Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Required Reading

So Buzz Bissinger threw bloggers under the bus and Bob Costas and Bissinger attempted to throw Will Leitch under the bus...big deal right? It kind of is.

There are many, many good blogs out there - this not being one of them, and for someone as highly respected as Bissinger to condemn the entire medium based on a Deadspin comments thread is ridiculous.

As usual Ken Tremedous at FJM offered a insightful view on what transpired, read it and be impressed with how great the content on FJM is - I'll be studying.

Okay. So. "Costas Now."

Tonight, I was interviewed as part of that program's multi-part investigation of Sports and the Media. What followed the tape piece was a live discussion among Will Leitch of Deadspin, Buzz Bissinger of "Friday Night Lights" and "Being Very Angry," and of course the one guy you go to for any discussion of Sports and the Media: Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns.

If you didn't see it, the discussion went like this:

Bob Costas: There are some criticisms about blogs. How do you respond?

Will Leitch: Well, I think some of them are valid--

Buzz Bissinger: I have to interrupt here. (to Leitch) Fuck you and everything you stand for.

Braylon Edwards: (to himself) I am going to kill my agent.

The argument I had tried to make in the pre-taped segment was: you can't say anything about "blogs," any more than you can say anything about any medium. There are good blogs and bad blogs. There are blogs that cover the personal lives of athletes, ones that cover only the games, ones that offer opinions, and even a few that quixotically and foolishly attempt to metacriticize the media as a whole. What Bissinger did that was so annoying to me was: he lumped all of these into one thing ("Deadspin," essentially), then took one article from one day and read it aloud from a file that looked suspiciously like it'd come from Joe McCarthy's safe, and read one sentence from it aloud. And furthermore, he seemed to conflate the actual blog and the people who write for it with the silly comments people make at the bottom of every article.

It's a big dumb ignorant mistake to do this. It's a big hot wet mushy smelly bonebrained mistake to (a) use one sentence from anything as a representative sample of the thing, much less as a representative sample of all blogs everywhere, and (b) to mix blog comments and blog articles. It's an even bigger mistake, in my opinion, to disparage the level of discourse on the Internet and use blog comments as an example. (And swear a ton while doing it, while saying that the Internet is "profane.") Picking a random blog comment and wielding it as a club to bash "blogs" is like picking a random romance novel off an airport bookstore shelf and saying, "This book sucks. Fuck you, Tolstoy -- your medium is worthless!"

For what I hope is the last time, but is clearly not: the level of discourse on Athletics Nation, and Baseball Prospectus, and SoSH, and Joe Posnanski's blog, is every bit as high (if not higher) than what you can read in the best newspapers in the country. Bissinger's hare-brained attempt to prove Leitch an uneducated oaf by asking whether he had read any W.C. Heinz (which failed miserably when Leitch had, in fact, read some W. C. Heinz) was a perfect example of the old guard's attitude toward the new guard: you little shits don't get it. You don't know how to write. You have no gratitude or appreciation for those who came before you. So: fuck you. (P.S. I have never really read your blog.) (P.P.S. Fuck you, though, anyway.)

There are sports bloggers (and message-board posters) who write very well, in my opinion. There are those who love Ring Lardner and David Halberstam and Robert Creamer and Roger Angell. They try to write well, and entertain, and contribute to the universe of sports reporting. Please read them, Buzz. If you find nothing of interest, you can swear all you want. (For the record, FJM is extremely pro-swearing. We just feel you should be funny while doing it.)

If there is anything tangible and helpful to take away from Mr. Bissinger's performance -- and it takes a good deal of chaff-sorting to get anywhere near this little nugget -- I think it's this: a lot of the discourse and sub-discourse (commenting) on the internet is, in fact, pretty shitty. This is not news, though, really. A lot of newspaper writing and editorial writing and every kind of writing is shitty. It's just not as immediate and anonymous and easily-accessed as Internet writing is. Thus, the net has this reputation, now, as being a nihilistic and thoughtless meetingplace for people to spew venom. Partially deserved, partially not, whatever -- point is, the part that is deserved can be altered. We can all probably do a little better in this realm, by making sure that whatever we write has an actual point, and some thought behind it. So, there's that.

