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Let's Get it On
2006-06-08 09:47
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

In his column "OBP is Life," which appeared over at BP yesterday, Joe Sheehan points out just how well the Yankees have been getting on base this season:

The Yankees have achieved their success by leading the majors in runs scored with 344, and they've done that by leading the planet in OBP with a whopping .375 mark. You can't understate how impressive that figure is. The post-1900 record for OBP is .385, set by the 1950 Red Sox. (Six teams, including three John McGraw/Hughie Jennings Orioles squads, topped that figure between 1894 and 1897.) Just 19 teams have ever had a .375 OBP, and none have done so since those '50 Sox. Since then, a mere two teams have cracked .370: the 1994 Yankees and the 1999 Indians. The latter is the only team in the last 56 years to score 1000 runs, while the former went into the season-ending strike second in the AL in runs scored.

...In the divisional era, having a .360 team OBP gives you a better than 70% chance of being a playoff team. The Yankees have more going for them than just a high OBP, but it's that high OBP--in fact, a historic one--that drives their offense and their chance of winning a ninth consecutive AL East crown.

The Bombers can thank Jason Giambi for boosting their team OBP. Giambi is the subject of my lastest column for SI.com. Check, check it out.

Comments
2006-06-08 10:12:21
1.   Nick from Washington Heights
Nice piece Alex. I noticed the quotes from Mattingly. Did you get to do a little sit-down with Donny Baseball? Consider me jealous.
2006-06-08 10:19:21
2.   BobbyBaseBall
I agree. Great article, Alex. I loved the insight of Giambi only taking swings in the cages and not on the field.
2006-06-08 10:36:21
3.   Rob S
I'm so glad you wrote this, Alex. I have been wondering about Giambi since the HGH / Jason Grimsley thing came down. I really want to believe that he is clean, but it is impossible to know at present. Good work, man.
2006-06-08 10:43:26
4.   Alex Belth
Yeah, I caught Mattingly's ear for a couple of minutes a few weeks back at the Stadium. He seems like a cordial guy. Got to see Torre do his thing in the dugout, and asked him a few questions too.
2006-06-08 10:48:15
5.   Knuckles
After seeing NoMaas' rendering of Brian (Cash Money) Cashman, I'm wondering if he has "OBP 4 Lyfe" tattooed in Gothic letters in an arc across his stomach?
2006-06-08 10:50:22
6.   wsporter
Nice job as usual Alex. That's a nice use of what looks to be a growing list of resources.

I wonder about Pearlman though. Could anyone including Giambi actually be dummy enough to illegally obtain and use HGH while they are already a subject of and a target in a Federal steroids investigation. I would imagine that with the money Giambi makes he could find someone who is a member of a Bar in any state of the Union who would explain exactly what would be the result of that kind of stupidity.

Could anyone be that STUPID? It's not like steroids are addictive. He already has more money than any reasonable human could spend in 10 lifetimes. Why would he undertake that level of risk?

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on the HGH issue right now. It's too bad Giambi got himself into this mess. My sense is he didn't need the roids to be a great player to begin with.

2006-06-08 10:55:59
7.   Shaun P
6 MFD, yes, people can be that stupid - look at the folks who've tested positive for steroids so far this year.

That said, I don't think Giambi himself is that stupid.

Great piece, Alex. You summarized this Yankee fan's feelings perfectly on Giambi.

2006-06-08 10:58:34
8.   Rob Gee
Very nicely done indeed.
2006-06-08 11:03:34
9.   Nick from Washington Heights
It would seem the height of arrogance and stupidity for Giambi to be using again. That said, we have the example of Mr. Period. Raffy, who we've not heard from in quite a while, did something equally ludicrous. I've stopped being surprised by people's ridiculous actions a long time ago. Unfortunately for Giambi, Alex is right: Jason's earned out doubts.
2006-06-08 11:04:02
10.   Rob Gee
4 Love how you're playing it all cool...good stuff, man.
2006-06-08 11:09:57
11.   Alex Belth
Thanks, Rob. I've been up to the Stadium several times recently with press credentials and it has been a very cool experience. Whatever nerves I had were helped by the fact that I worked in the movie business when I was younger and have been around famous people before. (Hey, after Oliver Stone yelled at me when I was 18 it was all smooth sailing.)

