Pointing out that, once upon a time, I made fun of Steve Henson for posting a list of contracts so bad that they couldn’t possibly be traded. By "once upon a time," I really mean "last season." And how did Steve-o do? Well, of the eleven players he named as completely untradeable albatrosses, two of them (Carl Crawford and #1 pick Vernon Wells) were successfully traded, one (Alfonso Soriano) would have been except that he invoked his no-trade clause to block it, and one of them (Jason Bay) was released and then picked up off of waivers. So good job identifying players who couldn’t possibly be moved, Steve!
Time for ol’ reliable Les Carpenter to write a moody A-Rod article, I mean.
For his first public moment in a Yankees uniform since the playoff disaster, Alex Rodriguez was told to stand in a doorway on Monday morning. He stepped from the Yankees clubhouse less than 1½ hours before his team’s first game and walked not toward the blue backdrop with the team logo attached to the wall for the purpose of impromptu news conferences, but instead to a spot pointed out to him near the clubhouse door.
In all seriousness: is this the first time you’ve seen this? Because it’s not very uncommon.
Perhaps the Yankees were saving him the inglorious symbolism of being pressed against a wall as he was grilled about his bad hip, his disappearance over these past few months while recovering from surgery or why his name showed up on the records of a Miami lab in possible violation of baseball’s rules on performance-enhancing drugs.
Or perhaps they were following the same procedure they always follow when they want an interview to seem "informal."
Or maybe the Yankees wanted to keep him away from anything that identified him as a part of the team, aside from the cap he wore on his head.
Well, sure, aside from that little detail, there’d be nothing to connect him to the team at all! Les Carpenter, you mad idiot genius, you’ve solved all of baseball forever.
And as A-Rod has been for much of his professional baseball life, he tried to smile his way through the questions he didn’t want to answer, speaking in the vague Miss America platitudes that always dodge the more serious subjects at hand.
Can you believe the nerve of this A-Rod asshole? Nobody else does that.
Like when he was asked if he had heard reports the Yankees are looking for ways to void the rest of the $275 million contract he signed in 2007: "I don’t want to focus on that, I want to focus on this glorious opening day."
Asshole. Head-case. Cancer-y clubhouse-cancering cancer man.
Or if he knew what the players’ association was doing on his behalf as the league investigates his linked name in the Miami New Times report about the Biogenesis lab: "Well, I’m not going to comment."
Dammit, Alex! Here are things that do not matter:
- Your privacy
- Union rules
- The fact that anything you say about this — like, literally anything at all — could potentially get you dragged in front of the fucking congress so they can try to gin up some phony excuse to throw you in jail and then fail at it and look like the bunch of useless apes they are
Now sack up and feed the vultures some meat.
Or if he worried that commissioner Bud Selig might suspend him: "No, I’m not going to further discuss this, but at some point it will be all good."
I guess stupid people — such as Les Carpenter — expected A-Rod to start a flame war with the commish on opening goddamn day. A war that wouldn’t do much to improve his chances of not getting suspended.
Also, here’s a funny thing. You know who’s very, very famous for saying absolutely nothing to questions like this? I’ll give you a hint: the first letter of his name is "Derek Jeter." In fact, I have it from a reliable source — this absurd Jeter hagiography — that Jeter’s reaction to the messes A-Rod used to make in the press was "Why can’t you just get this shit right? It’s easy. Don’t say anything. Say what I say, which is nothing." And A-Rod has finally learned this. So take it up with Jeter, Les! He’ll destroy you.
In his 20th season as a major leaguer, Rodriguez is more elusive and more unwanted than ever.
Do you mean "Rodriguez is on the DL?" Since, hey, the Yankees replaced him yesterday with Jayson Nix, who struck out twice in two PA, and then got replaced with Lyle Overbay, who I honestly didn’t know still played baseball, and who flew out twice. That’s the production they got out of the spot A-Rod would be filling, but never mind that. They just don’t want him clogging up the third basepath.
Oh, and the four-run fourth the Red Sox put together? It involved the following things:
- Line drive to weak 3B, Saltalamacchia to third
- Ground ball to weak 3B, Saltalamacchia scores, Gomes to 3B, Bradley to 2B
- Ground ball through SS-3B hole, Bradley scores, Iglesias scores, Ellsbury to 2B
Nobody wants you, A-Rod. Looks like the Yankees are doing just great at 3B! Also, you being hurt forced the Yankees to trade for Vernon Wells, which is goddamn hilarious.
His appearance at the Stadium seemed almost ghostly.
I think we all know which ghost you’re thinking of.
He did not hang out in the clubhouse before batting practice, instead asking a clubhouse attendant to scurry to his locker, pull his uniform off a shelf and take it to him in the trainers room.
He did not come out to the field while his teammates hit. He did not banter with anybody or make any real show to the fans before the game that he had any connection to a team that seems to be lukewarm, at best, about him.
A-Rod has never, never, never bantered with anybody. The most consistent criticism of A-Rod for his entire career has been that he’s weirdly aloof. Like the one fucking time A-Rod has ever done anything silly or spontaneous was when he photobombed the Derek Jeter interview after the 2009 World Series, and the press gave him zero end of shit for how "disrespectful" that was. The man literally cannot win with you hacks.
When asked if he would be introduced before the game, he snapped: "I don’t need to be introduced to feel a part of this team."
Pressed further, he smiled.
"I’ll tell you what, when I get introduced I want to be on the field [as an active player]," he said.
Well, in all fairness, A-Rod, the Yankees have like six thousand injured players right now, and I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who wasn’t introduced before this game.
