Boy, Ozzie Guillen’s mouth is working overtime today. Here’s the setup: Mark Buehrle got called for a balk, threw a hissy-fit, and got ejected. Then Ozzie, probably due to some combination of unwritten rules and Human Spaz Hormone, ran out on to the field to mouth off at umpire Joe West, so he got tossed too. Now, here’s what Ozzie said, plus mockery by me. My source is here; I have uncensored it because censorship is for retards and criminals. That said, however, I’d like to go on record as saying that I’d prefer if they’d censor that picture of Ozzie that accompanies the article, because I don’t really need to know that screaming at Joe West gives Ozzie a raging hard-on. Maybe crop at the waist, guys?
Because he’s a fucking asshole, that’s what he is. I just went out to ask him … I wasn’t asking about the balk because you’re not allowed, anytime you go out there to ask about balk or whatever. The thing I went out to ask him about was why he was embarrassing Buehrle.
So you weren’t asking him about the balk, which you’re not allowed to do and which will get you ejected. What you were asking about was why he "embarrassed" Buehrle. Which he did by calling a balk, yes? So, really, you were asking about the balk. Crazyass.
I’m not going out to argue about the balk because the rule, but I went out to ask him why he’s embarrassing Buehrle and he give me one of this [dismissing him with his hands].
Because the only other thing he can do is throw you out of the game. Which he did after you continued making a big damn deal about it. Do you see?
When you’re a professional and you have to respect the managers, the way we’re supposed to respect the umpires, they are supposed to respect back.
Near as I can tell, he gave you way more respect than you gave him. He tried to let you off the hook for your flaunting of the rules, which is probably because he knows your head is made of cactus and birdseed and you’re not really responsible for what your mouth says. What Joe West didn’t do: call you a "fucking asshole" in a press conference.
Obviously they have more power than we have and we have to wear it every time that happens. That’s the reason I got tossed.
You got tossed for arguing with a balk. Which you seem to realise is against the rules. But, yes, the umpires do have more "power" than you, if you want to think about it that way. Maybe go drill the Kaio-ken and you’ll be able to take him next time.
I don’t think he has the right and the power to let people know who is the chief on the field.
I… okay. I mean, you’re wrong, but you go ahead and think that if it’s what floats your boat.
We know he has to control the game, we know he has to control all the shit, but in the meanwhile, I don’t think it was the right thing to do, like we balked him while we were on the field.
This part is where Ozzie abandons any vesitges of coherence he once had and just begins to babble. Like you balked… him? Ozzie, "balk" is not a transitive verb. You can’t balk an umpire. What exactly do you think a balk is? Some variation of chest bump, perhaps?
If you think I’m being too mean, picking on a brainologically handicapped person for throwing in an accidental "him" in the middle of a rant, well, try parsing it without the him. Because then it makes even less sense — yes, Ozzie, it is exactly like you balked while you were on the field. Mark Buehrle did not get ejected for balking in the dugout between innings.
That said, I’m picturing a Joe West demotivator that says "We know he has to control all the shit." Like this one.
Joe has been like that for a lot of years, and he’s always going to be like this. I’m not going to change it, nobody is going to change it, but sometimes he thinks fucking people pay to watch him fucking umpire.
This is the very next thing that comes out of Ozzie’s mouth. Note that he hasn’t identified what it is that Joe West has been like. Unless he’s talking about how Joe West controls the game. Which is his job. As Ozzie has already acknowledged.
I’m pretty sure that sometimes Ozzie Guillen thinks fucking people pay to listen to his fucking mouth. And I’m also pretty sure he’s right.
He’s the type of guy that wants to control the game, it’s good for the game, and to me one of the best umpires in the game, no doubt.
You’re good for the game, Joe. One of the best. But fucking people don’t pay to watch you fucking umpire.
But in the meanwhile, those years are on his shoulders and kind of heavy and showing people who he is.
I deserve respect and the players here deserve respect here, too.
You’re half right.
