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Posts Tagged ‘MLB’

10/30/12: MLB Leaks New Astros Logo (GASP!!!!!)

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Like this is a big deal.

Several things ARE big deals. Such as the fact that the Astros are – quietly – getting rid of almost all the FO/field personnel from the previous owners. The ONLY 2 guys returning are Dave Clark (role not specified) and pitching coach Doug Brocail. And speaking of pitching coaches, Burt Hooten, who has been the AAA pitching coach and Mr. Fixit for 8 years has been, uh, not hired. Whoa.

They have fired Stretch Suba, the bullpen assistant coach for 36 years, since he was 21 years old, Gene Coleman, the trainer for 34 years, the traveling secretary (???!!! – what, did he faint at the signt of the new unis? They fired the traveling secretary??? Must have been making too much money and they can hire some kid to do it for minimum wage or something.)

Well, looks like they’re gonna put all that saved money to buying aome free agents – not top tier ones, of course. They sure nuff need some relievers. And from the way they’re talking, Dallas Keuchel won’t be back in the rotation – they WILL have Lyles, Harrell and Norris. OMG, they are gonna have to spend some money to sign Norris and Jed Lowrie, seeing as how they are arb eligible. Lowrie made 1.15 mill, so he might could make like 2 million – so he’s gonna have to be traded.

Matt Downs is gone byby. DFAd today. Gee, what a shock.

What IS a shock is that Luhnow is talking about Fernando Martinez as if he’s someone valuable. I’m trying to figure out why. Maybe there’s something they see about his fielding or glove of baserunning I don’t see and maybe they think 40% strikeouts is no big deal. Or something.

And speaking of Luhnow, you should check out the interviews he did with the new Astros beat reporter Brian T Smith (Levine has left and Jose Ortiz is still banished to soccer). Luhnow is, well, let’s say he actually talked more than the usual Bull Durham lines. Check it out. He has made it more than clear that they intend to basically use whatever money they have for a strong farm and not spend for FA – well, not spend real too much. Although he talks about getting familiar with the guys on the team, well, we all know that very few of the guys on the team are more than AAAA guys, and they won’t be here real too long. I am guessing that they are gonna Billy Beane the roster every year.

This year, I would be very surprised if they sign any Veteran Presence who costs more than a million or two. Torii Hunter, for example, is going to be one of those outfield free agents they are looking for, but can you see him agreeing to take one or 2 million to be a bench guy/teacher here?

I wonder if players are ever going to start recognizing that they are leaving huge amounts of money on the table by signing any sort of contract that buys out any free agent years and have some kind of built in escalation clauses. There are very few big time free agents this year as teams are keeping more money for themselves by signing young players to below market contracts.

I’m also getting tired of the Astros FO always talking about/comparing themselves to the Nolan Ryans. Which reminds me – should I do an entry showing that the pieces of the Rangers championship teams were all in place BEFORE Nolie-poo joined the team? He got the credit for what Jon Daniels actually DID. I mean, that was good – not the Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton (pitcher) insanity.

Astros appear to have decided to run this team like a small market club, as if having actual fans in the seats matters when it comes to making money or winning/losing. Not surprised. All the “we want to win” stuff is just to laugh. What they want is to make money. They’ll make tons of it win or lose.

I’m not fooled.

Oh – speaking of fool, I read this piece by Bruce Jenkins of the San Fran Chron in which he explains that Brian Sabean wins because of scouts who wouldn’t waste their time talking to stat geeks, who couldn’t keep up with Real Baseball Talk for even 5 minutes. The Giants wouldn’t have ANYTHING to do with stats of numbers of any sort except the 20 – 80 scale.

You talk about dead stereotypes. The Giants have plenty of stat geeks around, and EVERY SINGLE TEAM has stat geeks around (now that the Astros have gotten into this century/millenium) and EVERY SINGLE TEAM has tons of scouts and relies on them for all KINDS of stuff. Why the insistence that the Giants have no use for any number of any sort? I mean, except batting average RBI and home runs. It’s what makes movies like Major League so popular. You see, all these lousy players (including Matt Cain, Bumgardner, Lincecum, Posey, Romo, Casilla – etc) joined together and because of Wise Old Guys suddenly became better than the sum of their parts. Better Living Through Chemistry.

Jeezus, dude. Please save that CGI stuff for the movies, OK?

7/14/12: In Which Mark Appel Gambles With 3.8 Million

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Mark Appel, guided by Scott Boras, decided to forfeit 3.8 mill today (this, by the way, is after he pitched horribly in the CWS) and go back to Stanford as a senior, gambling that next June, he would/could get a larger signing bonus. He would have to pitch like Strasburg, no exaggeration, to get more than 3.8 mill next year.

Scott Boras has always been absolutely amazingly great, with a few misses, at getting his clients more money than anyone thought he could. He learned to use loopholes, pressure tactics, “mystery” teams and indy leagues to get more money from the bilionaires, and MLB is exploding with money, more and more with most rolling in from cable/TV/MLBAM dough.

But times have changed for players who are not Union members. The Union made a HUGE mistake, a mistake on which the owners immediately pounced, by not correctly judging the sudden public animosity to steroids which surfaced the year that The Hated Barry Lamar Bonds broke The Sacred Home Run Record. They should have listened to Frank Thomas, and IF they had had any sense, they would have immediately announced that the Union was going to institute a strict testing policy administered by the Union – you know, the kind of testing that football does because as all yall know, no football player touches steroids. But because they were beyond stupid, the OWNERS were smart enough to sense a tool by which they could crack and finally start to destroy the Union.

