38 straight saves

Eric Gagne recorded his 38th straight save last night, his third in three nights. Actually, his only blown save was in the All-Star Game and that didn't count, despite the marketing campaign. So he's tied the MLB record for best start by a closer.

Now it's time to set his sights on Bobby Thigpen's 57. Gagne's exactly on pace right now, 2/3rds of the way throught season he's 2/3rd's of the way to the record. Considering the Dodgers rarely open up big leads, he's got a real good shot at the record. He'd at least like to top last year's total of 52.
posted by Poseur 8/08/2003 12:47:00 PM

Most underrated athlete

I'm a sucker for a list, so I try to avoid the Page 2 lists becuase I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who cares. But their list of all-time underrated athletes caught my eye, and I'd like to throw in my two cents on their list. first, the baseball guys:

1. Stan Musial
No question, THE most underrated player ever. But not when he played, when he played, the debate of who's better: Musial or Williams? was all the rage. And for fans to not vote him on the All-Century team was a galring omission.

For the record, Musial was a 20-time All-Star, 7-time batting champ, and 3-time MVP. Heck, he was runner-up in the MVP voting FOUR more times. For the record, Teddy Ballgame does better on the rate stats while Musial wins on the counting stats. Willaims is 7th all-time in average, 1st in OBP, and 2nd in slugging. Musial is 2nd in total bases, 4th in hits, 8th in runs, and 5th in RBI all-time. Oh, and Musial won three World Series rings and was certainly a much nicer person. He certainly belongs in the discussion of greatest ballplayer ever.

3. Arky Vaughn
Bill James rates him as one of the greatest shortstops ever. I don't see it, but I'll defer. Go buy his Historical Abstract.

5. Lefty Grove
His ERA was a full point and a half better than league average over the course of his career. That's insanely good. He led the league nine times in ERA and 7 times in strikeouts. He's on the very short list of Best Pitcher Ever.

8. Goose Gossage
Pair him with Bruce Sutter, the two great relivers of their era. sutter had a better peak, but Gossage lasted longer. both invented the closer position.

Now, football...
Lenny Moore

Why doesn't he get included in the all-tme great running backs discussion? During his career, he could have played in a total of 158 games due to a shorter schedule back then. That took 12 years, a player today can do that in 8 and 1/2 seasons. He was just a ridiculous dual threat. He average 4.8 yds/carry on top of his 363 career receptions. To put that in perspective, he was appearing on the top 10 leaderboards as both a rusher and a receiver. Who else can do that?

6. Bob Hayes
He actually had world class speed. But in an era when passing strategy was still developing, he was almost unstoppable. He averaged over 20 yds/catch on his career. The only other player I could find who pulled that off was Paul Warfield, and we know he was great.

10. Ray Guy
No respect for the greatest punter ever. Football is about field position, and he was the ultimate at controlling the field position game. He deserves the Hall of Fame.
posted by Poseur 8/08/2003 12:38:00 PM


The NCAA prepares the Hammer

The NCAA infractions committee is expected to announce as early as next week that the rules violations Maryland reported in February involving a football assistant coach's cash payments totaling $335 to a prospective recruit constitute a major infraction, according to a source familiar with the situation.

After concluding its investigation of an incident involving then-assistant coach Rod Sharpless and defensive end Victor Abiamiri, Maryland officials announced Feb. 20 that it had found no additional improprieties and that it considered the infraction a secondary violation, which do not carry significant penalties such as probation or postseason bans.


Just so you're clear on the details, Sharpless is known as fairly bad recruiter. He needed a big recruit to, well, keep his job. so he paid $355 to Abiamiri in orderto entice him to sign with Maryland. Before Singing Day, Maryland officials found out about the payments and decided to fire Sharpless and immediately stop recruiting Abiamiri. Which I think we can agree was the right thing to do.

So now the NCAA has poked its nose into the matter and decided these are "major" infractions. Are they high? The university acted exactly as you would want them to act. They moved quickly, decisively, and correctly. The man who made the mistake lost his job, and the team did not benefit from the payments as they immediately stopped recruiting Abiamiri.

