Fighting irrationality with irrationality since 2006.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tom Batzold hates everyone – particularly readers, women in general

Check out one of today's “hilarious” “news” items from Tommy's favorite soccer hating columnist, Jim Armstrong:

”Just wondering: How many trees have died and how much cyberspace has been polluted to chronicle the exploits of Danica Patrick and Michelle Wie, neither of whom has watched a Sunday sunset with a victory to call her own?”

Can Mr. Batzold be advocating that sports journalists should only cover winners? Let's make some minor changes to that statement and find out:

”Just wondering: How many trees have died and how much cyberspace has been polluted to chronicle the exploits of J.P Losman and Willis McGahee, neither of whom has watched a Sunday sunset with a playoff victory to call his own?”

Hmm, that doesn't really fit with Mr. Batzold's editorial philosophy, so he must mean something else. The only other alternative is that he is advocating that only crew-cut, cleft jaw, Johnny Unitas types deserve the precious space in newspapers and blogs.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised at such an anachronistic view given the disgusting old white guy network that got Mr. Batzold his job. After all, only five (5!) AP sports editors are black, and women comprise 12.6 percent of sports journalists. No wonder we get such mediocre, narrow minded sports coverage.

What's wrong with this sentence?

From today's D&C (just an example of the idiocy that the good people of Rochester deal with on a daily basis):

"The underdog Rochester Raiders will have history on their side in their bid to upset the undefeated host Port Huron Pirates Saturday night in Great Lakes Bowl I."

Monday, July 17, 2006

BM and I share more than just our love of horse racing...

Now I know many of you out there believe that the summer sports scene is ruled by the Tour de France, the World Cup of Softball, and professional domino-playing, but true football fans like BM and myself have our eyes on the true prize of July: NFL training camps. As if reading my mind, BM recently started this NFL preseason off right by ranking each team's quarterback situation from 1st to 32nd. I think most people outside of Indianapolis would agree with BM that New England's Tom Brady provides the Patriots with the league's top QB situation. Kudos to BM for valuing wins over gaudy stats. Now, let's see if BM can stay consistent with this value throughout the course of this list (because, as we all know, the consistency of your BMs is very important). Here are my critiques:

Ranked Too High:
4. Carolina - No huge criticisim here, I just think it's a stretch to put Delhomme above people like McNabb and Roethlisberger. We'll agree to disagree.

6. Cincinnati - Now, I'm no doctor (wait a second...), but when your star quarterback is coming off a major injury, particularly one suffered so late in the season, you're coming into July with a whole lotta questions. If not for Carson Palmer getting KvO'ed (Kimo von Oelhoffen'ed) in the knee last January, I'd say this ranking were just right. But, given the uncertainty, they simply can't get a #6 ranking.

8. Miami - Yeah that's right, I said it. Look, I haven't been this excited about the Dolphins' QB situation since I bought my very own Jay Fiedler jersey back in 2001. But there are plenty of uncertainties about Culpepper coming into July (see also my rationale about Carson Palmer). The good thing for Culpepper is that his injury happened much earlier in the season than Palmer's. The bad thing is that he was having a very shaky season even before the injury last year. I agree with BM that Culpepper will be an absolute steal for the Fins (traded straight-up for a 2nd round pick -- used on Texas CB Cedric Griffin) if he regains his 2004 form and is healthy, but that's an awfully big "if".

13. Baltimore - Isn't Steve McNair missing an elbow, a spleen, four toes, three of his parathyroid glands, and a knee cap by now? How much longer can this guy live, let alone play football?? And Kyle Boller as your back-up? Let's move on...

19. Arizona - I think it's reasonable to assume that the Cardinals' QBs will collectively put up some huge numbers this year given their WR corps and huge RB upgrade (last season: three lepers and my grandmother; this season: a moderately-over-the-hill Edgerrin James), but that doesn't mean that Kurt Warner is any good. Matt Leinert may very well develop into a very good QB soon (maybe even this season), but he needs to prove it first. I think BM is still pouting that Buffalo preferred Donte Whitner to Matt Leinert; he was really hoping to get a chance to offer Leinert his first-born in person.

21. Chicago - I assumed my awesome 2006 Lindy's Pro Football Season Preview magazine had failed me when I lookd up the Bears' QBs and saw only Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, and Rex Grossman... I saw three back-ups and was wondering where their starting QB was.

