Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Look, I don't like this schedule better than anyone else does. Baseball is an every day sport, and MLB has messed up not only the rhythm of multiple series (and caused me to question what the plural of series is) (and whether the singular form of the word is 'serie' or perhaps 'sery') but rewarded teams with shallower rosters. Fourth and fifth starters are far less important when a team can -- CAN -- pitch Josh Beckett or Jeff Francis in Games One, Four and Seven.
As far as the Rockies' rust: they knew that the Series was going to start last night, right? They knew this months ago. They certainly knew it when they clinched their first National League pennant. If the team was, indeed, rusty, then maybe it's their own fault. Jeff Francis could have pitched one of them "simulated games" that are all the rage. Batters could have taken extra batting practice. They could have scrimmaged against the University of Northern Colorado Bears and their wicked cool logo. They could have done lots of things.
But the fact is, even once Francis knocked whatever rust he may have accumulated off, even once the Rockies' batters had a couple at bats, the game didn't change one iota. The blowout inning was the 5th, the point at which "rust" should have worn off. The Sox scored off Francis in all but one inning he appeared.
Boston 1, Colorado 0.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
2. Kazuo Matsui, 2B
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Todd Helton, 1B
5. Garrett Atkins, 3B
6. Brad Hawpe, RF
7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
8. Yorvit Torreabla, C
9. Ryan Spillborghs, DH
Holliday, Helton, and Hawpe are awful good against righties. Tulowitzki loses a lot of his magic against them. The key to Game One, from Beckett's perspective, is keeping Taveras and Matsui off the bases so that Holliday and Helton don't have as many RBI chances.
The bottom third of that batting order isn't scaring anyone. Then again, neither does ... checking the Sox' lineup .... wait! JD Drew is batting 7th? Against a lefty? Isn't this why we got that redhead? Whathisname? And Tek is batting 6th?
I'll say this: Whenever JD, Jacobi and Julio Lugo get on, should be running on the second pitch.
Prediction: Red Sox 6, Colorado 1. Seven innings from Beckett, one from Okajima, one from Papelbon. Right-handed bats at the top of the order do most of the damage; Ortiz walks 3 times; Manny homers. Beckett=Beckett.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"Temporary Red Sox loyalty"
Sounds like a baseball flip-flop. Rudy Giuliani, a lifelong New York Yankees fan [sic], said Tuesday he's pulling for their most hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox, to win the World Series over the Colorado Rockies.
"I'm rooting for the Red Sox," the Republican presidential contender said in response to a question, sparking applause at the Boston restaurant where he was picking up a local endorsement.
"I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team, maybe with the exception of the Mets," he said. "Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't because I'm loyal to New York [sic]."
Giuliani's Yankees [sic] lost in the first round of the playoffs, then lost their manager when Giuliani's friend, Joe Torre, refused to accept a pay cut and walked away. Giuliani said the Yankees had "a great season."
The former New York mayor said his declaration of temporary Red Sox loyalty was "not just because I'm here in Massachusetts."
"In Colorado, in the next week or two, you will see, I will have the courage [sic] to tell the people of Colorado the same thing, that I am rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series," he said.
Indeed, if Giuliani was pandering, he miscalculated.
In the last presidential election, Colorado went with Republican President Bush, and recent history shows Massachusetts voters would sooner adopt Manhattan clam chowder [sic] as the state's official food than vote Republican in 2008.
Of course, just to the north is New Hampshire -- home to many Red Sox fans -- and the nation's first primary.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Things I didn't know about the Rockies
1. Willy Taveras is only 25 years old.
2. Willy Taveras's real first name is apparently Willy.
3. Not William.
4. Not Wilfredo.
Things I don't need to hear
Look, if Hollday was called out, the game is tied with two outs in the bottom of the 13th. The bases would have been empty, and Brad Hawpe (who I keep wanting to call "Brian") would have been up to bat. Home crowd, and Trevor Hoffman had NOTHING. I'm not saying that Hawpe is in any way guaranteed to hit a homer (or double, or walk, or any other outcome). But Hoffman had already thrown 19 pitches, just ten of them for strikes. I'll guess there's a three-to-one chance that Colorado would have won eventually. At least.
This whole thing reminds me of the strange myth that Buckner cost the Red Sox Game Six. If Buckner fields that ball, Mookie Wilson beats him to first base, then there are runners at the corners in a tie game. I'll guarantee that THAT game would have ended one batter later on a passed ball or wild pitch. (Is it possible that I dislike Ray Knight as an announcer because he scored the winning run? Yes, yes it is.)
