Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vernon Wells

Well, the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays again last night, in another close game, and Vernon Wells hit 3 HR. If it seems like Wells is tearing up Red Sox pitching this year, well, that's because Wells is tearing up Red Sox pitching this year.

Vernon Wells - 2006


vs. Everyone else401554770.3030.360.5030.863

vs. Boston10451880.40.44911.449

He's been a good but not great player against the rest of baseball. Against the Red Sox, he's been Babe Ruth, ca. 1927.

| Links to this post

Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday Pythagorean Report - 5/29

A 5-2 week for the Red Sox was pretty good. But it could have been a great 5-2 week, if they'd lost the 2 against Tampa instead of New York.

  • For all the moaning in NY about how decimated they've been by injury, they took the field Tuesday night with one (1) significant player on the DL - Hidecki Matsui. Yes, Tanyon Sturtze and Carl Pavano are still DL'ed. Pardon my yawns. Now, if Posada hits the DL, that hurts them. If Damon hits the DL, that hurts them. But thus far, they've missed 3 weeks of Sheffield and two (so far) of Matsui. It's not that big a deal...

  • The Tigers continue to roll. I remain skeptical. While they're obviously much improved over what they've been the past few years, and they do have some young players, the kind of players who can make the performance leaps necessary to significantly improve a team, I think that they've been the beneficiary of one of the easiest early-season schedules in baseball. Their record is currently 35-15. They are 22-5 against the woeful Royals, and two other AL central teams who got off to horrible starts, Cleveland and Minnesota. They're 12-10 against the rest of their schedule, and they haven't yet played any games against Boston, NY or Toronto, and of their 30 games inside their own division, only 3 have been against the White Sox. I think that the Tigers are a decent-to-good team, that they'll finish with a good record, but they won't finish ahead of Boston or New York.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/29/2006



New York5.96(1)4.71(4)0.606(2)29192820-1










Los Angeles4.42(12)5.14(10)0.431(12)22282129-1

Tampa Bay4.12(13)5.41(11)0.378(13)193221302

Kansas City3.88(14)6.52(14)0.278(14)13351137-2

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)



New York9567


Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)


New York9765



Standings for the week




Los Angeles6.33(3)4(2)0.699(3)42420


New York7.83(1)6(12)0.62(5)42420







Tampa Bay4(12)5.86(11)0.332(12)2516-1


Kansas City4.57(10)8.86(14)0.23(14)2516-1

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Jonah Goldberg has an outstanding piece at NRO today on Katrina, the coverage of Katrina, and the ramifications. I've really got nothing to add, other than I wish I'd written it. Check it out...

| Links to this post

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Pythagorean Report - 5/22/2006

With about 25% of the season played, the Detroit Tigers are the surprise of the AL, and beginning to look as though they've got a chance to hang in there. I haven't looked at their roster or results carefully, yet, so I'm not sure whether I think that they're for real. I know the Orioles were on a 102 win pace at this time last year, and I didn't believe in them - at all - and the Tigers could well be similar. Or not. I won't know until I look. (I may get a chance today, I may not...)

  • The Red Sox played 2 3-game series on the road last week, and took 2 of 3 in each. 2 of 3 on the road is obviously a great pace, and if you could do it all year, you'd finish with a great record. That said, the week felt like a missed opportunity. The loss in Baltimore ended on a caught stealing, and the eventual winning run scored on a wild pitch. In the top of the first, the Red Sox had runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs and only scored 1 run, and then were totally shut down for the next 7 innings.

  • Speaking of the 4-3 loss in Baltimore, when David Ortiz hits a 2-run 9th innings HR when his team's down by 3, people call it "clutch," whether they win or lose. If Alex Rodriguez had done that, and the team had, as the Red Sox did, lost anyway, the Yankee fans would have called it "stat-padding"...

  • One of the advantages of inter-league play accrues to the National League teams at home, as AL pitchers aren't used to hitting. That said, Boston's pitcher's went 3-9 with a HR and 2 RBI in Philadelphia this weekend.

  • On Saturday night, Josh Beckett and Alex Gonzalez each homered. It may be the most unlikely pairing of HR in one game since Darren Lewis and Jeff Frye went back-to-back to win a game against Minnesota in 1999.

  • The Alex Gonzalez HR brought all of the "he's a great-super-stupendous-awesome defender and he's not here to hit and if he hits .230 that's just fine" analysts out of the woodwork. And it was a nice hit. Which is good, because it was the only one that he had on the week. Someone tried to make the point that the only reason they won in Baltimore on Tuesday was because of Gonzalez glove, and I just laughed. With a shortstop who'd gone 1-5 instead of 0-5 in that game, they probably would have won by a bigger margin. But for some reason, some people can't see the hits he didn't get, just the plays he made that they're convinced the no one else would have.

  • I heard on the radio yesterday morning that Alex Gonzalez had retired. Unfortunately, it was Philadelphia's Alex Gonzalez and not Boston's...

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/22/2006




New York5.69(2)4.52(3)0.603(3)25172418-1









Los Angeles4.16(12)5.3(10)0.391(12)172717270

Tampa Bay4.14(13)5.34(11)0.385(13)172720243

Kansas City3.76(14)6.12(14)0.29(14)12291031-2

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)



New York9369


Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)


New York9666



Standings for the week






Tampa Bay4.83(8)3.83(4)0.604(5)42511




New York5.14(4)5.86(11)0.441(9)34340




Kansas City3.33(12)6.67(12)0.22(13)1506-1

Los Angeles3.17(13)7.5(14)0.171(14)15150

| Links to this post

Sunday, May 21, 2006

There's got to be something in the DC water...

