* In case you haven’t paid much attention to Chuck Cooperstein’s Twitter feed, let me just sum it up for you:
A lot of college football talk with some bias towards the SEC. And a ridiculous debate about who is and isn’t elite.
His latest salvo was launched in the direction of Stars’ netminder, Kari Lehtonen after Bobby Ryan tied the game with just over 10 seconds left today on an offspeed shot generated by a broken stick.
The problem isn’t that I disagree with the notion that this goal was a softy. Nor am I necessarily in the camp that Lehtonen is an elite goaltender. How a player performs in the playoffs goes a long way towards deciding whether a player is elite or not.
Lehtonen has one playoff appearance on his ledger from way back in 2006-07. One that resulted in a four game sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers.
The problem with this mentality is the same problem with Yu Darvish as it relates to the Rangers, or Tony Romo as it relates to the Cowboys.
All the players I’ve referenced have their faults. But you can’t tell me that Romo is the biggest problem facing the Cowboys, Darvish isn’t the biggest problem with the Rangers. And Kari Lehtonen certainly isn’t with the Stars.
Hell, anybody who has followed the Stars the first month of this season ought to know this by virtue of the nearly two weeks that Dallas was without Lehtonen’s services. In the 5 games the Stars played during that span, they won one game in a shootout against San Jose, lost another close game to Colorado, and were drilled by Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Anaheim.
Lehtonen has been able to mask the defensive deficiencies that Dan Ellis and Jack Campbell weren’t able to.
Are there better goaltenders than Lehtonen in this league? Absoutely.
But that holds true for about 99% of the players in this league. After the Cowboys lost to the Broncos in part because of a late game interception by Romo, a certain spare national sports radio talk show host from Yahoo Radio (who shall remain nameless) said that he wouldn’t want Romo as his QB because of his propensity to throw interceptions.
Setting aside the facts about Romo and his historical performance in 4th quarters, this is such a ridiculously impossible standard to meet. Again, 99% of the players in all of sports aren’t “elite”. You can’t have a Mickey Mantle every year in center, a Magic Johnson every year at guard, a Wayne Gretzky every year on your top line. And you certainly can’t have a Roger Staubach every year as your QB.
And getting back to Lehtonen for a second, does Corey Crawford strike you as an elite NHL netminder? What about Antti Niemi? Or TIm Thomas? Or Chris Osgood?
Without Romo, Lehtonen, or Darvish, their teams don’t even come close to being a contender for a playoff spot.
And that makes this whole debate about whether these players are elite or aces a ridiculously stupid debate.
Well, that about sums up my feelings on Wash.
But seriously, nobody is going to get fired for leading their team to four-straight 90 win seasons (or three straight 90+ win seasons) which include two runs to the World Series.
And in fairness to Wash, there isn’t another manager in this league that probably could have done a thing about this offense when they hit their cold spells in June, July, and September. Bottom line is the club simply lost too much production from the DH and Catcher positions.
Now mind you, that’s not a slight on Jon Daniels’ job performance. His decision to not give Mike Napoli a qualifying offer was validated when Boston was forced to rework the original three-year deal worth $39 million down to a one year deal worth $5 million in base salary with incentives that probably pushed it somewhere between $5 million and $13 million considering the season Napoli had (23 HR’s, 92 RBI, .259/.360/.482 with a 129 wRC+ in 139 games).
It’s also not JD’s fault that Kevin Towers passed on whatever package the Rangers were offering for Justin Upton and chose to go with Atlanta’s. Nor is it JD’s fault that Zack Greinke chose to sign with the Dodgers.
I suppose you could knock the Lance Berkman signing. Especially since Ryan Rayburn was the alternative in the offseason to fill the DH role (and is one of the biggest reasons the Indians are playing a postseason game tomorrow and the Rangers aren’t).
But if you compared Berkman’s metrics with those of Rayburn, who slipped from an OPS of .729 in 2011 to a .480 OPS last season, it’s easy to see why Daniels chose to go with Berkman. Injuries and old age did Berkman no favors. Nor did his face.
Also, fuck Berkman for driving in Jon Jay,
But I digress.
Because while we’re on the topic of injuries, keep in mind that the Opening Night starter, Matt Harrison, pitched a grant total of two games this year. In each game, he got lit up.
Then it was discovered he suffered a herniated disc in his back sidelining him until at least the All Star Break. Then he had a setback in rehab. Then another. Then it was discovered he had thoracic outlet syndrome and another surgery sidelined him for the season.
Colby Lewis was also supposed to come back this season after his 2012 campaign was cut short by a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow in July of that season. After a rehab start in Frisco in August, a painful problem associated with a previous degenerative hip condition was discovered that was causing him to alter his delivery.
