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Sun Dazed
2008-02-10 06:26
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Last Tuesday, Cliff and I met in Manhattan for dinner. We walked a few miles north, up Manhattan's west side, and caught up on our lives. When we got to the 72nd street subway station we saw Hillary Clinton supporters and Cliff spotted Rob Reiner, boosting for Mrs. Clinton. Cliff and I enjoyed dinner and then I came home and came down with the worst stomach virus I've ever had. I still haven't fully recovered but it knocked the hell out of me something fierce for a few days there, which is why I haven't posted anything of late.

Catching up, however, here are some links for you:

Over at Tiger Tales, Lee Panas conducted an interesting study on baserunning. Using the Retrosheet play-by-play databases, he determined the success rates for base runners in taking extra bases on hits and advancing on ground outs, air outs, stolen bases and other plays. Then, Panas combined everything into a single base running performance measure called Bases Gained Above Average(BGAA). According to his findings, Johnny Damon was the third best base runner in the American League in 2007.

Sam Borden, previously with the Daily News, is now a columnist for the Lo-Hud. Here is a piece he wrote on Phil Hughes a few days ago.

In the Times, Jack Curry profiles Joe Girardi.

In the News, Don Mattingly tells Bill Madden that it is just as well he wasn't hired as the Yankee manager, given the recent turn of events in his private life.

Yanksfan vs. Soxfan tackles the PECOTA predictions for the 2008 Bronx Bombers.

Also, I know this story is dated, but did you guys see this about Mike Lupica v. Lisa Olson? Yikes.

Comments (94)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-02-10 07:29:05
1.   horace-clarke-era
You, Alex, feel better. Found the Tiger base running chart interesting. Surprises? Swisher?? Emil Brown? Alex Rodriguez's all-round excellence features here, too. No sluggish slugger, he. Damon's high ranking is skewed heavily to his outstanding skill at advancing on a flyball ... have a look. Other than the 2-3 non-speedsters, this is a list most of us could have pulled 80% on, I suspect. Maybe surprises in who is NOT there? Jeter, for one, on Yanks.
2008-02-10 07:37:54
2.   horace-clarke-era
Lupica on the warpath (he's taking huge body shots at Clemens) or doing office politics (Lisa Olsen) ain't a pretty sight.
2008-02-10 08:04:01
3.   Mattpat11
I have to imagine that the Yankees will hit better than those projections, specifically Jeter, who's projected to be horrible.
2008-02-10 08:05:27
4.   JohnnyC
In a pissing contest between Lupica and Olson, there can be no winners, only losers. One's a fatuous gasbag and the other's a fraud. Now if only Lupica would join her in exiting the New York market.
2008-02-10 08:05:42
5.   jkay
"Summer of '98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America"

Lupica wrote this book to cash in on the McGuire/Sosa home run era. Now he is trying to cash in on the steroid era by bashing everything he loved in his previous book. Fake, phony fraud.

2008-02-10 08:14:59
6.   JL25and3
I have a couple of questions about some of Panas's methodology. (A lot of this has to do with his earlier articles, linked at the top.)

Because he's using a counting stat, the number of opportunities makes a big difference. Given two baserunners of equal ability, the one who has more opportunities will have a higher BGAA (assuming they're both above average).

The number of opportunities, in turn, depends on a lot of factors unrelated to baserunning: playing time, place in the lineup, OBP, and who's batting around you. I think those factors are not trivial, and won't even out over time.

It's also not so clear that the location of batted balls will even out. Sheffield hits almost exclusively to LF, so the guy batting ahead of him has a disadvantage. Also, once of the situations he's counting is whether a runner advances from first on an infield groundout, where the location is almost certainly more important than the runner's ability. Honestly, I don't know if those issues are significant, but I don't think they should be dismissed.

2008-02-10 08:41:15
7.   mehmattski
Interestingly, Rob Reiner has contributed the maximum ($2300) to four different campaigns: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Dennis Kucinich. I would prove it, but the place where I got my evidence (Huffington Post's Fundrace 2008 page) doesn't appear to be working.

Can you imagine the circus if Mattingly had stepped down as Yankees manager just three months after being hired? Ugh.

2008-02-10 08:43:18
8.   JL25and3
3 Yeah, I don't get the Jeter projection. Regression to the mean is one thing, but this is a regression to a level he hasn't seen in ten years. I don't know what reason there would be to suspect a decline that precipitous.

I can't put much stock in the projections for the young pitchers. There just isn't enough data to work from.

2008-02-10 08:56:04
9.   Shawn Clap
7 Jan. 2008 donor info becomes public on Feb. 20th but here's Reiner so far: http://tinyurl.com/3xzucc
2008-02-10 09:06:42
10.   The Mick 536
Good reading. Have to go back and think about the baserunning stat. Not sure I have a grasp of it, but it was fun to read.

Hope Joe can keep his focus. This alzheimer thing be very tough. Want to die before I get it.

Won't speculate on the possible connections between seeing a Hillary supporter and an upset stomach. I have similar reactions to her and her family.

Article in business section of the Times about tax consequences for ballplayers. Says Jeter's tax matter that focused on a determination of his place of residence has been resolved. Please don't ask him about it during Spring Training.

Obit of the Shea sign man, article on Charlie Sobel in Sports section and Kiner's interview of Casey on the first Kiner's corner also deserve some attention.

2008-02-10 09:07:19
11.   Alex Belth
Thanks for the thought, stomach virus' are so demeaning. Thought I'd be in the clear by now, but am still pretty shot.

Man, I wanted to make a "Meathead" comment to Reiner in the worst way, but didn't have anything funny to say. Guy is pretty tall, actually looked good.

(Yo, Shawn Clap, shoot me an e-mail when you get a chance, kid.)