When you tell the manager to get the fuck off the field, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle situations.
When you tell the press an umpire is a fucking asshole because he ejected you for breaking a rule you’ve pretty much admitted you broke, well, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle situations.
No matter what you say, what you do, how long you talk here, Major League Baseball doesn’t do shit for anything. I’ll be waiting for my fine, get ’em the next day.
Ozzie. Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie. You know that if MLB did do shit for anything — and here we’re reading "anything" as "being disrespectful toward somebody else" — you would currently be serving 15-20 years in a baseball prison in Pakistan? Think about that.
I said why are you embarrassing Buehrle? He said, ‘Well Buehrle was doing …’ well, you got two choices, the second choice he has, and he was wrong the first time or the second time, either one was wrong.
I was with you right up until… actually, I was never with you. But you were almost speaking coherently until the ellipsis. Afterward, though… wow. I think that’s an allusion to Buehrle’s two balks, but it’s not really clear if he’s just had an aneurysm or perhaps just some sort of critical mouth failure.
Now I’m picturing an Ozzie Guillen demotivator that says "Critical Mouth Failure." Like this one.
Because you don’t like what Buehrle did the first time you should toss him. You shouldn’t embarrass him. That’s the way he is.
So your main problem is that he called the balk instead of ejecting him? What? Ozzie, umpires don’t throw pitchers out of games for balking. Nor do they throw out batters for striking out, or fielders for dropping popups. And, really, why do you want him to?
It’s not about balk. It’s all different. Buehrle has been doing the same stuff, what? Seven years, eight years? All of a sudden [West] just gets up today and says, ‘Well, I’m going to call a balk on Buehrle no matter what.’
Alternative hypothesis: all of a sudden Buehrle balked today. For fuck’s sake, Ozzie, he has ten career balks not including today’s, so this is not uncharted territory. And Buehrle threw 38 pitches today over 2.1 innings and got called for balking twice, so Joe West didn’t really just call a big string of balks on him every time he moved. How many ways can Ozzie Guillen be wrong? They are legion.
Oh, here’s one more: eleven years. Good guesses, though, Ozzie.
He’s got the right, I don’t know if it was a balk or not, you couldn’t tell.
So you admit that it’s Joe West’s call, and you admit that you don’t actually know whether or not he was right, but you know for a fact that he’s a fucking asshole for doing it? Well played, Ozzie. Well played.
In the meanwhile, I was kind of upset with the reaction. He thinks he’s the shit in the field. People pay to watch fucking players play, not to see umpires and managers. I don’t see any people say, ‘I’m going to see Ozzie Guillen manage or Joe West fucking umpire.’
Love the false humility, Ozz. Really sells the package. Well, that and the swearing.
So what does notorious fucking asshole Joe West — who thinks he’s the shit in the field — have to say?
I don’t know what he’s talking about. Ozzie came out because Buehrle was making gestures on the mound that could have got him kicked out so he was protecting Buehrle, that’s all he was doing. I don’t have a problem with that.
Asshole. Fucking asshole.
And does Mark Buehrle have anything insightful to add, you think?
I think he’s too worried about promoting his CD (West is a country music singer and song writer with his own website) and I think he likes seeing his name in the papers a little bit too much instead of worrying about the rules.
Really classy, Mark. You’re a stand-up guy. Though, holy shit, Joe West does have his own country music web site. That’s pretty nuts.
So thanks for that tidbit, Mark. Go enjoy your $14 million that you’re getting paid to post an ERA+ of 96 and leave the poor umpires alone with their tiny paycheques and boss cowboy hats.
I’ve been playing the thing for about a day now, and it’s pretty goddamn good. It’s basically a MOTS sequel, so if you liked Mario Galaxy, you’ll like this one too. And if you didn’t like Mario Galaxy, well, you’re a failure as a human being anyhow, and you should probably get back to waxing your sinister mustache instead of reading stupid blogs.