And so like Harrison, he, too, was shelved for the remainder of the year.
Harrison should be able to fully rehab his injury, in part, because he just turned 28 a few days ago. Lewis, OTOH, may never see the mound, again. Even though he’s reported slow progress in rehabbing from this second injury.
Anyway, my point is this. With all the injuries to key front-line starters, you could easily make the case that this club should have been fighting with the Angels just to finish 2nd in the AL West well out of the playoff hunt.
And even though they suffered through a 5-15 skid to start September, they fought back to force a one game tiebreaker yesterday before running into David Price, who had sported a 10+ ERA at the Ballpark in his career.
Granted, those performances were either early in his career, or against more prolific Ranger offenses than the one that was trotted out yesterday.
In a one game coinflip, sometimes the other team’s ace dominates your offense. Just the way the game goes. I’m much more accepting of that than what transpired last season when Joe Fucking Saunders limited them to one run in the Wild Card game.
All in all, this buys Wash another year. His teams have managed to do during this four year run what no other AL team has been able to do. Two consecutive trips to the World Series, three playoff appearances, and four straight 90 win seasons.
That having been said…
Somebody in the organization needs to explain to him just stupid bunting is and how valuable outs are.
They also need to explain why Yu Darvish can be sent back out against Detroit with a six run lead in May en route to a 130 pitch outing but can’t be counted upon in the sixth inning of a 2-1 game in Game 162 to get Jamilton out with his pitch count still in the 80’s.
And I know we like to harp on the whole “two strike away, twice” as a crutch to suggest that the 2011 version of the Rangers was simply cursed. I’ve blocked out that small portion of Game 6 from my memory bank.
What I can’t block out is the parade of IBB’s to Albert Pujols. Even though is bat only did damage in one game of the series that the Rangers were probably going to lose, anyway.
I recognize how hard it is to stay competitive year after year in the game. That’s why I think it’s stupid to suggest that Ron Washington be fired for the sake of being fired. If you’re going to fire him, it better be because Joe Maddon is going to be announced as your manager the following day.
OTOH, I can’t also bring myself to the belief that Wash’ gut and intellect as a manager can ever carry them over the hump. I’m certain that’ll be my prevailing opinion on his skills as a manager until he does.
* Do not let the avatar fool you for I am an unapologetic Romohican/Romosexual…Well, you get the idea.
Anyway, I know he didn’t necessarily put up big numbers last night. And he had another interception in a prime time game.
But last night, Romo took what the defense gave him last night in settling for a relatively short passing game (no passing gain went for more than 23 yards last night) in going 26/39 with a TD pass.
* Yu Darvish continues to not get run support. I know, this isn’t exactly breaking news.
* I know as a Sooner, I’m supposed to laugh at Oklahoma State’s potential misfortune as an SI expose into their football program is expected to reveal a litany of violations, As a father, I cringe when hearing that some of the female hostess showing potential recruits around may have engaged in sexual acts.
* I also cringe when I read this from somebody who is supposed to be an esteemed football writer.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>According to SI, Oklahoma State hostesses and recruits had sex, and that is an NCAA violation. Is that really a rule the NCAA enforces?</p>— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MichaelDavSmith/statuses/377263565398630400”>September 10, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8”></script>
Then again, this is Michael David Smith we’re talking about. There are a lot of things that confound him.
* After the events of Saturday night in Richmond, I expected Michael Waltrip Racing to get nailed for a substantial fine, but didn’t expect Nascar to take the extraordinary step of kicking certain drivers out of the Chase.
And now I’m pissed not because the took this extraordinary step, but because it amounts to nothing more than a half-measure.
For one, they somehow surmised that there wasn’t enough evidence to surmise that Clint Bowyer’s spin was intentional. Yet, they still docked his race team 50 points…before The Chase…even though the final race before the race was run 48 hours ago.
So basically, Clint Bowyer gets away scot free while his teammate who really did nothing wrong, gets knocked out of The Chase because everybody got a 50 point penalty.
And oh yeah, there’s what happened to Jeff Gordon.
Yes, I recognize that a thousand laps have been run this season and that, collectively, that put Gordon into this predicament going into Richmond.
Still, he had raced himself into positon to make the Chase because Joey Logano was two laps down and pretty much stuck in the position he was in when Bowyer’s intentional-unintentional spin occurred allowing him to get one of his laps back on the wave around.
Green flag comes out, Logano passes a few cars and gets into the coveted 10th spot by two points over Gordon.
If that caution doesn’t come out, Gordon’s in.
So why is he left with no recourse, Nascar?
I’ve got an idea, Mike Helton. Just make it a 14 driver Chase this year by including the two drivers who were directly screwed by these actions and be done with it.
Or better yet, just get rid of the damn format altogether.
* This afternoon, the gun grabbers on Twitter delighted in hearing the news that George Zimmerman was in custody for threatening his estranged wife and her father with a gun.
This evening, we find out that at no time was Zimmerman ever armed in whatever confrontation happened.
The egg on the faces of these people isn’t unlike what was on them when Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.
Now, I’m not here to necessarily defend Zimmerman as a person. I’ve never met him and really don’t care to.
But when the hell are you people looking to push a narrative going to wait for all the facts to come in?
First, what Nadel said:
@TheMrDouglass haha I dont hate him but he has been very disappointing in close games. Shows no signs of having killer instinct an ace needs— Eric Nadel (@nadeler) August 25, 2013
You can look at Nadel’s @ mentions in your favorite Twitter client to get a glimpse of what kind of a firestorm this response caused.
My quick take on all this?
I think Nadel is right to a degree. I love Yu Darvish. I think he brings a dynamic to this team that they haven’t had in awhile and he can certainly be the TORP that the Rangers haven’t really had since Cliff Lee left via free agency in 2010.
He can also be maddening.
Like when he walked Alex De Aza on four pitches to start the bottom of the first Saturday night in Chicago. Or walked Avisail Garcia to start the 7th, which led to him needing to strike out two hitters with runners on 2nd and 3rd and nobody out to get out of the jam.
I understand doing such things leads to him having a high WPA (higher than Justin Verlander). But the thing about WPA is it doesn’t take into account HOW a pitcher got into a particular jam. Just whether he gets out of it or not.
I guess it’s all well and good that he has that ability to get out of such jams. But I’d rather have a pitcher that does a good job of not allowing himself to get into those situations.
Because if you keep putting yourself into jams by walking guys you shouldn’t, a regression to the mean is going to occur, those runs will start scoring, and your WPA will…well, you know.
Just ask Kevin Millwood about 2009 when a ridiculously low BAPIP and equally ridiculous high strand rate in the first half caught up with him in the 2nd half.
No, I’m not suggesting that Yu Darvish is another version of Millwood. Far from it. He is better equipped to get out of jams than Millwod is. But even the best pitchers in the league can see a reversal of the proverbial luck dragons.
Along with Nadel, I’m suggesting that there’s room for improvement. There’s the ability for Darvish, I think, to not have to rely on his strikeout ability to get out of jams of his own doing.
Instead, he can be the kind of pitcher who when he is handed a lead, can go out there and execute a shutdown 1-2-3 inning. Because even if you show the ability to get out of jams, the fact you put yourself in one is going to drive up your pitch count at the very least.
I figured since Erick Aybar is busy making AJP chase around foul popups right now, what better time to make my Sulia debut by taking the PED discussion in sports in a slightly different direction.
See, I was watching Fox 4’s coverage of the Nelson Cruz suspension when Max Morgan went to a little league field and asked the youngsters and coaches what they thought of the Cruz suspension.
As you can expect, most of the responses were full of disappointment and condemnation for “cheating.”
Now, by no means am I here to suggest that Cruz got the shaft. He made the decision to purchase and presumably use HGH from the Biogenesis clinic and risk suspension and all the PR fallout that results from it.
But would it have killed Mike Doocy to show Cruz’ statement to at least put his usage into a little context?
Primarily, this part?
From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error.
Point being, athletes use PED’s for different reasons. Some use them in order to overcome a physical ailment, such as an injury or illness to cut the recovery time down.
Some, like Lance Armstrong, use them to keep up with their competition that also uses PED’s.
Others do it, presumably, because they’re too arrogant to believe they’ll get caught. Which is the category I think A-Rod fell into earlier in his career.
Which, of course, is somewhat dumb because a player liker A-Rod has so much God-given talent that he didn’t to take PED’s in his 20’s. Mid to late 30’s is a completely different ballpark however.
Now I’m no doctor. And I also readily admit that in absence of any supporting medical documentation to go along with Cruz’ claim, there’s still a small cloud of doubt in my mind.
Still, this theory sounds plausible. And unlike some other baseball players that have been busted for PED’s (like Ryan Braun or Melky Cabrera), Cruz admitted to taking whatever it was that he purchased.
Again, I have no problem with the suspension itself. the Joint Drug Agreement was negotiated between MLB and the MLBPA.
But I understand why Cruz took PED’s.