2008-02-10 09:14:37
12.   jkay
Alex, chicken soup and ginger ale.
2008-02-10 09:25:46
13.   JL25and3
I know I shouldn't pay attention to such things, but the comments accompanying the Madden article are appalling.
2008-02-10 09:45:44
14.   Max
I missed the bit about Lupica and Olsen. All I remember is how viciously Will McDonough went after Olsen when that whole locker thing erupted with the Patriots, which pretty much turned me against McDonough for good (as a sexist and a boot licking stooge of the owners and management). The guy remained miserable for the rest of his pathetic life...I just hated that the papers gave his miserable voice a platform for as long as they did.

Doesn't surprise me about Little Loopy and his axis of power, though has the advantage (over McDonough) of being able to write decently. His shots at the Yankees are so tiresome...well, we've been down this road too many times before, haven't we?

2008-02-10 10:42:59
15.   Cliff Corcoran
I should mention that Dan Fox introduces a similar baserunning stat in Baseball Prospectus 2008 (due out Feb 25, pre order now!) and that the statistic is used in the hitter stats throughout the book. Dan's stat is also adjusted for a variety of factors.

He applies his stats to Tim Rain's HOF case here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=7058

To minor leaguers here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6931

And to current major leaguers here:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6845

2008-02-10 10:58:01
16.   liam
with johnny damon at #3.. its important to note how he really didnt start / play as much as normal. i wonder if he coulda hit #1...
2008-02-10 11:17:01
17.   underdog
Gack, that Mattingly piece, yet another article posting that awful mug shot of Kim Mattingly, and then some of the comments that follow it are even crueler. Guess I shouldn't expect more from the NY Daily News. Just hope she gets help and the family can move on from their struggles.
2008-02-10 11:32:30
18.   Alex Belth
That picture of Kim Mattingly looks like Glenn Close from "Fatal Attraction"...on crack.
2008-02-10 11:34:56
19.   williamnyy23
3 PECOTA might be the best of the lot, but I think projections are still nothing more than an interesting toy to pass time in the offseason. Because PECOTA is a closed box, we can't really discus the assumptions involved, but I also find the Jeter drop off to be too dramatic. Instead, I actually think Jeter may have his best offensive seasons ahead of him, especially if Girardi can find away to get him 10 extra games off from the field.

6 I think those issues are very significant, making this metric highly team dependent. Just like RBIs doesn't determine the best hitter, I don't think this calculation can be used to determine the best baserunner.

2008-02-10 12:17:31
20.   JL25and3
I liked the prediction for Matsui: .285/.367/.488, 25 HR. Gee, ya think?
2008-02-10 12:44:04
21.   Chyll Will
Anyone else think Leon Carter deserves some blame for the issues there as well? Is he an editor or a cabana boy, what?
2008-02-10 13:04:18
22.   ChrisS
so, if the rumblings are true and the Yankee starting line-up is basically set (Damon/Cabrera/Abreu in the OF, Matsui DH-ing, and a cast of hundreds at first), Giambi is what? A $20 million dollar/year pinch hitter and part time DH?

I would like to think that the Yankees could ship him and a fair chunk of salary for someone (or a package of someones) that's actually more productive for them.

2008-02-10 13:27:07
23.   MC Safety
18 Marshall Applewhite on whatever the hell those cats were on.
2008-02-10 13:38:43
24.   OldYanksFan
Since this is Giambi's walk year, my guess is he will play a fair amount of 1B (maybe 50% of the time, as long as he's hitting) until he gets injured. While he is immobil in the field, he is decent at taking throws, so as long as he hits, I want to see him in the field AMAP.
2008-02-10 17:16:04
25.   bob34957
3 Yes, our offense will have some more fire b/c of contract years of Giambi n Abreu. I can't see anything other than bigger numbers because of the cohesiveness of being together for additional years.
2008-02-10 18:47:28
26.   OldYanksFan
From Joel Sherman (hat tip to Lohud)
Nick Johnson, Nationals: Didn't play at all last year after breaking his leg late in the season at Shea in 2006. Washington gave Dmitri Young a two-year contract late last season to play first, so Johnson will be showcased in spring and no one should be surprised to see him reunited with the Yankees.

Not quite as good as Tex but 1/3rd the price?
Maybe we can get Sori back too.

2008-02-10 19:52:30
27.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wtf is up with the stomach viruses??

EVeryone in New Haven's been sick as well.

Must be the End of DAys.

2008-02-10 19:56:50
28.   weeping for brunnhilde
11 Ha ha ha hah ah!!
2008-02-10 19:58:43
29.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ok, speaking of Damon, what's his status, these days?

Anyone know?

Is he Joe (II)'s starting centerfielder?

God, I can't wait for the fucking season to begin.

2008-02-10 20:00:22
30.   weeping for brunnhilde
26 How old's Nick these days, anyway? He must be pushing 30 by now, poor guy.

I had such high hopes for him.

I kind of miss watching him excruciate me by taking so many fastballs right over the dish.

2008-02-10 20:02:26
31.   weeping for brunnhilde
22 Ah, you've answered my question, cheers.
2008-02-10 20:04:06
32.   weeping for brunnhilde
24 You think he'll hit?

What are you talking, like 25hr, .250 with his 100 walks or whatever it is?

2008-02-10 20:24:08
33.   OldYanksFan
Giambi in 2007:
Apr: .322 .404 .517 .921
May: .177 .350 .323 .673
After the injury, he had about an .750 OPS, but if you remember, Torre wouldn't play him 2 days in a row. When healthy, Jason is much better when he plays everyday.

Basically in May, he played most of the month with the heel spur. I'm told it's painful just to stand up with a heel spur. The guy ain't done. The projction is based on a year playing injured and then VERY inconsistanty. If he is healthy, he will still rake. A bone spur is a bit of a freak injury.

2008-02-10 21:19:38
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
33 That'd be nice. I'd like to see the old lug help us win a championship and then hang it up.

