1) It’s time to change the Yankees’ name
Given the performance of the the heart of the Bronx Bomber lineup, it may be time to rename them the New York Houdinis. Nobody has ever pulled a better disappearing act than Alex Rodriguez and Mark Texieira.
2) Ryan Howard would be a perfect fit for the New York Houdinis
If New York didn’t already have a big-time disappearing first-baseman, and now what seems to be a next-season-threatening Achilles tendon injury not withstanding, it is hard to overlook Howard’s paltry production against the Cardinals.
3) Money Can’t Buy It All
Can we now officially dismiss the idea that it is money alone which spells success in baseball? The following table should tell the story:
Not only are the four teams remaining in the playoffs in the middle of the pack in terms of payroll, and not only are there a number of high-payroll team that didn’t even get a sniff of October, but look at how many big spenders were honestly terrible:
When six of the top ten in payroll don’t make the playoffs, and when four of those can’t even crack .500, and one of those damn near loses 100 games, stop trying to tell me that money is the only reason teams are successful.
4) How long before the Philadelphia Phillies become the Red Mets?
Don’t laugh yet, city of Brotherly Love…It didn’t take the Red Sox long to become the Red Yankees, and if you aren’t careful, you could easily become a “cheesesteak and water ice” version of the Mets. Don’t forget that both you and the Red Sox have won a World Series in the last four years, then added payroll to improve a Championship-caliber team with a negative result.
Now all that has to happen is the infusion of New York/Boston-style drama, a key injury or two (Ryan Howard, anybody?) and bada-bing, the Phils are a 75-win team with a $175 million payroll.
5) The New “Love ‘em or Hate ‘em” Squad
Now that the Yankees are off to winter of tee-times in Tampa, baseball fans are in desperate need of another polarizing squad which we can either cheer or curse. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce your 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers – a team which embodies the same sort of brash, youthful exuberance which the majority of catheter-bound baseball fans will absolutely freaking hate – might just be exactly what baseball needs to attract the attention of anybody under 30.
The last night of the regular season and the drama of three elimination games in the past two days exemplify the heart-exploding drama baseball can provide, but the trouble is it can take weeks to build to those moments. In the mean time, baseball could use a bit of brash to liven up its image.
Frankly, I’ve grown exceptionally weary of these stodgy old farts who think they get to rule the baseball landscape with all their 19th-century “unwritten rules” and general disdain of anything which happened after 1960. My wife is going to keel over in hysterics if she reads this, because she thinks I am the face of the term “stodgy old fart.” The truth is she’s right, but I’m parting ways with my stodgy, old brethren because I am tired of watching baseball sink further into irrelevancy because of a bunch of geezers who don’t give a damn about the future.
Time to face facts, my fellow gray hairs…we ain’t the future. Those long-haired little whipper-snappers with their rock ‘n’ roll 8-track tapes are. If it takes a bit of brash to keep them interested, then so be it. I, for one, refuse to watch baseball become as irrelevant as the WNBA because you are so uptight your ass rips dime-size holes in your adult diaper.
In other words, make all the crazy gestures and drop all the F-bombs you want, Nyjer Morgan. Somebody has to be the straw that stirs the Metamucil for all of baseball’s grumpy old fans.
With such a full weekend of college and NFL action, let’s just cut to the chase…
1) We still don’t know if Notre Dame is any good
Every year, Notre Dame gets over-rated, and every year, they prove that by the time they get to Purdue. This year, they’ve done nothing but send a mixed message; lost to South Florida and Michigan, and now have won three straight. but honestly, those wins are over mediocre Michigan State and Pittsburgh, and most recently against
West Lafayette Junior High Purdue. It doesn’t get any better since the Irish start their usual parade of service academies with Air Force this week.
2) Speaking of Purdue…
Yeah, I know Giant Drum A&M gets picked on every once in a while here, but they might get more respect if they quit doing things like this.
3) As long as we are in Indiana…
Memorial services for any hope of the Colts having a watchable season will be held Thursday at noon at Lucas Oil Field. When the most glowing reviews of Colts quarterback Curtis Painter are “not completely horrible,” it’s going to be a long season in Indianapolis.
4) The Detroit Lions – The Anti-Colts
Let’s face facts, this team has more upside that in all its previous 50 years combined. The Lions boast an emerging star at quarterback, a dominant weapon in Calvin Johnson, and a defense that is vastly improved, which is why they are the first team in NFL history to make two straight comebacks from 20+ points behind.
5) When is a fumble not a fumble, part III
First, there was the Rob Lytle “fumble” in the 1977 AFC Championship Game, then there was the infamous Tom Brady “Tuck” rule from 2001, now there’s Victor Cruz fiasco this past weekend. Now I know why there is no coincidence between why Ed Hochuli is the best referee in the NFL and he just so happens to be an attorney; you need a law degree to even understand half the rules in the NFL anymore. Note to the Rules Committee…it is time to start simplifying.
6) Illinois – Your Cup-Check University
If picture is worth a thousand words, you would think an animated GIF would be worth more, yet this one is only worth two…
7) As The Romo Turns
With all the ups and downs, one would think you would find the “Romo-Coaster” at Six Flags over Texas rather than Cowboys Stadium. Week 1, he’s a choke-artist. Weeks 2 and 3, he showed “a rare brand of guts and leadership.” Now, he sucks again. Even ESPN doens’t know what to do with him.
There’s the “pro” side, as evidenced by Eric Mangini.
“But ex-Jets coach Eric Mangini said a couple of Romo’s picks against the Lions were not his fault. The gutsy Romo has also led the Cowboys to two victories this season despite playing with injured ribs.”
Then’s there’s the “con” side…
“Really, you saw the best of Tony Romo in a brilliant first half as he pushed Dallas to a 20-3 lead that swelled to 27-3 after the Cowboys took the second-half kickoff and drove for a touchdown. Then we witnessed the worst of Romo. He threw three second-half interceptions — two were absolutely awful decisions — providing the catalyst for Detroit’s comeback.”
After all the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, NBC’s Bob Costas probably has the best observation…
“Here’s a guy who see-saws between hero’s laurels and goat horns, seemingly game to game. And today, it was half to half. Romo had three TD throws in the first 33 minutes against the undefeated Lions, but then, three picks – two of them returned for touchdowns,” said Costas.”This has been the pattern of Romo’s season, and, as it’s shaping up, his career. At any moment he is apt to rescue his team with feats of daring do, often showing the presence of mind to improvise his way out of one crisis after another. And then, the next week, or maybe the next moment, he’ll turn in a performance or make a decision that sends Cowboys fans to the ledge.”
After all, good Romo or bad Romo doesn’t matter…Cowboys’ fans ripping their collective hair out is what’s important.
8 ) By The Way, Romo’s Not The Only Thing Wrong in Dallas
Remember that crap Rob Ryan was spouting about how Detroit’s Calvin Johnson would “be the third’ best receiver on the team” if he played for the Cowboys. Who else took comfort in watching Johnson pack that bilge firmly in Ryan’s “Head and Shoulders commercial wannabe ass? Did anybody else notice the part where Ryan’ s “vaunted” defense had 12 guys on the field and STILL didn’t double-cover Calvin Johnson?
