Monday, June 30, 2003

Moneyball, NBA style

With Miami officially jumping off the Big East ship, and interleague play finally coming to an end, I'm sticking with hoops, and that's all there is to it.

There was a whole bunch of hoopla this spring over Michael Lewis'new book Moneyball, in which he reveals a lot about the Oakland A's drafting philosophy. It basically came down to the A's looking at a player's performance rather than his perceived talent, and choosing college players over high school players, because they had a longer track record. Something that has not come up in any of the discussions I've seen on this is that hockey, and more recently basketball, have had to deal with this exact same scenario: How much risk is there in drafting a high school athlete over a college athlete?

Well, if your an NBA General Manager, the answer is none. Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Kevin Garnett are probably three of the top ten players in the NBA, and they didn't spent a day in college. That's a remarkable track record considering the small number of high school players who have come out and reached their prime. So, in the NBA, the story is potential, not performance.

Having said that, it is interesting to look at this year's NBA draft. We know that LeBron went first, and that there were more non-Americans and high school kids than ever before. The question is, has everyone caught on? Are there teams that still would rather take college kids than gamble on the big prize?

I went looking at everyone's picks, and this is what I found:

There were only six teams with two or more picks that selected only college players: Chicago, Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Philly, and Washington. Of these teams, Chicago, the Lakers, and Washington have invested heavily in high school kids in the past. Jerry West, now in Memphis, is the one who took Kobe for LA. But what's important is that this is a very small list. Virtually everyone is on the Potential bandwagon, selecting high school and foreign players. There were even three teams with two or more picks that didn't draft any American college players at all: Detroit, Phoenix, and Portland. Although, what Portland was doing drafting a high school kid named Outlaw and throwing him in with that group of criminals is anyone's guess.

It would seem as though this must revers course at somme point. Rookies sign for five years and then they're loose. Would you rather have them for ages 19-23, or 23-27? Teams that don't or can't compete in free agent markets better start considering this, or else someone else is going to be stuck like the Toronto Raptors, watching Tracy McGrady win the scoring title in Orlando.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Born To Run, and Eisenberg Sports vs. Sports Illustrated

Got my Springsteen in Fenway tickets, but the title is actually referring to a quote made by new Celtic Big Cheese (mmm,cheese) Danny Ainge. I had mixed emotions about the hiring of Ainge. While he's certainly been around the league long enough and in enough different capacities to handle the job, Danny was long the symbol of All That Was White with the Celtics, a judgement that wasn't fair to either him or the team, but still existed. More importantly, the Celtics have become the poster boys for All That Is Wrong With NBA Offenses. They played last year without an NBA pointguard, and really, with what their plan was, why would they need one? If your offensive philosophy is to have either Paul Pierce drive to the basket or have someone else heave up a three, then a pointguard becomes obsolete.

So with the hiring of Ainge, the big question became "Would Danny stand for this?" Will he be just another NBA insider who follows the pack, or will he bring us back to our tradition of running, running, and running some more?

I am thrilled to report that there is hope for us all. Holding the 16th and 20th picks on draft day, and realizing that the pointguard the Celtics so desperately need will not drop to them, Ainge trades up to get his man, Marcus Banks of UNLV. He then announces something like "We want to run. We like the way he goes to the basket, plays D, and runs the floor."

We want to run? We want to run! Banks dominated the Mountain West Conference this past season, being named co-Defensive Player of the Year, leading the league in assists and steals, and finishing second in scoring. With the exception of the Chauncey Billups fiasco, I can't remember the Celtics ever drafting a pure pointguard this high, and its been so long overdue

I don't think it is a reach to say that the Celtics now have a core of Antoine Walker, Pierce, Tony Battie, and Banks, with a fair amount of depth. With the Eastern Conference in the shape that it is in, who can say that this team isn't becoming one of the more established contenders in the East? And more important than that, Ainge might actually make them WATCHABLE! That would be something.

Tomorrow, I'm going to go into deeper draft analysis, and talk about NBA style draft philosophies, as compared to what we just saw in the baseball draft.

If you have seen Sports Illustrated this week, the one with Bo on the cover, and you are a regular reader of Eisenberg Sports, you may have been bored with the issue. The reason for that is Eisenberg Sports scooped SI on virtually every story that wasn't part of their "Where are They Now?" series. Below are topics in SI this week that ES has already covered:

Billy Beane
Larry Doby
Albert Pujols
The Lewis - Klitschko fight

I don't have a staff of thousands, can't use photos, don't publish just once a week, and this site is free. So who's doing a better job of bringing you sports news?

You know it. Eisenberg Sports.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Max Manning, and Jeff Biddle

Max Manning, an incredible and largely unknown Negro League pitcher, died earlier this week. He was in the Negro Leagues before and after serving in World War II. He hurt his arm within a few years of the war, and was never healthy enough to make it to the Major Leagues. His wife talked him into going back to school on the GI Bill. From there, Max spent the rest of his professional life as a sixth-grade teacher.

There seems like there is a movie in their somewhere. Josh Gibson meets Crazy Joe (that Morgan Freeman character. I can't remember the name of the flick.). Anyway, Goodbye Max.

If I could remember where I learned the prior information, I would most certainly credit them. But this next item I got from

"Now my pitching staff – Satchel, Sug Cornelius, Hilton Smith, Raymond Brown, Harry Salmon, Sam Streeter, Willie Foster, Harry Glass, Ted Trent and Max Manning. That's 10. We don't need 12 like the Big Leagues 'cause these boys can pitch!"

--Double Duty Radcliffe,
naming his all-time all-star team.

Jeff Biddle of Chicago was last weekend's Series Pickin Winner! Jeff Biddle of Chicago was also last week' Series Pickin Loser. Jeff Biddle was, alas, our only contestant. So for the time being, we are going to temporarliy retire the contest, and hopefully we can start it up next season.

Will still talk plenty of gambling, though.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

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An ACC Disaster

The news this morning is that the ACC will invite only Miami and Virginia Tech to join their conference. This leaves out Syracuse and Boston College, who have been part of expansion plans from the beginning, and marks the completion of an amazing turnaround for Virginia Tech, who is still part of a lawsuit against the ACC, Miami, and BC. I won't wait to register an opinion: This deal is bad for everybody.

Let's go through the major players one by one:

The ACC. They get two great football schools that are within their geographical range, although the name Miami Hurricanes has about as much to do with the Old South as the name Eisenberg does. Neither Miami or Virginia Tech adds anything of note to their basketball conference. The ACC is left with eleven school, which is not enough to get the conference championship game that drove this whole thing from the beginning, and makes a mess of scheduling. They could add another school at a later date, but if Syracuse and BC don't measure up to their expectations it is hard to see who that last team would be. Also, this whole thing could blow up in their face because of . . .

Miami. This is not the deal they wanted, and it is hard to see how they benefit. They have huge fan bases in the north, and wanted to stay with Syracuse and BC. They do not get a conference championship game. Also, they will notice from this decision that they will not have nearly the clout in the ACC as they've enjoyed in . . .

The Big East. They lose their two best football schools, and a connection to the incredible Florida recruiting base. Their basketball conference will survive, but any attempt to carry on as a BCS conference will be laughable, no matter who the steal from . . .

Conference USA - Rick Pitino has figured out that he can move up in the world ( his favorite thing to do) without actually moving, and already has the entire city of Louisville's bags packed for the Big East. CUSA will survive this hit, because Louisville's football program isn't carrying them, but it only makes them look more like the second-tier conference that they are considered to be.

The whole thing obviously sucks for BC and Miami. It might play out well for Marshall and/or Central Florida, two schools with sports aspirations who may move up. But really, it's a negative, or a holding pattern, for everyone else.

The ball is now in the court of Miami President Donna Shalala. Here's hoping she saves everyone a lot of trouble and cans the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

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Growin Up

You can hide 'neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
- Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • In the summer of 1975 I didn't give a damn about Bruce Springsteen. Eleven years old, I was awestruck by Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, Carl Yastremski and Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk. The Red Sox were my whole world, and I was one of the lucky (cursed?) few in Fenway for the 7th game of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, waiting for a savior that never came.

    Since then, Red Sox Nation has spent 28 summers praying in vain, a love unrequited. Now, there are Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen is going to play Fenway Park.

