Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Integrity of a Sport

This time it counts.

What a phrase. In 2002 the all star game ended in a tie. Major League Baseball, in an effort to maintain some integrity, decided that the winner of the ’03 (and future) all star games would decide home field advantage for the World Series.

What a joke. Major League Baseball knew nobody wanted to see the All Star game end in a tie. They made the move, not for the players, but for the media and for the fans. Basically a publicity stunt. Every year now, we watch the all star game with this “this time it counts” junk, so fans can get more into it. (Frankly, I think Home Field Advantage should be decided by the winner of more interleague games.)

Here we are, 5 years later, and another sport has been damaged by “ending it early” but this time it wasn’t the fans that were more wronged by the pre-mature finish of the competition, but the athletes themselves.

2007 Youth World Rock Climbing Championships. Ibarra, Ecuador.

There I was, watching these kids climb. This was the first time I had seen a rock climbing competition, and I was into it. Watching 15-19 year olds dangle from a finger 60 feet above my head, with no worry at all that they would fall. They pushed forward, hand over hand, using technique far above my climbing ability.

Male Juniors (19-20 yr olds), Sport (difficulty as opposed to speed), Semifinal round: The field had already been narrowed from 50 to 26, and these remaining climbers were now facing a harder route. Climbers fell much earlier, and making it half way up the wall was seen as a good accomplishment. Only the top 8 climbers would advance to the next round – the finals. Ryan Rodan, nick named “Future” by his coaches, hung on this wall, making his way up the crowd applauding every hold he grabbed, knowing he had already made it further than the majority of the other climbers. He grabbed a red hold, maybe the size of a standard 5-stick pack of chewing gum. He squeezed it, his arm shook, and there it was, he fell. That red hold was burned into my mind, and the mental note was made. That was his mark. Only 7 people could pass him if he were to make it to the finals.

4 had already done so, and 2 more would, leaving him in 7th for the semi final round. He had done exactly what he needed, and that was to just make it high enough to stay alive. Now he had to prepare himself for the finals, one more climb, highest man wins.

3:30 rolled around, the start of the finals, but his category wasn’t up yet. Male A (17-18), Male B (15-16) and Female Juniors were first. Climbers from each category went up the wall, one by one. Just as these 3 categories finished, massive dark clouds rolled in over the outdoor climbing wall. Rain. There it was.

The competition was on hold for a while, but eventually canceled. This was a Saturday, and the competition was scheduled to end on Sunday. Sunday however, was supposed to be used for the speed climbers, a completely different style and field than the sport climbers that had been competing. Sunday came, sunny, as it was most of the time in Ecuador, and the speed climbers did their thing. (My brother finished 17th, the highest USA finisher in the category.)

So what happened to Ryan? The guy who was supposed to have his chance at climbing for a gold medal? Nothing. They took the standings as they were at the end of the semi-final round. 7th. He finished 7th, because that was his placement going into finals. Sachi Anma from Japan won a gold, by default. He was in first going into the round.

How do these kids feel? They have competed and trained in their own countries for years, and their placement was on a run they didn’t even know was their last. They traveled across the world, took weeks out of their and their families lives to come to Ecuador to represent their country, and their spirits were killed by a 4 hour freak storm in an otherwise completely sunny week. Sachi won a Gold medal, and while I’m sure he’s very happy and proud of what he did, has to be disappointed somewhere that he didn’t win it in the way he was supposed to.

 The competition had all of Sunday, and chose to cancel the finals for those kids. In my opinion they could have had those kids climb despite the difficult logistics they faced in doing so (because speed climbing was on Sunday). The sport of rock climbing lost some integrity by not having these finals, and far more than MLB lost for the All Star tie.

As far as I can tell, a publicity stunt won’t save face for that sport. Those kids will forever remember the World Championship they went to, and the decision that kept them from competing in the finals. Maybe next time it will count.

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Prediction Update

So about 10 days or so ago I made a post predicting the remainder of the season for both the Red Sox and Yankees.

Periodically I will give little updates to this post, showing what actually happened alongside the data I used to say the Yankees would not finish within 4 games of the Sox for the AL East.

Red Sox: Over the last 3 series (ANA, BAL, TB), I had the Sox going 5-4. In actuality they went 4-5, 1 game lower than what I had.

Yankees: I’ll give this to the Yankees, they have been on fire. They put up a show against Cleveland and made my estimate look a tad silly. I maintain my original prediction though. I had the Yankees going (Tor, Cle, Bal) 5-4 as well. In actuality, they went 6-3, one game above what I predicted.