For the NCAA to call this incident a major violation will only encourage other schools to hide their infractions and not act on impropriety. If you're going to get hammered, you might as well get the player. And you sure as hell shouldn't tell the NCAA. This tells the Terps they should have not reported the infraction and kept the whole thing secret, praying nobody finds out. And in the world of recruiting, $355 is pretty easy to hide. What an absolutely idiotic decision from an absolutely idiotic organization.

posted by Poseur 8/07/2003 01:13:00 PM

The Washington Times is still stupid

At 44, an age when most athletes who are not professional golfers have turned into golfing, ex-professional athletes, Henderson refuses to quit. After getting cut by the Boston Red Sox last year, he started the season with the Newark Bears, an independent minor league team. He finally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers last month. But until then, Rickey's daily routine included commuting to New Jersey from his Manhattan apartment and fielding this question: Why?

Why, Rickey, why? Your legacy, your greatness has been established. The stolen base and runs scored records, the lead-off homers, the 3,000-plus hits, the way you could single-handedly change the course of a game simply by being Rickey — why tarnish all that? Isn't this beneath you — playing in the low minors before crowds numbering in the hundreds, dressing alongside the has-beens and never-will-bes? Even if you get to skip riding the team bus, you still have to park the SUV and play games in Camden, N.J., or Bridgeport, Conn.

Sure, you were named MVP of the All-Star Game. But the Atlantic League All-Star Game?

Why, Rickey, why?

Maybe, just maybe, it's because he likes playing.

How would you like it if people kept demanding you to retire from your job to preserve your legacy? Rickey's hanging on because he wants to do the one thing he's always done: play baseball. He's not adding to his legacy, nor tarnishing it. He's not hanging around to reach some milestone, he's hanging around because he thinks he can still play. and looking around the Major League rosters (particularly the Dodgers), I don't see why not.

Rickey is one of the all-time greats. He can end his career whenever the hell he feels like it. as long as someone is willing to pay him to play baseball, he should keep doing it if he still wants to. And apparently, he does.

Aren't sportswriters always bemoaning players hwo are just in it for the money? Here's a guy who really is continuing to play for love of the game, and some jackass decides to criticize him. Shut the hell up.

posted by Poseur 8/07/2003 01:05:00 PM

Clarret not in OSU team picture

Regardless of Clarett's behavior, Tressel said he will be welcome to attend practice as an observer.

"We're not requiring him to be there, but he's certainly free to stop by," Tressel said. "He's not suspended from the grounds, but he won't take part in any activities [like] meetings, practices, that type of thing."

It's getting safer and safer to assume that Clarrett won't play college football this season. Really, the quicker the decision is made, one way or another, the better for the Buckeyes. Just get this over with.

And don't believe the lie this isn't a distraction. It's a huge distraction. I think Tressel is a great coach, but this is a media firestorm right now. He's doing the right thing, but I think in the back of his mind, he's crossed Clarrett's name off the depth chart.

How does this affect their chances at a repeat? With Clarrett, I think they are even with Michigan as the best team in the Big Ten. Without Clarret, they are even with Purdue at number two. They would be in the running for the Big Ten, but no longer co-favorites.

posted by Poseur 8/07/2003 01:00:00 PM

M's and Yanks swap relievers

News item: Kazuhiro Sasaki gives up three home runs in his final two rehabilitation appearances with the Everett AquaSox but says he's 100 percent ready to return to the Mariners.

General reaction: The closer was trying to increase his arm strength and velocity by throwing primarily fastballs, 5explaining why first-year pros were able to take him deep.

These rookies were "sitting" on fastballs while also taking advantage of the short power alleys at Everett Memorial Stadium.

OK, so Kaz isn't ready, meaning the Mariners are going to put Benitez into the closer's role. This gets Benitez out of New York, which he desperately needs, and puts Nelson back in New York, which he desperately wants.

Nelson's got an ERA of 3.35, 47 K's to 14 walks in 37.2 IP. And 7 saves, 6 holds, and 4 blown saves.

Benitez has an ERA of 2.91, 60 K's to 30 walks in 58.2 IP. And 21 saves, 4 holds, and 7 blown saves.

Stealing Baseball Prospectus' reliever evaluation tools, Nelson allowed 5.8 more runs than a league average pitcher and Benitez allowed 8.0 runs LESS. Simply put, despite his spawn of Satan rep, Benitez is a better pitcher than Nelson. But he really needed to get out of the Big Apple. so both sides can view this as a win.

posted by Poseur 8/07/2003 12:54:00 PM


The BartCop Hex

Enterprising reader Sillius Sodus took Bart's challenge to find out how Tiger is doing pre and post hex. I'll let him explain:

The other day Bart was raving about Mr. Perfect and the BartCop Hex once again, and since he opened it up to readers doing a little digging, I got bored and did some. I used the date of June 14, 2001 as the starting date of the BartCop Hex (the first day of the 2001 U.S. Open). I did not include the three majors that Tiger played in as an amateur in 1996. I compiled a little Excel spreadsheet with the details, but here's the summary:

Pre-BartCop Hex (1996 through June 14, 2001) -
28% Tournament wins (28 of 100)
35% Major wins (6 of 17)
approx. $247,000 per event ($24,739,307 total winnings over 100 events)

Post-BartCop Hex (June 14, 2001 through August 3, 2003) -
26% Tournament wins (10 of 39)
20% Major wins (2 of 10)
approx. $337,000 per event ($13,175,043 total winnings over 39 events)

So, his major wins have dropped a bit, but overall Tiger's performance is pretty steady. I attribute his average winnings increase to the fact that purses are larger since he's come onto the scene due to an increased fanbase. It should be noted that he has won 1 out of every 3 tournaments he's entered this year (but still with zero major victories).

Sillius and I had a nice email exchange yesterday and I'll spare you the details, but I do object to his methodology, lumping in Tiger's early years in the pre-Hex numbers, which seriously lower his numbers. He thinks it's only fair to include them (and if I'm screwing this up, Sillius, feel free to email me again). So I came to a compromise and will list the "Pre-Awesome" numbers seperately. I also looked at the PGA Tour's total purse and the percentange of that purse that Tiger took home. Here's what I came up with:

My table maker is screwed up, so scroll down.


It's bad. The code looks right, but ARGH!

Post-BartCop Hex
2001 2002 2003 Total
Tourneys 9 18 12 39
Tourney Wins 1 5 4 10
Tourney Win % 11% 28% 33% 26%
Majors 3 4 3 10
Major Wins 0 2 0 2
Major Win % 0% 50% 0% 20%
$ 1.4 mil 6.9 mil 4.8 mil 13.2 mil
$/Tourney 161,324 384,034 400,874 337,821
Total Purse 84 mil 189 mil 144 mil 417.5 mil
% of Purse 1.73% 3.65% 3.34% 3.16%
Pre-BartCop Hex
2001 2000 1999 Total
Tourneys 10 20 21 51
Tourney Wins 4 9 8 21
Tourney Win % 40% 45% 38% 41%
Majors 1 4 4 9
Major Wins 1 3 1 5
Major Win % 100% 75% 25% 56%
$ 4.2 mil 9.2 mil 6.6 mil 20.0 mil
$/Tourney 423,585 459,416 315,075 392,956
Total Purse 84.0 mi 154.3 m 132.5 m 370.9 mil
% of Purse 5.04% 5.95% 4.99% 5.40%
1998 1997 1996 Total
Tourneys 20 21 8 49
Tourney Wins 1 4 2 7
Tourney Win % 5% 19% 25% 14%
Majors 4 4 0 8
Major Wins 0 1 0 1
Major Win % 0% 25% 0% 13%
$ 1.8 mil 2.1 mil 790,594 4.7 mil
$/Tourney 92,055 98,420 98,824 95,888
Total Purse 96.4 mi 77.8 mi 68 mil 242.3 mil
% of Purse 1.91% 2.65% 1.16% 1.94%

Some interesting stuff here.

First off, there's some rounding in the presentation, but not in the Excel data. I also, to make life easy, simply divided the total prize money in 2001 in two for the half years on both tables. So what do we see here?

Comparing his two and a half years pre and post Hex, you can see a huge drop off. Wiining percentage is down from 41% to 26%. He's won three less Majors in one more attempt. He's earned about $7 million less at about $50,00 per tourney. But toal purse money has gone up, and his percentage of the take has dropped from 5% to 3%. The lesson, as always:

Don't mess with the Hammer of Bart

posted by Poseur 8/06/2003 11:48:00 AM


The Post thinks Torre uses Rivrera too much

"I don't want to use Mariano more than two days in a row . . ."

In truth, Torre should have done one of two things. Before that sentence, he could have announced, to a room filled with similarly-addled Yankees fans: "My name is Joe, and I can't stop summoning my closer."

Tough city. Blow one freakin's save and they are on you. Chill out! Rivera's still one of the best closers in the game, it's just one lousy game. It'll be okay.

posted by Poseur 8/05/2003 03:03:00 PM

The first step on the road to hell

Three hundred producers, editors, cameramen and assistants at NFL Films are working around the clock to create thousands of hours of programming for the Nov. 4 launch of the NFL Network, the league's entry into the expanding field of 24-hour sports television. Getting into the television business is something that the NFL, easily the wealthiest and most watched sports entity in North America, and other leagues and teams are starting to do. They want to control every aspect of their TV content: how it is presented, how it is delivered to viewers and the terms on which it is sold to advertisers.