    I didn't get much into music until about 1979. It was a fun time to be a kid exploring the radio dial, hippie music was still everywhere, disco was booming and busting, punk was sparking and roaring (this is where my wife, six years younger, rolls her eyes). I remember being devastated riding home from New Hampshire in the backseat of our stationwagon with my sister, after she told me that Jimi Hendrix was dead. I remember buying the Clash's double album London Calling in the Harvard Square Coop for six dollars. Springsteen's music had already become anthemic, and it didn't speak to me. Most of what I knew and liked about him was his appearances on albums by other artists I did enjoy, Patti Smith, Graham Parker, and Lou Reed. And his fans used to piss me off. Once I was talking to a fellow co-worker at Dominoes about my record collection, and he asked me what I had of Springsteen's. When I told him I didn't have any Bruce Springsteen albums, he said "Then you have nothing."

    With a chance to make it good somehow
    Hey what else can we do now
    - Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • Well, I've made my peace with Bruce. I've always enjoyed songwriters, and I eventually had to give credit where it was due. I began to realize that if I added up all of the Springsteen songs that I thought were incredible, it would fill about four cds. So I've bought some of the early albums at yard sales, went to see him in the Fleet Center a few years ago, but still haven't bought a cd.

    roll down the window
    And let the wind blow back your hair
    - Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • So what does Springsteen playing Fenway mean? Depends who you ask. For him and his fans, it's a novelty. For his lunatic fans, its a historic moment. For Kenmore Square, it's a madhouse. Just how many people do you think will be out in the street
  • behind the Wall?

    For the Sox though, it is many things, a tremendous opportunity, a threat to park maintenance, and dangerous ground. Let's take those one at a time.

    1. Opportunity - This deal and deals like these, could be huge moneymakers for the Sox. Most of us Sox fans have just assumed that with Pedro, Nomar, Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek's contracts coming up after next season, that two of them could be gone. But this changes the equation a little bit.

    2. The Park - The plan right now is to put the stage in center, with seats on the outfield grass and the dirt. I think the Sox have underestimated this aspect of the event. They are counting on the crowd being done growin up, and proceeding orderly to their seats. But like I said, this is an event, and a concert, not a recital or a ballgame. If I'm in the crowd without my wife, I'm on that field.

    3. Dangerous Ground - Allowing Springsteen because he is now safe opens up the same hornet's nest that they ran into in Foxboro. A decade ago or more, the town of Foxboro voted to not allow Michael Jackson to play in the football stadium, out of fear of the type of crowd that might turn up. Never mind that the building was usually full of drunken football fans, the Rolling Stones had just played there the year before. These owners want to steer as far away from race issues as possible, but as soon as they turn down an act that is perceived to have an African-American or Hispanic audience, the question is going to come up.. Are the Sox afraid of young people, or minorities? The Sox don't want to be any part of that.

    So it is good thing? Well, if I can get a ticket, and the Sox resign Nomar and Pedro, Hell Yeah!

    I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said "Sit down" I stood up.
    Ooh-ooh growin' up
    - Growin Up, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., 1973

    Monday, June 23, 2003

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    Larry Doby and the Negro League Justice

    Larry Doby died last week. His place in history is not just as the Cleveland Indians' star outfielder of the 1950s, but as a pioneer of the sport. Virtually unknown outside of the baseball world, Larry Doby was the first African American to play in the American League.

    Now I've always been a fan of Larry's for just that reason. I own a baseball card of his from the 1950s, and I've tried to learn a little about him, and been saddened about how little his story is known. So when I looked up his record after his death last week on Baseball, I was surprised to see that there were no comparable ballplayers to him, at any point of his career, who were Hall of Famers.

    While there have been some questions about Doby's age, there is only a question of a year or two, so it appears that he made his Major League Debut at the age of 23. Baseball Reference finds equivalent players by age, but I doubt a year would change it much. Here are the most similar players by age:

    Most Similar by Age
    24 - Jackie Brandt
    25 - Tony Gonzalez
    26 - Wally Judnich
    27- Kal Daniels
    28 - Jim Edmonds
    29 - Bill Nicholson
    30 - Charlie Keller
    31 - George Foster
    32 - Tim Salmon
    33 - George Foster
    34 - Fred Lynn
    35 - David Justice

    This concerned me. Was Larry Doby not really a Hall of Fame caliber ballplayer? Is he in mainly because of historical importance? I didn't want to believe it.

    I know what most baseball fans know about the Negro Leagues, maybe a little more, and always approached that historical story with an open mind. I can believe that Josh Gibson was as good a hitter as Babe Ruth, that Satchel Paige may have been the greatest pitcher that ever lived. I know that the Hall of Fame had gone back and honored so many Negro Leaguers that they were inducting people I had never heard of. So then the thought came to me, as ugly as it was. Had we gone to far in the other direction, and elected too many Negro League players?

    I felt there was an easy way to study this. I could go back and see what percentage of Hall of Fame inductees are African American since they have been allowed into the majors, and then see how many players there are total, and we could get some kind of round figure as to how many should be in there.

    Below is the list of players who have been voted into the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers since Ernie Banks was inducted in 1977. The reason I chose this year was because it took some time for the flow of players to grow, for some to have a HOF career, and then for five years to pass after retirement. It was only then that players could be elected. Before 1977, there were only three African Americans inducted. One was the originator, Jackie Robinson, and the others had their careers cut short by horrible circumstances, Roy Campanella and Roberto Clemente.

    Because we can assume that Spanish players before 1947 would have wound up in the Negro Leagues, we are including them with the African Americans.

    Its an imaginary world. Major League and Negro League history, 1947-2003

    Major Leagues - Eddie Mathews, Duke Snider,Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Don Drysdale, Harmon Killebrew, Hoyt Wilhelm, Catfish Hunter, Carl Yastremski, Johhny Bench, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Rollie Fingers, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, robin Yount, George Brett, Nolan ryan, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter

    Negro Leagues - Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Juan Marichal, Luis Aparicio, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan, Fregie Jenkins, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Tony Perez, Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray

    If it makes you uncomfortable to look at the players this way, it did me too. And maybe that's the way it should be. If its disgusting to think of these players of the last fifty years separated by race, then maybe we should approach what happened in the previous fifty years with that same level of discomfort.

    There are 23 Major League and 20 Negro League players on that list. That leaves the Negro Leaguers with .465 of the HOF pie, the Major Leaguers with .535. There really is no reason to believe that in the previous fifty years the percentages would be radically different. Baseball was the American Pasttime before Baseball, or America, was ready to admit it.

    So I take my percentages to the HOF website, and as it turns out, there are 207 players in the Hall. with 164 being white. If we are to assume that white players, taken for all of history would have continued to make up .535 of the pie, then that means there should be 307 total players. . .

    We could be short 100 Negro League players! I was completely stunned by this news. 100?! Even if you don't believe that the Negro Leaguers could have kept up that .465 percentage (something with no basis) can there be much doubt that the Hall is short at least 50 Negro Leaguers?

    So, who are these guys?! I found this great site,, with lots of great Negro League information, and I found this:

    Q. Who were the best Negro Leaguers?

    A. There's too many to list, but a Pittsburgh Courier newspaper poll in 1952 listed the following players:

    First team: (1B) Buck Leonard, (2B) Jackie Robinson, (SS) Pop Lloyd, (3B) Oliver Marcelle, (OF) Monte Irvin, (OF) Oscar Charleston, (OF) Cristobel Torriente, (C) Josh Gibson, (C) Biz Mackey, (P) Joe Williams, (P) Satchel Paige, (P) Bullet Rogan, (P) John Dondaldson, (P) Bill Foster, (Utility) Martin Dihigo, (Utility) Sam Bankhead, (Mgr) Rube Foster, (Coach) Dizzy Dismukes, (Coach) Danny McClellan.

    Second Team: (1B) Ben Taylor, (2B) Bingo DeMoss, (SS) Willie Wells, (3B) Judy Johnson, (OF) Pete Hill, (OF) Cool Papa Bell, (OF) Chino Smith, (C) Roy Campanella, (C) Bruce Petway, (P) Dave Brown, (P) Dick Redding, (P) Nip Winters, (P) Dizzy Dismukes, (P) Don Newcombe, (Utility) John Beckwith, (Utility) Newt Allen, (Mgr) Cum Posey, (Coach) C.I. Taylor, (Coach) Dave Malarcher.

    Third Team: (1B) Jud Wilson, (2B) Bill Monroe, (SS) Dick Lundy, (3B) Jud Wilson, (OF) Rap Dixon, (OF) Larry Doby, (OF) Fats Jenkins, (C) Double Duty Radcliffe, (C) Louis Santop, (P) Slim Jones, (P) Bill Holland, (P) Phil Cockrell, (P) Webster McDonald, (P) Bill Byrd, (Utility) Emmett Bowman, (Utility) Dick Wallace, (Mgr) Ed Bolden.