28. Buffalo - It's hard to be overrated at #28, but the Bills are. I'd rather have an uber-gimpy Chad Pennington, a half-retarded Aaron Brooks, or even a deer-in-the-headlights Alex Smith than the three-headed Loscombnall monster. When your big offseason pick-up is Craig Nall, you'd better check and make sure you don't have a senile octogenarian running your team.

Ranked Too Low:
7. Pittsburgh - Hmmm, the consistency of my BM seems a bit irregular. We're lauding Tom Brady for his winning record and clutch wins, and yet Roethlisberger -- whose winning percentage is off-the-charts and who is now sporting a brand spanking new Super Bowl ring to match the shiny, untouched motorcycle helmet sitting on his garage shelf -- gets pushed down to #7?

9. Kansas City - I'm nit-picking... I woulda put Green at #7 or so... that's all.

15. St. Louis - True Mark Bulger's injury history is growing more McNair-like every week... but Gus Frerotte gives St. Louis a very capable back-up and gives them a big edge over #13 Baltimore and other teams with papier mache signal callers.

17. Jacksonville - I think this is the grossest mistake on the list. Leftwich has had some fabulous performances in his first two years as a pro and has helped get this franchise moving quickly in the right direction. Sure, he's far from a perfect QB, but unlike other overtly flawed guys (see: Plummer, Jake; Brooks, Aaron; Manning, Eli; et al.), he's become exceptionally good at adapting his game to his strengths and minimizing situations that expose his weaknesses. And as far as his durabilitty goes, David Garrard is a much passer than 90% of the league's #2's and 10% of the league's starters.

22. Green Bay - Farve's ablities have taken a slight free-fall over the past three years, but he's always going to be leagues better than Kurt Warner, David Carr, and "The Chicago Three".

23. Washington - Also somewhat of a nitpick... Brunell had a surprisingly good 2005 season and Jason Campbell supposedly has some pretty good promise. Deserves better than #23 is all I'm saying...

27. San Diego - Philip Rivers is the former #4 pick in the draft, last I checked. And even moreso, he inspired enough confidence in GM AJ Smith that they let the gimpy but suddenly stellar Drew Brees walk without a wink of compensation. I'm not saying he's top-ten material, but Rivers certainly deserves more than to be lumped in the same breath with Loscombnall, Billy Volek, and anything that Matt Millen has put together.

30. Oakland - Aaron Brooks is a dumbass. But he's reasonably talented and will do better than third-to-worst in the league.


Are you ready for some football, mofos?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Being Pat Neshek

Neshek finally got called up to the Twins a few days ago and has pitched at least once. You should check out his website for a couple good article about what it's like getting the call to the Show. My favorite non-baseball-related part:

After BP was over I was informed that I inherited the Orange Spongebob Squarepants backpack/rollaway bag from Willie Eyre. From this day on I have to fill up the bag with beverages and goodies and wheel the bag out to the bullpen. The only time I will be fulfilled of this duty is if another bullpen member with no MLB experience comes up.


And this was interesting:
The one difference with the balls from AAA balls is the leather. MLB balls are a lot finer quality leather and a little tougher to get a good grip on.


Could that explain why the International League is such a huge pitchers' league?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Maybe Mr. Matthews needs an intern

Obviously he doesn't bother with facts, and as far as I can tell, Tom Batzold just sits at his desk reading his favorite soccer hating columnists. Luckily, we here at FBM are actually paying attention.

In today's column, Mr. Matthews notes how forgiving American sports fans are compared to soccer fans in Europe, and tries to cram captain overrated into the debate:

Captains and managers have it easy compared to their English soccer counterparts. Derek Jeter didn't step down as captain ... after the heavily favored New York Yankees lost the 2001 World Series to Arizona.

The only way I can figure that happening is if Mr. Jeter invested some of that money he stole from the Yankees into construction of a time machine so he could travel back to 2001 from June 3, 2003 in order to hold a press conference resigning from the captaincy before it was offered.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Fact free since 1833!

Hell, that evens rhymes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What is the Over/Under on Mr. Matthews' Cholesterol?