And that is exactly what they did – they got the Union used to making concessions in return for not much of anything. So last CBA, the Union agreed to a cap on signing bonuses, something Bud and the owners have wanted for a LONG time, which severely limits the amount of money that can be given to ANY draftee. EACH slot isn’t absolute, but the cap sure is. There is a little bit of wiggle room, but only a tiny bit, because anyone who goes over has to forfeit their next year’s first round pick and the days of Michael Tucker (signed by the Giants IN ORDER to forfeit their first rounder – yes, I swear it’s true) and trading for a FA to be at the deadline to get the picks when he signs somewhere else – that is gone. So there will be very VERY few compensation picks.

To summarize, amateur talent is going to be paid less and less with each successive draft and they are no longer allowed to sign ML contracts as a draftee – THAT particular weapon is gone.

And the OTHER weapon that is gone is playing in any OTHER league to avoid a draft.

Anyway, really top notch talent like Harper or Strasburg or David Price – these guys are going to make the first round ONLY when they have any leverage at all, which is when they have a chance to go somewhere else, and even then, they are gambling that they will be better in the future. Sometimes, this pays off (see Wes Musick) and sometimes, it doesn’t (see Brett Eibner). But owners now have extreme leverage over college seniors in the draft, because they have ZERO leverage. in fact, teams are drafting college seniors in the 4th through 10th rounds, because they can offer them pennies on the dollar so that they will have more money to pay the high schoolers and college juniors and JUCO guys.

In fact, teams are not allowed to not just pick a first rounder and give them all the slot money for rounds 2 – 10.

The probability that Appel will be picked in the first round at ALL next year as a college senior, is close to zero, unless he pitches like Strasburgh/Prior – and he certainly doesn’t appear to have that kind of ability. He is gambling that he will get a signing bonus over 3.8 million NEXT year, that the rest of the crop will be so dismal that there WON’T be anyone better. He’d have to go in the first 5 picks, probably the first THREE picks, to get more than 3.8 mill.

I have NO idea why he’s dissing 3.8 mill (which was the maximum he could have been offered without the Pirates forfeiting next year’s first rounder) because the days of holdout guys like Luke Hochevar, whose lifetime ERA over 117 ML games started is over 5 (meaning that if he hadn’t been picked in the first round, he wouldn’t ever have made it to the major leagues, or STAYED in the major leagues in the first place), are OVAH. Someone who LIKES the guy should have reminded him of the story of Matt Harrington, who turned down 5 mill the first year, and every offer every subsequent year until finally he had no offers at all.

Me, I’m curious about 2 things:

1 – this offer turning down. Scott Boras has had very VERY few misses over the years, has very seldom misjudged any market (Matt Harrington, the second time around, was one of his few mistakes.) Whose decision was it for Appel to spit on 3.8 mill – Appel, who clearly felt dissed (judging by comments about being dropped to the 3rd round) or does Boras really think he can find SOME way around this new airtight slot rules for a guy who will have ZERO leverage next year? Has he determined that next year’s gonna be available talent is SO lousy that a guy with ZERO leverage will go in the first couple of slots and or any team would be willing to forfeit the next year’s first rounder? Nobody thought THAT much of Appel in a year in which he DID have leverage.

2 – the owners, with HELP from the players Union, have slammed the door on Boras and amateurs. What on earth was the motive of the Union for agreeing? ANYTHING to avoid war, like Neville Chamberlin? What did the Union get in return? The amount of money spent on amateurs is/was a drop in the bucket. I don’t see that any Union member got more income from the massive MLBAM or licensing deals. A tiny raise of minimum salaries? Any significant change in the pension plan or medical plan? Nope. Are you kidding me? Cmon. The only reason I can think of for throwing non-Union players into the garbage can is fear of the younger man – sort of like the aging woman who asks the magic mirror on the wall if she is still the most beautiful of all, knowing deep down that her fear that she will someday be displaced by some younger woman will come true – and that she won’t be able to either kill them all or make them all older/uglier. And any ballplayer IS going to eventually be displaced, usually kicking and screaming because very few have Biggio endings to their careers (meaning 2 years worth of ML playing time you didn’t deserve because you are the owner’s pet).

And what is so strange about the insisting on not paying top young amateurs any significant bonus is that teams trade away top major leaguers for prospects and PICK UP the huge amount of money they are still paying for the youngsters.

We just paid 8 million dollars for Robert Rasmussen and Matt Dominguez – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A ML team doesn’t blink at paying an enormous sum like that for 2 failed minor leaguers but protests about paying 8 million dollars for a first rounder?

But really, the Union minus Marvin Miller, has lost its way. They need to read some Aesop’s Fables and remember what happened to the Oxen vs the Lions when the Oxen forgot all about United We Stand, Divided We Fall – which appears to be a lesson that the owners have learned the hard way. They are certainly reaping the reward as they are keeping more and more of the income streams every year, while painting Those Greedy Players are the REAL reason that ticket prices are so high, which works, because most people feel that being an athlete is already a “privilege” and they should WANT to work for free like those innocent college “amateurs.”

They also need to read about what happend to those beautiful Old Trees when they decided to sacrifice the young, nothing Ash Tree to the Woodsman and his axe head.