    Fourth Team: (1B) Ed Douglas, (2B) George Scales, (SS) Doby Moore, (3B) Ray Dandridge, (OF) Jimmy Lyons, (OF) Mule Suttles, (OF) Spotswood Poles, (C) Frank Duncan, (C) Bill Perkins, (P) Double Duty Radcliffe, (P) Frank Wickware, (P) Danny McClellan, (P) Leon Day, (P) Bill Jackman, (Utility) Rev Cannady, (Utility) Jose Mendez, (Mgr) Vic Harris.

    Fifth Team: (1B) George Carr, (2B) Bunny Downs, (SS) Pelayo Chacon, (3B) Dave Malarcher, (OF) Frank Duncan, (OF) Turkey Stearnes, (OF) Jelly Gardner, (C) Doc Wiley, (C) Speck Webster, (P) Stringbean Williams, (P) Ray Brown, (P) Rats Henderson, (P) Luis Tiant, (P) Leroy Matlock.

    Others receiving votes: (1B) Leroy Grant, Mule Suttles; (2B) Nate Harris, Sammy T. Hughes, Frank Warfield, Ray Dandridge, George Wright, Harry Williams; (SS) Gerard Williams, Bobby Williams, Morton Clark; (3B) Bill Francis, Jim Taylor; (OF) Minnie Minoso, Jap Payne, Blaine Hall, Ted Strong, Ted Page, Vic Harris; (P) Jose Mendez, Laymon Yokely.

    *Some players that weren't listed that I believe should have been: (1B) Buck O'Neil, Red Moore, Steel Arm Davis, George Giles; (2B) Bonnie Serrell; (SS) Jake Stephens; (3B) Alec Radcliffe, Bobby Robinson; (OF) Jumbo Kimbro, Willard Brown, Bill Wright, Neil Robinson, Ducky Davenport; (C) Quincy Trouppe, Larry Brown, Buck Ewing, Pops Coleman; (P) Chet Brewer, Hilton Smith, Barney Brown, Ted Trent, Max Manning, Sug Cornelius, Harry Salmon, Barney Morris; (Mgr) Buck O'Neil, Double Duty Radcliffe, Quincy Trouppe.

    I've put the HOF members in bold. Now, what's interesting to me is how closely the first team of this Pittsburgh poll resembles the complete HOF membership of the Negro Leagues (in case you don't know, Pittsburgh was one of the hotbeds of Negro League Ball). What this amounts to is that the HOF has allowed in the absolute superstars of Negro League Ball, and virtually no one else. Think of a HOF that had only Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams for outfielders for a fifty year period, and that's what you get for the Negro Leagues.

    You may have noticed that Larry Doby is on the third team for Negro League players. This is a 1952 poll, before Doby had even turned thirty, and these voters thought he was one of the top ten Negro League outfielders of all time. Then you add in everything he accomplished as a Major League player, and there is just no question. Larry Doby is absolutely one of the all-time greats, and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

    But where is Oliver Marcelle, Cristobel Torriente, Biz Mackey, and John Donaldson? How about Sam Bankhead, Ben Taylor, Bingo DeMoss, and Double Duty Radcliffe? Where is there justice for the Negro Leagues?

    I'm stopping now. But I am in no way done with this yet.

    Sunday, June 22, 2003

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    ACC Makes a Bigger Mess, and Lennox Lewis

    If you missed the Lennox Lewis - Vitali Klitschko fight last night, you missed the most brutal heavyweight title match in recent memory. The brawl was won by Lewis after the sixth round, when Klitschko had such a terrible cut over his left eye that the ring doctor would not allow him to continue.

    What surprised me most about the fight was the way that it was seen by all of the important people there (meaning the judges, and announcers), which contradicted my own feelings. I'll discount George Foreman, because he was rooting for Klitschko the whole way, but everyone else seemed to be thinking that Klitschko was going to win the fight. Everyone except for me.

    This is how I had it through 6 rounds:

    Klitschko 10 10 9 9 9 9
    Lewis 9 9 10 10 10 10

    Viltali damn near knocked Lewis out in the second round. But after that, I felt Lennox got some control over it. The announcers kept talking about how out of shape and tired Lewis was, but I saw a man fighting with the heart of a Champion. Wounded early, Lewis continued to throw punches, continued to take a lot of punishment, and started landing his jab. He opened the huge cut over Klitschko's left eye with a right, cut him below the same eye with left-handed jabs, and was beginning to land monstrous uppercuts that left Vitali's mouth disfigured as well. Klitschko hadn't seriously hurt Lewis in at least two rounds before it was stopped, and Lewis had regained his composure, if not all of his strength. In my mind there was no way at that point that Lewis looked like he was going to lose this fight.

    This was not the same Lewis who has been knocked flat twice in his life by one punch. I thought he showed amazing resilence. Way to go, Lennox!

    This is the three plans for expansion that the ACC discussed yesterday, according to ESPN:

    Model 1: A 10-team ACC by adding Miami from the Big East;

    Model 2: A 13-team conference by adding Big East schools Miami, Boston College, Syracuse and Virginia Tech;

    Model 3: A 12-team conference that included Miami, Virginia Tech and either Boston College or Syracuse.

    Model 1 does not give them a conference championship game, so I can't see them doing it. Model 2 gives them an odd number of teams like the Big 10 Eleven. this brings us to Model 3.

    Uh oh. Only going to twelve leaves not only the BC-Syracuse loser in the Big East, but also UConn. The Big East would remain a football conference as well as a basketball conference, and would seriously raid CUSA. As fans, we would be have a slightly stronger ACC, a weaker Big East, and a shattered CUSA. The plan I threw out the other day had a powerhouse ACC, a dismantled Big East football, and a stronger CUSA.

    Which would you prefer?

    Come on, ACC! 14 teams! 14 teams!

    Friday, June 20, 2003

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    A Shocker - The Contest is On!

    Here they are, the lines to win each series:

    Boston -140
    Philly +110

    Toronto -135
    Mon +105

    KC +240
    StL -320!

    SF +115
    Oak -145

    Ana +150
    LA -185

    You have 1,000 mythical dollars to bet. You must bet at least three series,with at least 100 on each. There's lots of relevant info in the post below. Email your picks to me. Good luck!

    Weekend Series Preview

    Last Monday I tried to put up a contest, but the lines came in so late that it was impossible. So this time we're going to do things differently. I'll do the same material, just as a weekend preview. If the lines come in early enough, say between 12 and 4, we'll go ahead and post the odds and do the contest. If they don't, I think the information is still interesting to look at, and I know for me being better informed helps me the enjoy the games more.

    We're back to interleague series again, and I have to say that this time around I am pretty bored with it. There's just way too many of these games so close to the All-Star Game. No wonder the All-Star game has lost interest over the years. Having the All-Star game after all of these interleague series is like having someone bring a pizza over just as you're finishing dinner (you can email me your own analogies) . Enough already.

    Having said that, there's still some good baseball to be played. I chose the series based on the performance of the teams, and not because of any perceived rivalries. the information below will include team's record home/road, OBP, SLG, bullpen edges, and pitching matchups. I'll throw some predictions in there, too.

    Boston (19-19) at Philadelphia (21-16)

    Bos OBP .358
    Phi OBP .336
    Bos SLG .482
    Phi SLG .394
    Bullpen Edge - Phi

    Kim (5.57) at Wolf (3.30)
    Pedro (2.63) at Duckworth (4.98)
    Burkett (5.60) at Myers (3.72)

    The first game decides it. I like Myers in game three, and we don't need to talk about game 2. I'll take whoever winds up the underdog, probably Boston.

    Toronto (22-16) at Montreal (23-11)

    Tor OBP .360
    Mon OBP .330
    Tor SLG .484
    Mon SLG .397
    Bullpen Edge - Mon

    Lidle (5.07) at Vazquez (3.82)
    Hendrickson (5.72) at Kim (12.46)
    Halladay (3.82) at El Duque (3.90)

    The Blue Jays offense will do well here. They come back to win games two and three.

    Kansas City (16-18) at St Louis (22-12)

    KC OBP .339
    Stl OBP .355
    KC SLG .426
    Stl SLG .472
    Bullpen Edge - tie

    Lima (6.00) at Morris (3.39)
    May (4.04) at Williams (2.66)
    Affeldt (4.11) at Stephenson (4.24)

    Card's bats dominate.

    San Francisco (22-15) at Oakland (26-10)

    SF OBP .345
    Oak OBP .327
    SF SLG .430
    Oak SLG .417
    Bullpen Edge - Oakland

    Moss (4.41) at Harang (5.91)
    Williams (4.98) at Hudson (3.08)
    Foppert (4.43) at Lilly (4.43)

    The Giants dodge Zito and Mulder, but its not enough. A's.

    Anaheim (17-20) at Los Angeles (22-15)

    Ana OBP .336
    LA OBP .309
    Ana SLG .429
    LA SLG .359
    Bullpen Edge - tie

    Washburn (3.61) at Nomo (2.64)
    Lackey (5.78) at Ashby (5.82)
    Appier (5.05) at Brown (1.97)

    Dodges are rolling, and they continue to here.

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    College Conference Shakeup. Continued

    Its the middle of June, the school year has ended, basketball and hockey are over, and there's only one thing to talk about:


    Truly amazing. Even though changes in conference alignments may be years down the road, they seem certain to happen. And these kind of changes are the big ones. This is not a player getting injured, a coach getting fired. These are changes that affect not just universities but whole regions of the country, their allies, their rivals, their culture.

    Yesterday I wrote about how Miami, BC,and Syracuse were about to leave the Big East for the ACC. Later on, I updated with the news of Virginia Tech moving along also. I covered the ACC changes pretty well, but nothing with the Big East or Conference USA, who are about to be dragged into this, too. With another team probably headed to the ACC as well, it already seems time to reexamine the whole thing.

    I'm going to start with the ACC, because I've already covered it, so its the least work. This is how I see the two divisions of the ACC coming into play:

    Central - UNC, NC St, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia, Va Tech
    Burbs - Miami, FSU, Ga Tech, Maryland, BC, Syracuse, and ?

    My explanation for this the other day was that it keeps the traditional ACC schools together, keeps Miami and FSU together so they don't have to play twice, and keeps BC and Syracuse with Miami. Maryland easily fits in with the northern schools, GA Tech with the Florida ones. I think Va Tech has to wind up in the same division as Virginia (shame to waste that natural rivalry and not have them play ever year), which leaves an opening in the Burbs.

    Popular opinion right now is UConn, but I don't know. Their football team is just getting off the ground. While UConn sports has a good track record, that's cutting them and awfully nice slice of pie for a beginner. A safer choice is Pitt, but still, UConn's basketball team may carry them. Let's say its UConn, and put them in the Burb division.

    This brings us to what would be left of Big East football. There ain't a whole lot left here, folks:

    West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, Villanova (eventually)

    That's it. There's a lot of talk about the Big East raiding Conference USA, but with only those five teams left, that seems unlikely. A better bet is that the Big East becomes a basketball-only conference. These are the teams that would be left in Big East basketball. We are going to assume for now that Villanova would not want to be part of that.

    East - Providence, St John's
    West - Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Georgetown

    That's only five teams, but it is much easier to find other basketball schools than football schools. They could get St.Joe's, Xavier, UMass, and George Washington, and that's just from the Atlantic 10. They could get basketball-only schools from CUSA in Marquette, St Louis, and DePaul. There's a lot of quality Catholic schools in this group, and that is bound to appeal to some College Presidents. How about this for Big East hoops?

    East - Providence, St. John's, UMass, St Joe's, Georgetown,Temple (Let's say they drop football)
    West -Notre Dame, Marquette, St Louis, Xavier, DePaul, GW

    This is a quick list. My point isn't that I know what is going to happen to Big East hoops, just that its really easy to fix.

    So this leaves us with Pitt ,West Virginia, Rutgers, and Villanova on the outside looking in. Here is the current roster for CUSA football:

    Louisville, Cincinnati, ECU, Memphis, UAB, Tulane, Houston , S. Miss., TCU, Army, USF

    That's eleven schools. You see what I'm getting at? Let's say that the Big East Wanderers hang together, and insist that all four of them be taken. That's fifteen. Throw in, say, Marshall (WV at this point will be in no position to protest), and you've got a nice 16 team conference:

    North - Pitt, WV, Marshall, Villanova, Rutgers, Cincinnati, ECU, Army
    South - Memphis, UAB, Southern Miss, Tulane, Houston, TCU, USF, Louisville

    Not bad. Also, if St Louis, DePaul, and Marquette have gone Big East, that leaves 11 CUSA teams in hoops. Add in the five new schools, and you've got a 16 team CUSA hoop league, too.

    If only it were this easy. You know something is going to happen tonight to change the whole thing.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2003

    Breaking News

    The ACC is going to invite Virginia Tech along with Miami, BC, and Syracuse to join their conference.

    David Beckham winds up with Real Madrid.

    Roger Clemens gives up only one hit against the Devil Rays, but doesn't get the win.

    More tomorrow.

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    A Super ACC, and the Disgrace of the Big East

    This is the first time I'm completely leaving the ballpark in order to enter the football stadium. I feel its ok, maybe even that I'm compelled, to do this, because it is one of the headlines on ESPN (not Eisenberg Sports and Pointspread News). As any of you who care about college football or basketball know by now, the ACC is considering extending offers to join their conference to Big East members Miami, Boston College, and Syracuse. The remaining Big East members have sued everyone in sight to prevent this from happening, while at the same time looking to steal any other school from any other conference that is not the SEC or Big 10. There has been more than enough ugliness to go around, and I have a whole mess of opinions on all of it.

    1. The ACC would become an incredibly entertaining conference in both basketball and football. While many will expect Miami and FSU to be in separate divisions in order to have a monstrous conference championship game, I think they will end up together. They already play once a year, so to meet a second time is redundant. Not to mention, geographically speaking, they ought to be together.

    So what do they do with the two divisions? I'm guessing they keep all of the Carolina schools together, along with Virginia, and then move everyone else to the other:

    ACC Central - North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Virginia, Clemson, Wake Forest

    ACC Suburbs - Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, BC, Syracuse, Maryland

    The Central keeps all of the ACC traditon intact. Suburbs keeps Miami and FSU together,and Syracuse and BC with Miami. Georgia Tech moves to this division because they are a newer member to the conference, and close to FSU. Maryland winds up with the northeastern states that they are always linked with professionally (think AL East, or old AFC East, with New England, New York, Miami, and Baltimore).

    I'm not even going into basketball. Adding the National Champion to the ACC speaks for itself.

    2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what the ACC is doing. Conferences have been reorganizing constantly for at least the last decade. I can't imagine why the ACC would be nervous about the Big East lawsuit. The argument that the ACC is taking teams to put the Big East out of business is ridiculous, and will never hold up in court.

    3. The overriding sentiment in the Boston press has been that this is a very questionable move by BC. Their arguments smack of cultural elitism and isolationism, two things that we Bostonians are regrettably known for. The elitism comes in the form of concern between the clash of cultures between the two conferences. How can involving yourself with North Carolina, Virginia, and Duke be bad for anyone, never mind BC. BC has had more scandals since the Big East was formed than those three schools combined. And we won't even talk about quality of students.

    The isolationism comes in the fact that a large contingent of BC followers would be more than happy if BC just played Notre Dame every week, and gets part of its enjoyment of Big East basketball from it being loaded with Catholic schools. Not a terrible thing by itself, but when it comes with the rejection of other very fine institutions, is a little less pretty.

    4. No one has questioned the move by the Big East to sue the ACC, even as the Big East moves towards raiding other conferences. It is the most hypocritical thing I've seen in sometime, that the Big East can sue the ACC for stealing three schools, while they already seem to have a deal in place for Louisville to leave Conference USA if just Miami goes, and also Marquette and Xavier if all three go. Why doesn't someone in the press ask the Big East if Conference USA has a right to sue them? If you're a parent paying for an education at Georgetown, do you want your money going to all of these legal fees?

    I'm guessing that the fact that the Big East is pursuing all of these other schools means that they know they can't win. I just hope that the ACC doesn't lose its nerve, and prevent us from ever seeing a Super Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Monday, June 16, 2003

    Hey, it worked! Make sure to come back Friday for the next contest.

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    Jab and Move

    Between taking Father's Day off and this afternoon's fiasco, I've got a whole bunch of smaller things that I wanted to comment on. I sure hope this entry doesn't disappear, too. But before I get into anything else, I want to invite repeat viewers to email me and say hello. I can tell from my site meter that I have had hits from all over the place, and I'm really curious as to who you people are.

    Congratulations to Jeff Biddle of Chicago! He won this weekend's Series Prediction Contest going three for three:

    Toronto 800 to win 840
    Boston 100 to win 60.61
    Seattle 100 to win 60.61

    Jeff had to make it hard on me by not betting round numbers, but he finishes with $1961.22. I had a rough time, ending at 625.

    The Dodgers continued to face lefthanders against Cleveland, and with Roberts healthy, got him back into the leadoff role, and moved Izturis to ninth. They also had Mike Kinkade batting fifth, so maybe Jim Tracy is a reader.

