Friday, August 31, 2007

Trevor Hoffman called sportswriters who didn't vote for him for an award---Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle

"Okay, a confession. I've been eligible to vote in Baseball Hall of Fame elections for around 15 years. I'm actually unclear on that since I was nearing the required 10 years of membership at one point in the '80s and then went off and covered the NFL and NBA for almost a decade. When I did become eligible, I didn't vote for a few years and even stopped getting a ballot for a time.

  • I did cast my first vote four or five years ago and have done so every year since. I'm uncomfortable doing this and don't know if I'll fill out another. I'm just not sure this is the kind of thing newspaper reporters should be involved in. Our job should be to cover the news, not make it.

I definitely don't think we should be voting in baseball's post-season awards--MVP, Cy Young, etc.--since many players have incentive clauses tied to those things.

  • A few years ago, Trevor Hoffman looked up sportswriters who'd left him off either their Cy Young or MVP ballots. Likewise, newspapers shouldn't be part of banquets and the like in which players are given awards."***
  • (The rest of the article deals with voting matters not concerning Hoffman) sm

"A lot of my colleagues strongly disagree with me. They like having a say in who goes in the Hall of Fame and who doesn't. Some of them spend hours lobbying to get certain guys in. One of their defenses would be: ''If we don't do it, who is going to do it?''

  • I agree we might be the most qualified. That's also not our problem. The Hall of Fame is run by smart, competent people, and they'd need about 10 minutes to figure out a new voting process. It probably would be just as good as the old one.

I don't know why I'm bringing this up today except that some of the things I've read and heard about Mark McGwire the last 24 hours are beyond ignorant. Steroid use is a complicated topic. We want our athletes to be the best they can be. In the late '80s that meant lifting weights, hiring nutritionists and taking supplements. When someone showed up one day with something that allowed them to be even better, they jumped. You probably would have done the same thing. Bob Gibson has said he would have tried them.

  • At one point in the '70s, some Dallas Cowboy defensive linemen I knew were open about their steroid use. There was no stigma associated with them. They also didn't like the results, perhaps, in part, because they didn't incorporate their use with a sophisticated weight-training program.

Steroids didn't become a controlled substance until around 1991. Baseball didn't add them to its banned list until 1992. If you used steroids in, say, 1998 or 2001, you knew you were cheating, but before that the lines were blurred.

McGwire was the perfect baseball player in a lot of ways. He was admired by teammates, managers and opposing players. He cared about the right things. He wanted teammates who ''respected the game.'' Ultimately, he probably disrespected the game. I believe if he came out and explained himself, if he simply tried to make people understand the mindset of a competitive athlete, he could change a lot of votes.

I don't know if he's compelled to do that. He seems to be living in seclusion in Southern California. He surely realizes the swirl of discussions around his candidacy. Maybe he simply doesn't care. But I'm not sure I'm the one who should be deciding whether he gets in the Hall of Fame or not."

***Judge a person by his actions not his words (or words of others). I commented a long time ago there had to be a salesman somewhere behind the 24/7 avalanche of awards campaigning about Hoffman, and it turns out to be himself. This is about as unseemly as you can get--And "a few years ago?" I mean he was out almost the entire 2003, he consistently blows big games, and even a few years ago he thought he should get an award? Kudos to Richard Justice for seeing this entire process as grossly unethical. It's possible in the near future that no one from the Houston Chronicle will be voting on Cy Young or MVP awards--what most people don't know is they're already really the Jack O'Connell/Bud Selig/ESPN awards. (sm)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

East Coast Bias--Favors West Coast bad boys

The spin is west coast guys/teams are cheated out of "coverage" (they really mean "favorable" coverage) simply because they're not on the east coast. What happens when west coast guys come to the eastern time zone and screw up? NOTHING. The "press" uses kid gloves out--you'd have to look closely to even find out a west coast so-called "closer" blew a game. Conversely, if a Yankee "closer" blew a game, he gets SCREAMING headlines, big pictures left up for weeks on ESPN platforms, head hung in shame. The evidence is in: the west coast teams/players get soft glove treatment from ALL media when a reportedly favorite player screws up:
August 22
San Diego Union-Tribune: "It takes a big man to take the importance away from a game in which the Padres overcame a sizable deficit, only to lose 7-6 to the New York Mets on four ninth-inning hits off Trevor Hoffman, and Chris Young is a very big man at 6 feet 10."