9) As long as we are in Dallas…
Remember last year when Jason Garrett became the poster-child for uptight, straight-laced white guys everywhere when he was the guy who saved the Cowboys? Remember how this was all supposedly due to Garrett’s being a “disciplinarian?”
So, can somebody explain to me why this Cowboy team looks as undisciplined as ever? Seriously, this team can’t even manage it’s own snap count, half the roster looks like they don’t even know the playbook, and nobody is calling out
Howdy Doody Jason Garrett, the supposed Princeton Prince of Discipline.
10) Oh, and before I forget about the other Ryan brother…
Rex, you are one of my favorite guys in all of sports, but…
It’s “put up or shut up” time. I’ve watched your teams gag two straight AFC Championship games, and now your team is looking suspiciously over-rated. Start winning games you are supposed to win so I don’t have to start bashing you.
11) Speaking of “Time To Prove My Love” – The All-Pennsylvania Edition
The Eagles have managed in four short game to go from “The Dream Team” to “The Nightmare Team.” Two reasons – the hardest hit the offensive line has made all season was on their own quarterback, and in the immortal words of Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott, the defense “couldn’t stop a nosebleed.”
But the award for the worst offense in the Keystone State goes to Penn State. Don’t get me wrong, as a Nittany Lion fan, I’ve seen some Joe Paterno offenses that literally dated from the Paleozoic era, but this is the worst I’ve seen under the Galen Hall/Offensive Coordinator regime. With all due respect, GET RID OF THAT GODDAMN TWO QUARTERBACK SYSTEM!!!! I get they both suck, but pick one, shoot the other in the head and let’s move on.
12) Cam Newton Is Now A Poster Child
There’s new mentality in the football world…throwing the football is Nirvana, outcomes be damned. Cam Newton exemplifies this. The world is singing his praises as a young quarterback because in four games he has nearly 1,400 passing yard and 5 touchdowns.
But he also has 5 interceptions and more importantly, only one win as a starting quarterback. This makes him a stud in fantasy football, but not so much in the real game. But, for some reason, we let the fantasy mentality rule the day.
If you doubt that, look at it this way. This past weekend saw 11 quarterbacks post 300 passing yards, but only 4 of them won their games. In contrast, the running game (which has been relegated to the NFL scrap heap) saw 8 running backs rack up 100 rushing yards , and 5 of them played on winning teams.
13) The Dubsism Simplified College Football Top 25
- Everybody else
Given what happened the other night, there’s a lot of superlatives being bandied about…while the Red Sox and Braves both managed a serious dose of “epic fail,” neither of them are the worst choke job in pennant race history. So, before you let anybody tell you the Red Sox pulled off the worst collapse in history, compare it to some of the truly titanic throat-closers of all time.
10) 1987 Toronto Blue Jays
The favorite American League sons of the Great White North were 96-59 and had a 3.5-game over the Detroit Tigers with seven games to play. On the second-to-last Sunday of the season, Toronto had a one-run lead over the Tigers headed into the ninth inning, until Kirk Gibson’s solo shot tied the game. The Tigers went on to win in 13 innings; the Blue Jays didn’t win again that season. Toronto ended the 1987 season at 96-66, which allowed the Tigers to snatch the AL East with a sweep of the Blue Jays on the final weekend of the season.
9) 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers
It’s hard to paint a team that posted a 26-22 record down stretch with the “collapse” brush, but it’s also hard to say a team that gagged away a 13.5 game lead and lost a playoff didn’t fold. Trouble is, the New York Giants got crazy hot; they won 37 out of their final 44 games and tied Brooklyn on the final day of the season. The Dodgers lost the three-game playoff, thanks to Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round The World.”
8 ) 2011 Atlanta Braves
This was like the “stealth” collapse; nobody really seemed to understand this was a choke job until the Braves were only leading the Cardinals by three games with five to play. St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10.5 games in late August, and the lead only shrank to 8.5 games by the first week in September, which is largely why this went unnoticed until the last weekend of the season. The Braves forgot how to hit, posted a record of 9-18 in September, and lost the wild-card on the last day of the season.
7) 2011 Boston Red Sox
The power of the present makes people want to think this tank-job rates higher on the list, especially those wacky Red Sox fans who want to believe they didn’t beat their wives and/or blow their brains out over #7 on the list. Granted, this is the worst collapse that happened entirely in September, but it genesis lies throughout the season. The Sox stumbled out of the gate, but recovered to lead the AL East for most of the second half. But they fell behind the Yankees early in September, and the free-fall continued. In short, what killed this team in April simply resurfaced in September.
The Sox figured they could always win the wild-card, as they led the Rays by nine games on Labor Day. However, since the Red Sox only won seven games the rest of the way, Tampa Bay ran them down on the second-to-last day of the season, which led to the dramatic Wednesday night finish, which saw the Sox blow a 3-2 lead with two outs in the ninth against last-place Baltimore, while at the same time the Rays rallied from a 7-0 early pasting to beat the Yankees 8-7 in extra innings to claim the AL Wild Card.
6) 2007 New York Mets
In 2007, the Phillies had not yet emerged as the current uber-squad they are perceived to be today. In fact, they trailed the Mets by seven games on September 12th, but since the Shea crew had Pedro Martinez back on the mound after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, the Mets were the favorite in what was considered to be a weak National League field. That was before the Flushing Nine went down the stretch to finish the season one game behind the surging Phillies.
5) 1969 Chicago Cubs
The Amazin’ Mets of 1969 would have never been if it weren’t for this Chicago fold. 1969 was the first season in which there was divisional play, and for the entirety of the season, the Cubs had led the newly-formed NL East.
However, this was before the Cubs swallowed their own tongue. Chicago held a solid 9.5-game lead on August 14th, but within two weeks, the Mets had closed the gap to two games. The Cubs collapse continued as they dropped 14 of their final 20 games, and New York won the division by eight full games.
4) 2009 Detroit Tigers
From May 10th until the final day of the 2009 season – a total of 164 days – the Detroit Tigers enjoyed the driver’s seat in the AL Central. The problem was they let the Minnesota Twins hang around, so much so the Twins were able to sweep the last three games of the season against the Tigers to force a one-game playoff. The Twins won 6-5 in a classic 12-inning affair, leaving the Tigers as the only team to blow a three-game lead with four to play.
3) 1978 Boston Red Sox
Three words: Bucky F–king Dent. Yes, this is the scenario which forever immortalized in the loathe-zone of Red Sox faithful from Falmouth to Fort Lauderdale a man whose name sounds more like a tooth-care product for beavers.
July 1978 saw the Sox with a 14-game lead over the defending world champion Yankees. But, the Bronx Bombers chipped away at that deficit until it was down to a still-formidable 7.5-game lead with only 32 games to play. However, the Red Sox gagged 14 of 17 games which allowed the Yanks to pull into the left lane and pass Boston.