The controls seem to have been tightened a bit, which is nice, since that was one of my only two complaints with the first game. Largely, they seem to have accomplished this by reducing the number of odd, tiny planets you have to run around, and by locking the camera in place when you do so you don’t have to try to contend with your frame of reference being randomly repositioned.
There are still minigames, which is too bad, but on balance they seem more like they belong in the game than they did in the first, as they generally use the actual game mechanics instead of randomly having you surf or play a bomb-tossing puzzle or some bullshit. Maybe those are coming later; I don’t really know.
There are a lot more galaxies this time around, but with a lot less to do in any one. I don’t know that that’s good or bad, but it’s the case.
So far, I haven’t noticed there’s either more or less narrative than there was in the first Mario Galaxy. I mean, for all the noise the internets made, the plot is exactly the same: Bowser kidnaps the princess and then declares he’s going to create his own galaxy in the centre of the universe. Mario takes off in a spaceship to follow him, and the spaceship has dudes on it who tell you shit periodically between levels. I mean, it’s exactly the same. So what all the "less narrative" people have been braying about for a year I couldn’t say.
Bowser’s more comical this time than he was in the original, where basically he was just a big evil presence. This time he cracks jokes and prattles somewhat. The fight is also different, which should assuage people who were annoyed enough that all the Bowser fights in the first game were exactly the same.
Sometimes content from the original Mario Galaxy is revisited, but with a twist; for example, you may have to fight a boss that you fought in the first game, but you’ll do it in different conditions. That’s pretty interesting.
The new powerups are fun. I like the drill a lot. Yoshi is interesting, and the tongue controls are a lot more intuitive than you might expect, but he’s a whole lot less powerful than he was in Super Mario World or even Super Mario Sunshine. You may recall Yoshi being completely broken from overpowered in Super Mario World, where he made you invincible and able to kill almost anything, and caused you to gain huge numbers of extra lives from eggs. He also made the fire flower totally worthless, since you couldn’t throw fireballs while riding Yoshi, and there was literally no situation in which you wouldn’t want a Yoshi. In Mario Galaxy 2, Yoshi is considerably less strong than that; he can’t stomp on spiked mobs without taking damage, and Mario takes damage in addition to being dismounted if you get hit. Also, there are far more mobs Yoshi can’t eat. On the bright side, there are a lot of fun new things to do with Yoshi; the berries are interesting (the bulb berry in particular rocks your face), and there are quite a few mobs that can be spit out for interesting effects.
I got my wish: the hub world is way less annoying and hard to get around this time. Instead of having to run around to different parts of the hub in order to get to the actual levels, they’re all accessed centrally from a New Super Mario Bros.-style map screen. It’s much more usable than the old method, but has a little bit less flavour.
Time to check in with the baseballs. My crap predictions are so far doing an absolutely bang-up job of being complete crap; is anybody out there surprised? Because I’m not. Early days yet, though; they have plenty of time to get even worse. So let’s take a quick look at the division races as they stand now, a quarter of the way through the season:
One thing’s for sure: the Tampa Bay Rays are pretty goddamn good at baseball. Their 29-11 (.725) mark is the best in MLB, and it doesn’t look like a fluke; they’re killing the ball, and they have the best rotation in the majors. Losing J.P. Howell is a blow, but it’s not likely to stop them. In fact, it doesn’t look like anything can stop the Rays. Unless it’s…
The New York Yankees, who are playing .625 ball, which, by all rights, should be good enough for the lead. Shame they have to be stuck in that division where the big-money teams like Tampa Bay make it impossible for small markets like New York to contend. Fun fact: New York has at least as good a record as every division leader except Tampa Bay. As for how they’re playing, well, they’re playing like old people. What do you expect? If Mark Teixeira and Javier Vazquez get things turned around, the Yankees may be able to make a run at the Rays. Otherwise, they’re going to have to focus on locking up that wild card, which they lead by a razor-thin margin over Detroit and…