Generally, it's the sort of thing I'd love to blog about, but I don't want to undermine my position with SI.com--sometimes you just have to be smart, even if it hurts. I'll definitely write about my impressions at some point--whether it is on the blog or somewhere else.

2006-06-08 11:11:43
12.   Sliced Bread
Covered all the bases there, Alex. Nice work.

Man, isn't it a lot more fun to talk about Melky these days than ask the tough questions about Giambi?

2006-06-08 11:15:49
13.   YankeeInMichigan
I brought up Sheehan's OBP piece in the last thread. What I neglected to mention is that Sheehan may have the counter argument to Verducci's gloom and doom projection. An OBP-based resurgence is generally a legitimate one, since patience never has a slump.
2006-06-08 11:16:22
14.   pistolpete
>> Got to see Torre do his thing in the dugout, and asked him a few questions too. >>

Did you let on to Torre that you were the one who wrote the 'Curt Flood book' he happened to be reading?

2006-06-08 11:17:17
15.   Rob Gee
11 And of course then you'd get all the pressure from us to ask certain questions (Terrence Long!?) - exactly the ones that lead to no more party invitations. Enjoy the ride and we'll enjoy the product!
2006-06-08 11:19:38
16.   wsporter
Alex, how does it feel shifting from the role of dedicated fan to objective observer and potential critic while in the dugout? I would find it difficult.
2006-06-08 11:23:38
17.   unpopster
By the way guys, I've been meaning to post some personal observations from Tuesday night's thrilling game, since I had the pleasure to watch the 2-1 win (and 'THE catch') from the right field uper deck, but I'm lazy and unenthused right now. But since Michael Kay's name is often brought up and ridiculed around these parts, I will pass this little anecdote on...

Standing on the corner of The Grand Concourse and 161st Street prior to the game, I see two rather large men walking towards at a very brisk pace. The street was already packed with fans but I can still see that it's Michael Kay coming my way along with a rather large, hulking companion. As they come closer to me, I realize that this companion is Kay's BODYGUARD.

Now, I personally enjoy listening to kay, but I'm aware that there are many, many Yankee fans that simply don't like the guy. He's passionate but comes off a bit too smart for his own good.

Needless to say, as they pass by it occurs to me that one has to be doing something very, very wrong to be the hometown broadcaster at a hometown stadium and STILL require security to cross the street. Let's just be very clear, Michael Kay didn't need the bodyguard because he was scared of autograph-hounds!

BTW, his pic on yesnetwork.com doesn't show it but Kay is really B-I-G (read: chubby).

2006-06-08 11:26:16
18.   wsporter
7 MFD, I've spent the majority of the last 20 years depending on the stupidity of my fellow man to create the need for my services but there's felony stupid and then there's just plain STUPID. I should have asked rhetorically "Is Giambi that stupid?"

I just don't see it happening in this particular case with the support that guy has around him and given what is at stake.

Human beings will never disappoint you in their capacity to disappoint you. Believe me I am prepared to be disappointed. But Oye Ve that would be the mother load!

2006-06-08 11:54:44
19.   pistolpete
Here's an interesting question - what if Giambi was implicated, but it was for usage of HGH prior to 2003?
2006-06-08 12:00:57
20.   yankaholic
Promising quote by Torre in NYT:

"Even if he flattens out or isn't as good a player for the next week as he has been, he's done so much in this period of time — in Boston, here against Boston," Torre said. "Once you do that, it's something you can fall back on. Over all, when you look at him, ability-wise, I don't think there's any question he can play up here."