However, the Sox won their final eight which forced a one-game playoff at Fenway Park. That’s the last day Bucky Dent’s name was ever uttered in Sox Nation without the extra frigative, as the Yankees’ light-hitting shortstop hit a 7th-inning game winning homer (his 5th of the season) to send the Yankees eventually to their second consecutive World Series title.
2) 1995 California Angels
Just like the ’78 Red Sox, the Angels blew a huge lead, only to make a late rally, only to choke in a one-game playoff. California held a lead of 11.5 games in Mid-August, but went 12-27 in their final 39 games (including winning their last five games) which allowed the Seattle Mariners to force a one-game playoff. However, in that game, Seattle ace Randy Johnson mowed the Angels like they were his back yard to the tune of a 9-1 shellacking.
1) 1964 Philadelphia Phillies
It’s hard for many baseball fans born after 1985 to understand that for nearly a century, the Phillies were even more of a hard-luck franchise than the Cubs. The Phillies were the last original National League team win a pennant when they finally did so after nearly 70 years of existence in 1950. They went 30 more years before they became the last original member of the senior circuit to win a World Series in 1980. That’s why 1964 is such a big deal.
Nobody had a greater streak of futility than the Phillies. From 1919 to 1947, the Phillies finished in last place a total of 17 times, and next to last seven times. This is why the Phils were the first major league franchise to post 10,000 losses. They spent the 1950’s oscillating between decent and deplorable, but they seemed to turn the corner in the early 1960’s. 1962 and 1963 found the Phillies climbing back to respectability, and throughout the 1964 season, they seemed destined to make it to the World Series. Philadelphia boasted a stocked line-up, featuring stars like rookie third baseman Dick Allen, outfielders Johnny Callison and Cookie Rojas, catcher Gus Triandos, and pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short.
1964 seemed to be the Phillies year for the taking. The first indicator that the Phils were the team of destiny came on Father’s Day, when future U.S. Senator and Hall-of-Famer Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game. This was the first National League perfecto since 1880, and even the Shea Stadium faithful found themselves cheering for the visiting hurler given the rarity of the event.
T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month; had he been a Phillies fan, he would have saved that designation for September 1964. The Phils held a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals and Reds with 12 games to go that month. Then, thanks to the “managerial genius” of Gene Mauch, Philadelphia lost 10 games in a row and ended up one game behind St. Louis in a tie for second place with Cincinnati.
Other collapses worthy of consideration:
- 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers: Blew a 4 game lead with 7 left to play
- 1938 Pittsburgh Pirates: Lost a September 1st lead of 7 games
- 1993 San Francisco Giants: Dropped a Mid-August lead of 9 games
- 1983 Atlanta Braves: Gagged away a 6.5 game lead in under 30 games
- 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers: Blew a 7.5 game in under 25 games
- 2005 Cleveland Indians: Dropped 6 of their final 7 after taking lead in Wild Card race
I’m just going to come right out and say it…if you didn’t find last night’s baseball drama to be one of the most exciting things you’ve seen since discount warehouse liquor stores, you either don’t like baseball or you have no pulse.
I’m such an old codger that I can remember first-hand the days of Charlie O. Finley, the chain-link outfield fence at Candlestick Park, and Bucky F–king Dent, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that last night was the single-most exciting four hours of baseball I’ve ever personally witnessed. Being that old geezer, you have to understand this includes Game 6 of the ’75 World Series, Reggie Jackson hitting three homers on three swings against the Dodgers, the ’78 Red Sox-Yankees playoff (hence Bucky F–king Dent), Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, the 1987 World Series (preceded by the August weekend in Milwaukee in which Kirby Puckett supplanted Rod Carew as my lord and personal savior), Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, and all things Bartman-esque.
But none of those things – not a single damn one of them – involved four games occurring simultaneously which held the structure of the post-season in the balance. The Cards took their game out of the mix early by drubbing the Astros, and it seemed the Yankees had done the same on the grand slam by Mark Teixiera. When Dustin Pedroia put the Red Sox in front of the Orioles with his homer, I don’t think anybody in America saw what was coming in the next few hours.
If you are a follow of @Dubsism on Twitter, you saw the prophecy in action.
9:30 P.M. ET
Okay, so I missed on the playoff thing, but after Jon Lester somehow managed to get out of the 6th inning without giving away the ball game despite his complete inability to throw a strike, all you had to do was look into the Sawwwx dugout to see they knew they had just used up their miracle.
Again, the Orioles just won’t go away, and here comes Jonathan “I can blow that save, Terry” Papelbon. But just moments before Papelbon has his soon-to-be-infamous meltdown, Dan Johnson has his moment in Tampa.
That’s right, the hero of the moment is a guy who was hitting south of .130 and hadn’t had a major league hit since April. Toss in the fact that he looked completely overmatched on pitches prior to that home run, and one couldn’t help but be reminded of Bernie Carbo.
Next comes the Papelbon catastrophe (raise your hand if you didn’t see it coming…by now it was painfully apparent). This left the only hope for the Sawwwx in a Rays extra-inning loss.
Then it happened.
12:00 A.M. ET
Evan Longoria stroked the Red Sox into the off-season, all while propelling us into what promises to be an incredible post-season. But it also will push us into a discussion about just what happened.
While the Braves collapse is just as embarrassing as that of Boston’s, it simply is more fun to rub some salt in the collective wounds of the Sawwwx nation. See, as an Angels fan, I’ve hated the Red Sox ever since the Dave Henderson homer in the ’86 ALCS.
You should understand that for the rest of us, those of us not fans of the Yankees or Red Yankees, those of us whose teams have spent a decade playing the Washington Generals to east-of-the-Hudson, bloated-payroll Globetrotters…when either team fails, it is the same sort of soul-filling pablum that makes people watch soap operas. We all love to watch the rich and famous stumble.
And after all that, here we are; another October full of post-season baseball. Let’s be honest, most of the crap I said about these teams six months ago was wrong, so why not go for month number seven proving I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Indeed, how many of those things turned out true? Remember when I said the Yankees and the Red Sox were mirror images of each other, and it would be a race between the two to see which collapsed first? Well, the Red Sox waited until September before they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, allowing themselves to get run down by a Rays team that could be this years answer to the San Francisco Giants.
But enough of looking back…let’s look ahead to the post-season. Here are your eight participants and their odds of coming home with a title.
1) Philadelphia Phillies – (Pre-season Rank #1, 102-60, NL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 2.5-1
This team is all about the pitching staff, with just enough offense to make it work. It worked to the tune of 100+ wins, and this is the proverbial “team to beat” until somebody does just that. The biggest concern is that in the National League, the team to finish with the best record hasn’t won the World Series since the 1986 Mets, and since the Phillies obviously won’t have the luxury of facing the Red Sawwwx…
2) New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank #4, 97-65, AL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1
The Yankees are the photo-negative of the Phillies; they sport a monstrous line-up and a pitching staff made up of CC Sa-fat-tia and a lot of “not much else.”