You forget how to fight, you forget that in a negotiation, you HAVE to get something of equal or greater value for every concession, you get used to losing. The owners, having seriously defeated Scott Boras and the younguns, having kept more and more of the baseball income, are going to next be looking for a way to get out of guaranteed contracts. They know very well that the last few years of almost every FA contract is lost money and now, they use it as an excuse when they don’t win – it’s all Soriano/Clank etc’s fault because of all that money going to one not good any more player. And it works with the fans and works VERY well. You note that the teams can then grouse that Clank/Sori is untradeable because of the contract amount blahblahblah.

BUT they always structure the contract so that the player gets pain more at the end, when he is the least valuable. When do you ever see a contract in which all the big money is paid at the BEGINNING and the least is at the end? Like 25/20/18/15/10/7/4? It’s not all the owners’ fault, you know, Gary Sheffield isn’t/wasn’t the only player to do the pee-pee waving mine is biggern yours thing. Long after the Magic Mirror on the Wall has told them theirs isn’t the biggest one of all.

And, speaking of respect, once you start giving concessions without getting anything of value in return, the winning side stops respecting you and you learn to be satisfied with the less and less you DO get. Sort of like people in a monagamous relation. Once it was OK for someone to cheat once, just because they were drunk at the time and didn’t mean it, it is OK that they cheated when they were on a business trip, because it was business and didn’t mean anything, and then it is OK that they have someone on the side because at least you still have them, then it is OK when the someone on the side moves in because at least they aren’t in your bed and you still have your relationship, and then it is still OK when it is YOU has to move out because at least you still have your wedding ring – and finally, when you realize that actually it’s not OK, you end up with not much at all, including your self respect.

Which, I have a feeling, is where Mark Appel is going to be in a year or two.

6/18/12: In Which Roger Clemens Is Found Not Guilty But Is Still Guilty

Monday, June 18th, 2012

You know how it is – IF you are accused, you MUST be guilty.

And that’s Roger Clemens. After 4 years and millions of dollars spent, Roger gets his day in court, but it doesn’t matter because reporters have long since decided that no matter what ANYONE says, he’s guilty. One idiot guy, whose name I refuse to repeat, actually compared Clemens to a large market baseball team and the US government to some poor small market team, unable to compete.

Really?

Check this from Lester Munson, ESPN:

“Agents from the FBI, the IRS and the DEA have devoted countless hours to the pursuit of Clemens, digging into every aspect of his life. They gathered thousands of pages of documents, and they went all over the United States interviewing anyone who knew anything about Clemens.

Here is a list of the documents they examined:

• 15,732 pages of Clemens family bank records from J.P. Morgan Chase.
• 1,139 pages of records from American Express credit cards.
• More than 300 pages of medical records from MLB teams for which Clemens played.
• Hundreds of pages of phone records from nine companies.

In addition to reviewing the documents, a group of 93 agents interviewed 179 individuals in 68 locations and produced 235 reports of their interviews. The Clemens legal team prepared a map that shows the extent of the agents’ work. In many of the interviews, the agents were accompanied either in person or on the phone by assistant U.S. attorneys Steven Durham and Daniel Butler, who led the government trial team.”

Small market team, my ass.

And after ALL of those countless hours and all that search, they couldn’t find even ONE piece of evidence, even ONE witness to corroborate anything McNamee claimed? Not ONE? Even McNamee’s own WIFE contradicted McNamee’s account.

The reporters, who can’t be bothered to, you know, like actually READ the original court transcripts, insist that Andy Pettitte (who, by the way, is not only an admitted HGH user – I refuse to call it a PED, because it isn’t – but a guy who lied THREE times about using) changed his story about Clemens, when he repeated his original testimony to Congress verbatim.

Why on earth they have ignored/excused Pettitte’s illegal drug use AS WELL AS his repeated lying about it, but yet insist that Clemens MUST be guilty of drug use based upon ONLY the word of a man who is a drug dealer, rapist and general dirtball, I absolutely do NOT get.

I think that Roger Clemens has earned their undying hatred because he absolutely refused to confess and cry – and that is what the media was hoping for, something sensational. They just love all the boo hooing. See Andy Pettitte – you see, they want to “forgive” players for doing whatever they could to play. They just LOVE Pete Rose for saying that he’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball, but they HATE guys who actually mean it and do it.

They want to be able to insist that Clemens only succeeded because he “cheated” by using HGH, which has not been proved to do one single thing that could by any definition be considered performance enhancing in healthy young men. They want to believe that Dan Duquette was right and that Clemens succeeded after Boston waved byebye only because he was a drug user, and won’t look at any statistic except win/loss record. WHY they want to believe this, I do NOT get, but they do.

Maybe it’s because they see Clemens as an UN-humble mercenary (unlike almost every other baseball player there is) instead of a umble “team player” guy like Pettitte. No idea why on earth Pettitte has been labeled as umble, but it’s what the media has decided and there you go.

But really, how IS any accused person supposed to respond if he is not guilty? After the Mitchell report came out, Clemens, like a few others, proclaimed his innocence. He said it himself, not in some fake sounding statement issued by some PR guy. Media demanded he say it to a group of reporters, live, not Mike Wallace and fawning groupies on a canned TV show. He did. They demanded he prove his innocence by suing MacNamee. He did. They demanded he say it under oath before Congress. He did. It didn’t change anyone’s opinion.