He wasn’t the only injured Yankee to not be introduced on Monday. Derek Jeter remains in Tampa as he rehabilitates from surgery on a broken ankle.
Whoops missus! I guess tomorrow Les will write an article about how much the Yankees hate Jeter.
But somehow if Jeter were in Yankee Stadium on Monday he would have been introduced.
We’re doing science now, right?
Mostly A-Rod seems to disappear into a crevice that isn’t really the Yankees and isn’t really not.
I gotta level with you, Les: that doesn’t make any fucking sense. I mean I seriously don’t have clue one what that means. In what way are the Yankees a "crevice?" Are you calling them assholes? Derek Jeter will destroy you. Again, I mean.
He spoke optimistically about his recovery, saying he believes he can come back a level that is "very high." He said he was relieved to learn of the tear in his hip after the season because it explained his drop-off in play. And he suggested that maybe he should have had the hip looked at during last season and not after.
"Hindsight is 20-20," he said. "If I would have, we wouldn’t have had the very tough ending to last season. Live and learn."
Head-case. Why won’t you take responsibility??
He was not clear as to who "we" were. Did he mean himself? Did he mean the organization that appears to be holding him at great distance with a pair of tongs, lest his presence further stain an already challenging spring?
Um. Les? "We," in this context, refers to the New York Yankees, a baseball team you may have heard of. He means that they got erased from the ALCS last year after scoring a grand total of six runs, and that his own performance was so poor — which it was — that his crazy insane manager eventually replaced him with the worn-out moldering corpse of dead infielder Eric Chavez, who did nothing good. What he’s saying is that, perhaps if he were healthy, he’d have been useful in that series, the team wouldn’t have resorted to necromantic rites, and then their names would not have been smudged out of the Book of Life. It would be great if you’d learn to understand words and I didn’t have to explain this to you.
Also, if you learned the English language, perhaps you wouldn’t write paragraphs like that. "Lest his presence further stain an already challenging spring?" Holy shit, Les, purple this down about 80%, would you?
"Just his being here is good for us," reliever Mariano Rivera said before the game.
What? How’d that get in here? Dammit. How can I spin this to sound like a stinging condemnation?
If only it seemed the Yankees felt that way.
Aha! Check and mate, Mariano goddamn Rivera. Cut fastball your way out of this trap… if you can!
Rodriguez spoke for just four minutes on Monday before he disappeared behind the double doors of the clubhouse that is his but in a way not.
Hate to be "that guy," Les, but even if you had enough punctuation in that sentence — and you really, really don’t — it would still be garbage. Or, as they say in Germany: das garbage.
It was likely a one-day appearance, a ceremonial visit to hold a place for some undetermined return to an organization that almost seems to wish he’d never come back.
Yeah, because this organisation really really wants to spend $230 million on player payroll for this year and then send out Jayson Nix for 162 games to hit his career averages of .213 / .284 / .370 while playing replacement-level defense. Stay the fuck away, A-Rod! Fun fact: last year was A-Rod’s very very worst season in his career. He played the whole year with a torn labrum, and was only worth 2.3 WAR. Jayson Nix has been worth 2.7 WAR total in his entire career.
Outside on the field, during the pregame ceremonies A-Rod skipped, Lou Pinella, his first manager in the big leagues, threw out the first pitch. It was a reminder of the early days when Rodriguez was young and hitting more than 40 home runs a year in Seattle. He was loved unconditionally there. And it might have been the best home he ever had, until he left it to chase greater riches.
I seem to recall A-Rod won a few MVPs and a World Series in New York. Am I just making that up? Did that not happen? Seems like it hasn’t been all sad-sackery and Mexican hip rot since he came to the Yankees.
Also, I love the part where you say "it might have been the best home he ever had, until he left it to chase greater riches." Read that real close, Les, and tell me what you’ve done wrong.
Eventually, he came here, to the Yankees, to a team that pays him well but also shrugged when he finally returned so say hello on Monday morning.
Proofread, Les. Honestly. Also, this is the last line of the article. What? That’s not an ending, Les, that’s just a stopping. If you’re going to go with that, you should probably add one more line that says "and that’s what I did on my summer vacation, by Les Carpenter, age 8."
Just because I feel like a huge penis right now, I’ll call your attention to this article, for which I researched the following point in order to rebut the stupid, senseless baseball salary cap argument:
"Perhaps 12 of 30 Major League teams have any possibility of reaching postseason play, and fewer still have a realistic hope of winning a pennant. Unless baseball changes the way it does business, it risks seeing its fans drift away, tired of their teams’ futility." San Diego Padres owner John Moores said that in 1999, a year after, rather hilariously, his team went to the World Series. But, comedy hypocrisy aside, is Moores right? Is it really only 12 of 30 teams? Well, to find out, let’s take a look at how many teams have been to the postseason since 1999.
It’s 25. Twenty-five fucking teams. The only teams that haven’t made it to the playoffs? The Orioles, the Royals, the Nationals, the Reds, and the Pirates. What do those teams all have in common? That’s right: extremely shitty management. So, in a nutshell, every team can make the playoffs, except those teams run by gibbons. So fuck the Yankees, amirite?
Just as a quick note: in the three years since I wrote those hi-larious zingers in which I compare several highly-paid baseball executives unflatteringly with monkeys, three of those teams have made the playoffs. Honest-to-god, it is now only the Royals and the Pirates that have not made the playoffs this century.
So clearly baseball needs intervention to fix its lack of fairness oook oook eeek eeek banana.
And is still a moron. Here are two lines from this article that I swear ran back-to-back like this in the original:
Colletti was reportedly praised by the Dodgers new ownership group after pulling off a nine-player blockbuster trade that included bringing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, starting pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford over from the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers are 7-12 since the trade but are still in the National League wild card chase.