The goddamn Toronto Blue Jays, who are in for a disappointment and are in for it hard. They have three hitters — Vernon Wells, John Buck, and Jose Bautista — who are playing way over their heads right now. Bautista is OPSing about 150 points over his career average, and Buck is at +200, and there’s no way they’re going to keep it up. As for Vernon Wells, well, that .611 SLG is a comedy number. Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero — who you’ve never heard of, and for good reason — are pitching out of their minds right now, and will come back to earth rapidly and painfully. Also worth noting is that comedy man Cito Gaston is pretty much just not using his bench, which is going to lead to big trouble when his starters get tired in a month or so, and he doesn’t even have major leaguers to put in for them, since his bench players are quitting the majors to move to Japan where at least they’ll get a plate appearance now and then. And if you think I’m making that up, well, I’m not. So they’re due to be replaced any day now by…
The Boston Red Sox, who are exactly as good as I said they’d be. This is the one weird prediction I made that I totally fucking nailed, and you should not expect me to shut up about it. Kevin Youkilis is a ridiculous monster and will get serious MVP consideration if he keeps it up, but J.D. Drew is the only other regular player adding much punch, and everybody hates that guy, so fuck him. Oops, I lied; checking my work, Dusty McHustle is also pretty good this year. So that’s three. Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell are just about spot-on average, and every other regular player is significantly below average offensively. That’s bad. Now, the Sox have been creamed by injuries, and David Ortiz has been terrible but is showing signs of life again, so these things should improve. And Jason Varitek for some reason has done this: .317 / .404 / .805 (!!) / 1.209, for a 214 OPS+. He’s only done it for 47 PA, though. So the offense is pretty tame, the defense has been pretty tame, but what’s really killing the Sox has been pitching. Buchholz has been pretty good, Lester has been okay, and everybody else in the rotation has just been awful. The bullpen is weirdly good this year, but I don’t know that Daniel Bard is going to keep up that 181 ERA+ all year long, so somebody — and I’m looking at you, American McGee’s Josh Beckett — needs to get his ass in gear, rotation-wise. The silver lining for the Red Sox is that, hey, no matter how bad things get…
The moribund Baltimore Orioles will be worse. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. The Orioles have played 41 games, and they have managed to get 16.5 games behind. That is not easy to do. They have won just thirteen games all season. Now, they’re not going to be a .300 team forever — in fact, since their miserable 2-16 start, they’ve been playing .500 ball — but don’t get your heart set on a miracle comeback. In all fairness, the O’s have been completely housed by injuries this year, and they still don’t have any relief pitching — like, any, at all — but the real problem has been the absolutely awful hitting. The Orioles have two — two! — regular players with more than a hundred PA each who have OPS+es under fifty. One of these men plays first base. That is the problem right there. When your team SLG is .386, and the only dude slugging above .435 is a second baseman beating his career average by almost 200, you have some issues.
The Minnesota Twins are about as good as everybody expected. The rest of the division is just not playing the same game. Justin Morneau is off his fucking nut right now — it’s like he’s playing to make up for last year, and to justify the MVP he won in 2006 when he was like the third-best choice on his own team. Mauer and Thome have been good, too, but the rest of the hitters are average. It’s enough offense, though, to win a six-inning game, which is pretty much what the Twins need to do, since their bullpen is impossibly brilliant. As for the rotation, well, it contains Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey. So, well, it’s not so good. On the other hand, it also contains Fransisco Liriano, who is definitely making up for the years he lost to Thomas Johnson surgery. He’s so good you might think he was pitching for…
The Detroit Tigers, who somehow have a bullpen even better than Minnesota’s. Every single reliever is substantially better than average — ERA+ of 132, 162, 193, and 274. And that’s not even mentioning closer Jose Valverde, whose ERA+ is purported to be 859, which is a number so high I didn’t even know it existed. Jose Valverde is 8.5 times as good as the average reliever. Deal with that. It’s a good thing that bullpen’s so good, since, well, holy shit the rotation ain’t. Verlander’s carrying on, but the other four guys… yikes. I guess it’s good to see Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis actually playing again. But this is a team that relies on its crazy outfield and fat first baseman to put up a stupid number of runs so the bullpen can make it hold up. And so far it’s working, since the Tigers are only half a game back in the division, and seven whole games ahead of…