And quite honestly, calling it a PED in this specific case is a misnomer. In reality, the HGH served as a Recovery Enhancing Drug.
And while we’re at it, if you use a cortisone shot to mask the pain from an injury that would otherwise keep you out of action, doesn’t make the cortisone shot a PED?
And what about the number of times team docs prescribed painkillers for the late Derek Boogaard?
Maybe it’s time we have an open conversation on this topic and realize that it’s not as simple as:
A) Player gets busted for PED usage/possession
B) Player is such a let down and a terrible human being.
And a quick message to those A’s fans who spent the entire weekend booing Nelson Cruz while still defending their guy, Bartolo Colon.
I don’t know what dirt MLB has on Cruz. Nobody really knows. All we have are “reports” on what MLB might have on him, as well as the others connected to Biogenesis.
And to MLB’s credit, they’ve kept this entire investigation close to the vest.
What we know so far is that Colon failed a drug test. And that Biogenesis has some link to that failed drug test. Because of double jeopardy, he can’t be suspended twice for the same offense.
We get that. But the fact he’s already served time doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s still connected to this same anti-aging clinic that Cruz is.
And therefore, it makes you look stupid, A’s fans, when you boo Cruz and defend Colon.
As for the Cruz’ suspension, I will be interested to hear what dirt they have on him considering the Rangers outfielder has never failed a drug test. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the CBA or even the joint-drug agreement between MLB and MLBPA.
But I’d have to assume that the reason MLB has any leverage against anybody connected in this case is because in the eyes of the agreement, proof that you purchased PED’s is tantamount to using them and is considered a violation with the same punishment.
And because the agreement was collectively negotiated between MLB and the MLBPA, well…
Let’s just say that pretty much makes the argument that Cruz has never failed a drug test moot.
Assuming everything else I’ve written about Cruz’ specific case is anywhere close to the truth.
I think I’m starting to really come around on this deal.
I’ll admit that when news came down that Jon Daniels had given up Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards, and the infamous PTBNL (likely Neil Ramirez), I felt he had given up too much.
Not in a “LOL Angels, you gave up your top prospect, Jean Segura, to rent Zack Greinke and you’re still several games out of a playoff spot.” mind you.
Let’s start with the guy who has the biggest ceiling of any player in this deal, Mike Olt.
As long as Adrian Beltre occupies the hot corner, Olt was going to be blocked from entering the majors at his natural position. And even though you could easily argue that Ron Washington didn’t make the best use of his time up with the big club last season, he wasn’t quite ready to become a regular contributor.
And his disjointed season at Round Rock seems to bolster that viewpoint (.213/.317/.412), even though vision problems contributed to his issues at the plate.
Add that all up, and he’s somebody the Rangers could afford to part with for the time being. He could turn into another Justin Smoak. Or he could turn into someone resembling, say, a Dean Palmer. But it’ll probably be awhile before he develops into that kind of a player.
Losing Grimm could also become a little painful for the Rangers as well. Especially if Garza becomes a rental and leaves as a free agent after this season. He did an admirable job in filling in Matt Harrison’s spot in the rotation. And he found a little success early in the year.
But his biggest issue is he’s not a power pitcher. He’s a spot pitcher that hasn’t quite figured out how to fool hitters the 2nd and 3rd times through the lineup. If he can figure that last part out, he’ll project to be a mid to back of the rotation kind of pitcher.
But that’s not the biggest reason I’ve started to come around on this trade.
Tonight was Garza’s Ranger debut.
I know, I know. A Yankee lineup sans Jeter, A-Fraud, and Curtis Granderson is offensively flaccid.
But I can’t remember a time when the Rangers had this kind of mix of a bulldog mentality and a ton of talent in a starting pitcher. Cliff Lee’s the closest they’ve had to a true ace in this era.
But he never had that edge of intensity.
As much as I hated Cris Carpenter’s guts in the 2011 World Series, I can’t deny just how much his competitive spirit played a huge role in Game 7.
Lesser pitchers that night might have wilted after giving up two first inning runs. Carpenter didn’t.
I daresay Matt Garza fits that mold. And as much as Garza fits a need by bolstering this rotation by his sheer presence and talent, his intensity could also spread through the rest of the rotation like wildfire.
Yesterday when news broke about the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, I made the mistake of engaging a few people on Twitter about the shooting. No, not because I’d like to take back a few things I said.
But because it exposed me to the misdirected anger of some people.
So to the anonymous Kos Kid who also likes the Miami Hurricanes…
I am the father of two beautiful children. After I stopped arguing with idiots on Twitter about all this, I became physically ill thinking about the parents who dropped their kids off at school today and went about their daily lives before news broke that would shatter their lives forever.
