Friday, October 24, 2003

Odds and ends

Well, the World Series has been more exciting than I think anybody expected it to be. I'm sure, for ratings purposes, MLB and FOX would rather have a Red Sox-Cubs World Series, but considering which two teams they ended up with, they have to be pleased with how things are going. The Marlins have a 3-2 lead going back to New York and four of the five games have been very close. With the Yankees facing elimination, there will probably be a good number of viewers for game six since more people like to watch if there's a chance the Yankees will lose.

Now, with all that said, I just don't care about it that much. I've watched at least part of all five games and they've just seemed like regular season games to me. I guess the ALCS sapped all my energy and I can't bring myself to care about a game, or series of games, that I don't want either team to win. My lack of interest is the main reason I haven't written anything this week, but I don't like going this long without writing so I decided to poke around and see what I could find.

Fortunately, I found a few things that interested me enough that I wanted to write at least a little bit about them.

The first of those things is that Grady Little, apparently, isn't sure if he wants to manage the Red Sox any more. Well, Grady and I finally agree on something. I don't want him to manage the Red Sox any more and he doesn't want him to manage the Red Sox any more.

There were a couple things, in particular, about this that caught my eye. First, this quote made me shake my head:

"Right now I am disappointed that evidently some people are judging me on the results of one decision I made -- not the decision, but the results of the decision."

That's what Grady seems to think. As has been the case several times this year, he is dead wrong. I mentioned this in the post I made the day after game seven, but nobody was judging Little on the results of his decision because nobody was second-guessing his decision. Every single person I know who is not a Yankees fan was yelling at their TV set for Grady Little to take Pedro Martinez out of the game at some point before he actually did it.

The other thing that interests me about the story is that it says Little said he would do the same thing again if he were back in the same situation. This is perhaps the most infuriating thing about Little -- he doesn't learn from his mistakes at all.

All season long, he was missing good hitters at crucial junctures in games because he had pinch-run for them earlier in the game. Then, in the biggest game of the season, he pinch ran for two of his best hitters with the game tied, knowing that those spots in the order could very well come up again.

All season long, he got burned by leaving his starting pitcher in the game an inning or a batter too long and watching them give up extra runs that could have been prevented. Then, in the biggest game of the season, he leaves his starting pitcher in even though he is getting hit very hard and his bullpen has been absolutely lights out in the post-season.

Luckily, it sounds like I won't have to worry about Little too much longer, because there is another report on saying that the Red Sox and Little may part ways as soon as Monday. At least this report doesn't, as others have, mention the Red Sox firing Little, which they can't do because he isn't under contract at the moment. The Red Sox have an option on Little for next season, and it sonuds like they won't exercise it.

The other baseball-related story that caught my eye is that the Hank Aaron Awards have been announced. There are basically six major individual awards that people care about in baseball -- the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year in each league.

The Baseball Writers Association votes on each of those awards, and generally gives at least a third of them to the wrong people. The Hank Aaron Award was created to honor the best offensive player in each league, and is not voted on by the BBWAA. However, that doesn't mean the awards are going to the correct players.

The NL winner this year was Albert Pujols, which some people may have a problem with but I do not. My problem is with the AL winner -- Alex Rodriguez.

Now, some of you may be thinking, how can I be upset that Rodriguez won the Hank Aaron Award when I've said several times that he should win the more prestigious MVP Award? Well, it's simple. There are three reasons that I, and most stat-oriented people like me, think Rodriguez should be the MVP this year (and last year).

First, he's one of the best offensive players in the league. Second, he plays a defensive position that is not generall home to great offensive players. Third, he plays that defensive position very well.

The MVP Award does not say that it should go to the best offensive player in the league (just as it does not say that it should go to a player on a winning team or a player whose team makes the playoffs). The Hank Aaron Award specifically says that it is for the best offensive player in each league and Rodriguez is clearly not the best offensive player in the AL this season.

