Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Creativity is nothing more than the inability to conform

Sports stuff:

1) It is unfortunate that the Sox, scuffling lately, did not hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Yankees when they had a chance. I have been very confused by the AL East this year, as no team has really flexed any sort of muscle for more than a week at a time. Let's run down the list:

The Sox, though they might have help coming, have possibly the worst bullpen in the AL, with Timlin the only reliable reliever (and is in serious threat of being Quantrilled), but even then he has had trouble with inherited runners. They may well have help coming in the form of Schilling (who I think will be there a lot longer than most people seem to believe), as well as some combination of Cla Merideth, Craig Hansen, John Papelbon, and John Lester; plus, they also seem to have acquired Chad Bradford for Jay Payton, though I am concerned the As might reneg on the deal since they could very well have him on the open market (though they might trade for him so that they can dump Kotsay to the MFY). Regardless, the Sox are still essentially 2 games up on both the Yanks and the Os. They would be in much better position if they could just figure out how to beat the crap in our division consistently, namely the Orioles and Blue Jays, yet they seem to be befuddled by junkballers like Bruce Chen, Rodrigo Lopez, and Ted Lilly.

The Orioles need pitching in a bad way against any team not named the Red Sox. They may have Bedard coming back, which will help. They also have been hit by injuries pretty hard, but then again, you look at the age of most of the players who were injured and it is no surprise a few of them went down, and in fact I would expect the trend to continue throughout the season. I'm still trying to figure out why Brian Roberts is having such a great season, as the guy can't hit breaking stuff at all. I look at him bat, and I see a faster Kevin Millar with (in theory) less power. I still want to punch Miguel Tejada for looking like a girl I know, and doing that jaw-dropping arms-out disbelieving gesture every time a close call (like a strike down the middle, or a throw to first that is 3 seconds too late) goes against him. Apparently, they also don't have too many good trading chips in the stable, but can take on cash. However, pitching help is going to be so expensive that they would probably have to give up a major leaguer to get any semblance of a great starter; also, look for their starting pitching to get even worse down the stretch, as most of their young guys have never gone over 100 IP.

The MFY are Jekyll and Hyding their way through the year, with disappointing pitching and streaky hitting. All they need to fix their team is a center fielder, two starting pitchers, a first baseman, a catcher, the Angels' bullpen, and a calendar that says 1997. It is to their credit that they have slugged their way back into the race, and they could even be in first place come Monday. However, for the organization, this could be a little bit of a problem, as this year would be a perfect year for them to punt, unload some aging contracts, and get some youth. Of course, they have pretty much shackled Cashman from trading any of their farm chips, and none of their major leaguers really have manageably tradeable contracts for their value as players. Of course, now that I've said this, watch them finish July 15 games up in the division (note: statistically impossible). Regardless, I could still see them making the playoffs, but I don't see them going very far unless they are able to add a starter (or make one more effective) and about four relievers.

So, I have no idea what to expect from the second half in the division, as I could see any of these teams blow through to an easy win, or see a three-way tie. Best to wait and see what the trade deadline brings.

2) I'm starting to gear up for football season, as I had my first argument about the Patriots yesterday. Basically, at lunch, I had the "the 80s Skins were more of a dynasty than the Pats" argument thrown at me. Again. While I don't particularly want to get into that particular can of bullshit, I realize I've never stated my theory on the Pats run. With the help of Football Outsiders' (see link on the side of the page) statistic Defense-Adjust Value Over Average, we see that the first Patriots' Superbowl win was a bit of a fluke. They were not the best team that year, and I am fully prepared to admit it (hey, they still won, right?). If you look at the roster purge that continued to take place over the next two year, you can pretty much see that the Pats won the Superbowl with a bunch of stop-gaps and part-time replacements that were brought in for the short-term as Belichick shape the roster he wanted. I'm comfortable with that, and actually even more impressed at the job he did.

That said, the last two years, they have been as dominant as any team in my lifetime. I realize I may sound like a bit of a homer chest-thumper, but going 34-4 over two years is as good a two-year record in the history of the league. In addition, both years they had over 40 different starters due to injury and replacement, which suggests the organizational quality and depth. This isn't particularly news either. But what really stands out, when looking at the last two years, is their record against teams with winning records. In the 38 games the Pats have played in the past two season, 21 have been against teams that finished the year with a winning record, and they have gone 20-1 in those contests. The only loss, to Pittsburgh, occurred in a game where the Pats didn't have their starting running back, and lost their best corner and two starting offensive tackles early game, forcing them to (unsuccessfully) reshuffle their game plan. So, with one exception, the Pats have beaten every quality opponent they have faced over the past two, even though more than half their games have come against teams with winning records. Personally, I'm not sure how you can't consider that a dynasty.


At 12:27 PM, July 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the upcoming World Baseball Classic. I think that this tournement is long over due. It will allow baseball to make up the ground that it has lost to soccer. Soccer is begining to over take baseball in what used to be traditional baseball playing nations such as Venezuela, Korea, Japan, Panama and Nicaragua. It will also help strengthen its growth in some traditional soccer playing nations, such as Colombia. If done right, it will be great for baseball. I would think that the Dominicans have to be the favorites. A lot of experts have included A-Rod in their projected line-ups for the USA, but I noticed that he was hanging out the Dominicans during the homerun derby, taking his turn waving the Dominican Flag with Manny and the gang. If A-Rod were to play with the Dominicans, that would put Aramis Ramirez on the bench. Yikes!

At 2:04 PM, July 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Red Sox and Ohio State Buckeyes should merge their grade-school antics, which include the aformentioned actions and Ohio State's penchant for choking opposing QBs and playing players with 0.0 GPAs, and fan bases and channel their massive inferiority complexes into the most pathetic franchise since the Philadelphia Eagles.

At 3:10 PM, July 12, 2005, Blogger Fletcher Austin McGuffin said...

Comment #1,
I'm for it, assuming all the owners let their guys play in it; it should be a lot of fun to watch. I'm not sure where A-Rod would play, or Manny for that matter (he is an American citizen now...). Either way, the Dominican lineup would be ridiculous. Though, of the top of my head, I can't think of their pitcher other than Pedro that could shut down some of the tougher lineups out there. Is Bartolo "gravitational pull" Colon Dominican?

Comment #2,
I'm not sure that sentence makes any sense, as it is in desperate need of both a semicolon and coherence. However, I can assure you that my inferiority complex is in no way connected to the teams I root for, but rather entirely a penis thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home