The net of these two brings my original prediction off by 2 games, however I believe that those two games will be made up based on my conservative estimates.  

Also, I don’t think I have any regular readers yet, but if you do read this, I will be on a 2 week hiatus. My brother will be competing in the World Rock Climbing Championships, and those will take place in Quito, Ecuador. I will be in Ecuador from tomorrow, all the way until the 30th.  I will resume posting then. Adios.


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Wakefield: Tremendously Valuable

The Most Valuable Player often is an offensive force who drives in the most runs and gets the most balls over the fence. Now and then it’s a pitcher who posts a 1.xx ERA with 20 wins, or a closer who rattled off 84 consecutive saves. For this, I will be taking a little bit of a different look at “most valuable” and I’ll throw Tim Wakefield’s hat into the ring.

Now, I understand fully that Tim Wakefield will never be winning an MVP award. It just won’t happen, as he doesn’t fit the model of the typical MVP from a numbers point of view. Wakefield however, gives you much more than what his numbers might suggest. Let’s start with his contract. $4 million a year. That’s it. Let me remind you that Gil Meche, with his 11-8 record and 4.48 ERA through 32 starts scored $11 million per year on the free agent market. That’s about 1/3 of a million dollars per start or $1 Million per win. Wakefield currently sits at 14-10, earning a decision in every one of his starts. Okay, so 10 losses, it happens, he’s a knuckler, and a streaky pitcher, but look at those wins. Fourteen. Let’s take a gander at the other 14 game winners in the league. John Lackey (15 wins, $5.8 million), Josh Beckett (15 wins, $6.6 million), C.C. Sabathia (14 wins, $8.7 Million), and Carlos Zambrano (14 wins, $12.4 million). Look at the company that Wakefield holds. Those are aces of pitching staffs. I’m not saying I would replace any of them with Wake, but Wakefield is a #4 starter, and is only making $4 Mil a year! That’s value.

How about the innings he eats? 150 innings through 24 starts this year, second on the Red Sox pitching staff only to Daisuke Matsuzaka. Isn’t a valuable thing to be able to be able to eat those innings? For example, the Red Sox just had a rough series in Baltimore. The Orioles roughed up Gagne, and the Sox bullpen (often regarded as the best in the majors) wound up blowing two games that could have been wins. I think it’s fair to say that after that, the pen may have been tired, maybe a little over worked, and could use a day off. But wait, the next scheduled day off isn’t until Thursday. When your #4 starter can come out and throw a no hitter into the 7th (yes, I know, not the norm for Wake), and put up zeros for 8 innings, that bullpen has gotten its rest! Gagne, Okajima, Snyder, Timlin, these guys all got a day where they can just recover a little. That’s valuable.

And that hasn’t even gotten to the intangibles. How do you even measure the value a player brings to the clubhouse with his veteran presence? What kind of value do you put on the endless charity work that Wake does? (Not to mention that he never, ever expects any recognition for it.) You will never see Wake in the news for going to a hotel with a strange girl, or in the tabloids for any reason what so ever. He is a classy guy with his morals in tact. He portrays that with everything he does, and it rubs off on the players around him. That’s valuable.

151 wins in a Red Sox uniform? 42 more wins and he would be the all time Red Sox wins leader (Over Roger Clemens and Cy Young.) I want nothing more for him to pitch the next 3 years, and accomplish that impressive feat, which in my mind not only solidifies him in the Red Sox hall of fame, but Baseball’s hall of fame.

Tim Wakefield is valuable in every aspect of the game. He may have an ERA in the 4’s, and some losses to go along with his wins, but you can not under appreciate what he does for this baseball team. Tim Wakefield is a tremendously valuable player.

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Gagne: The Fenway Treatment

So yesterday was a pretty terrible day for any Red Sox fan. We saw our lead in the AL East shrink to 4 games, and I think it can be called a race again.

Anyone who watched the game questions why Gagne was even put into that game. You have a proven combo with Okajima/Papelbon, and you pull Okajima for Gagne, whom has had trouble. There are a few reasons floating around out there, one of which being the Right/Left matchup. First of all, with the exception of Lopez and the few lefties he faced, Francona hasn’t played the Right/Left game for most of this year. I certainly hope he doesn’t start now. Theres something benifical about letting the reliever take care of his full inning. Plus, its not like Oki hasn’t gotten righties out before. They are only batting .1xx something off him. Terry lost this game by over management.