The Chicago White Sox and Crazy Man Show, who are so bad at hitting that they’ve taken to faking HBP just so they can get on base. Ozzie Crazypants has succeeded in his plan of making sure the White Sox are a team of little fast dudes who don’t hit awful, rally-killing home runs: the team OPS+ is 87, despite a genuinely heroic effort from Paul Konerko. Also, I need to apologise to Andruw Jones and Alex Rios, who apparently are not as cooked as I said they were. I do not, however, need to apologise to Juan Pierre, who completely is. Also, hey, nice pick of Jake Peavy there, Kenny W! He sucks. Ha ha at you. This team is so bad it’s just barely holding its own against…
The Kansas City Royals, who are bad at baseball. Zack Greinke: 2.72 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 1.7 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, 153 ERA+. RS/GS: 2.9. Record: 1-4. Can we stop using wins and losses to evaluate pitchers now? Please? There’s not much else to say about the Royals; they’re still pretty much the Zack show. Billy Butler is okay, I guess, and Alberto Callaspo has an awesome name. And they’re not as bad as…
The Cleveland Indians, who can’t hit, can’t pitch, and can’t field. You win the Triple Poop Crown for that. Hafner’s coming back from the dead a little — kind of him, since his gigantic contract is Cleveland’s version of the David Carradine death by autoerotic asphyxiation — but Kerry Wood is still completely dead, and Grady Sizemore, perhaps too embarrassed by his naked pictures getting on to the internet to remember how to play baseball, has forgotten how to play baseball. Grady Sizemore’s OPS+es by year, from 2005: 123, 133, 123, 133, 111, 58. Maybe the pressure-cooker of playing in Cleveland has finally gotten to his head. Or maybe it’s the curse!
So I reckon the Texas Rangers don’t completely stink. I’m sorry; what I meant to say was: hey, look, Vlad Guerrero’s OPS+ is 141, which is just about smack on his career average. So I guess last year was a fluke, and probably injury-related, and he’s not actually done after all. Who could have seen that coming? Oh, right. I did. If the rangers could just replace their first baseman and center fielder with players who could hit — or perhaps with life-sized cardboard standees of players who could hit — they’d look pretty good offensively. Their pitching is the same shade of a little bit better than average that it was last year. Hey, they ain’t great, but they don’t have to be to be leading in the AL West, where the next best team is…
The Oakland Athletics, who are under .500. I personally think Billy Beane is a genius, but perhaps a mad genius; his plans are often unfathomable to mere mortals such as myself. He got famous — like, has-a-book-written-about-him famous — because he built teams around OBP back when everybody knew as little about baseball as Dusty Baker. Then he started building around defense back when OBP was the hot new thing. Now his new plan apparently is to build around players who weren’t good enough to stick in the NL Central. I don’t really get this one, but, so far, it has… well, the A’s are under .500. Ben Sheets has been bad. Really, really bad. Dallas Braden threw a perfect game, which pissed me off, since it meant his stupid face was right back in front of me yet again right when I was starting to think I was done listening to him carp about A-Rod and unwritten rules. At least he was funny on Letterman. But the real problem with the A’s is that they can’t hit. They’re so bad at hitting that even…
The Los Angeles Angels of Azeroth are better. To recap: Vlad Guerrero’s 2010 OPS+: 141. Hideki Matsui’s 2010 OPS+: 85. Good move, Tony Reagins! But get this: Vlad Guerrero’s 2010 salary: $5.5M. Hideki Matsui’s 2010 salary: $6.5M. Really good move, Tony Reagins! Glad you got rid of that washed-up hack. Anyway, the Angels’ regular third baseman — the guy they put out there every day, who has accumulated 123 plate appearances — has an OPS+ of 8. His name? Brandon Wood. His OPS+? Eight. I win this round also, sports journalism! Unfortunately, Joel Pineiro has been pretty good. Not great, and not as good as they’re paying him to be, but pretty good, and better than John Lackey, so I was kind of wrong on that one. But not as wrong as I was about…