    Two blogs have listed me on their links, and they're both cool. One is Greg's Baseball, Etc., and the other is No Pepper. Gregg writes great Red Sox stuff, and has taught me to do some things with links (Don't worry, Gregg. we'll have you on favorite links soon) and No Pepper is about the most comprehensive Braves site you will find.

    Milton Bradley continues to get on base at the same rate that he destroys his own reputation, which would seem impossible. He has only failed to get on base that one day I did a feature story on him. I checked Barry Bonds' record the last two years to see if this was comparable, and it turns out even Barry had hit a cold streak by now. It wouldn't surprise me if CC Sabathia wound up being the Token Indian (doesn't that sound terrible?) in the all-star game, which would be a travesty.

    Nomar Garciaparra, who is perhaps the most athletic and how should we say this, non-cerebral Red Sox player of all time, ignored the fact that he already had three doubles and a triple in the game, and bunted with a runner on first in the 14th inning yesterday. The only thing more amazing was that Jimy Williams, with first base open, chose to pitch to Manny Ramirez instead of walking him, setting up a double play, and pitching to David Ortiz. Such stupidity can not go unpunished. Manny singled to win the game.

    David Robinson won his 2nd NBA title in his final game last night. I read a story recently in which he commented on how there were no medium range shooters anymore, but I haven't been able to find it to link it. It was frightening how similar it was to my rant last week. Anyway, David was a truly dominant force in his prime, has always handled himself well, and will be missed.

    Joan Laporta was elected President of the Barcelona soccer team, and now will try to convince David Beckham to let him purchase his services for 50 million dollars. Beckham reportedly wants to play for Real Madrid, the superstar powerhouse that makes the Yankees look like Devil Rays. Madrid has three former players of the year, and that is not a league award. That's planetary. The three are Ronaldo of Brazil, Zidane of France, and Figo of Portugal.

    Man, I just wrote a whole entry for today. And its lost. I don't know what happened, but I've waited all day for lines that never came, and been trying to refinance my house, and I just ain't typing the whole thing again. See you tomorrow.

    Sunday, June 15, 2003

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    Friday, June 13, 2003

    Dodger Blues

    Not getting to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play much, but it seems like Jim Tracy is a reasonably good manager. Baseball Prospectus usually has nice things to say about him, and he does have that Dodger team in contention, even with that incredibly bad offense. So what I can't figure out is how, HOW, can a team that has so much trouble scoring runs have Cesar Izturis hitting leadoff?!

    And man, the Dodger offense is bad. Last in the National League in OBP by 16 points (the largest gap between any two teams) and last in runs, you would think that Tracy would like to find any advantage in the way he constructs a lineup to squeeze out another run a game. Yet here is Izturis, one of the very worst offensive players in the major leagues, guaranteed to get more at bats than any other Dodger. Cesar Izturis can not hit. He could never hit righties. Last year he could hit lefthanders, but they seem to have figured him out. At this point, to quote Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a f----boat.

    Here is the lineup that Tracy submitted last night, against lefthander Brian (Mr.) Anderson. I'm including whether or not each player is lefthanded or righthanded, and their OBP and slugging against lefthanders and for the year.

    Player (L,R,orS) OBP vs. Lefties OBP for the year SLG vs. Lefties SLG. for the year

    Cesar Izturis (S) .286 .289 .290 .327
    Paul Lo Duca (R) .424 .386 .547 .462
    Shawn Green (L) .315 .319 .482 .428
    Brian Jordan (R) .385 .364 .500 .401
    Fred McGriff (L) .194 .315 .343 .427
    Ron Coomer (R) .333 .279 .471 .255
    Jolbert Cabrera (L) .326 .344 .585 .523
    Adrian Beltre (R) .370 .271 .390 .335
    Alex Cora (L) .444 .293 .611 .333

    Take a good look at the OBP vs. lefties, because that's the situation they're going to face for roughly the first six innings of the game. If you wanted a defensive-minded speedy middle infielder for your leadoff spot (which for some inexplicable reason many managers do) why not try Cora? You have the one man in the lineup who can't get on base, and the pitcher, in front of the one guy who crushes lefties (Lo Duca). Then there's McGriff.

    The Crime Dog is having a terrible time against lefties, with just a .194 OBP against lefties, and Tracy has him fifth. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have Mike Kincade on the bench, who has a fantastic .542 OBP and .684 SLG vs. lefties. And we know Kincade is healthy, because he actually came into the game for McGriff later, when McGriff left with tightness in his right groin (I'm totally serious about that, but is that an injury? How do you tell your boss about that? "Aah, gee coach. My groin is tight. Can I leave the game?).

    Let's say that for ego and contract purposes, Green needs to stay in the middle of the order. We also want to try to take better advantage of Cabrera's Slugging Percentage, and move him up. How about this(OBP included):

    Cora - .444
    Cabrera - .326
    Lo Duca - .424
    Jordan - .385
    Green - .315
    Kincade - .542
    Coomer - .333
    Beltre - .370
    Izturis - .286

    You're looking here at an average increase of 83.17 OBP for the first six spots in the order! And you have speed at the top, which many like, but I don't feel is that necessary. Certainly the lineup is overly righthanded, but if the Dodgers can get four runs off of Anderson before the bullpen comes in, it won't matter. The Dodgers will win the World Series if they score four runs in the first six innings every game.

    In other news, Dmitri Young is the winner of the PDMOH, and here are my picks for the weekend pool:

    St Louis for 200
    Toronto for 500
    Montreal for 100
    Atlanta for 200

    Happy Father's Day everybody. As a first year Dad, I'm taking tomorrow off.

    Thursday, June 12, 2003

    Bullpens, and Who's Going to Win This Thing

    I'm psyched because I get to go to two different interleague series tonight and tomorrow, St. Louis at Boston, then Houston at Boston. I've been thinking a lot about whether or not we've already seen the World Series matchup, and I've decided that the odds are that we haven't. The reason for this is that regardless of what Selig says, there is a whole lot of parity right now near the top of major league baseball.

    Here are the list of teams with as much right as anybody to believe that they can win the World Series:

    AL NL
    New York Atlanta
    Boston Houston
    Minnesota Chicago
    Seattle St. Louis
    Oakland San Francisco

    And here's another list of teams that are real close to that list:

    AL NL
    Toronto Montreal
    Anaheim Philadelphia
    Los Angeles

    Throw in KC, Cincinnati, and Colorado, who are all at .500, and maybe even the White Sox, who as bad as they've played are still only 7.5 behind the Twins, and you have 19 teams that are alive. But more important than that, you have those 10 to 15 teams where its anyone's guess who will make it to the World Series.

    Anyway, we've learned a couple of things about the playoffs since they've expanded to four teams in each league. First, of all, any team in there can win it. Second, bullpens rule. You just can't afford to blow games in a seven game series. The Yankees for years had a dominant bullpen, and even in the Series they lost two years ago, it was the failure of Mariano Rivera that ended it, and the failure of Byung Yun Kim that kept them in it. Last season, it was the Angels unhittable bullpen that carried them all of the way.

    None of this is surprising, but what amazes me is baseball's response to this. Major league executives aren't saying "Hey, we need a bullpen to win it", they're saying "Hey, we can throw a bullpen together cheap". They look at Brendan Donnelly in Anaheim, or Joe Borowski in Chicago, or Chad Bradford in Oakland, and think that after investing 80-150 million dollars in payroll, they're going to get the part of the team that will decide the World Series at Salvation Army.

    Well, sorry folks, that's not the way it works. While it is true that a Chad Bradford can turn up anywhere, it does not mean that you can take seven guys off of the scrap heap and have them all be Chad Bradfords. For every Shigetoshi Hasegawa, there are twenty Juan Acevedos, and yet teams that can afford to do better are ignoring this fact, and trotting out an endless collection of has-beens, never weres, and circus freaks to the mound.

    Here are the best bullpen leaders, according to adjusted runs prevented, as listed on Baseball Prospectus. I'm leaving spaces between teams where there is a big dropoff in scores.

    Los Angeles

    Tampa Bay


    The first seven team are all on our contenders list, and there are no other teams other than these that score seriously above average. And I'm going to say it here, that one of these seven teams will win it. The Yankees, Braves, Red Sox, Giants, and Cardinals all have a glaring weakness that someone will eventually expose in a short series.

    Trades could always change this of course, and the Cardinals just got Jason Ingrinhausen back, so that will help them. But let's take a look at the Big 7 for starter ranks (again from Baseball Prospectus) and runs scored.

    Starters Runs
    Oakland Seattle
    Seattle Anaheim

    Cubs Cubs
    Minnesota Oakland

    Two of the three best bullpens rank at the bottom of one of these two categories, so let's knock them out. That leaves us with Seattle, Houston, Oakland, the Cubs, and Minnesota.

