Tagged: Jeff

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

Matt Cain this week threw what some people are saying was the best “perfect game” ever.  Is it really possible to say that one perfect game is better than another and, if so, which one would you vote for?

Sal
Fresno, CA
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Absolutism is relative.  I think.  No, I am sure it is.  Maybe.  I mean, this is the GREATEST BASEBALL-POLITICO BLOG OF ALL TIME, IS IT NOT!?!?!

I think so, but such a statement comes with the caveat that one would have a hard time quantifying it.  Why is it the best?  Because of Mr. Krause?  Because of Mr. Lung?  Because of the interns?

That’s just the very beginning of a long list of things that makes RSBS the G.O.A.T.

But can we quantify what exactly makes one perfecto better than another?  Not really.  But it’s fun trying.  For example, Matt Cain’s 14 strikeouts tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a perfect game (Sandy Koufax, 1965), which clearly demonstrates superior command and dominance over the opposition.  Cain also threw 19 first pitch strikes and never got himself in a 2-0 count.  Meanwhile, his defense did some dazzling.  Both the 6th and 7th innings featured unbelievable catches in the outfield that, had they not been made, would have sunk the perfect game effort.  The last out, a hard ground ball to third base that put Joaquin Arias in a stutter step also provided one final gasping twist to the accomplishment.  All of the above, plus Cain’s eery zen mound presence throughout it all, provide plenty of quantification for it being the “best” perfect game ever.

Still, it’s relative.  And maybe we see it as the “best” right now because it’s fresh in our minds.

I recall Randy Johnson’s 2004 effort against the Braves as being one of the most dominate games I’ve ever seen too.  The Big Unit struck out 13 in that game and was throwin’ nasty stuff all the while.  David Cone didn’t see a 2-0 count in his 1999 perfecto against the late Expos, a game where he also had to sit out for a 33-minute rain delay, on Yogi Berra Day, with Don Larsen in the stands!

But, for me, the best perfect game I’ve ever seen came on a lazy Thursday afternoon in July 2009, when Mark Buehrle pitched himself into the record books, again.  What made that game so special, for me, was that I was watching it at work and by the 8th inning, I was watching it with the UPS man, the FedEx man and yes, even the mail man.  When Dewayne Wise made “the catch” we reveled in our mutual south sidedness and gave each other big, sweaty man-hugs.

That’s the sorta thing that only happens once in a lifetime, so I’ll be hanging my hat on the Buehrle perfecto for the forseeable future.  But that’s just me.

You can hate me for that.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

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Speculators, Mount Up!

Every once in a while my friend Jeffery comes up with an idea that surprises me in its intelligence.  Granted, his “I’m voting for Ron Paul because the gold standard is shiny!” moments tend to overshadow his more lucid thoughts but I’m the type of guy who gives credit where credit is due.  So, when Jeff advocates for the one-year contract, I have to applaud his chutzpah.  Sure, it will never happen for a legion of reasons but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.  Unlike this:

[youtube http://youtu.be/dnPNr9yquuc]

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s right, though.  For instance, paying less money for gas seems like a good idea to most of us.  And oil speculation seems like a bad idea.  But if you take a look at this and this, you might just start to realize that cheap gas doesn’t make so much sense and oil speculation might not be so bad.

Just like traders buying “future” barrels of oil, baseball players’ salaries are simple speculation.  You pay A-Rod a quarter billion dollars because you think he’s going to be able to continue putting up the same numbers for 10 years.  Same goes for Pujols and all these other guys with monster salaries.  You hope that by giving an extended contract, you’re actually avoiding paying less than what the market will say that player is worth and you’ll wind up with a profit.  That’s pretty much “speculation” in its most basic form.  And just like buying future oil, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

For the rest of us, the options are a little more limited.  I don’t have major league skills.  I’m never going to make a million dollars because of my ability to hit a ball or throw a ball or pretty much do anything with a ball.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to speculate.  I’ve even got my eyes on a pretty spectacular opportunity.  Anyone want to throw in on an asteroid with me?

-A

The Filibuster

Looks like MLB is going to televise the first part of the draft again.  Will Bud ever learn?

Jack
Bridgeview, IL
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When people want to explain how boring something is, they often resort to the idiom “Like watching paint dry.”  Well, compared to the MLB draft, watching paint dry is edge-of-your-seat, action packed drama.  The sad thing is, that doesn’t mean Bud won’t keep on trying.

We all know the problem.  Succeeding in baseball requires development and in all but the rarest of cases, it’s pretty much impossible for a player to jump directly to the big leagues and make an immediate impact.  There are a lot of adjustments that even the best ballplayers have to make before they’re ready to succeed in the majors.  Bud has been in the game a long time and he obviously knows this but something keeps him from accepting it.

I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe it’s an inferiority complex because of the craziness and drama inherent to the NFL and NBA drafts.  Maybe it’s an inability to accept that baseball is different.  Maybe it’s just that Bud is completely out of touch and has made a lot of bad decisions that should have long ago cost him his job.  Whatever it is, it means that once again the MLB draft will be televised and once again no one but the absolute junkies will tune in.  Don’t tell him I said this but I bet you that not even Jeff will watch.  Yeah, it’s that boring.

Don’t get me wrong here.  The draft is important and when you look at the recent success of this year’s National’s ballclub, it’s obvious how important a good draft strategy can be.  But just because the future success of a team depends on the players a team chooses, that doesn’t mean the process is all that exciting to watch.  We know the basketball players from following them through the NCAAs.  We know the football players from the bowl games and college football saturdays.  Baseball players?  These are guys coming out of random colleges, even more random Latin American development leagues and god knows where else.  There’s no story attached to them until they make it to the big leagues.

Let me put it another way.  We all know about Len Bias and his cocaine overdose death.  Bias never played a day in the NBA but is still spoken of with reverence.  Meanwhile, until he made it to the major leagues, Josh Hamilton was just another talented athlete with substance abuse problems.  If Hamilton hadn’t have made the bigs, he’d simply be in rehab somewhere or out on the streets.

I know what Bud’s doing here.  He thinks that he can drive revenue growth by trying to create drama around the sorting process.  But you have to be invested in a person’s story in order for there to be drama.  We don’t know anything about these young baseball players so there’s no drama in watching them get drafted.  Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say there’s about as much drama as watching paint dry.

-A

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The Filibuster

If you were in the A’s bleacher section, and you could only choose one, would it be bacon or beer?

Mark
New Albany, IN

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Jeff continuously tells me how engaging the NBA has become.  According to him, it’s not just the quality of the professional game, it’s also the personalities and all the drama surrounding them.  To use a direct quote, “It’s a goddamn soap opera.”

Baseball, on the other hand, is rather tame.  Sure, there are historic villains like Ty Cobb and uplifting stories like Jackie Robinson and Josh Hamilton.  But it’s all kind of “Touched by an Angel” while the NBA is more “The Wire.”

The perfect example of this is Jeff Francoeur and his love affair with the Oakland fans.  Sure, it’s great that Francoeur has made a personal connection with the fans of another team.  But is that really good for baseball?  Wouldn’t it be better if Francoeur had left Oakland after coming up with the team and was greeted by a beer shower while trotting along the warning track?

That kind of rancor just doesn’t exist in baseball today.  Albert Pujols left behind a city that adored him and although St. Louis fans are heart-broken, most of them still respect Albert and remember him fondly.  Johnny Damon not only left the Red Sox, he went to play for their arch-enemy and shaved his beard.  Boston fans were upset but they didn’t hate him with the cold intense hatred that Cleveland has for LeBron James.

Maybe it’s because baseball is played in summer and draws families out to watch games together.  Maybe it’s the stir-craziness of winter and the 60 minute intensity of a basketball game that creates an aura around the game as a whole.  Or maybe baseball just doesn’t have the same type of personalities you find in basketball.  Let’s be honest, how often do you hear about a baseball player choking his coach or punching out a fan?

I don’t see that changing.  Sure, I’d love to say that if I was one of those fans in Oakland, I’d keep the money and throw the baseball back.  The fact is, though, I’d be thrilled to death.  And that’s not just because being an A’s fan is even worse than being a Royals fan.

Somebody needs to spice things up a bit, give people a reason to hate.  And no, I’m not talking about Milton Bradley, preschool-esque drama.  I’m talking pure, LeBron James type anger.  I think Francoeur has a golden opportunity to start it off, too, by taking that relationship he has built with the Oakland fans and totally misusing it.  In fact, I even have the perfect recipe:

I bet no one would choose a caramel onion.

-A

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The House that Ron Paul Built

There aren’t a whole lot of things that Mr. Lung and I agree on.  Or rather, we generally agree on the big picture things (capitalism is generally preferable to communism) while disagreeing on the smaller things (no, the dead ball era was not a superior form of baseball).  However, we usually agree that Cubs fans are the Midwest’s intellectual neanderthals.

Turns out we might have been just slightly off on that.  Or maybe “Cubs Fan 77” is simply the exception that proves the rule.  Either way, Mr. 77 pretty much calls it exactly the way I see it.

Call me crazy but there’s a part of me that kind of wants to see Mr. Paul’s house.  I’m pretty sure it would like something like this:

-A

RSBS Turns Four!

Four years ago today, I wrote the first post in RSBS history.  It was terrifyingly awful.  What terrifies me even more is that at that time in 2008, I had incredibly high hopes for the Tigers’ upcoming season based on some high-profile acquisitions they had made.  Four years later, I’m still haunted by that 2008 season and experiencing no small amount of deja vu (all over again).

If there’s one thing that gives me hope, though, it’s the fact that sometimes triumph is born from the ashes of despair and failure.  That first post was awful but the throw-away line at the end ended up becoming Mr. Lung’s regular sign-off.  And even though Dontrelle Willis didn’t work out for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera has been a godsend.  Paired with Prince Fielder, I can’t say as though there has been a more feared power duo in the AL since the days of the Bash Brothers.

Sometimes you have to let go of the past and just realize that it’s over.  So, with that in mind, happy fourth birthday Mr. Lung.  And a special thank you from both of us to the interns for their years of unpaid but essential work.  But most of all, thank you to our loyal readers who keep coming back, in spite of RSBS‘ inauspicious beginnings.  Hopefully in 366 days we’ll be blowing out another candle together.

-A