The Seattle Poopatrons, who were supposed to be good, but can’t hit to save their fucking faces. I mean, everybody knew they were short on power, but nobody — by which I mean: not me — expected this .309 team OBP. With Figgins, Bradley, Gutierrez, Ichiro, and Griffey, I figured they’d be clogging the basepaths at pretty regular intervals. But no: only Gutierrez and Ichiro are any damn use at all. Ken Griffey Jr.’s OPS+ is 27 and he’s so old he can’t even stay awake through the whole game. Come on, Griffey! Jamie Moyer’s in his sixties, and he pitched a CG the other day. You can do this! Also, Mike Sweeney might be eight years old. Get a load of this:
"Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies," Sweeney adamantly said. "We don’t think there are two players who said that. I challenged everyone in that room — if they said that to stand up and fight me. No one stood up,"
What the hell, Mike Sweeney? I should probably stop carping on this before you try to punch me — since I’m a very small man whose only real muscle tone is in my mighty Nintendo thumbs, and you could probably kick my ass without even leaving Seattle — but you talk like an imbecile. You aren’t hitting for shit either, man.
Surprising nobody, the Philadelphia Phillies are on top. The Phillies can mash, and Roy Halladay is awesome, and apparently Jose Contreras is ridiculous as a closer. The rest of the rotation is average-to-blows, and the bullpen is some combination of spotty and hurt. Oh, and Jamie Moyer is old. Did I mention that? Because he is. The Phillies will probably get better going forward, since Dummy Rollins is healthy again (and isn’t worse than Juan Castro, that’s for damn sure) and Ryan Howard will probably start hitting a bit better. Cole Hamels looks like he’s gotten real old real fast, and Jamie Moyer also is real old (if I haven’t mentioned that yet). Ja Happ is on the DL, though, and may improve the pitching when he comes back. Not that the Phillies need too much to stay ahead of…
The Florida Marlins and their lazy shortstop. That’s right, food friends: Hanley Ramirez is doing that thing he does again, where he just kind of doesn’t bother. He got benched the other day for loafing after a ball he booted into the corner and allowing two runs to score, which, when you think about it, is pretty damn bad. The Marlins can’t do too much about it, though, since Ramirez is better than the entire rest of the team combined. The pitching has been surprisingly good behind who-are-they-now players like Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, but the offense consists of pretty much nothing but Hanley and Dan Uggly. That outfield in particular is brutal. But you know who else has a terrible outfield?
The Atlanta Braves, that’s who. Melky Cabrera has never been good, but he isn’t normally this bad. 39 OPS+? Somebody must have stealth-nerfed him! Nate McClouth is one of those players I always think is good, and then find out he stinks. I think I probably just get him confused with Nick Swisher. Jason Heyward is manhandling opposing pitchers, and would be a complete walk for ROY in any normal year, though the NL has a whole crop of ridiculously good rookies this year. The Braves have a very strong bullpen, but their rotation is no great shakes; aren’t Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens supposed to be good? They’re not. And neither are…
The Washington Nationals, who are currently living through 2005 part 2. You remember 2005 — the team’s first year — when the Nationals were like ten games over .500 at the all-star break? They had actually allowed more runs than they had scored, which means their record was all luck, and bound to deflate. Which is exactly what it did. The 2010 Washington Nationals are in exactly the same boat: above .500, negative run differential. Expect to see some substantial downward movement here, especially once Livan comes back to Earth. In other news, Jason Marquis is terrible. Ha ha! And speaking of terrible…
How ’bout them New York Mets? Remember when Jeff Francoeur said "if OBP is so important, then why don’t they put it up on the scoreboard?" Well, Jeff, it’s 2010, your OBP is .282, and it’s why you suck. Furthermore, your team’s OBP is .317, and it’s why you’ve only scored 175 runs. And also, teams not run by morons do put OBP on the scoreboard, because it’s pretty much the most important raw offensive stat there is. Also Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo suck hard this year. So that’s what’s wrong with the Mets’ offense. A book could be written about what is wrong with the Mets’ pitching. The title of this book would be "my name is Omar Minaya and I spent all my money on backup catchers and Fernando Tatis and I forgot to sign any pitchers." I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what it would be about.
