Tagged: Filibuster

The Filibuster

Do you believe in the A’s?

Rick T. 
Springfield, MO

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Do I believe in the A’s?  Do I believe that a team called the A’s plays in Oakland, CA?  Yes, I believe that.  Do I believe that despite a limited budget and a small market, a team called the A’s not only contended in the early 2000’s but also outperformed most of the American League?  Yes, I believe that, too.  Do I believe that the 2012 Oakland Athletics, a team currently in 3rd place in its division behind a much improved Angels franchise and a Rangers club that when hitting on all cylinders can torch the rest of baseball, will make the playoffs?  Unfortunately I’m going to have go another direction with that one, Rick.

No, in that case I don’t believe in the A’s.

Let’s look at the facts.  The A’s pitching staff is 4th overall in ERA, 5th in WHIP and 5th in opponent batting average.  Those are all pretty good.  But, to win baseball games, you also have to score runs.  On that side, the A’s are 28th in runs, 27th in on-base percentage and 25th in slugging.  Pitching may win you championships but if you can’t back up that pitching, you’re never going to make it to the championship.  Add in that half of the rest of the A’s schedule is made up of the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Angels, the Rangers and the Tigers, well, that doesn’t bode so well.  Even the easier part of the schedule involves the Rays, the Orioles and the White Sox.  About the only break the A’s get are series against the Mariners, Twins and Royals.  That’s not exactly promising.

I like the A’s.  I always have.  One of the fondest memories of my childhood was seeing the Tony LaRussa managed A’s at Tiger stadium.  But this team is light years away from being at the same level as the team that featured Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and Dennis Eckersley.

So, do I believe in the A’s?  I guess on that one, you’d have to consider me an atheist.  If they keep winning games, though, check back in and maybe I’ll have gone agnostic.

-A

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JV=mc²

First off, I’d like to point out that I was pretty much dead on with my predictions in this past Sunday’s filibuster.  Verlander started the game.  Prince won the derby.  Cabrera won the MVP (Melky, not Miguel but still…).  And Mr. Lung, although he may not have done so in public, disagreed with me and was soundly spanked (much like a typical Saturday night in Mr. Lung’s love life).

Despite all the brilliance flowing from the pages of RSBS I’m sure that some people out there are trying to find fault with this performance, especially as a result of Verlander’s performance.  Number one, shut up.  Number two, this is exactly why the All-Star Game shouldn’t count towards anything of importance.

That being said, I’d like to go back to Verlander’s “debacle” and take a new look at it in light of recent scientific input.  Yes, it’s probably fair to say that Verlander melted down but as the article points out, when the speed of the ball is approaching the ridiculous speeds at which Verlander throws, well, friction leads to uncontrollable fusion which leads to nuclear mayhem.  We’re just lucky that only Verlander imploded and didn’t take the rest of the stadium with him.

-A

The Filibuster

Any predictions for the All-Star Game?

Alice
Highland, IN

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I was all set to write a response about “King Bud” and how he had perverted the fun of the All-Star game.  But then I realized something.  The All-Star game still is fun and especially for the guys getting picked to go for the first time, it has to be an amazing experience.  Sure, the game counts now and in a way that doesn’t really make sense.  But that’s secondary.  These are arguably the best players in baseball split up into two squads going head to head.  That’s pretty awesome.

But even though this event is about leagues as opposed to teams, I can’t help being biased toward my own guys.  That’s why my predictions revolve around the Tigers.  (Please note that I’m writing this on Friday evening so anything that happens between now and Sunday, when it goes up, well, it can be held against me but not in an ignorant kind of fashion.)

Prediction #1: Justin Verlander starts the game for the AL

Sure, even Verlander himself has said that the start in this year’s game should be based on this year’s events.  Maybe he hasn’t been as dominant this year as he was in his 2011 campaign but I’m pretty sure there’s still no hitter in either league that enjoys the thought of going up against JV.  More than that, Verlander has been practically unhittable for NL opponents with the best outings of his career coming against the NL.  If you want to start the game out on the right foot, put JV on the mound.

Prediction #2: Prince Fielder wins the home run derby

The guy is a monster talent and a monster plain and simple.  He’s also starting to rediscover the form he had starting off the season as he settles in behind Cabrera.  Put it all together with the start at first base for the AL squad and you have a Fielder ready to explode.  He won’t set a new record but he’s going to win.