The NFL Network could one day be the platform for live games, delivering them directly to viewers through satellite and cable television, and in high definition television. Fans could be tuning directly to the NFL Network to watch the Cleveland Browns square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of punching the clicker to watch the game on Fox, CBS, ABC or ESPN.

This is bad news.

This is step one for the NFL to eventually move its games to its own network which means, eventually, pay per view games only. don't think it can happen? Ask a Brit about the Premiership.

It's not going to happen next year or the year after that. This is long-term, well after their current TV contracts expire. But it's coming. And it is pure evil.
posted by Poseur 8/05/2003 03:00:00 PM

Dodgers "hitting" coach Jack Clark fired

I'd like to say they shouldn't have canned him, but consider the evidence.

The Dodgers rank 29th in runs scored with 379, ahead of the Tigers by 15 runs, trailing the Padres by over 80 runs.

They rank 29th in batting average at an unbelievably bad .239.

They rank dead last in slugging percentage: .357.

They out on-base the Tigers by a single point, .297 to .296. Boston's team batting average is .292.

It's just horrific. But look at how the team performs versus their career OPS:
Player 2003 Car Change
Roberts 628 669 -61
Cabrera 760 635 +125
Green 758 868 -110
Jordan 791 806 -15
Lo Duca 784 789 -5
Beltre 648 741 -93
Cora 576 635 -59
Izturis 573 578 -5

Outisde of Cabrera, that's epic. Every player has declined, most of them significantly. It's not just a failure of talent, it's a failure of coaching.

posted by Poseur 8/05/2003 02:53:00 PM


Blacks don't play baseball anymore

And here's the money quote:

"Plain and simple, the Latin players are cheaper," McLemore said. "They bring them in, house them, work them out on fields they've built, and can sign them, boom, for little and not have to worry about the draft.

"That's the reality. But that's what stinks about it."

So is the argument that blacks are losing Major League jobs to support the racism of the baseball establishment which favors Latinos? I'm not buying.

There is a very real problem with African-Americans and baseball. After the huge influx of great balck ballplayers, suddenly the well has dried up. Black youths are far more interested in playing basketball or football and what we are seeing is that coming to fruition. There really is a declining number of black Major Leaguers, no one is making that up.

And there is a growing faction of Latino players. And there are baseball schools, run by teams, which circumvent the draft. McLemore isn't lying about that. I think he's wrong in the long run. There is no plot, but there is a need for reform. And it's as simple as encouraging youth baseball in the States and implementing a worldwide draft. I refuse to believe its a bad thing that baseball is becoming more international, but the powers-that-be should encourage kids to keep playing, no matter what the color of their skin.

posted by Poseur 8/04/2003 01:23:00 PM

William Rhoden doesn't like trades

In a sport defined by ritual and lore, the trading deadline is one of baseball's great traditions, but there's something un-American about it. The notion of bad teams eagerly raising the white flag is a peculiar tradition that should be eliminated.

Imagine a world-class distance runner, hopelessly out of contention. Does the runner quit? In what sport would a team that's behind in the standing declare the season over and sell off its best players to the highest bidder?

In baseball. During the course of a season, as the distance widens between leaders and the pack, lousy teams begin to jettison unwanted players with fat contracts, effectively turning themselves into farm teams for the contenders. The result is a fire sale by losers and bargain shopping by contenders.

This old, familiar ritual kills the spirit of the game.

Sportswriters specialize in coming up with simplistic, stupid ideas which wholly miss the point. Rhoden's column is Exhibit A. Abolish the trade deadline? Why?

Prospects have value. EVERY sport has a trade dealine and midseason trades. But only in baseball can teams get developing talent for overpriced vets who no longer serve any purpose for their team. The Pirates are raising the white flag? Say it isn't so! But with trades, they were able to get talent in return for the stars who woul surely leave in the offseason. both tema sbenefit, the contender and the rebuilding team.

And tell the Red Sox Nation, who still remember Bagwell for Larry Anderson, that midseason trades only benefit the contending club. Tell the Padres, who had a fire sale which four years later netted enough talent to put them in the World Series. Or the A's, who sold off McGwire in 1997 and now are one of the best teams in baseball.

If a bad team can't get vaue for their established vets so they then continue to suck, that's not baseball's fault. That's the team's fault. And what could be more American than that?

posted by Poseur 8/04/2003 12:48:00 PM

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