The Fat Louis Fatinals are still clinging to their lead — though perhaps I should say "clinging to their lead again," since they only just got it back. Their pitching has been completely amazing — a 145 team ERA+ is unreal and makes me think they’re probably cheating. But… would the Fatinals cheat at baseball? They are such paragons of integrity! And speaking of cheating at baseball, it’s not clear to me that fancy new hitting coach Mark McGwire is earning his keep, since, except for Pujols, nobody on this team is hitting for a great goddamn. Which is pretty much the whole entire reason they’re neck-and-neck with…
The awful Cincinnati Reds, who have an awful manager and are awful. The Reds suck at pitching — but how could that be? Their manager is well-known for his ability to handle a pitching staff! Handle it right the fuck to death, you mean. O no I didn’t! The Reds are average at hitting, what with the 100 OPS+, and smelly at pitching, what with the 93 ERA+, so how are they doing so well? Looks like it’s old-fashioned balls-out luck, since they’ve scored only two more runs than they’ve allowed. So you’ve had a nice little Saturday, guys, but it’s about time to clear out of the standings and let the big boys play. Which list does not include…
The Chicago Cubs, who have at least finally begun to field a ball or two. Why did it take three years to move Ryan Theriot back to second? He’s a pretty good second baseman, but a shitty shortstop. Well, thank heaven for small players, since Starlin Castro’s arrival has improved the Cubs’ defense by a ton, even if he did make four hundred errors in his first home game. I’m told it was the yips by people who believe in things like that. The Cubs have excellent pitching — though why Lou keeps giving the ball to John Grabow and his 55 ERA+ I do not know — but the offense is suffering from the terrible starts of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The team’s offense is built around those guys, and they’re only putting up an OPS+ of 106. I mean, if you fucking add them together they’re at 106. Which I think you’re allowed to do if you go with a ten-man lineup. At least Soriano and Soto — who Lou steadfastly refuses to bat anywhere but sixth and seventh — are ridiculously good. Speaking of ridiculously good…
The Pittsburgh Pirates sure ain’t. You’ve heard me carp on some other teams for being really lucky, but the Pirates set the bar. They have allowed exactly one hundred runs more than they have scored: 141 to 241. And yet they are 18-22, when by all rights they should be 11-29. Worse than the Orioles, even. Their team OPS+ is 78. Their team ERA+ is 74. There is seriously nothing good about the Pirates, but still, somehow, they’re in the thick of the NL Central race. Such as it is. I’m sorry, guys; I’m trying to say something nice about the Pirates, but there just isn’t anything. Oh, wait: Chris Jakubauskas has a ridiculous comedy name. Also he’s dead. As are…
The Milwaukee Brewers, who have suffered the ultimate indignity: they’re behind the Pirates. Would you believe it? Randy Wolf is shitty! His ERA+ is only 74! That’s pretty wild. I don’t think anybody could have seen that coming. Well, except maybe for a sexy beast. That guy should be mayor. It’s a good thing Casey McGehee — whose name was a trick played on his parents by Martians — and Ryan Braun can hit, because Prince Fielder is lousy so far. Perhaps he should spend less time crafting more elaborate fantasies about being a vegetarian when we all know he loves the hamburger and more time remembering how to hit the baseballs. Then maybe the Brewers could put some distance between themselves and…
The Houston Astros, who are once again lending credence to the theory that if you spend all your money on giant oversized logo boots and forget to hire any baseball players, you won’t do very well at baseball. And the Astros are not doing very well at baseball. They’re not doing very well at all. It turns out that when every single player on your whole team has an OPS+ under 100 — except for Lance Berkman’s anemic 103 — you won’t score any runs. Team OPS+ of 60, my friends. Scored 122 runs. It would be hard to overcome that with truly exceptional pitching, which the Astros ain’t got. I mean, their pitching is decent — it’s a lot better than their hitting — but it’s not good enough to make 122 runs over 40 games hold up. Don’t worry, Astros! There’s always next year! Maybe you’ll get a new giant boot that’s even giant-er.