    In the AL, Oakland has that great starting pitching in Zito, Mulder, and Hudson, but are 7 in back of a well-balanced Mariner squad, and are going to have to fight it out withe Yankee/Red Sox loser for the wildcard unless they win 20 in a row again. Minnesota is a virtual lock to win their division, but is on the low end of all of these groups, a very solid but not great team. Because, there is no guarantee that the A's will even make the playoffs, we're going to go with the 42-20 Seattle Mariners.

    Over in the NL, we're left with two teams in the same division, with Houston currently leading, and the Cubs just out of the wildcard spot. They are so close though, and its only June, that the difference doesn't matter. Either one could not make the playoffs. The Cubs have Prior and Wood, but they are also the Cubs, and I'm not a great believer in their offense. Oswalt and Miller might be able to stay with Prior and Wood. We're going Astros.

    So there you have it. A June prediction:

    Seattle over Houston in the World Series.

    PDMOH winners

    Orlando Hudson
    BJ Surhoff

    My apologies to any circus freaks that were offended at any point of this story.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2003

    A New Day

    Got almost no sleep last night, for reasons unclear to me, but it gives me time to write early, in a Gleemanesque kind of way(Aaron's Baseball Blog). And I'm full of good cheer. Yesterday was the first day in about ten that I didn't take any percoset, which also made it the first day I've had a beer in a while. But what I'm most pleased with is the activity at the site. We got a bunch of hits yesterday, fantastic for a new site, and hopefully some of you will return today, and get to read this.

    I started off the Great Series Prediction Contest miserably. These are my picks:

    SF for 440
    Seattle for 440
    Atl for 120

    Seattle I think can still bounce back. But Atlanta lost with Maddux on the mound and still must face Zito, and the White Sox have Buerhle and Colon on the hill for their last two games with the Giants, so it doesn't look good. On top of that, I actually put real money (in comparatively miniscule amounts) on not only the Giants, but Arizona to win their series as underdogs at KC, and they lost, too.

    The winners of the contest will be announced here on Friday.

    The Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor, which, for any newcomers, is given to any player who makes a positive contribution with every at bat in the game, and does nothing else stupid, like get thrown out attempting to stretch his single into a double, has one very special winner today. His name is Howie Clark (Applause, Applause).

    Howie Clark is filling in at third base for the Toronto Blue Jays while Eric Hinske is recovering from injury. What makes Howie so special is he is a winner of this medal, at 29 years old, with only 67 career at bats. I am quite certain that this is the only award ever bestowed upon Mr. Clark during his major league tenure, so hopefully word gets back to him in some way.

    Imagine a world where there is an election amongst shareholders going on for President of the Tokyo Giants, and one of the Presidential candidates, who was initially way ahead but has now fallen behind, comes out and says "Vote for me, and I'll bring Barry Bonds to Tokyo!". He calls the San Francisco Giants, and offers them 48 million dollars for the rights to Bonds. San Francisco, overwhelmed by the size of the offer, excepts the deal.

    Of course, the offer is no good unless the candidate wins the Presidency, but his pursuit of Bonds has made the race a deadheat. Meanwhile, no one has spoken to Bonds about this other than the press, to whom he says he's not necessarily agreeing to go anywhere, as well as "I love it in San Francisco, but I've never said I would finish my career here".

    Impossible you say? Well, this is exactly what is happening with English superstar David Beckham and his current team, Manchester United, and his suitors, the good people of Barcelona, Spain.

    The soccer world. Puts our rivalries and scandals to shame.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2003

    The Great Series Prediction Contest

    OK, here we go. You have 1,000 imaginary dollars to bet, and you have to bet on at least 1oo dollars on three of the five series. Just as a reminder to people, if a team is -150, that means you have to bet 150 to win 100. If a team is +130, then you have to bet 100 to win 130. The winner gets a choice of a ten-foot marble statue of their likeness built in their hometown, or my undying respect.

    My choice, of course.

    Below is a brief descripton of necessary info for each series. You can either email me your picks, or leave it on whatever board you found it at.

    The info I'll give for each series will include OBP and SLG for each team, bullpen rating taken from, home and road records as appropriate, starting pitchers, and my own comments and picks. The tough part I think is comparing OBP and SLG in interleague games, where one team has had the DH, and the other hasn't.

    St. Louis at Boston
    StL +160 Bos -200

    StL 11-16 Boston 18-9
    OBP StL .356 Bos .357
    SLG STL ..470 Bos .486
    Bullpen edge - St L

    Pitching Matchup
    Williams at Kim
    Tomko at Pedro
    Stephenson at Wakefield

    If Williams doesn't win the opener, then this one is over. He might win it , of course, and who knows how Pedro will come out in his first start, or maybe even be a late scratch. At that price I like the Cards.

    Houston at Yankees
    Hous +160 NY -200

    Hous 14-15 NY 13-15
    OBP Hous .341 NY .354
    SLG Hous ..427 NY .463
    Bullpen Edge - Hous

    Pitching Matchups
    Miller at Mussina
    Oswalt at Contreras
    Robertson at Wells

    The Yankees have been lousy at home. I'd make them prove they're worthy of the price, and take the Astros.

    San Francisco at the White Sox
    SF -110 Chi -110

    SF 18-10 Chi 16-12
    OBP SF .349 Chi .332
    SLG SF .433 Chi .413
    Bullpen Edge - even

    Pitching Matchups
    Williams at Garland
    Foppert at Buerhle
    Rueter at Colon

    The White Sox still have a lot to prove. I like the Giants.

    Atlanta at Oakland
    Atl +120 Oak -150

    Atl 18-10 Oak 19-8
    OBP Atl .354 Oak .326
    SLG Atl ..499 Oak .410
    Bullpen edge - Oakland

    Pitching Matchups
    Maddux at Hudson
    Ramirez at Lilly
    Reynolds at Zito

    The Braves are a lot better hitting team than Oakland. Braves.

    Montreal at Seattle
    Mont +170 Sea -220

    Mont 14-15 Sea 17-11
    OBP Mont .331 Sea .358
    SLG Mont ..400 Sea .449
    Bullpen Edge - Seattle

    Pitching Matchups
    Vazquez at Meche
    Hernandez at Pineiro
    Vargas at Franklin

    We're a big believer in the Mariners. We'd pay the price at -220.

    Monday, June 09, 2003

    Day off in baseball for most everybody, so I'll be short with that, and move on to other things.

    3 PDMOH winners for yesterday - Marlon Byrd, Geoff Blum, and Hideki Matsui.

    One series starts tonight, and that is Philadelphia at Anaheim. One thing that has struck me this year about interleague play is how many potential World Series matchups we are seeing. While many may consider the Angels already out of it, they still have that great bullpen intact, and so I think they could still run off a string of wins at some point.

    Anyway, Anaheim is -150 for this series, with Millwood not pitching. The Angels line up is a little banged up, so I wouldn't touch this one.

    The Spurs went up 2-1 on New Jersey in the Disgrace that has become the NBA Finals. It used to take three great players to win an NBA title, but we're down to one:

    Magic, Kareem, Worthy
    Bird, Parish, McHale
    Isaiah, Dumars, Rodman
    Jordan and Pippen
    Shack and Kobe

    It seems like it must be overcoaching, but really, I think its the 3-point line. Every kid in America grows up driving to the basket and shooting threes, and that's it. They get to high school, learn some basic defenses, get a year or two (maybe) of fine-tuning in the college ranks, and then they're playing for NIKE. David Stern ought to pray every night tha the rest of the world keeps sending us players, because right now the American Player stinks. Or, to quote the Grateful Dead:

    He's Gone, He's Gooooone, and nothing's going to bring him back. He's Gone.

    Hockey is a little better. They just have to cut down on the goalie equipment. You need goals, fellas, although that really hasn't been a problem the last couple of games. I'd like to see Anaheim win it.

    And if you didn't see any of the Arturo Gatti - Mickey Ward trilogy that concluded on HBO Saturday, then you don't know what a tough guy is. Also, you missed seeing Michael Grant, a tremendous all-around athlete, get knocked senseless by Dominick Guinn, who is what used to be impossible, an unknown former Olympian. I would love to see all of these other sport's "tough guys" get in the ring, then we'd really see what they were made of. Hear me Scott Stevens? Hear me, Kenyon Martin?

    Sunday, June 08, 2003

    Had some blog trouble, so that's why this is so late. Well, that, and the Eisenberg family reunion, which kept me from giving running updates of Albert Pujols' progress yesterday. As you may know by now, Albert reached base one more time on Saturday before finally having an unproductive plate experience, ending his streak at 11.