Same with Moose. What's to become of poor Moose?

2008-02-11 05:42:33
35.   Rob Middletown CT
PECOTA projects Moose to rebound some and be useful. I'd like to believe it.
2008-02-11 06:38:08
36.   OldYanksFan
Giambi in 2007:
Apr: .322 .404 .517 .921
May: .177 .350 .323 .673

I an neither an MD nor Nostradomus, but it seems to me that a heel bone spur is not an injury we typically associate with an athlete aging or breaking down.

Nick the stick had reoccuring hand injuries, which can obviously be associated with the additional stress of playing baseball. Last year, again, Nick was 'unhealthy'. But it was not his hands, but a totally unrelated, 'freak' accident where he broke his leg. I don't think you can use Nick's broken leg as proof that he has trouble staying healthy.

I think (think, opinion) that Giambi's bone spur was more in the category of 'freak' accident. There may be some dietary concerns or maybe he needs a shoe orthodic. But it doesn't seem to me to be evidence of aging or beaking down.

Check out his April 2007. Fluke? Lucky? Or just a healthy Giambi? Remember when he was fitting for a 'boot' to help with the spur and how he had trouble jogging, no less running? Without a good foundation (hip, legs, feet) you can not hit effectively.

Even look at his May numbers. His OBP was .173 pts higher then his BA. Is this indicative of a guy who has lost his batting eye?

Giambi is now another year older. His best days are behind him. But over his last 2 healthy years, 2005 and 2006, he had an average OPS of .973.

I just think the rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated.

2008-02-11 06:46:48
37.   Simone
Just goes to show that Lupica earned the nickname "Gollum" fair and square. What an ass. Olsen is a pain in butt, but Lupica did about the same thing to Jason Whitlock on the Sports Reporters which I can barely watch thanks to his obnoxiousness. Because it can't be said enough about him, what an ass.
2008-02-11 07:08:40
38.   willdthrill
Hey Alex,

Without giving out the name, can you give us a hint as where you went for dinner so we can all try and avoid the place?

2008-02-11 07:18:15
39.   willdthrill
Wow, I just read the piece on Lupica... I use to think Lupica was hot-sh*t when I was in high school because of the way he wrote. But after reading his stuff after I came home from college, I realized that 98% of the columns he writes are basically the same thing. There's never any real insight or anything new to his columns, just schmaltzy sentimentality or insufferable moral righteousness. His Shooting From The Lip Sunday columns use to be a must-read when I was 16, now I find it annoying because I have to waste energy to flip it over to get to the other articles. If the News was smart, they'd get some more ambitious writers onto their staff. Guys like Alex, Cliff and other bloggers brings more to the table and are the reason why the newspaper industry is being eclipsed.
2008-02-11 09:26:48
40.   Schteeve
36 I agree, I think when he's healthy, Giambi is still a huge part of our offensive attack. Yanks should do whatever possible to keep him on the field, including giving him Brian McNamee's cell number.
2008-02-11 11:23:04
41.   JL25and3
OYF, I'm with you in thinking that Giambi's bat would add considerably more than his defense would take away. I'd like to see him play a lot of first base...but there are a couple of hitches.

This last time he didn't just have bone spurs, he had plantar fasciitis. I could be wrong, but I think that playing the field regularly will mean a grater risk of reinjury.

Second, I'm concerned about his platoon splits. They've always been there, but for most of his career that still made him a very good hitter against lefties (a monster against righties). Admittedly, last year was a small sample - 76 PA against lefties - and he had good power. But jeez, a .289 OBP??? That's positively Neifi!riffic.

2008-02-11 11:47:32
42.   OldYanksFan
"Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot. It is an overuse injury causing heel pain which may radiate forward into the foot. Plantar fasciitis can also be known as a heel spur although they are not strictly the same. A heel spur is a bony growth that occurs at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel bone (calcaneus). A heel spur can occur (with repetitive pulling of the plantar fascia) on a foot with no symptoms at all and a painful heel can have no heel spur present."

The extreme 'cure' for a bone spur is surgery to remove it, although it can be cured other ways. The cure for plantar fascia (no spur) is 'rest'. If it is a reoccuring condition then there maybe concerns. However, this is a somewhat common ailment, and I would hope that a multimillion dollar athlete with access to the best medical care, could deal with this. Time will tell.

Obviously, even a 'healthy' Giambi won't play every day. I will guess we see Lefties 20-25% of the time? Just about the right amount of time to rest Jason and put a RH'ed 1st baseman in. Duncan? Ensberg?

I'm surprise thsat people forget that during Jeter's MVP 2006, Giambi had a great year, and seemed to drive Jetes in everytime he got on base.

I remember, here at the Banter, there was a whole lot of: Giambino!!!!!!!
37 hrs/113 rbi/.253 .413 .558 .971
That's only 2 years ago. These numbers were much better then ARod 2006. He was a MAJOR part of our success.

2008-02-11 12:08:56
43.   ny2ca2dc
42 For sure. If the 2007 offense was driven by ARod & JoPo, 2006 was driven by Jeter & Giambi (Giambi at least until the last month or two, when he broke down and had the wrist problems).
2008-02-11 12:10:33
44.   Chyll Will
Neifi!(!) I wish they would make a commercial where the happily oblivious "hero" named Neifi! would make a series of blunders, and everyone would shake their heads in amusement or disgust and mutter, "Neifi!"... the object would be to find out why teams tolerate him and keep him on a major-league roster (like blackmail, everlasting Bud Lights, secret weapon, etc.)

The series of commercials would be called, "Neifi!riffic" (nod to JL) He would have a nemesis (Womack!) who does the same thing, but doesn't get the reactions and inexplicable chances Neifi! does to continue his blundering/non-production.