Great job, Ned!
Colletti has also signed outfielder Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160-million contract extension and traded for shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and pitcher Joe Blanton, and extended outfielder Andre Ethier’s contract.
Hanley was a pretty good pick, and Ethier’s awesome, but Kemp’s only played 89 games this year due to injuries, Victorino’s gone .247 / .314 / .329 for a whacking great 79 OPS+ since the trade, and Blanton’s thrown 40 innings of 61 ERA+ ball and cost the Dodgers half a win. So, really. Great work, Ned!
My old buddy Steve Henson has come out with a pretty awful article about terrible contracts. It’s so awful that I think I’ll even be roused from my sacred Odin-sleep to pillory it! I hope I remember how to do this; it’s been a while.
Worst MLB contracts are obvious when players can’t be moved through waivers or a trade
Well, no, not really, Steve. That’s just a sign that the contracts are really really big. To take an example, the Red Sox put Manny Ramirez on waivers back in 2006. Nobody claimed him. Now, Manny Ramirez’s contract was very, very large, but he also did this in 2006: .321 / .439 / .619 / 1.058. He was paid $18 million for that, but it was also worth about four and a half wins. That’s pretty much spot-on money for that production.
Long story short: we haven’t even gotten past the title of this article, and Steve’s already making a fool of himself.
Waivers remind us of the most ridiculous contracts because the murky process is a lot like big fish languidly swimming far beneath the surface of the ocean. Big fish that aren’t good eating.
What the hell, Steve? That makes absolutely no sense.
Players placed on waivers – which are supposed to be kept secret – often have bloated contracts no other team is willing to take on. Once a player is ignored by every team, known as passing through waivers, he can be dealt just like before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Remember the title of your article, Steve? It was "Worst MLB contracts are obvious when players can’t be moved through waivers or a trade." And here you are talking about how these players are being put on waivers so… they can be traded. You’re doing well.
Once in a while a player with a huge contract is claimed, as the Dodgers did with Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee on Friday. The Dodgers had to be willing to take on the $110 million or so Lee is owed through 2016 if the Phillies consented. As it happened, the Phillies did no such thing, mostly because they simply can’t reconcile that their much-hullaballood signing of Lee 18 months ago was irrational overspending.
What? No, the Phillies pulled him back because they have no intention of letting a pitcher that good go if they don’t get anything in return. Remember what you were just saying? How, if he clears waivers, they can try to trade him? That’s what they were doing, numbnuts. And the Dodgers claimed him mainly to make sure he wouldn’t get traded to the Giants.
Overspending, of course, occurs every year, and players with ridiculous price tags flow through waivers, drawing nothing more than laughs from general managers around baseball. Here are 11 players so wildly overpaid they can’t be given away, worst first:
You ready to hear about some players Steve honestly thinks couldn’t be given away? It’s an insane list. Let’s do this.
1. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels; signed through 2014, owed $48 million
Well, it’s insane after this one, anyhow.
Trading for Wells before the 2011 season was unfathomably stupid. The Angels gave the Blue Jays Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera and got back an $84 million albatross.
That trade was hilarious, as I believe I said at the time. Though I feel compelled to point out that the trade did occur, which might not be something you want to acknowledge right here at the top of your list of players so bad they can’t be traded.
Wells’ last base hit came in May and he’s hit .219 with a .250 OBP as an Angel. He’s useless.
I hate you a lot, Steve. You’re about to make me defend Vernon Wells. Sure, Wells is pretty terrible, but a lot of the fault here lies with the Angels for pushing him into left field. As a CF, Wells still ain’t great, but you could do a lot worse. I mean, the Angels are paying him almost $30M, which is really really funny, but he’s not useless.
2. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins; signed through 2018, owed $145 million
I do not believe for one moment that the Twinkies would have difficulty trading Mauer.
Everybody rejoiced when the parsimonious Twins sprung for an eight-year, $184 million deal for hometown favorite Mauer before the 2011 season. Wonderful has already been whittled to what-in-the-world? He plays catcher only half the time and doesn’t hit with power. He’ll remain a .320 hitter for a few years, but that’s not enough for $23 million a year, more than 20 percent of the Twins’ payroll.
Joe Mauer’s career OBP is .404. That’s really, really good. For comparison, Albert Pujols’ is .416, and Albert Pujols plays catcher only none of the time. Joe Mauer’s bat is easily worth the money the Twinkies are paying him if he can stay healthy, which is, of course, the rub.
Here is a brief list of teams that would trade for Joe Mauer:
3. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals; signed through 2017, owed $105 million
This deal wouldn’t be half as bad as it is if the Nationals hadn’t signed like sixteen other outfielders at the same time.
The Nats admitted they overpaid for Werth when they handed him $127 million over seven years on the first day of the 2010 Winter Meetings. They wanted to show that they were serious about winning, and Werth was the first piece in what is now a strong team. But the contract will make him all but untradeable, especially since he’s already 33 years old.
He’s also currently hitting .291 / .400 / .436 / .836. His power’s off a bit, but come on, that’s still a 127 OPS+. Nobody would trade for that? Have you seen the crap outfielders some contending teams are running with right now?
4. Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox; signed through 2017, owed $109 million
Now you’re just being weird. Yeah, Crawford had a bad year last year; so did Adam Dunn, who I notice is not on this list. Care to guess if that’s because Dunn’s rebounded? Crawford, instead, got hurt. But in the limited playing time he’s had this year, he’s looked like his old self.