    As far as I know, there is no record for this. On I did find the following records:

    Most Consecutive
    (Times Reaching Base)
    AL Ted Williams
    16 1957

    NL Barry Bonds
    San Francisco
    15 1998

    John Olerud
    New York
    15 1998

    Most Consecutive Hits
    (No Bases on Balls)
    AL Walt Dropo
    12 1952

    NL Jake Gettman
    10 1897

    Ed Konetchy
    10 1919

    Bip Roberts
    10 1992

    As you can tell just by the names involved, getting hits in consecutive at bats is a much flukier occurrence. I mean, if Bip Roberts can get ten consecutive hits, then who can't? But on base consecutively? You have to be one of the greats of game to get there. And don't underestimate John Olerud, a fantastic player who will probably not choose to play long enough to get the attention he deserves.

    Of course, the PDMOH doesn't exactly measure consecutive times on base, although that was the original intention. So there is no record for what Albert did, but of course we know it has to be at least equal to Teddy Ballgame's 16. We could track down the streaks of Ted, Barry, and Olerud and find out out if a sacrifice fly extended those streaks, but it still doesn't account for someone who may have reached base ten straight times, hit a sacrifice fly, then reached base ten straight times again. I'm guessing the record would be right around 20. So that would make Albert's streak very good, but not necssarily historically noteworthy, maybe something similar to a 30 game hit streak.

    Miguel Tejada reached base in all five appearances the same night Albert did it for the third time, and Frank Thomas and Alex Cintron did it yesterday. Cintron is now behind only Pujols with Paul DePodesta Medals of Honor, with two.

    Won a couple of interesting bets this weekend. I had both Seattle and Minnesota to win their series against the Mets and Padres, respectively. The Twins had it locked up by Saturday night, but the Mariners didn't look too good after a rainout caused them to need a sweep today. They came through mightily though, 13-1 and 7-0, and finished their road trip with an 11-1 record. They are starting to look more like the team from two years ago that won 116 games than last year's edition, who didn't make the playoffs. Keep an eye on them.

    Friday, June 06, 2003

    The Amazing Albert Pujols!

    Too excited to wait until the morning for this one. After giving Albert Pujols full praise for his accomplishments this morning, I was following games along ESPN, and noticed that in tonight's St. Louis - Baltimore game (wonder if the local press made any mention of the Orioles being the old St. Louis Browns) Albert Pujols had started this way:

    Single to center in the first with two outs and no one on.

    Walked with a man on first and two out in the third.

    Singled with runners on first and second with one out in the fourth.

    Knowing that he had made positive contributions in all four at bats Thursday night, becoming the first two-time winner of the PDMOH, I went to check on what happened on Wednesday. In Albert's last at bat that night, he was intentionally walked with a runner on third and two out, even though the Blue Jays were already down three runs, and the next batter was Jim Edmonds.

    Albert Pujols had success at the plate in eight straight appearances!

    I found the game on MLB Extra Innings. In the bottom of the seventh with the score tied, Pujols led off the inning with a single to left. The announcers were all over how hot Albert's been, even talking about whether or not he has a chance to hit .400. But they had no idea of just how hot Albert is at this exact moment, or that they were in the middle of something special.

    The Cardinals stranded Pujols on first, and then the Orioles took a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second and two out , JD Drew walked, loading the bases for Albert.

    There was a conference on the mound. The announcers joked about how everyone was just wishing the pitcher good luck.

    Albert swings and misses on the first pitch, and I think (don't quite remember) he takes a ball. On the next pitch, Albert rips a double to left, clearing the bases. The Cardinals go on to win by that score, 8-6.

    Albert Pujols has now made a positive contribution in 10 straight plate appearances. And because they weren't all hits, and I don't write for ESPN, I may the only one who has noticed.

    To review:

    Wednesday - Intentional Walk
    Thursday - Sacrifice Fly, Double, Single, Homer
    Friday - Single, Walk, Single, Single, Double

    You Go, Albert. Can't wait for tomorrow!

    Yesterday, a topic came up on netshrine that basically asked, "Do you see something that's never happened before in every single game?"

    My response was this:

    Just today, with the Major league Extra Innings Package, I've seen:

    Mike Hampton walk Donnie Sadler with a player on first

    CC Sabathia fall off the mound, without throwing a pitch

    Preston Wilson get picked off first by the catcher, with the bases loaded

    Eric Young lose a grounder in the sun

    Great game, baseball.

    I could also now add Tom Glavine retiring the first two players of the game on 5 pitches, and then needing 46 more pitches to get the third out. But really, every game you're bound to see something that's never happened before, if for no other reason than at some point in the game, I would think that you would see a batter face a particular pitcher for the first time.

    Every time you set up a system, there needs to be adjustments (you'll all see this big time with the ENC, coming in August). The Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor was created to give credit to guys who reached base safely in each of their at bats. But then I realized that many guys reach base, only to get thrown out on the bases, so I put in the rule that you couldn't get thrown out on the bases. But then I realized that not every time that you get thrown out is the same. For instance, if you are thrown out at the plate, that's just as much, if not more so, the third base coach's fault. Now the rule is, you're eliminated if you get thrown out attempting something on your own, like trying to steal a base, or trying to stretch a double into a triple.

    Then, yesterday, Albert Pujols gives me a new problem. In the first inning, he hits a deep drive to right field with a runner on third that allows the first run of the game to score. In the third, he leads off the inning with a double. In the fourth inning with no outs and a man on first, he singles to center. Then, in Albert's last at bat, he homers to left. So Pujols finishes with a line that looks like this:

    3 AB 2 runs 3 hits 2 rbi

    Now, he did not reach base safely in every at bat. But I think its clear that Albert's first at bat provided an offensive contribution.

    This is one thing I hate about all of the new baseball stats, that they completely ignore who is actually scoring the runs, and driving them in. It seems obvious that there are times when a player's MAIN GOAL at the plate is to drive in that run, so why aren't we trying to measure that? I did see on some baseball game yesterday where they were showing player's batting average with runner's in scoring position. This is a very useful stat, but its not easy to find. Even on ESPN, which is great for all kinds of stats, they don't have it.

    Having said all of that, we're now amending the rules of the PDMOH to read:

    "goes to any player who makes an offensive contribution with each at bat, without making any negative contributions.

    This means that THE PDMOH now has its first two-time in winner in Albert Pujols! Al, we know you were thinking "I'm gonna give this ball a ride out there, and if it goes it goes, but at least I'll bring the run home". Or something like that. does great statistical comparisons for players, among other things. Albert is 23 years old. Do you know who the most comparable player in history as a 21 year-old is to Albert? Joe DiMaggio! Do you know who the most comparable player in history is to Albert as a 22 year-old? JOE DIMAGGIO! For those long time readers, you might remember that Albert was also a member of last week's Bill & Ted's All-Star team. He also currently leads all players in OPS. Way to go Albert!

    Don't watch basketball much anymore, but I bet $58 to win 20 on the Spurs beating the Nets. Looks good so far.

    Oh, and if there's anyone out there, please email!

    Thursday, June 05, 2003

    With all of the Sammy commotion going on, I failed to mention the PDMOH awards for Tuesday:

    Garret Anderson
    Travis Lee
    Chipper Jones

    And here's last night's:

    Manny Ramirez
    The Amazing Melvin Mora 1 Ab 1 hit 3 walks!

    I also, didn't get to go over the Red Sox' draft picks. They stayed the Epstein Course, drafting college kids almost all of the way through, leaning heavily towards performance-based picks. I was planning on comparing the player's draft positions to those of the past, but because of the way the Sox and other teams approached the draft this year is so radically different from the past, I'm not sure its relevant.

    Had another dentist appointment yesterday. They said I'm making good progress, and gave me another 40 percoset. Writing is one of the easier things for me to do right now, but I think I'm taking the rest of the day off.

    Lot's of good day games to nod off to.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003

    Sammy, Sammy, Sammy

    By now everyone has heard about the cork found in Sammy Sosa's bat last night. Many have wondered why a player of such talent would need to do such a thing. Sammy assured us that using the bat was an "accident", and that while he did cork his bats, he did it only to "thrill" fans during batting practice. The press for the most part is backing off to see what further fallout there will be. The Baseball Tonight crew basically proclaimed it a non-issue, buying Sammy's story and saying that even if Sammy did cork his bats intentionally, he probably just did it for a psychological boost, and it probably didn't help him much.

    So why do I keep thinking about Pete Rose?