Is there something in the water in Washington? Presumably rational people make the stupidest comments imaginable. The latest to demonstrate significant lack of coordination between fact and speech is Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He was on Meet The Press this morning, talking about immigration, and he graced the world with this gem:
Well, first of all, we shouldn't be very sympathetic to employers who are hiring large numbers of illegal immigrants and paying them very low wages and exploiting them. Those folks are the 21st-century slave masters, and what they're doing is just as immoral as what the 19th-century slave masters did that we had to fight a civil war to get rid of.

John Podhoretz called the comment "just disgusting, no matter where you stand on this question." Correct. Jonah Goldberg said it was "absurd and more than a little depressing." All of that. Mark Kilmer at Red State says that it's "an awful analogy." That's putting it mildly.

It is all of those things, but what it is mostly is a piece of Durbinesquely insanse hyperbolic nonsense. Slavery was a system under which human beings owned other human beings. They denied their "property" the rights of movement, speech, association, self-determination - everything that comprises "freedom." Someone hiring illegal aliens is reaching an agreement to pay a mutually agreeable wage to a worker who wants to earn that wage for doing that work. The worker is free to leave, to go somewhere else at any time. There is no comparison whatsoever between the two positions, and any attempt to link them should be repugnant to any sentient beings.

Technorati tags: Sensenbrenner, MeetThePress, Immigration, slavery

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


As everyone knows, a lot of water has fallen in New England over the past 72 hours. We went for a ride this morning, to take a look around at the results. Our house is only about 100 yards from the Merrimack River, which is high and flooding everywhere. Fortunately for us, we're about 3/4 of a mile upstream from a very wide dam, and we haven't had any problems. But there's a lot of water nearby...

Here are some pictures of Lawrence. (Here is the same set, slightly smaller for those with dial-up, or small monitors.)

First, we rode up to the boat house, which is only about a block and a half away. The parking lot is, obviously underwater. This is also the case at the boat ramp at the public park, 1/2 mile in the other direction.

Then down to Broadway, route 28, which is a fairly major road. The bridge is just below the dam that I spoke of, and it's closed today. According to the police officer who was preventing traffic, the Army Corps of Engineers is worried about the pilings being undermined, and they didn't want anyone on it. When you see the dam, you need to keep in mind that that gently sloping 5 foot drop is normally 25-30 feet. The river is very high.

Down on the Riverwalk (well, it would be a Riverswim today), you can again see how high the Merrimack is running. If it were as high over flood stage above the dam as below it, we wouldn't be dry. That mill building on the right in this picture has most of its first floor underwater.

We've got a couple of pictures at the intersection of route 28 and route 133 in Andover, Shawsheen village. You can see the top of a car, and the tops of a couple of soccer nets. Finally, another major road, route 114 in Lawrence, is closed at 495 because of the flooding of the Spicket River. You can see that the Friendly's is half submerged.

We are fine, our house is fine, our neighborhood is fine. But there are a lot of people who've had some real significant problems as a result of this storm...

Underwater Mill building...

| Links to this post

Why does baseball do this?

The Red Sox and Rangers took to the field Friday night to play a baseball game. Over the course of their next 9 offensive innings, the Rangers scored 6 runs. Over the course of their next 9 offensive innings, the Red Sox scored 6 runs. Tie game, right?

Wrong. That game ended in the bottom of the 6th, with Texas up 6-0. The Red Sox still had 12 outs to go, and everyone who's ever watched a game knows that a game's not over, even with a 6 run lead, with 12 outs to go. But baseball's rules decree that that game is over, it goes into the books as a complete game for Rangers starter Kameron Loe, and the team's move on. That seems silly. Everyone knows the rules, and it's been that way for a long time, but it's silly anyway. You never see an NFL game stopped in the middle of the 3rd quarter, regardless of score. The NBA would never declare a winner based on 2/3 of a game. But for some reason, baseball, in one of those "from the murky past" rules, has decided that the game's over.

Now, if the umpires had called them off the field 2 innings earlier (as they should have done - the rain was no worse in the 6th than in the 4th), then the game would have been a non-game. But since they finished playing the bottom of the 5th, it was an official game, even though they didn't actually finish it...

| Links to this post

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday Pythagorean Report - 5/15

For the the Red Sox, 3 games in NY, winning 2 of them, makes this a decent week. The weekend was, however, a total washout - literally. They lost a game Friday night that should have been stopped in the 3rd inning, but wasn't. They were called off the field trailing in the bottom of the 6th, and it goes into the books as a loss, and that was the last time that they played.

Because of the rainouts, there's basically nothing to add to my analysis of the my analysis of the Red Sox/Yankee series. Matt Clement struggled on Friday, but really had only one bad inning, the 3rd, where he gave up 3 runs. No runs allowed in the 1st, 4th and 5th, and a solo HR in the 2nd. Not a good outing, but not the disaster that some have made it out to be. Had the Red Sox managed a hit when they had runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 3rd, and again with the same situation in the 4th, they'd have been tied 4-4 after 5, and people wouldn't have been quite so hasty and vocal about Clement's shortcomings.

