Saturday, June 07, 2003

Red Sox post delayed

If you've come here looking for my "State of the Red Sox Saturday" post, it's going to be delayed. I have to go cover a girls lacrosse game in Cortland (about two hours away) at 10 a.m., so I obviously can't get the post up this morning. Whether or not I can get it done this afternoon depends on how late it is when I get back from the game. If I can't do it today, the post will definitely be up by noon on Sunday (unless something else comes up, in which case I'll apologize again). Thanks for stopping by, and sorry for the lack of a real post.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Rob Dibble chat

Normally, I try to avoid anything involving Rob Dibble, but for some reason I decided to read his chat on the other day. It was pretty much par for his course, and I figured I'd take a page out of Mike Carminati's book and review the chat. If you get a kick out of reading this, let me know, and maybe I'll make it a regular thing like Mike's "Joe Morgan Chat Day."

Mike has a "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" theme to his Joe Morgan Chat Days, but I'm just going to go through Dibble's comments in order and give my thoughts. On to the chat:

Jason, Los Angeles: Rob - How common is it really to use a corked bat in batting practice, in order to give the fans more home runs? It seems to me that Sosa should never have had to use it at all with all of his ability.

Rob Dibble: We had hall of famer Ozzie Smith on the radio show today and he said the last thing you do is use a lighter bat in bp to sharpen your skills. Ozzie used a heavier bat to quicken his hands for the game. I didn't know too manyplayers that used batting practice to show off. Mostly they use bp to work on fundamentals like bunting, hitting runs, and things that will actually help them in the game. Only in the last round of bp will hitters try to hit the ball out of the park.

Ben: I don't know what "hitting runs" means, but the rest of this already makes me wonder why I decided to read this chat. Hey Dibble, you think 505-homer-hitting, outfielder Sammy Sosa follows the exact same batting practice routine as light-hitting, defensive wizard at shortstop Ozzie Smith? Yeah, I guess they probably do. Sammy probably takes three or four rounds of bunting practice because he needs to do it so often in the games... And who knows? Maybe hitting some bombs in BP to get the fans going actually helps Sosa in the game.

Aaron (Fort Wayne, IN): Dibble, do think Sammy Sosa corked his bat om purpose?

Rob Dibble: Aaron, why else would somebody send bats to a professional 'bat corker' (or whatever you call someone who corks bats.) But whether it was premeditated for bp or a game, some thought had to go into it. And it's not like he just corked the bat last week, I'm sure it takes some time since it takes months to fill normal bat orders. Sosa is aging and struggling. Since being beaned in the head by Torres' fastball on April 20th, Sosa is hitting .243, with one home run and four RBI. He's struck out 33 times in 80 at bats. Since coming off the DL, he's 3-for-21 with 12 Ks. Including 3 K's in four at bats last night.

Ben: First of all, who's picking the questions here? Of course Sammy corked his bat on purpose. He said he did. The relevant question to ask is whether or not he used the corked bat on purpose. I don't know why Dibble tried to come up with an argument that Sosa corked his bat on purpose (what does the amount of time it takes to cork a bat have to do with anything?), but he does do well to point out Sosa's struggles since the beaning.

Josh(Tuscaloosa,AL): Did you know Chris Sabo had a corked bat at his infamous plate appearance?

Rob Dibble: Josh, no I wasn't with the Reds at the time and having played with him for 10 years, I once saw him cut a dozen bats into little pieces when he felt they weren't working for him.

Ben: Can we get somebody to pick worthwhile questions here? Is Dibble running this thing all by himself? I sure hope not...

Jennifer, LA: Different topic: Do you think that once Clemens finally reaches 300 wins, the Yankees will relax and play up to their expectations? Or do you think their woes are originated from front office problems?

Rob Dibble: Jennifer, the Yankees offense is not their problem. After the starting pitchers got off to such a great start, they all seemed to get into a slump at a same time. They now have an uphill battle just like the Red Sox playing some quality teams from the NL Central during interleague play. Right now they just have to stay with the Red Sox because they don't have nearly the quality of pitching that the Yankees do. Once Bernie Williams and Nick Johnson come back their offense will really be clicking. And now that Jeter has been named team captain the team finally has an identity.

Ben: This one makes my head hurt. First of all, the question doesn't even mention the Yankees offense (that word is office, Rob. You know, the place you go to do your work. Oh wait, you probably don't know). Second, the offense is the problem, or a big part of it. The Yankees have played 32 games since the end of April and scored three or fewer runs in 16 of them. Third, if you realize the offense will be better when Bernie and Johnson come back, how can you not realize it's a problem now? Fourth, are you kidding me with this Jeter thing? I highly doubt that Hideki Matsui came into the clubhouse the other day and said, "Hey, Jeter's the captain now. I know what I need to do. I will now hit 50 home runs."

chet, lexington, ky: i heard you say on espn that you were not surprised about the mlb's findings on sammy's bats. do you really believe this could be a conspiracy?

Rob Dibble: Well Chet where do I start??? Can we start with the 280 millions dollar collusion lawsuit we won from the MLB owners back in the early '90's or should we just say that I have been around the game long enough to know they would be crazy to out one of their biggest stars. The game has had so much negative press in the last year, the last thing baseball needs is another black eye.

Ben: This is a nice argument to make now that the results are public. Dibble can't be proven wrong when he says MLB wouldn't have announced that the bats had cork in them because they had already announced that they didn't have cork in them. As Rob Neyer said in his chat today, I have trouble believing MLB could have gotten everything organized enough to pull off a conspiracy that would have involved so many people.

Dibble's not the only person I've seen make this argument, however, and I'd like to give a little analogy (don't read anything into the analogy about my thoughts on homosexuality, I'm just trying to make a point).

A straight politician is running for office and a tabloid starts a rumor that he is gay. The politician makes a statement that he is not gay. The tabloid says, "Well, of course he says he's not gay. He couldn't say he's gay because he wouldn't be able to get elected." The tabloid is right that he couldn't say he's gay, but it's because he is, in fact, not gay.

I don't have any insight whatsoever into how MLB examined these bats, but neither do any of the people making these arguments. Isn't it more likely that MLB said the bats weren't corked because, in fact, they weren't corked?

Scott (Seattle): Does NY having a "team captain" really make a difference? I mean how many WS did they win when they were lacking a team captain?

Rob Dibble: Yes Scott because this is not the same team that won 4 championships. They're just a few leftovers on the new Yankees and I think Steinbrenner realizes that the heart and body were there, but they needed a head to take it in the right direction. Captain your new head.

Ben: Well, Dibble's right that this isn't the same team, but can somebody please find Rob a new head? A new brain at the very least? No? How about a sedative? A very heavy sedative?

Rob, Anchorage, AK: Can the Reds make it to the playoffs without adding a 1 type Starting Pitcher.