2006-06-08 12:02:27
21.   yankaholic
Damn 20 the quote was abt Melky..

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/08/sports/baseball/08sheffield.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

2006-06-08 12:04:02
22.   Alex Belth
Hey. Yeah, I introduced myself to Torre at one point as the guy who wrote the Flood book. He mentioned that he was reading it. He's everything he's cracked up to be with the press, and I haven't really seen anything. But it was a pleasure watching him do his thing.

There hasn't been any difficulty for me in shifting roles from a blogger to a professional in terms of writing. They are different formats, of course. But even though I write from a personal perspective here on the blog, I have always tried to be balanced. So it's not like writing for SI has been a radical shift. At the same time, it's been a great learning experience writing for a wider audience. I'm fortunate to have a great editor at SI, who has been patient and extremely encouraging.

Also, nobody really knows me as a blogger in there, at least not the players, so there is no stigma there. Some of the media guys know Bronx Banter, but they also know me as a guy who wrote a book on Curt Flood and who is now writing for SI.com. It's a pretty insulated world, but I've found that all of the writers I've approached at the park--including Anthony McCarron, Tyler Kepner, Michael Morrissy, Bill Madden and Dave Anderson--have all been good guys. I know it is a very competitive beat covering the Yanks, and I have a good deal of respect for the regular writers, especially the beat guys.

The hardest part is not cheering in the press box, which is tough because it's hard-wired into me to root for the Yanks. But this is what you'd call a good problem to have.

2006-06-08 12:04:26
23.   Shaun P
18 MFD, its practically gospel in Massachusetts that Giambi is on HGH. I have never been able to tell if folks are joking or serious when they say it. You're right, Arn Tellem is beyond intelligent enough to tell Giambi to not do anything to put himself in front of a federal grand jury AGAIN. I just hope Giambi is smart enough to listen.

11 Alex, I think you're walking the line between being a professional writer and being a passionate fan/blogger quite well. I envy the access, but I don't envy having to walk that line. Kudos man, you deserve it.

I'm already looking forward to the day when you share your impressions of the dugout.

2006-06-08 12:06:45
24.   Sliced Bread
17 Maybe that wasn't a bodyguard. Maybe that was Kay's food taster. (BTW, I enjoy Kay's schtick, too)

18 Gooden and Strawberry had plenty at stake, and plenty of support, too.

Steroids ain't crack, but the success and accolades Giambi may have achieved via cheating can be mighty addictive for athletes. Hell, cheaters can get hooked on the game of cheating itself.

The Yankee fan in me likes to believe he's clean.

The Giambi fan in me looks forward to every at-bat.

I like to think of him as "not guilty by his association to Mattingly" - but that's as flimsy a defense as a fan can come up with.

2006-06-08 12:15:52
25.   pistolpete
22 So what happens in the booth if you show any sign of enthusiasm after a big play by the Yankees?
2006-06-08 12:19:33
26.   wsporter
19 Hopefully Giambi dealt with that truthfully in his grand jury testimony and it won't be an issue.

I wonder how they got Grimsley's name and enough detail to run him to ground as effectively as they did. They are making a pretty good example of the guy; big enough and nasty enough for everyone involved to see. If you stomp on the floor hard enough the rats will run for other cover. This is going to get ugly.

I wonder how much feedback Mitchell is getting on this phase of the investigation.

24 Slice, There's a reason they refer to smoking a crack pipe as "sucking the devil's *ick". It's a whole other thing than roids. It's like Mathis and Sinatra, "you can't compare them".

2006-06-08 13:08:07
27.   Alex Belth
wporter with the "Diner" reference. "Presley, dog, Presley."
2006-06-08 13:14:03
28.   wsporter
Alex, Weeks. Weeks. I've been waiting Weeks to use that one.
2006-06-08 13:17:14
29.   Sliced Bread
26
The weaknesses of 'roid users and compulsions of crackheads aren't in the same ballpark - but doing either is dangerously deviant behavior.