He’s the new Alfonso Soriano, and the Red Sox had better hope he’s not the new Vernon Wells.
It’s looking like the Cubbies might move Soriano pretty soon. And Wells was traded in the mythical, far-off days of last year. So great comparisons for illustrating how untradable this guy is, clown.
Crawford’s steep drop in production since signing a seven-year, $142 million deal before the 2011 season is one of baseball’s biggest mysteries. He’s gone from a perennial .300 hitter to a .250 hitter and the look on his face is one of bewilderment.
Just like Adam Dunn, right? Who is presently hitting .207 / .346 / .489 / .835 and leading the Majors in walks and home runs? I’m guessing the clinging-desperately-to-first-place White Sox aren’t looking to trade that guy, but do you think they’d have trouble if they were? Dudes have off-years, Steve. Have you never heard of this?
5. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees; signed through 2017, owed $123 million plus another $30 million for home-run milestones
Okay, yeah, you’re just being weird for the sake of weird.
A-Rod will be 42 when his contract expires, and he’s already slipping. He’s gone from a .300/30/100 slash line to something like .270/20/80 – in other words, he’s become an average player with nowhere to go but down.
That’s not what a slash line is, Steve. A slash line is BA / OBP / SLG. You’re doing triple-crown stats there, which are separated by hyphens. Are you new to writing about baseball? Also you’re wrong about the data; .270′s about right, but where are you getting 20 HR and 80 RBI? He’s never been that low in a full season, and he’s on pace to beat it this year. .270 – 30 – 90 seems a bit more accurate.
You know what? Never mind. Even if I give you that, you’re an idiot, and here’s why: the man is nearly 40 years old, and, yes, he’s declining. The Yankees knew this when they gave him this deal; he insisted on it. It was the price they had to pay to get his prime years, in which he hit .300 / .401 / .567 / .968 while hitting 238 HR, walking 501 times, and playing pretty-good defense out of position. He won two MVPs. Come the fuck on, Steve.
With 644 career home runs, he’ll reach some cool milestones, but he’ll get paid extra for those.
I sure do hope the Yankees can afford it.
6. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies; signed through 2016, owed $112 million
Yeah, that contract is awful, but mainly for reasons you don’t understand. Case in point:
After years of being productive and underpaid, Howard signed a five-year, $125 million extension in 2010 but an injury kept him out of the lineup the first half of this season. The big man is back but at 32 it’s difficult to imagine him having any more 40-home run seasons.
Ryan James hit 33 homers last year, and that ain’t shabby. His real problems are that he doesn’t hit doubles for shit, and his defense is appalling. Neither of these is a new problem; he’d always been greatly overvalued by people who evaluate hitters solely by triple-crown stats. You know, like you, Steve.
He could end up as a DH for an AL team, but otherwise he’ll be more difficult for the Phillies to deal than Cliff Lee.
Wasn’t Cliff Lee claimed off of waivers yesterday? Oh, right, he was. And you mentioned it in this article. Honest to God, Steve, you’re a moron.
7. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels; signed through 2021, owed $232 million
Yes, the ink is barely dry on this landmark 10-year, $240 million contract, and yes, Pujols is a bargain this year and next when the Angels are paying him a total of $28 million. But that just makes the back end of the deal more dangerous. Check back in 2017 when he’s 37 years old and the Angels still owe him $140 million over the next five years. He’ll likely be No. 1 on this list.
Okay, I take that back. You are a fucking moron. When you’re talking about how good or how bad a contract is, Steve, you can’t just like evaluate some isolated part of that contract. That’s like saying "oh dear, this movie is dreadful because the font they used for the credits is hard to read." Yes, the back end of Pujols’ contract will overpay him. That is part of the price the Angels have to pay to get his current production, which is something like 1.000 / 1.000 / 4.000 with 700 HR. Albert Pujols is the best baseball player not called Barry Bonds that you or I have ever seen. You seriously believe the Angels couldn’t trade him? What the hell is wrong with your brain, Steve?
If you really just want to pick isolated bits of contracts to complain about, how is this list not full of Manny Ramirez and Bobby Bonila and Eric Byrnes and all kinds of other dudes who are still getting deferred money but not playing at all? Oh gosh, look how little production the Mets are getting from Bobby Bo these days! What an awful contract!
8. John Lackey, Boston Red Sox; signed through 2014, owed $35.5 million
It’s about time you picked an actual stinker.
Lackey is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and maybe he’ll regain his effectiveness. After a decent 2010 season – his first after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal – he was abysmal in 2011, posting a 6.41 ERA. He also was roundly criticized for his poor attitude. The Red Sox can only hope he gives them two – or three – serviceable post-surgery seasons. His injury might have triggered a clause in his contract that adds another year at league minimum salary.
But don’t worry, Red Sox fans — this still isn’t as terrible a signing as Albert goddamn Pujols.
9. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs; signed through 2014, owed $42 million
Also a better contract than Pujols, apparently.
Although he’s having a reasonably productive season, the man they call “Sori” never came close to living up to the eight-year, $136 million deal the Cubs gave him in 2007.
That’s true. This is an actual, for-reals bad contract! One you don’t even have to pick cherries to make fun of!
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti also bid for Soriano, and he says "the best deals are the ones you never do" every time he remembers it.
Yes, the best deals do tend to be the ones Ned Colletti does not make.
Getting a prospect for him is all but impossible because every GM thinks better safe than Sori.
That is the dumbest joke I have ever sat through in my entire tenure as a sportswriting critic. You’re fired.
10. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants; signed through 2013, owed $33 million
You get the impression that Steve didn’t really try to put this list in order like he said he would? Here is how this list should have gone:
Zito is untradeable; he couldn’t even make the World Series roster in 2010.