And the unseen hand/voice guiding Neifi!'s career would be Mario Mendoza, godfather of any statistic being named after a player.

Anyone else have some suggestions? >;)

2008-02-11 12:46:12
45.   JL25and3
44 I have a feeling that the Neifi! era might be over. Maybe teams are afraid that without amphetamines he might, y'know, suck.

As for why he stuck around so long, that's an easy one. He knows how to play the game. He can lay down a bunt when you need one, and he can give himself up to advance a runner. He saves, I don't know, 4 runs a game with his glove. He's got a great attitude, he comes to the park early and works his butt off. By now he's a veteran presence, and maybe he even takes the young kids under his wing.

What's the big mystery?

2008-02-11 12:46:22
46.   OldYanksFan
I have found who might have been the greatest Yankee prospect previous to Phil.
http://www.toursdirectory.com/baseball/rB.jpg
He was a number one over-all pick.
Any guesses folks?
Hoss, you should know this one.
2008-02-11 13:19:28
47.   Chyll Will
45 Ahh, that's exactly what the GM tells the owner in justifying such a move! Good method acting, JL >;)

...at any rate, tis' a better thing to discuss than such that has been in congress of fortnight past...

2008-02-11 13:30:05
48.   horace-clarke-era
On the topic we've agreed to, er not not-discuss ...

Heyman in SI.com goes after Clemens very hard this afternoon. I'm not going to engage with most of it, he's behind the curve a bit on the Canseco 1998 party, if he says 'Jose's all Roger has on this' as it looks as if there might be more (golf fees ... proving he wasn't there at certain times and apparently some announcers noting that Roger didn't go, on air). But Canseco's the source cited (from his book) for something I found weirdly compelling: that Vitamin B12 was code for steroids, especially among pitchers.

Oh.

2008-02-11 13:32:17
49.   JL25and3
46 Without looking, it's gotta be Brien Taylor. That's the only time in forever that the Yankees had the first overall pick.

But how about Ruben Rivera, who was touted as the best Yankee prospect since Mickey Mantle?

2008-02-11 13:42:44
50.   tommyl
48 I have to say that the Heyman article is horrendous journalism. Several of his "points" are so easily refutable that I was thinking of the answer to them before I finished the paragraph. For example, he says (paraphrasing) that McNamee had no reason at all to make up stories of injecting Clemens for Mitchell. That's just wrong, one big reason is that it was clear that the more and bigger names he gave up the better he'd be treated by prosecutors.

Another example is his discussion of the taped phone call. Heyman questions why Roger didn't just come out and bait him with something along the lines of "Why are you making it up that I took steroids?" When its been made very clear that that would be considered tampering of a federal witness.

I'm remaining agnostic as to Clemen's innocence or guilt, but shoddy reporting like this column should get someone fired. Its embarassing.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-02-11 13:45:06
51.   JL25and3
50 I generally like Heyman. I know I'm in the minority, but I've liked him since Newsday - and besides, he didn't like Gary Sheffield.

I also see no need to engage in the aprticulars, especially since it's a rehash of old news. The column is a reasonably good summary of one side of the argument - and the extreme version, at that. Everything is relentlessly slanted and spun; Heyman is so anti-Clemens on this that he's actually pro-McNamee. And that "bad set of facts" is almost all supposition and interpretation.

2008-02-11 13:47:36
52.   JL25and3
50 That's just wrong, one big reason is that it was clear that the more and bigger names he gave up the better he'd be treated by prosecutors.

I don't think that's clear at all. There's speculation about it, nothing more.

And Heyman's a columnist, so everything that's said is, by definition, his opinion.

2008-02-11 13:48:27
53.   OldYanksFan
49 No and Nope. Hint: His bat is in the HOF.
2008-02-11 13:51:15
54.   tommyl
52 There's been speculation about it, and maybe I was too extreme in using the word "clear" but to say you can't possibly imagine a reason for McNamee to lie about this is being pretty blind.

Ignoring the possible tampering with a federal witness issue is pretty bad with Heyman.

Heyman is pretty decent for information, but then every so often he writes one of those "Wins are all that matters for a pitcher columns" that make you want to hit things that this person is considered an authority in baseball journalism.

2008-02-11 13:52:54
55.   OldYanksFan
48 Hoss, tell everybody who that kid is in 46
2008-02-11 14:17:16
56.   JL25and3
55 OK, the picture was enough for me. That must have been the last #1 pick they had until Taylor (as well as being the first DH).

Be fair, though: Brien Taylor was still raw, but he was a hell of a prospect.

2008-02-11 14:19:48
57.   horace-clarke-era
48 Ron Blomberg.

The Father of All DHs. (That's why the bat's in the HOF.)

50 Agreed. I'd say his risk for improvising allegations is colossal, if truth gets him support at a sentencing and certain charges dropped and lies get the book thrown at him.

Cui bono (show-offy Latin for 'who benefits') is a fair question in any he says-he says, but it isn't always clear which way it goes.

Ask Boomer Blomberg?

2008-02-11 14:20:48
58.   JL25and3
54 He could have dismissed the counter-arguments as speculation, or even just started with "as far as we know." But I agree, pretending that there's no competing theory at all is a bit too blinkered.
2008-02-11 14:26:20
59.   Simone
Another Heyman defender here. He earned my like nailing Gary Sheffield on his lies. Heyman doesn't always get it right, but he has Clemens pegged right when it comes to McNamee. Clemens, his lawyers and defenders have gone all out to slander McNamee, but the undeniable fact is that the feds believe him and likely have corroborating evidence of Clemens and Pettitte's guilt. The idea that federal witnesses randomly lie and make up evidence is by and large a television invention.
2008-02-11 14:30:30
60.   JL25and3
59 No need to get into that one in any length. I think we've spent plenty of time there already.
2008-02-11 14:41:00
61.   tommyl
59 I agreed with his take on the Sheffield stuff, but I can't support him here. I know its a column and so his opinion, but he's showing such blatant bias and his refusal to even acknowledge counterarguments as well as spotty reasoning on his own arguments piss me off.