This week, there are 3 in Baltimore (and it looks as though they'll be able to play tonight.) Then the (unfortunate) opening of interleague play with 3 in Philadelphia. I don't like interleague play. I don't like it at all. There are no interleague series that interest me, and I think it's a gimmick, and it skews competition, and it turns me off greatly. But they're going to do it anyway...

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/15/2006



New York5.8(3)4.26(2)0.638(2)22132114-1









Los Angeles4.32(12)4.95(8)0.438(11)17211622-1


Tampa Bay4.03(13)5.58(12)0.355(13)132515232

Kansas City3.83(14)6.03(14)0.303(14)11241025-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)


New York9765



Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

New York10260




Standings for the week










Kansas City6.17(4)7.17(13)0.432(9)33330

Los Angeles5.67(6)6.67(12)0.426(10)3324-1



New York3.33(13)5.17(8)0.31(13)24331

Tampa Bay2.17(14)5.17(8)0.169(14)15241

| Links to this post

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A comment and a link

A random comment, and a relevant link...
  • I listen, fairly often though not usually for very long, to WEEI, Boston's all-sports radio station. I'm not, as a general rule, enamored of it, but I'm interested in the Red Sox and Patriots, so I tend to go there to see what's going on. The callers are, for the most part --- well, let's just say that the level of intellectual discourse, which is not high from the hosts, tends to be significantly lower from the callers. Nature of the beast, I suppose, but it can be aggravating. I listened, this morning, to a caller who wanted to complain about Terry Francona. In particular, this caller thinks that Francona leaves pitchers in too long.

    Well, I've never noticed that as a tendency, and he couldn't POSSIBLY be as bad about it as his predecessor was, but to each his own. But this caller thought that this tendency showed in last night's game. So I start to think it through. Matt Clement started the game, right? 5 innings, 4 runs. Certainly nothing special. Not disastrous, but not what you want from your starter. 1 run in the second, 3 in the 3rd. 0 in the 4th. 0 in the 5th. Pulled after 5.

    Well, when, exactly, did this caller think that Francona should have pulled him? After the scoreless 1st? After the solo HR in the 2nd? He could have pulled him after 3, I suppose, but given that Clement went two more innings without giving up another run, it's tough to see how that's a managerial offense that warrants a phone call...

  • I noted yesterday that the addition of Wily Mo Pena to the Red Sox not only helps the Red Sox, it prevented/prevents the Yankees from getting him, and they could sure use him.
    Red Sox fans who've complained about the Arroyo for Pena trade (and you know who you are) should be thrilled that Pena's in Boston instead of New York. Just like last year, when the Yankees could have used Jay Payton to fill their black hole in CF, the Red Sox have added the kind of depth that Yankee fans are wishing they had.

    Chris Lynch is thinking similar thoughts...

| Links to this post

Friday, May 12, 2006

4 down, 19 to go

So, the Red Sox and Yankees have met for the first two of their six head-to-head series on the year. 4 games down, 15 to go. Because of the rain-out last week, 5 of those 15 will take place in one weekend series in Boston in August.

There were some things that jumped out at me from Tuesday's game, but I never got to writing them. Then I decided to do one wrap-up post for the series. This is it.

First, comments from Tuesday night (Boston 14, NY 3):
  • The Red Sox won big, 14-3. It didn't start well, as Beckett gave up a 2-run homerun to Giambi in the first, but that was really the end of the good news from a Yankee perspective. The Red Sox scored early, they scored often. They had a lot of help from the Yankees, as a Rodriguez error allowed the first run to score, and kept the 3rd inning alive.

  • But any focus on Rodriguez (and there's been a lot of it, particularly from Yankee fans who think that Jeter's "Captain Clutch") is missing the story of that game. Yes, Rodriguez booted a ball at 3rd (the second error he was given in that game should not of been, as that ball exploded at his feet and took an awful bounce - no one would have made that play.) But the story of Tuesday was Randy Johnson. The reason that Ortiz was up in the 3rd inning was that Johnson had allowed a base hit to Dustan Mohr, and after getting up 0-2 on Alex Gonzalez, he walked him. Then, after Ortiz reached on an error, the 2nd run scored on a wild pitch. In the 4th inning, he again allowed Dustan Mohr (walk) and Alex Gonzalez (single) to reach base back-to-back. Randy Johnson didn't get out of the 4th inning on Tuesday night, and wouldn't have won that game, regardless of defensive support. It wasn't Alex Rodriguez' fault that they lost.

    I don't know if Johnson's done - I think that it's too early, and there's not enough evidence, to make that case. I do know this - if I were a Yankee fan, I'd be very concerned about what I've seen from Randy Johnson so far this year. If he pitches like a middle-of-the-rotation starter, they're not a great team. I predicted them to make the play-offs this year but if what we saw on Tuesday is something we see regularly, I don't think that they will.

  • I don't understand why there hasn't been more talk about Bernie Williams throwing his helmet at the home plate umpire following his 7th inning strikeout. Yes, it wasn't a bat. Yes, it didn't hit the umpire in the chest. No, Bernie doesn't have the reputation that Delmon Young has. He still threw a piece of equipment at the umpire. Completely unacceptable. He wasn't flipping it away - he looked and threw, backwards, true, and it was at the ump. He's got to be suspended. And I haven't seen or heard a word about it.

  • It was just one game. It's very easy to envision, following a 14-3 win, a series in which Boston goes into NY and loses 2 of 3 while outscoring the Yankees by 7...