Because the Giants had like a thousand stud pitchers. He’d have been on pretty much any other team’s roster.
11. Jason Bay, New York Mets; signed through 2013, owed $24 million
Another contract in its last year. Good work, Steve.
Maybe we should all get together and write up a big primer on how to evaluate contracts and send it to Steve. Just kidding! He can’t read anyway.
Over at Baseball: Past and Present, they did a thing. Isn’t that interesting? But wait, there’s more! Said thing was a project to collect the best potential sandlot team of players of all time. A few hundred votes were solicited from ballplayers, sports bloggers, and interested onlookers, and they were tallied, and the results are here, complete with pretty pictures and nice little blurbs. Interesting stuff; you should check it out.
But that’s as may be. What I’m here to talk about is racism, or, as they call it on the internet: RACISM!!! If you’re a bit sharp — and if you actually read the thing back when I told you to — you’ve likely noticed the long sad-sack rant entitled "a note on the absence of black players." Long story short: eight of the nine players chosen are white, this is because all of us fuckhead voters are racist assholes, and so they asked the president of the Negro League Museum to please forgive us for being such horrible people. Let’s talk about why this is stupid.
First off, here’s the all-time dream team, as selected by a bunch of awful racists like me:
You’ll forgive me if I fail to see which of these horrible white guys is hopelessly out of place on this list. And that’s the rub, innit? You can’t say that this list should have more black players without saying it should have fewer white players. No black player deserves to be on this list unless one of those white players doesn’t. So which one is it? Let’s take a look, shall we?
First of all, I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of any great black catchers or third basemen. Well, okay, Roy Campanella was pretty good, but had half of Johnny Bench’s career rWAR — 36.2 to 71.3. Not really in the same category of "greatness," and that’s even before you consider the many ways in which Johnny Bench changed the way his position is played. Which I guess you really shouldn’t for a list like this. So never mind that part.
Here’s a list from Fangraphs of all catchers ever, sorted by career fWAR. Whose name is on top? Oh. Is it particularly close? Oh. Does the top of that list look very heavy on black players? I guess not, huh. How did the balloting turn out, I hear you wondering? Johnny Bench’s closest competitor was Josh Gibson, who got 123 votes, beat out Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza, and never ever actually played in the Majors. That’s right, food friends: a Negro League catcher finished second in balloting, and we’re all racist fucks because a white guy who actually played in the Majors beat him.
Okay, so never mind catcher. What about my rash claim that there aren’t many great black third basemen? Knock yourself out. You have to go all the way down to, what, Adrian Beltre to find a black player? And he’s from the Dominican Republic, and we all know what Torii Hunter thinks about those people. For pity’s sake, there weren’t even any black players on the list we picked from during balloting. So maybe we can get a pass on third base too.
What about pitchers? Surely there have been some great black pitchers. What about Pedro Martinez? I mean, he finished third in the balloting. Or Bob Gibson? He finished fourth. Hell, Satchel Paige made the top ten, and he only pitched 476 innings in his entire career! All three of these men finished higher than Roger Clemens, Warren Spahn, Christy Matthewson, and even Jack Morris (thank you so much, troll who wrote Morris in).
At first base, honestly, Gehrig and Pujols are so great that they got almost all the votes between just the two of them. Is that where we went wrong? Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas, and Hank Greenberg are all obviously better players than, um, Albert Pujols and Lou Gehrig, and we just didn’t pick them because we’re shitheads? By fWAR:
Lou Gehrig: 125.9
Albert Pujols: 87.7 (not retired or killed yet)
Willie McCovey: 75.8
Frank Thomas: 76.2
Hank Greenberg: 68.2
The injustice is what now? We should have ignored the huge difference in value and voted for the black guy? Hmm.
Second base is where you have the best shot at claiming funny business. Not because Rogers Hornsby wasn’t all-time great — because he was — but because one Joseph Leonard Morgan was also made of liquid brilliance. Fangraphs gives a big lead to Hornsby, though, with 134.9 career fWAR to Morgan’s 108. BR has a smaller gap, but still puts Hornsby in front. Bill James picked Morgan over Hornsby. The point is: they’re both great. And, to be sure, they finished 1-2 at the top of the pack. Where’s the racism? It’s not like Morgan finished behind Darwin Barney.
Shortstops. Let’s get this out of the way: the best black shortstop of all time is Derek Jeter. Sorry, fans of not being fans of Derek Jeter; it’s just the case. But even Captain Baseball has a problem, which is: the unreasonable complete dominance of the game of baseball exhibited by Honus Wagner. Jeter is in the "best shortstops ever" discussion, no problem. But Wagner makes the list of "best three or four baseball players ever, at all, ever." He has 149.8 fWAR. That’s a silly, cartoon number. It is, thanks to God having a sense of humour even as regards His son Derek, exactly twice Derek Jeter’s career fWAR. So if you platooned a second Derek Jeter right next to the first one — maybe like a mirror image, so that one could get stuff to his left — you’d have Honus Wagner. But think how black he would be!
Yeah, okay, you can make an argument for Barry Bonds over Ted Williams. I agree. I’d probably even agree with you (I voted for Bonds). Fangraphs has Bonds ahead of Williams by almost thirty WAR — 168.2 to 139.8. So: racism, then? Or can you think of some other reason why Barry Bonds might miss out on votes? Hmm. Hmmmmm. Further research: Roger Clemens got only 23 votes. I’m assuming that’s because he was black also.
Right field: you’re having a laugh. Yes, I agree, Hank Aaron was crazy great. But you’re still having a laugh.
