Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If teams were characters from The Simpsons...

Both Neil & myself have been a bit busy recently and the stories out of the Bronx and Fenway have been few and far between. However today I was doing something and came across this article written by Dan McCarthy and thought it was pretty funny so thought you might like to read it.

American League:

New York Yankees - C. Montgomery Burns - Driven to success by an almost unimaginable wealth of resources, which they use to ruthlessly crush their enemies, although typically not by the most efficient means possible (blocking out the sun, Bernie Williams). Seemingly unaware of the (obvious) reasons why they are hated. They seem to have been a key actor in pretty much everything important that happened before 1970.

Boston Red Sox - Lisa Simpson - Beloved by all. Used to being overlooked and trod upon, so that when they finally get a day in the sun, they don't really know what to do with it. Unfortunate tendency to get a little self-righteous. Antagonistic relationship with those in positions of power.

Toronto Blue Jays - Bumblebee Man - Comic relief from the other side of the border. Inexplicably, they tend to get a lot of success out of recycled material (sight gags, Shea Hillenbrand) that wouldn't work anywhere else.

Baltimore Orioles - Maggie Simpson - Never says or does much of anything, but constantly brought up in discussions by virtue of their close associates. Stubbornly hanging onto something disgusting despite other people's well-meaning efforts to take it away (pacifier, Sidney Ponson).

Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Hans Moleman - Whenever they're on TV, you can virtually guarantee that they're hopelessly overmatched and that something bad is going to happen to them. You could start feeling bad for them, but then you remember that you don't care.

Minnesota Twins - Santa's Little Helper - Scrappy and quick; comprised mostly of parts that were rescued from a terrible existence elsewhere. Trapped indoors most of the time. Series of poorly timed medical problems (canine gastroplexy, Torii Hunter's ankle). Abused by an incredibly old, very wealthy man who is the very definition of greed and selfishness (Mr. Burns, Carl Pohlad). Nearly abandoned by their families (Bart gave him away; the near-contraction).

Chicago White Sox - Edna Krabappel - Betrayed by those closest to them somewhere in the distant past (Edna's husband leaving her, the Black Sox), leaving them bitter and jaded.

Detroit Tigers - Lionel Hutz - They often dumpster-dive for sustenance. Earn their living by attracting the attention of criminals and vagrants (criminals and vagrants, the city of Detroit).

Cleveland Indians - Apu Nahasapeemapetilon - Identity entirely based on a ridiculous stereotype of Indians. Jovial ongoing relationship with a big fat guy who underperforms a lot (Homer, C.C. Sabathia). Soldiering on gamely despite a terrible workplace environment (the Kwik-E-Mart, Cleveland). Used to play a much bigger role in the grand scheme of things, but now they make only occasional appearances, and they're usually getting abused.

Kansas City Royals - Gil the Salesman - Forever facing in an uphill battle to be competitive. Their failures tend to be more sad than comical. Others are just glad they're not them.

Los Angeles Angels - Troy McClure - You may remember them from one particular film in the past, although before (and since) then they've had some forgettable performances. An expensive facade covers a dark, vulnerable underbelly (McClure's fish fetish, shaky starting pitching). Loving the spotlight, but may not handle all the attention well. Won't ever be the top dog in Hollywood.

Oakland A's - Bart Simpson - Reliable bad-boy winners who march to the beat of their own drum. Locked in a constant struggle against the overbearing establishment. Every time you think they're going to get what's coming to them, they weasel out of it and surprise you again.

Seattle Mariners - Barney Gumble - Struggling against their personal demons. Just when you thought they were going to clean themselves up and they were looking bulletproof, they suffered an unfortunate relapse.

Texas Rangers - Col. Antoine "Tex" O'Hara (Fat Oil Magnate) - Distinctly Texan. Prone to making ill-advised business decisions that never turn out well (purchasing the World's Fattest Racehorse, trading Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique).


Atlanta Braves - Ned Flanders - The very definition of "traditional," "white-bread," and "boring." Quietly keeping their affairs in perfect order, but they always end up as the butt of the joke. Spurred to success by a horde of Bible-thumpers. Made a living out of left-handedness in the '90s.