If some commenter had written those points here, that's one thing, but Heyman is a reporter for a major website and magazine. He has the obligation to do due diligence, not just write his ranting opinion on something without thinking it through.

I'm not making an argument for or against Clemens or anyone else here. The whole situation is a weird version of he-said, he said. I am taking issue with the writing. You may support the overall conclusion and his opinion, but you can't call his column well thought out or fairly written.

2008-02-11 14:41:49
62.   horace-clarke-era
60 Yup. Let's keep it light. Let's talk about ... Blomberg! The speed with which this can deteriorate (and will, for certain) is startling (not here, I'm talking elsewhere).

Gonna get worse before it ends.

2008-02-11 15:47:15
63.   JL25and3
62 A lot faster than Ron Blomberg, that's for sure.

Blomberg couldn't field, couldn't run, and couldn't stay healthy. But he sure could rake.

2008-02-11 16:37:14
64.   Zack
Is it Thursday yet?
2008-02-11 17:22:09
65.   Chyll Will
64 Go back to bed, Punxsutawney >;)
2008-02-11 17:28:32
66.   OldYanksFan
The prize goes to 56 and 57
http://ronblomberg.com/bio_stats.htm

I saw him play once. He was a hyper energetic kid, with a long, powerful LH swing built for Yankee stadium. He had a decent (abeit very abbreviated) career, but was injured very young. Only got in 6 years, and 300 ABs or less, every year.

It's a shame. The dude was fun.

2008-02-11 17:39:10
67.   RIYank
Has everyone been following the new John Rocker story? Now there's a believable character with plenty of moral capital.

Here's a feel-good Joba story to help recapture what the pre-Spring baseball feel is supposed to be like:

http://tinyurl.com/2ru8ea

2008-02-11 18:01:26
68.   OldYanksFan
A better flavor of dirt:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3241448

Former major league pitcher John Rocker said Monday that baseball commissioner Bud Selig knew he failed a drug test in 2000 and that doctors for the "league" and the "players association" advised him and several Texas Rangers teammates on how to effectively use steroids.

Rocker, no stranger to controversy, made those comments on Atlanta radio station Rock 100.5.

Later Monday, he told Atlanta sports talk radio station 680 The Fan that "between 40 to 50 percent of baseball players are on steroids" and "in 2000 Bud Selig knew John Rocker was taking the juice."

2008-02-11 18:17:31
69.   Simone
Pettitte Asks to Be Excused: http://tinyurl.com/2qscg7. Seems like the the Justice Dept. has found its corroborating witness if it decides to build a case against Clemens for perjury after his testimony this week.

Don't testify Roger, don't do it. Save yourself before it is too late.

2008-02-11 18:51:36
70.   horace-clarke-era
69 Yeah just saw this and no Knoblauch, no Radomski. Clemens, McNamee, and one of Mitchell's people.

But the body of the piece exposes how little we actually know here. Pettitte was excused because he was a bad witness and contradicted himself? Meaning what, exactly. And why is that a reason not to be asked questions under oath in public on a matter deemed (by Congress) to be of great importance?

Of course what he said in private IS under oath - which is why, Simone, Clemens can't stop now: perjury's in place if he lied, already. Amend that: if he can be shown to have lied.

I confess I don't get your spin on it ... you think they are keeping Pettitte as an 'ace in the hole'? To lure Clemens into lying first? Don't think so.

2008-02-11 19:39:23
71.   Max
Guys, please explain one thing to me...seriously. The dominant narrative throughout this whole soap opera is that McNamee couldn't be lying because he has no motivation to do so with the gun at his head, and Clemens is likely lying but is continuing with steadfast denials because he's the bullheaded Rocketman, headed for self-immolation, as he still aims to throw the high hard one at his opponent, facts and logic be damned.

Are Clemens and Hardin really that pigheaded that they would proceed down this path without a consideration of a more nuanced strategy? Have they really not considered how dire the worst case scenario is?

I am just confused by all the morality play talk, and I haven't seen enough discussion of the actual strategic options Roger and lawyers have weighed in pursuing the path they're on. I know there's a conscious strategy to discredit their accuser, but if Clemens really is guilty, and given the reality that many before him have already been caught, the bluster from his side of the fence seems really peculiar.

Unless, of course, he somehow is actually telling the truth. Or he's managed to convince himself (possible) and his lawyers (more odd) that he's telling the truth.

2008-02-11 20:14:03
72.   JL25and3
70 Pettitte was excused because he was a bad witness and contradicted himself I must be missing something. Where did it say that?

"A congressional staff member and several other people familiar with the case said that Pettitte did not want to have to testify publicly, on national television, against Clemens and, in essence, repeat what he had already said about him in the deposition...

"...since then many people involved in the case say they think he gave testimony that could hurt Clemens."

That second quote seems like it's backtracking considerably, unless they're different sources. The Times generally does have pretty good sources, though.

2008-02-11 20:19:12
73.   Max
72 I thought the note about Pettite contradicting himself came from an ESPN report on the same subject.
2008-02-11 20:35:31
74.   JL25and3
73 Gotcha. Those are two pretty completely contradictory stories.

I find the ESPN story a bit more counterintuitive. It seems to me that Pettitte, swearing to God, would be a truth-telling machine. On the other hand, my intuition counts for exactly nothing, and my knowledge of Andy Pettitte's character doesn't run real deep.

