Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh Noes? What if the steroid narrative is bunk?

Was MLB's Juiced Era Actually A Juiced-Ball Era?:

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What will lazy sportwriters do now?  Although the evidence is not definitive, it does appear MLB was complicit in trying to"juice" the game via modification to the ball itself.

Check this quote:
The 49.1-foot discrepancy in flight for two balls at the extremes of tolerance is roughly three times the distance produced by a three percent increase in batted ball speed. That's according to the rule of thumb cited by Nathan in his evaluation of data on home run distances, whereby each additional mile per hour of batted ball speed increases the fly ball distance by 5.5 feet. That's a lot of extra homers added to the ledger without anyone violating the rules.

If you have ever wondered why some pitchers can be picky about the ball, the specs for MLB baseballs is a 1/4" in diameter and 1/4 oz in weight.  I couldn't tell the difference but I would be willing to bet someone who played the game would.

Interestingly, they even note that gameballs for minor leagues flew on average 8 feet less than MLB game balls.  Sort of explains how a guy can go from minor league double machine to home run derby guy without juicing doesn't it?

The larger point I'm making is: we've slipped into a convenient narrative for the late 90s early 2000s regarding the "steroids" era.  Oh records from that time are suspect, everyone was juicing and the game was just out of control.  Well, we still don't know how many were doing it  (and we never will) and we don't know if it helped or hurt.  (BTW -- why isn't it ever discussed that pitchers juiced too. Doesn't that even things out?)  This narrative while easy is not complete nor correct.  The so-called "steroid" era is not different than any other era and attempts to portray it as such as just ill informed.

Personally, I don't give a crap about steroids.  But I'm stuck living in this world where sportswriters love the stuff and infect historical discussions with it every chance they get.  Oh the lamentations I will have to ignore come the 2013 HoF ballot.  I know its too much to ask to say just let it lie.  but can we please have some perspective.

Also, I AM NOT IN PANIC MODE YET.  Losing streaks are inevitable and after such a great run to be expected.  We're just one quality start away from putting all this behind us so cheer up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boz -- All is forgiven

Visiting the Washington Nationals - Grantland:

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Yes, Thomas Boswell, all is forgiven.  At least when I realize that we could have a pretentious blowhard like Charles Pierce scribbling for us instead.

Of course he's not here every day and can't be bothered with any minutia like oh understanding why the ball park was "ridiculously expensive" (hint for you CP -- it had to do with the District and the politicians who insisted on a municipally owned park.  If you can't figure out why, then I suggest you try building a parking garage in the District and see how quickly they politically-connected cement companies scurry out from the woodwork.)

Let's beat the old "they lost two teams, they don't deserve another one" horse to death again.  Yes, Havana IS a much better spot for an MLB team than the 7th largest media market in the country.  I'm sure all of us would be dying to hop in our Piper Cub's and meringue down to Havana to smoke cigars and complain about capitalism.  Hey CP, I'll bet those '36 Olympics were such a hoot -- bet you wish you were there too. They really knew how to celebrate human achievement with totalitarian style.

So, DC losing teams is just desserts but Montreal losing a team it didn't give a shit about, in a crummy stadium that was a health hazard is a crime of the century?

Nice for noticing that there are National's fans Mr. Pierce.  Did they just materialize in the past week?  Or were there 2 million + in 2005?  Surprise?  A Winning team means fans go to the park.  Losers mean they don't.  Amazing insight. I really must ensure the continued daily delivery of dead trees in order to savor your wisdom.

I will give him credit for the Whitey Ford reference in re:Gio.  Perhaps if he had stuck around and seen the other four members of the starting staff he might have laid off the doesn't look like an NBA 3 meme.  Pretty sure ZNN, Stras, Detweiler and EJ would all man the small forward position.

I do have to agree with at least one thing . . . the worst part of the pennant race baseball in DC will be the endless cameos of "important" people in the stands.  Hard as it will be to believe, their insipid BS when they get camera time will be even worse than that of ordinary LA or NY based celebrities who at least will be trying to move product rather than compete to get their snouts in the public trough the deepest.

On a small baseball note, kudos again to Davey.  Making the Werth hit leadoff is something only a guy like him could do.  In other words, despite the fact it makes far more sense than any other lineup configuration, Werth's stature would disqualify him in the eyes of most "baseball" men.  Davey, while being a "baseball" man is also smart enough to know what's going to help his team win.