Now, it’s time for some equal-opportunity hating: Are you now, or have you ever been a Yankees fan? Are you under the age of 45? Have you ever said “The Yankees sucked when I was a kid, so I’m not of one these new Yankee fans that came along when we started winning again”? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are pretentious douche-nozzle and you would be doing the world a favor if you stuck a shotgun in your mouth.
There’s soooooooooo many reasons to hate the Yankees. First, there’s the aforementioned loyalty-less assloafs who think just because the Yankees sucked in the 80′s means they aren’t some dickhead who needs to be on the winning side. But least there is one less reason to hate them, since that piece of deep-fried monkey nuts known as George Steinbrenner is dead. At least he has a burn-in-hell worthy legacy, like sodomizing New York City out of a billion dollars to build a replica of a 90-year old mausoleum of decency, then filling it with insufferable dickweeds who are now actually proud of their Ruthian douche-baggery.
Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but you have no idea how much it pissed me off that after Steinbrenner assumed room temperature that I kept being told “You didn’t have to like him, but you had to respect him.” Eat me. The same people who said this are the same people responsible for the impending death of America. George Steinbrenner was a criminal who deserves the same respect a dog pays to a fire hydrant.
3) Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank #18, 91-71, AL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5.5-1
This is clearly a reactionary pick. Last year I picked the Giants as the least likely team to win, and I’m not making that mistake again. This team plays just like last years champions. They get big hits when they need them, and they get enough pitching to make those hits stand up. Not to mention, if you believe in momentum AT ALL, you can’t bet against this club.
4) Milwaukee Brewers (Pre-season Rank #12, 96-66, NL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 7-1
This is the first appearance the Brew Crew has made in the post-season since Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982. The Brewers finished with a 57-24 record at home, which was both best in the major leagues and a franchise record. Since they will host the Diamondbacks in the first round, that should bode well for the boys from Beer City.
5) Arizona Diamondbacks (Pre-Season Rank #11, 94-67, NL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 8-1
Don’t look now, but this is a franchise that wins with pitching. They won the 2001 World Series with Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, and Arizona moundsmen have earned five Cy Young Awards in 13 seasons. This year, the D-backs sport right-handers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, as well as left-hander Joe Saunders who have all racked up 200 innings.
With all those innings-eaters at the top of the rotation, the D-Backs always more often than not have a fresh bullpen, which means manager Kirk Gibson often can get desirable individual late-game matchups. This also means Arizona tends not to get far behind in ball games, which is part of the reason for the team’s big-league-high 48 comeback victories.
Oh, and as a life-long Dodger-hater, I’m obliged to bring up the quintessential Kirk Gibson post-season moment…I may need a bucket…
6) St. Louis Cardinals (Pre-Season Rank #16, 90-72, NL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 9-1
Only the Yankees have won more World Series titles than the Cardinals, and both have won in the last five years. This means the Cardinals are a team with plenty of post-season experience.
They also have that momentum factor I mentioned with the Rays. The Cardinals got hot in September after being 10 1/2 games behind the Braves on Aug. 25. This means they won 23 of their last 32 games.
7) Texas Rangers (Pre-Season Rank #13, 95-66, AL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 12-1
Texas hit .320 in September, the highest batting average after September 1st, which is the best since this statistic has been kept beginning in 1946. We all know this team can hit, and even though the Ranger pitching staff has the fifth best ERA in the American League, I’m not sure a Cliff Lee-less rotation scares anybody.
8 ) Detroit Tigers (Pre-Season Rank #14, 91-71, AL Central Champs) - Odds of Winning World Series: 14-1
Like the Brewers, the Tigers are another team showing up in October after a long absence. The last time the Motor City Kitties graced October with their was 1987. Of all the great moments in my own personal baseball history I listed earlier, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Game 4 of the ALCS, when Tiger third baseman Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goats.
As far as this year’s Tigers are concerned, you can’t argue that Justin Verlander is the most dominating pitcher in the league, and Miguel Cabrera is the most potent offensive weapon, but the Tigers have some thump in the lineup beyond that. They have a supporting cast to go along with Verlander. The trouble is I simply don’t think they can beat the Yankees.
Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.
But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a “swim with the sharks” twist.
Great White Shark: San Francisco Giants
Key additions: SS Orlando Cabrera, 2B Jeff Keppinger, OF Carlos Beltran
Last season, the Giants were the Remora on this list. It is only fitting that a team makes such a jump up considering the city is located on a peninsula the Spanish named “Tiburon;” their word for “shark.” The Giants pitching staff is so dominant that any addition of offense makes them the apex predator in a seven-game series.
Tiger Shark: Texas Rangers
Key Additions: RHP Kohji Uehara, RHP Mike Adams
The one thing the Rangers needed was pitching. Since there really wasn’t a big-time starter available, the Rangers seriously upgraded their bullpen. This team now matches up favorably against anybody in the American League.
Bull Shark: Pittsburgh Pirates
Key Additions: 1B Derrek Lee, OF Ryan Ludwick
Yeah, I know, I can’t believe I’m writing about the Pirates in August. Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Pirates in recent history have committed the most atrocities against baseball. The Bucs have been a bottom-feeder for nearly two decades, and even if they swim into a gill net and finish the season as baseball’s equivalent of waste at the tuna cannery, it won’t be because they didn’t give an honest effort.
Mako Shark: Atlanta Braves
Key Additions: OF Michael Bourn
This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. If the Braves can stay healthy, the addition of a serious speed threat on the base paths mean Atlanta could easily blow past somebody.
Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies
Key Additions: OF Hunter Pence
For the second year in a row, the Phillies are this odd, flat-headed creature. Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen that losing Jayson Werth would leave their line-up both far too-left-handed and with no protection for Ryan Howard. However, this move solves a part of that problem; another rightie bat in the Phils’ line-up and/or a good bullpen guy would make them the most complete team in baseball.
Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks
Key Additions: RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Jason Marquis
Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. And yet, this is the second time the D-Backs find themselves in this spot. They find themselves here largely because two trades they made last year, and one they didn’t make this year.
This team entered 2011 looking like they needed to swim into a gill net and hope for a better lot in the next life. But in last year’s Dan Haren deal alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson (whose since been dealt twice), the D-backs boast an organization with nine of the top 80 picks from the 2009 draft. After all that, stop and think where this team might be if they had traded Justin Upton.
Stingray: Cleveland Indians
Key Additions: OF Kosuke Fukudome, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Much like nobody expected a guy who wrestled crocodiles and handled deadly snakes to meet his maker via a swimming carpet, anybody who saw the Indians as a buyer at the deadline is either a visionary or full of shit. Not to mention, the Indians should get a mention for bringing up Jason Kipnis, who it seems hit about sixty home runs last week.
Nurse Shark: Boston Red Sox
Key Additions: LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Josh Fields
Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Red Sox look like a contender until you take a hard look at them. Seriously, once you look past that gawdy offense, you see right away this team has a pitching staff that is smoke and mirrors show in an intensive care unit. Granted, Josh Beckett seems to finally found a way to not suck, Lester is trying his hardest not to suck, but there’s a big drop-off after that…Tim Wakefield? John Lackey? Could somebody in Red Sawwwx nation be sure to let me know when the funerals for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rich Hill, Bobby Jenks, and Clay Buchholz will be?