Rob Dibble: What are a number 2 and 3 Rob? Right now the only one throwing the ball well is Danny Graves and he's a converted reliever. If the Reds are going to go to the playoffs, they're going to have to do more than score 6 runs a game.

Ben: Graves had a 4.79 ERA at the time of Dibble's chat. Not counting his last start because it was after Dibble's chat, Graves has allowed 14 runs in 22 innings in his last three starts. This is a good thing? And considering the Reds are scoring less than five runs per game (4.98) right now, I think they'd be in damn good shape if they started scoring 6 runs a game.

Jeremy(Anniston,AL): As a great former relief pitcher, in your opinion is John Smoltz have the stuff to become the greatest closer of all time, or did he start to late in his career?

Rob Dibble: Well Jeremy...he's definitely the best closer in the game right now and if he keeps getting 55 saves a year I think he can easliy get 400+ saves to go with his quality starting record to be known as one of the best all-around pitchers that has ever played. He is better now than before he had his elbow surgery. I think his arm is bionic. Right now Smoltz is 36, and I think it's completely up to he and his arm to whether he plays into his 40's.

Ben: Rob, as a current idiot, in your opinion is this really the answer you want to give. First, Smoltz is not "definitely the best closer in the game right now." Smoltz has 22 saves in 23 opportunities, a 0.84 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and 11.69 strikeouts per nine innings. Eric Gagne has 20 saves in 20 opportunities, a 2.10 ERA, a 0.63 WHIP, and 16.2 K/9IP. The only place Smoltz really has an advantage is ERA and surely, as a great former relief pitcher, Dibble knows that ERA can be midleading, especially for a reliever.

As for Smoltz being able to reach 400 saves, well he's on pace to have 125 at the end of this season. If he gets there, and that's a big if, he'd need to average exactly 55 saves for five more seasons, during the last of which he would turn 41. Does anybody really think this is a possibility? Smoltz is 36 and barely one-fifth of the way to 400, there's absolutely no way he reaches 400 saves "easily."

Jon (Chicago): Cubs need another big bat in the lineup. The lack of run production is killing them. If you are GM, who do you go after, and what do you give up for them?

Rob Dibble: If Mike Lowell is for sale and the Cubs have what the Marlins want, I think there would be no better fit in the Cubs lineup than a power hitting third baseman. Jon, I think that everyone else has played real well and they have a very deep bench and when they go to the playoffs they will need all the help they can get. They have great starting pitching, a solid bullpen, and their defense is really good as well. That can win them a championship, they just need the offensive numbers to get them to the playoffs first.

Ben: The Cubs could certainly use Mike Lowell, and I'm not going to criticize Rob at all on this answer. It's his best of the chat.

Springfield, MO: Because of the improved Braves offense, is this going to be the year they win the world series?

Rob Dibble: The Braves have everything they need as far as offense and bullpen. This year, Maddux has been less than Maddux and Hampton just hurt his left groin today. Paul Byrd is still hurt, so if the Braves don't figure out a better starting rotation down the stretch, all that offense and bullpen may not be enough for...a championship.

Ben: The Braves obviously have a great offense and, Roberto Hernandez notwithstanding, they do have a pretty good bullpen. The Angels just won a World Series with good offense plus good bullpen plus decent pitching. Why can't the Braves?

Gordon (nyc): Hi Rob, how do you see andy pettitte's career turning out, he is 30 years old with 132 wins and 4 rings. He could end up with some impressive stats but would people dismiss them as a result of playing for great teams? Thanks

Rob Dibble: Andy Pettitte is very complex to me. He has all the neccessary tools to win a Cy Young award. I think that Andy fights himself too much, he has to believe in his stuff. He has to believe he can get anyone out with any of his pitches at any time. Freddie Garcia with the Mariners is much along the same road. Once guys start to loss confidence, it's hard to get it back. But both pitchers are all star quality, they just have to keep telling themselves they are.

Ben: And Dibble just needs to keep telling himself he's a good announcer, then it will all be okay. What a crock. How many players get better because they've begun telling themselves they're All-Star quality? Hey, Jamie Moyer doesn't have great "stuff." If he starts telling himself he's not All-Star quality, will he stop being such a good pitcher?

Adam ( Atlantic, Va): Hey Rob, Who in the game today besides Clemens and Maddux do you think has the best shot at winning 300.

Rob Dibble: I like Barry Zito. He's only 25 years old and he's already won 53 games. If he just keeps pitching the way he's pitching and can stay healthy until he's 40 I don't see a problem.

Ben: Oh boy. It's fine to say that Zito has the best shot of the young players to reach 300, but to say anything that involves the phrase "stay healty," the age "40," and the phrase "I don't see a problem" is stupid. Unless you're saying, "I don't see a problem with waiting to see if he can stay healthy until he's 40 before we talk about how many wins he'll end up with."

Also, the pitcher with the best shot at winning 300 after Clemens and Maddux is Tom Glavine. Glavine's 37 years old and he only needs 53 more wins. He's certainly not a sure thing for 300, but he's much more likely to get there then Barry Zito.

That's all of the chat. Rob, could you head on over to Neyer's chat to see how it's done? Eh, don't bother. You'll probably just get confused...

I hope you all enjoyed. Dibble's chats are certainly more fun when you get to respond, even if he never gets the message.

What? I don't give a darn...

We've been hearing about the great offensive shortstops for several years now, and it's more true this year than ever. Even with Derek Jeter's injury and Miguel Tejada's slump, there are shortstops putting up ridiculous numbers this season.

There are currently five shortstops with an OPS above .900 who have had enough playing time to qualify. But this year they're not alone. The shortstops' double play partners are carrying big sticks too as there are also five second basemen with .900-plus OPS's who have played enough. Let's take a look at all 10 players, starting with the second basemen.

Bret Boone is easily the best of the bunch. He's hitting .320 with a .388 OBP and a .623 SLG (1.010 OPS) with 17 home runs, 51 runs, 48 RBI and 6 steals in 7 attempts. In the AL, he ranks third in homers, fourth in RBI, second in runs, second in SLG and fourth in OPS. He also has a .346 EqA, which is a measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching (courtesy of Baseball Prospectus).

The next four are very close, as the all have an OPS between .930 and .936. I'll list them in what I think is the order of their value on offense this season.

Alfonso Soriano is hitting .307/.364/.572 (.936 OPS) with 18 homers, 50 runs, 42 RBI and 17 steals in 19 attempts. In the AL, he ranks first in homers, seventh in RBI, third in runs, first in steals and 10th in SLG. He has a .323 EqA.

Jose Vidro is hitting .338/.427/.505 (.932 OPS) with five homers, 31 runs, 30 RBI and one steal in one attempt. In the NL, he ranks fourth in batting average and sixth in OBP. He has a .322 EqA.