Wednesday (NY 7, Boston 3):

Curt Schilling's off to a good start for the team. He looks to be back to where he was 2 years ago. Curt's an interesting guy and a good pitcher. That said, he's also a loudmouth. Sometimes, that's not a problem. But you can't go on the radio Tuesday morning and complain about the New York media, and then fail to hold a 3-0 lead on Wedneday night. They had the Yankee's best pitcher, Mike Mussina, on the ropes, and they failed to either get him out of the game (he'd thrown 92 pitches through 5 innings - the four batters in the 6th saw 1, 1, 2 and 2, for a total of 6) or build on the lead. And their ace failed to hold it. He gave up 3 HR, 6 runs in 6 innings. Not good enough.

Thursday (Boston 5, NY 3):

  • For the 3rd time in the 3-game series, one of the teams takes a 2-0 lead in the first. For the 3rd time in the 3-game series, it's a harbinger of doom, as the team with the early 2-0 lead loses all 3 games.

  • Hidecki Matsui's consecutive games played streak comes to an end in an official game in which he played. According to ML rules, a streak continues if the player has an official plate appearance, or completes a half-inning in the field. That seems sort of arbitrary, but there it is. It is, of course, of no actual significance in this case, as even if the streak had continued yesterday, it would end today. Matsui's undergoing wrist surgery, he's gone for at least 10 weeks, and done for the season is not out of the question. That leaves the Yankees without either of their starting corner outfielders. Sheffield should be back fairly soon, but it's not a good situation for a team without a bench, and no position players in the high minors. Fortunately for them, the pockets are still deep, so they can go buy a Jay Payton or Bobby Abreu or Torii Hunter.

  • Red Sox fans who've complained about the Arroyo for Pena trade (and you know who you are) should be thrilled that Pena's in Boston instead of New York. Just like last year, when the Yankees could have used Jay Payton to fill their black hole in CF, the Red Sox have added the kind of depth that Yankee fans are wishing they had.

  • The Red Sox sure got their share of luck last night, too, but the good basically offset the good. Alex Gonzalez' fly ball to right fell for a double when Bernie misplayed it, but Mark Loretta's ball down the third base line with the bases loaded looked like a hit, and was called a foul. Mike Lowell and Doug Mirabelli each fell a couple of inches short of extra bases. Shawn Chacon allowed 10 baserunners (5 hits, 5 walks) in 4 2/3 innings, and only 2 runs.

  • Jeter should have been charged an error on the play that allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score. A decent throw gets Loretta at first. That wasn't a decent throw. If that had been ARod, Yankee fans would have gone nuts again about the "choking." And the announcers decided, right off the bat, that Loretta knocked the ball out of Cairo's glove. I don't know what they were looking at - it didn't look to me like the ball was IN Cairo's glove when Loretta arrived.

  • It was interesting to watch Torre go left-right with four pitchers in the 6th, emptying his bullpen save for Farnsworth and Rivera. He was clearly playing for a rain-shortened game, and it almost worked anyway. They did get out of the 6th. It was the 7th when the Red Sox finally broke through.

For all the panic in Yankee nation this morning, and there's lots of it, they're one back in the division on May 12, and 1 game back in the Wild Card race. They've still got an excellent lineup, some good pitching, a great closer, and deep pockets. I'd be concerned about Johnson, for sure. I'd be concerned about the outfield. But I don't think that it's time to panic....

| Links to this post

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Wrong Army

I don't know how long this has been out there - maybe everyone's seen it already. But I saw it today, and it's fantastic. I've got nothing to add to Jeff Edwards' The Wrong Army.

Perspective. It's so easy to lose, and so obvious when someone points it out...

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Can She Be Stopped?

They've got a new blog over at National Review online entitled "Can She Be Stopped?", dealing with, of course, the presumed and expected 2008 presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. John Podhoretz, whose book "Can She Be Stopped?" (and one suspects that the title of the blog and the title of the book are not coincidental to one another) looks to be the primary contributor. I've enormous admiration for John, who's a good writer and (I think) a very smart guy, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the book. And this blog looks like it'll be good reading.

That said, there are a couple of things that I've got questions about, that have been put up there today. In an early post, John says:
I see no plausible scenario in which she is stopped by other Democrats. She's one of the two or three most famous people ever to run for president (Eisenhower and Grant being the only two others I can think of who were as or more famous than she).

I will, for the moment, concede the first point. I don't see a plausible scenario in which she doesn't win the nomination, but I've not looked at the situation closely. John has, of course, so his judgement on this is of far more value than mine. But the second issue - and I realize that this is nit-pickery - I've got some questions about. Certainly, I don't think that there was anyone between Grant and Eisenhower who ran for the office with a greater public awareness than HRC. But when Richard Nixon ran for the Presidency in 1968, he'd been a very public figure for more than 20 years. Likewise, I'm skeptical that HRC is really "more famous" now than Ronald Reagan was in 1978. Reagan had been a very public figure for almost 40 years. Knute Rockne, All-American was from 1940 and Kings Row from 1942. He was in visible positions from that time until his Presidency ended. In the early 70s, he appeared on The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny and Cher, The Tonight Show and the Dean Martin show. He spoke for Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention. He was elected Governor of California.

And he did this before the fragmentation of the media. Yes, HRC has got more air time, because there are three cable channels dedicated to covering news. But what percentage of the population is watching it? In the 1960s and 1970s, if you appeared on the network news, or the network variety shows, most of the population was watching - there weren't alternatives. The exposure from a single appearance in a 3-channel media environment is radically different than 100 exposures on a cable-news channel in a 100-channel, or 500-channel environment. Is Hillary Clinton "more famous" today than Ronald Reagan was in 1978? I doubt it...

And that brings up what, to my mind, is a bigger point. I don't think that it makes sense to speak about her as being the "most famous" as if that guarantees success. I have thought, and continue to think, that she's a terrible candidate, at least from a general election point-of-view. Yes, if she's the Democratic candidate, she'll have the complete "care and protection" of the mainstream media. (That differs from any other potential Democratic candidate how, exactly?) But the fact is, she's famous, but not likeable. She's cold, she's screechy - people are not going to want her in their houses every night. The fact is, the Democrats could not possibly find a candidate who starts out with higher negatives than Hillary. There isn't one. She's carrying all of Bill's baggage, and she doesn't have his likeability to take the edges off. Yes, she's been elected statewide in New York. New York is one of the most liberal states in the country, and she underperformed Al Gore by 5 points in 2000. I'm curious to see what happens this fall, but I'll be hesitant to read much into it.

I think she starts out with no chance at Republican men or men who lean Republican. I think that she can't get women who lean Republican. I think she alienates conservative Democrats, particularly men. I just think that she's really not a good candidate in a general election, and, if there is a plausible scenario by which she's denied the nomination, it'll be based on her (perceived or otherwise) lack-of-electability in the general election, much the same way that Howard Dean imploded.

Technorati tags: Jpod, CanSheBeStopped, NRO, Hillary

| Links to this post

Idle thought... (NHL)

If they had been told, back in November, that Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov would each score a goal in the same NHL second-round play-off game, Bruins fans would have been pretty optimistic about the way that their season was going to go...

| Links to this post

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday Pythagorean Report - 5/8

A quick flashback, from last Monday, one week ago today:
From June 6-12 of 2005, the Red Sox went 2-4, averaging 4.5 R/G and allowing 6.3. The following week, they scored 6.2, allowed 1.8 and went 5-1. The moral of the story is, as ugly a week as it was, it has little-to-no predictive value for the week(s) to come.

How perceptive was that remark? Well, last Monday, the Red Sox were coming off a week in which they had gone 2-4, scoring 4.5 runs/game and allowing 7.3. Today, we're talking about a week in which they went 5-1, leading the league in runs scored/game (7.5) and runs allowed/game (3.83).

You see, when I tell you something is temporary and shouldn't be panicked about, you need to listen.

Thus endeth the horn-blowing for the morning...

  • The offense was spread throughout the lineup. They didn't get much from the catchers, but Varitek's grand slam in the first against Kris Benson was the biggest blow in Sunday's win over Baltimore. David Ortiz struggled, but had one of the most memorable hits of the season when he drove a Mike Myers pitch through the wind and into the Sox bullpen on Monday.

  • What will happen, as so frequently happens with Ortiz' late-inning hits, is that people will forget the situation - Mark Loretta had just given the Red Sox the lead. Ortiz' HR extended the lead, but didn't create it.

  • Youkilis had 11 hits (including 2 HR), 4 walks and a HBP on the week for a .440/.533/.720 line.

  • Mike Lowell had 9 hits, and 6 of them were doubles.

  • Wily Mo Pena hit .409 and drew a walk. He also hit 2 SF, leaving his OBP for the week below his AVG.

  • Manny Ramirez walked 8 more times, and is on pace for about 150 on the year. His SLG hasn't reached .500 yet (.495) but his OBP is .459. He's having an immensely valuable season through the first month-plus.

  • They got offense from the middle-infield this week. With only this year to look at, you'd think that Loretta and Gonzalez are similar hitters. Looking at them with a little bit more realistic perspective, you think that Loretta's waking up, and they just got the fluke good week of the year from Gonzalez.

  • They pitching was (obviously) good, too. Very nice starts from Clement and DiNardo, a couple of decent efforts from Wakefield, Schilling was good. Beckett's start was a struggle, but not awful - they ended up losing that game because of a 2-run homer allowed by Foulke, and the first run given up by Papelbon on the season.

  • Strong week from Timlin. Despite the blemish against Toronto, Papelbon was good again. Tavarez shows signs of coming around. Seanez has actually been pretty good - except for the home runs... ("And other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?") Again, it's one week. This week was pretty good, the one that preceded it...wasn't.

Regression to the mean is a powerful force. I don't expect them to go 5-1 again this week. Nor do I expect 2-4. Of course, neither would shock me...

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/8/2006


New York6.31(1)4.07(3)0.691(1)2091811-2









Los Angeles4.06(13)4.63(4)0.441(10)141814180


Tampa Bay4.38(10)5.66(11)0.385(12)122013191


Kansas City3.34(14)5.79(13)0.268(14)821722-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York10161




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York11052





Standings for the week



New York6.5(2)4.5(11)0.662(2)42511









Tampa Bay2.86(12)4.29(8)0.323(11)25250


Los Angeles2.57(13)4.43(10)0.27(13)25250

Kansas City2(14)4.14(5)0.209(14)16251

| Links to this post

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Black Belt test

My oldest son, then 12, and I tested for Black Belt last May. Today, my next 2 children, Lisa (almost 12) and Sam (almost 10 1/2) are testing.