But the key thing was, the game was TIED. Even if Buckner, playing off the line makes the play himself (Bob Stanley wasn't covering first) (good job, Steamer!) against all logic, the game goes to the 11th inning. And the Sox lose it there.
I'm not claiming any moral equivalency here, but a bad call did not win that game for the Rockies. Good hitting and a rare off-day from Hoffman did.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
"Just like the Yankees"
Yep, just like the Yankees.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This series is not over
And, despite his outing in Game Two, I'd never bet against Curt Schilling in a big game, particularly when his Red Sox career is on the line at Fenway.
So then it's Game Seven, and weird things happen in Games numbered Seven. Jeff Suppan. Aaron Boone. John Lackey. Home teams have a leg up in Games Seven.
But it's not 2004 (and things don't look nearly so hopeless right now as they did back then, either). I don't think the Sox can come back because they've done it before; it's not the laundry that plays the games. Ortiz, Ramirez, Schilling, and Varitek were the only members of that team that have also contributed to this series. (Youkilis was on the bench and could have seen more action, but didn't.)
I'd be crazy to be confident, but I'd have to be a lousy fan to think it's impossible -- not when it's so darn possible. (And I hate to say this, but if there's a team jinxed enough to blow this lead, it's Cleveland.)
This series is not over.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Not only is Cleveland good, they're also a lot of fun. Is there anyone on this team I'm supposed to be rooting against? (I used to hate Kenny Lofton, but I think that's just the pinstriped residue on his uniform.) (And I do hate that hideous, offensive logo.)
And the city of Cleveland -- come on! What a crappy place to be a sports fan! First, they don't have an MLS franchise! Can you imagine?
But (a) the Browns left, (b) the Browns came back, (c) Craig Ehlo, (d) The fumble, (e) The Drive, (f) Pedro's 6 no-hit innings in 1999 ... I mean, now that the Red Sox have won it, there's no fan base that's suffered worse. And at least Red Sox fans had the Celtics winning championships during the 70s and 80s, and got to watch Bobby Orr win a couple, too. What's on the 'Best of Cleveland' video? (I've always been fascinated by the dichotomy of the Celtic fan's arrogance with the pessimism of the Red Sox fan. I mean, these are the same people! And October in New England is a great time and place to be alive! I still don't get it.)
I know that Colorado is becoming the designated fan-favorite (or maybe that's just what Dane Cook's script is telling me), but Cleveland is much more interesting and likeable. And Colorado isn't a small-market team, whatever that means.
Boston is, like, 80 times smaller than everywhere else. The Sox make money because Red Sox *Nation* is so large, passionate, and rich. You, too, could root for a "large market" team if your people cared more about baseball and less about college football and NASCAR. End of story.
(As it happens, I would like to see more revenue sharing along with a salary floor. But if large-market teams like Colorado want to piss away money on Todd Helton, Mike Hampton, and Denny Neagle, and then cry poverty, there's no stopping them. What ticks me off is when teams stop being interested in fielding a major-league roster.)
I like the Sox' chances tonight and in Game Four, mostly because they do well against pitchers who don't strike batters out. Being patient against Carmona paid off huge by knocking him out of the game early. One just can't get Youkilis, Ortiz, and Ramirez (for that matter, Jason Varitek and J.D. Drew) to chase pitches outside the strike zone. My guess is that Westbrook won't last 4 innings tonight. Then again, I have no idea what to expect from Matsuzaka.
But I'm rather proud of these AL predictions for the 2007 season. Now, I have to admit that I was all wrong about the AL West. Painfully so. But asking if the Yankees had enough starting pitching, and getting excited about Cleveland's young talent (okay, I was technically talking about that third baseman who tanked -- Andy Marte -- and Josh Barfield, and not Carmona), and the Royals WERE fun to watch for the last couple of months ... this is really as close as I ever get to being right. Let me soak it in.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Beating Brandon Webb
A WHIP of 1.5 -- roughly Webb's success rate against lefties -- is essentially the same as Baltimore (1.52) or Pittsburgh's entire pitching staff (1.48).
Does Colorado have enough lefties to take advantage? Not particularly. Helton and Hawpe are the lefties in the starting lineup. Holiday, Troy T., and Atkins are righties.
Arizona will win Game One.
Boston over Cleveland in 6 or 7. Cleveland is really, really good. But Borowski is not the guy I'd want closing games if I were an Indians fan. Also, Boston's third and fourth starters are much better than Cleveland's. That tends to, you know, matter.