Rodriguez hit .298/.396/.900 (.995) this season, which is excellent (beyond excellent actually, but you know that) for a shortstop. However, Carlos Delgado hit .302/.426/.593 (1.019) and Manny Ramirez hit .325/.427/.587 (1.014). Both of them were better offensive players than Rodriguez this season.

Maybe you want to discount Ramirez a little because he missed eight games and Rodriguez only missed one. That's fine, but Delgado also only missed one game, so he's still better than Rodriguez.

Maybe you don't believe the statistics I used. Maybe you think Rodriguez has an edge somewhere even though he plays half his games in a great hitter's park. Well, according to Baseball Prospectus, Rodriguez had a .326 EqA, 130.5 EqR and 76.1 RAR, all of which ranked third in the AL this season. Want to guess who the two players ahead of him in each category were?

Ramirez had a .341 EqA, 130.9 EqR and 82.0 RAR and Delgado had a .338 EqA, 131.8 EqR and 81.3 RAR.

Basically, nobody can touch Rodriguez when you factor in his offense and the position he plays, but the Hank Aaron Award isn't supposed to do that. It's simply supposed to go to the best offensive player in each league. And Ramirez and Delgado were the two best offensive players in the AL this season, with Rodriguez a tick behind them.

Also, there were some non-baseball items that caught my eye. As I mentioned earlier this week, I have a fantasy basketball draft this weekend. The biggest question I have is where Kobe Bryant should be drafted. Last year, he was arguably the best fantasy player in the NBA. Even when you factor in his position, which is the easiest fantasy position to fill, he was still definitely in the top five.

This year is a lot more difficult. The first problem is that you don't know how many games he will miss because of his legal issues. The second problem is that you don't know what his state of mind will be. The third problem is that you don't know what his conditioning will be like early in the season (not only did he have legal distractions this summer, he also had off-season surgery).

My thought at the moment is that I definitely won't pick Bryant if I have one of the top four picks and I probably wouldn't take him with one of the next three picks. If I had the eighth pick or later and he was still available, however, I might take the rapist for 200. (That's therapist, Mr Connery!).

Sorry, I don't mean to make light of Kobe's situation or the seriousnesss of the charges filed against him, I just couldn't resist. Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning Kobe is because had a story about the new judge for Kobe's case. Since I'm looking for any news that I can find about Kobe's trial and what it might mean for his performance on the court this season, I gave it a read.

The question I have now is this -- is it a bad thing that, as I read the story, the voice in my head was that of the judge from My Cousin Vinny.

Is this the sort of thing I shouldn't mention? I don't know. (Also, don't think that I'm a bad person because my only reason for thinking about the trial is to see how it affects my fantasy team. I'm not the sort of person to follow a circus like that closely to see whether somebody's life will be torn to pieces. By all accounts, Kobe's a good person and I sincerely hope he didn't do what he's been accused of doing. If he did do it, however, then he should go to jail. But I don't have any interest in watching the drama as it unfolds).

Finally, you know how people make fun of all the riots that occur before, during and after soccer games in various parts of the world? Do you think people in other parts of the world make fun of us in the same way for college football?.

Everybody knows about the utterly stupid tradition of rushing the field and tearing down the goal posts after a big win, but West Virginia has taken things to a whole new level of stupidity.

I mean, seriously. Setting fires? Throwing things at the police? Burning perfectly good mattresses, recliners and couches when you're in college and probably don't have much money? What is the world coming to?

Oh, and here's my fantasy column for this week:

Fantasy football: QB injuries spell danger or salvation

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Time off

So, I didn't write anything yesterday and I'm not really writing anything today, but I hope all of you will understand. I have a fantasy basketball draft on Saturday that I have to prepare for and between that and work, I don't really have a lot of free time to write. Also, since I'm not really interested in this World Series, I don't really have much inlination to write.

I'll try to get back into the swing of things tomorrow (maybe tonight's game will move me or something), but I can't make any promises. Regardless of what I do the rest of this week, I'll give my baseball awards out starting Monday.