On Sunday, Mr. Matthews' column included the incredibly morbid list of things he doesn't expect to live long enough to see. Since he doesn't plan on checking out for at least a few decades we here at FBM hope he works out a lot, or at least looks better in person than in his newspaper mugshot.

On the list:

The Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl

I'll bet they have a pretty good chance once they move to LA, or NC, or wherever. With the current “leadership” of Ralph Wilson, his shuffleboard buddy Marv Levy, and proven loser Dick “But I went to Yale, I must be able to coach football,” Jauron, they have as much hope as Mr. Matthews writing a column without bullet points or lists.

My buddy Bud Selig make the Hall of Fame

I wasn't aware Messrs. Matthews and Selig had ever met, but all steroid scandals aside, Selig has been great for baseball. The wildcard and interleague play have both been tremendous, there has been franchise stability, and new ballparks are being built all over the country. According to their own press release major and minor league baseball have set attendance records each of the last two seasons. I think Mr. Selig gets to use the phrase “My Bitch, Bob Matthews.”

A major sports league reduce the number of games in the regular season...

In 1995, the Premiership (otherwise known as the fourth best attended sports league in the world) reduced the number of teams by two, which meant four less games for the remaining teams. I would make a bad joke about Mr. Matthews being born yesterday, but that would just be terrible.

The Buffalo Sabres win a Stanley cup...

They have gone deep into the playoffs twice in the past seven years, so this seems like a pretty bold statement. Someone just needs to pry Tommy G's wallet open a little wider.

The United States men's soccer team win a World Cup

Now, sometimes it may seem as if Mr. Matthews ignores facts, but even he must have noticed every single kid in Rochester playing soccer as they grow up. As the Tom Batzolds of the world retire or die off, soccer will receive more media attention, and these kids will be encouraged to continue on with soccer as they get older. I would say that the odds are decent that the USMNT will win the World Cup withing the next 30 years.

I think I found my mojo, men. Let's see what sort of shit BM's up to these days:

Several weeks ago, I annoyed some New York Yankees faithful by speculating that Jose Reyes and David Wright of the New York Mets might have the best left side of the infield in baseball in four or five years, taking over that distinction from future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. It might happen much sooner than I thought.

BM is about to present a wealth of weak 2006 data to support his claim, but really, is half a year long enough to support this type of decision? Does anyone really think ARod will slug only .487 the whole year? Does anyone realize Derek Jeter's having a freaking good year, better than Jose Reyes' media-whoring performance? Remember when Jose Lima won 20 games -- yeah, things happen in the short term that end up being laughed at long term.

That being said, it's not that crazy to think the Mets' duo is as valuable as the Yankees', if only because of David Wright. If I had the choice of any of these four players for the next five years, hell, even three years, I'd go with David Wright -- that guy's a stud.

Jeter and Rodriguez — .308 batting average (166-for-539), 27 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, 98 RBI, 259 total bases, 85 walks, 114 strikeouts, 22 stolen bases in 27 attempts, 17 errors.

Reyes and Wright — .318 batting average (196-for-617), 38 doubles, 13 triples, 26 HRs, 100 RBI, 338 total bases, 61 walks, 95 strikeouts, 45 stolen bases in 55 attempts, 16 errors.

Ow, my head hurts. Including all those numbers is retarded, but if you're going to do it, BM, how about a chart? Here's my version, with useful numbers and helpful formatting:

Name VORP VORPr FRAA
Jeter 34.7 .48 -5
ARod 21.3 .29 0
Reyes 31.9 .40 +6
Wright 39.7 .53 -7

VORP = runs above replacement relative to position
VORPr = per game rate
FRAA = fielding runs relative to positional average

It will be an upset if an American golfer wins this week's U.S. Women's Open, but recent history at least gives the U.S. players a chance. Since the start of the 2001 season, foreign players have won 19 of the 22 LPGA majors, including every Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonald's Championship and British Open. But Americans managed to win three of the five U.S. Opens (Juli Inkster in 2002, Hilary Lunke in 2003 and Meg Mallon in 2004).

If I've learned anything from reading BM over the past two months, it's that foreign golfers (especially Koreans) dominate women's golf. I feel so informed.

Steve Finley and Reggie Sanders recently became the fifth and sixth members of baseball's exclusive 300-300 Club (at least 300 home runs and at least 300 stolen bases for their careers). The feat requires a combination of power, speed and longevity. But it hasn't been an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame.