Marcus Giles is hitting .320/.397/.533 with seven homers, 41 runs, 32 RBI and six steals in seven attempts. He ranks eighth in the NL in runs and has a .318 EqA.

Jeff Kent is hitting .324/.386/.548 (.934 OPS) with nine homers, 37 runs, 43 RBI and four steals in five attempts. In the NL, he ranks eighth in batting average, 10th in SLG and 10th in OPS. He has a .308 EqA.

Soriano is just ridiculous and Kent continues to be one of the best second basemen in history. Boone is proving that he really is a very good hitter and Vidro may be the most underrated player in the game. I've expected great things of Giles for awhile, and I am not at all surprised by his performance.

Now let's look at the shortstops, where you've got two familiar names, two names you should get used to hearing and one name everybody thought they'd be able to forget about by now. Oddly, that last one is at the top of the list.

Alex Gonzalez (FLA) is hitting .335/.382/.598 (.980) with a .316 EqA, nine homers, 23 runs and 38 RBI, although he's been caught on all four of his steal attempts. In the NL, he ranks fifth in batting, sixth in SLG and sixth in OPS. I don't know what to make of Gonzalez. Even after his great first third of the season, he has a .690 career OPS.

Alex Rodriguez is hitting .294/.378/.566 (.944) with a .317 EqA, 16 homers, 41 runs, 38 RBI and six steals in seven attempts. In the AL, he ranks fifth in homers and 10th in runs. It's ridiculous that a shortstop with a .944 OPS is 14 points below his career OPS and 70-80 points below what he's done the last three years.

Rafael Furcal is hitting .323/.388/.528 (.917) with a .313 EqA, eight homers, 54 runs, 23 RBI and 11 steals in 12 attempts. In the NL, he ranks ninth in batting, first in runs and seventh in steals. After teasing us for three seasons, he seems to finally be putting his tremendous talent to good use.

Edgar Renteria is hitting .339/.390/.511 (.902) with a .310 EqA, six homers, 36 runs, 44 RBI and eight steals in 10 attempts. In the NL, he ranks third in batting and 10th in RBI. I expected him to be the best shortstop in the NL this season, and he would be just that most years with this performance.

Nomar Garciaparra is hitting .315/.346/.573 (.919) with a .310 EqA, 10 homers, 50 runs, 40 RBI and five steals in eight attempts. In the AL, he ranks fourth in runs and ninth in SLG. Garciaparra's on pace for a career-high in extra-base hits (95), but his low walk total (and sub-.350 OBP) is what separates him from the other four on this list.

So, with 10 great middle infielders running around at the 60-or-so game mark, there's an obvious follow-up question. Which team has the best offensive middle infield in baseball?

Well, there are four teams on which both middle infielders have an OPS above .800 and another team that just misses. The four teams are Boston, Atlanta, Texas and Montreal, with Seattle very close.

Garciaparra's .573 SLG is preceded nicely in the Red Sox lineup by Todd Walker's .367 OBP (and .805 OPS). This is the best middle infield if you want to get a hitting streak going (Garciaparra had a 26-game hitting streak earlier this season and Walker's currently riding a 20-game streak), but it is not the best offensive middle infield in baseball.

Giles (.930) and Furcal (.917) make up the only middle infield in which both players have an OPS above .900. They both get on base nearly 40 percent of the time and have combined to steal 17 bases in 19 attempts, making them a perfect 1-2 punch at the top of the Braves' order.

Rodriguez does the heavy lifting in the Texas middle infield, but Michael Young is no slouch with an .812 OPS. These Rangers can't compete with Atlanta's middle infield at the moment though, especially when you take home parks into consideration.

Vidro gets on base more than any other middle infielder, and Orlando Cabrera's .837 OPS is a nice complement. The Expos are probably fighting the Rangers for the third-best offensive middle infield right now.

Seattle obviously has Boone, the only middle infielder with an OPS above 1.000 (Alex Gonzalez is the only other one with an OPS above .950), but the almost make the list of team with two .800-plus OPS middle infielders. Carlos Guillen has a .797 OPS after going 0-for-4 yesterday. His OPS was as high as .854 a few days ago.

So, which is the best? Well, it's probably a matter of taste. Do you like two very good hitters (Giles and Furcal) or one great hitter (Boone) and one good hitter (Guillen)? I think I'd have to go with the Braves' duo, especially when you take their speed into consideration.

Of course, all of this could -- and probably will -- change over the next week or two, and I'm sure the list will look very different at the end of the season. However, if you had said at the beginning of the season that the Braves will have the best offensive middle infield in baseball on June 6th, you probably would have gotten laughed out of the room. That's why the Braves are in first place right now.

Turned loose

When Alex Sanchez was traded from Milwaukee to Detroit, I didn't think I'd ever have anything to say about it. Well, turns out I do.

As you've probably heard, Sanchez is very fast. He also is not a good hitter. He had a .316 OBP this season for Milwaukee before being traded and has a .324 career OBP. Speed isn't much good if you're not on base enough to use it.

Compounding his troubles with getting on base were his strange early-season struggles with stealing. In 43 games, Sanchez stole eight bases, but was caught six times as well. Last year, he stole 37 bases and was caught 14 times (72.5 percent success rate).

You can see why the Brewers didn't really want to keep him. There's not much use to a player who doesn't hit well and is having trouble using his only real talent.

Well, a funny thing happened when Sanchez got to Detroit. He remembered how to steal bases. In seven games with the Tigers, he's stolen eight bases (his page says nine, but one was a fielder's indifference) and been caught just once. Even more remarkable is that he's done this while posting a .265 OBP.

I was so surprised to see this, that I decided to take a look at every time Sanchez had been on base for the Tigers, whether he deserved to be there or not (I also figured it wouldn't take very long). Here's what I found.

On May 28th, Sanchez singled in the first inning and then stole second base. He would not reach base again that game.

On May 30th, Sanchez reached on an error in the fourth inning and then stole second base. Again, that was his only appearance on the basepaths that game.

On May 31st, Sanchez was hit by a pitch in the first inning and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. He then singed in the fourth, but there was already a runner on second so he couldn't steal.

On June 1st, Sanchez reached on an error in the third inning and then stole second base. He singled in the fifth, and again stole second.

On June 3rd, Sanchez singled in the first inning and was caught stealing second base. He singled again in the sixth, but did not try to steal.

On June 4th, Sanchez singled in the fourth inning and then stole second base. He singled again in the sixth and stole second again. He singled one more time in the ninth and stole second, but the official scorer decided it was fielder's indifference.

Yesterday, Sanchez reached on a fielder's choice in the eighth inning and then stole second and third.