Florida Marlins - Snake - Riding high for a while, publicly executed, and then somehow cheated death to escape and rise again. Important players in cities known for their rampant drug and crime problems. They seem to be in trouble a lot, but never really go away. Almost lost something of great value to a much wealthier, more prestigious individual, but hung onto it in the end (stealing his girlfriend back from Mr. Burns, 2003 World Series).

Philadelphia Phillies - Milhouse Van Houten - Lack of adequate vision (blind without his glasses, hanging on to Jim Thome). Perpetual sidekick to a more successful leader who constantly takes advantage of their weaknesses. Striving for a goal (Lisa's affection, the playoffs) that looks unattainable in their current state, and nobody really takes them seriously.

New York Mets - Krusty the Klown - Close ties to Judaism. Ongoing love-hate relationship with their audiences, and they have a tendency to lend their names to bad products (Krusty Brand Non-Narkotik Kough Syrup, Jose Offerman). Have had some substance-abuse problems in the past that they would prefer to keep out of the public eye (chain-smoking, Darryl Strawberry/Doc Gooden).

Washington Nationals - Sideshow Bob Terwilliger - Repeatedly given second chances, and could never hold on to what was good for them (staying out of prison, Pedro Martinez/Randy Johnson/Gary Carter/Larry Walker/Moises Alou...). Handled incompetently by a governing body. Forever the second banana to flashier counterparts. Doomed to have victory snatched from their grasp even when it seems closest (plans being foiled, the strike season).

St. Louis Cardinals - Jebediah Springfield - One of the elder statesmen of the group. Great historic importance. Possessors of a silver tongue (prosthetic silver tongue, Jack Buck) and a saccharine, over-commercialized reputation for family-friendliness. Bit of a problem with suppressed history (actually a pirate named Hans Sprungfeld, rampant racism in the '50s).

Houston Astros - Marge Simpson - Their fortunes rise and fall with those of a guy who has put together an unbelievable string of successes despite obviously being an inveterate jerk. Seemingly infinite reservoir of patience for someone who has proven themselves to be not worth hanging on to (Homer, Brad Ausmus).

Cincinnati Reds - Principal Seymour Skinner - Spent much of their existence under the hand of a domineering, insane woman who was impossible to please (Agnes Skinner, Marge Schott). Possessors of a dirty little secret that they would rather sweep under the rug (Skinner's true identity of Armand Tamzarian, Pete Rose). Their lives were given meaning in the '70s (Vietnam, the Big Red Machine) but now all they have to escape the monotony of their everyday existence is the flashbacks.

Milwaukee Brewers - Barry "Duffman" Duffman - Closely related to beer. More of a laughingstock than a legitimate presence. Employed by a guy who is constantly thinking up ill-conceived schemes to get people to throw money at an inferior product (Augustus P. Duff, Bud Selig).

Pittsburgh Pirates - Captain Horatio McCallister - Obvious relationship to the sea, but unfortunate things happen when they venture into international waters (resorting to homosexuality, the Roberto Clemente disaster).

Chicago Cubs - Moe Syzslak - Unloved but by a select few patrons, whom they have a tendency to betray from time to time. Even their closest friends acknowledge their loser status, and outsiders love to laugh at their failures. Constantly subject to self-doubt, and always coming up with new schemes to shoot themselves in the foot. Owners of a revolving-door establishment that never sees more than one or two likable characters at a time.

San Francisco Giants - Abe "Grandpa" Simpson - Even older than you would have thought. Surrounded by other decrepit crones, and they have a tendency to live in the past. Completely dependent on a big lug of questionable moral turpitude who, curiously, never seems to get any older.

San Diego Padres - Dr. Julius Hibbert - Sported a parade of laughable fashions in the past. A little shaky at what they do, but they look stellar given the alternatives in the region (Dr. Nick, the rest of the NL West). Bizarre tendency to lose their composure at inappropriate moments.

