BartCopSports

4/01/2004

Paul Hornung

In case you haven't heard, Paul Hornung, an NFL Hall of Famer and Notre Dame alumnus, suggested Notre Dame could improve its team by lowering academic standards because "we gotta get the black athlete. We must get the black athlete if we're going to compete."

Hornung continued undaunted despite foot in mouth: "You can't play a schedule like that unless you have the black athlete today. You just can't do it, and it's very, very tough, still, to get into Notre Dame. They just don't understand it, yet they want to win."

Analysis: Hornung said something really stupid. To his credit, he later apologized. He should also be thankful that a guy like Tim Brown came out and said that he considers Hornung a friend, knows he's not a racist, and thinks he simply spoke without thinking. Maybe so. I'm not going to label him a racist for one stupid comment after he's already recanted.

Let's look into some facts...
1. Notre Dame has lots of black athletes. In fact, people are citing that ND's roster of scholarship players is 55% black whereas the average Division 1 team is 44% black. I think this is a loaded stat--comparing scholarship players to the entire roster, which is often 80-100 guys. Regardless, ND has plenty of black athletes (and they're still Irish!).

2. Who in his right mind thinks Notre Dame can't recruit. That school has more nostalgia and history in its football program than most conferences. They are in bed with NBC, having all their home games nationally televised regardless how badly the team sucks. They have a very accomplished black head coach, and that's not the most common thing in NCAA football. What sort of fool thinks ND has trouble recruiting? Have you seen their roster--their players come from all over the country.

3. Just about every other school has lowered its academic standards to accept high quality athletes. Fine. If Notre Dame does it too, fine. If they don't lower their standards, that's great too. I'm all for high standards in universities. But don't pretend that it's just blacks who aren't making the cut. When you do, people think racism, and your point is lost.

4. Now here's the most important topic. Blacks are getting the shaft in our educational system. Their progress and test scores lag behind the rest of the nation, which itself is spiraling downward in academics. Instead of lowering university academic standards, maybe we should be thinking of ways to improve education in this country, not just for blacks, but for everyone.


posted by uberschuck 4/01/2004 11:31:00 PM
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The other tournament

Yeah, I'm more interested in the men's tournament too, but let's say a few words about the women. Usually, there is no point in paying attention to the women's tournament until, oh, the third round or so. See, women's college basketball is so top heavy that the better seeded teams always win. Upsets are rare, and the first couple rounds aren't all that competitive.

Well, not this year. I don't know if the field is really getting more competitive or if this year is a fluke, but the women's tournament hasn't been all chalk this go around. Here's a list of the high seeds that bit the dust in the first or second round...
(13) MTSU over (4) UNC
(11) UCSB over (6) Colorado and (3) Houston
(7) Minnesota over (2) KSU
(6) Stanford over (3) Oklahoma
(10) UT-Chattanooga over (7) Rutgers
(12) Maryland over (5) Miami

And the upsets continued. In the Final Four we have (2) UCONN vs. (7) Minnesota. That's right, the Gophers knocked #1 seed Duke out of the tournament. The other semifinal is (1) Tennessee vs. (4) LSU. The Tigers dumped #1 Texas in the regional final, and the Vols needed a ver controversial late foul to get the win over Stanford. Like I said, it hasn't gone as predicted. But then, UCONN could win it all again, and then no one would remember that this has actually been an interesting tournament.

See, that's what women's basketball needs--less dominance by one team. Yeah, I understand the UCONN--Tennessee rivalry is superb. Sure, more people would watch that game than Minnesota vs. LSU, but in the long term that variety makes the sport more interesting and watchable than the same old teams winning all the time.

Now a couple complaints about the women's tournament.
First, what moron places the teams in the brackets? There were 7 SEC teams in the field. Six were put in one half of the bracket. A Stanford win over Vanderbilt prevented an all SEC regional final in BOTH the West and Midwest. There were three Big East teams in the East region. Take a cue from the men's game--separate the teams from the same conference.

My other big problem is the hosts. I don't mind that the committee allows teams to host tournament games in the first two rounds. It's obvious why...no one outside the players' families would show up if none of the teams had a home crowd. But why do inferior teams get home court advantage. What's the point of Kansas St. busting its ass all season to earn a two seed when they get sent to lose to Minnesota in Minneapolis. In hindsight, KSU should have tanked a few games at the end of the season to avoid the ambush up north. Those two upsets by UCSB--yep--both on their home court. Why did an 11-seed get rewarded with hosting a 6 seed and a 3 seed? It makes no sense.

OK, enough griping. The semifinals are Sunday--UCONN vs. Minnesota and LSU vs. Tennessee. The championship is Tuesday night.


posted by uberschuck 4/01/2004 11:04:00 PM
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We continue the informal baseball predictions, now in the Senior Circuit.

EAST
5 NEW YORK
You want proof that money can't buy titles? Exhibit A: the New York Mets. They bring back one of the worst lineups and pitching staffs in baseball, all for a payroll among the highest in the league. It's hard to find a team which failed so spectacuarly last season. The good news is, there are some signs of life. Mike Cameron is one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, and Japanese import Kaz Matsui is the front-runner for rookie of the year. Yeah, he's blocking uber-prospect Jose Reyes, but the Mets need to find wins where they can. The pitching can't be as bad with a top two of Glavine and Leiter. The East is a suprisingly competitive division, so the Mets should be hanging out in the basement again, watching porn and smoking joints.

4 MONTREAL
At least try and win. The league seems intent on stripping the franchise of all of its meaningful players before foisting it on some desperate city, which seems to be anybody but DC. The Expos saga is a true embarrassment to everyone involved, particularly the worst owner in all of sports, the Angel of Death himself, Jeffery Loiria. The guy actively tries to destroy franchises wherever he goes, and the fact he won a World Series in Florida makes my skin crawl. There is still talent here, and Frank robinson continually shows himself to be a capable manager, but Jesus, Earl Weaver couldn't win with these guys.

3 FLORIDA
Last year is what we like to call a fluke. Everything, and I mean everything, went right for the Marlins. Even things that went wrong went right, like injuries forcing Miguel Cabrera into the starting lineup or Dontrelle Willis getting a rotation spot. This season we will demonstarte the principle that all teams tend to regress to the mean (except apparently the Braves). Beckett has emerged as a true ace, and the pitching should be solid. I even like the addition of Hee Seop Choi to the lineup, but do you honestly think Juan Encarnacion and Conine will keep producing? That the middle infield of Alex Gonzalez and Luis Castillo will be above average? Yeah, me neither.

2 ATLANTA
It has to end eventually, right? Despite a lack of World Series titles (just the one), we really should appreciate the 1990s Braves as one of the all-time great sports dynasties. They completely remade their roster several times and they just keep winning each and every year. I'm saying this is the year it ends. Of course, I said that last year, too. The Joneses aren't as good as you think, though they are good, and they will miss the offensive prowess of Sheffield and Lopez. Mazzone is the greatest pitching coach who ever lived, but he's got to polish a turd with projects like Jaret Wright and John Thompson. Never write them off, but this team is steadily getting worse.

1 PHILADELHPIA
The fact Larry Bowa still has a job is insulting to anyone who believes in the concept of a meritocracy. He was handed the keys to the baseball equivalent of a Ferrari and promptly drove it into a ditch. The players were in open revolt, the bullpen completely imploded, and good players had some of the worst years of their career (Burrell, David Bell). It's not all Bowa's fault, but his tough guy act is clearly wearing thin, and for a team that talented to finish third in a five-team division is simply inexcusable. Billy Martin could get away with acting like a jerk because his teams won, Bowa hasn't.


CENTRAL
6 PITTSBURGH
Do you think the Pirates actively try and lose games? It's too depressing to think they've been trying to win over the past few years. Their roster is littered with absolutely worthless players like Chris stynes and Jack Wilson. They start role players like Randall Simon. And prospects like Tike Redman aren't that great anyway while Jason Bay is making a slow recovery from injury. Their one remaining star, Kendall, desperately wants out. Kip Wells is a bright spot on an otherwise bleak outlook. They have their ace, all they need now is Benson and Fogg to steady their performance while the kiddie corps gets ready for thier promotion.

5 CINCINNATI
It's just sad what this team could have been. That dream outfiled of Dunn, Kearns, and Griffey just never is healthy all at once, and Dunn doesn't seem like the superstar he was projected to be. The offense was anemic last year, but you look at the lineup and think, "hey, this team isn't half bad." I can't figure it out. OK, Larson is on his last chance chance and Larkin is on his last legs, but they don't suck out loud or anything. It's justthat a team that decimated by injuries just can't overcome it. Oh, the pitching still stinks. It's a collection of fourth starters, none of whom really seem like a breakout candidate. Corey Lidle, the Opening day starter, couldn't hack it with pitching-desperate Blue Jays. However, they just traded for the best name in baseball: Jung Bong. Let's hope he makes the rotation, prompting an endless stream of 4.20 ERA jokes.

4 MILWAUKEE
I went to sleep and woke up the next day and suddenly, to my complete suprise, the Brewers had actual prospects. And good ones at that. Prince fielder may be the best prospect in all of baseball now that Mauer's in the Show, but Baseball America thinks Richie Weeks is even better. Ben Sheets is the only real pitcher they have, but the have tons of guys coming through the system, and at least one or two has to pan out, right? OK, fourth is too generous for this season. I know that, Posednik can't duplicate last season, Sexson is gone, and Geoff Jenkins has about much chance of staying healthy as Courtney Love has of staying out of rehab. I'm just trying to get used to the idea of a good Brewers team, so I'm started gradually. Since this team is owned by the Seligs, they will of course find a way to screw it up.

3 CHICAGO
It's impossibly to talk about the Cubs without talking about Dusty Baker. Baker is by far the most interesting manager in the game today, as he consistently wins by getting unbelievable performances from veteran hitters while at the same time abusing his pitching staff like no one else and almost intentionally building the worst bench he possibly can. He's both the best and worst manager in the game. He lost in the playoffs because he couldn't manage a pen and his bench didn't have anyone even resembling a hitter on it (and that Steve Bartman guy didn't help things). In one year, he's managed to run off three promising young players who could all make a positive contribution to this team: Hee Seop Choi, Bobby Hill, and Juan Cruz. Only Choi has a real shot of being a top tier player, but with Prior out indefinitely, they really could use a swingman in the pen. There just aren't enough hitters around the talented core of Sosa, Lee, and Ramirez. The pitching staff is awesome, but all rank among the league leaders in PAP. Wood's already had surgery, Prior just broke down, anyone want to bet on who is next? Zambrano? Wood again? Even if the staff was healthy, their severe problem scoring runs in a pretty good division would be a killer, but long outings don't just lead to injury, it leads to declining effectiveness. Trust your pen, Dusty. It is your only hope.

2 ST LOUIS
They have four players so unbelievably awesome that if they just managed to find league average talent at the other four postions, they would have the best lineup in the NL. Unfortunately, they are unable to accomplish that rather modest task. Finding guys like Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, and Renteria should be the tough part, but for the Cardinals, finding guys like Todd Walker is. Instead, at 2nd base, they will decide between Rule V pick Hector Luna, the forgettable Bo Hart, or the one and only Tony Womack. The Orioles have Brian Roberts, Jerry Hairston, and a prospect in Fontenot. Somebody get on the phone right now and make a deal. It's pretty much the same at the other positions, like the fact they can't find a decent hitter to play the corner outfield. Hell, the Tigers have a decent corner outfielder. The pitching staff is also a cobbled together colelction of ne'er do wells. It's like open tryouts, but the Cards have done an outstanding job offinding guys off the scrap heap. A top three of Morris, Carpenter, and Williams scares no one, but I'm pretty sure they'll find another arm under the couch cushions.

1 HOUSTON
Usually, I start with hitters, but let's start with the pitching. bill James has a theory that you should build your team to suit your ballpark, so the Astros, who play in a hitter's paradise, have built a tremendous pitching staff. Petitte is overrated, but he's still good. Clemens is a Hall of Famer at the end of his career. They got the headlines, but what people may not have noticed was that they didn't need free agents to bolster their staff. Wade Miller is a stud, and he's no Roy Oswalt. Tim Redding is a legit #2 starter. Hell, Saarloos is legit #4, and he's stuck in AAA. Other teams can't find pitchers and the Astros are sending good ones back to AAA just because they can't find room for them on the roster. And they have one of the best closers in the game. And the hitters ain't bad. Biggio is becoming a liability while Bagwell is starting that slow decline. But the next generation is here: Adam Everett, Morgan Ensberg, and Richard Hidalgo. Oh, and that Lance Berkman guy. This team is really good.

WEST
5 COLORADO
Anyone can win this division, even the Rockies. They won't do it, but the lack of a real dominant team gives everyone hope as everyone is pretty bunched together. Helton is one of the best players on earth, and he's got a nice supporting cast in Pierre, Burnitz, and Charles Johnson. But there are serious holes. The middle infield has disaster written all over it, and Larry Walker probably won't make it through the season healthy. He's a shadow of the player he once was. Vinny Cash-Stealer returns as the starting third baseman, never a good sign for a team. And the pitching is bad. It's not a decent staff that we think is bad because it's in Colorado. No, it's a bad staff that looks even worse. Expect more football scores.

4 ARIZONA
The end is rarely pretty. A lot of really good players are rapidly reaching the end of their careers, and it's not fun to watch. I want to remember Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, and Randy Johnson in better days. They are hoping to squeeze one last hurrah out of their Methusla-esque lineup, even adding Sexson to the lineup and Rookie of the Year runner-up Brandon Webb to the rotation. But it's over. Kata and Cintron are decent players, but it's hard to picture them as the infield of the future. Adding a well-past-it Roberto alomar isn't going to help either. After the top two, the pitching staff drives off a cliff (Steve Sparks?). This is a thoroughly mediocre team trying to recapture the magic.

3 LOS ANGELES
They can't hit. Better days are coming, but DePodesta doesn't have a magic wand. They couldn't hit last year and the same players probably won't hit this year. Maybe Green and Beltre will turn things around a bit, but Cora and Iztruis make up the worst-hitting infield in baseball. Yes, even worse than the one in Minnesota. Robin Ventura will play first base, which should make Giants fans absolutely giddy. They are out to prove the cliche about pitching winning championships wrong. But what a staff. obody wows you, but they are have a glut of talented arms, and an unbelievably good bullpen anchored by Eric Gagne. Playing in the world's greatest pitching park certainly helps, but park effects do not explain 556 runs allowed, about 3.4 a game in a seriously offense-oriented era.

2 SAN DIEGO
They've spent years building up to this moment. Unlike most teams, which now build a ballpark in the hopes their team will suddenly get good, the Padres have worked hard to build a team that would be good by the time Petco opened. Mission accomplished. This is a very young team, and their best players probably don't remember hair metal, but Nevin and Burroughs are stars already. Giles gives them another middle of the lineup stud. They'll get nice contributions from role players like Hernandez, Payton, and Loretta. I think Khalil Green will flameout this season, but they really don't have any other options at short. And the pitching staff is full of young, talented guys. Eaton, Peavy, and Lawrence realize they've got David Wells to take the pressure off, but they are the core. Hoffman returns to stabalize the bullpen. This is a really good team that just hasn't found a way to put it together, they should be this year's Royals.

1 SAN FRANCISCO
You may have heard of this Bonds guy. He's pretty good. The lineup is full of thoroughly decent hitters (think JT Snow) who know their job is to be the Seven Dwarves to Barry's Snow White. The entire offense revolves around one guy, and why not? He's only the best player you'll probably ever see. When a guy's numbers compare favorably to Babe Ruth, you know you're watching something special. We're running out of time to appreciate it, so just grab a chair and watch him play. It's amazing, in recent years, we've seen three of the four major sports have a truly superlative player wrap up their career. I'm not talking Hall of Fame, I'm talking Best Player Ever. Jordan, Gretzky, Bonds. Tell your kids you saw 'em play.

PLAYOFFS

PHILADELPHIA over SAN FRANCISCO
HOUSTON over ATLANTA

NL CHAMP: HOUSTON
MVP: BARRY BONDS
CY YOUNG: JOSH BECKETT (see? it pays to wait on these things so I'm not stuck with Prior as my pick)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: KAZ MATSUI
posted by Poseur 4/01/2004 12:32:00 PM
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3/31/2004

Let's do some baseball predictin'. It never ceases to amaze me that the powers-that-be go out of their way to trump up what is wrong about the game instead of focusing that the last few World Series' have all been epic, more teams are competitive than ever before, and fans show up to the park in record numbers. The only thing wrong with baseball is their ridiculous anti-marketing campaign, designed to keep player salaries down. The NFL's got problems, but they have the good sense to only talk about the good stuff in public.

AL EAST
5 TAMPA BAY
The D-Rays seem to be going out of their way to hire ever veteran cast-off they can. This team isn't as awful as it was a few years back, but their window to finish third closed as the Blue Jays and the Orioles both went out and hired competent management teams. This is a team with problems both scoring and preventing other teams from scoring. They are no longer cover-your-eyes awful, so I guess that is progress, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking they are a good team. They've got some promising young hitters in Huff, Crawford, and Baldelli; but they still will struggle to score runs. They aspire to be mediocre, and given their franchise history, maybe that's not a bad thing. Baby steps.

4 BALTIMORE
I'm an Oriole fan, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I'm optomistic about the team's future. They have got some terrific young pitchers, and hopefully the 2006 staff of Riley, Ainsworth, DuBose, and Bedard will be fearsome. But it's not 2006 yet, and these guys are gonna take some lumps, one of them will probably bust out this year (my money is on Riley), but it's gonna be frustrating at times. Luckily, the O's have a good bullpen. The O's actually have a pretty decent offense, adding Lopez, Raffy, and Tejada in the offseason. They missed on the big prize of Vlad Guerrerro, but the outfield looks solid with Gibbons, Bigbie, Matos, and Cust all good contributors. Unfortunately, this team plays in the East, so they have very little chance of winning the division.

3 NEW YORK
Yes, they added A-Rod and Sheffield, two of the best hitters in baseball. Here are my issues: they are going to start Kenny Lofton and Enrique Wilson. This team is old, old, old. and old teams tend to get hurt. Bernie Williams is breaking down, Jason Giambi has terrible knees and will be forced into the field, and this team has no infield depth. An unexpected injury to Jeter or A-Rod will absolutely kill them. The baseball gods tend to punish hubris, and the Yankees seem to be tempting fate, putting together an expensive, old, fragile, yet extraordinarily talented team. The pitching is very much the same story, as they tempt fate with Kevin Brown, a dominant pitcher when he's healthy, which is fairly rare. Any team that actually plays Felix Heredia on Opening Day has issues with their bullpen. If they stay healthy, they are the team to beat, I just don't think they will. The run ends now, the baseball gods will it.

2 TORONTO
I'll admit I'm predisposed to root for one of the most saberetrically inclined organizations, so take this with a grain of salt. I really like this team. Delgado is an unappreciated star, they've got more quality outfielders than they know what to do with, and I think Hinske will finally have his breakout year. The pitching staff is Roy Halladay and a bunch of third atrters, but that strategy has worked well for the Cardinals for years, and they don't have a guy like Halladay. They lack stars, they just have a whole bunch of really good players. Outside of Delgado and Halladay, everybody is replaceable, which is great for a 162-game season, bad for a short series. This team is built for the long season, and then to get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

1 BOSTON
Forget that they didn't get A-Rod. Focus on what they did get: Schilling, Foulke, and Burks. They had the best offense in baseball last year, and while some of their players will come back to earth (Bill Mueller?), this team is loaded. Outside of Pokey Reese, who brings some serious defense, everyone in the lineup can flat out rake the ball. Let's assume the offense takes a step backwards, the first three men in the rotation are Pedro, Schilling, and Lowe. Despite it's early season troubles, the bullpen is now one of the best in baseball. They allowed 809 runs last year, and they are hoping that number can go down by nearly 100 runs. Heck, 50 runs would make them thebest team in baseball. The excsues stop now in Beantown. Either win the World Series or shut the hell up.

CENTRAL
5 DETROIT
This just in, they suck. The new management team did the best thing they could do after the years of Randy smith's complete mismanagement, just clean house and try and start over. Is anyone on last year's disaster going to be on the next good Tigers team? Probably not, but that wasn't the point. Step one of rebuilding is admitting you have to rebuild, Detroit's spent two decades wallowed in mediocrity because they have never fessed up to their need to completely overhaul the rosetr. Now, even Randy Smith would know to go into rebuilding mode. They hired some stop gap players in the offseason like Pudge so they won't suck quite as bad, but the only players who truly matter are Eric Munson, Carlos Pena, and Jeremy Bonderman. Those three are the only ones who project to be on the team in four to five years.

4 CHICAGO
They were 3rd in runs prevented, mainly because Loiaza spent the year doing his best Greg Maddux impression. I'm here to tell you that it won't happen again. This team's real problem is that they struggle to score runs, and Ozzie Gullen gives every indication he's gonna play small ball, insuring they score as few runs as possible. Frank Thomas is pouting (what else is new?), but so is Mags, their best player. Neither will be a White Sock next year, I'd wager. This team needs the perennially disappointing Paul Konerko to come through to win games. Paul Konerko is one of their best hitters. Let that sink in. Buerhle is an outstanding pitcher, but the rest of the staff is littered with question marks, and in close games, they will voluntarily give the ball to Billy Koch. They aren't guarranteed to disappoint, but they seem like a front-runner for that distinction.

3 CLEVELAND
This team has outstanding breakout potential as they are moving itno phase two fo the rebuilding process: turning all of those great prospects into actual players. I'll say it now, I think Victor Martinez is a better catching prospect than Joe Mauer, particularly short term. A lot of their players wore down by the end of last year (Blake, Broussard, Crisp), but with a year under their belts, they might be better prepared for a full 162-game schedule. Gerut has arrived as has Bradley, and Sizemore and Phillips will probably be ready for their cups of coffee by midseason. The pitching is full of talented cast-offs like D'Amico and Durbin, but they are just keeping things warm for the glut of pitching prospects in the system. They could make a run this year, but that would be a year ahead of schedule.

2 KANSAS CITY
Mike Sweeney is hurt again. Just thought you should get used to hearing that. Everyone talks about how this should be a close race, but the Royals simply aren't as good as the Twins. Beltran may be the most underrated player in baseball, hell, he might be the flat out best player not named Bonds. The bottom of the order is brutal, but if the top of the order produces like it can and Gonzalez and Sweeney manage to combine for 900 at bats, they have a pretty good shot in a flawed division. The staff is full of talented question marks, guys like Affledt could either be a top tier starter or a compelte bust. Believe it or not, they have a terrific pen, which could come in handy during a playoff run.

1 MINNESOTA
They are the only team in the division that seems capable of winning 90 games. They insist on playing the black hole infield of Rivas and Guzman, killing what should be a pretty good offensive team. They have corner outfielders just falling off trees, so they improved last season by, you guessed it, signing a veteran corner outfielder in Shannon Stewart. It's like they go out of their way to keep the division competitive, when by all rights they should win this thing by ten games. Heck, they have two CATCHERS who can hit (LeCroy and Mauer), and they flaunted that depth by trading Pierzynski for failed pitching prospects. They also have ridiculous amounts of pitchers, and they finally will start their best pitcher, Johan santana, instead of keeping him as a innings eater in the pen. No team has had a more productive farm system in recent years, and no team has done a worse job of complimenting their player development program with asinine player acquisitions and usage.

WEST
4 TEXAS
A classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The Rangers can't pitch, but they could hit like hell. So they try and improve by blaming their shortcomings on their best hitter, A-Rod. Does anyone else think this is remarkably stupid? They didn't even trade him for pitching, addressing the team's glaring weakness. Well, they can still hit. Soriano, Blalock, and Teixeira form a solid, young core. Michael Young has the unenviable task of replacing A-Rod, which he can't do either defensively or at the plate. Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix are the next two great young hitters trying to break into the lineup. The pitching, of course, is still wretched. There are no prospects on the horizon, and the guys in the roation range from merely bad (Kenny Rogers) to spectacularly awful (Glendon Rusch). If they were in the Central, they would be contenders.

3 SEATTLE
Last one out, turn off the lights. The window is rapidly closing, as all of the Mariners best players are in serious decline except for Ichiro. Edgar Martinez may be the first DH elected to the Hall of Fame, but he's not the hitter he once was. Olerud's in decline, as is Boone. They brought in a declining Aurilia. The up-and-coming Randy Winn isn't that up-and-coming. It's still a good team, capable fo one finaly hurrah, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. The pitching is solid, and if their staff was in Texas, we'd be crowining the Rangers as AL front-runners. Let me take this momet to say that Jamie Moyer may be my favorite pitcher of all time. The guy's fastball could be clocked with a sundial, yet he's had a very effective career.

2 ANAHEIM
After years of indifferent ownership, the Angels not only got an active owner, they got a good one. Moreno has actively courted the local Hispanic population, refusing to concede fans to the Dodgers. Yes, he's made a splash by signing Hispanic name players, but they are really good Hispanic name players. He's not signing Julio Franco, he's signing Vladimir Guerrerro and Bartolo Colon. After winning the World Series, they fell into the classic trap of thinking their flaws were virtues. Last season's brutal flop disabused them of that notion. They spent an offseason trying to address actual needs, while also trying to, get this, treat their fans well. While raising payroll, they cut ticket prices. They didn't whine about bad luck last year, they went out an improved the team. Sure, Eckstein is still the Little Fireplug Who Could, but you can't expect them to completely rid themselves of hustle guys with limited talent. But now they surrounded hustle guys with really good players.

1 OAKLAND
Team Moneyball keeps rolling along. For all of their talk about on-base percentage and offense, this team wins the old fashioned way: pitching and defense. The best rotation in baseball keeps getting better. Zito, Hudson, and Mulder added a new stud to the list: Harden. And Redman's no slouch. They also keep finding prospects to plug in to open slots: this year it's Bobby Crosby. Jermiane Dye can't be near as a bad as he was last year, so expect the offense to improve a little bit. Pretty soon, they must make a World Series to legitamize this as the best organization in baseball.

PLAYOFFS:
OAKLAND over TORONTO
BOSTON over MINNESOTA

AL CHAMP: BOSTON
MVP: CARLOS DELGADO
CY YOUNG: TIM HUDSON
ROOKIE: BOBBY CROSBY

posted by Poseur 3/31/2004 01:39:00 PM
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3/30/2004

It's a busy week, and posting will be pretty light. I'll try and say some things about the Fonal Four and all that, but I want to take this brief moment to weigh in one Opening Day in Japan.

I'm a huge baseball fan. Every year, I read Ball Four cover to cover. I buy about three baseball previews as well as the Baseball Prospectus. I lurk on baseballprimer.com and several other baseball newsgroups. I think Bill James should be elected to the Hall of Fame, but not before Ron Santo. I grew up outside Baltimore, and Opening Day is a local holiday. To me, Opening Day still means Earl Weaver and Brooks Robinson. OK, maybe Cal Ripken.

The first thing I do in the morning is read last night's box scores. I follow minor league ball (sporadically) and college (intensely). I'll probably attend about a dozen games this season, as well as catch an incalulable number on TV. I'll watch every playoff game in its entirety. My wife will put up with this as long as she can pick her favorite players herself (Barry Bonds, believe it or not) and least favorite teams (the Yankees, a prerequisite in this town). My point is, I love baseball.

And I didn't watch the game. Not one pitch. I wasn't trying to make a statement or anything, I just didn't watch. I have a job, you know. The D-Rays won, which is cool, but Mussina lost, and I always hope he does well. It just didn't feel like Opening Day. No one really cared. So baseball can have all of the overseas games it wants, but I ain't gonna watch them. I'm still waiting for Opening Day.
posted by Poseur 3/30/2004 02:37:00 PM
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