Mitchell and his little Congressmoron friends demanded that the Department of Justice investigate and indict Clemens for perjury for daring to stand up to bullying. They obliged their old buddies and Clemens STILL insisted he was innocent and spent a HUGE amount of his hard earned money, refused to cop a plea, went to trial, demanded a jury, and earned his verdict of not guilty.

It’s still not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. If Brain McNamee confessed on his death bed that he made the whole thing up because the government people insisted he do so in order to stay out of jail, the media STILL wouldn’t believe it. Absolutely NOTHING whatsoever would do it.

This makes me understand why Perry Mason was always so intent on making the guilty person confess in court – because even when a person is found not guilty, they really aren’t considered not guilty, just not convicted. I’ve seen videos of prosecutors and law enforcement persons making statements about a person who had been convicted, who was protesting his/her innocence, saying how terrible it was that convicted person wouldn’t confess, take responsibility, apologise. Yet, I don’t see videos of those self same prosecutors admitting fault or apologising when those convicted persons are absolved by DNA evidence and found to be innocent.

When I hear people insist that Clemens HAD to have used drugs, I ask then why did he HAVE to? Because he was good. And besides, him throwing the bat at Mike Piazza could only have been roid rage. I asked if this meant that when Ty Cobb jumped into the stands and beat up some heckler that he must have also been guilty of steroid use. (No, that’s different.) Or when Juan Marichal attacked Johnny Roseboro with a bat, that it was proof positive that Juan was shooting up steroids (which most certainly DID exist back then) right? Oh noooooooo, guys wouldn’t NEVAH have used no illegal drugs back in the Golden Age and besides, amphetamines don’t improve performance unless you are drunk or hung over or tired or sore or hurting or unfocused or something.

Who was that politician of 30-40 years back who was accused of some heinous felony who was actually proved innocent, who said – now where do I go to get my reputation back? He never found out where and he was exiled from his former pals and existence. Accused = guilty, no matter what.

You might could shrug and say – well, if Clemens had just confessed, false or not, and not stared down George Mitchell, Bud Selig and their little political friends, he might be enjoying the good life like Pettitte. Sometimes, you have to lie in order to protect what you have. Like Pettitte did. And look how things turned out for him. He’s back pitching for his Yankees and the BBWAA has declared him to be a Good Guy, drug use, lies and all, and he’s going into the Hall of Fame, in spite of the fact that he’s grossly inferior to Clemens, and in fact, wouldn’t belong in the HOF even if he never touched drugs or lied about his use, THREE times, yet.

For Clemens, his baseball life is certainly over. He didn’t change the opinions of those whose eyes are shut and the baseball owners aren’t going to buck Selig and hire him in any baseball capacity. That 10 year personal services contract with the Astros which has been, um, postponed? You think Crane is going to touch it? You think anyone is going to employ him as a pitching coach? He’s finished.

And the Hall of Fame, currently occupied only by saintly choir boys who never sinned in any way, never cheated, never cut corners, never put themselves and their own interests before the team , that Hall is closed to Clemens and pretty much everyone who has played during my own lifetime, except for the inexplicably declared pure, such as Thome, Maddux, Glavine and Junior Griffey. And the undeserving such as Jack Morris.

Ah well.

If the Hall wishes to cut off its nose to spite its face, that is its affair.

But Clemens will be a guilty man for the rest of his life in the eyes of the public because the media has declared it so.

5/18/12: ERAs Are Down All Over The NL

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Just took a look at fangraphs.

Right now, 71 pitchers in the NL have pitched 30 or more innings – meaning 6 GS with 5 IP/GS – some pitchers have started 8 games, but I wanted to exclude guys who had only a couple starts. Meaning that there are 9 spots on the 16 teams in which there have been multiple starters.

Here’s the breakdown:

7 pitchers have ERAs below 1.99
24 pitchers have ERAs between 2.00 and 2.99
11 pitchers have ERAs between 3.00 and 3.99

Yes, you added that right – 42 of 71 pitchers have ERAs between 1 and 4. And even more incredible, 31 pitchers have an ERA between 1.33 and 2.99.

In 2009, 53 pitchers threw at least 125 innings (getting rid of the just relievers guys)

8 of them had ERAs between 2 and 2.99
16 had ERAs between 3 and 3.99

BIG difference and yes, things may even out more at the end of the year.

In 2005, 61 pitchers threw at least 125 innings

Roger Clemens had a 1.87 ERA over 211 IP (and he didn’t even win the Cy Young)
7 pitchers had an ERA between 2.0 and 2.99
21 pitchers had an ERA between 3.0 and 3.99

In 2002, 60 pitchers threw at least 125 innings.

3 pitchers had an ERA between 2.32 and 2.99
27 pitchers had an ERA between 3.0 and 3.99

Interesting, no? Compare BABIP/BA over the years:

2012: .295 – .249

2009: .299. – .259

2005: .299 – .262

I don’t know if the pitchers are better, the fielders are better, the ball is deader or the hitters just aren’t as good. But I sure do know that it sure SEEMS that teams are absolutely full of banjo hitters. Brad Ausmus hit .258 back in 05 (80 OPS+) and the fans were screaming for blood and yet this year, Castro and Snyder have supposedly “solidified” the catching position with 60 OPS+ and 35 OPS+ respectivelyt and the fans have no problem with that, any more than they did with Quintero’s yearly BA of .226 to .240 (OPS= in the 50s).