So where is the racial prejudice, then? Which of those selections is a horrible injustice? You can’t just say we need more black people on the list without excluding some of those white players who, based on objective data, appear to be better. Oh, and, incidentally? Ty Cobb beats Willie Mays in both fWAR and rWAR. What do you suppose the reaction would be if I wrote an article complaining that only racism could explain why this list isn’t 100% white guys?
This knee-jerk calling of racism is not only intellectually lazy, it’s also exactly in opposition to what we profess to believe in when we claim to be in support of statistical analysis. Given all the time we spend telling people that, no, Brandon Inge’s hustle and determination are not enough — Miguel Cabrera is the better player, how can we just turn around and say, hey, clearly this whole policy of evaluating results dispassionately is bullshit since it didn’t put the players on top who we wanted to see on top? That’s awful. Awful thinking. The fact is, to the best of our ability to judge, reality has refused to conform to the politically-correct narrative. It just so happens that the very very best players at each position have, to date, predominantly been white. To refuse to recognise that because it doesn’t fit our prearranged conclusion is to betray the entire sabermetric ideal, and also pretty goddamn racist itself if you think about it for ten goddamn seconds.
I have enough respect for the 600-or-so voters on this project that I won’t just assume they all looked at these lists and said GET THESE GODDAMN DARKIES OUT OF MY BASEBALL ALREADY! Does the guy who wrote this really not agree? He really thinks we all just hate black people, and that’s why we think Babe Ruth is good? We need to get beyond this insane collectivist fantasy. You can’t say this list was influenced by racism without saying that the people who voted made their judgments based on race. They are joined at the hip. Another way in which collectivism has ruined your brain: if you assume that there should be equal representation of whites and blacks on this list, you’re mad. Baseball is not played by collectivist abstractions; it’s played by individuals with different skillsets. There’s no reason to believe that, in such a tiny, tiny sample, you’ll have some type of racial homogeneity, especially when you consider how we actually evaluate players.
All sophisticated methods of player evaluation evaluate players relative to their peers. So when we say that Babe Ruth was worth 177.7 wins above replacement, what is "replacement?" Replacement is, in this context, the value contributed by the player Ruth would have been replaced with if he suddenly got eaten by a terrifying bog monster. In a modern context, that would mean the average value of a AAA player at the proper position; in the olden days, the structure was less formal, but the concept holds. So what are we not saying? We’re not saying that if Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds were both suddenly sucked out of time and forced to play a one-on-one game against each other (assuming there were such a thing), Ruth would be the clear winner. We don’t know that. Can’t know that.
There’s no way to separate their achievements from context.
Why does this matter? Because baseball has grown substantially. We now know a lot more about how to become a good baseball player, and about how to select good baseball players for teams. Major League teams are no longer full of dudes who were picked up playing on sandlots in Iowa and then handed a ball and told to go start the game. In other words: the playing field is a lot more level these days, which means — and this is important! — it is much harder to be way, way better than your peers than it was a hundred years ago. So it should be no surprise that the majority of the best numbers come from ancient times, when the average level of play was much lower than it is now.
And no black players were allowed in the league back then. So no black players had the chance to put up the same kind of gaudy numbers relative to such a low standard. This doesn’t require either analysts or math to be horribly racist and awful; it’s just the logical consequence of what actually happened in history. Trying to pretend it is otherwise doesn’t make you look like a really with-it, racially-tolerant dude; it makes you look like a complete goofball.
Oh, and. I’m not finished yet. Is it to anybody’s credit to perpetuate this stupid, simplistic, white-black view of race? Honus Wagner wasn’t called the Dutchman because he wasn’t Dutch, after all. Lou Gehrig was the son of German immigrants. But they’re just exactly the same, right? And so are all the others? And this is progress. I see.
You following the comments on my Super Bowl post? Stephen tried to troll for, like, a really long time, but after that didn’t work out for him he got down to business and took me to school on football analysis. You should read that. It’s good.
I have difficulty accepting Stephen’s assertion that a team could (in the real world) have (before a game begins) an 80% chance of winning that game. I am insufficiently competent at math, analysis, and intelligence even to know how to begin solving this riddle, but I would like to explore it for a bit. One caveat before we begin: I am not swayed by appeals to authority. No need to bother telling me that lots of experts say so. I like logic and data.
To start with, let’s take a look at Tangotiger’s mind-bending analysis of the role of luck in baseball standings (Note to long-time Darien fans: I finally found this goddamn article! Why I never thought to Google "tangotiger luck" defeats me). First, I’d like to mention that you can be sure this is strictly scientific because of the line "they are identical because god told you." God comedy aside, I’ve examined the math and the data, and it’s all correct to the best of my ability. I can see no way of avoiding Tango’s conclusion: 40% of a team’s record is luck.
Now, football is not baseball. The season is only 16 games long, for one thing, which will inevitably increase — dramatically — the effect of luck on the final standings (anecdotally, as a Bears fan who watched the Bears shitheadedly cling to that division championship last year in the face of an obviously superior Packers team, I can attest to the value of luck in really annoying the Packers fans I work with). But we’re not talking about standings — we’re talking about one game. And this is where I end up sailing completely out to sea.
Football is not baseball in one other very important way: there is no bat. The way the ball is put into play in football is far, far less random than in baseball — in most cases, the ball goes pretty much where it’s meant to go, whereas in baseball there’s no way to tell beforehand. So I can accept that football is, at the individual-game level, less random than baseball. But by so much that we can go from 40% luck to < 20% luck? Or am I understanding the math wrong here? Is there some way that the season standings can be 40% luck without the average individual game also being 40% luck?