Instead of proceeding to lay out the obvious argument why it's not an automatic ticket (SBs mean shit and 300 HRs is a low cutoff point for the Hall), BM waxes nostalgic about two players he watched here in Rochester that he thought would be 300/300 performers. Neither made it.

Add Milwaukee's Carlos Lee to the list of outfielders the Yankees probably could have for pitching prospect Philip Hughes. If I were running a team with the money the Yankees have, I'd trade a young pitcher for a quality hitter for the stretch run without hesitation.

Why are we now adding Lee's name to that list? Because he's been on a tear? Wouldn't his increased performance make it less likely the Yankees could acquire him for their scrub pitching prospect? Perhaps BM meant to write "Add Milwaukee's Carlos Lee to the list of outfielders the Yankees will try to finagle away from another team because even they can recognize that hitting 25 HRs before the All-Star break is a good thing."

Sorry, Swiss soccer fans, but any team that goes 0-for-3 in a penalty shootout to settle a 0-0 draw doesn't deserve to advance in the World Cup or any other cup.

That's what you have to say about the World Cup? Screw that. How about the fact that the Ukraine/Switzerland was an awful game with both teams playing not to lose. How about commentary on the England match? How about an explanation why all the teams seem to be playing similar styles of soccer which comes across as slow, uncreative, and whiney? Or maybe your real idea was stolen by an economics geek: Freakonomics link.


Monday, June 19, 2006

The Revenge of Billy Beane

Scott Pitoniak, one of the Mantle-era Yankee obsessed sportswriters for the D&C published a fawning article about Greece Athena Senior to be Brian Dupra on Friday. Check out some “highlights”:

John Valle never brings a radar gun with him when he is checking out pitching prospects as a part-time scout for the New York Mets. Instead, the former Rochester Red Wings outfielder relies on the instincts he developed from 13 seasons as a professional baseball player. "I try to envision myself up at the plate against the pitcher," Valle says. "I'll ask myself, 'Could I hit this guy?'"

John Valle never made it to the majors, so his sole criterion is perhaps a little weak. If the Mets were looking for a former Red Wings player to make this judgment, maybe they should see what Stan Musial is up to.

Although his junior season was cut short by a strained throwing shoulder...

Sounds great! As long as he looks like a ballplayer, it should be awesome, right?

Valle is as impressed with Dupra's work ethic and maturity as he is with the live arm. The diamond isn't the only place Dupra excels. He's also an honor student who has acted in school plays and sung in select choir.

He sings choir? How fast can we sign him to a contract? The hell with things like striking people out or not having an injured shoulder, I am goddamn sold.

One of his greatest attributes is humility. He is beloved by his teammates and fellow students because he is so down-to-earth.
"He doesn't walk around school like he is better than everybody else," says Athena varsity coach Jason Bunting. "He is a very caring young man. He's the type of kid who will take time out to help out or encourage someone on the JV or modified team. As good a baseball player as he is, he's an even better person."


Fuck the JV team, I want my ace pitcher to be a mean bastard that will strike people out, brush hitters back, and throw Robin Ventura in a headlock and nail him with overhand rights when he charges the mound. Barry Bonds may be an asshole in the clubhouse, but I would still want him on my team.

Though Dupra's high school stats are impressive in several categories, they don't blow you away. He has a very respectable 1.97 earned-run average and great control — 92 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 89 innings. His 6-6 record with four saves would be better if he had received better support at the plate and in the field.

Stats? What are those? I thought we already decided that he was such a nice boy who deserved our support, and who could totally date our underage daughters because of his angelic choir voice.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hey Robyn J. Kraft – learn how to write!

You see, Robyn, there are these cool new things called paragraphs, which you should probably learn how to use. Your article about the Rochester Twilight Criterium is severely lacking in them. Unless you are an award winning sports journalist like Mr. Matthews, you should stay away from the convenient question and answer format, because it really isn't too hard to string the facts in the press release together in the series of sentences that comprise the “paragraph”.

To the rest of you, please do not let Ms. Kraft's lackluster article deter you from attending the event, since it is a ton of fun. I would be attending myself if I wasn't going to be busy charring meat and drinking beer that night.