So, Sanchez has found himself standing on first base in a Detroit uniform 12 times. One of those times there was a runner on second already and he couldn't steal. Of the other 11 times, he tried to steal second nine times. He was successful seven times, caught once and not given credit by the scorer once.

I don't really know what to say about that. He's attempted to steal second base about 82 percent of the time when he's had the opportunity. That obviously won't continue, but how much will he slow down?

Detroit can't score runs anyway, so I guess they may as well try to get something going on the basepaths. I never thought I'd say this, but I'll be watching Alex Sanchez with great interest over the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Enough already

I just have one question pertaining to Sammy Sosa and the whole bat-corking incident. Can everybody stop proclaiming players the one to break Hank Aaron's record?

First, Ken Griffey Jr. was a lock to break Aaron's record. He had 398 homers after his age 29 season and had just averaged 52.25 homers per season for the last four years. He only needed to average about 36 homers over the next 10 seasons to break the record.

Even after "slipping" to 40 homers in his first season with Cincinnati, he needed just 318 home runs (about 35 a year for nine years or 40 a year for eight years) to break the record. Well, you know what happened next.

He hit 30 homers over the next two years, has just seven this season and is again injured with a strained right biceps (although he's not expected to miss significant time). He is 33 years old and needs 301 more homers to break the record. Can he still do it? Sure, but it would be tough and he never should have been thought of as a sure thing.

Just as Griffey was being dubbed a sure thing, people were starting to think that Mark McGwire had a shot at breaking the record. He had reached 65 homers two years in a row and averaged 61.25 homers per year for the last four seasons.

At the end of his age 35 season, he needed 234 homers to break the record. If he could keep playing for six more seasons, he would need to average just 39 homers a season to become the new home run king.

Well, he hit 32 homers in just 89 games in 2000, 29 homers in 97 games in 2001 and then retired. He finished with 583 home runs, 173 shy of breaking the record.

Then, Barry Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001. All of the sudden, at the end of his age 35 season, he needed just 189 more homers to break the record. If he played for five more years, he would need to average just 38 home runs per season.

He then hit 46 homers last year, meaning he'd need just 36 homers per season over four years to break the record. Bonds still has a decent shot as he needs 129 more homers and turns 39 next month. If he can stay healthy and play three or four more season he should do it, but those are big ifs.

Then there's Sammy. He was 34 years old coming into this season, had 499 home runs and had averaged 58.4 homers a season for the last five years. He needed 257 home runs to break the record, which works out to about 43 a season if he played six more years.

Well, he has six home runs so far this year and has already missed 17 games. He's going to get suspended for using a corked bat, and he doesn't seem to be the same hitter he was the past five years. He'll probably be lucky to reach 35 homers this year, which would make it very difficult for him to make a run at the record.

Alex Rodriguez is just 27 years old and has 314 home runs. He'll turn 28 next month and is on pace for another 40-plus home run season.

If he has more than 400 homers by age 30 (which seems likely) Vegas may set near-even odds that he'll break the record. And that's not fair to him because infinitely many things could go wrong between 400 and 756 (hell, a lot can go wrong between 314 and 400).

If you want to predict that somebody will break Aaron's record, at least wait until that person gets to 700. Until then, just enjoy the show they're putting on.

I'm sure Hank is.

Kim Connections

The Anaheim Angels connected for three home runs off Sun-Woo Kim in his first appearance of the season yesterday. Anaheim hit seven homers in the game, after hitting six home runs Tuesday.

Before these two offensive outbursts, the Angels were averaging 0.93 home runs per game and 4.98 runs per game. After just two games in San Juan, they're up to 1.13 homers per game and 5.27 runs per game.

Garret Anderson and Jeff DaVanon each hit four homers in the two games.

Anderson hit three yesterday and one Tuesday. He's 7-for-12 with a walk, four homers, five runs and nine RBI so far in the series. Anderson is on pace to have a season eerily similar to last year.

In 2002, he hit .306/.332/.539 with 195 hits, 56 doubles, 3 triples, 29 homers, 93 runs, 123 RBI, 30 walks, 80 strikeouts, 6 steals and 4 times caught. This year he's on pace to hit .316/.343/.570 with 55 doubles, 9 triples, 32 homers, 148 RBI, 29 walks, 87 strikeouts, 9 steals and 6 times caught.

The only difference is about a dozen extra hits, six more triples and three more homers. The 25 extra RBI and 10 fewer runs would be mostly a function of the team and his walk and strikeout rates are about the same. Or are they?

Anderson did walk 30 times last year, but 11 of them were intentional passes. He's walked 10 times in 56 games this year, but has only been intentionally walked once. So while he's walking about the same amount as last year, he's actually being a more selective hitter this year.

DaVanon has hit two homers in each game of this series and has actually hit two home runs in three straight games. I don't know what the record for most consecutive games with multiple home runs is, but I can't imagine it's much more than three.

When you look at DaVanon's track record, you might see somebody who did not post an OPS above .750 until his fourth season in Class A. I, however, see a hitter whose minor league OBP's look like this: .376, .353, .377, .439, .424, .416, .390, .429.

DaVanon had that .376 OBP with a .329 SLG in 57 games at Class A South Oregon in 1995, after being drafted by Oakland. He then had a .353 OBP and a .336 SLG in 89 games for Class A West Michigan in 1996. In 1997, he posted a .377 OBP and a .355 SLG in 119 games for Class A Visalia. He then had a .439 OBP and a 468 SLG in 84 games for Modesto in 1998, his last season in Class A.

Promoted to Class AA Midland in 1998, he had an.424 OBP and a .567 SLG in 100 games before being traded to the Angels. He then had a .416 OBP and a .568 SLG in 34 games for Clsas AAA Edmonton.

Just when it seemed like his career might get going, however, DaVanon missed the entire 2000 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. He returned in 2001 to post a .390 OBP and a .566 SLG for Class AAA Salt Lake before going up to Anaheim, where he had a .689 OPS in 40 games (88 at-bats).

DaVanon went back to Salt Lake last year and had a .429 OBP and a .600 SLG, but in just 25 games as he missed three months with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Now finally healthy, DaVanon is hitting .389/.427/.700 in 36 games with Anaheim. He has eight homers in 90 at-bats (a home run every 11.25 ABs) after hitting seven homers over his first 138 at-bats (a homer every 19.7 ABs). I don't think DaVanon will ever be a superstar, but his minor league numbers show that he can definitely be an above average starter.

Kim went to Montreal last summer when Boston traded for Cliff Floyd, but I don't know that he'll ever amount to much.

Before last year, Kim had never posted an ERA below 4.80 at any level. He did have decent strikeout and walk rates though, as his K/9 IP varied from 7.76 to 7.99 and his K/BB varied from 2.76 to 3.3 over four minor league seasons.