2008-02-11 20:46:48
75.   williamnyy23
48 Interesting...I take a break from posting and the conversation still manages to end up on Clemens and McNamee, prompted no less by the very ones coming down on me for discussing it the other day. So, I guess I am not solely to blame for beating this dead horse :)

Instead of rehashing the same debate, I'll turn the light on Heyman. I am fairly certain that John Heyman is a friend of Brian McNamee. For years, Heyman has scored exclusives from McNamee, most recently including his live interview while they watched 60 minutes together. Heyman has been very vocal defending McNamee and trashing Clemens, divorcing himself from objectivity to advance his agenda. I've actually had an interesting email exchange with Heyman on this topic...who knows, maybe I'll start my own blog with those emails being the topic of my first post :) Kidding aside, Heyman's tone is a little surprising (the way he so easily dismisses the alleged rape victim), and his writing ability/reasoning skills seem lacking. The SI editors must work really hard.

2008-02-11 20:50:13
76.   JL25and3
75 You're right. Thank goodness I've already made my mea culpas.

The Heyman article was a rehash, and didn't take much work here to dismiss. This new story...well, that's certainly not same old same old. Best I can say is that I'm trying to keep it short.

2008-02-11 20:53:46
77.   williamnyy23
68 I wonder how Selig likes uncorroborated allegations?

70 I know many people have looked to Pettitte the smoking gun, but would Roger Clemens really be so forward in his position if he thought Pettitte could potentially contradict him? I'd find it hard to believe that Clemens would maintain his innocence and then have to cross his fingers on Pettitte's testimony. That would take russian roulette-like courage (or stupidity).

Another possible explanation is that Pettitte simply was not a good witness and wouldn't have added anything to the proceedings. Because he likely admitted his wrong doing, I am sure the committee had no desire to see him embarass himself. What's more, as you mentioned, Congress still has Pettitte on the record, so if he did say anything useful, they can return to it when needed.

2008-02-11 20:57:16
78.   williamnyy23
71 The problem I have with most pundits is that they have completely eliminated the possibility that Clemens is telling the truth. Even if you believe McNamee, I don't see how anyone could argue that a significant amount of reasonable doubts remains. Instead, the Lupicas, Heymans, et al. of the world have pretty much made this seem like a slam dunk case. While I personally think Clemens didn't take PEDs, I would be foolish to ignore the possibility that he did. I just happen to think there isn't enough evidence to condemn him. I realize many in the media love to condemn by pen, but can't they at least wait until Wednesday before drawing up the perjury indictment?
2008-02-11 21:00:45
79.   williamnyy23
78 "a significant amount of reasonable doubt doesn't remain"
2008-02-11 21:11:18
80.   Max
77 Russian roulette courage sums it up perfectly. I know the media has pretty much convicted Clemens from the get-go, but I find it weird that Hardin is puffing his chest the way he is, given the circumstances and the potential consequences.

I'm keeping an open mind about everything. My gut tells me Clemens took PEDs (not on the basis of available evidence, just simply intuition based on the climate in 2000 and 2001), but the way the media narrative has unfolded so one-sidedly, and given the full frontal counter-assault by Clemens, I'm just confused.

And through all this, I remain convinced that the saint-like treatment of Mitchell and his report are completely unwarranted, regardless of the specifics of who gets nailed and who doesn't in the short term. Every time I read another interview with the likes of Radomski, McNamee, or even John Rocker, I throw up in my mouth a little more at how little has really been accomplished for so much money and time invested to date.

2008-02-11 21:15:40
81.   Emma Span
Wow, the Times and ESPN were definitely talking to different people tonight... guess we'll find out Wednesday who has better sources, eh?

I'll stay out of the broader debate here, but 75 william, I'd be really curious to know what Heyman said about the Florida rape victim -- if there's more to that story I'd definitely like to hear it. Unless you mean he was just generally callous about it?

2008-02-11 21:58:10
82.   OldYanksFan
75 I may be wrong, but I read something where Heyman didn't just 'dismiss' the rape issue, but outright said it was found that the woman was lying. I have never heard anything to that effect, and it seems to me this was an outright lie by Heyman.

Here's what Newsday said:
According to the AP, McNamee was having sex with the woman in the hotel pool and would not stop when confronted by security. When police arrived, McNamee had already helped the woman to get out of the pool and dress. The woman was taken to a hospital and found to have GHB - the so-called date-rape drug - in her system. According to documents, the woman told detectives she could not remember what happened in the pool, but that she did not give McNamee permission to have sex with her. Witnesses told detectives they heard her saying "no," according to documents.

McNamee was interviewed hours later. He denied having sex with the woman. He also would not submit a saliva sample for DNA analysis.

Here's the post:
Police said Brian McNamee denied having sex with a possibly drugged woman in a hotel pool, even though security guards and other witnesses said they saw him.

McNamee hired a New York attorney, who called detectives to arrange an interview.

"I explained to him that his client did talk with me once, and he lied to me," St. Petersburg Police Detective Donald Crotty wrote in a report.

From an ESPN article:
Despite his efforts to branch out, McNamee kept a low profile until October of 2001, when he was suddenly in the New York tabloids. According to police reports, an employee of a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel where the Yankees were staying had noticed a man and a woman apparently having sex in the hotel pool, while another man looked on from a few feet away. All three were naked in the pool. One of the men, Charles Wonsowicz, the former St. John's pitcher who was now the Yankees' video technician, left immediately when confronted by the employee. The other, McNamee, continued to hold on to the woman until the hotel employee asked him to leave again, according to police documents.

"You mean now?" he said. McNamee got out of the pool, leaving behind the woman, who witnesses said appeared "out of it." She said to the hotel employee, "Help me," and then McNamee pulled her out of the pool and tried to put clothes back on her.

Employees called police, and an ambulance also arrived. It turned out the woman had ingested a near fatal dose of GHB, a powerful drug used by bodybuilders, teenage "ravers" and date rapists — who have used it to incapacitate victims. A bottle of the GHB was found on the pool deck.

Police investigated the incident as a rape and questioned McNamee the next morning.

