Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Lightning 5.2.2010

  • Send this guy back the 1960s where he belongs:

Is it me or would Roy Halladay fit better in the 1960s with Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale than he does now in the era of pitch counts; babying; rampant arm injuries and the present day illusion of "6 innings, 3 runs and a job well done" masquerading as a "quality" start.

You want old-school?

Halladay's old-school.

There's no secret in what he does; no trickery; no new-age/new-era strategy of manipulation. With Halladay, it's "here it is, hit it...if you can". He throws strikes; he finishes what he starts; he pitches inside; he gobbles innings; and if he loses, it's not because of faulty mechanics; bad umpiring; or anything he didn't do----it's because he got beat.

There's no pretense; no adherence to outside interests nor desperation for attention to distract him from his focus----being the best pitcher in baseball.

And he is.

In the days of the aforementioned mound stars from the 1960s, Halladay would've been one of their number; one of the pitchers that those in his rarefied air would stop to watch, not because they wanted to emulate him----they didn't need to----but because they understood and appreciated his ilk enough to tip their hats to an opposing player, albeit silently as was befitting the long-gone and sorely missed age of seriousness in favor of the misplaced collectivism that permeates the game now.

He's a gunslinger, silent and deadly; there's no gloating; no fist pumping; no gesturing; he just dominates and goes about his business. He belongs in that bygone era; and I'm betting that the rest of baseball feels the same way because while enjoying what he does as baseball players, they'd prefer not to have to face him. Their lives would be much easier if they didn't.

  • Make them go away:

You know you've got an issue with the broadcast when: A) you switch to Michael Kay and the Yankees for any reason; B) you're a Mets fan and choose to watch the Yankees while the game is still close enough for there to be a chance that your team wins, even against Roy Halladay; and C) you're notoriously cool-headed, but scream at the inanimate object and mute the TV because you simply can't take it anymore.

Given their monopoly of the time slot, Fox Sports is in a position to place any broadcasters they want into the booth and viewers don't have a choice but to watch the game. The content from Tim McCarver and Joe Buck is essentially irrelevant. What difference does it make to Fox whether the sound is muted or viewers choose to listen to the radio broadcast as opposed to the foul wind that wafts overhead like an odor emanating from waste disposal plant.

The fastball that vaulted McCarver to the top of the list of baseball analysts was gone 10 years ago; but at the very least, he still worked at his craft and paid attention to the game itself with attention to detail and a memory of what it was to be a player. Now, he's lazy; the game's passed him by and it's time to move forward with some new blood to be the lead analyst on the game of the week. It's one thing to voice an opinion if it's well-considered and there's an argument for the assertion; but to utter nonsense based on little more than floating principles of saying "stuff" just to say it is the line McCarver's crossed.

McCarver still repeats the same, tired cliches like "speed slows down the game" as if we're hearing it for the first time; like he's explaining the game to a bunch of baseball neophytes or band of sycophantic true believers that take anything he says as gospel because of what he once was and no longer is. He's living on reputation and former status.

He just "says" things. Yesterday alone, he babbled about Jose Reyes's shift from the leadoff spot to third in the lineup as a mistake; that he'd move Reyes back to the leadoff spot despite the Mets going on an absolute tear since the move was made.

Did McCarver forget what it was like to be a player? That a streak, no matter its genesis, has to be respected? I disagree with the premise that Reyes should be batting leadoff----I wanted him batting third last year before he got hurt, but that's neither here nor there. It's a total disregard for the ancillary aspects of team dynamic and success/failure to suggest that a team on a roll should reverse course on a drastic change that may not be working as planned with the individual, but is working for the team.

The last time I checked, the point of the game is to win; the Mets have been winning since Reyes was moved to the third hole; changing him back is messing with the streak and is bottom line ignorant.

McCarver talked about the "importance" of Roy Halladay getting a complete game.

This is important, why?

I could understand if the score was 3-0, or even 5-0 in the Citizens Bank Park bandbox; but it was 10-0; who cares about a complete game shutout? It was old-school garbage as opposed to old-school common sense. I'm not fan of pitch counts or yanking a pitcher just for the sake of it, but was it necessary for Halladay to throw 118 pitches yesterday in a 10-0 game?

Does McCarver think the Phillies clubhouse is going to be uplifted by Halladay completing a game? Finishing a shutout?

Who cares?

Then when discussing Ryan Howard's bloated and ridiculous contract extension, McCarver insinuated that Howard's overall persona as a nice guy and solid citizen made the deal sensible; this was, at best, patronizing; at worst it was nonsense.