Last year, Kim seemed to be turning the corner as he posted a 2.22 ERA in 89 innings between Pawtucket and Ottawa, but that success masked something disturbing. His K/9 IP ratio dropped to 6.57 and his K/BB dropped to 2.03. This year, those numbers (at Class AAA Edmonton) dropped again, to 4.88 K/9 IP and 1.07 K/BB, and his ERA rose to 4.73.

Kim may never become a useful big-leaguer, but the Expos have another former Red Sox pitcher who has done a nice job for them this year. At least he had been until Tuesday.

Like Kim, Tomo Ohka was touched up for three homers by the Angels this series.

Before Tuesday's start, Ohka had a 4.18 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP and 7 of his 11 starts had been quality starts. After allowing eight runs in two innings Tuesday, he has a 5.20 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Kim has made seven "home" starts, four in Montreal and three in San Juan. In Montreal, he has a 3.65 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. In San Juan, he has a 5.63 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. On the road, he has a 6.65 ERA and a 1.98 WHIP.

Anyway, what else do Kim and Ohka have in common besides being former Red Sox pitchers who gave up three home runs to the Angels in San Juan? Well, they were both suspended by the Red Sox for getting into a fight with each other when they were with Pawtucket. Apparently they started fighting during a rain delay in Norfolk and continued fighting later at the hotel.

Of course, the Red Sox have a different Kim on the roster now. Byung-Hyun Kim was very impressive in his first start for Boston, allowing one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings. It was nice to see that he only needed 83 pitches to go seven innings, but it's a little worrisome that he only had two strikeouts. Hopefully it's just a fluke thing and he'll get his strikeouts back up.

It must have been nice for Kim to see the Red Sox scoring 11 runs for him. Arizona didn't score that many in his first five starts this season. The Diamondbacks scored 10 runs in his first five starts and 18 runs in the seven starts he made for them. And people wondered why he was 1-5...

It's a good thing Kim had a good first start, because the Boston media may have pounded Theo Epstein if Kim had gotten pounded. Why? Because the other half of the trade had a good night as well.

Shea Hillenbrand went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI for Arizona yesterday. So, Hillenbrand has two doubles, a home run and two walks in four games with Arizona.

He only had two doubles in his last 15 games with Boston. He only had one home run in his last 27 games with Boston. He only had two walks in his last 28 games with Boston. This trade may end up looking more even than it really is, at least for this year, because Hillenbrand is going to a good place for offense.

As Lee Sinins mentioned in a recent ATM report, Arizona has been inflating offense more than Colorado this year, you just don't notice it because Arizona's offense stinks. There have been 9.84 runs scored per game in Arizona home games (4.84 for Arizona, 5 for opponents) and 7.41 runs scored per game in Arizona road games (3.78 for Arizona, 3.63 for opponents). That means Arizona's home stadium is inflating scoring by about 33 percent (Coors Field has been increasing offense by about 32 percent this year).

Since Fenway Park is actually decreasing offense by about 15 percent (there have been 10.85 runs score per game in Boston home games and 12.5 per game in Boston road games), Hillenbrand's numbers are likely to go up, but that doesn't mean he's really hitting better.

How about that? A post with many Red Sox mentions that's only briefly about the Red Sox. Sometimes it's neat how things are connected in baseball.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


As you may have noticed, my trip to Pittsburgh did not go quite as I would have liked.

It started raining around 2 p.m. yesterday, just when I crossed from New York into Pennsylvania. It continued raining with varying intensity for the rest of my drive to the hotel I was staying at last night.

Of course, when I got to the hotel, they had not received my reservation from So, I had to wait while they found me a room. After I had finally finished checking in, the rain continued as I drove through bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to PNC Park.

I was worried about something else as I was driving to the park, however. They were doing construction on the only route I had directions for, which made things more difficult for me. I was able to find the park without much problem, but I thought things might be tougher on the way back to the hotel. I decided not to worry about it and enjoy the baseball game I hoped I would see.

Of course, there was no baseball game. After walking around the park for awhile, I got to my seat around 6:15. The tarp was not covering the infield and the players were warming up, but it was still raining.

Nomar Garciaparra came out to sign some autographs and after awhile, I realized there were no longer a lot of people around him. I decided to go see if I could get an autograph, but he stopped signing about five feet before he got to me. Of course, it's my fault that I don't already have a Nomar autograph. A few years ago at Spring Training, Wendell Kim was signing autographs and I figured, "What the heck, I'll have him sign the program." Then, Nomar came out and went to the person standing just to the right of me, with the intention of working his way toward the outfield (meaning I was second in line). I had a clean ball in my pocket, but for some reason I gave him my hat and a crappy Sharpie. You can barely see the autograph.

Anyway, shortly after Nomar went back into the dugout, they put the tarp back on the infield. I sat in my seat until about 7:30, at which point I was thoroughly soaked and decided to go stand where it was dry.

I stood there, talking to people every now and then and walking around to see more of the ballpark occasionally, for awhile. Around 8:30, somebody reecited Casey at the Bat -- or played a tape of it -- over the loudspeaker. When the fans realized it wasn't an announcement about the game, they booed the poem lustily.

About 15 minutes later, the fans thought they had reason to cheer when two people in Pittsburgh uniforms came out to play catch. Those cheers quickly turned to jeers when people realized they were just bat boys.

It was around 9 p.m. when Stacy, my girlfriend, called to tell me that Sammy Sosa had been ejected for using a corked bat (for some insight into the incident, go see what The Cub Reporter has to say. Christian also provides links to several stories about the incident). I went back out into the rain so I could hear her better, and realized that it was barely raining anymore. I mean, so little precipitation as to make the word "drizzle" an overstatement.

The rain continued to be very light, but the game was postponed anyway at 9:45.

I had a hotel room last night and the day off today, so I could have stayed to see the game if it had been made up as a day/night doubleheader with the first game at 1 p.m. Instead, they decide to have a twi-night doubleheader with the first game at 5 p.m. I have to work tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and had I stayed for the game I probably wouldn't have made it back to Rochester until after 2 a.m., so I decided to just cut my losses.

Ah, but my night was not over yet. You'll recall that I was worried about my drive from the park back to the hotel and, indeed, it was a problem. It took me about 30 minutes in stop-and-go traffic to get to the ballpark from the hotel. With very little traffic most of the way, it took me an hour to get from the park back to the hotel.

As you might imagine. I was very, very angry when I finally arrived in my room.

After venting on the phone with Stacy for awhile, I turned on ESPN (I had driven all day to watch a baseball game, so I was determined to see at least a little bit of baseball) and then decided to take a bath and read some more of Moneyball.

While I soaked in the hot water and soaked up the words of Michael Lewis, my anger vanished. I relaxed, and forgot all about my long day.