Los Angeles Dodgers - Disco Stu - Overconfident and forever predicting the return of their glory days. Brought up by devoted fans more often than is probably reasonable, considering their sporadic appearances. Haven't been relevant since the '80s.

Arizona Diamondbacks - Inanimate Carbon Rod - Inexplicably shot to prominence after an unbelievable rescue (sealing the Space Shuttle during re-entry, 2001 season). Hit the covers of every major magazine as heroes, and then faded back into obscurity almost as quickly as they arrived.

Colorado Rockies - Cletus Delroy, the Slack-Jawed Yokel - Will always have to compensate for where they came from to succeed, something they will probably never accomplish. Always accompanied by a ton of anonymous kids whose names you can't remember.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Hall of Fame - 3,079 Miles... thoughts

Yesterday the Hall of Fame opened its doors to two giants of the game, the original Iron man of the modern era, Cal Ripken Jr, and the man who just could flat out hit, Tony Gywnn. Both men only ever played for one franchise, and no one could argue their HoF credentials.

Last night Neil H and my good self were discussing the Hall of Fame and the selection criteria that should be used. Regular 3,079 Miles... commenter Corey had brought up the idea of just one year of eligibility, and if you fail to get in, then that it is - you are either always a Hall of Famer, or you are not. It is an interesting idea, but both of us questioned whether this would allow the necessary time to evaluate players numbers against other players of their era.

Neil H proposed five years instead of the current 15, 'otherwise you get teams like the Red Sox running a campaign to get rice elected after 13 years - sorry he is not a HoF. I mean if we don't appreciate him 10 years after he last swung a bat why should we after 19?' It is a valid argument. Ten years gives time for similar players of the era to retire and you can clearly look at players whilst their careers are fresh in the mind.

In a rare feat of Neil's agreement we agreed that to us the Hall of Fame should have players with at least ten years or so of top level performance with two or three years where they are at the peak of the game, as Neil H said, 'ten years of very strong performance with a great - and I mean great - peak in there - I really do believe that as far as the HoF goes, less is more.'

Neil H is getting to the point in his baseball life where players he has seen in, or close to, their prime are getting on the ballot, I am still years away from this, so it is hard for me to make a great argument on who should be in as all I can point to is numbers. Over the next decade or so, I too will be getting to the point where I can talk about players I have seen at their peak as they get their chance to join the immortals in Cooperstown, and the day that comes about, will be the day that my baseball education moves on to the next level.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Randy departs

It is now official, Randy Johnson was announced as a Diamondback this afternoon meaning his time in the Bronx is over. To be fair to RJ, he came across very well in the news conference and he thanked the Yankees for enabling this move and for his time in Pinstripes. He said he'd played with some of the greats and for the greatest sports franchise on Earth and it was an honour to spend some time playing for the Bronx Bombers.

The Yankees move $14m off the books and add four players, a ML reliever in Luis Vizcaino and three minor league prospects, rated 18, 19 and 20 according to Baseball America out of the Diamondback organisation.

Russ Ohlendorf, a 24 year-old sinkerballer seems to be the player the Yankees are most excited about. They believe that he could be the new Wang and it seems as though they passed on Micah Owings to take Ohlendorf, a gutsy decision if true by Cashman and co.

The other players are Steven Jackson, a pitcher who posted nice numbers at Double A last season and a light hitting SS in Alberto Gonzalez.

Randy Johnson just didn't work in the Bronx, it wouldn't stun me if he returned to the NL and performed extremely well next season. It leaves the Yankees rotation looking weak with Igawa and Pavano at #4 and #5 and their are question marks over Pettitte's elbow and Mussina's health, but despite this, moving Randy was a deal that had to be made for both the franchise and for Randy himself, who wanted to be closer to home, and no-one can argue with that.

The Yankees payroll is now down to, well I say down to but it's still a stunning amount of around $180m. Yes there is a probability of Roger Clemens coming in for a huge deal of dollars but that would be a one year deal, in five years the Yankees may be down to a more sustainable level of expenditure, it'd be nice.