This leaves us with Gagne. He’s struggled in a Sox uniform, no doubt about that, but it has all been on the road. Gagne is a guy who has closed, handled the pressure. You wan’t pressure Gagne, here it is. You are stepping into the gates of Fenway, and it’s here. I hope, and expect, you to be cheered in your first appearance. Get your blood pumping because this is your home now. Let the crowd fuel you, get mad, pumped, whatever it is you do and have a good outing becuase if you don’t those cheers will turn to boo’s rather quickly.

Show us why we are the best pen in baseball, and why we should ever let you pitch in the 8th.

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Why the Yankees can not win the Division.

Okay so here it is. We are 6 days into August and I am officially calling the Red Sox to win the AL East. Yes, they are my team, Yes I pick them to win every year, and Yes you need more of a reason to believe why I am calling it.

All year the Sox have had a pretty big lead. All year, it’s been “well it’s only May… It’s only June… It’s only the All Star break…” and believe me, I’ve been right there saying it. Yes I loved the lead, but I in no way thought the Yankees would play sub .500 ball all year. Well their bats are hot and some people are calling it a race. Here is why I have decided this race is over. (Not mathematically but practically)

1) I just think the Red Sox are a far better team all around and their pitching should be able to hold off the Yankees. This may not be a sufficent reason for you, but I just don’t think the Yankees are good enough to catch a pitching heavy team.

2) I’ve mapped it out. I’ve predicted Wins and Losses for every series from now until the end of September. Here is how it played out…

Red Sox: As this is my team, I had to approach this realistically. I wanted to say we won every game, but really… no. I was very conservative. No sweeps were predicted. All 4 game series were predicted as a split. Pitching matchups were not analyzed, nor were specific games, just outcomes of series. I did take into account home/away, and predicted the following (in schedule order.)

LAA 1-2, Bal 2-1, TB 2-1, LAA 2-2, TB 2-1, CWS 2-2, NYY 1-2, Bal 2-1, Tor 2-1, Bal 2-2, TB 2-1, OAK 1-1, MIN 2-2. This is a 29-22 rest of the season for the Sox, a .568 clip for the remainder of the season. I find it very hard to think the Sox will do any more than 1 to 2 games worse than this, as it was a conservative estimate. This puts their final record at 97-65.

Yankees: Clearly an offense heavy team. I was more liberal with wins for the Yankees, this allows them to be hot for the remainder of the season, to see how close they could get to the sox. I did predict some sweeps by the Yankees, and no sweeps of them.

Tor 2-1, CLE 1-2, Bal 2-1, Det 2-2, LAA 1-2, DET 2-2, BOS 2-1, TB 3-0, SEA 2-1, KC 2-1, Tor 3-0, BOS 1-2, Bal 2-1, Tor 3-1, TB 2-1, BAL 2-1

This has the Yankees at 32-19 for the remainder, a .627 clip. That finishes them at 93-69, still 4 games behind the Sox.

As I down-estimated the Sox, and up-estimated the Yankees, I am confident that they can not catch us.


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Selig – Picture

This just says it all.


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Selig: You might as well have not gone.

Bud Selig, I am calling you out. That was terrible. You were so caught up in the “should I be there or not” that you actually did the WORST possible thing.

You went, and basically just sat there.

For those of you who missed the statement after the game…

“Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Baseball’s home run record. No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds’ achievement is noteworthy and remarkable. As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, either I or a representative of my office will attend the next few games and make every attempt to observe the breaking of the all-time home run record.”

“As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game….”

NO YOU IDIOT! You DIDN’T say that. In fact, you went WEEKS without letting the world know if you would be there or not. And you don’t say that you are there out of respect for tradition, you say you are there because it is an amazing feat that took an entire career to accomplish. By saying you are there for the tradtion is admitting you wouldn’t be there at all had it not been a so called “tradition”.

Okay, first of all Mr. Selig. YOU of all people MUST play by the “innocent until proven guilty” card. If there was any substantial evidence against this guy, he wouldn’t be playing. You have made the presumption of innocence, yet you sit there with a look on your face that seems to scream, “oh man, roid boy did it.” Did you even clap?!?