I'm only a little more than halfway done with the book (I'm a very slow reader, which is most annoying since there are so many things I want to read), but I can already tell you that it's a great book.

The best thing I can say about it is that it makes me feel like I can be a better person. That if I think for myself as often as possible and challenge what's accepted whenever I can, a whole new world of possibility will open up to me.

It is a wonderful story, but it's not really about Billy Beane -- although he is a main character. It's not about Paul DePodesta or Scott Hatteberg or any individual person. It's not even about the Oakland A's -- although they are the focus of the book.

It's about a way of doing things. It's about being innovative and efficient. It's about not accepting what's been done before as the best way to do things and -- perhaps more importantly -- not trusting your own solution as the best possible answer to a question.

As I read the book, I couldn't help thinking of another book. A book that also made me feel like I could be a better person. That book is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

Like Moneyball, Tuesdays with Morrie is written by the author in the first person and is about his interaction with the subject of the book. In this case, the subject is Morrie Schwartz, Albom's favorite professor from college, who is dying.

The book is about Albom's meetings every Tuesday with Morrie (just as they had met on Tuesdays when Albom was in college), but it is not really about the meetings. It is about how to live. Specifically, how to live life to its fullest. How to be a better person, both for yourself and for the people around you.

As I read Moneyball and thought about Tuesdays with Morrie, I couldn't help but feel silly for ever being angry in the first place.

I remembered that I am very lucky to have a girlfriend with whom I am very much in love (and who has taken to my request that she follow baseball at least a little so much that she thought to call me and let me know about Sosa).

I remembered that I am lucky to get along well with her family members, with whom we are going to see a movie tonight that I expect to thoroughly enjoy (Finding Nemo, in case you're curious).

I realized that I'm lucky to have jobs -- even if they are not the jobs I would have in my dream world -- that allow me to take trips like these -- even if this one did not work out as I had hoped it would.

Finally, I remembered that the reason I wanted to make the trip in the first place was to see PNC Park. It just happened that the first game my schedule would allow me to see was a game against the Red Sox.

And I did see the park, and it was wonderful.

In fact, as I walked over the Roberto Clemente bridge, right down the middle of the road, with Pirates and Red Sox fans all around me, I couldn't help but grin as we passed under the banner that read, "Welcome to 1903."

In case you didn't know, it was Turn Back the Clock Night. The teams were both wearing uniforms from 1903, the year Boston and Pittsburg (not a typo, there was no 'h' then) met in the first World Series. The park staff and even the press were dressed in clothing that might have been commonplace in the early 20th century.

There was a four-piece brass band playing and a barbershop quartet singing, and the rain hardly seemed to matter at first.

Would I make the trip again if I knew that it would happen as it happened? Probably not. But I don't regret that I went, and getting angry about it certainly wasn't going to fix anything.

Because I'm a slow reader, I don't often read a book more than once. But I may just read Tuesdays with Morrie again sometime soon, and I'm sure I'll read Moneyball again.

In fact, if I was told I had to pick just two books that I could read for the rest of my life, those might very well be my selections. There are wonderful lessons to be learned from these books. Lessons about how to live life and solve problems. When things go wrong, it's nice to have a book to remind you that it's not the end of the world.

A dying man living beautifully and a poor team winning marvelously. I can't think of any better examples of the greatness of life than those.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Back in Time

I'm going to make one post this morning without any links to the players I mention before I head out to Pittsburgh. Please wish along with me that tonight's game does not get rained out; I'm not driving out to Pittsburgh and back because I like the city...

Anyway, I wanted to ask a question to get things started. What's the only division in baseball with four winning teams?

If you said the AL East, then you're really paying attention. If you know that this is the latest four AL East teams have had a winning record at the same time since 1998, then you really know your AL East. At the end of the day on June 2, 2003 (yesterday), the New York Yankees were 33-23, the Boston Red Sox were 31-24, the Toronto Blue Jays were 32-26 and the Baltimore Orioles were 28-27. At the end of the day on September 20, 1998, those same four teams were all above .500. Let's take a look those teams five years ago.

The Orioles were 78-77. Had they won four of their last seven games, the AL East could have ended the season with four winning teams. Instead, they went 1-6 to finish 79-83.

Rafael Palmeiro led that Baltimore offense, hitting .296 with a .379 OBP and a .565 SLG. He had 43 home runs and 121 RBI in 162 games. Eric Davis his .327/.388/.582 with 28 homers and 89 RBI in 131 games, and Chris Hoiles hit .262/.358/.476 in 93 games, 83 of them as a catcher. The pitching staff was obviously anchored by Mike Mussina, who went 13-10 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP with 175 strikeouts in 206.1 innings pitched.

That was the last of the three seasons the Orioles had Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mussina on the team together. Palmeiro and Alomar left after that season, Mussina went to the Yankees after the 2000 season and Ripken retired after the 2001 season.

Toronto was 83-73 on September 20, 1998 and went 5-1 the rest of the way to finish 88-74. Amazingly, the Blue Jays have won fewer games every year since, but only lost 10 wins from 1998 to 2002.

Toronto's offense was led by Carlos Delgado's breakout season. Delgado hit .292/.385/.592 with 38 home runs and 115 RBi in 142 games. Shawn Green hit .278/.334/.510 with 35 homers and 100 RBI in 158 games, and Jose Canseco hit .237/.318/.518 with 46 home runs and 107 RBI in 151 games. Tony Fernandez had the first of the two best seasons of his career at age 36, hitting .321/.387/.459 in 138 games. The ace of the pitching staff was Roger Clemens, who went 20-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 271 strikeouts in 234.2 innings to win the Cy Young Award.

The Red Sox were 86-68 and won six of their last eight games to finish 92-70 and win the AL wild card. Since I'm not old enough to remember 1986, 1998 may be my most bittersweet memory of the Red Sox, but I'll discuss that a little bit later.

The Red Sox really only had two great hitters. Mo Vaughn hit .337/.402/.591 with 40 home runs and 115 RBI in 154 games. If Vaughn ever deserved to win an MVP award, it was in 1998, not in 1995 (when he actually did win). Nomar Garciaparra followed up his Rookie of the Year season with a .323/.362/.584 performance in 143 games. He hit 35 home runs and had 122 RBI to finish second in the MVP voting.

Boston's pitching staff had a great starter and a great closer. Pedro Martinez went 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP with 251 strikeouts in 233.2 innings to finish second to Clemens in Cy Young voting. Tom Gordon saved 46 games with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP with 78 strikeouts in 79.1 innings.

Then there were the Yankees. New York was 107-47 on September 20 and went 7-1 to finish at 114-48. The Yankees swept the Rangers in the division series, best the Indians in six games in the ALCS and swept the Padres in the World Series.

Ten Yankees hitters played in at least 100 games that year and only three had an OPS below .825. Only one of those three -- Chad Curtis (.715 in 151 games) -- had an OPS below .765. Chuck Knoblauch had a .766 OPS in 150 games and Tim Raines had a .778 OPS in 109 games. The other seven were Bernie Williams (.997 OPS in 128 games), Darryl Strawberry (.896 OPS in 101 games), Paul O'Neill (.882 OPS in 152 games), Derek Jeter (.865 OPS in 149 games), Tino Martinez (.860 OPS in 142 games), Scott Brosius (.843 OPS in 152 games) and Jorge Posada (.825 OPS in 111 games). As a team, the Yankees had an .822 OPS and scored 5.96 runs per game compared to the league average of a .769 OPS and 5.01 runs per game.

The Yankees had three starting pitchers with an ERA+ above 125. David Cone went 20-7 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 209 strikeouts in 207.2 innings and had a 126 ERA+, David Wells went 18-4 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 163 strikeouts in 214.1 innings and a 128 ERA+ and rookie Orlando Hernandez went 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP with 131 strikeouts in 141 innings and a 143 ERA+. The closer, of course, was Mariano Rivera, who saved 36 games with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with just 36 strikeouts in 61.1 innings.

How many players on the rosters of those four teams now were on the roster in 1998? 18 total.

Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera are still with the Yankees and David Wells is back after a couple detours. Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe are still with the Red Sox. Carlos Delgado, Shannon Stewart, Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay are still with the Blue Jays. Finally, only two Orioles remain from 1998 -- Jerry Hairston Jr. and Sidney Ponson.

There is a difference between today's AL East and the AL East of September 20, 1998. This AL East has just the third-highest combined winning percentage, while that AL East had far and away the best.

The combined winning percentage of the AL East today is .520. The AL West (.553) and NL East (.541) are both significantly better as no division is really close to being right at .500 (the NL Central is the closest at .482).

The combined winning percentage of the AL East then was .538, much better than the NL Central (.511) and the NL West (.505). The AL West was almost exactly even that year at .499.

Want another similarity between today and that day? The only division with only one winning team today is the AL Central (which has a .438 winning percentage, easily the worst in baseball) and the only division with only one winning team that day was the AL Central (which had a .465 winning percentage, the worst in baseball). The winning team today is the Twins (31-24), that day it was the Indians (87-67).

And now, about the heartbreak of 1998.

As I said, while the Yankees were winning more than 70% of their games, the Red Sox were doing well enough to make the playoffs themselves. Since the rules prevent teams from the same division meeting in the first round, the Red Sox faced the Indians in the ALDS.

Pedro (7 IP, 6 H, 3R, 8K), Vaughn (2 HR, 7 RBI) and Nomar (HR, 4 RBI) led the Red Sox to an 11-3 victory in game one. The Indians won the next two games, however, to take a 2-1 lead and leave Red Sox manager Jimy Williams to make an unpopular decision.

Rather than start Pedro on short rest to try to even the series, Williams decided to use Pete Schourek in game four. He figured that the Red Sox needed to win both games anyway, so why not let the ace pitch in a game five with full rest.

The plan worked brilliantly as Schourek pitched 5.1 shutout innings, allowing two hits and four walks. Derek Lowe came in and retired the next five batters, and the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead into the top of the eighth inning.

Williams then gave the ball to Tom Gordon, who had set a Major-League record with 43 consecutive saves dating back to April 14th of that year, to pitch the final two innings. Gordon got the first out in the eighth, but then he gave up a single to Kenny Lofton. Omar Vizquel followed that with another single and Lofton stole third to put the tying run 90-feet away with just one out. David Justice did more than tie the game, he cracked a two-run double to right field to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

Boston wasted a one-out double by Vaughn in the bottom of the eighth and went quietly in the ninth and the season was over.

I was inconsolable after that game, but I think that loss probably made Boston's comeback from two games down against the Indians in 1999 that much sweeter.

Here's hoping 2003 doesn't provide Red Sox fans as much anguish as 1998 did. Playing tonight's game in Pittsburgh would be a good start ( says it's going to rain until about 9 tonight).

Monday, June 02, 2003

Tale of two months

I regret to say that this short post will be my last today. I had hoped to make at least two or three longer ones, but I got caught up in reading Moneyball and now I don't have much time for posting.

Anyway, I wanted to show you two one-month performances.

A - 106 AB, 39 H, 3 BB, 27 K, 2/5 SB
B - 105 AB, 33 H, 6 BB, 17 K, 5/5 SB

Which of those would you rather have? A hit for a higher average, but B controlled the strike zone better and was much better on the basepaths.

I suspect at least some of you already know that A is what Rocco Baldelli did in April and B is what he did in May. If you knew that, then you also knew that Baldelli hit .368 with a .389 OBP and a .509 SLG in April, but just .314/.348/.438 in May.

The difference is that Baldelli had six more hits in April, four more extra-base hits in April and, while he walked three fewer times in April, he was hit by a pitch twice in April and not at all in May.

Why am I bringing these two months up? Because Baldelli's performance in May gives me reason to think that he'll not only become a great player, but that he'll finish with good numbers this season.

You see, when I see a 21-year-old hitting .368 with almost no regard for the strike zone, I think that he's getting quite lucky and while likely slump magnificently. When I see a 21-year-old hitting .314 with a moderate understanding of the strike zone (if Baldelli performed like he did in May for 162 games, he would walk about 40 times), I think that he's somebody to keep an eye on and expect great things from.

I'm very excited to see that Baldelli is still on pace for well over 200 hits (218), but I'm much more excited to see if his walk total takes another step forward in June. I'm also excited to see if he can continue to use his speed to its fullest on the basepaths.


I decided it was time to make some changes to the column on the right, and I wanted to let you know what I did.

First, I put my AOL Instant Messenger screen name up there. I'm online quite frequently and am always up for talking about baseball. I should warn you, however, that I'm not real good at remembering to put up away messages. So, if you IM me and I don't answer, it's because I'm not there not because I'm ignoring you. Also, if I'm at work I may need to stop talking mid-conversation without telling you (I'm a secretary, and if a professor comes in, I need to drop what I'm doing and pay attention to them).

The next thing I added is a little thing to tell you what I'm reading. A lot of other people are doing this, so I figured I may as well too now that I'm only working 40 hours a week and I actually have time to read books again. Of course, right now I'm reading the same thing everybody else is reading, or has recently read.

Finally, I added 10 new links. The first one is in "My Favorite Sites." Most of you already know about, and you should know about it if you don't already. It's an invaluable place to find the stats for any baseball player in history and also has a ton of other information. I probably use it to help with at least 75% of my posts.