These are for-reals questions, by the way. I’m not trolling. Based on my extremely feeble grasp of statistical theory, it seems extremely unlikely that a team can even approach 80% likely to win a game before it starts. So what am I missing?
Remember when I was making fun of this dum-dum for coming up with a kooky voodoo way of determining which players gave the most value for money? Well, here are actual smart people doing it an actual smart way. Just a heads up.
If there’s one thing you should have learned from reading this blog, it’s that a morally outraged sportswriter is the stupidest creature alive. I think this guy might have a shot at the title even when he’s sober. He’s written a column about steroids that he begins with the lines
The Agony Of Filling Out A Hall Of Fame Ballot
While leaving an empty box next to Jeff Bagwell’s name …
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those articles. Hold on to your hat. Oh, and you better read this quick; I’m going to quote whole huge swaths of it in utter defiance of SOPA, so the government may lock me and my website up in an overseas torture chamber per the provision in the other law they passed today but which fair-weather leftie "civil libertarians" don’t seem to care much about.
Lots of folks have a bucket list, or at least that’s the term they assign to it after the 2007 movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. And while it is probably best to keep most of the Before-I-Croak inventory private, I will share one checked off mine:
Cast a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Really, BBWAA, why do you give people like this Hall of Fame votes? If they write shit like that, you just know they’re going cast stupid ballots.
The first hint reality wouldn’t be nearly as romantic as the dream arrived in the form of Michael Felger, Boston television and radio provocateur, in the Patriots locker room in 2008.
I can parse that, but it took me like four tries. And it totally wasn’t worth it. Also, I’m guessing you mean "raconteur," since that word you used… isn’t complimentary.
He pointed out I was the only new voter from the Boston chapter of the BBWAA that year and the Jim Rice ballot could come down to one vote either way. He offered two words of advice, "Be ready."
Better advice would have been "be quiet."
The two words scared me so much sabermetric decimal points started running down my leg.
Congratulations — you have written the very worst hacky stat-nerd joke of all time. Not only is it weirdly scatological, but it doesn’t even make sense; what makes a decimal point "sabermetric?" The decimal point in WPA is somehow materially different from the ones in like batting average and ERA?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the restroom and take a giant Jeff Jacobs column.
Rice got in by seven, with 412 votes among 539 ballots. Phew, dodged one bullet … only to be dragged into bottomless mire of performance-enhancing drugs. And, man, I have come to hate it.
It’s only bottomless for stupid people. Here’s a simple test: do the following people belong in the Hall of Fame?
• Ty Cobb
• Gaylord Perry
• Joe Morgan
• Willie Mays
• Rickey Henderson
If you said yes to any of them, then you have the answer: you do not care about allegations of cheating. All of those men were accused (some proven) of breaking the rules of baseball to get an advantage. To say nothing of the fact that the official rules of baseball contain the line "the pitcher shall not Intentionally Pitch at the Batter," which seriously disqualifies every pitcher ever, especially Bob Gibson.
On the other hand, if you said no, they’re all possible rule-breakers and they should all be out, then you’re completely mad. Easy!
Few things open you up more quickly to Internet ridicule than releasing your Hall of Fame ballot.
Among those things: supplementing it with lots of pointless, defensive hand-wringing.
You’ve got your, "Hey, moron, it’s not the Hall of Very Good. If you need to ask if a guy is a Hall of Famer, he’s not."
That’s Colin Cowherd you’re quoting there. He’s an idiot. Who cares what he thinks?
You’ve got your, "The guy hasn’t had one at-bat in five years, you’re a hypocrite for changing your mind." Guilty on that count, I’m voting for Barry Larkin this year after not voting for him the previous two.
Those people are the worst of all people. Like Colin Cowherd. And good on you for being at least slightly vulnerable to reason!
There’s the, "You’re an imbecile for voting for a compiler [Bert Blyleven]."
Okay, are any of these people not Colin Cowherd? Because I really think you’re just quoting something he said on his show yesterday. Look out! The SOPA will get you!
There’s the, “You’re an imbecile for voting for a guy who only came up big in big games [Jack Morris].” Guilty on both counts.
Oh, that one’s not Cowherd. Jack Morris is his favourite. Which is really, really funny, since Jack Morris kind of stank.
Yet it wasn’t until Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated wrote something last December that I began to wonder if voting for the Hall of Fame is worth the hassle. There are places on the Internet where you are called a man playing God if you don’t vote immediately for Jeff Bagwell. You are called Joe McCarthy. Posnanski didn’t use either term, but he came close.
Yeah, because Bagwell was great. All-time great. I wouldn’t call you a man playing God, though; I’d stick with "moron."
Bagwell never tested positive for steroids. He was not named in the Mitchell Report. Yet because Bagwell has become, in some voters’ minds, a player who used PEDs, Posnanski wrote, "I can’t even begin to describe my disgust … it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.
"I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury …I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out."
Posnanski is often correct. This is one of those times.
Joe Posnanski is the best sports writer in 2011 America, but it doesn’t mean he’s 100 percent correct on this issue.
As in it’s not a causal relationship, sure. But… he is 100 percent correct on this issue. I get the feeling you’re about to say something really stupid.
Based on numbers alone, Bagwell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That part is easy. He hit .297 with 449 homers, eight 100-RBI seasons and had a .948 OPS as well as a Gold Glove and an MVP Award.
His grown-up numbers were good, too, by the way.
Yet because of the sins of his baseball generation, fair or not, Bagwell finds himself in an uncomfortable position.
Yeah. Which is: left out of the Hall because of idiots like you.