To that train wreck, the BoSox only add a questionable big-league starter who had given up 11 earned runs in his last 13 innings pitched before the trade, and a guy who is sporting an ERA over 6.00 in Triple-A.
At least the Yankees can’t pitch either.
Skate: Cincinnati Reds
Key Additions: OF Bill Rhinehart, LHP Chris Manno
Much like the skate is hardly a shark, the Reds are hardly a contender. Granted, they have the reigning MVP in Joey Votto, and they have a Cy Young contender in Johnny Cueto (yeah, I can’t believe I just wrote that either). The problem is that’s only a pair in a poker hand that need three-of-a-kind at best to win.
The Reds really could have addressed some needs; every other team trying to win this shit heap of a division did so. Instead, the played the role of bottom feeder by trading an under-performer in Jonny Gomes for two serious “maybe in a few years” types. This is just another reason why the Reds in their current configuration never should be taken seriously.
Dogfish: Detroit Tigers
Key Additions: RHP Doug Fister, RHP David Pauley, 3B Wilson Betemit
Yeah, I get the pseudo-irony of a team with a decidedly feline mascot being slapped with the Dogfish, but let’s be honest…two of the three guys they acquired are dogs. Doug Fister might be a serviceable #3-#4 guy in a rotation, but who knows what Pauley is, and Betemit just plain sucks.
Remora: St. Louis Cardinals
Key Additions: RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, SS Rafael Furcal, OF Corey Patterson
Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Cards sucked up a lot of remnants.
Bathtub Toy Shark: Milwaukee Brewers
Key Additions: IF/OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., RHP Francisco Rodriguez
A 35-year old utility player who hits .250 with no power, and an over-priced and possibly washed-up reliever. At least these type decisions are right at home in the NL Central.
The Chum Bucket: Los Angeles Angels & New York Yankees
Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did NOTHING despite the fact they desperately need another bat.
As far as New York is concerned, re-read the above paragraph and replace the word “Angels” with “Yankees,” and replace the word “bat” with the phrase “solid starting pitcher.”
The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:
Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.
Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team who last year actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes, and this year proceeded to have a fire sale of such proportions that the Astros may lose 100 games a season for the next half-decade.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” – Jerry Seinfeld
If you’ve never been a fantasy baseball participant, this won’t make sense to you at all. In fact, most of this blog makes very little sense to most people, so you are far from alone. However, if you’ve known the joys of fantasy baseball draft day, and the near-suicidal despair of watching your first-round draft pick Ken Griffey, Jr. snap a hamstring in a spring game literally three hours after you drafted him, then you understand the concept of the Man-Crush.
Simply defined, the Man-Crush is all about being “in love” with a particular player. Just like love, sometimes you don’t know why you love them; you just do. You’ll do anything to get them on your team, and it will crush you when your love goes unrequited; your dreams unrealized.
My first fantasy baseball “man-crush” was Matt Stairs. I choke up a little bit just typing his name; given the fact the reason I’m writing this today – this is the day Stairs was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals. Stairs is a unique guy who has had a unique career up to this point.
I can’t even bring myself to think this might be the end for Stairs; after all, he is 43 years old. I hold out hope that some other team, one whose uniform he has not yet worn, will see fit to give the professional pinch-hitter another shot. See, Stairs has played for damn near everybody.
- 1992-1993: Montreal Expos
- 1995: Boston Red Sox
- 1996-2000: Oakland A’s
- 2001: Chicago Cubs
- 2002: Milwaukee Brewers
- 2003: Pittsburgh Pirates
- 2004 – 2005: Kansas City Royals
- 2006: Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers
- 2007: Toronto Blue Jays
- 2008 – 2009: Philadelphia Phillies
- 2010: San Diego Padres
- 2011 (up to now): Washington Nationals
Stairs has worn 13 major-league uniforms, more than anybody in baseball history. Let’s be honest, guys that change addresses that often are either complete headcases or “Have Fastball, Will Travel”-type bullpen guys. The reason Stairs has been on so many rosters is he became a slugging pinch-hitter extraordinaire. Nobody has more career home runs coming off the bench than Stairs. Any team out there needing some thunder from the bench? Just call Matt Stairs.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone Stairs climbed his way into my heart with power. It all started back in 1996, and the first time I saw him as a young outfielder with the Oakland A’s. Specifically, it was the day in Minnesota I saw him hit two moon-shots off whatever slagheaps the Twins were offering as pitchers in those dark days of Dome-ball. Both of those shots arced majestically into the upper deck in right field and right into my heart. I was hooked.
He had a short, quick swing, forearms like Popeye the Sailor, and he was left-handed. Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always has a weakness for leftie Canadian sluggers. Corey Koskie, Justin Morneau…I even sneaked peeks at Larry Walker even though he belonged to another.
I saw all I needed to see that afternoon in the Metrodome. Stairs had He had all the hallmarks of a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy. But he didn’t look like your classic leftie slugger. He was only 5’9” and stocky, and he didn’t have that beautiful, smooth stroke most good left-handed hitters have. I didn’t care. His upper-cut swing was a thing of beauty to me.
But I wasn’t the only fantasy suitor whose eye he caught. Sadly, Matt would not be mine. Instead, I had to watch him blossom into that productive player while he belonged to another. Finally, in 2000, I landed Matt. He was coming off his career year, slugging 38 dingers and driving in 102.
That April was the sweetest month. Matt was off to a hot start, and things started to seem as though he was going to be the piece that was missing, finally elevating me out of the fantasy baseball doldrums.
But the honeymoon didn’t last.
Matt’s production tailed off; he never again would hit 30 homers, nor drive in 100 runs. But I clung to the hope that the salad days would return. My friends tried to tell me that the relationship was bad for me and I should end it, but just couldn’t do it. I didn’t see the pudgy, slowing outfielder they saw; all I saw was Matt.
It took three more years before I finally had to face the ugly truth; Matt was never going to be the light of my fantasy baseball life. Ending the relationship was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but ultimately, I was better off for doing it.
A lot of years have gone by since it’s been over, but I still have feelings for Matt. Who ever really forgets their first? Up until today, I would see him around every once in a while; it always did my heart good to see him doing well wherever he was. To this day, that bomb he hit against the Dodgers in the 2008 NLCS will always be a special moment; that rarest of highs when the addict finally catches the dragon he’s been chasing. But as the saying goes, eventually, all good things come to an end, and this is no different. Even though we’ll never be together again, it will be a strange day for me when Matt is eventually out of the league.
That’s the danger in fantasy baseball. It’s always fun until somebody gets hurt.