Colorado over Arizona in 5. Arizona isn't good. They aren't. They have Brandon Webb and a very good closer. I liked their third baseman, Whatshisname, enough to have him on my fantasy team for a while. Chris Young is pretty good. But, sheesh. When I whine about the inferiority of the National League, the Diamondbacks are practically Exhibit A. The Twins would beat them in 5, and the Twins finished under .500 in the AL. That's not to say that Colorado stinks. They have a very nice bullpen and good hitters. Troy Palamalu or whatever looks really good to me. (Repeat after me: "If he were playing in New York, blah blah blah ...") This could be a very, very boring series.
Witnesses Question Value Of Tax-Funded Sports Stadiums
An estimated $18.5 billion in public money was spent between 1990 and 2006 to build 82 sports facilities that otherwise could have been used to rebuild and repair bridges, roads and other decaying infrastructure, a Harvard professor told a House panel Wednesday.
Of that total, about $16 billion came from tax-exempt bonds that reduce federal tax income, Judith Grant Long, an urban planning professor in Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Domestic Policy Subcommittee.
In the second of at least four expected hearings on the value and impact of public financing for sports facilities, Long was one of several witnesses who questioned the practice and policy of using public funds for stadiums.
In breaking down her estimates, Long said projected public spending on stadiums would amount to between $1 billion and $2 billion per year, or about $10 million in each city that has at least one.
Long said her estimates of the total public funding of such facilities were higher than those provided by the sports industry because she added such items as the cost of land on which new stadiums were built, infrastructure improvements and ongoing operating costs.
House Oversight and Government Reform Domestic Policy Subcommittee ranking member Darrell Issa, R-Calif., questioned how significant even $18.5 billion, including federal revenue lost from using tax-exempt bonds, was in a federal budget of $2.9 trillion.
Despite the impact it might have at the federal level, Long argued that it could make a difference locally. "It would go a long way toward ensuring effective management, maintenance and upgrading of local public infrastructure," she said.
Eric Solomon, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, testified that the "cost to the government of tax-exempt bonds is significant and growing" and said it "is appropriate to review the tax-exempt bond program to ensure that it is properly targeted."
An attempt was made in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to halt such use of tax-exempt bonds, he said, but it was not successful.
While such financing was prohibited in one type of tax-exempt bonds -- private bond activity financing -- team owners found they could use government bonds to do the same thing.
Government bonds can be used to build sports stadiums if the state or local government decided they have a public use and are retired by general tax revenues, he said.
As the law now stands, Solomon said, his office is powerless to issue a rule prohibiting tax exempt financing for sports buildings. Any restriction is in Congress' hands, he said.
House Oversight and Government Reform Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said his panel will have at least two more hearings on the subject before deciding whether to propose legislation. "The public gets the bills and the owners of the teams get the profits," Kucinich said.
Echoing testimony in the first hearing, Arthur Rolnick, senior vice president and research director of the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, said "sports owners are very good at playing cities against each other" but the economic effect "is a zero-sum game." By Basil Talbott
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Let's go, D-Backs!
"We started to go after character six or seven years ago, but we didn't follow that like we should have," CEO Charlie Monfort says. "I don't want to offend anyone, but I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those."
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sox defeat AAAngels
But, with all those injuries to their starting lineup, just about anyone would have swept the Angels.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
As I type this, the Phillies-Rockies game is already underway, but I have no idea what's happening in it. I think the Rockies win this series (and I'm rooting for them) and that the Cubs will beat the D-Backs, which would also be my preferred outcome. Anyone who isn't rooting for the Cubs (and doesn't work for the Tribune Companies) has no heart. And if the Cubs can win their first series, they can win another. What they can't do is win the World Series. Not because of any curses -- such things don't exist -- but because they aren't very good.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Why we keep voting Democratic
Monday, October 01, 2007
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Colorado Rockies
6. Los Angeles Angels
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. San Diego Padres
9. New York Yankees
I think it's safe to say that my preferred order of outcomes has the Red Sox over Chicago (because at least they'd go to the Series), and then no one in particular. There are no dragons to slay in the NL. If the Mets were in it, I'd be secretly rooting for them. Ditto the Dodgers, just so I could look forward to the welcome Grady Little would get at Fenway.
I'd like to see NYY lose to, in order: Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Arizona, Philadelphia, Colorado, San Diego. Whatever causes maximum pain. I think that ranks it.
Who do I think will win? Honestly, I have no idea. I like the Sox, but the Indians and Yankees could do some damage. I don't worry about LAA winning, not since the Sox -- I think -- kill John Lackey. Honestly, who knows what version of NYY will show up?
In the NL? I guess you've got to go with the hot hands. But, still, the Cubs seems like the best team standing.