Okay. I guess that's it. As the kids would say: [/serious and unfunny discussion of Internet journalism standards]. Coming soon: more swearing!

[Just added two clauses to this post at 9:25 AM PST -- the clarification about what Bissinger actually did (taking one sentence and reading it aloud) and the subsequent (a), (b) follow-up in the next paragraph.]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Jacket: Live!

The Professor himself joined Gary and Ron in the booth in the bottom of the 3rd inning. He educated and inspired much as one would expect.

Rattling off stats, talking about the process of the outcome but not the outcome of the process, BABIP on pitches down in the strike zone - and why couldn't he fix Victor Zambrano?

Some highlights:

"I don't know if anyone can tell me who won the first 2.5 miles in a marathon!"

"Fear, worry, and doubt start to enter your psyche"

"Our guys are professional glove hitters."

Bottom line - The Jacket is smarter than you...and he knows it. Victor Zambrano? - no problem. Nelson Figueroa? - no problem. Jose Lima? - everyone has their limits.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Grand Central Station of (Wilpon Approved) Mets Information

This is the video that got pulled from MetsBlog that Raissman wrote about:

As you can hear, it was filmed by that annoying stepdad of one of your elementary school friends who would repeat everything that was going on at sporting events. You wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up, but he did pay for your ticket and drive you to Shea so you sat there and let your ears bleed.

(H/T [as always] CSTB)

UPDATE: The best line I found on this "story" is far and away courtesy of The Gil Meche Experience's Pulp: "If Fred Wilpon Were Caught Eating Children, Would MetsBlog Note They're High In Protein?"

Friday, April 25, 2008


According to Joe Benigno-Gazingo, there have been four grand slams given up by major league relief pitchers in 2008.

Three have them have come off of the Mets bullpen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Willie Speaks

On M&MD yesterday, Willie had a chance to win over my heart. Like every other chance he had though, he showed up late smelling like a strip club with body glitter on his shirt and lipstick on his collar.

Castillo will be the the number 2 hitter.

"He's one of the best two-hitters in the game, let's not fool ourselves" says Willie, "Omar brought [Castillo] here because this guy's one of the best two-hitters in the game."

"Church isn't a second hitter and you don't want to frustrate Jose in that situation."

He did go on to add he "liked" Church in the two-hole and may play him there more against lefties. But then he starting spewing shit along the lines of "if Church bats 2nd who's going to protect Delgado" and "we can't ruin Delgado's confidence right now." Basically, Luis was paid 16 million ridiculous tears-of-rational-Mets-fans-soaked dollars to play 2B and hit second in the lineup, so that' where he'll be hitting.

Glorious, glorious Willie-Speak. If anyone needs me I'll be sobbing on the floor of my bathroom.

The 2008 Mets: Your Season Has Come!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mets Rebound From Getting Fukudome'd: Beat America's Team

Meet Screech. Yes America, the Gnats named their mascot after a lovable Dustin Diamond character.

The Fukudome jokes will flow from now until he retires, I envy Cubs fans for that reason alone.

The good news: Filthy in the 8th inning, Wagner in the 9th, Johan going 7 without his best stuff.

The bad news: Castillo batting 2nd, Reyes looking silly, Castillo batting 2nd.

Highlight of the game: Wright's AB in the 9th inning. After getting embarrassed on the 0-1 pitch (he was almost down on one knee swinging at the slider), he showed great discipline and fouled off a few tough pitches before working out a walk and eventually scoring on Church's screamer. I know it's been beaten into the ground, but I don't think I've ever seen a hitter more comfortable in a 0-2 count than Wright.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hey, Remember That Lineup That Wasn't Working? Let's Try That Again!