It hard to imagine, when I started blogging here the goal I had in mind was 63 wins.  Now, it may be a .500 season before the end of August.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shut down Stephen Strasburg, or just let him pitch? - ESPN

Shut down Stephen Strasburg, or just let him pitch? - ESPN:

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or beat a dead horse whichever you prefer.

The only sensible reaction comes from Ben Sheets, man to whom I would have given $10m to not pitch, who says whatever the decision, the team has to be 100% committed to it.

I agree.  Have a plan and stick to it.  Gather what info you can and make the choice that you believe serves the long term interest of the club.

Sure I'd like to see Stras pitch in meaningful games late in the season (avoiding the jinxing postseason verbiage) but if the Plan has been to limit innings and everyone's on board then just do it.  Don't listen to the tougher than thou might only have one chance at it crowd.  Those are the same people in the folding chairs at every Little League game who can't understand why the 12 year old ace can't pitch just one more game so their benchwarmer can play in the next playoff round.

Sure Strasburg's built like a workhorse and I'm sure its in his nature to want to pitch. But he's already broken once and he's still young, he's far from being beyond the reach of pitching injury from overuse.

And Orel and Carpenter's experience doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the pitch em till their arms fall off crowd.  Does anyone have an example where a guy went too many innings and his team didn't win?  Then that guy was never the same and the team faded.  I'll bet that example exists but we'll never know.

No reason to believe that 2012 is some magical year that cannot be repeated.  The Phillies repeated from '08 to'11 without much problem.  Can anyone see a team with Stras, Gio and ZNN at the top of the rotation being anything other than a post season contender in 2013? With the two wild cards hell and yes.

Relax people, the Nats haven't won anything yet.  Are we really going to get all Atlanta-like complacent after one season if they don't win?  Settle in folks, we've got a few years of contention to enjoy.  We've suffered through what the Astros are now, now its time to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Credit where its due Omar

Bang! Zoom!: Believe me, I don't want to be positive but . . .: . . . I have to. It's my nature.  I always distrust popular opinion, generally I despise anything that everyone else loves.  There are excep...

Never let it be said that I don't give credit where credit is due.

TWGMIBB gets another pick to the Bigs!!1

So hoist a cold one Omar and have the last laugh at me all your many detractors. Only you saw the future of jim Henderson so clearly.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nationals sign four international players - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

Nationals sign four international players - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post:

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Also, a sentence that should never be written again (from this article)

Nationals ownership has been hesitant to wade into the international market since the Smiley Gonzalez fiasco, when a Dominican player the Nationals signed for $1.4 million faked his name and identity.

Not only was this 2006?  six freaking years ago but IT WAS JUST 28% of a loDuca for god's sake.Years of potential international talent lost because of this.  Unbelievable.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just a warning: There is now no $$$$ excuses

Nationals Acquire Kurt Suzuki: MLB Rumors -

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Going off half cocked is as old and venerable tradition as there is on the Internet.  So, in the interest of serving tradition, allow me to to do just that.

If the Nats are paying even one penny of Kurt Suzuki's contract next year, then any off  season excuses about $$$$ are a complete joke.

$6 million plus in 2013 for Kurt freaking Suzuki!  Ouch.  A Loduca +$1m that hurts.

For what exactly?  He's not an offensive upgrade from anyone the Nats have now even given the depressive aspect of his formerly home field.

38% of baserunners thrown out.  Whoop de Doo.  You can't tell me there aren't a couple of members of the International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers waiting down at the union hall who couldn't do that while wielding a wet noodle at the dish?

And David Freitas?  A 23 year old with solid OBP skills.  No one will be able to convince me that the Nats couldn't have gotten Geovanny Soto from the Cubs for Freitas had it been offered.  Soto's line now might be worse but he has solid secondary skills and has the potential to be at least league average offensively.

If Billy Beane got rid of Suzuki's contract for the rest of this year and 2013 and still got a guy who could be a decent backup catcher in a few years then all I can say is please stop trading with Billy Beane.  Or at least don't let him take his pick of your minor leagues. Avert your eyes as he replaces Suzuki with former Nat farmhand Derek Norris.

My warning is this: I refuse to count Suzuki's 2013 commitment toward the salary budget.  You took this on with malace aforethought -- don't bitch later about spending restraints because you horribly overpaid for a bad catcher.  Not buying it, not one tiny little bit.