Yet we also have heard tens of players like Bagwell deny steroid use over the years only for it to turn out otherwise.
So add this to the list of reasons to bar people from the Hall of Fame: he says he didn’t cheat at baseball. This is a Life of Brian thing, isn’t it.
We have seen tens of players like Bagwell blow up from a skinny 20 to a cartoon 35.
I… what? That is fifteen years, you ignoramus. You don’t need to be on the juice to put on a bunch of muscle over fifteen years!
We have seen tens of players like Bagwell break down physically in their late 30s.
Players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Rafael Palmeiro, right? That’s what they were notorious for doing? Breaking down in their late 30s?
Come on, stupid. The notorious juicers had unnatural longevity. And now you’re using a late-30s breakdown — which we’ve seen not tens but thousands of players go through — as evidence that he was juicing?
Oh shit, you guys! Nap Lajoie was on the juice!
I will never vote for Rafael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire, not in 15 lifetimes, but I also don’t want to be part of any witch hunt.
I will never eat meat, not in 15 lifetimes, but I also don’t want to be a vegetarian.
I only want to play the percentages. I want Bagwell’s insistence he was clean to be true. I don’t want his induction to backfire in an ugly way.
So, wait. Your Hall of Fame standard is that you will never vote for anybody unless he can absolutely prove that he never cheated at baseball? No permissible ambiguity? And the reason for this is: you’re afraid of being wrong.
Great. Great people you’re letting in, BBWAA.
My view certainly is not foolproof, but it’s one I’m comfortable with given the uncomfortable parameters. Forget 100 juicers. I don’t knowingly want to vote for one.
Your view is bullshit. If I had a Firing Squad vote, I’d vote for you.
I have wanted to wait a few years to see if anything surfaced. To watch ESPN, Yahoo!, New York Daily News, the Texas media — someone with the resources and vigor — put Bagwell in its headlights and see if he emerges clean.
BBWAA: Mr. Jacobs, we’re thinking about giving you a Hall of Fame vote. But we’re concerned; will you ever make a decision for yourself?
Jacobs: I’ll have to check with my lawyer and get back to you.
BBWAA: You’re hired.
I have no intentions of making him wait forever. I will wait another year or two. If the worst thing I do is to make him enter the Hall of Fame with his teammate Craig Biggio, well, that’s damning Bagwell with a great blessing.
Yeah, the "great blessing" of spending another two years wondering why being one of the best first basemen of all time isn’t sufficient for getting into the Hall. Blessing of Caprice! Paladins get that at 40, I think, but only if they spec Dipshit.
I believe in using the 15-year voting period. The years give perspective. They help us look at circumstances differently. There’s strength in the process, not weakness.
You’re not gaining perspective, dummy. You’re waiting for a bunch of other people to change their minds so you don’t look like a dangerous maniac who disagrees with popular wisdom.
As much as it infuriates me, I have to agree with BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell’s assessment that the National League MVP vote on Ryan Braun stands even if his positive test holds up. Ken Caminiti and A-Rod kept their MVP trophies after it became known they did steroids in 1996 and 2003. And, yes, the 2011 voters voted on the information they had at the time with Braun. But that’s not why Braun should keep his MVP.
No, the reason Braun should keep his MVP is because the rules don’t contain any provision for revoking it. Like how president Obama gets to keep the Nobel Peace Prize even though he’s started three wars.
It is because the test he flunked was taken during the postseason. The MVP is a regular season award and unless it was scientifically proved he was using during the 162 games — even though the award announcement wasn’t made until November — I’d argue Braun should keep the 2011 award on a technicality.
What the fuck is wrong with you? With your brain, I mean. I thought the idea was to wait until there was absolute positive scientific proof that people didn’t take steroids. You said so yourself! I mean, for fuck’s sake.
There’s no evidence that Jeff Bagwell took steroids in the post-career either. The Hall of Fame is a regular-career honour. So oh my god you are making my brain evaporate did you even read what you fucking wrote?
Now make new precedent. Immediately. In this case, the BBWAA should make a rule that if a player tests positive for PEDs at any time during the calendar year he wins an award, he loses that award. Set the rules in advance and live with them.
What the fucking fuck is the point of that? Don’t hamstring everybody else because of your peccadilloes, asshole. What if I think 2004 Barry Bonds was so obscenely good that he deserves the MVP, steroids or no? Because I do. I’m now not allowed to vote for him, because it would offend your crazy head?
PEDs have made for a complicated, agonizing world for BBWAA voters.
Especially the stupid, spineless ones.
And until someone steps forward with a firm set of Hall of Fame guidelines, it’s not going to get any less agonizing. Brace yourself. Next year’s incoming Hall of Fame class with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will bring arguments and name-calling like we’ve never seen.
Can’t wait. Any luck you’ll be dead by then and we’ll have smart people casting ballots instead.
In the meantime, peek over my shoulder at my 2012 ballot: Barry Larkin and Jack Morris. That’s it. I only hope this doesn’t make Joe Posnanski barf or for someone to call me Joe McCarthy.
Jack Morris was not very good, and there’s no excuse for voting for Barry Larkin and not Alan Trammell. Oh, and you left off Jeff Bagwell. Other than that, you did a great job oh my god I just realised that nobody can fucking prove that Barry Larkin and Jack Morris were not juicing. Larkin retired in 2004. Morris in 1994. These are not ancient players! Either one of them could have been on the juice, stupid. You have just randomly declared them not juicers with no better evidence than we have for Bagwell. You sir are unbelievably stupid.
Hey, Grant Brisbee’s written a better version of your article. Maybe you should just retract this mess.