11/17/11: The Day The Astros Died

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I had hoped for the best and now have to accept the worst. This is like when you have a stomachache. Only it lasts more than a couple of weeks and you aren’t feeling right so you see the doc and she tells you – it’s nothing bad, it should go away. And it seems to, but it keeps coming back and you see another doc who says, well, we’ll get some tests, meanwhile, take this medicine. And you do, and you think you are getting better. But then they take an X-ray and you hear the technician say uh-oh. And you have this bad BAD feeling and finally the doc takes a look at everything and says – it’s malignant, it’s terminal and nothing can be done. Let me give you the number for hospice and a script for pain meds because you’re gonna need em.

I’m in the final stage of Astros fandom, ready for hospice.

I’ve already been through

1 – denial
2 – anger
3 – bargaining
4 – depression 
5 -and now am fully into acceptance that the team has been sold to a person who I hope rots in hell, who has taken the baseball team from me and every last remaining Astros fan. Sorry, DH ball is NOT baseball and there is not now and will not be any rivalry with the Dallas Rangers except in Nolan Ryan’s revenge-filled head.

I started writing this entry a couple of weeks back when I got the grim news from several informants that Bud had informed  Crane that he would approve him, war profitering, racism and all, if he agreed to move to the American League and Crane said – and you will pay me HOW much? The answer was 70 million bucks, which means that Crane has bought a major league baseball team for FIVE million dollars cold hard cash. You can’t beat it. And he’ll make his 50 mill a year by taking a dive year after year.

They say that you always think that everything was best when you were a child/teenager. I don’t know about that. I do know that I used to LOVE MTV when it did this weird thing called playing music videos and I quit watching it after they took Beavis and Butthead off and replaced them with people who all need to get hit by a train. I know I used to LOVE BBTN a long time ago when it actually used to not concentrate 90% of the show on ESPN top 5 faves.

But they both decided that they would market what is cheapest and sells best, and they lost me as a consumer, not that they care seeing as how I am not in the demographic they want to reach.

For years, we have been watching Bud Selig do, not what is best for the game of baseball, but what makes the owners the most money. He wants to try to make baseball approximate NFL as closely as possible, although he has given up on smashing the MLBPA, as he no longer needs to do that to defeat them. He wants to homogenize the Leagues and have simply MLB, not the NL or AL. He has already removed League presidents, blended the umpires and instituted multiple divisions and Wild Cards for the purpose of removing any importance of winning a Pennant. The regular season no longer means anything whatsoever with respect to team excellence. The Postseason is just an extraneous tournament in which, like football, any team can win any given Sunday. Makes it better to gamble with.

Bud wanted to increase the number of teams in the playoffs, to increase income, as playoff games produce more money. To do this, he instituted yet ANOTHER Wild Card, and in order to better serve this purpose, he wanted to move some crappy team with no fan base into the AL, to ensure that there would always be interleague games, a more unbalanced schedule and even give a cherry to Nolan Ryan, who now gets to kick the heck out of the team and city that refused to install him as King.

Rivalry my ass.

So Crane, looking at 50 mill a year income, which is what the owners all get, at absolute minimum, said – hey, no problem. You think a guy whose company engages in war profiteering and discrimination against b*****s, n*****s and s****s is gonna have ANY hesitation in destroying a team and its fanbase?

please

Jeffrey Loria made 50 million a year with the Marlins and their empty stadium.

Crane is not an Astros fan. He doesn’t give a good gooddarn about either the city of Houston or Astros fans, the few that are left. Why should he? He’s in this to make millions and to pump up his ego.

Richard Justice is all happy because now he gets to see his beloved Orioles every year. Larry Dierker says that Astros fans won’t care because they can’t tell the diference between real baseball and DH ball anyhow. Well, for the people who will still go to the ballpark, which won’t be me – I guess that is true. You get all KINDS of people who go to a ballpark who have not even remotely the faintest idea what on earth is going on out there, nor do they care. Don’t ask me why they bother to go – I wouldn’t take a free ticket to go see a soccer or hockey game. But Pam Gardner will still get those groups in, all right.

But I won’t be there. I won’t do anything whatsoever to support Jim Crane – I pray every day that he gets some terrible debilitating disease, like fibromyalgia, which is unresponsive to any pain therapy and spends years in endless excruciating agony. Same for his little pal Bud Selig, who I hope rots in the afterlife under Satan’s heel.

My mother, who has had Astros season tickets since 1970, is not renewing. Neither are most of her friends, a few of whom have extremely expensive tickets. She’s going back to the Cardinals, the team of her girlhood. Much easier now that TLR is gone.

My inbox is filled with emails from Astros fans I have corresponded with over the years, telling me that they are saying good-bye to the Astros right now – why wait.

But this is the last year, I’m not committing suicide, I’m gonna live out the last year of the Astros – I sure wish that Crane crap-head would do at least ONE decent thing and change the name of the team so we Astros fans can have our memories of what was. Like Expos fans do. Bitter memories, but their own team, just the same.

amusement

I bet every other owner in MLB wonders how on earth he could get such unquestioning compliance, such obeisance from THEIR local media. Ours has done exactly zero to defeat Crane and this hellish move. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that they were all blackmailed into silence, rather than simply not caring.