Good luck to them!

| Links to this post

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Those who cannot remember the past..."

Los Angeles Dodger fans are starting to discover the glories of Grady Little. To every Dodger fan who's concerned about the fact that Grady left a struggling pitcher in too long, I say this - get used to it. You'll see it again.

This is standard Grady Little operating procedure. That's how he manages. And though I'm not the only one who has commented on it, I have commented on it. Here's an example, from September 20, 2003, less than month BEFORE game 7 at Yankee Stadium.
Grady's biggest single weakness as a manager, and negatively re-inforced by Tony Cloninger, is his inability to get a pitcher out before damage is done rather than waiting too long. He's been a master of closing the barn door after not only the horses, but the cows, sheep and half of the chickens, have gone...

It was the biggest concern for many of us when his first move as Manager of the Red Sox was to fire the pitching coach and bring in a drinking buddy, Tony Cloninger, to fill that role. Cloninger's first comments were to the effect that a) he didn't use a computer and b) "the hitters will tell you when the pitcher needs to come out." Which means, of course, that they didn't pull pitchers until after they'd gone too long. He did it over and over and over again.

Now, that's a problem for Dodger fans...

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tidbits from the NY Post Sports page

A couple of interesting tidbits from the New York Post this morning:
  • George King notes the results of a Sports Illustrated poll of Major League players that comes up with the same thing I've been saying for years: Derek Jeter is the most overrated player in the game. Please note that that does not mean that he isn't a very good player, because he is. He's an excellent hitter for a shortstop, but he's possibly the worst defensive player playing regularly in the big leagues at that position. He gets a lot of credit for "intangibles" because he happened to come up at just the time that his team was ready to win the World Series 4 times in 5 years. He certainly was a part of that run, but not the biggest part. He's getting a lot of credit for his teammates' accomplishments.

    And then there's the whole myth of his "clutchness." When the Red Sox came back from 0-3 to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, Alex Rodriguez took enormous blame for the debacle. Jeter got to walk around and make veiled comments about his previous teammates and how they managed to get it done. But, other than part-time first baseman Tony Clark, no Yankee did less for the team in that series than Jeter.

    2004 ALCS - Yankee Offense

    Matsui, Hideki340.4120.4440.8241.268

    Lofton, Kenny100.30.4170.61.017

    Sheffield, Gary300.3330.4440.5330.978

    Rodriguez, Alex310.2580.3780.5160.895

    Sierra, Ruben210.3330.4170.4760.893

    Williams, Bernie360.3060.3060.5560.861

    Cairo, Miguel250.280.4060.40.806

    Posada, Jorge270.2590.4170.2960.713

    Olerud, John120.1670.2310.4170.647

    Jeter, Derek300.20.3160.2330.549

    Clark, Tony210.1430.1430.190.333

    And there was no talk about him at all! Arod choked, Sheffield choked, Matsui choked, but Jeter, he's still Captain Clutch, Mr. Intangibles. If everyone else had played only slightly better than he did, they've have been swept in four shutouts.

  • David Wells commented on Joe Torre's comments on the Boston response to Johnny Damon. Torre said, after Monday night's game, that "I was very disappointed for the fans, sspecially how long it took Boston to win a World Series. Without him they probably wouldn't have won." It's funny, but I don't remember Joe making comments about the Yankee fans booing David Wells on opening night last year...

  • One of the annoying aspects of the whole Red Sox/Yankee thing is the tendency for hype. Everything has to be the biggest, best, most serious, etc. But the fact is, when you play 19 times a year head-to-head, that hype wears thin. Quickly. Every night can't actually be armageddon, because after you've had armageddon 50 times in 2 years, and woken up the next morning every time, it kind of sinks in that the world is going to keep turning. But the writers have to keep selling papers, so it continues and escalates.

    With that in mind, Mike Vaccaro makes a comment in his column this morning that is one of the dumbest things I expect to read today. Talking about the rivalry, and the fan-bases, he says
    Still, in 2006, it seems there is more hostility bubbling just beneath the surface - and boiling just above it - than there's been at any other time in this rivalry's 103-year history

    More hostility than at any time in the rivalry's history? Good Lord! When was Mike Vaccaro born? Yesterday? It doesn't compare, right now, to what it was during most of the late 1970s. I wasn't around during the late 1940s, but I bet there were times of bad blood then, too. But it's just silly to say that the hostility now is as bad as it's ever been.

Technorati tags: RedSox, Yankees, Post, Jeter, overrated, Damon

| Links to this post

United 93

Interesting comment from Warren Bell in The Corner this morning, on United 93. Warren's seen it, and, along with most of the critics that I've read, thought it was excellent.
United 93 is a harrowing, gripping, and at times unpleasantly intense experience, and with that caveat, I genuinely believe everyone needs to go see it....this is no "thrill ride of the summer" to be enjoyed with a large popcorn and soda. This movie is a wake-up call, a reminder of Why We Fight, a stark and chilling testament to the horror of that day, which I fear has faded too fast in our collective memory bank. As I watched the second plane slam into the South Tower, seen from the perspective of the Newark Airport control tower, I experienced again the same feeling that shortly begins to grow among the passengers huddled in the back of Flight 93: we must fight back.