Luis Castillo has always been a good player. He's had a longer hitting streak than any Met ever has. He has two championship rings. He's stolen over 60 bases in a season. He's had an OBP over .380 on four different occasions. He may have cured polio. He contributes large amounts of money to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Etc.

Luis Castillo accomplished all of the aforementioned feats because of his legs. Plain and simple - the man could run. Now, not so much.

So when Big Willie Style switched Luis out of the 2-hole and down to 8th a collective "what took so long" rang out in living rooms and sports bars across the tri-state area.

My question was, did it really matter? Now, the exceedingly small sample size being recognized, let's take a look.

During the 5-game stretch where Church hit 2nd and Castillo 8th, the Mets as a team hit .263 (48/182) and went 5-0. They averaged 4.8 runs per game.

During the first 11 games when Castillo hit 2nd and Church 6th, the Mets hit .264 (99/374), went 5-6, and scored 4.6 runs per game.

So the team scored 2/10 of a run more on average when Castillo hit 8th. I'm prepared to say that number would be much higher if Luis' switch to the 8th spot didn't coincide with Beltran and Delgado forgetting how to hit.

So it appears our intuitions were correct. Runs scored aside, the team won with Church hitting second. That alone would be enough to tell Willie to stick Luis, his bum knees, and his ridiculous contract in the 8th hole and let Lastings' replacement hack away...wouldn't it?

To the casual baseball fan, yes. But not to Willie Randolph. After the fun little 5-0 experiment with Church hitting second, the manager decided to switch back to the lineup that had his team one game under .500 for the first two weeks. What happened? What else could happen? They lost two games in a row.

Decision making at its finest.

Fukudome returns in just under two hours. Hopefully the Lincoln High graduate who doesn't coerce interns into sex in an Escalade can keep the string of strong starts going.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


As this young season has progressed it has been hard to get an accurate reading on exactly how good or bad this Mets team is. We know Ryan Church will come back to earth and we know Angel Pagan will come back to earth - but other than that, what do we really know?

In a perfect world you could argue that Carlos Delgado will bounce back and produce numbers similar to what he did last season. But can you say that with any conviction? His numbers have been steadily declining for two seasons - this may be the year where he hits rock bottom. Would you bet against him putting up a .230/15/50 this season? It doesn't sound too far fetched.

On the flip side one would say that David Wright will come back to earth a little as well. He can't possibly sustain a .344/.453/.721 line for the rest of the season...can he? Aside from the SLG coming down a bit, who is to say he can't? Wright has gotten better each of the last three seasons, who's to say he won't hit over .340 this season pushing 40 HR and a .450 OBP?

And as for Reyes, well, you just can't predict what he's going to give you aside from replay-worthy celebrations when he's on his game. Was last September a fluke or was last April-June a fluke? I'd cast my vote for the former, but who can be sure?

Maine and Perez are solid starters, but you never can be sure when they're going to have that giant meltdown. Pelfrey looks better, but it's much too early to tell. Big Fig has been superb - but can he sustain it for another month until Pedro returns? The one bright spot - as everyone expected - has been Santana. Booing aside, he has been everything he's been billed to be. You knew he was HR-prone, but the brilliance he flashed on Friday night is exactly why Carlos Gomez is patrolling centerfield in Minneapolis right now.

The bottom line is that 4/6 from the Phillies is exactly what we should have hoped for - and it's exactly what we got. Granted, Jimmy Rollins was absent for 4 games and Victorino absent for 3, but the Mets still played better baseball than the Phils for the first two series of the year.

Call me a pessimist, call me a downer, but doesn't something still feel wrong? You just don't know what Mets team is going to show up. The lifeless, uninspired bunch that showed up to play the Brewers last weekend or the energetic, fundamental-executing (aside from Luis Castillo not getting the bunt down in the 9th tonight) group that showed up at Citizens Bank Park this weekend?

And before you shoot back that it just seems that way because the Mets lost 2/3 against Milwaukee and won 2/3 from the Phils, I'd feel the same way if the Mets had lost 2/3 this weekend as well. If you watched both series you could just see the difference in the team. And as someone who is faithful to stats and objective analysis, that is something I realize sounds, well, stupid, but I don't think a fan of this team can deny it.