The report of Detective Don Crotty, who questioned McNamee, cites McNamee as lying several times during the questioning: about where he first met the woman, saying it was the hotel lobby rather than another bar, as other witnesses said; and about his whereabouts over the course of the night. McNamee didn't mention that he was with the woman with several other Yankees players in Chuck Knoblauch's room. He denied to police that he even knew Wonsowicz, his college teammate and fellow Yankees employee. He said Wonsowicz looked familiar, and he might be a "green fly," ballplayer slang for a hanger-on who looks for autographs.

2008-02-11 23:05:57
83.   Zack
65 Yawn...Wha? Who? Just ten more minutes, I swear...

I've been generally disinterested in most of the off season "news" so have been staying away from it. At least the predictable and contentless fluff pieces that will start pouring on come Thursday will feature some baseball pictures! That should get my drive back up again...

2008-02-12 07:10:22
84.   horace-clarke-era
I've been thinking about 80 and 'the media has convicted Clemens' ... I'm not sure it is true, as such, but certainly a large-sized segment of it has. I think this ties to larger issues that include Amy Winehouse and Britney and Lindsay ... the current preoccupation with bringing down the celebrated.

In this way, being famous - as has happened before - helps Roger (starstruck congressman begging autographs) and hurts him. There's also a number of comments now surfacing that being white helps him, too ... one journalist querying why we got so many before and after photos of Barry, and none of Roger. This just adds to how depressing all this has become.

But in THIS context - drugs in sport - a piece I read this morning had a line that captures it for me: sport fans have grown accustomed to being lied to.

I think this nails it, and why the 'usual' presumption of innocence, side with the hero against the scumbag accuser is being flipped. Sport fans are TIRED of being played for suckers. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Could a single superstar with stat boosts (big time) late in his 30s do it just with exercise? Sure. Tell me it happened in 1998-2002, trot out distorted (and proved to be distorted) stats to back your story up ... sorry. Don't fool me twice (or ten times).

2008-02-12 10:07:30
85.   williamnyy23
81 Basically, he repeatedly implied that the women "lied" and couldn't be a victim because no charges were brought. The obvious insensitivity on the latter point was somewhat surprising because the news often presents cases of perpetrators going uncharged. My bigger objection, however, was with his repeated insistence in writing and interviews that the woman lied. His implication was that she had lied about the allegation, but when I asked him for proof, he pointed to a recent article claiming she had lied to police about an affair she was having with another man. While I'd admit any lie could lessen a witness' credibility, suggesting that a woman's attempt to hide an affair disqualifies her from credibility as an alleged rape victim is a bold accusation.

In my emails and his writings, Heyman comes off as a man defending a friend. It's one thing to have a strong opinion, but another to be advancing an agenda. I think Heyman's conduct on this issue has been ethically deplorable.

2008-02-12 10:12:14
86.   williamnyy23
84 I am not going to get into the race issue, but the before/after issue is a red herring. The reason Bonds gets before and after photos is because he looks like he could model for a body building magazine. Bonds' physique is chisseled. Clemens, while big and strong, doesn't come close to resembling that type of body.
2008-02-12 10:20:06
87.   williamnyy23
84 As for "distorted stats" charge, I don't see that at all. Basically, Hardin's point was that if Schilling, RJ and Ryan could maintain their performance late in their careers, then why not Clemens? The NYT editorial rebuttals were foolish for comparing Clemens to a more general sample because no one in their right mind would suggest that Clemens is a general pitcher.
2008-02-12 11:26:08
88.   horace-clarke-era
86 william, my man ... I'm sorry this so often seems to be the two of us disagreeing. The piece I referenced DID show a before and after for Roger and, frankly, all you have to do is take Roger in a similar year as Barry, earlier in career, and then take him in same year as Barry in 2002 or so, and the body shift is just about as obvious. I don't think you can say it is just that Barry got 'chiseled' nor can we say Roger worked hard ... because Bonds was as legendary for his workouts.

Now, all athletes get bigger ... DJ's bulkier than when he came up, Bernie was a gazelle in his youth ... but it is just wrong to make this turn on 'chiseled' ... McGwire was never chiseled, man. As far as I'm concerned, I dislike the argument too, and I even noted weeks ago that Roger might possibly SUFFER as the government would need to show 'correctness' in not just chasing Bonds and Tejada.

The stat issue? Again I think you are missing the point: Roger's lawyers rolled out a THREE PITCHER comparison to make an argument (his stats got better along with those three ... more or less). Three academic statisticians - without an agenda here - took exception to this as a 'proof' and did the numbers more widely. They specifically said that the new numbers did not PROVE Clemens used drugs, but that the charts from his lawyers could not, in science, be used to show the contrary. The 'distorted stats' bit is them, not me. Nor is it NY Times, which just picked up on their data. (Have you even seen it? I need to go learn how to do tinyurls!)

2008-02-12 11:30:37
89.   horace-clarke-era
87 william, try this one, though there are others

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=3239884

2008-02-12 11:54:27
90.   williamnyy23
88 If you are referring to Jason Whitlock's article, I don't think either comparison says anything other than men get bigger as they get older. To me, at least, visual evidence of steroid use would stem from the actual size of specific muscles. In that respect, Bonds and Clemens do not have similar body types. I am not, however, drawing any conclusions from that, but pointing out why more people would focus on Bonds with before and after photos.

RE: Stats
First off, I am not sure you can simply say "three statisticians without an agenda". At the very least, their agenda may have been to have their names splashed across the national media, and the best way to do that is to refute the Clemens Report (I actually heard one of the authors on a sports talk show last night).

Secondly, the Clemens Report doesn't claim that it refutes the notion Clemens took PEDs. What it does refute is the notion that the only way Clemens could have had his career path was by taking PEDs.

I have read the article, by the way(http://tinyurl.com/yq7gy8). Here are the parts I find particularly flawed.