My wife and I had a conversation about this the other day. Here's where I stand: I think that the people who most need to see it, the people who need the "reminder of Why We Fight," are unlikely to see it, and, if they do, they're unlikely to come out of it with the same reaction that Warren had. It's not only possible, but likely, that some could come out of it thinking "we've got to reach a peaceful compact with these guys."

As for me, I don't want to see it. I remember Why We Fight, I understand that we must fight back, I thought it took us years and years too long to understand and get started. This has been an festering problem in the world for many years, and it's been obvious to anyone watching ever since the fall of the Shah of Iran. I hope that the movie does well, I hope that people who need to see it see it AND take the right message out of it. But I don't want to sit through it right now...

Technorati tags: TheCorner, United, 93, 911

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

McCain said what?

Captain Ed, and others, have commented on Senator McCain's appearance last week with Don Imus, in which McCain made a very disturbing comment.
He [Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.

I suppose it's noteworthy because he was willing to put it in such bald language. But, while it's a disturbing comment, it's not shocking or even surprising. Captain Ed says that "Senator McCain apparently has no love for the First Amendment, nor any understanding of why it occupies the primary position in the Bill of Rights."

He's right, of course, but the fact is, we already knew that. Only someone with those qualities could possibly have sponsored the piece of legislation that bears his name. Of the many things that President Bush has done to disappoint me - and there have been a great many - his signature on that piece of legislation, his willingness to pass the buck to the Supreme Court (and we can't let them off the hook for letting it stand) is near the top of the list. But McCain's comment didn't reveal anything that wasn't already patently obvious to anyone paying any attention. Everyone who's already upset with Senator McCain because of that law understands what his position is - everyone who isn't already upset won't care.

Technorati tags: McCain, Feingold, Imus, FirstAmendment

| Links to this post

1 down, 18 to go

The Red Sox and Yankees met at Fenway Park last night, renewing what is almost certainly the greatest, fiercest. most intense rivalry in American pro sports. They'll play 19 times this year, and the outcome of that series is very likely to determine the winner of the AL East. Two years ago, the Yankees won the East despite Boston taking 11-of-19 head-to-head, but the Red Sox beat NY in the ALCS. Last year, the team's finished tied with 95-67 records, and the Yankees won the East by virtue of their 10-9 season series victory. Basically, when you expect that the division will be won by one of these two teams, you're talking about a 2-game swing in the standings for every game played. Add to that the intensity of the fan bases, and it becomes a very big deal. (Tune in later today for some background on Yankee/Red Sox...)

For today, some odds and ends related to yesterday's events...

  • The Red Sox re-acquired catcher Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres for Josh Bard, minor league reliever Cla Meredith, a player-to-be-named-later AND cash. Mirabelli, of course, has been Tim Wakefield's "personal catcher" for the past 4 seasons, and was traded to San Diego this winter for second-baseman Mark Loretta. I loved that trade. I hate this one.

    I have no objection to having Mirabelli back. And Bard had struggled catching the knuckleball. But there was reason to think that he was getting better. And, cries of panic from the vocal members of the Red Sox Nation notwithstanding, Bard hadn't cost them anything in terms of games. Yes, there had been more passed balls than probably would have been seen with Mirabelli. Yes, there have been some unearned runs. The bottom line is this - in Wakefield's last four starts, he'd thrown 28 1/3 innings and allowed 12 total runs. That's 3 runs in 7+ innings, and that's all you expect from Wakefield. People were shrieking and screaming, "Wakefield NEEDS Mirabelli!" and "Wakefield's really struggling with Bard," but that's just not true. He was 1-3 in those last 4 starts because the Red Sox had scored 6 runs total, and 4 of those were in the win. In his last 3 starts, Boston had scored a total of 2 runs.

    So they made a panic move which didn't address the problem. If the Red Sox had scored 6 runs in each of Wakefield's last 3 starts, he'd be 4-1, and the move yesterday wouldn't have been made. Which makes it the very definition of a panic move.

  • There was a lot of hype (as always) leading up to last night's game, and the "renewal of hostilities." A lot of it focused, unsurprisingly, on Johnny Damon. I've got to plead passionate indifference. Four years ago, Dan Duquette signed Damon to a contract that was, in my opinion, too long and too high. Damon turned out to be a hitter who was built for Fenway Park, and he was a good player for Boston, an excellent one in Boston. There's no question that he was a big part of that 2004 World Series team, and I've got only fond memories of his time in Boston.

    But he was a mercenary when he arrived. Boston was his third team, and there was no reason to think he wouldn't move on to the highest bidder when his contract expired. And there was no reason that the Yankees wouldn't be that highest bidder, given the effectively unlimited purse and the gaping hole in CF. So I don't have any problem with him moving on, because that contract was ridiculous. He can't earn it, but it's not Boston's problem - I'd rather have Coco Crisp. Thanks for the memories, Johnny, but have a nice life. I just don't care anymore...

  • All that said, the "Looks like Jesus, Acts like Judas, Throws like Mary" shirts are pretty funny.

  • I was a little bit concerned when the Yankees signed Mike Myers over the winter. Myers is, in my opinion, only a tactical weapon, but he's a valuable one. For the past couple of years, the Red Sox have had someone to pitch to Giambi or Matsui in tight late-inning situations, and the Yankees have had no one to pitch to Ortiz. I thought that the move of Myers from Boston to New York could easily result in an extra head-to-head win for the Yankees.