Here we are; another October full of post-season baseball. Let’s be honest, most of the crap I said about these teams six months ago was wrong, so why not go for month number seven proving I have no idea what I’m talking about. Take the following for example (from April 22nd):
California in General: The Padres are leading the NL West based on a league-leading Team ERA of 2.82, the Giants are tight behind their statemates to the south in both the stat and the standings, and Oakland’s 3.16 means three of the top four staffs in terms of earned runs allowed get their mail in the Golden State. Toss in Dodger Matt Kemp’s pacing the NL with 7 homers and 20 RBI and the Angels not looking nearly as mediocre as one believed, and things are on the up. The question is how many of these things will still be true in August.
Indeed, how many of those things turned out true? Well, the Padres waited until August before they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, allowing themselves to get run down by a Giants team that is likely the weakest still standing. Honestly, after July, these were the only two California teams worth noting. So, instead of trying to make predictions, it is time to talk about why none of these teams are worthy of your support. With that, let’s get down to the rest of the remaining eight…
1) Philadelphia Phillies – (Pre-season Rank #1, 97-65, NL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1
This team defines “mercurial.” They started the season as the favorites of the Dubsism staff, then they plummeted as low as #14 in the rankings, the low-water mark coming in that series at the Mets when they didn’t score a single run in four games. The are now again the hottest team in baseball, but as good as they are now, they won’t when. Why? Because it’s Philadelphia. No city has a bigger self-esteem problem than Philadelphia. Philadelphia spends hours staring in the mirror and laying awake nights wishing it were New York. This is why Philadelphia fans hate everything; during the off-season they go down to the hospital and boo surgeries.
But it isn’t just the male Phillie fans who should be choked to death with a cheese-steak. I’ve got a belly full of these stupid female fans who spend hours blathering about how much they want to fuck Chase Utley. Behind the Red Sox, the Phillies have the highest percentage of obnoxious female pink-hat-wearing fans, you know the ones that get sloppy drunk and wail about wanting to get on Cole Hamels’ cock. If you have a girlfriend who has a pink piece of sports apparel and won’t shut up about which player she wants to bone, punch her in the face immediately. Then punch yourself where your balls used to be for being involved with such a stupid bitch.
2) Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank #4, 96-66, AL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1
Tampa is such a non-interest generator that if the Rays were to win the World Series, you could probably hold the entire victory parade at a Shoney’s. Seriously, nobody gives a shit about Tampa or any of it’s teams. Do you remember when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Of course you don’t, because you didn’t care then, and you don’t care now. The Rays are like are like local TV news. You watch to see weather and traffic, and once you see that you are that stream of fans heading to the car in the sixth inning.
EPSN’s Colin Cowherd made an interesting point about this team. Apparently, Tampa was third on a list of potential cities to get one of two baseball expansion teams. While he was working for a news station in Tampa at the time, Cowherd says he was told by George Steinbrenner himself that he pushed the awarding of the franchise to Tampa through, because his family lived in Tampa and he wanted to see his Yankees play down there during the season. In other words, there are TWO teams to hate because of that dead shitbag Steinbrenner.
3) Minnesota Twins (Pre-season Rank #10, 94-68, AL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5-1
I love the Twins, so it pains me to say this, but I have a serious dislike of Minnesota sports fans. The absolute worst sports fans in the world are Minnesota Viking fans, and too many Twins fans are just the retarded, in-bred cousins of those same Viking fans. I lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years, and I can tell you first hand that the Twins are a franchise that deserves a far better fan base than it has. Minnesota fans worship at the alter of a Viking team that hasn’t won a fucking thing in forty years while they almost completely ignore the franchise that has won two World Championships in that time. Tune in a Minneapolis sports radio station in April and you will hear 24 hours of how the Vikings need to draft some other asshole who will undoubtedly under-perform.
Plus, Minnesota is where you grow fair-weather fans. At least the people in terrible sports cities like Tampa or Atlanta are honest, they don’t show up at all. But Twins “fans” filled the dreadful Metrodome when the Twins were winning; you could have fired a cannon in the place in the mid-90’s and not hit a soul. Now, since the arrival of Joe Mauer and the new ballpark, these “fans” can’t stop blowing themselves over shit we already know like the fact Mauer is a home town boy or that Target Field is gorgeous. It is just the residents of Minnesota collectively coping with the fact they got butt-fucked into building a stadium that is going to be half-empty in ten years. Not to mention, the Twins are no longer the payroll David to the Yankees’ Goliath anymore, so all you so-called “fans” need to get off that crap right now. Granted, the Yankee payroll is gargantuan, but the Twins are over $100 million themselves.
Oh, did I mention they are the world’s only passive-aggressive racists? They wouldn’t dream of using an epithet because that’s not “politically correct,” but they have no problem using the old “Would you want your daughter to marry one?” mentality when they run a black athlete out of town (I will never forget the Warren Moon incident, when Minnesota fans used a court case in which Moon was found not guilty because the case was unfounded to begin with, to call the local sports radio station to spew a lot of “that’s how THOSE people act” bullshit).
There’s about 50 real Twins fans in the world, and they are a great group of people. For the rest, there can’t be enough bridge collapses to get rid of all of you.
4) New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank #2, 95-67, AL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5-1
Are you now, or have you ever been a Yankees fan? Are you under the age of 45? Have you ever said “The Yankees sucked when I was a kid, so I’m not of one these new Yankee fans that came along when we started winning again”? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are pretentious douche-nozzle and you would be doing the world a favor if you stuck a shotgun in your mouth.
There’s soooooooooo many reasons to hate the Yankees. First, there’s the aforementioned loyalty-less fuckwads who think just because the Yankees sucked in the 80’s means they aren’t some dickhead who needs to be on the winning side. But least there is one less reason to hate them, since that piece of deep-fried monket shit known as George Steinbrenner is dead. At least he has a burn-in-hell worthy legacy, like sodomizing New York City out of a billion dollars to build a replica of a 90-year old shithole, then filling it with insufferable dickweeds who now are actually proud of their Ruthian assholery.
Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but you have no idea how much it pissed me off that after Steinbrenner assumed room temperature that I kept being told “You didn’t have to like him, but you had to respect him.” Fuck you. The same people who said this are the same people responsible for the impending death of America. George Steinbrenner was a criminal who deserves the same respect a dog pays to a fire hydrant.
5) Atlanta Braves (Pre-Season Rank #8, 91-71, NL Wild Card) - Odds of Winning World Series: 8-1
Who better to be in the “Punched in the Face Edition” than that geriatric drunken wife-beater Bobby Cox? Lately, people have been fawning over the fact that he has been kicked out of an entire season worth of games. “That just means he’s fiery, competitive and sticks up for his players,” I hear all the time. Did you ever consider that he might just be a flaming asshole with an anger management issue? I would say that getting piss-drunk and punching your wife in the face suggests the latter.
According to the police report, the Coxes had been entertaining friends when Bobby spilled a drink on the carpet of their northwest Atlanta house and Pamela made a comment about it. The report said that after the guests left, Bobby, 53, “hit her in the face with his fist,” pulled her hair and called her “a bitch.” When they reached the house, the police reported, they heard arguing inside, where they found Bobby drunk and Pamela with the left side of her face swollen.