    I don't claim to know how much it would help to have cork in your bat, or what kind of person Sammy is, but I know this: The odds are tiny that the very first time Sammy accidently grabbed one of his Whacky Bats instead of an Official Bat was last night, when the bat broke. It is such a farfetched excuse that I'm shocked he didn't come under more ridicule for it immediately.

    We know that Sammy has admitted to corking bats for batting practice. Let's take a look at that for a second. If this is true, that's putting in a lot of extra effort just to thrill the fans. And isn't there an element of fraud even in this? If Sammy wants to show kids just how far a ball can be hit, why doesn't he use an aluminum bat? Also, how insecure does Sammy need to be to believe that his own batting practice homeruns, with no extra help, are not worthy enough?

    Then there is the mixing up of the bats. If Sammy knows that using a corked bat is wrong, and he only uses it for batting practice, and realizes there is great risk in using a corked bat, why in the world does he leave it anywhere near the rest of his bats? How many corked bats does he have over there? How much time is Sammy spending doing all of this? Does he take the corked bats for batting practice on the road?

    OK, let's say we buy all of that. He just corks bats to please the kids. He leaves the corked bats with the regular ones and never gives it a second thought. He then accidentally grabs the wrong bat this one time and it breaks. How likely is it that a bat breaks the first time you use it? How likely is it in any at bat that the bat breaks? How often does Sammy's bat break?

    Corking bats isn't the end of the world, but I don't like being lied to, and I don't like the press backing off because he's popular. People like to think they know these guys, that Sammy could never do this, because he seems so nice. Remember Kirby Puckett? Not to equate the two, but smiling to the camera buys you a lot of slack.

    So because Sammy's Excuse sounds like so much, b.s., let's throw out some more plausible ones.

    1. He's used a cork bat for years.

    2. He uses corked bats only when he's struggling.

    3. He started using them this year, after trying them out in batting practice.

    4. He started using them several years ago, after trying them out in batting practice.

    I don't pretend to know the answer to this, but I'm betting one of thes four is closer to the truth than what Sammy gave us.

    Tell us the truth, Sammy.

    Tuesday, June 03, 2003

    I'm somewhat curious to see how things turn out today with the Red Sox draft board. The Sox have been identified as one of those teams that were witness to The Great Awakening. Plate discipline is a personality trait, college kids are lower risks than high school kids, especially with pitchers. Both Theo Epstein and John Henry are mentioned prominently in Moneyball, and everything that has been said of them suggest that they will continue to follow that course of action today. There's nothing suspicious here, except the Sox went out last year and hired David Chadd to be Scouting Director.

    Chadd is best known in draft circles for selecting Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez, both non-college players, with Beckett a pitcher, and then came here and did the same thing. taking high school kids with three of his first four picks, and a pitcher with the first one. This is obviously before Epstein's ascension to power, but it makes me wonder about the backbone of Henry, who said in Moneyball that he couldn't get things done with the Marlins because he felt somewhat intimidated as an outsider telling all of these old ballplayers how to handle personnel. That's totally understandable, but then why bring anyone here from the Marlins? Or, why bring Chadd here, just to do the same thing? Also, according to Gordon Edes, Epstein even went as far as saying in a conference call last week that the draft is "Chadd's show". So, what's going on here? I'm expecting that it is really Epstein's draft board, and he was just being polite.

    I also expect that this something our local media is supposed to figure out. It's interesting how we watch different drafts. The Red Sox get twice the coverage of any other team in town, they have two minutes to make each of fifty selections, and it is unclear who is doing the picking?! The Celtics get one important pick, and that would never happen. The Pats get 5-10 important picks, and this would be a soap opera for weeks! Yikes, we lost a a Super Bowl Coach over this! Who's Buying The Groceries?!

    Edes is terrible in today's paper. He reports that "according to trade publication Baseball America, the Sox are leaning towards . . .Ryan Wagner . . .or David Murphy". Ah gee, thanks Gordon. Its nice to have access to such high-ranking information. But I was thinking maybe you could call Epstein on the PHONE, and try to get a STORY, like a REPORTER. Didn't you ever read Will McDonough?

    Hopefully the Sox are working harder than Edes, and have plans to catch the Yankees, and stay ahead of the Blue Jays, and Orioles. Yes, I said Orioles. Yes, I know they did the same thing last year and collapsed completely. Stop laughing and I'll explain why.

    The Orioles are one game over .5oo, and 4.5 out of first. They have scored 287 runs and given up only 266. But also:

    There are 3 AL teams with K/BB ratios of 2:1 - New York, Minnesota, Baltimore
    The 3 AL teams to give up the fewest homers - New York, Oakland, Baltimore
    Team allowing the fewest unearned runs - Baltimore
    Team to get the most walks - NY, Seattle, Toronto, tie Baltimore and Boston
    Team with fewest strikeouts - Anaheim and Baltimore

    I'm not saying they'll win it. I'm just saying there are some interesting things going on there.

    Monday, June 02, 2003

    A Little Notoriety For an Eisenberg, and an Isenberg

    Attention to Eisenberg Sports is starting to pick up some steam of its own. I checked the search engines last night to see if I showed up on any of them, and as it turned out, I was on virtually all of them. I had a great time typing in things like "eisenberg stephen stills" and seeing my story come up, or "eisenberg lebron". But what really surprised me was that I was listed on a couple of other sites that I hadn't made any contact with. I'm on the Baseball Blogs list on Musings From RSN (Red Sox Nation), and on Baseball News Blog I'm quoted smack in the middle of their front page from my story on the Shea/Kim deal.

    So its time to spread some of the wealth around. Got my on-line subscription to Baseball America yesterday, just in time for this week's draft coverage, and I was thrilled to see, at # 89 on the list of prospects, a player by the name of Kurt Isenberg.

    Ok, so I know what you're thinking. That's kind of cute. They pretty much have the same name. Next topic. But its bigger than that. When I was a kid, aspiring to be any kind of athlete at all, I couldn't help but notice that if I looked at my sports cards, or watched a game on tv, there weren't any names like Eisenberg around. Anywhere. Ever. None that started with Eisen, almost none that ended with berg. I remember Bob Kuechenberg with the Miami Dolphins, but that wasn't very close, really. Not enough to matter. I didn't know what Eisenbergs did for a living, other than drive pickle trucks, which is what my Dad and Grandfather did , but I did know that they weren't athletes.

    This didn't stop me of course. I played because I loved to play, and when it became obvious that my talent level in athletics was not the type that lands on a Sports Illustrated cover, I accepted it as my own shortcomings, and not something driven by an Eisenberg Curse, or a cultural stereotype. Still, it would have been nice as a kid to have a baseball card with the name Eisenberg on it.

    Well, for me Kurt Isenberg is close enough. He's got a legitimate shot at making it to the big leagues some day, which means my 5-month old son has a real chance to own an Isenberg baseball card.

    So let's get to the particulars. Kurt Isenberg is a left-handed pitcher, the most valuable of baseball commodities, who has just finished his junior year at James Madison in Virginia. He is currently ranked 18th in the lefthanded pitchers category, but ten of those ahead of him are high school pitchers. It is becoming closer to common knowledge that high school pitchers are much riskier picks, because they are that much younger and have that much farther to go, and because they've played against inferior levels of competition, so its conceivable that Kurt could be taken higher.

    This last season, he pitched 97 innings and recorded 97 strikeouts with 42 walks, and a 5.85 ERA, which is on the high side, but his ERA was 3.73 the year before as a sophomore. He also pitched well for the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League last summer. He can get his fastball into the low 90s. At 6 ft even, he's on the small side for teams who like to draft on "skills" instead of performance, but it shouldn't be a major issue here.

    With 30 teams, and some sandwich picks thrown in between the first and second round, it seems as though Kurt should go somewhere between rounds 2 and 4. Wherever he's picked, you can be sure to find it here first, on Eisenberg Sports.

    Yesterday's winners of the Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor for reaching base in every plate appearance, and not getting thrown out on the bases, goes to:

    Toby Hall of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays! 4 for 4 with a double and a homer!

    Sean Casey of the Cincinnati Reds! 3 AB 2 runs 3 hits 3 rbi 2 walks!

    Not bad for two percosets every four hours. If you're new to the site, I'd love to hear from you.

    Sunday, June 01, 2003

    Trying to find ways
    Through the percoset haze
    Lying on the floor
    Watching the Blue Jays score
    With my infant son
    He's the only one
    Who thinks the Sox can win

    So much for leadoff hitters. 14 for 101 yesterday with a measly 4 walks!

    Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor for reaching base safely the whole game

    Andruw Jones
    Albert Pujols
    Alex Citron

    On the whole, my recovery from having two teeth pulled is going well.