I’m pretty positive the San Diego Padres are a fading early-season mirage. That 134 team ERA+ is going to start falling precipitously once all of their pitchers — but especially Wade LeBlanc — start performing more like their usual selves and less like actual good pitchers. Some people will try to tell you that the Padres are winning because they’re stealing so many bases, which means they’re gamers and the get things moving and manufacture runs; don’t you believe it. The Padres have given back almost every run they’ve gained by getting caught 14 times. Here’s a neat rule of thumb for you: whenever anybody talks about a team that wins because of aggressive baserunning or speed or hustle or destiny, probably what he means is that that team has a pitching staff playing way over its collective head. Such is the case with the San Diego Padres, who are not really better than…
The San Fransisco Giants. Holy shit is Barry Zito good. Also ridiculously sexy. Timmy is also really good, but let’s face it: he’s as ugly as a mud shanty. Also ugly: the Giants’ offense. Too bad they spent all their money getting dudes like Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe and didn’t bother signing any hitters who can actually hit. When Bengie Molina is the best hitter on your team — and Bengie Molina’s OPS+ is only 113 — you know you’re in trouble. Also in trouble:
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have an excellent left fielder, an excellent right fielder, and no pitching to speak of. Andre Ethier’s 220 OPS+ is like fantasy Barry Bonds shit, and Manny’s 170 is nothing to sneeze at. But the Dodgers pretty much seriously are just those two dudes; the rest of the team ain’t hitting for beans, and they can’t pitch their way out of a paper bag with a map, a compass, the red candle and the magic boomerang. I expect their crazy bullpen troubles to smooth out, since most of those guys are actually pretty good, but I think what we’re seeing from the Dodgers’ rotation is what we’re going to see. Overall, though, I think this is a team that’s playing about up to its ability, it’s just going about it a weird way that involves two hitters being legendarily hot and the bullpen being oddly cold. If you’re looking for a team that’s not playing up to its ability, though, look no further than…
The Colorado Rockies, who always suck in April and May. Is that because it’s fucking freezing in Denver those two months? I don’t really know. What I do know is that the Rockies have hit some bad luck; they’re under .500, but they’ve scored meaningfully more runs than they’ve allowed. That’s a good sign that things are going to turn around. Another good sign that things are going to turn around: Ubaldo Jimenez‘ ERA+ of 409. The Rockies are actually a very strong pitching team this year, but they’re having some slow starts in the world of hitting. Helton and Tulowitzki are both too good to stay under 100 OPS+ for too long — it’s sort of the Colorado equivalent of the situation the Cubs have with Lee and Ramirez. They’ll get it turned around, and then the Rockies will improve. Which is not a fate that will befall…
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who, only three short years ago, looked poised to dominate the division for years to come. Then they did a whole lot of stupid things like paying Eric Byrnes $11M to play beer-league softball, and signing the thrillingly average Justin Upton to six and $51M. The big problem with the Diamondbacks is the pitching, which is unexpected; Brandon Webb is hurt (again), Dan Haren has been oddly ineffective, and the bullpen has been, as they are no longer allowed to say in Arizona without proof of citizenship, los bullshit. The bullpen should settle down a little, and Webb will probably come back sometime, and Haren will no doubt remember how to play baseball, and all these things will help. But the Diamondbacks are still a below-average team playing in a division filled with above-average teams and the Padres who are just lucky so shut up about that.