My favorite part of this story was the press conference a few days later when Pamela Cox tried to deny the domestic violence allegations all while wearing a knuckle-mark on her cheek that looked just like a National League Championship ring.
That’s just the recent reason to hate the Braves. There’s a really good old reason, that being when that idiotic windbag Ted Turner owned them. Thanks to the “Mouth of the South,” we all got to live through the infancy of cable television by watching the sorry-ass 1980’s Atlanta Braves. If you are my age, you remember having this shitty team shoved down your throat as “America’s Team.” Worse yet, TBS grew into a cable network capable of winning a bid to carry Major League Baseball so they could prove that Fox didn’t completely fuck up televised baseball.
6) Texas Rangers (Pre-Season Rank #11, 90-72, AL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 12-1
If we were to compare American cities to body parts, Arlington would be the appendix; something that everybody has, yet it is completely useless. Arlington is like the anus of Texas, wedged in between the unwashed buttocks of Dallas and Fort Worth. It doesn’t take long to figure out why Texans build all the stuff that draws huge pain-in-the-ass crowds in Arlington; it sits on such a useless piece of land that it is surrounded on one side by a giant airport and on the other by a giant nothing. Why is the Rangers ball park here? Let’s be honest, nobody in Texas gives a shit about baseball past August. In fact, baseball in Texas is just a way to kill time until football season starts. This is why nobody should give a shit about the Rangers now. Besides, Texas hasn’t had a guy who could hit the cut-off man since Lee Harvey Oswald.
7) Cincinnati Reds (Pre-Season Rank #18, 91-71, NL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 15-1
Here’s where you can still use that shop-worn “big market/small market” argument, except the comparative scale is in sheer assholery. Granted, the Yankees have produced more flaming assholes than anybody, but they have more money than anybody. But when you have a team from the largest city in Kentucky that has produced such legendary buttloafs like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Rob Dibble. Really, how can a team produce a guy who bets on baseball, the worst play-by-play guy EVER, and a guy who just blazed the “Raging Dumbfuck” trail for a shithead like John Rocker. Worse yet, how can a small-market team do that and still produce a world-class fuckface like Johnny Cueto, who during that brawl with the Cardinals back in August kicked Jason LaRue in his head multiple times, effectively ending his 12-year career. If I get to see only one thing I really want during this post-season, please let it be a 95-mph fastball directly into Cueto’s face, his teeth bouncing off home plate like bloody Chiclets.
8 ) San Francisco Giants (Pre-Season Rank #18, 92-70, NL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 18-1
See the guy in the black trunks above? The Giants need to sign him now so they will have at least one guy who can hit. It’s like ever since Barry Bonds left, the Giants are in some sort of self-imposed deprivation of offense, like anybody who hits 30 homers will have his balls cut off and fondued at some sort of granola and sissy-fruit party. It’s not like it matters because nobody cares about the Giants except for a few Dodger haters and the future funeral home clientele who from their pine boxes will still be pining for the days of Willie Mays.
The funny part is that in a weird sort of way, the Giants are the perfect team for San Francisco. At the same time, San Francisco is a beautiful city with the same sleazy underbelly as any other world-class seaport; within mere yards of each other you can find the whitest-glove haute cuisine and foreign sailors chuffing down whatever cheap fare that will satisfy while leaving a precious few drachma for a booze-up and a working girl. San Francisco can turn the breath-taking topography of Northern California and simultaneously compliment it while turning it into a piss-reeking urban nightmare. When fall hits the Midwest and all those meat-and-tater midwesterners get all fawny over California and its’ golden sun, they are picturing Southern California and its sun-kissed beaches. But since they are so eager to get out of East Tree Stump, Ohio, they don’t realize until they get there that San Francisco is not that California. Rather, it is a city that is shrouded in fog more often than not, is prone to 40 mph winds, and can sport highs in the 60s in July. I once lived in North Dakota, and one of the coldest winters I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
The Giants are as much a collection of contradictions as their city. The Giants are a team that boasts a tremendous pitching staff, and yet couldn’t hit water if they fell out of fucking boat. Even though they an old-school member of the National League with a large market, they can’t buy a better solution for their offense problem than Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. Somehow they have managed to play team baseball well enough to win their division, yet on an individual level they are the biggest collection suckasses out there. Did they all agree to wear their uniforms as baggy as possible so they all look like airport windsocks in those 40 mph winds? Tim Lincecum looks like a Make-A-Wish kid baked on medicinal marijuana in those things, but at least they hide the man-boobs on those elephant seals known as Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe. I mean, who the fuck can have any respect for a major league baseball team that has at shortstop a manatee with frosted tips on his goatee?
Over on Listverse, there has been another great-yet-odd list compiled. While the subject doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that I found it comparable to a somehow-sports-related screed, it is really hard to resist a list of people who were killed by radiation. Just think, the same power that heats up your lunch in 90 seconds can also reduce you to a pile of symptoms like severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid hair loss, infections, edema, high fever, and coma and/or death.
Of course, terrible sports coaches and managers are another force that can turn you into a retching pile of guts. So, it only seems natural to compare 10 great deaths by radiation sickness with 10 notorious sackings of sports leaders.
#10) Cecil Kelley
On December 30, 1958 an accident occurred in the Los Alamos plutonium-processing facility. Cecil Kelley, an experienced chemical operator was working with a large mixing tank. The solution in tank was supposed to be “lean”, typically less than 0.1 grams of plutonium per liter. However, the concentration on that day was actually 200 times higher. When Kelley switched on the stirrer, the liquid in the tank formed a vortex and the plutonium containing layer went critical releasing a huge burst of neutrons and gamma radiation in a pulse that lasted a mere 200 microseconds.
Kelley, who had been standing on a foot ladder peering into the tank through a viewing window, fell or was knocked to the floor. Two other operators on duty saw a bright flash and heard a dull thud. Quickly, they rushed to help and found Kelley incoherent and saying only, “I’m burning up! I’m burning up!”. He was rushed to the hospital, semiconscious, retching, vomiting, and hyperventilating. At the hospital, Kelly’s bodily excretions were sufficiently radioactive to give a positive reading on a detector.
Two hours after the accident, Kelley’s condition improved as he regained coherence. However, it was soon clear that Kelley would not survive long. Tests showed his bone marrow was destroyed, and the pain in his abdomen became difficult to control despite medication. Kelley died 35 hours after the accident.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Bum Phillips Being Fired by the Houston Oilers
All Bum Phillips did was usher in the “Luv Ya Blue” era for the Oilers; you know, that fleeting glimpse of time when pro football in Houston didn’t suck. But much like Kelly, Phillips’ demise wasn’t his own fault. Phillips got the gate in Houston because he was unable to do something nobody in the 70’s could; beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
#9) Harry K. Daghnian, Jr.
Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. was an Armenian-American physicist with the Manhattan Project. On August 21, 1945 he was conducting an experiment attempting to build a neutron reflector by manually stacking a series of tungsten carbide bricks around a plutonium core. As he was moving the final block over the assembly, neutron counters alerted Daghlian to the fact that the addition of this brick would render the system supercritical. As he withdrew his hand, he accidentally dropped the brick onto the center of the assembly. The addition of this last brick caused the reaction to go immediately supercritical.