    Myers came into a 4-3 game last night. 8th inning, 2 on, 1 out. He came in to face David Ortiz on a night that it seemed impossible for anyone to hit the ball out of Fenway Park. On a 3-2 pitch, Ortiz hit one into the Red Sox bullpen, giving the Red Sox a 7-3 lead and effectively ending the drama.

  • As I said, I didn't think anyone could hit one out. Ortiz absolutely hammered that ball. In Chris Snow's Red Sox notebook in the Globe this morning, that was addressed.
    Greg Rybarczyk, creator of the home run tracking device Hit Tracker, offered the following insight on David Ortiz's eighth-inning homer off Mike Myers, the only extra-base hit on a 46-degree night with a 16 mile-per-hour wind blowing in: ''Using 46 degrees and 16 m.p.h. wind in from CF, Ortiz's homer left the bat at 120.7 m.p.h., at an angle of 37.7 degrees (a very nice hit speed and angle for distance). It actually traveled 395 feet, and the impact from atmospherics were as follows: Impact from wind: -54 feet (as compared to no wind). Impact from temperature: -12 feet (as compared to a 70 degree day). If there had been no wind and 70 degrees, the ball would have gone 460 feet (this is what I call 'standard distance'). So far this year, there have only been 10 homers hit that had a longer 'standard distance.' Another stat: if the wind had been blowing out to CF at 16 m.p.h. instead, the ball would have gone 509 feet, and it would have landed about 25 rows up in section 37 of the CF bleachers."

    And if you haven't seen the hit tracker website, check it out now. It's very cool.

  • 1 down, 18 to go...

Technorati tags: RedSox, Yankees, Mirabelli, Wakefield

| Links to this post

Monday, May 01, 2006

Got to be careful with the quotes

John Derbyshire in The Corner yesterday noted an amazing comment from Tim Russert on Meet The Press:
Watching Meet the Press roundtable on the gas price kerfuffle.

Russert, challenging Energy Secretary Sam Bodman: "Oil demand is up. Supply is down. So why are prices rising?"


That is, of course, a quote that is too good to be true. As turns out to actually be the case. According to the MTP transcript, the actual question was:
Mr. Secretary, if, if demand is up but supply is down, why are the profits so high?

And, having just listened myself, I can confirm that the transcript is right.

Well, those are two very different questions. "Demand is up, supply is down, why are the prices rising," is, of course, as ignorant an economic question as one could possibly ask. "Demand is up, supply is down, why are the profits rising," is, at least, not insane. The fact is, the prices could go up without the Evil Oil Company™ profits rising, if the price at the pump represented exactly the cost of delivery. That's obviously not realistic, but at least it's not completely insane, as the question that Derb alleged Russert to have asked is...

Now, I love Derb, who is, as far as I know, the only conservative pundit to have ever had his butt kicked - on-screen - by Bruce Lee (not a great scene, though the Bruce/Chuck Norris face-off in that film is a classic), but if you're going to mock people for making stupid comments, you've got to have the comments right...

Of course, there was an outrageous comment in that Meet The Press discussion. Senator Durbin, for whom I have the utmost respect (not), asked "am I the only one of your guests here that think that profit taking is a problem?" To which I respond, "God, I hope so..."

| Links to this post

Monday Pythagorean Report - 5/1

Right now, the Red Sox record (14-10) says that they're a 90+ win team. But nothing else about the way that they've performed says it. They've been enormously lucky to compile the record they've got with the way that they've played. Right now they should be 5 games behind the Yankees - instead, they'll take the field tonight for the start of the season head-to-head series tied for first in the East. Lucky. Very, very lucky.

  • This was an ugly, ugly week. And it continued the ugliness that started last week, with the trip to Toronto. When you can't score runs, and you can't prevent the other team from scoring, you tend not to win games. That's where the Red Sox have been for the past week-and-a-half.

  • Josh Beckett hit a rough spot in his last two outings.
    • In his first 28 AL innings, he allowed 1 HR and 5 earned runs.

    • In his last 4 innings of work, there have been 5 HR and 11 earned runs.

    • ERA for first 28 AL innings: 1.61

    • ERA for next 4 AL innings: 24.75

  • The Red Sox played 6 games this week. They scored first in one of them. They trailed at the end of the 3rd inning in each of them by the scores of:
    • 4-2

    • 3-0

    • 6-0

    • 4-0

    • 4-0

    • 2-0

    Cumulative score at the end of the 3rd inning for the week: 23-2
    You don't win many games that way...

  • From June 6-12 of 2005, the Red Sox went 2-4, averaging 4.5 R/G and allowing 6.3. The following week, they scored 6.2, allowed 1.8 and went 5-1. The moral of the story is, as ugly a week as it was, it has little-to-no predictive value for the week(s) to come.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/1/2006



New York6.26(2)3.96(2)0.698(2)1671310-3





Los Angeles4.48(11)4.68(4)0.48(7)121312130





Tampa Bay4.8(8)6.04(12)0.396(12)101511141


Kansas City3.77(14)6.32(14)0.28(14)616517-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)


New York9270



Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)

New York11052




Standings for the week



New York6.33(3)3.33(2)0.764(2)5142-1






Los Angeles3.33(12)3.5(3)0.478(8)3324-1



Tampa Bay3.67(11)5(6)0.362(11)24331


Kansas City3.2(13)5.6(10)0.264(13)14140


| Links to this post