The way things are now I imagine if a player got caught shooting steroids in the clubhouse they'd get the same reaction as if they got caught "suckin' the devil."

2006-06-08 13:37:38
30.   Rob Gee
CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox reliever Jeff Nelson said Wednesday he will have surgery on a nerve in his elbow next week, a procedure that will probably end the 39-year-old right-hander's career.

http://tinyurl.com/zhb4c

2006-06-08 13:40:20
31.   jkay
From Tuesday night:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTwDN3UBFms

2006-06-08 14:02:31
32.   wsporter
29 Slice, I would refer to steroid use as a compulsion and to crack use as a physical and mental dependence that is often impossible to break through any means other than death.

You are right though, a needle in the ass, in the clubhouse, would have to be viewed in a similar light.

It is the height of bullshit that this, as a topic of discussion, cuts at the very heart of the game. I wonder how this compares to the Black Sox scandal in terms of imperiling the game of Major League Baseball itself.

Stewards and custodians of the game my ass. There is a great gulf between the right and wrong we're taught as kids and the way the world actually works but the level of cynicism as displayed by the powers that be in MLB as this scandal has developed over the last few years has been nothing short of disgusting.

2006-06-08 14:09:21
33.   randym77
Interesting, balanced article about Giambi. I was not thrilled when the Yanks chose to acquire him, and I admit, I was ready to throw dirt over him after that steroids thing. But he's won me over. He worked so hard to get back to where he was.

I just hope it wasn't with the help of HGH.

2006-06-08 14:18:17
34.   Simone
Good article on Giambi, Alex. It's cool that you now have press status. I hope that you continue to blog though.

About Giambi, could he still be on HGH? Why not? He cheated before, I don't see why he wouln't again if he thought he wouldn't test positive. I just hope that if he is cheating that he doesn't get caught that goes for all the Yankee players.

jkay, thanks for the link. I had heard about that guy running on the field from a Yankee message board.

2006-06-08 14:25:01
35.   KJC
// Could anyone including Giambi actually be dummy enough to illegally obtain and use HGH while they are already a subject of and a target in a Federal steroids investigation. //

I would say yes. I'm not saying Giambi specifically, but I think there are plenty of players right now that would risk getting caught in order to stay in the majors. The money they make (esp. for star players) is worth the risk.

24 "cheaters can get hooked on the game of cheating itself." I think that's a damn good point, SB

2006-06-08 14:55:57
36.   wsporter
35 kjc, The key there was "…while they are already a subject of and a target in a Federal steroids investigation." That portion guarantees that they WILL be caught. It's not a "... risk (of) getting caught" rather it's an absolute certainty of getting caught. Hence it's beyond felony stupid it's just plain STUPID.
2006-06-08 19:09:40
37.   KJC
36 You're right, I missed that bit....of course, I still think that there are people that stupid to continue doing it anyway. I think Sliced Bread's 'cheaters can get hooked' theory factors in there, too.
2006-06-08 20:58:02
38.   wsporter
KJC, I absolutely agree that the guys who weren't the targets of the BALCO investigation are still at it in some way, shape or form. What makes that felony stupid is they don't realize that they are parties of interest to the investigators simply because they play professional baseball. Somebody has to take the idiots by the hand and let them know that. I'm also convinced Slice is right about the allure of adulation and the addictive nature of competition. It does get people hooked, but in no way, shape or form can or should it be equated to the addiction of crack cocaine.

The millionaire players made billions for the billionaire owners by at least in part shooting that steroid crap into their bodies with, at minimum, the tacit approval of the owners. The players are the ones who will be hosed in this while the owners loose and suffer nothing. This is simply horse dung. The fact that these suddenly sanctimonious, self righteous bastard owners are running an investigation is a joke. If the Union had any stones they'd tell their membership to quit the needle and they would support them while they did so. They'd then tell the Mitchell Team to step off.

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