Are the Phillies going to think that Howard's going to be worth that money when he costs them the chance to keep Jayson Werth next year? If the shortness of the starting rotation----necessitated by financial constraints and the questionable need to trade Cliff Lee----robs them of a championship-winning rotation?

Howard's a nice guy.

So?

Is that worth $25 million for a player who's little more than a basher who's become a liability vs lefties? (There's a fine article about Howard and why his contract was a mistake in today's NY Times---link.)

McCarver does the barest amount of research when pompously parachuting into the game for his "one and done" cameo appearance. He's lazy. He doesn't know his facts and lives on reputation and those basic tenets he's clung to for far too long to skate through. It's a floating realism based on nothing. At least before he had his status as a former player to fall back on and he said what he believed based on knowledge and work. That's gone; and so should be McCarver from his position as the number one analyst for these games and especially for the post-season.

Joe Buck weighed in with his own brand of garbage on these issues.

Why Buck is the number one play-by-play man is beyond me.

No one likes him. No one wants to hear him. He's in this position because he's name is Joe Buck and for no other reason. Buck isn't lazy, he just doesn't care. He makes silly assertions that highlight his lack of knowledge of and/or interest in baseball itself.

Regarding the discussion of Howard's contract extension, Buck said: "Statistically, Howard is as good as it gets."

He is?

In comparison to what? As you probably already know, I'm no stat zombie, but the assertion itself is so embarrassingly wrong that even Joe Buck should know that it was a ridiculous thing to say. Is he as good as Albert Pujols? As good as Joe Mauer? As good as Adrian Gonzalez?

Howard is nowhere close to those players statistically or otherwise, nor does he deserve the contract the Phillies stupidly and self-destructively lavished on him for reasons known only to GM Ruben Amaro Jr and owner David Montgomery.

The sludge coming from Buck is bad enough, but the attempts to force-feed him onto the public as a crossover star from broadcasting to variety talk show host to actor to whatever is too much to take.

Not only can that transition not be forced and crafted like a boy band or pop tart, but there has to be some baseline ability there to begin with; not a legacy case who's only in the booth to start with because his father, Jack Buck, was a legend.

Can anyone truly say they think Joe Buck is an engaging personality? That he inspires any emotion aside from loathing for his work as a play-by-play man not only in baseball, but in football as well? It's one thing to hate someone for his opinions or personality, but to grudgingly accept them if they have something to offer; but Buck's just hated. And he's hated "because". There doesn't have to be a reason even though the list of reasons to choose from is voluminous.

The duo is the worst possible combination of pomposity, ignorance, arrogance and nepotism. Buck doesn't know anything about baseball, nor does he care to; McCarver is finished.

Fox Sports can't be ignorant to these facts. That their "top broadcast team" is anything but; that they need to bring in fresh blood. Anything and anyone would be better than what they're forcing down the fans' throats now, but I wouldn't expect them to make a change when they have a captive audience and quite obviously, aren't bothered anyway.

  • Cliff Lee's agent speaks out of turn:

A mini-bonfire was created after Cliff (The Stone Cold Killer) Lee's first start of the season for the Mariners was a dominant masterpiece.

Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, stated the obvious when he said that Lee is most likely headed for free agency after the season----ESPN Story.

The Mariners aren't going to ante up the $120 million (at least) it's going to take to re-sign Lee; they traded for him to win immediately and it was a worthwhile gamble considering the minor leaguers they surrendered to the Phillies to get him. He's going to test the free agent waters and make himself a lot of money.

Of course the speculation turned to where Lee will wind up once free agency does hit and it's automatically assumed that he's going to the Yankees, no ifs ands or buts.

Is he really?

I don't believe it's fait accompli that Lee is wearing pinstripes next year and it's not because of competition for his services, though that is a factor.

The main goal for any agent in this era is to get the Yankees and Red Sox into a competition for the services of their players. The Red Sox have locked in Josh Beckett; John Lackey and Jon Lester; they can't get rid of Daisuke Matsuzaka if they give him away; and they have a young starter in Clay Buchholz whom they love. They have no room for Lee in the rotation nor on their payroll.

The Yankees have C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett signed for a lot of money over the next three years; Andy Pettitte is taking it year-by-year, but his retirement after this year is iffy; Phil Hughes is young and blossoming; and you can bet that GM Brian Cashman isn't going to relinquish his obsession with Joba Chamberlain being a starter so easily. With the self-imposed payroll constraints and desire to reduce payroll further, they're not going to have the money to pursue a bat and an ace quality arm. Between the biggest names coming available next winter----Carl Crawford and Lee----the Yankees are going to spend the $100+ million on Crawford, not Lee.

I've said all along that there are two destinations for Lee: the Mets and the Angels.

Both have the money; both have the desire; and the locale to appeal to the Stone Cold Killer; and don't forget that Mets GM Omar Minaya is in love with Cliff Lee. He tried to get him multiple times even before he evolved into the Cy Young Award winning and relentless assassin he is now. Whereas the Mets let other teams outbid them this past winter for players about whom they were ambivalent (Lackey, Joel Pineiro and Bengie Molina), they're not going to miss out on Lee without a substantive and generous offer; and do not discount Lee's personality. He'd love nothing more than to shove it to the Phillies for trading him and the best way to do that is in a Mets uniform.

The days of either the Yankees or Red Sox automatically getting the big names are over.

  • Absolving Lou Piniella of the blame for the Cubs is wrong:

Bill Madden of the NY Daily News writes about the early season struggles of three Hall of Fame managers----Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox----whose careers could be drawing to a close in the relatively near future----NY Daily News column.

I'm not going to discount Torre's history of righting the proverbial sinking ship, in fact, of the three, I think the Dodgers are the team that gets back to their customary place of contender. Madden's comments on Cox mirror what I've been saying since last winter. What I disagree with are Madden's sentiments regarding Piniella.

Everyone knows how close Madden is with Piniella, so it's no surprise that he's on the side of his longtime friend, but to absolve Piniella of all blame for the Cubs current predicament isn't fair. When Piniella left the Devil Rays to take over the Cubs, one of the reasons he wanted out of Tampa was because of the former ownership's reluctance to follow through on their promise to spend money to try and win.

When he arrived in Chicago, it was understood that the Cubs were going to spend money to try and win immediately; and they did. Purchasing the likes of Alfonso Soriano; Ted Lilly; Mark DeRosa; Kosuke Fukudome; and trading for Rich Harden never yielded the desired result of a World Series appearance, let alone a playoff series win.

At least part of the failure falls on Piniella's desk. I've long asserted he made a ghastly mistake in starting Ryan Dempster in the opening game of the 2008 NLDS against the Dodgers; he publicly dumped on Fukudome for his slumps; and everyone knew the negatives in Soriano's game (laziness; rotten defense; rampant self-importance) that forced the Yankees to trade him and for other teams to shy away from him.

These are players that Piniella wanted. To deny him his share of responsibility for the Cubs now is revisionist history at its best. If he gets credit for the contender they were in 2008, he bears responsibility for the team on the precipice of mediocrity and worse in 2010.

  • The Prince on the Podcast:

Listen to my Podcast appearance with Sal at SportsFanBuzz from Friday----Prince on the Podcast link.

Be warned that my voice is likely to infect your consciousness to a greater degree than my writing does. Like some reality version of Freddy Krueger, once you're immersed, there's no 2010BaseballGuideCover.gifescape. None.

Also, my book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and Noble.com. It's available for download as an E-book here.

Give yourself to the Dark Side.

3 comments:

the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Halladay knows how to close the deal. He knows how to finish. He pounded the strike zone hard with 88 strikes in 118 pitches. Did you see the curve ball that almost caused David Wright to need hip replacement surgery that dropped in for a called strike three? Yikes! David flat out looked scared and almost broke his ankles ducking away. Getting beaned still messes with him.
Remember when Neon Deion Sanders threw the ice buckets at McCarver..twice? Minaya has been trying to get LEE back since he traded him away from Montreal in the Ponson deal. I would welcome Lee big time!

Jeff said...

Totally agree on Halladay. Watching him pitch like the killer he is sorta gets me... well... excited.

As for the McCarver/Buck duo, you couldn't be more right, Prince.

Which leads me to share this anecdote:

On my coffee table I have McCarver's "Baseball for Brain Surgeons", still one of my favorite baseball books for its intricate scenario based pleasure ride of valuable, strategic information. But a friend of mine saw it the other day and chastised me for owning ANYTHING written by that "lazy McCarver" (his words, not mine). My defense of that 1998 published book fell on deaf ears. My buddy was so tired of McCarver's "shit he says just to say it" that I had no shot of convincing him there was great value in it.

Meh.

Gabriel said...

I disagree with you on Halladay. When a guy has a masterpiece going, you let him finish it. 118 pitches ain't nothing for Doc, because he's THAT good. Would you yank a pitcher with a no-hitter going into the ninth when he's thrown 140 pitches? I'd say no.