Well, my few remaining readers, I’m going to get myself together and go over the crapitude that has been the reign of Ed Wade – the unspeakable lousiness of his drafts and the vast majority of his trades. I hope the racist war profiteereer keeps him forever, in case I decide I want to root for the Phillies.

I hear tell that a certain media person thinks he is gonna go after Andrew Friedman and actually get him, as if he wouldn’t mind working for the man who defeated his father. Or my favorite – get Gerry Hunsicker back, as if Gerry wants to work for a loser who wants to make money keeping a lousy team.

Well, youneverknow.

But truth is that I don’t really care. This team is on death row, has terminal inoperable cancer and the end is closing fast.

I remember Larry King, whose mother was a rabid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, telling the story of how when THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT!!!! she shut the radio off, went into her room and closed the door. Her husband went in there, hoping to get her to come out and prepare dinner, and left rather quickly, telling his son, let’s see if we can find some cans. At least Mrs. King was able to think about waiting until next year. For us Astros fans, there IS no next year.

My mama told me that she isn’t going to Opening Day. And she isn’t kidding. The only year I have missed Opeining Day was in 02 when I was too pregnant and too sick to go. Husband asked me, a little carefully, if I felt the same way (notice that he was not unspeakably stupid enough to remark that that I can watch DH ball as well as real baseball because what’s the difference, really). I don’t know, I really don’t know. It’s a death sentence, and it’s the last year I will be able to watch baseball in my lifetime – I mean, in a stadium, and I’m torn between wanting to watch it while I still can, terrible team and all, or saying that I might as well start withdrawal now, why postpone the inevitable?

I have a long time to decide – I assure all yall there will be PLENTY of free tickets, and I will not spend ONE penny on  tickets or anything inside that stadium that could possibly go into the the RWP’s pocket.

sigh

Maybe I’m still at Stage 3. It’s gonna be a long LONG time before I no longer start to cry when I hear  Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

11/13/11: Athletes And Morals – My Take On Joe Paterno

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I know I’ve written about this particular subject before, namely, WHY should athletes be held as “role models” let alone paragons of virtue? The vast majority of professional athletes have been spoiled, pampered  persons whose relation to others has been that of royalty to peasants. WHY? Because they can run or jump or hit/catch/throw a BALL? Why should these skills be not only admired, but those who do such things almost worshipped?

I was thinking this again because of all the news about Joe Paterno, the Sandusky child raping scandal, the students rioting against Paterno’s dismissal. Two weeks ago, I had never even heard of Joe Paterno. Now, he is the premier example of the old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The story is sordid, but simple. Joe Paterno, a man who had immense power over a city and a university and many state politicians because he was a successful football coach and was literally worshipped for this, allowed a pederast to remain with the University, the team and a “charity” supposed to be helping young boys. Let me say the most astounding part – he was literally the most powerful man at a University and the most powerful person for a 300 mile radius because of a GAME. People gave money to the University, not because of its teachers, research or academics, but because of a stupid GAME.

I’m a Texan, I know that people like football games. I know that UT and A&M have popular football programs. But the coaches do not wield power like a despot over the entire University, the town and a good deal of the legislature (not to say real too particular good things about the Lege, but at least they don’t do obeisance to some football coach.)

Paterno – the word comes from the latin word pater, meaning father. He spoke about the athletes, unpaid moneymakers for the University – clearing at least $50 MILL/year in profit, making exactly nothing, as his “kids.” He boasted of his pristeen morals, of fomenting those self-same morals in his clubhouse and locker room.

But what should a good father, a man of unquestioned high morals (and WHY are those morals unquestioned, I ask?) do when he discovers that one of his “kids” is a creature of evil? And make no mistake about it, adult men who anally rape little boys are just flat out evil. There is no other appropriate word. Evil. Do you excuse him because he is your “kid”? Do you think that you should allow him to continue to rape, unmolested (hahahaha) and cover up any tales of his crime? Is it because he is yours and therefore his crime would reflect on you, or is it because you think that your family and the family business, the game of football, is far more important than any 10 year old boy’s rectum.

How could anyone, ANYONE, especially a man with boys of his own, so easily dismiss a crime like this? To protect a GAME?

You all know the story. In 2001, an enormous male, age 20 something, caught a smaller, much older man raping a child in the locker room. The discoverer was an ex-football player. The rapist, his former coach and one of his present bosses. The discoverer did absolutely NOTHING to stop the rape or help the child, just called his own daddy, who told him to keep his mouth shut and tell Paterno in the morning. He did. And what happened with the rapist? Not a thing. Again.

Oh yes, it had happened before.

Paterno, in 1998, was the most powerful man at the University, not just the most highly paid. He obeyed the letter of the law and reported the matter to his immediate “superior.” And went on as if nothing had happened. The rapist was forced to “resign” with a nice severance package, but essentially continued on as if nothing had happened. More and more people witnessed the rapist raping. Paterno heard no evil, saw no evil and did evil by saying nothing.

Did he think his legacy would be tarnished by exposing (hahaha) the monster in lion’s clothing? Did he think people would think ill of him for saying – I discovered that this piece of garbage was molesting little boys in our own locker room and I made sure that he was imprisoned immediately and the victim provided for? How can he defend to himself, let alone the God is supposed to worship, his decision to literally “keep it in the family” at the expense of raped children? Is it that they were not his kids so who cares? Is it that they were the disenfranchised, so who cares? Is it that all he cared about was the image of his football team?

I know that many males will explain to me that being female, I can’t possibly understand the locker room mentality, the importance of omerta at any cost. That football is so crucial a piece of existance that its players and coaches should be allowed to do essentially anything as long as they play winning football.

They are right. I don’t get it, any more than I get the cult of college football and the fanatical fantasy that these athletes are “amateurs” and students who just happen to be able to play a game that nets their University uncounted zillions and themselves nothing but endless sexual partners.

I may be a fan of a team, or of an athlete, but if I EVER found out that the team had supported or enabled a rapist (hello Boston Red Sox and your skeletor in the closet – hahahaha) I would most certainly NOT excuse ANYTHING and would demand that anyone who allowed this to go on or didn’t report it be outed and punished accordingly, even if the only punisment available was social censure.

How, HOW???? could students support Joe Paterno, no matter what ELSE he had done, after learning that he put the importance of a football GAME above the safety and sanity of these poor raped boys? The support is based on, what, that he won football games and obeyed the letter of the law and only informed a person who he knew could be relied upon to sweep the unpleasantness under the rug?

You could try to excuse the graduate assiatant who witnessed the rape and didn’t call the police on the grounds that he was afraid for his future and chose to protect himself and let the child go to hell. Some excuse. But excusing the ONE person who had absolute power, the power to stop the rapist because he won FOOTBALL games – that is the utmost in unforgiveablilty.

I understand those who, like Joe Posnanski, who believed Paterno to be the moralest of the moral, shocked into disbelief. Disbelief, I understand. I would feel the same kind of disbelief and shock if someone who I believe is one of the moralest of the moral, like Lance Berkman, was accused of a heinous crime. BUT faced with incontrovertable evidence, I would certainly not be telling him – well, I still love you because you hit .300 as an Astro and had a 1.063 OPS+ in the World Series. That is less than nothing vs evil. And what Paterno did, keeping quiet, placing a stupid GAME over multiple human lives, was just as evil as the rapist.

sigh

It isn’t that I don’t understand the instinct of preserving the family - I guess this Paterno creep was virtually head of a family. I understand not wanting cops. I understand not wanting trouble. I understand not wanting scandal. I understand not wanting disgrace. But What I do NOT understand is tolerating a child rapist in your family because he is your family and at least so far, his victims are not One Of Your Own.

You want to know if I am going to let my own children play football. The twins don’t want to and Da Bull, who is enormous and urged frequently by those who don’t know better to go play football, tells them (and I quote): No thank you – I abhor gratuitous violence.

Yes, I did teach him them big ol words and he DID have to practice it until he got it juuuuuuuuust right…

And yes, their daddy and I HAVE sat down with them, discussed the importance of them feeling comfortable enough to tell us if someone tries to touch them in such a way that it makes them uncomfortable. We hope we made them understand that they would NOT be punished and that they should not think they should have to pay the price of silence and rape to continue on with their lives.

11/11/11: Jeff Niemann Hosts A Pitching Clinic At Lamar HS Today At 4 PM

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Sorry to be so late in posting this.

Jeff Niemann – remember him from the CWS Champion Rice Owls 04 team? He’s pitching for the Rays, after years recuperating from this surgery and that – yeah, his arm just might could have been a leeeetle overused in college.

This afternoon, he’s having a pitching clinic from 4-5 at Lamar HS to benefit Rudy Bocanegra, who is LHS grad who was diagnosed with cancer. Cost is $50 and every penny goes to Rudy’s medical expenses. Jeff is DONATING his time. Good for him. Too may famous people want their cut offn the top.

There will also be a 15 team tournament this weekend. ALL proceeds will go to help pay Rudy’s medical bills.

I guess that the tems have been pre-determined, but no reason that a grrrrl couldn’t get a pitching lesson from Jeff. Too bad I can’t go.

Lamar HS is in River Oaks, on Westheimer, betwen Buffalo Speedway and Kirby. Good luck with the traffic.

11/6/11: Goin To The Dogs

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Well, my friends and loyal readers (hi Mama!!!), I decided to do what Famous Columnists do and recycle some of my favorite Dog tales whilst trying to think of something positive to say about this team, who has so far picked Great Finds offn the scrap heap of crappy waived AAAA guys – Brian Bixler, another crappy utility infielder and Craig Tatum, another crappy catcher. Not even worth writing up. NO idea who they plan to pick up to replace Clint Barmes, who is a free agent and will not be offered a contract, as he will cost more than minimum wage – translation from Ed Wade’s comment about gee we would like him back, but…

Anyway, for more cheery stories:

Here is how Tony Gwynn Dog, AKA Phat Stuff Dog, came to be part of the Gray family and how, by the way, he singlehandedly woofed the Astros to the Wild Card in 2004.

I act like a Mami Dog

More baby Dogs

And Jana Makes Three!!!

 

 

The 2011 Hardball Times Annual

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Click here to check it out.

As all yall know, I used to contribute to THT when they wrote a preseason preview – I talked Astros, naturally. I still do the Astros’ players review  for the fantasy site – meaning write a few lines about the guys in the Astros Organization and how I think they’ll do. (NO, I am not allowed to discuss Brad Ausmus…) Brian Cartwright,  who actually knows how to use computers and Excel and stuff like that does the stats via the OLIVER system. Don’t ask me to explain it because I don’t understand how you get linear weights or anything else. But I have faith in the system because Brain is smart. I mean, Brian is smart.