By the way, huge respect to San Diego right now. Steroids aside, this guy IS one of the greats in the game from a talent perspective. No, I don’t think he would be the homerun king without the Steroid era, but hey, I would have applauded if I were there. I hate the guy, but would cheer him on the record out or sheer respect for what he’s done, and out of respect to Aaron who set this amazing record. If you say “oh its nothing” you are killing the importance of Hanks record. I thought for sure that he would be boo’ed on the road, and you impressed me. Stay Classy San Diego.

Yes Selig. They clapped. They cheered. And you had Mr. Grump-Face on. In my mind, thats worse than not showing up at all, so do me a favor and send someone from your office who cares for the next one.

You lost much respect today Selig, and I hope you realize that.

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Bonds, Arod: A milestone day

So here it is. Bonds is now tied with Aaron. We have a new “home run king”. Instead of talking about weather or not I think he used, let’s just operate under the traditional American assumption of innocent until proven guilty. Here is one thing Bonds IS in fact guilty of:

Being a jerk.

Let’s think about some of the things that an all time Home Run leader could bring to the table. A FACE of major league baseball. Right now, instead of being praised, put on a pedestal, and really could be great for the game. Everyone could get into it, merchandise would fly off the shelves. Baseball would have a hero again. Another Ruth, another Aaron. Think about the magnitude of those names, and how awesome it would be for someone of that caliber to be playing now. It’s so had to get excited about this guy, and not just because of the alleged steroids. I want the face of baseball to be fun. I’m not saying Ortiz will ever be the hitter Aaron was, or will ever come close to that many home runs, but think about the reaction of the country if a likable guy like David Ortiz was the home run king. He would be kissing babies and donating his organs to charity.

Bond’s is just not a likable guy and it is so impossible for me, or anyone else in the large majority of baseball fans, to be happy about him having the record. Except now there is a certain pin-striper that is giving me some hope.

Alex Rodriguez hit #500 on the same day. Wow, 500 already? Provided this guy’s name never gets thrown into the steroid ring, this is going to be the guy that everyone rallies behind. Every single person who hates Bonds will be raising their glass and cheering him on as he not only passes Bonds, but SHATTERS the record. I put A-Rod as the first guy with 800 career dingers, and maybe more. He wont just break Bond’s record, he will put it to shame. I just hope he isn’t doing it in New York, and that he cuts out any “bad sportsmanlike” plays from happening again. (Slappy, “I got it”, elbow slide, etc.)

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Could Wake get 20 wins?

So I realize the chance that Wakefield getting 20 wins this season (or
any season) is really pretty small. In fact, it’s even going to be
tough for Beckett or Matsuzaka to make 20 wins.
After today’s game, there are 54 games left. Can we assume a regular
rotation which would give 11 starts for everyone and 10 for Wake?
Wake and Beckett both have 13 wins, so they would have to go 7-x.
Beckett can absolutely get 7 wins, but probably not likely, and Wake
would need to go on one of his hot mulit-game hot streaks. As
improbable as it is, I would really like to see Wake get 20 wins. It
would be such a great thing for him.
Daisuke has 12 wins and a little bit tougher road to 20 wins.

Let’s not forget September callups either. Depending on how tight the
race is or if we clinch early some prospects may get some spot starts, drasticly reducing the chance of a 20 game winner.

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Adding a more Subjective nature to a Win

Last night in the Red Sox – Orioles game, the Red Sox pitching line looked something like this.

Tavarez: 3 ER, 5 IP
Snyder: 0 ER, 1.2 IP
Lopez: 0ER, .1 IP (WIN)
Okajima: 1 ER, 1IP
Papelbon: 0ER, 1 IP (SAVE)

Now the Sox were down 3-1 going into the 7th inning, when they put of 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th to take the lead, and eventually win it. Now Javier Lopez got the win, as he finished the top of the 7th and was the “current pitcher” when the Sox took the lead. Here is what I have an issue with.

Lopez threw 2 pitches.

Yes, an important out, however in my mind, 2 pitches and 1 out is not win worthy. Tavarez certainly didn’t earn a win, he left the game trailing 3-1.  I think the win SHOULD be going to Kyle Snyder.  He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, and kept the Sox in the game long enough to actually have a rally, and get to that dominating end of the bullpen.  Obviously this didn’t happen because of the current guidelines for determining a win.

Why can’t the criteria for the win be more subjective? I say on a night when the sarter doesn’t go 5, or something happens later in the game like last night, that the official scorers have some power to make a determination of whom the win really belongs to. If there isn’t a clear cut answer, then fine, stick with the old determination, but on nights where you can reward a guy like Snyder for his pitching, it should be considered.

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