To throw in a cliche for the sake of cliches, I know it's too early to tell - I just hope that the team we saw from Friday night to about an hour ago shows up with regularity in 2008.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Willie: Omar, Please Get Off Manny Acta's Nuts

Holy shit, I agree with Willie. We all heard about this last season and it seemed to go away for the most part, but it seems as if Omar and Tony Bernazard (that's a KOYIC assumption) were chumming it up with Manny Acta on the field before the past three games.

From Newsday's David Lennon:
This week's visit to Shea by the Nationals, a team managed by former Mets coach Manny Acta, again featured the kind of affection usually reserved for family reunions. Hugs, handshakes, plenty of laughs... "How does that happen? How does that become normal?" Randolph said. "I don't know. It's just foreign to me, that's all. I'm fine with, 'Hey, how you doing?' That stuff. I wish that we could enforce it more, really. They talk about it, but I don't really see anyone policing it. You can't force people not to talk to someone."
Like David Wright says further along in the article, I can see a hug to LoDuca or Lastings or a former teammate for Church and B-Schnied - but openly recruiting your next manager in front of your current manager is a slap in the nuts no matter how you slice it.

One could argue Willie deserves it for being such a horrendous manager, but if that's the case then Omar should just fire him and get it over with. Hugs and kisses at Nobu the night before is fine - hugs and kisses behind the batting cage is bullshit.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Read a Blog Better Than This One

Productive Outs. Judge Roughneck has been consistently putting up quality posts since he started this week. Expect insightful and thoughtful commentary with a stat-centric focus. In other words, exactly what you hope to find here, but don't.

Anyways, Productive Outs had me at:
I know that Luis Castillo – who has been moved down to the #8 spot – is considered a more prototypical #2 hitter, but I have serious problems with that model. Conventional wisdom places so much emphasis placed on the #2 hitter’s ability to take a pitch, or to make contact with two strikes, or to hit the ball to the right side to advance the lead runner. These are all good qualities to possess, but they are all dwarfed by the ability to smack a double into the gap, whether or not a man is on first.
Good stuff all around, check it out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome Back

As the Nationals head into Shea for three games this week, it will be interesting to see a few things. First, the reception that Lastings and Captain Red Ass receive and second, the quotes Willie will have about it. There's a little part of me that wants Lastings to beat the Mets at least once with a walk-off hit, or even just to have a big game - if only to see what Willie has to say about it.

Well, last year Pelfrey threw 77% fastballs and Milledge hit .318 off fastballs. Here's hoping Big Pelf keeps them outside and low.

EDIT 7:25: A scorched 2B and caught stealing third...not bad considering he was safe. Not to be outdone, Ryan Church had a nice AB against a lefty and hit one right back up the box for a single.

EDIT 8:04: Why is Church bunting? If it's on his own it's stupid - if it's Willie it's going up on the big board of dumb moves. Castillo, bunt. Church? What are they doing?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bend Ya Knees: Week 2 / The Mets Can't Hit

After a horrible, horrible loss to the Brewers yesterday, the only thing that can lift my spirits is to check out just how much we ripped off the Nats.

.308/.351/.442 - Yes, Lastings has drawn three walks so far! You know how many walks Ryan Church has? Three. Yeah, he's just as good.

And B-Schneid? He has two. Oh wait, that's passed balls - he has six walks! Right again - he's twice the OBP machine that Lastings is.

Alright, there's no getting around it - this team just can't hit. Outside of Wright, Beltran, and maybe Church against righties, who do you feel comfortable with at the plate? Angel Pagan is going to come back to earth and so will B-Schneid. Castillo is, in the words of B!T "the Juan Pierre Lite who at this point is basically just hoping to walk because he can't hit and can't run."

Delgado is a shell of his former self and won't accept it and start trying to use the whole field consistently. Whenever it looks like he's starting to hit line drives and go to all fields he crushes one into the scoreboard and gets pull-happy again for a month.

The fact is that once Pagan and Schneider come back down from their 158 OPS+ and .409 OBP clouds this team is going to score two runs every game if they're lucky. And it should be right about when that moment comes that the Willie Watch will commence. It can't come soon enough

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mex's Fashion Show

IMFM beat me to it, but what the fuck was Keith Hernandez wearing last night?

Purple blazer, tan vest, blue striped tie.

If anyone can find a screen capture of the image of Keith in that outfit the beers will be on me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It'll Taste Even Sweeter

I couldn't agree with Cerrone more than this very moment. When they're calling for Willie's head at Metsblog, you know the masses are pissed. (H/T B!T)
...posted by Matthew Cerrone...

i’m at a loss…it’s game six of 162, and i’m at a total loss…

…on one hand, i know that Willie Randolph cannot switch his message to one of ultimate fight, anger and win-now, because if he does that and the team loses just one game then what…he will not only seal his own fate, but he will seal his team’s fate as well…at the same time, his current message of turn the page, stability and long-season level-headedness may actually be having a worse effect, not just on the players, but on the fans as well

JP over at Blastings! Thrilledge beat me to the punch, but I couldn't agree more. Willie's going to get canned - and it might not make a difference.
How long will the Mets allow this manager to perpetrate this message to his players: "we are here to earn paychecks, nothing more," a message that finds its way out on the field, into the stadium and the papers, upsetting our very notions of glory as sports fans?

Sit down, Lastings! No celebrations, José! We're not devastated. We're fine. You're the ones who are devastated. You fans, you boors in the seats. Get a job, loser.

How long? About a month, I think.
This team plays the way it's manager acts. Lifeless and not giving a shit. How's that champagne taste Willie? Is it even sweeter than you had hoped?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bend Ya Knees: Week 1

In games through Sunday 4/6 Lastings was hitting at a .267/.313/.400 clip.

Our own Ryan Church? Why he was hitting a robust .381/.409/.524! Brian Schneider you ask? .333/.409/.333 - sure he's not slugger but he's a better OBP man than Lastings! Isn't that what Moneyball was all about!

WE FLEECED WASHINGTON BRO! ABSOLUTELY FLEECED THEM! Church is soooooooo much better than that rapper from Bradenton. And B-Schneid? Johnny Bench 2.0 may seem like a stretch but, hey he's THAT GOOD.

Addendum: Does anyone remember when Aaron Heilman was a key trading chip and/or integral part of the bullpen?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Little Help

I've been on the Mets' baseball-reference historical box scores and play-by-play page for an hour trying to find the game from the past few seasons that ended the exact same way as this afternoon's game did - would-be game tying double is robbed because the first baseman was guarding the line.

Needless to say, I can't find it. If anyone remembers just drop a comment - it's gnawing away at my brain right now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fun With Small Sample Sizes: Part I

Yeah, so I ripped off the title from FJM. Sue me.

After three games, Blastings! Thrilledge needs to close up shop. Because while Lastings may be hitting .294/.368/.471 with a 126 OPS+, he's no Ryan Church. Shit, he's no Brian Schneider!
                 BA  / OBP / SLG / OPS+    
Ryan Church:    .385  .429  .615  184
Brian Schneider .400  .500  .400  152 

But neither of these heroes of the first week can hod a candle to the immortal former Cyclone himself. The man who made all of us cringe as we thought of his name in the starting lineup. Yup, Angel Pagan is on pace to hit a super human .400/.500/.600 with a 202 OPS+! Take that sabermetrician basement nerds!

The scrappy Brady Clark, however, is on pace to do exactly what we expected: .000/.000/.000

Coming Sunday, the first of the weekly "Bend Ya Knees" and "TOAST!" Milledge and LoDuca updates.

Moral Police Alert

H/T to CSTB for the pic

How many kids had to have spit in Phil Mushnick's juice box when he was in the 4th grade?

At the start of Nets' home games, a video is played for all patrons, a video encouraging all to civil comportment, to behave like right-headed humans.

But Wednesday, when the Pacers' Danny Granger fouled out, the Nets' P.A. system delivered the opposite message; it mocked Granger by blaring, "Hey, hey, goodbye!" Sure, nothing new, but it's still a kick-him-when-he's-down, bush-league bit, as if sports-minded kids need any more prompts to act like creeps.

Yeah! Take that Nets PA Announcer guy! You're such a mean old meanie! How would you like it if I play "hey, hey, goodbye" when you flush your kid's goldfish down the toilet, huh?

Not only does Mushnick manage to surpass even his own moral high road, but he throws in the subtle insinuation that children that play sports act like creeps in general. Well played Phil, well played.

Get out the popcorn, Maine/Hudson should be fun.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2000 NLCS MVP!

Mike Hampton will be taking the mound for the first time since August 19th, 2005 tonight. In that game against the Padres in '05 the "Atlanta starter/Denver public school advocate " as GC calls him, got knocked around for 11 hits and 7 ER in 3.1 IP.

The winner in that game for the Pods? None other than Metstradamus' frontrunner for the vacant fifth starter's spot himself: Chan Ho Park. In fact, in giving up 5 ER in 5.1 IP and gaining the victory, Chan Ho increased his win total to 10 while increasing his ERA to 6.07.

Enjoy Hampton, or, in the alternative, McGowan/Hughes on The Michael Kay Experienc...err YES.

Howie Rose Wishes He Could Move Like This

For everything horrible I've said about John Sterling I have to admit, the man is entertaining. The enthusiasm is infectious! Link swiped from CSTB:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blogosphere Round Up

GC at CSTB questions if Pedro's injury is the revenge of Nelson De La Rosa.

Cerrone is optimistic that the injury isn't as bad as initially feared - but warns that the DL is probable and the replacement on the roster will be Nelson Figueroa

Coop wants to know why for once a season can't go off without a hitch

Metstradamus declares the Pedro is quickly approaching the El Duque area - "where your starts are much anticipated, yet nobody expects anything out of you anymore." I tend to agree.

Matt Artus at Always Amazin' has a good run down of the candidates for Pedro's replacement - Personally I don't see how Claudio Vargas hasn't been signed yet

And if there are any fantasy players that read this blog - be sure to check out Nine Bo Jacksons. Pretty much every sentence written is useful in some way and the tools Ike has designed to help with drafts are just plain nasty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Mets lose Pedro, game on Andino’s walkoff homer, 5-4

Expect an unusually smug "I told you so" column from Wally Matthews tomorrow accompanied by a picture of our favorite columnist jamming a dessert fork into a #45 voodoo doll.

Out on a Limb

BP's Prospectus Preview for today discussing the the Marlins having to face Santana and Pedro on back to back days:
The Marlins will therefore be facing, in back-to-back starts, arguably the best left-handed changeup and best right-handed changeups around. Martinez has used his change to strike out 10.2 per nine for his career, the third-highest rate of all pitchers in history (minimum 1000 IP), while Santana has relied on his for 9.5 K/9, the fifth-best rate all time.
If Pedro can be anything close to as good as he was in September last year for the long haul we may see 2001 D'Backs references thrown around pretty soon. And while I'm well aware that RJ and Schilling were both still throwing 98 with nasty offspeed stuff, I wouldn't be afraid to make the bet that the Mets eclipse the D'Backs record in starts made by the top two starters.

Just a quick refresher:

Schilling (2001): 22-6, 2.98 ERA, 155 ERA+
Johnson (2001): 21-6, 2.49 ERA, 188 ERA+

Let's take a Santana Cy Young season, and Pedro's first full season as a Met:

Santana (2004): 20-6, 2.61 ERA, 182 ERA+
Martinez (2005): 15-8, 2.82 ERA, 145 ERA+

It's possible if Pedro stays healthy. Enjoy Rick VandenHurk.

UPDATE 8:42: It's official. I am the jinx.