Prediction #3: Miguel Cabrera wins MVP

There’s a lot of amazing talent on this year’s rosters and no shortage of candidates for MVP.  But something inside of me says that this is Miggy’s year and he comes up huge.  I’m thinking a three-run home run to bring the AL back from a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 lead.

Prediction #4: Mr. Lung disagrees with everything I just predicted

There are optimists.  There are pessimists.  And there’s Mr. Lung.  Mr. Lung’s goal in life is to take the opposite view on everything I say.  It’s a noble objective even if it does mean that Mr. Lung is wrong a good percentage of the time.  Seriously, woolen stirrup pants on Houston Astros?  I don’t like the Astros either but let’s just admit that breathable synthetics have been good for the game.  To be fair, I don’t think it’s so much about being right or wrong for Mr. Lung as it is about the act of disagreeing.  It’s rebellious.  You know, like listening to Marilyn Manson.

So, enjoy the All-Star break and pay attention to see how many of these predictions come true.  And if you catch one of Prince’s derby balls, feel free to send it my way.

-A
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The Filibuster

Whose side are you on?  Team Dusty or Team Derek?

Kenny
Batavia, IL

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It’s hard choosing sides sometimes.  Like, what do you do when you’re friends with both sides in a couple and the split is less than amicable?  Or when two 115-year old tortoises decide they can no longer live together, who gets to keep the cage and who has to move?  These are tough questions and it’s rare that anyone comes out of the situation feeling good.

The only difference is when you really can’t stand one of the two people.  Like, for instance, Dusty Baker.  This is the guy who is probably most responsible for destroying the careers of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.  The guy who almost let his young son get trampled during the 2002 World Series.  Derek Lowe?  I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about him.  But when a manager asks his pitcher to “brush back” the other team’s pitcher, well, that seems kind of odd.

The specifics of the situation are weird because there really aren’t any specifics.  It’s not like the tortoises where they just grew apart and then started biting each other.  That’s pretty black and white.  This is more of a “he said nothing, she said nothing” type of conflict where we have absolutely no idea what really happened.  And for whatever reason, although the two guys obviously can’t stand each other, neither one will come out and say what happened to lead up to this incident.

The biggest problem for me is that Lowe plays for the Indians and, as a Tigers’ fan, I really don’t care much for the Indians.  It’s kind of like if I had to choose between two friends who were splitting up and one of them was a Notre Dame fan.  That would seem to make the decision a little easier because I really don’t like Notre Dame.  However, when the second person is a loudmouth deadbeat who scratched a few of my DVDs and never even apologized for it, well, the Notre Dame thing doesn’t seem quite as bad anymore.  Team Dusty or Team Derek?  Put me firmly in Mr. Lowe’s column.  He never scratched any of my DVDs.

-A

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The Filibuster

Did Ken Kendrick cross the line on his Stephen Drew comments?

Mitchell
Wheaton, IL

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There are a lot of really terrible owners out there.  Of course the one that has most directly affected baseball fans in the recent past is Frank McCourt and his incredible mismanagement of the Dodgers’ franchise.  The fact that the man was able to exit with cash in his pocket just illustrates how wrong that situation was.  But he’s not the only one.  The Pirates have also been victims of poor ownership while the NBA’s Clippers were known almost as much for their tight-fisted owner as they were for their years of ineptitude and sub-.500 records.

Ken Kendrick, though, he cares about his team.  See, Kendrick isn’t just an owner, he’s also the managing partner, responsible for the day-to-day decisions that make a baseball team profitable in the global sense of the term.  And let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes in to making a baseball team profitable.  As an owner, you have to manage your assets and liabilities in such a way that you keep more cash flowing in than is flowing out, not always an easy prospect in these days of overinflated salaries.

The best way to ensure that your team remains profitable is to win.  Fans like to come see winning teams and winning teams can also charge more for tickets and merchandise.  There’s a reason why the cost of Yankees’ tickets goes up year after year while teams like the Pirates and Royals stay relatively constant.  There’s also a reason why the Yankees, despite their enormous payroll, are still one of the most profitable teams in the game.  It helps when you can broadcast most of your games on your own television station but when you’re also selling out the stadium for every game, that makes a big difference.

Which brings me back to Kendrick.  Arizona is not a huge baseball market like the coasts or Chicago.  However, Arizona has had a good baseball team and a baseball team that brings people to the stadium.  Hiring pitchers like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped but as those days are gone, the D-Backs have to rely on new young talent to put butts in the seats.  Talent like Stephen Drew.  So, when Stephen Drew doesn’t play, the D-Backs don’t do as well and they also don’t put as many butts in the seats.  This in turn makes the franchise less profitable, a fact of which the managing partner is very aware.

