he lacked a fastball and his splitter should be thrown harder. Then there are the ones like Jim Abbott's where he's proclaimed a "WINNER" all in caps, and dammit, that's fine with me. Jim Abbott, playing and succeeding at Major League Baseball with one arm, is a winner.no comments
I promise you that I'm not trying to drum up page views by writing articles with titles like "Farts: How Your Butt is Killing the Planet" or "Which Game of Thrones Character Are You? A 20 Part Slideshow NSFW." But I am worried about the future of baseball as a spectator sport.
I may have been operating for a while on a rather foolish assumption.
See, whenever a player has been caught driving while intoxicated -- like yesterday, after Yovani Gallardo was picked up with an almost impossible to believe .22 blood-alcohol level -- and the blogosphere/twitterati have piped up with their outrage over the deep moral inconsistency in baseball, I've joined in.
Drug use (both the "PE" and recreational varieties), which may or may not affect a player's performance on the field but is ultimately more or less harmless in real life, is punished severely and condemned harshly, while driving a vehicle while intoxicated, which does not directly impact play on the field but does seriously endanger real people's lives (as baseball was reminded, still pretty recently), generally earns one little mild verbal admonishment and nothing else.
Baseball's attitude (or lack thereof) toward DUIs is silly, and kind of embarrassing. So we whine a bit. Some of the whines take a form like: where's his suspension? Can we suspend DUI Guy for 50 games too? And so on.
But a thought occurred to me today for the first time: you guys don't actually mean that, do you?no comments
The Pirates, and by extension their fans, should be used to losing by now. Much like a garbage man should be no longer mind hefting around bags of refuse and Lindsay Lohan should be accustomed to court-ordered drug rehab, the Pirates should be nearly immune to the crushing sting of defeat. If 20 consecutive losing seasons and two straight years of contention followed by the crushing betrayal of August and September (including a Houston Astros-ian 20-39 after August 1st), losing should be easy. But baseball, that cruel mistress, always teases players and fans with its promise of better tomorrows.
And it's not like a bad start ensures a poor season. The Pirates were 2-4 through six games last season, before fighting for first place into July. The 2011 team was 4-2 en route to a 72-90 record. Last year's World Series winning Giants dropped their first three and were 2-4. So the simple fact is that two series at the beginning of April really doesn't say a whole lot. But the Pirates, with a few decent mid-rotation options and a dreadlocked and likable superstar finally had a club that seemed to be able to best that mythical 81 wins. So while starting 1-5 is not great and can be overcome, scoring all of eight runs in that time is still pretty disgusting.
To give example, the Pirates have scored fewer runs than Coco Crisp and Adam Jones have for each of their respective clubs. The Pirates, should they continue on this path of damnation and brimstone are currently on pace to score a whopping 216 runs for the season, only slightly more than the 192 the Original Billy Hamilton scored for the 1892 Philadelphia Phillies.no comments
Chances are, during the first batch of games on Monday, while constantly checking your fantasy lineup, you realized one of two things. Either 1) You didn't do nearly as good a job drafting your fantasy team as you thought or 2) You really don't seem to care as much as the other people around you. And if you're in a third camp, that of the smugly satisfied fantasy player, while I don't wish any true ill will on you, I do hope your next fountain soda doesn't have nearly enough of that flavor syrup. Serves you right, you stuck up prig.
You see, I used to be in that first camp before I realized that not only was I unskilled at the art of 5x5, I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the constant update of lineups and disinterested in the scouring of waiver wire for saves. All of the things I loved about baseball, the action, narrative, even statistics that I would immerse myself in on Baseball-Reference.com (and before its existence, the thousands of baseball cards that littered my closet), weren't represented in fantasy. Focusing so narrowly on home runs, RBI, batting average and steals, or wins, WHIP, saves, and strikeouts, sucked all the joy out of baseball. Sure, the truly great players were always valuable, but except in the deepest of leagues, fourth outfielders and back of the rotation starters were worth nothing. And you never got any points for a great catch or a guy handing a ball to a fan with only two outs in the inning.
These predictions are obligatory. Once a year, as the season starts, I’m compelled to make a record of what I think is going to happen in Major League Baseball, so that you can point and laugh at me once the season’s done, and you can draw inspiration that damn near any idiot can write about baseball on the Internet. It’s a public service that I provide to you, who are the public. I am very magnanimous like that.
Feel free to disagree, call me names, or threaten my physical well-being in the comments.no comments
I want to read a redemption story about Josh Lueke.
I do. Most of my friends and colleagues would rather never hear or read his name again, and I get that, and honestly, I'd be more than okay with that. But a redemption story would be pretty cool.
I mean, a real one. Not this horseshit. [FINAL EDIT DAMMIT: the author has done the right thing and turned that link into what appears to be a real, heartfelt apology. You can read the google cache copy of the original post here, thanks to Zach Sanders.]
The thing is: what we know of the available evidence pretty strongly suggests that Josh Lueke raped another person. He served 42 days for "false imprisonment with violence," but if a person has been falsely imprisoned and the imprisoner's semen turns up on the other person's clothes and inside the other person's body, that's an awful lot like rape.
And that's not "a critical mistake," as someone named Robbie Knopf says it is in the first link above. That's a deliberate act that anyone, even a child (and at 23 at the time and having gone through high school and at least some college, Lueke was no child), would know intrinsically was very wrong. It's not something he has to (or gets to) "persevere" through, as Knopf says. It's something his victim can "persevere" (and hopefully has); it's something he has to live with, for the rest of his life; it's something for which he certainly could and probably should have spent considerably more time in jail; it's emphatically not a hardship he has to buck up and get through.no comments
Recently I decided to read Mike Piazza's new book, Long Shot. I wasn't expecting literature that would challenge my deepest held beliefs nor was I hoping for lyrical prose poetry. So in the end, I guess I got what a paid for: a mild diversion from my eventual demise co-written by baseball's greatest offensive catcher and mustache grower.
Along the way, I also learned that Mike Piazza likes a lot of things. For instance:
- Olive Garden
- Baseball (sometimes)
- Heavy Metal
- Hitting to Heavy Metal
- Eric Karros
I'm sure there were some other things in the book, though I missed them entirely.
After reading, I wanted to dig a little deeper. Not into the psyche of the man or even into his statistical record as a player. No, I wanted to look at his commercial body of work. At the things that would make him popular to the common, non-baseball-loving citizen. In other words, television commercials. Here they are.
Mike Piazza for Fox Baseball:no comments
While watching Daniel Day Lewis accept yet another Oscar award on Sunday night for his performance in Lincoln (really, when he's nominated they need to create a Best Actor Not Named Daniel Day Lewis category), I wondered about the other Abraham Lincolns out there, specifically the baseballing ones. Especially with political cartoons like this one now filling American textbooks: