Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong

There are two commonly accepted ideas about baseball regarding payroll and the playoffs... and both have become conventional wisdom:

1. Only the teams with the biggest payrolls can have any success

2. It's the same teams year in and year out.

Let's look at #1.
In 2007, yes the team with the second highest payroll, the Red Sox, won the World Series.
But the other three teams that advanced to the League Championship Series were all in the bottom third of payrolls.

Cleveland - 23 out of 30
Colorado - 25 out of 30
Arizona - 26 out of 30

The NLCS was between the 4th and 5th lowest payrolls in the National League.
Meanwhile the 3rd, 4th and 6th highest payrolls all were on the golf course when the playoffs began.

And it gets even more pronounced this year.
Which team has the highest payroll? The New York Yankees... playing golf.
Which team has the second highest payroll? The Detroit Tigers... FORE!
Which team has the third highest payroll? The New York Mets... no doubt stuck in a sand trap.

Meanwhile the second lowest payroll in all of baseball... the Tampa Bay Rays... won their division.
For $6.6 million less than what the Yankees paid for only Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu... Tampa Bay has home field advantage in the first round.

Meanwhile the Florida Marlins, with a $22 million payroll (again, less than Jason Giambi's salary) finished with a better record than the NL West Champion Dodgers.

Let's look at #2.

Do you know how many teams played in the post season in 2006, 2007 AND 2008?
You can write it on an atom.
De nada.

Not the Yankees... not the Red Sox... not the Dodgers... not the Mets... not the Cardinals.

Can you imagine the NFL or NBA playoffs without some of the constants making the playoffs?

And take it back a year... since 2005... the League Championship Series seen 11 out of a possible 12 different teams play.
The only team in that span to play in more than one LCS?
The Yankees? The Red Sox?
Nope... the Cardinals, who lost in 2005 and won in 2006.

I know I made a lot of these points last year... but you people are NOT LISTENING TO ME!!!!

In this case, conventional wisdom is wrong.

The Playoffs Start Tomorrow

How great is this?

The regular season ended on Sunday.
It’s Tuesday afternoon… and we STILL don’t know all of the playoff match ups!

It may not have been anarchy.
But it’s close enough!!!

The one game playoff today between Chicago and Minnesota is also a strange because I truly don’t care who wins.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the White Sox because they are the forgotten team in Chicago… even during a World Series season. Plus I love Griffey.

But I also can’t help but love the Twins to a degree because of the underdog status, the contraction rumor and the fact that this little franchise that could keeps putting a contender on the field.

So what I want is a solid game with a memorable moment… that it will be called the(INSERT PLAYER NAME HERE) game.

Or have be decided on something so f---ed up that people talk about it for ages.

Like Jim Thome hits a fly ball and a bird catches it and flies away and they have to decide if that is a ground rule double or homer.

Either way… the playoffs WILL start tomorrow.

Let’s see how my predictions were

I am a notoriously bad predictor… but that doesn’t stop me from making them.

On March 31, I made my official picks.

Let’s compare them to reality.

AL EAST PICK: Boston Red Sox

Oh yeah… like YOU picked them!

AL CENTRAL PICK: Cleveland Indians
ACTUAL AL CENTRAL CHAMP: Winner of today’s Minnesota/Chicago game.

Like the rest of the planet Earth, I saw the Indians as a rising team, the Twins as
a rebuilding team and the White Sox in flux. Who knew?

AL WEST PICK: Seattle Mariners
ACTUAL AL WEST CHAMP: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

WHOOPS! I thought the injuries to Escobar and Lackey would cripple the team… not
lead them to 100 wins.

Nor did I think the Mariners would implode and finish a mere 39 games behind the

AL WILD CARD PICK: New York Yankees

I said the Yankees would win 90-92 games. They won 89. Not too shabby.

NL EAST PICK: New York Mets
ACTUAL NL EAST CHAMP: Philadelphia Phillies

The fact that they collapsed two straight Septembers is truly amazing.


HEY!!!! I GOT ONE!!!!

NL WEST PICK: Los Angeles Dodgers
ACTUAL NL WEST CHAMP: Los Angeles Dodgers

HEY!!!! I GOT TWO!!!

NL WILD CARD PICK: Arizona Diamondbacks
ACTUAL NL WILD CARD: Milwaukee Brewers

The still must be rough for Mets fans to read that.

But this is why I don’t bet…

The perils of Post Season in the Trop

Yeah the Rays winning the AL East is a heartwarming story about the underdog beating up the bully.

But there is something to dread.

Just imagine a critical playoff game… maybe even a World Series game… maybe even the Cubs on the verge of winning the World Series…

And someone hits a fly ball off of one of the cat walks.
One of those stupid catwalks where the rules seem to be arbitrary.

Hits the catwalk and lands fair its in play… hits the catwalk and goes foul, even if you catch it, it’s not.

Hit one cat walk and it’s a double.
Hit another and it’s a homer.

Wouldn’t that be a hoot for the traditionalists?

Never Accuse Fred Wilpon Of Seeing The Glass As Half Empty

So Mets owner Fred Wilpon thinks the Mets overachieved this season.

A year after narrowly missing the playoffs and then adding the best pitcher in baseball, the team imploded in September again and that's overachieving.

But no doubt they fired Willie Randolph because they were under achieving.

Well let's split the difference and say the Mets achieved.

Wilpon explained his statement by saying ""Look who our second baseman was. Look who our left fielder was. Look who was in our bullpen. "

So you are saying the Mets did well despite the team that the general manager put together?
And you gave that GM a 4 year extension.

Let's hope they achieve next year too!

Maybe I'm a little nervous about the Playoffs

I’ll admit. I’m nervous.

Hearing the words “Josh Beckett” and “Scratched” in the same sentence made my shorts slightly browner.

That and the fact that the Angels bullpen is kind of sort of awesome…
And Dice-K will probably turn game 2 into a battle of the Bullpens… which mean a Red Sox loss.

I am not brimming with confidence right now, but I’m still hopefull.
If Lester can steal a game in Anaheim… I’m sorry… Los Angeles of Anaheim… the Sox might have a shot.

But also keep in mind everyone, including yours truly, who is picking the Angels and Cubs to inevitably meet up in the World Series… that road can take strange turns.

The last time the best team in the NL played the best team in the AL was 1999 when the Braves were swept by the Yankees.

If the best regular season teams met up we would have seen the following World Series this decade.

2000 – San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago White Sox
Both were eliminated in the first round.

2001 – Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners
The Astros were swept in the Division Series while the Mariners lost the ALCS

2002 – Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees
Both lost the Division Series

2003 – Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees
The Braves lost the Division Series. The Yankees made it all the way to the World Series where they lost to the Marlins.

2004 – St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees
The Cardinals lost the World Series to the Red Sox. This would have been the match up if the Yankees didn’t cough up the 3-0 lead in the ALCS.

2005 – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago White Sox
Hey! The best team in the league won the World Series! The White Sox were the first team this decade to do that. The Cardinals, despite Albert Pujols’ heroics, couldn’t win the pennant.

2006 – New York Mets vs. New York Yankees
Dreams of a Subway Series were derailed when the Yankees lost in the Division Series and the Mets blew the NLCS

2007 – Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox become just the second team this decade to translate the most wins in their league to a World Series title. The Diamondbacks lost the NLCS to the streaking Rockies.

So out of 16 pennant winners this decade, only 4 had the best record in their league and only the 2005 White Sox and the 2007 Red Sox won the whole thing.

In other words, there is always an upset lurking in the weeds.
And more often than not a Wild Card team advances.

Who’s the Wild Card team in the AL this year?

Oh yeaaaaaaaaah.

Now I’m feeling good

Sunday, September 28, 2008


At the beginning of this season, I made a private vow to write not only an entry about every single team but also try and talk to a few fans of each team as well.

And with my desperate Rangers entry, I completed it on the eve of the last game.

I made a public vow last season that I fulfilled.

But this year I kept the vow to myself in case work or other distractions that could befall upon a 36 year old father of two could have prevented me from discussing the Kansas City Royals.

Let's review how I saw this year's vow to the finish line.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: I wondered why Phoenix wasn't a bigger baseball town.

ATLANTA BRAVES: I urged the Braves to ease into the Ned Yost era.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES: I wondered if the Orioles fans lamented the fact that the Rays became the surprise Division winner and not them.

BOSTON RED SOX: Oh, I wrote a few... the biggest one being my asking the Nation if watching the Yankees get eliminated from post season play was anticlimactic.

CALIFORNIA ANGELS (Which is what they should be called): I asked their fans if they really appreciated the Mike Scioscia era.

CHICAGO CUBS: I asked Cub fans if they could imagine it getting worse... because it could.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX: I wondered why nobody likes the White Sox... except a small and kind of angry fan base

CINCINNATI REDS: I wondered if Reds fans long for Riverfront Stadium.

CLEVELAND INDIANS: I wrote about how Cleveland needs a hug

COLORADO ROCKIES: I wondered if the Rockies actually did win the 2007 NL Pennant.

DETROIT TIGERS: I suggested to the Tigers that now was the time to dump some dead wood

FLORIDA MARLINS: I seemed to have written a lot about the Marlins this year. My big question was asking how they remember their two World Series titles

HOUSTON ASTROS: Before Ike I wondered how the hell they got to be a good team again.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS: I wondered if Royals fans saw the clip of George Brett... the greatest Royal of all time... discussing his problem of soiling his drawers. I admit that one was a reach.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS: I urged the Dodgers to not let Hideo Nomo retire without a proper send off.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS: I felt the Brewers kind of panicked. I didn't foresee the Mets flop

MINNESOTA TWINS: I made a case to save the Metrodome... which got me a few nasty comments from Twins fans. I thought Minnesotans were supposed to be nice all the time.

NEW YORK METS: I compared the Mets to Jaws 2. It turned out to be much more scary.

NEW YORK YANKEES: I encouraged the Yankees to deal Mike Mussina.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS: I wondered how much A's fans must hate their TV coverage.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: I wondered which team Phillies fans hated the most.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: I wondered how Pirates fan manage to find a reason to cheer their team when they give them nothing in return.

SAN DIEGO PADRES: I questioned how much suffering a Padres fan goes through if they live in San Diego!

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: I tried to figure out which curse the Giants have.

SEATTLE MARINERS: I saluted the most underrated misery in sports... being a Seattle fan.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: I wondered if Cardinals fans actually liked Tony LaRussa.

TAMPA BAY RAYS: I encouraged an actual rivalry between the Rays and the Red Sox which led directly to my live Blog on Rays Index.

TEXAS RANGERS: I wondered if it were possible that I have never met a Rangers fan in my life.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS: I thought the Jays should resign Cito Gaston and I turned out to be smart with that one.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS: I wondered if their collective misery belongs with the Cubs and Indians.

So there you have it... it was a great regular season and hopefully I picked up a few readers along the way.

And those of you who hate my blog, please continue to write.
I always enjoy criticism... even when it is wrong.

Fox and TBS Can't Be Happy

Hey Fox! Hey TBS!
I got great news!


Isn't that great?
The biggest media market, the best baseball city and the biggest stars in the game?



And in exchange you get Milwaukee.
Isn't that great! You exchange New York for the second most passionate sports town in Wisconsin.

Can't you see the ratings go sky high?

Oh, you want more great news?

The dream NLCS of Los Angeles and Chicago?
That's now a first round series. Best of 5.

Better get that star studded media darling series out of the way early.

All because the Mets couldn't hold a 2 1/2 game lead with a week to go.

But you get the town that produced the Fonz!
That's cool, isn't it?

Thank God for XM!

I took my kids to a museum and playground in Pasadena today and when I drove back home, I was able to flip around on the XM in time to hear...

Ryan Braun's homer
The back to back homers by Helms and Uggla
The Twins winning
The White Sox winning
Milwaukee going nuts with Sabathia, arguably the greatest rental of all time, going the distance
The surreal sound of the morgue known as Shea Stadium when the last out was made

All the while driving back to South Pasadena with my guys.

When Ryan Braun homered I said "WOW!" as loud as I could. And with the crowd cheering, I looked back and saw my boy Matty clapping. He didn't know what was happening, he knew it was big.

I looked back at his twin brother Aidan.
He asked me "Is Sabathia going the distance?"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is it possible I don't know a single Rangers fan?

I've tried to write a post for every single major league team this year and talk to their fan base.

And I was having trouble writing one for the Texas Rangers.
Last year I wrote a post about how the Rangers history could have been changed if they acquired a decent closer.

I felt like reprinting it.

Once again the Rangers have a legit MVP candidate, this time with Josh Hamilton, and still the team never caught my attention this year. I never uttered the phrase "Here's the thing I find interesting about the Rangers..."

And here we are, the eve of the season ending, and I am basically writing a Rangers entry on the bus ride to school.

So I thought "What do the Rangers fans I know think?"

And it hit me...
I don't know ANY Rangers fans!

And I thought about is some more...
I've met fans of every fan base.

I grew up among Red Sox fans.

My dad is a Giants fan.
There are Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Royals and yes Rockies fans in my family.
One of my best friends in elementary school was a Brewers fan.
I went to high school with Giants and A's fans.
There was a Twins fans in my class and one of my teachers was a Cardinals fan.
I lived in New York for 15 years and knew my share of Yankees and Mets fans.
One of my good friends in college was a rabid Blue Jays fan.
Another one was a crazed Orioles fan.
I knew Indians fans in college and worked with a rabid Cubs hating White Sox fan right after college.

I've met angry Tiger fans and apathetic Braves fans.
I've met optimistic Reds fans and a few Diamondback fans gloating over 2001.
My wife is related to a few Mariners fans and one of her good friends is a rabid Astros fan.
Working in Florida I met faithful Marlins fans and even a few Devil Rays fans who wore their hats proudly 3 or 4 years ago.

Now in LA I work with many Dodger fans, Angels fans and even a smattering of Padres fans.

I even used to work closely with a guy who was an Expos fan... which will cross the Nationals off of my list.

But never a Rangers fan.
Oh I've met a few Dallas Sports fans.
But they all wanted to talk about the Cowboys.

I asked one "Do you follow the Rangers?"
He responded "Yeah I guess... is Nolan Ryan still pitching for them?"

That was in 1999. Nolan Ryan retired in 1993. He was elected to the Hall of Fame that year. Meanwhile the Rangers were on the verge of back to back AL West titles.

It's a franchise that's been around as long as I am alive, has had 6 MVPs and a parade of colorful and memorable managers... and I have yet to bump into by chance a single fan of this team.

So let's me ask you...
Are you out there?

Sure there are Rangers fans at Lone Star Ball... but do you feel alone too?

How about it Ranger Rundown? Is there any buzz about the Rangers or is it an after thought for people waiting for the Cowboys season to start?

The name Texas Rangers implies it is the whole state's team. Is there any love for the team away from the Dallas area, Austin and John?

Hey Grant at Rangers Trade! What's your favorite player in Rangers history? Is it an obscure one, like Oddibe McDowell or Pete O'Brien?

Did the way he ran the Rangers keep you from voting for W, Hanks Homies?

Here's the real question... what would Dallas rather see: A Rangers World Series victory or a single Cowboys playoff victory? Can you answer that Joe at Rangers Fan?

Either way, if some of you Rangers fans have moved away from Dallas... please make yourself known!

I'd love to meet you.


Actually, they almost do start today.

Usually the playoff picture is crystal clear at this point, or maybe one match up or two... but for the second straight year we don't know what the first round match ups are in either National League Division Series. And the Rays have no idea who they are hosting as neither the Twins nor the White Sox seem interested in winning the American League Central.

The Phillies, wearing those bitching blue hats, finally gave a little clarity for the NL picture.

So let's look at the match ups.


has home field advantage over

This by the way is the only playoff match up written in stone

has home field advantage over

The White Sox are only 1/2 a game behind Minnesota


One Game Playoff To Determine Wild Card
has home field advantage over

If the Mets win

has home field advantage over

has home field advantage over

If the Brewers win

has home field advantage over

has home field advantage over
(NL Wild Card)

It's looking like a cool last day.
Let's plug

I broke down the moments Bobby Cox must regret during his post season run

Generation A's Fans by Donald Marquez Sr.

Sometimes we fans of North Eastern teams think our passion can't be matched by other fan bases. Well Marquez's incredibly entertaining love letter to the A's will dispell THAT notion.

His family, from his grandmother to a sea of nephews, cousins and his own son, is obsessed with the A's in a way that would rival anyone calling in WFAN and WEEI.

I really loved reading the book for many reasons, but mainly because I saw how many similar memories we have.

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. Don grew up in the East Bay. Yet we both raced to get to the sports section first, we both mark time and family memories with the ups and downs of our teams and we both have little patience for bandwagon fans. His chapter about the lean years of the late 1970s was my favorite one.

I liked the book so much, I will forgive his slamming Red Sox fans pretty hard.
I'd slam the A's too!


There are actually still some Yankee fans who think it was a good thing their team didn't deal Phil Hughes (zero wins in 2008) and Melky Cabrera (sent to the minor leagues) for Johan Santana (saved the Mets season.)

I equated going for the potential of Hughes versus the certainty of Santana was like saying "You can keep that million bucks... I have a lottery ticket!"

Of course the Yankees would have included a mid level prospect.
If the performance of their A level prospects was any indication, they wouldn't have missed one of their B prospects this year.

Now I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow.
Only that dude from Early Edition does.

But they got their money's worth from Santana for year one.
It's to bad that if there is a one game playoff between the Mets and Brewers that it wouldn't be Santana versus Sabathia.

Doesn't anyone here want to win the Division?

Hey Twins... Hey White Sox... trust me, I'm not complaining. I love a Division race that goes to the last day, possibly to a make up game on Monday and a one game playoff on Tuesday leading to the playoffs on Wednesday.

But you'd think that a sweep into first place by the Twins would have led to a better showing than losing a series to the irrelevant Royals.

You'd think the White Sox would have responded to a chance to take control of the division with a better showing than 5 losses in a row.

But now that I think about it, I'm glad.
In the end I kind of like both of these teams so in the end I don't really care who wins.

So by all means... continue this "After you" "No I insist, after you" pennant race.

Cursed Giants

In 1987, my family moved from the suburbs of Boston to the San Francisco Bay Area. I was still reeling from the 1986 World Series and wondered if maybe I should adopt the Giants as my new team. After all the Red Sox had just treated me so cruely.

Then I saw the Giants blow the 1987 NLCS and I thought "Oh boy, this looks a little too familiar! I might as well stick with the Red Sox."

Giants fans, your team is cursed. There's no getting around it.
Like the way by Red Sox and the White Sox were... like the Cubs hope to lick this year...like Cleveland still suffers... the Giants have almost all the symptoms of being cursed.

1. A long wait for a Championship
We all know about the 86 year wait for my boys, the 88 years for the White Sox and the Cubs are now at year 100. It's 60 years and counting in Cleveland.

2. A Geographical Inferiority Complex
Chicago is called The Second City... think there's some insecurity there? Nah. Boston looks at New York with jealousy/disgust. Cleveland is... well it's Cleveland.

3. A single "Original Sin" event that fans can point to as "They haven't won since then!"
The Red Sox Traded Babe Ruth and haven't won since! The White Sox threw the 1919 World Series and haven't won since! The Indians traded Rocky Colavito! They wouldn't let a goat into Wrigley Field! (Why exactly did that guy have a goat again? I think I might have to side with the Cubs at that one.)

4. Many Close Calls that are foiled by flukes and stupid plays

Bring up 1978, 1986 and 2003 with Red Sox fans. It's fun. Mention 1969, 1984 and 2003 to Cubs fans. They love it. Mention the 1997 World Series to an Indians fan. Their face turns redder than their racist logo. The White Sox made a bunch of bonehead plays in 1919... but at least they were doing it on purpose.

5. A completely irrational explanation for the lack of Championships coupled with insane behavior.
Let's start diving for pianos! Let's offer a prayer to a goat! Let's build a ballpark in a cornfield and hope Shoeless Joe comes back!

Let's see how the Giants line up.

The Long Wait?
It's been 54 years since the Giants have won. Notice I didn't say "The San Francisco Giants" because they've never won in San Francisco.

The inferiority complex
Northern California has a strange "anti Southern California" vibe. I am sure the Dodgers winning 5 World Series and the Giants losing to the Angels doesn't help it.

The Original Sin?
Well they won the 1954 World Series as the New York Giants. They moved and haven't won since... so I bet it has something to do with the move.

The Close Calls
When you break down the Giants close calls, it makes even a seasoned Red Sox fan squirm a little:

- Willie McCovey's potential World Series winning hit was caught by Bobby Richardson in 1962.

- One of the greatest team of all time with 5 Hall of Famers (Mays, Cepeda, McCovey, Perry and Marichal) and many more All Stars (Jim Ray Hart, Jim Davenport, the Alou brothers, Jack Sanford) led to a slew of 90 win seasons, no more trips to the World Series after 1962 and lots of second place finishes to the Dodgers.

- The 1987 Giants take a 3 games to 2 lead in the NLCS back to St. Louis but get shut out in games 6 and 7. Candy Maldonado loses Tony Pena's flyball in the lights setting up the only run in game 6.

- The Loma Prieta Earthquake hits San Francisco just before Game 3. Along with the trauma and damage of the quake... it also allowed the A's to start Dave Stewart and Mike Moore in games 3 and 4. The A's sweep the Giants... the only cursed team to have an act of God prevent them from winning.

- The 1993 Giants won 103 games. Unfortunately the Atlanta Braves won 104 games... and for reasons never adequately explained to me, Atlanta was in the WESTERN division. With no Wild Card, the 103 win Giants failed to make the playoffs. The next year Atlanta was moved to the East and the Wild Card was formed... a year too late for a team that matched the win total of the 1962 Giants.

- The Marlins got walk off hits in the first two games of the 1997 Division Series. Edgar Renteria hit a 2 out RBI single to win game 1. Game 2 was won my Moises Alou's single. There's something not right about an Alou stifling the Giants.

- The Giants have a 7-0 lead against the Rockies on the last day of the season. A victory would clinch the Wild Card. The Rockies tie the game and win in on a walk off homer by Neifi Perez. The Giants would then lose a 1 game playoff to the Cubs.

- The Giants lost 2 extra inning games to the Mets in the 2000 Division Series, including a 13th inning walk off homer by Mets fourth outfielder Benny Agbayani.

- 2002... the year that has become to Giants fans what 1986 was for some many years for Red Sox fans.

The Giants storm into the World Series and take a 3-2 lead back to Anaheim. The Giants took a 5-0 lead in game 6 and a home run by Bonds seemed to be the icing on the cake.

Then it happened...
Dusty took Russ Ortiz out and handed him the game ball as if it was a done deal.
Scott Speizio fouled off what seemed to be 1,000 pitches before hitting a 2 out 2 strike 3 run homer to bring the Angels back in the game.

Glaus would drive in the tying and go ahead runs and force game 7.

And then game 7.
Try mentioning the name Livan Hernandez around my dad.

- In the 2003 Division Series, the Giants were ready to take a 2-1 lead on the Marlins when sure fielding Jose Cruz dropped Jeff Conine's fly ball setting up a game winning rally, highlighted by Pudge Rodriguez's 2 out 2 strike 2 run walk off single. The next day, Jeffrey Hammonds hit a 2 out single that looked like it was going to tie the game. Instead J. T. Snow was thrown out at the plate and the series was over.

- In 2004 the Giants needed to win the last 2 games of the season against the Dodgers to force a 1 game playoff. The second to last day of the year, they took a 3-0 lead to the 9th but the bullpen imploded as Steve Finley ended the game and the Giants hopes with a walk off Grand slam to win the division.

- Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home run record, but the specter of steroids and BALCO make it as fun as No Country For Old Men.

That's a lot of heart break.

And it calls for irrational behavior!
I say the Giants are cursed and here's the various curses they may or may not have.

The Curse of Coogan's Bluff –

The easiest theory is they haven't won since leaving New York. They won 17 pennants and 5 World Series titles in the Polo Grounds. They've won zero World Series since. Pretty straight forward sports curse.

Hold spring training at the spot of the old Polo Grounds. Granted it is an apartment complex now with no room to play ball... but do you want this World Series or not? Play stick ball, the way Willie used to! Do you agree, Michael New?

The Curse of of Eddie Grant –

The former New York Giant who was killed in World War I had a plaque in the Polo Grounds in his memory.When the Polo Grounds were torn down, the plaque was lost. Despite former Giants owner Horace Stoneham's promise to honor Grant in San Francisco, no new plaque has been made. And no World Series titles either.

GET A PLAQUE! Put it anywhere in AT&T Park. Stick it next to Orlando Cepeda's BBQ. Put it on the walk way. For God's sake the Giants have a statue of a seal outside. If they can honor a seal you can honor a ball player who gave his life to our country. I think everyone at McCovey Chronicles can agree with me on that.

The Curse of Minneapolis

The Giants had an agreement to move to Minneapolis but then backed out and decided to go to San Francisco. Perhaps spurning that city caused a curse to befall on the Giants. Besides, when the Senators wound up moving to Minnesota, they won the World Series in 1987 and 1991.


I think any reparations needed towards the state of Minnesota was satisfied when the Giants traded Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for A. J. Pierzynski.

Don't you agree, Martin Lee, The Obsessive Giants Complusive?

The Curse of Seals Stadium

The Giants first home and the home of San Francisco Seals for generations has long been torn down and forgotten. It's now a Safeway and shopping center near my old office at KQED TV in San Francisco.

And you walk around there and there is not a single memento or plaque honoring the great history at that place. The only sign of baseball I saw there was a DODGERS pennant in the local bagel place.


Hey Giants... How about spending some of that money you pocketed during the Bonds home run chase and carve a little plaque up. Maybe open a Giants Dugout Store. If nothing else encourage a Giants fan to sit outside the Safeway and tell people Willie Mays played here. I nominate the writers of Giants Today.

The Curse of Candlestick Point

The Giants owners looked around the city of San Francisco and the must have asked "Where would the worst place for a ballpark be in this city?"
And a city official said "There's a place on Candlestick Point where the wind kicks off the Pacific Ocean, across the Bay and smack against a bluff. In the middle of August you need a parka!"
"Hmmm... sounds horrible. How hard is it to get to?"
"A single road goes in and out. It will be a jammed artery with the smallest crowds."
"Great! When can we break ground?"
And for 40 seasons Giant fans sat in that Monstrosity ... without a World Series title.


Maybe there isn't a way to payback the Giants fans for 4 decades sitting in that rotten park. Maybe it will take 40 years in Pac Bell, or AT&T, or whatever the hell it is called. That would mean a title in 2040...

Could you wait 86 years for a title, ---?

Hmmm... 86 years between World Series titles?
Why does that sound familiar?


Well congrats to the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays.

My God that looks strange typed out.
But they were a great team this year...
And I hope the Red Sox face them in the ALCS and crush them!

But I digress.

The playoff picture is a little clearer now but won't be completely settled until Sunday at the earliest.

So let's look at the match ups.



(AL West Champion)
has home field advantage over

TAMPA BAY RAYS (AL East Champion)
has home field advantage over
MINNESOTA TWINS (AL Central Champion)


CHICAGO CUBS (NL Central Champion)
has home field advantage over

has home field advatage over


I recognize players who were robbed of a World Series MVP

DARK HORSE by Kenneth D. Ackerman

If you think this year's Presidential race is odd, then read up on the election and after math of 1880.

The Republican ticket was one guy who didn't even want to run (Garfield) and a man so corrupt that the previous President removed him from his government (Athur.)

A crazed office seeker wanted to be Minister to Paris despite not speaking any French. Garfield turned him down, so the office seeker shot President Garfield so he could ask the new President Arthur.

After that the story gets crazy. Well written and even funny... read it.

It might not be as crazy as this pennant race, but it is indeed a good read.

Friday, September 26, 2008

TBS and FOX are chanting LET'S GO METS!

The National League playoffs were setting up to put together some of the sexiest match ups in terms of TV ratings in years.

And the story lines were all no brainers and the markets themselves no doubt made ad salesmen drool.

You obviously have the Cubs... bringing in Chicago... plus the transplanted Chicagoans... plus all the people who follow them on WGN... plus the natural storyline of wanting to see them win for the first time in 100 years. Nice round number... it would have all the national interest of the Red Sox back in 2004, but the fan base isn't as obnoxious. (Sorry, me.)

You also have the Dodgers... LA... big stars in the stands... Joe Torre, the most famous manager in the game today getting his revenge on the Yankees... Manny Ramirez bringing his insanity to LA... Nomar going for his first ring... 50 years in LA (another nice round number.)

Then there are the Phillies... more of the Northeast bringing in Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey... lots of transplants... a hungry fan base looking for a championship of any kind... the last two NL MVPs in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins plus more stars like Cole Hamels and Chase Utley.

And finally the Mets... the lone reps of New York... more stars in the stands... the New York media machine would be running at full speed... David Wright and Jose Reyes hoping to be the next princes of the City.

Any combination of those teams would have been great.
They clearly would want the Cubs and Dodgers... winner goes to the World Series.
But there's nothing wrong with a Mets and Phillies series.

Hell, it would have venom that's for sure.

All seemed like it was lining up for this field of NL teams.
Then troubled started brewing... literally.

If the Brewers win the Wild Card it throws everything out of whack and leads to a reshuffling of playoff matchups that won't make the networks happy.

First of all you take New York out of the equation completely.
You don't want to take out New York when you are trying to hype a series.

Secondly because of the strange rule that says teams from the same division can't play each other in the first round, the Wild Card Brewers would face the Phillies... which would not be a big draw.

That means the marquee NLCS... the one with the great story lines, media markets and stars... the Dodgers and the Cubs... the two teams playing the best baseball in the NL... would now be a Division Series match up.

This reminds me of a few years ago in the NBA playoffs when the Spurs and the Suns were clearly the best two remaining teams... but they faced in the Conference Semi Finals... also known as "The Second Round."

The Spurs won that series and then beat inferior teams in the Conference Finals and NBA Finals for the crown that should have been awarded to them 2 round prior.

So you know the good folks at Turner and Fox are not exactly being subtle right now.

They are chanting "Let's Go Mets!"
They have too many half hour blocks to sell!

It's a rental!

I for one find the Brewers handling of C. C. Sabathia to be kind of hilarious.

They are treating him like a rental car that they'll be driving to spring break.
They are going to wear his arm down to the point where he'll wind up a suspect in Richard Kimble's wife's murder case.

What do the Brewers care?
He's going to be pitching for someone else next year!
Have him pitch Milwaukee into the playoffs and have someone else pay him $20 million next year with a sore arm.

Of course the Brewers will be rooting for Ben Sheets tomorrow but also Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins to beat Johan Santana and the Mets and wrap this up before Sunday.

Clinching Sunday would mean Sabathia would be ready to go game 1 (probably in Philadelpha).

With Sabathia pitching twice, you'd think the Brewers would be favored.
What a difference a week makes. A week ago the Brewers were 2 1/2 out of the Wild Card with a week to go and now they look like they might be favored to go to the NLCS.

Just keep burning up that rental!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If the baseball playoffs started today, September 26th

The more things get clearer, the fuzzier they really are.

Yeah the Dodgers clinched today, and that cemented another spot in the dance.
But besides the flip flopping in the AL Central, the tied NL Wild Card and Philadelphia looking over their shoulders... the Rays haven't clinched the East yet.

Could the Rays lose 3 in a row?
Could the Red Sox win 3 in a row and clinch the Division?

Oh I love this part of the year.

Let's look at the match ups:



has home field advantage over

has home field advantage over



at home versus

If the Mets win

(Best of 5)

has home field advantage over

has home field advantage over

If the Brewers win

(Best of 5)

has home field advantage overhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

has home field advantage over
(NL Wild Card)

Pretty cool, huh?

So let's get on with business.


I make the case for the Orioles to change their caps back to the smiling bird.


YOU CAN DO IT SAM by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram
My kids love the simple but very sincere stories of Sam the Bear and his mom, Mrs. Bear. The plots of the stories are simple enough.
In Kiss Good Night Sam, Mrs. Bear needs to figure out what she forgot to do before Sam can fall asleep. (Title is a spoiler alert.)

In Don't You Feel Well Sam, Sam needs to take his medicine but won't.

The trilogy concludes with You Can Do It Sam, which is my kids favorite. Sam and Mrs. Bear travel from house to house delivering cakes and Sam is nervous about walking through the snow alone.

With their daddy about to jump face first into the playoffs, perhaps it is best that I read a lot to my kids now. Fathers out there let me recommend that.

Meanwhile me plugging this book is also a cry to Amy Hest herself... WRITE MORE SAM BOOKS!!!!!

Don't get comfortable, Phanatic.... there might be anarchy

As if the Twins comeback wasn’t cool enough…
We had the Brewers staying alive with a walk off 10th inning grand slam…
We had Ryan Church saving the Mets season with an unreal slide followed by yet another walk off hit!

Who could be unhappy?

I’ll tell you who:

Think about this scenario…
The Washington Nationals beat Joe Blanton and the Phillies.
(Hey the Nats beat the Mets earlier this month)

OK then the Mets wind up beating the Florida Marlins at home.

And then the Brewers beat the resting Cubs.

None of those scenarios are outlandish, but the result would be!

That would mean the Phillies, Mets and Brewers would all be tied going into the last Saturday of the season.

No team assured a playoff spot!
The Cubs and Dodgers would have no clue who they would be playing in the Division Series going into at least Sunday.


(I’m not sure Philadelphia fans could handle this!!!!)

Well the Twins are making this pretty cool!

Didn’t I Tell You This Was The Most Interesting Pennant Race?

Can you ask for a cooler pennant race than one that flip flops first and second place right before the last weekend of the season?

How about a team coming back from a 6-1 deficit to win in extra innings?

Well, we know this weekend will be meaningful and suddenly the Indians and Royals can each play a big part in deciding who will be playing in the postseason.

And if the Twins pull this off and face the Rays, my prediction of a blimpless playoff will come true!


This is why baseball is the greatest sport of them all…
The Brewers has an emotional walk off home run on Tuesday that saved their season and followed it up a CC Sabathia win on short rest on Wednesday that tied them for a playoff spot only days after being left for dead.

Guess what? You’ve got to play again today.

Hey Mets!
You played a gut wrenching extra inning game last night where you had more chances than Colin Farrell? Have f un tonight!

This is the most magical part of the baseball regular season.
Checking the scoreboards for other teams.

Who knew everyone in Shea Stadium would be so interested in a Pirates Brewers game?

It’s a 4 game season now.
Play your best over 4 seasons and a season filled with ups and downs, September flops and stunning managerial firings will be erased with a trip to the playoffs.

4 games…
Doesn’t seem like a lot does it?
Because it’s not!


Oh it's starting to get complicated!

That's how I like my Septembers! All jumbled up.

Let's start with the American League first:


has home field over
BOSTON RED SOX (Wild card)

has home field over

That could change if the Twins beat the White Sox and complete the sweep...
In that event the Rays would play the Twins and the White Sox would be playing golf.

Are you following?
Good, because the National League is much harder.

Before the playoffs would start, there would have to be a one game playoff.

The NEW YORK METS would play the MILWAUKEE BREWERS for the Wild Card.
Not sure who would have home field... that scenario wasn't in the Coin Toss



has home field over

has home field over


have home field over

have home field over

Let's keep jumbling it!


I go Ballistic: Eck vs Seaver

Sully Baseball PLUG OF THE DAY:

The author is the co creator of Breakup Girl, the website/book/animated series that included a cartoon version of yours truly. Lynn wrote the best of her many books about a young author who gets caught up in a sinsiter web as many of her more successful contemporaries wind up murdered. As she unravels the mystery, she remains slightly insulted that her work isn't worth being killed for.

Go get it... it has Lynn's wonderful wit and imagination at the core.
Now lets look at my cartoon self again, shall we?

Reds fans... do you miss Riverfront?

Another season is winding down in Cincinnati and like every season since 2001, it will end with the Reds losing more than they won.

Since 2003, they only even mildly contended in one season:

Then they were 12 games over .500 in June and in first place tied with the Cardinals on August 24th. They went 13-21 after that and finished 80-82, while the 83-78 Cardinals won the World Series.

Most years are like this year... some home runs, some hope but in the end 162 games of "Oh yeah... the Reds."

Now why did I just pick 2003?
Becayse that's when they moved into the new Great American Ballpark.

I haven't been to it, but it looks beautiful.
Unlike a lot of the new parks, it has characteristics that separate it and distinguishes it. It incorporates the Ohio River into the background the way Pittsburgh's PNC Park uses the Three Rivers and AT&T Park in San Francisco uses the Bay.

And those riverboat smoke stacks are cool too.

But there are no new memories being made on the field.

So I pose the question:

Are you nostalgic for Riverfront Stadium?

I'm actually being dead serious with that question.

I say that because I wrote a piece about the Metrodome that got me some angry responses, mainly because I mentioned I never stepped foot in the place.

Well I DID go to Riverfront as this picture shows (that's me pointing) and while the structure itself was a cookie cutter park like Veterans Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium... somehow the experience was better.

Maybe it was the wide concourses, or the river views or the fact that the game my dad and I saw had a big crowd that was buzzing even though their Reds were not playing well.

Or maybe it was the memories.
They flashed on the scoreboard clips of past Reds greats and famous moments.

Clips of the Big Red Machine, of Pete Rose's hit, of the Nasty Boys.

I was too young to remember the 1975 and 1976 World Series.
But I vividly remember Morgan, Rose, Foster, Griffey et al.
Granted my clearest memory of Johnny Bench was on The Baseball Bunch, but I digress.

I remember Tom Seaver and later Dave Parker as Reds.
I remember the rise of Eric Davis and Barry Larkin and Pete Rose breaking Cobb's record.

And obviously I remember the Nasty Boys and the 1990 World Series, possibly the most underrated upset ever.

And those are the memories of a kid growing up in the suburbs of Boston withoutt ESPN or MLB.tv to watch out of market games.

I can't imagine how vivid the memories would be for someone in Ohio or Northern Kentucky.

Yeah it was uglier than the new park... but I am sure there is a billionaire somewhere living in a mansion, waxing nostalgically for the small house where he lived while he built his fortune.

That's Riverfront.

You've GOT to love Riverfront.
It's part of the opening of WKRP for Pete (Rose's) sake!

I'll throw it out to the fans.

What's the great memory, if any of The Great American Ballpark? Can you name one, Slyde at Red Reporter?

Hey Chris Sabo's Goggles, when you heard they were going to tear down Riverfront, were you at all sad?

Did you, Red Hot Mama, ever think "Man, this just isn't as good as Riverfront?"

Or Crosley Field Terrace, are you of the mindset that just says "I'm not living in the past. I want NEW memories is a kick ass ballpark!?"

Either way, Reds fans are the sleeping giant in baseball.
Put a consistent winner (the way the Cardinals played this decade) and they will be baseball crazed.

They have the park... all they need is the players.
That should be easy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why is this day different from all others for Red Sox fans?

So let’s go back in time to, say, the bottom of the 9th of game 4 of the 2004 ALCS… and I told you, my fellow Red Sox fans, that there will a day where the Red Sox would clinch a playoff spot and be in a position to win their 3rd World Series title in 5 years… all the while eliminating the Yankees from post season play all together despite a $200 million payroll.

You would have thought one of two things:

1) The streets of Boston would make Mardi Gras look like a ghost town


2) You were on Bizarro World.

I’m not sure if the great Broadway producer David Merrick was a Red Sox fan or not, but he certainly understands our mentality.

He has the great quote ““It is not enough for me to win. My enemies must lose.””

And I guess that quote as added meaning this morning.
The Red Sox are in the playoffs. They are going to have a chance to defend their World Series title.

My team wins.

Their victory means the Yankees, despite having by far the biggest payroll in baseball, will miss the post season for the first time since the 1994 strike.

My enemy loses.

Sometimes it is hard to determine which is sweeter… a Red Sox win or a Yankee loss. In the end it is always the Sox winning, but the fact that that question can even be asked just shows something is fundamentally flawed in our DNA.

Or maybe it can be expected… after generations of being the Coyote to the Yankee’s Road Runner… that the amount of glee over a Yankee failure would be disproportionate to what would be socially acceptable.

But I’ll admit it… I’ve thought about this day.

Perhaps it was living in New York during the bulk of the Joe Torre years and hearing about class, championships, dignity and how rooting against the Yankees in 2001 was un-American. (Because of course Al Qaeda bankrolled the Arizona Diamondbacks.)

And maybe because during most of that time the Red Sox were flopping around in a Dan Duquette haze… good enough to win games but not good enough to pass the Yankees, that I thought of Jeter doing that 1,000 yard stare and watching the games from his living room.

Anger produces that. Plus the realization that maybe my team WON’T win it ever.

Their pain equaled my pleasure.

So it is a great surprise that this day has arrived without the VJ day glee that we all would have imagined when Rivera starting pitching to Millar during that 9th inning.

It’s been such a foregone conclusion that there was never a knock out punch.
No Gonzalez single.
No groundball to Beckett.
No bloody sock.

Just a lifeless team running out of gas while the Red Sox focus on Tampa and the post season.

I guess this what we have always wanted… bigger fish to fry.
And the Yankees flopping on the dock all summer, save for one post All Star Game burst, haven’t been worth frying.

There is something worth noting, however, about the Red Sox fan and Yankee fan dynamic.

While I felt both fan bases should be friends, they are different in that Red Sox fans obsess over the Yankees in a way the Yankee fan does not.

We’ve had generations of being told over and over about our inferiority that it, well, creates an inferiority complex.

So naturally when the tables are turned, we want to trumpet our superior team as loudly as we can.

What you need to understand about Yankee fans is that while they don’t obsess over the Red Sox, they have a need to feel superior to the Red Sox and their fans.

Thus the “See You in 2090” headline when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series.

Thus the saddest shirt I ever saw.

Thus calling 2004 a fluke whenever they could.

After 2007, the Yankee fan mantra was the Red Sox and their fans had no class. Even some of my smart Yankee fan friends used this nonsensical refrain.

As if Yankee fans never rubbed anyone’s noses in it.
As if the 19-18 chant, or Boston Sucks had the gentile air of The Age of Innocence.

Well things are starting turn a little…
The Red Sox are going off to World Series defense mode while hardly noticing who they eliminated.

The Yankees go to the links, the owners son complaining about injuries and revenue sharing, all the while rumors of Manny Ramirez heading to the Bronx are already swirling.

Manny would be the 7th member of the 2004 Red Sox to put on Yankee pinstripes.

Sounds like an obsession.

So let’s throw the discussion out to my fellow members of the Nation:

Joy of Sox, did you feel a giddy glee knowing that the Yankees were going off to play golf?

Or Over the Monster. Were you more happy about going back to October and taking care of business?

Admit it Boston Irish, you had some sort of scenario that you imagined the Yankees getting eliminated from post season play!

Surviving Grady is it sweeter that it just sort of happened or would you rather they lost a 1 game playoff to a small market team like the Twins?

Hey Red Sox Chick, do you have a buddy who is a Yankees fan? Did you write him a smug e mail this morning?

Do you care, my pals at the Dirt Dogs, that everyone hates us now?

Either way, it’s pretty great to be the smug defending champion.
I used to get mad at my Yankee friends who were rooting hard in 1999, 2000 and 2001. I thought “How can this be fun for you?”

Now I know.
Man, they must have been having a BLAST!