Drew’s 2012 salary is $7.75 million.  He’s the highest paid player on the team and accounts for over 10% of the Diamondback’s payroll.  He also hasn’t played a game for the Diamondbacks in nearly a year.  As an owner, and especially as the managing partner, I imagine that would not sit so well.  Sure, Drew had a pretty bad injury but he has the best doctors in the game working on him and if his boss says that he’s way over schedule for his return, well, I’m inclined to agree with him.

So, did Kendrick cross a line in his comments on Drew?  In my opinion, no.  He’s a frustrated manager who doesn’t believe his employee is acting in good faith and those actions are affecting the businesses profitability.  Sounds like he has every right to be honked off.

-A

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The Filibuster

It used to be a badge of honor to have served in the Armed Forces and even stars like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio did their time.  Does it bother you at all that this new crop of ballplayers has never served and probably never will?

Daniel
Harrisburg, PA
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While serving in our nation’s armed forces may still be seen as a badge of honor for Americans, it does not bother me one bit that modern day baseballers don’t take part.  I haven’t ever taken part either, so why would it bother me that they don’t?

I am a big believer in sticking with what you’re good at.  If you happen to be really good at throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers, then please, focus on throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers.  If you’re really good at leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments, then please, focus on leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments.

In my opinion, one of the greatest tragedies in baseball history is missing out on the golden years of baseball production from the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Feller and many more.  Think of how much better their already herculean numbers would be had they not taken a break to join the military ranks!

Look, I’m no dummy.  I understand that their collective decision to leave baseball for the armed forces came at a poignant time in history — a time when the entire future of the planet rested on defeating the Axis Powers.  It was either defeat evil incarnate (y’know, the guys killing innocent people en masse) or succumb to the insanity of megalomaniac, intolerant tyrants.

It was also a time before the internet, before instant access, when no one could see what was behind the curtain.  Looking back, one could even say the US Government used such high profile athletes as pawns to get more everyday joes to enlist.  Heck, if Teddy Ballgame is serving, then so should I!

But those days are no more.  It’s hard to keep any sort of secret and when the wars we are fighting are against invisible enemies in caves we can’t see and in countries rich with oil where we probably shouldn’t be anyway, then it’s pretty hard to convince somebody he should give up his talent, his career, his life.

As far as I know, our military isn’t hurting for more participation.  With smart bombs and drones and missiles more accurate than a Greg Maddux two-seam fastball, not to mention the bazillions of taxpayer dollars regulated for military spending, I think it’s best that our Matt Hollidays and Matt Kemps keep their bodies where they belong: in the outfield.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

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The Filibuster

Steinbrenner says the Yankees aren’t for sale. A few billion would be tough to turn down though, so do you believe him?

Kevin
Ferndale, MD
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I still remember the first time I missed out on my first billion.  In fact, it was just a couple days ago when no one took me up on my brilliant idea to go mine asteroids.  Seriously people, where are your priorities?

Selling the Yankees, though?  A team with a new park, an amazing history and a corporate and real fan-base unmatched anywhere else in baseball?  If the Dodgers are worth $2.175 billion, a team with broke-down finances and a fickle group of fans, you can only imagine that the Yankees would fetch a price well north of that.

But, the Yankees are not for sale, at least not according to Hal Steinbrenner.  And honestly, I don’t blame him.  For a guy like Frank McCourt, the Dodgers were simply a means to an end.  For a family like the Steinbrenners, the Yankees are a way of life.  The Yankees without a Steinbrenner would be a like a snickers without the peanuts.  Sure, it’s still tasty but it’s no longer a Snickers.  It’s a Milky Way.

So yeah, I believe Hal.  Even if I can’t help but picturing him responding to the question of selling the Yankees with a soothing, “I’m sorry, Dave.  I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”

The other part of the equation is that although the Yankees may be worth $2.5 billion today, just imagine how much they’ll be worth in another few years.  The Yankees are more than a baseball team, they’re a global brand easily recognizable on the hats of millions of people around the world.  There is practically no large city in the world where you can walk around without seeing someone wearing a Yankees’ cap.  Hell, holding on to the Yankees isn’t even speculation.  It’s just plain and simple good sense.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to have to be content with our possible billion dollar schemes.  For me, that means dreaming of space asteroids and slowly going mad.  “Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.”

-A

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