My daughter is enrolled in Taekwondo at one of the best schools in the area. Primarily because she’s finally found something she really wants to do, but because the instructors also teach her self discipline, self respect, and more importantly empowerment.
We live in a world full of evil and demented people who choose sites like Sandy Hook Elementary because it’s a gun-free zone. And by gun-free zone, I mean that only law abiding citizens obey the law and don’t bring their guns on site.
I haven’t checked here in Texas, but I understand in Connecticut, the penalty for bringing a firearm onto a property that is designated as a gun-free zone is three years in state prison.
Which means nothing, of course, to some asshole hellbent on destroying people’s lives.
So getting back to my point about empowering my daughter, I want her to fight back. When a gun is pointed at anybody, that person’s liberty is directly threatened. We shouldn’t have to live in that kind of fear.
And what’s great about a gun is in the hands of an innocent person, it can be the great equalizer.
When a female is in an abusive relationship with a male who is much stronger than her.
When a convenience store owner has been robbed one too many times.
Or when someone decides to literally make his audience a captive audience with no way out. Like what James Holmes did to his victims or what Adam Lanza did to his.
And make note of the fact that a gun isn’t required in any of the situations for an innocent person to be killed by a criminal. What it can do in the hands of an innocent person is take away whatever advantage the criminal had going into the situation.
Call me crazy, but I think we ought to defend that right of self-defense.
And if you think I’m part of the problem for thinking that way, then fuck you.
And to be honest, I never thought this would happen. I thought his contract would prove to be too much of an albatross for Jon Daniels to overcome in any potential deal.
That said, I’m glad the deal got made. At the same time, I can’t really say I’m overly joyed that Young is gone.
From a purely statistical and personnel standpoint, this is a move that had to be made. Young just came off arguably the worst offensive season of any regular in major league history. And his defensive range had already regressed to the point that #PADMY became a running meme throughout the last two seasons.
From a purely sentimental standpoint…yeah.
Despite demanding a trade in 2009 when he was asked to move positions to make room for Elvis Andrus and again, in 2011 when Adrian Beltre was signed as a free agent at third base, Young has been the face of the franchise since the early 00’s, soldiering on through some really bad Rangers teams during that era.
And if I’m going to bag on him for demanding trades after being asked to switch positions, I have to acknowledge the amount of respect he garnered from Ranger fans and the media who covered the team when he offered to switch to shortstop when Alfonso Soriano came over in the A-Rod trade and balked at the idea of playing in the outfield.
And then the magical 2010 season occurred. I can’t speak for every Rangers’ fan, but when the club finally won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history, I shed some tears that night.
First, for the late Mark Holtz after his long time broadcast partner Eric Nadel paid homage to him. Then I shed one for Eric.
And then for Michael Young and Ian Kinsler.
Those two have long been the core of this club. And for the mob that was celebrating at the Trop that night in 2010, there weren’t just celebrating for their own personal accomplishment.
They were celebrating for those two.
And I’ve titled this as such because that what it was. If you want to call it a tragedy, by all means, go ahead.
Just don’t try and tell me that one of the tragic losses of life was Bechler’s.
No, there’s two tragedies. One is the loss of the life of one Kassandra Perkins. The second is that her three month old daughter will be forced to spend the rest of her life without any parents raising her.
If you’re an honorable parent, you don’t me to tell you this is your worst fear. If you’re not a parent, then allow me to tell you this is my worst fear as a parent.
This is such an awful tragedy.
And one apparently ripe for the picking for gun control advocates like Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas to use to peddle their viewpoints.
In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, (and its possible connection to football), will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, (wrote Jason Whitlock) is what I believe, If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
(transcript is courtesy of Awful Announcing)
If only it were that simple.
Kasandra Perkins was shot at close range by a 6’2”, 228 lb linebacker 7 to 8 hours after the two had an argument very early Saturday morning.
This wasn’t a case where Belcher picked up a gun and was suddenly tempted to do harm with it. He had been stewing for several hours. Rather than deal with his anger issues, he decided to act on them. His weapon of choice is irrelevant considering he committed this heinous act from close range.
Sure, a gun is probably the most convenient and most efficient But without any means of defending herself, Belcher could have killed Perkins just about any way he wanted to.
But please, Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock. Blame all this on a gun. And suggest against all rational thought that both would still be alive if a gun wasn’t in the equation.
I’m sure taking this course of action is a lot easier than, say, engaging in critical thinking. Whether or not it’s easier than comparing the NRA to the KKK is up for debate, but it’s not one I want to have right now.