August 22
New York Times (registration required): "The Mets (71-53) certainly liked what they saw as they sized themselves up against one of the best teams in the National League. They scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to come back and win a wild game, 7-6."
August 22
New York Post: "The Sandman became the Mudman, but it was Trevor Hoffman who really ended up all wet last night. 'It�s an ugly way to win,' Billy Wagner said after watching the Mets rally for two runs against Hoffman in the ninth to beat the Padres 7-6 at Shea Stadium."

August 22
New York Daily News: "But run-scoring singles in the ninth inning by Anderson and Luis Castillo off all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman lifted the resilient Mets to a 7-6 victory to open a key six-game home stand last night at Shea."

August 22
Newsday: "Despite more bullpen struggles at home, the Mets rallied against one of the game's best closers and beat the Padres, 7-6, on a cool and misty night at Shea."

August 22
Newark Star-Ledger (registration required): "Beltran drove in five runs with a homer, a double and a clutch single that tied the score in the bottom of the eighth. Then, with the Mets trailing by a run, he watched from the dugout steps as pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson and Luis Castillo picked up RBI singles as the Mets came from behind to shock Trevor Hoffman and the San Diego Padres, 7-6 on a damp and, until the final inning, dreary night at Shea Stadium."

August 22
Bergen Record: "Somehow, after multiple bullpen implosions including meltdowns by two of the game's best closers, the Mets had just finished off a wild 7-6 victory over the Padres."
August 22
Journal News: "Carlos Beltran and the Mets' sizzling offense picked up John Maine and the porous bullpen to beat the San Diego Padres 7-6 last night in a game that began April cold but ended with an October nip."
  • All this after a blown save and loss by Trevor Hoffman v the Mets on August 21st in New York,
headlines and opening paragraphs from 8/22/07
  • The coup de gras, the NY Post's Mike Vaccaro---shows he's nothing more than a boys' club member, pushing false superlatives, the easy save stat--compiled with no runners on base, no multi-inning jobs, and no grueling post seasons to speak of:
August 22, 2007 -- "THE game ended in a joyful blur, the Mets touching the untouchable closer for one hit after another, with the remaining few thousand brave souls left at Shea Stadium throwing their voices out against the cold, raw night.

Mr. Vaccaro, only in the National League. We have one in the American league, but mentioning anything about him won't gain you points in the boys' club. No headline about Hoffman blowing it like there would've been with the actual best closer of all time. "Shea Faithful Warming Up to Boomin' Beltran."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another example of passive fans allowing baseball media to hide what's important

A major baseball media website, Fox, headlines this article purporting to tell the real truth about "closers." Fooled again. Its first aim is to sell the "save" stat--anyone connected with MLB, ESPN, the Red Sox, Padres, and FoxSports (an occasional brave exception as I've noted by Ken Rosenthal) considers this Job 1--I've documented this in detail as can anyone who's interested. By, of course Kevin Hench, "Getting Closer to Truth about Closers."
The phony Gagne total save stat is invalid to start with because it ignores the post season. Scott Boras has said (on XM) there isn't nearly enough consideration given to what the 3 levels of post season play take out of a player--and in particular a pitcher. This would put Gagne on the back burner right away, and Mariano Rivera on the front burner--and the baseball media guys would rather kill themselves than do this. It starts in a blur because Hench is trying to explain injury-prone Gagne's poor performance in Boston. Then,
  • Sells the "conversion" stat which again tells nothing about the difficulty of the "save"
  • Invokes a 9 years' ago save stat from a former Red Sox closer.
  • Makes no mention of post season saves in the heralded time period 2002-2004 (that nicely gets rid of Rivera while Gagne is relaxing on the couch--except for a yawning just-for show appearance in 2 innings in which his team was losing by several runs in the 1st round of the post season in 2004).
  • Sets the thesis that the total save stat 2007 YTD--determines who the top closers are.
"Equal Time" or "The Fairness Doctrine" are needed in baseball media.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Roger Maris received death threats; only 23,000 were at Stadium for his home run

"In 1961, the year Randy Maris was born, Roger Maris and Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle were in a chase to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. Fans were rooting for Mantle to do it. Eventually, he fell off the pace. Roger kept going, but everyone made him feel undeserving, from the fans to the media to the commissioner.
  • Most thought only Ruth worthy of such a record. Yankee Stadium was not even full the day Roger belted No. 61 to surpass Ruth on the final day of the regular season. Commissioner Ford Frick, a friend of Ruth's, was not there, either. But Frick came up with the idea of putting the asterisk next to the record because Maris played in more games than Ruth.
When Randy got older, he heard about the death threats and the evil words directed at his daddy. Roger became very bitter.

"Baseball could have done a better job," Randy says. "There were only 23,000 fans in Yankee Stadium when my dad hit that home run. What kind of marketing is that? Obviously the commissioner was Babe Ruth's real good friend, but why would you put those kinds of restraints on one particular record? My dad didn't really like to talk about it."

Maris was traded from the Yankees after the 1966 season to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played his final two years. But the hurt of what he went through in New York lasted for a long time.

George Steinbrenner tried reaching out to Roger for many years. He refused. Roger finally agreed in 1979, but only because he worked out a deal. He would come back if Steinbrenner donated the sod for a baseball field at Oak Hall school in Gainesville, where the Maris kids played."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday August 4, 2007---Good bye Joe Girardi

Fox TV airs a Saturday afternoon game nationally, but today gave us "bonus" coverage of the finish of the last few outs of a Fox regional game, Cleveland-Twins. Kenny Albert and Joe Girardi doing the voice work. Still anchoring Fox Studio for the national desk was of course Kevin Kennedy (a 24/7 PR machine for a former often-injured LA Dodger closer). The coverage showed Joe Nathan getting the final 3 outs and Joe Girardi reading a twisted stat about "saves" which gave no context whatsoever and arranged itself to mention only 2 so-called top "saves" guys as Nathan and a former Dodger closer who hasn't pitched a full season since 2004.
  • Girardi reads this thing and says, "These guys will get you saves." Right, Joe. You're now officially at the bottom of the barrel, a sell out, and a phony. You just handed out something you knew very well was bogus, you gave it out as having merit--you had a chance to add some qualification of your own to it AND DIDN'T SAY A THING. Good bye, Joe.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Journalists" not fooling the public--Editor & Publisher, 8/1/07

CHICAGO- "Hang down your head, journalist -- your fellow Americans don't think your career is much to be proud of.
  • The annual Harris Poll measuring public perceptions of 23 professions and occupations came out Wednesday -- and you can find journalists in the Bottom Ten. Just 13% of the 1,100 U.S. adults surveyed in June and July said the occupation of journalist had "very great prestige," while 16% said it had "hardly any prestige at all." The plurality of respondents, 47%, grudging conceded there was "some prestige" in being a journalist.
Contrast that to America's most prestigious occupation, firefighter. Fully 61% of those surveyed said that job had "very great prestige." Journalists were rated ahead of just seven other occupations: union leader, stockbroker, entertainer, accountant, banker, actor, and real estate agent/broker.
  • In addition to firefighters, five occupations are perceived to have "very great" prestige by at least half of all adults -- scientists (54%); teachers (54%); doctors (52%); military officers (52%); and nurses (50%)."