1) By comparing Clemens only to those who were successful in the second act of their careers, rather than to all pitchers who had a similarly successful first act, the report artificially minimizes the chances that Clemens's numbers will seem unusual. Statisticians call this problem selection bias.

Artificial minimization? What the report is doing is stating that unless you start with the premise that Ryan, RJ and Schilling did steroids, you can't logically conlude that Clemens did too.

2)Clemens follows a far different path. The arc of Clemens's career is upside down: his performance declines as he enters his late 20s and improves into his mid-30s and 40s.

This assertion is flat out WRONG! At age 27, Clemens has his breakout 213 ERA+ campaign, but he follows it up with years of 164 and 175 (in many more innings, which makes those seasons almost as valuable than his 213 campaign). From age 30-on, Clemens had alternating periods of being great, very good and above average. There is no age-related pattern as the authors suggest. Why did this miss this? The authors apparently have never heard of league and park effects, I presume.

3) Because E.R.A. can be so unreliable, analysts prefer to look at basic building blocks of talent like strikeout, walk, hit and home run rates. Clemens's walks-plus-hits rate, for instance, follows an even more unusual trajectory late in his career, one that raises some suspicion.

Oh yeah? What's the suspicion? And, if, as the Clemens Report shows, those paths are similar to other great pitchers, does it raise suspicion for them too?

4) Other measures suggest Clemens performed similarly to his contemporaries. But these comparisons do not provide evidence of his innocence; they simply fail to provide evidence of his guilt.

That's the point! The CR report never even mentions HGH or steroids, much less suggest that statistics provide conclusive proof Clemens never took them. Instead, they present a case to refute the notion that the only way Clemens could achieve his success was through suspicious means.

5) A careful analysis, and a better informed public, are the best defense against such smoke and mirrors.

The academics are guilty of the very same thing they accuse of Clemens. Instead of taking the RC report on its face, they created strawman conclusions that were easily debunked. Talk about a magician's trick.

2008-02-12 11:58:59
91.   williamnyy23
Also, back to my point about irresponsible journalism.

This morning Newsday ran a story that pretty much had Rep. Davis claim that Pettitte had supported McNamee fully. This afternoon, however, Davis has released a statement saying he was misquoted and misunderstood in the article.

Again, why the rush to judgment when the facts will be revealed tomorrow?

2008-02-12 12:22:22
92.   horace-clarke-era
william, I give up. Really do. Do you enjoy argument for argument? You would really and truly defend a lawyer-produced, agenda-driven 3 pitcher set of stats against 4 (I had it wrong, it isn't 3) non-aligned professionals in the field, by saying 'they may have wanted their names splashed across the national media'? THAT would be a good, smart career move, voluntarily wade in, conjure flawed, unprofessional, 'easily debunked' numbers and so show your street cred! Jeez, william...

See any rival academics tearing them down?

But okay. You outlast me. I flee the field, bemused. Those more reckless than I, and with more time and patience, can engage on this one.

2008-02-12 12:27:23
93.   williamnyy23
92 I am sorry. I didn't realize academics were above seeking notoriety. Do you disagree with any of the specific points I raised, or is just more convenient to ignore them? It's one thing to not be interested in this issue, but another to post repeatedly on it and then pretend to take a "higher road".
2008-02-12 13:42:21
94.   horace-clarke-era
william, you DO like to rumble. In don't. Prefer to debate and discuss when it feels like it might get somewhere. As JL said a few days ago (or was it just yesterday?) this has stopped feeling like it. But it would feel rude to ignore your query ...

A few days ago I was put off by what felt to be fairly sleazy ad hominem stuff related to the Florida date rape. I came back in because OYF (I think it was him) noted that it was a quiet season (almost over) and this WAS a real issue ... and because I still have a vague feeling that to not debate and discuss the steroid issue is to contribute to avoidance strategies.

But on this one (not on the whole discussion) you felt so far off it caused me to say I'd leave it. You say now (and draw me back in) "I didn't realize academics were above seeking notoriety."

Not only is this a fake argument (who would say they were, collectively?) but it is ALSO ad hominem: in the absence of any indication (Other than your note that one of them got interviewed. His mother must be so proud!) of bias or agenda you now CONJURE one.

This was beneath debate, william. So I backed off.

I am NOT a stat man (are you?) so wasn't going to try to battle you on statistical theory. For me, a curve involving 31 peers will have more weight than one tapered to three. For me:

"Statistics provide powerful tools for understanding the world around us, but the value of any analysis invariably comes down to choosing a useful statistic and an appropriate comparison group. Statisticians-for-hire have a tendency to choose comparison groups that support their clients."

(that's the quote just BEFORE the one you use)

Are you really going to defend the Clemens' lawyer stat pack as inherently neutral or objective in its parameters? Argue that critiquing it with a larger set of players implies ... a publicity seeking agenda?

It feels to me (and felt first time around) like smokescreen bullying to say 'academics may have agendas' when none are shown or manifest, as against the idea that lawyers with a client at risk WILL have an agenda. By definition they do.

I am not going to tackle the single season analysis of his career. The curves shown in the article you reference DO spin away from his peers. They are careful to say this does not prove drugs, they say this is more useful data than a selected 3-pack of peers.

You ask about the word 'suspicion' ...

Question, real one: do you have no suspicion of Roger Clemens' career? Not beyond a doubt, not 'made up your mind' just suspicion based on career trajectory and the timing of it (1998+). Park effects aside, of course!

I'll debate other aspects of this story again, there will be a lot tomorrow, obviously, but not this one any more. I am not 'pretending to a high road', I was dismayed at the cad hominem attack by way of 'notoriety seeking' academics. Those stick their faces in media chasers! How dare they challenge the Nolan/Kurt/Randy trinity! Cut off their tenure.

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