Friday, November 21, 2008

Not in my lifetime

There are a lot of things that I don't think that I will ever see in my lifetime. And I'm not just talking about that Jennifer Aniston-Angelina Jolie buddy flick.

I know that you're never supposed to say never, but, I have a hard time buying that any of the following will happen during my lifetime...

Al Davis put together another Super Bowl contender.

The Ford family will make the Lions a contender, or that the Lions will bring a Lombardi trophy to Ford Field, even as a loaner from another team.

A Chiefs-Lions Super Bowl.

A Super Bowl in a cold weather non-domed stadium (anyone else notice that football is the only sport in which home field/court advantage goes out the window in the championship game).

Mike Vick as a success in the NFL.

Norv Turner coach a team to the Super Bowl as The Man.

AJ Smith GM a Super Bowl winner.

Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, or Mark McGwire get into the Hall of Fame.

Mike Shanahan win a Super Bowl without John Elway (why is it that the so-called offensive geniuses have struggled to put quality QB's in place...see Brian Billick, Ravens).

Just a few things that popped into my head today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

City of Dust

Dust - it's tiny, seems practically insignificant, yet it's all over and can have a severe impact on even the largest of bodies.

Pretty apt description for the Red Sox latest winner of the MVP award. One of the smallest players in the majors, Dustin Pedroia is, in his second season, the most decorated member of the Boston baseball team over the first two years of his career since Fred Lynn won the Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, and MVP awards in 1975.

Pedroia now has a ROY, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and MVP award to show for his work as one of the men in the middle for the Sox. It's as much a testament to the little man's gritty determination as it is Theo Epstein's and Terry Francona's dedication to standing by the little man's side when he struggled at the beginning of the 2007 season.

Their faith in Pedroia has paid off in spades.

Pedroia's win is one of the few times that the Baseball Writer's Association has gotten this right.

The award is for the Most Valuable Player, not the guy who is statistically the best - which is what I think happened over in the National League.

I always felt that the key word in the award was "Valuable."

Sure, it could mean a number of different things to different people, however, the bottom line, I've always believed, is how valuable was the player to a team's success. It's a difficult question, and seldom is a player on a team that misses out on the playoffs deserving. There are exceptions - When Steve Carlton rocked 27 wins with a sub-2.00 ERA for a Phillies team that won only 62 games back in 1972, he certainly should have beat out Johnny Bench for the award. Any lesser pitcher would have struggled to get to double digits in wins, considering the Phillies lack of run support, making Carlton, far and away, the most valuable player to any success his team had that season. Consider the following - if you had a pitcher that couldn't even half his total of wins - at say, 13 wins, and those other 14 games are losses, the Phils finish 1972 with 48 wins.

I digress.

As to the question - what would have happened to the Sox had they lost Pedroia for an extended period of time? He picked up the slack when others went down - when the team lost David Ortiz, and JD Drew. When Mike Lowell was playing through injury, and the team suffered injuries to the starting rotation. If they lose Pedroia, do they still get to the post-season? I have my doubts.

It was nice to see the voters get it right, the voters that are enamored of stat machines.

Don't believe that about the voters? Consider the following about Alex Rodriguez (this was from one of my previous posts, but I have since updated it for current numbers)...

“Once each of his previous teams, the Mariners and the Rangers, rid themselves of A-Rod, those teams averaged somewhere around eight more wins per season for the first three seasons after Rodriguez’s departure. The Yankees averaged 95.5 wins per season with A-Rod in their line-up (with decreasing numbers the last three - 97, 95, 89). The three seasons prior to his arrival? 99.67. Sure, a drop-off of four games per year isn’t huge, but it’s still a drop off and when combined with the following fact, it’s a serious indictment of what his impact on a team really is - for the three seasons he played for the Rangers, Texas won 73, 72, and 71 games respectively (the Yankees won 101 his first season with the team, a total down to 89 this season), but for the first three seasons after A-Rod left the confines of Arlington, the Rangers 89, 79, and 80 games respectively - an average improvement of eight games per year.”

So, A-Rod won the award three times on teams that had lower win totals with him than without. How valuable is that? The Sox, on the other hand, jumped from 85 wins in 2006 to 96 wins in 2007, and 95 this past season.

I know that it's not fair to lay the improvement or decay at the feet of one player, but in the case of A-Rod, the improvement/degradation has followed him through his career. It happens to one team, it's coincidence, it happens with three teams - well, that's a career trend.

In other Sox news -

I just want to bid a quick farewell to Coco Crisp who is now officially a member of the Kansas City Royals. While the trade affects depth in the outfield, it bolsters the bullpen, an issue in the post season, with the acquisition of Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez appeared in 71 games, going 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA for the 75 win Royals last season.

Happy trails Coco.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This rocks...

Eri Yoshida.

Remember that name.

She might not do anything, but the 16 year old knuckleballer was drafted to pitch for the Kobe 9 Cruise of a new Japanese independent baseball league.

It's historic in that she will be playing professional ball, lining up with the men.

The five-foot, 114 pound pitcher will be the first to take the mound on a (predominantly) men's team since Mamie "Peanut" Johnson pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1955. Johnson played for the Clowns from 1953-55 amassing a 33-8 record, primarily in relief, while batting .273. She missed being a teammate of Hank Aaron's by a whole season. Aaron played for the Clowns in 1951, leaving the Negro League for a minor league contract in the Northern League in 1952.

I mention Yoshida here because of this - according to the AP report, she "says she wants to follow in the footsteps of the great Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield."