Headlines from Opening Day

This appeared on ESPN.com at 8:30 am Tuesday morning:

A home run against the Cubs may not prove much

For the big print readers out there, it says: Jason Heyward needed only one major league at-bat Monday to validate all the talk that the Braves rookie is on his way to stardom.

If you were too busy counting the money you were going to win from predicting the Butler-Duke championship, Heyward homered in his first major league at-bat.  This is a rare feat accomplished by other famous sluggers such as Adam Wainwright.

Of course, most of that validated talk came from ESPN commentators and writers in the first place.  But if that’s what we’re going off of, here are some other headlines from the first full day of the baseball season:

  • Placido Polanco establishes himself as the Phillies’ best hitter.
  • Josh Johnson shows why the Marlins shouldn’t spend money on their players.
  • Can any team get Albert Pujols out more than once a game?
  • Joe Mauer thanks Minnesota for his $184 million dollar contract with 1-4 night, loss.
  • Will the Dodgers lose every game this season?

Amen, Joe

In yet another example of why he is one of the best baseball writers working today, Joe Posnanski reacts to the reaction to Mark McGwire’s day of apologies.

Seriously – since 2005 McGwire has been pummeled whenever people found it convenient or cathartic to do so.  That means he was ripped a lot.  He never defended himself.  Now he comes out and offers his apology, one of the more thorough and believable mea culpas in the sorry steroid saga, and columnists flip out on him again.

If there’s something that makes me more mad than a player using steroids, it’s a writer assuming the righteous mantle of victimized baseball fans worldwide and throwing spears.

Edgar Martinez > Dan Shaughnessy

Somebody named Dan Shaughnessy hacked into SI.com on Monday and posted an article about why he’s not voting for Edgar Martinez for the Hall of Fame.  I suggest you read the article now, before it gets taken down by the site admins.

Shawnhessy doesn't like numbers

Oh wait, seems like Dan Shaughwhatever is a columnist for the Boston Globe.  Huh, that’s weird, I thought Sports Illustrated catered to a national audience.  Oh well.

Here is a tasty sample platter of Shoonbussy’s reasoning for not voting for Edgar (with acknowledgement to the Fire Joe Morgan guys for pioneering this style of textual rebuttal):

I just can’t bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
But how about putting him next to Carlton Fisk, Lloyd Waner and Joe Medwick?  They’re all there, too.

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, “but I know it when I see it.”
Ah, okay, so you’re making shit up as you go along.  I’m glad you’re in charge of enshrining people.  I’d hate for those hallowed halls to be defined by some kind of rigorous bar against which players are measured.

Edgar Martinez was a very fine hitter, but I never said to myself, “The Mariners are coming to Fenway this weekend. I wonder how the Sox are going to pitch to Edgar Martinez?”
Oh wait, I think we’re getting to the gist of it here.  Let’s keep going.

It was different with players like Eddie Murray and Jim Rice.
The reasoning emerges.  See it yet? 

A lifetime .312 average is impressive and Edgar’s OPS puts him in an elite class. But he wasn’t a home run hitter (309), he couldn’t carry a team, he didn’t scare you, and (sorry) he rarely played defense.... Edgar Martinez was a fine hitter and got on base a lot. But he was a corner infielder who didn’t hit a lot of homers and then he became a guy who spent the majority of every game watching from the bench.

Okay.  So Dan Shooboody thinks that teams weren’t afraid of Edgar Martinez, he didn’t hit home runs, and he didn’t play defense.  Let us address this, as succinctly as we possibly can.

Not photoshopped.

1)  Dan Shudthumper thinks Edgar is not a Hall of Famer because The Red Sox weren’t afraid of him.  I looked up numbers, and that’s valid.  Edgar only hit .299/.395/.469 in 69 games in Fenway.  However, how did The Edgar do against some other teams (in away games)?

Angels (.319/.423/.489) in 97 games
Rangers (.282/.381/.508) in 78 games
Orioles (.327/.436/.574) in 56 games
Red Sox (.299/.395/.469) in 69 games
White Sox (.315/.423/.514) in 68 games
Twins (.371/.454/.610) in 69 games
Yankees (.337/.439/.545) in 68 games

You can bet that sports writers in St. Paul and New York knew when The Edgar was coming to town.  And if one team can get a player out, then surely Jim Rice is not a Hall of Famer, having hit only .264/.305/.449 against the Angels in 148 games.

2)  Edgar did not hit home runs.  Well, he hit 309 in 7,213 at bats, or 1 per 23 at bats.  Jim Rice hit 382 in 8,225 at bats, or 1 per 21 at bats.  The big difference?  Jim Rice hit them in Dan Shankapotomus’s home town

Our boy pulls out the ol’ calculator-hate-card in this article (quoted below), but he does mention Edgar’s .300/.400/.500 career line.  So on the off-chance that he actually knows what slugging percentage means, let’s point out that Edgar’s career was .515.  Jim Rice’s career slugging was .502.  Slugging is a rough measure of your power.  Edgar didn’t hit 500 home runs because he was busy hitting 500 doubles.  Jim Rice hit 73 more home runs and 141 fewer doubles in 1,112 more at bats.

Corner infielder needs to hit home runs, eh?  Perhaps you would have preferred Vinny Castilla, or Ken Caminiti?  Are you suggesting they were more appropriate corner infielders?  That they knew their roles better?

3)  Edgar didn’t play defense.  Yeah, he was a DH for much of his career.  But Paul Molitor, himself a DH and a Hall of Famer, put it nicely.  Speaking about being a DH and under Hall consideration, he said: “They’re not going to hold it against you.  It’s part of the game and should be included as such.”

It’s part of the game.  It’s patently unfair to deny someone membership in the Hall because they played your least favorite position.  To Dan Shawshank, The Edgar’s real sin was not being a DH in Boston. 

Here, again, is David Schoenfield’s great article laying out Edgar’s case for the Hall.  He includes all those numbers which Dan Shawnofthedead thinks are ruining the game (if analysis is ruining the fun of a game for you, you must not like the game that much).  But, as Dan Stickinthemud says,

The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime, no doubt will be able to demonstrate that Edgar was better than Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. I’m not buying. Stats don’t tell the whole story.

And for Dan Shouldntbevoingforthehall, the whole story is that Edgar didn’t play in Boston.

Flame War: Yankee fans merely average at best, worldwide

So as the entirety of non-Yankees fans falls into deeper hatred of the Bronx Bombe…ugh, I bring you a response to this thing written a few weeks ago by a “journalist.”

Mike Lupica, a poor excuse for a sports writer, is a douche? There are no real facts presented, just vague observations about how “…no fans have ever supported a baseball team, the most famous team in this world, the way Yankee fans support theirs.”

He even calls them the best fans in the world…it’s not so much an article written by a journalist as it is a Yankee fan talking out of his ass for the NY Daily News. I’m not sure whether this raging crapstorm of an article is a stronger argument against Lupica or NY Daily News, but just to be safe, refrain from reading or associating with either of them. I am not a journalist and I have never taken a course in journalism, but if I were running a newspaper and someone tried to dupe me into thinking they had written a story I would chuck him out onto the street so quickly that a cliché would appear. Try and find something in that drivel that makes it appear that Lupica spent more than 5 minutes on this or even attempted to look up any information or facts or anything. You can’t. (Quick aside: I was in Barcelona during FC Barcelona’s trio of triumphs and the fans there went absolutely ballistic in the streets into the morning. In Europe the soccer leagues are the only mainstream leagues…the fans are insanely devoted).

So anyway, I decided to actually find some facts and see what could be concluded. I checked on attendance to Yankee games and found out that as the Yankees won more and their payroll went up then their attendance also rose. Weird. The same thing happens for like every other sports team. Could it be that the Yankees have just regular fans? Oh wait, Rudy Giuliani is a fan…Yankee fans are asswads (this may be a slight generalization).

rudy

I'm a prick!

Yankees’ Average attendance, Total, MLB Ave Total

Yankees’ Win-Loss Record through their years

Ok, so in ’95 the Yankees had a winning record (79-65)…and horrible attendance (23,521 per game)…BEST FANS!
’91 and ’92 they had horrible records (71-91; 76-86) and even worse attendance (23,009; 21,589)…BEST FANS!
From 2000 through 2008 their average attendance has slowly risen from 37k to 53k…all winning years and take a good guess as to what happened with payroll each of those years. UP.
In ’03 to ’04 average attendance jumped by 5k…A-Rod might have had something to do with that.

But there’s more. In my search for reason and logic I found an idiot posing as a statistician.

This guy theorizes that the Yankees spending hasn’t change all that much in comparison to the rest of baseball over the past so many years (article written in 2003). He pinpoints two seasons, ’77 and ’03 (ok, weird thing, he says Yankees were in the World Series in ’03 yet the article’s date is July 03), and uses them to ‘support’ his theory.

1977: NYY payroll $3,474,325 out of a total league payroll of $23,854,375
NYY had 14.56% of league payroll

2003: NYY payroll $149,710,995 out of a total league payroll of $952,938,250
NYY had 15.71% of league payroll

He cites “no big difference.”

He overlooks: 26 teams in ’77 in comparison to 30 teams in ’03. HUGE FREAKIN’ DIFFERENCE.
The Yanks had a greater percentage of league payroll despite the fact that there were more teams and therefore more players (i.e. A larger percentage of a larger pot).

So, what happens now? I check on ’09.

2009: NYY payroll $208,097,414 out of a total league payroll of $2,648,026,529
NYY had 12.72% of league payroll

Further numbers:

’77: Average payroll: 917,476………..NYY payroll is 3.79 times larger than average
’03: Average payroll: 31,764,608…….NYY payroll is 4.71 times larger
’09: Average payroll: 88,267,551…….NYY payroll is 2.35 times larger

Interesting…the rest of baseball has been playing catch-up the past few years. Not to mention the Yankees have been spending like George W. Bush forever.
So…just some theories now…between the Yanks over-spending success and massive, unwarranted contracts that followed (Boras) everyone is getting rich. Question is, who started it? Did A-Rod’s Boras-scripted contract to the Rangers do it…or did the Yankees rushing at every big-name free agent do it? Dice-K, Vernon Wells, the Seattle Mariners team (esp. Carlos Silva), the New York Mets team (esp. Oliver Perez), Barry Zito, and all the other overpaid MLBers would like to thank whomever you are.

Another quick lesson: Ideally all teams would operate at the league average payroll. Doesn’t happen. Slightly less than ideal: The top spending team and bottom spending team average out to league average…and 2 & 29, 3 & 28, etc.

’09 average: $88,267,551

#1 NYY 208,097,414 + #30 PIT 25,197,000 =/2= 116,647,207
#2 NYM 145,367,987 + #29 FLA 35,774,000 =/2= 90,570,993.5
#8 PHI 111,209,046 + #23 MIN 67,634,766 =/2= 89,421,906

Granted, Pittsburgh’s owners are apparently unrelenting dickwads (which should help), but that total is way beyond the league average. Heck, pretend the Yankees are two teams, divide by two, and…at $104,048,707 they are still way beyond the average. Other quick notes: The Marlins are massive overachievers and the Mets and Astros shouldn’t be spending that much for how bad they are.

Also, the Yankees currently have 12 players signed through next season…at a total cost of $166.3 million. The top paid 10 take up about $165mil of that. Think about it, 10 players already making more than any other team will spend next season.

Who wants to pay over $1,000 for a Yank seat? Yankees fans are amazing! …ly dumb. At the beginning of the season the best seats were going for $2,625 for individual games and $2,500 season. That’s a $202,500 season ticket. In a game where there is such a huge supply (of seating and games) that is called economic stupidity. Fortunately they lowered those to $1,500. Still an assload at $121,500.

custom_1236889176876_Nice_seats_01

Cost: an arm and two legs.

And now, the bandwagon grows.