Anyway, the Annual for this year is now for sale – click here to buy. A lot of guys did a lot of work, writing about this season and next, as well as statistical outlooks. I know it is cheaper on Amazon, but if you buy it there, the writers don’t get any of the money and it’s not like they end up getting very much $$$ for a lot of very hard work, anyway.

10/1/11: Base Ball Bliss – 4 Playoff Games In ONE Day!!!!

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

I would say that it doesn’t get any better than this, but actually it could – the Astros used to be one of these teams.

sigh

I guess I am gonna root for the Brew Crew, although I could certainly handle it if the Dbax won. Man it hurt to look at Miller Park packed with screaming fans, starving for a pennant, starving for a WS they’ve never had. I remember it like it was yesterday – I mean, being one of those screaming fans in the seats, sure that this is the year we’d Go All The Way!!! Winning the pennant in spite of Lidge, losing the WS because of him – mostly.

Gonna be a long LONG time before that comes back to Houston – if it EVER does because this IS baseball and youneverknow. Look at KC, look at Pittsburgh…

Enough grousing – on to happy thoughts…

Best baseball day I can remember, besides Astros winning the WC on the last day of 04 or even beating the Braves for the first time in 05 and FINALLY beating the Cards, winning the pennant, is one summer day when I was a kid, I think in ’91, when for some reason, there were 3, or is it 4, baseball games on TV at the SAME time!!! Of course, this was Back In The Good Ol Days when ESPN and TBS and WGN and Fox all used to broadcast day baseball games. I remember sitting happily in front of the TV, holding that remote like a MAN, clicking from one game to the other. Braves, Astros, White Sox, someone else – was it the Athletics? What’s the difference – it was teh awesomeness.

Funny, I don’t remember who or what 11 year old grrrls were supposed to be into that summer – maybe Michael Jackson. But I sure nuff did keep my Dangerous obsession with baseball In The Closet…

So much easier when you are 11 to have the time to sit, entranced, watching baseball for hours. MUCH more difficult once you are a busy Mami.

The afternoon started off with the smallest market teams, natcherilly. So I got to watch Texan Yovanni Gallardo simply shut the Dbax DOWN. I understood – he’d done that so many times to us, too. Ian Kennedy had give up a couple of runs, and I guess he was tiring in the 7th – gave up a double to Ryan Braun (who is in a tight race with Matt Kemp for this year’s MVP and yeah, Kemp will probably lose because his team sucked and therefore, how could he have been “valuable”) and then, to my GREAT surprise, he pitched to Da Prince with first open. I thought right then – oh man, here it comes and sure nuff, he threw one down and in juuuuuust where Da Prince likes em and out it went.

Wonder where he’s gonna end up – probably in a C*bs uni if Uncle stays in Saint Looie. Yanks and RedSox already gots long term expensive solutions – and let’s be real, Uncle ain’t playin no 3rd base/LF full time. Anyway, I guess he could end up with the Nats, which would be INteresting. Giants now SAY they ain’t payin, seeing as how they are already out like 50 mill for the almost useless trio of Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand and Aubrey Huff; Angels are Mariners version 2 for signing extremely expensive FA who are flops – see Vernon Wells, and yeah, I know he was obtained in a trade for Mike Napoil, don’t ask me why in the name of the Good Church of Baseball that Scoscia, who really runs things there, prefers Jeff Mathis, who makes JR Towles look like Babe Ruth. Where was I? Oh yeah – they may or may not be expecting Kendrys Morales to return, so youneverknow, maybe Uncle or Da Prince will end up there.

The Dodgers? They have to find money SOMEwhere to sign Matt Kemp.

Anyway, speaking of Saint Looie, Lance put them ahead in the first with a 3 run homer off a FB that Roy Halliday threw down the middle. But after the Phils had seen Lohse twice through the lineup, they hit him – a 3 run homer and a 2 run homer and that was the end of the Cards. I see that they left Kyle McClellan off the roster. I was more than a little surprised, but maybe that’s because he kicked Astros butt this year and I might could not be real too unbiased about him.

The Cards this year have Uncle, Lance, Holliday – plus Yadi and Freese (when he’s not hurt) plus Chris Carpenter and a couple of good relievers – and let’s say I would be stunned – to put it mildly, if they survive this round. But then again, I was stunned that the 116 win Mariners didn’t survive the first round. It’s baseball and youneverknow.

So now, I’m watching the Rays trying to come back against the Rangers – they are in Arlington, the Hitter Heaven and baseballs B flyin. But actually, the Rangers are winning mostly because Big Game James Shields gave up 5 runs in the 4th, after shutting em down for the first 3 – HBP, single, single (both shallow grounders) another HBP, 2 run single, run scored on a passed ball swinging K and RBI groundout. 5 runs on like almost NOTHING. And then there was pitching change after pitching change – and in spite of Evan Longoria’s 3 run homer to center, it took the Rangers 3 hours and 33 minutes to finally end the thing. I HATE these long AL games with pitching changes every other batter and

reminds me of Millsie-poo.

Tigers are busy losing the rest of the rain delay game – or maybe it’s even Game 2 and they’ll make up Game 1 some other time, who cares.

Thing is – roofs are great. Too bad ours wasn’t retractable back in 05 – the *(%T*#%@! Bud Selig…