I also added four blogs to my "Good Team-related Blogs" section. The Clark & Addison Chronicle is a blog by Jason Steffens about the Chicago Cubs. Redsfaithful's Baseball Blog is a blog about the Cincinnati Reds by JD Arney. Shea Daily is a blog about the New York Mets written by Damien, a fan from Australia. The Southpaw is a blog by Matthew Durham about the San Francisco Giants.

Finally, I added a new section, "More Good Blogs," which currently has five blogs. Baseball Blogs is a compilation of a lot of other sports blogs. If you have a blog and aren't listed there yet, head over and say hi to Todd Muchmore. It really is a neat thing he's doing. Baseball News Blog is another excellent compilation blog, with more links than you could possibly need. Futility Infielder is Jay Jaffe's excellent baseball site, it really is more than just a blog. Mike's Baseball Rants is Mike Carminati's rants about baseball, including his excellent Joe Morgan chat reviews. The Yin Blog is a blog about everything -- sports, law, politics, movies, TV shows, books and more.

For those of you who are interested in knowing, Stacy (my girlfriend) and I very much enjoyed our trip to Toronto -- even though the Red Sox lost -- and we did not catch SARS. The game on Sunday was a fun one to be it if you were not a fan of either team as neither pitching staff seemed to want to win the game.

I probably deserve some of the blame from anybody who is superstitious because, in the middle of the third inning, I thought to myself, "Well, I'm not happy that they lost four in a row, but at least they'll win the game I'm at." Oy vey...

If you like doubles, this was the game to be at. There were 16 of them -- eight by each team -- and they came in just about every variety. Ground rule, off the wall, down the line, blooper that three players converge on and can't catch, you get the idea. Each team should have had nine doubles, but poor decisions by outfielders near the wall turned one double into a triple for each club.

The goat of the day on offense for the Red Sox was Jason Varitek. Trailing 9-7 in the seventh inning, Varitek pinch-hit for Doug Mirabelli with two outs and the bases loaded and struck out. Varitek came up again in the ninth with the bases loaded, this time with one out and the Red Sox down 11-8. I would have taken anything over what he did, which was ground into a double play to end the game.

The coolest play of the game came in the fourth inning. Johnny Damon led off with a hard shot just inside the first-base bag. Carlos Delgado dove to his left to field the hard grounder, but when he tried to get up, he fell down. Instead of trying to flip the ball to the pitcher, he crawled to the bag and slapped it with his glove just before Damon got there. Nice to see your star player willing to do anything to get the out and he got two nice ovations (one right after the play and one after the replay was shown on the Jumbotron).

That's it from me for now. I'll probably be back with a post or two this afternoon, so stop back then. I would also like to thank everybody who contributed to the nearly 1,400 hits I got in May. Hopefully, I can make like Aaron Gleeman and get more visitors every month.

Boston's two-step program

Ladies and gentlemen, what we're offering here today is a special, one-of-a-kind, limited-time program, guaranteed to work. This program has been developed and recently used to perfection by the Boston Red Sox, one of the great franchises in major league baseball.

Tell me now, if it's good enough for the Red Sox, isn't it good enough for you? Of course it is.

I know what you're thinking, besides the fact that you're lucky to be in the position you're in. You're thinking: What exactly is this amazing program and how can I get it? Well, I'm going to tell you.

You eager, young managers out there will want to pay special attention while I describe what this program can do for you and your ballclub. It really is quite impressive and, as I said before, guaranteed to work.

Have you ever been running your team, going along at a nice, steady clip and thought to yourself, "Hey, we haven't been swept in awhile, maybe it's about time we were."

Of course you have. Everybody has! The problem is: How do you get swept? It's not always that easy to do.

Well, the Boston Red Sox have figured out a foolproof method for getting swept and they want to share it with everybody because it's so damn impressive how this thing works. Can I say damn on the air? I'm not sure, but I don't care -- I'm just so damn excited by this program we're offering today.

Okay, I can tell you're all excited about this program. Who wouldn't be? Now you want to know how you can get your hands on it -- and I don't blame you.

Well, how much would you expect a program like this to cost?

One hundred dollars? Maybe if it were available in a fancy baseball store, but not here.

Fifty dollars? It would be a steal for fifty dollars, but we're not even charging that much.

For a limited time only, we're offering this program, absolutely FREE! That's right, no charge to you, now or ever.

I know what you're thinking -- this can't be for real? Well, folks, it is for real. The Boston Red Sox have developed such an amazing program that we feel it would just be a crime not to share it with you at absolutely no charge.

In fact, rather than make you sign up or mail something in, we're going to reveal the program right here before your eyes. Can you believe that? I know I can't, but it's true!

So, here it is, ladies and gentlemen. Write this down if you need to, maybe pop a tape in the VCR and record this so you have it to look at forever. Here is Boston's two-step program for getting swept in a series.

Step 1 - Allow double-digit runs in each game of said series.

Step 2 - Do not score double-digit runs in any game of said series.

Yes, folks, it's just that easy. Sure, there are other methods for getting swept and some of them probably work fine, but no other method is guaranteed to work like this one is.

Just try it out for yourself and you won't be disappointed. You also won't be disappointed to know that we're not done here today.

That's right, we have more to give you!

Sure, getting swept is nice, but isn't it better if you really aggravate your fans. Sure, your fans will probably be upset that you got swept, but is that enough?

Not for me, it's not. For my money, I want to really piss off my fans, but this doesn't cost any money.

That's right, this extra, bonus step is also absolutely free!

Excuse me for one second, folks, I need to take a sip of water. This whole thing is just making me so excited. Here we have a program you won't find anywhere else PLUS a special, bonus step you won't find anywhere else and it's all FREE!

I know what you're thinking -- show us the bonus step. And I don't blame you.

I'd be real eager to hear this special step too if I were you. You've already seen how impressive the two-step program is and now you want to hear this bonus step before you faint from anticipation.

Well, I'm going to tell you the secret step, then. I wouldn't want to keep you waiting any longer than you have to for such a great way to anger your fans.

And not just some fans, either. This step will annoy fans young and old, male or female, diehard or casual. It's just that good!

So, here it is. The special, bonus step in Boston's program for getting swept in a series.

Step 3 - Leave at least 20 men on base in the series and ground into at least one double play each game of the series.

Isn't that great, ladies and gentlemen? Of course it is. Just think how upset your fans will be after that.

They may still root for you, but they sure won't be as optimistic about you and that's exactly what you want. If you really want to crush their spirits, I have one final step to show you.

I'm getting word that we're running out of time, so I'm just going to show you the last step, the step for crushing the spirit of your fans.

Step 4 - Take a 6-0 lead in the last game of the series before completely blowing the game.

Isn't that great, folks?

That's all the time we have here. Take care and remember to think kindly of the Boston Red Sox for bringing us this amazing program.