Daghnian panicked immediately after dropping the brick and attempted to knock off the brick without success. He was forced to partially disassemble the tungsten carbide pile to halt the reaction causing him to receive a lethal dose of neutron radiation. He died 25 days later. Daghlian was violating safety regulations by working on the assembly late at night and alone in the laboratory.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Dennis Green Being Fired By the Minnesota Vikings
Nothing defines the Dennis Green era in Minnesota quite like pure, uncut incompetence. Green clearly Sadly, Green’s death took longer than 25 days; Denny lingered for ten years, a decade that saw the Vikings win absolutely nothing despite having monstrously talented teams. But as we know now, nothing destroys talent quite like stupidity.
#8 ) Louis Slotin
Louis Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project that created the first atomic bombs. He participated in criticality testing of plutonium cores, often referred to as “tickling the dragon’s tail.”
On May 21, 1946 Slotin and seven other colleagues performed an experiment that involved the creation of one of the first steps of a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium around a plutonium core. Slotin was stabilizing the upper beryllium sphere with his left hand using the blade of a screwdriver to maintain the separation between the two half-spheres in violation of experimental protocol. At 3:20pm the screwdriver slipped causing the upper beryllium sphere to fall creating a prompt critical reaction and a burst of radiation. Scientists in the room observed a blue glow around the spheres and felt a heat wave.
Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction. However, Slotin had already been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, equivalent to the amount that he would have received had he been 1500m away from an atomic bomb detonation. He was rushed to the hospital immediately, but the damage was irreversible and he died nine days later on May 30, 1946. The core he dropped was the very same core dropped by Daghnian the year before – causing it to be named the Demon Core.
Slotin’s story is integrated in the movie, “Fat Man and Little Boy” starring Paul Newman and John Cusack.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Anybody who hired, then fired Gene Mauch after 1964.
Nobody seems to learn the lesson; safety regulations exist for a reason. Somebody somewhere somewhat smarter than you already knew that you shouldn’t stand on the top rung of the ladder, nor should you grab the overhead wire. That’s why there is usually a sign or a label; some sort of warning that what you are about to do is a bad idea.
Gene Mauch should have come with just such a label. Clearly, the other signs were not visible enough…the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, the malaise that was the Montreal Expos in the early 70’s, and the Angels’ playoff choke-jobs in the 80’s…Mauch kept a level of respect in baseball that he kept getting hired even after just having been fired for complete ineptitude.
#7) Eben McBurney Byers
Eben McBurney Byers was a wealthy American socialite, athlete, and industrialist. In 1927 while returning via chartered train from the annual Harvard-Yale football game, Byers fell from his berth and injured his arm. He complained of persistent pain and a doctor suggested that he take Radithor, a patent medicine containing high concentrations of radium. Byers drank nearly 1400 bottles over three years. By 1930, when Byers stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones resulting in the loss of most of his jaw. Byers’ brain was also abscessed and holes were forming in his skull. He died from radium poisoning on March 31, 1932. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a lead-lined coffin.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Kevin McHale Being Fired by the The Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor seems to have been drinking the Radithor for years. While Kevin “McFail” was busy taking that franchise from the conference finals all the way to the bottom of the lottery, Taylor just sat idly by, obviously letting something eat through his brain. It might as well be radium. Not only that, but when you get mistaken for the handicapped kid from “Glee,” you should just give it up.
#6) Hiroshi Couchi
Japan’s worst nuclear radiation accident took place at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, on September 30, 1999. The direct cause of the criticality accident was workers putting uranyl nitrate solution containing about 16.6 kg of uranium, exceeding the critical mass, into a precipitation tank. The tank was not designed to dissolve this type of solution and was not configured to prevent eventual criticality.
Three workers were exposed to lethal radiation doses. One of these workers, Hiroshi Couchi, was transferred to the University of Tokyo Hospital and three days after the accident he could talk and only his right hand was a little swollen with redness. However, his condition gradually weakened as the radioactivity broke down the chromosomes in his cells.
The doctors were at a loss as to what to do. There were few precedents and proven medical treatments for victims of radiation poisoning. A local television crew followed the story for 83 days until Hiroshi died. Their observations are chronicled in the book, “A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness.”
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Jimy Williams Being Fired by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tony Kornheiser explained this with his coining of one of the great baseball nicknames of all time. In the 80’s, Jimy Williams found himself with a dilemma. It seemed the Toronto outfield wasn’t large enough for all-star George Bell and a rookie nobody had ever heard of. Williams was instrumental in Bell’s departure for Chicago, and his eventual firing should tell you how well that worked. This is how Jimy “I’ve got to make room for Sil Campusano” Williams essentially killed himself.
#5) Marie Curie
Marie Sklodowska Curie was a physicist and chemist and a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. In fact, it was Curie that coined the term radioactivity, though Henri Becquerel discovered the phenomenon years earlier. Curies research into the properties of two different uranium ores, pitchblende and chalcolite. led to the discovery of radium and polonium, other radioactive elements. Curie’s husband, Pierre, was so intrigued by her research that he decided to suspend his own research to join her.
The Curies undertook the arduous task of separating radium out of pitchblende ore. From a ton of pitchblende, one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride was separated. Unfortunately, the Curies were unaware of the deleterious health effects of repeated unprotected radiation exposure. Pierre Curie died in 1906 after being hit and run over by a horse drawn carriage, however Marie lived for another 28 years continuing her research and eventually winning two Nobel prizes. She often carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-green light that the substances gave off in the dark.
Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 due to aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation. She is interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Her laboratory is preserved at the Musee Curie. Due to their levels of radioactivity, her papers from the 1890’s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. They are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Houston Nutt Being Run Out of the University of Arkansas.
There’s a link between being a genius innovator and succumbing to your own success. There’s also something to be said for getting caught banging the local news anchorette. But much like the Curies and their relentless search for radium, Nutt never seems to be satisfied with whatever job he currently holds. The aforementioned wandering eye at Arkansas contributed to an early departure. The same was true at Murray State and Boise State where Nutt always seemed to be interviewing for the next job instead of focusing on the current one.
#4) Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB officer who escaped prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom . In November of 2006 he suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later and post-mortem tests showed he had been given a lethal dose of Polonium-210 via a cup of tea. On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being behind his death.
Subsequent investigations by British authorities into the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death led to serious diplomatic difficulties between the British and Russian governments. Unofficially, British authorities asserted that “we are 100% sure who administered the poison, where and how”. However they did not disclose their evidence in the interest of a future trial. The main suspect in the case, a former officer of the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO) Andrei Lugovoy, remains in Russia. As a member of the Duma, he now enjoys immunity from prosecution.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Tubby Smith Being Fired by the University of Kentucky.
Tubby Smith clearly fell out of favor with the politburo in Lexington. But what can you say about the Soviet-style delusion of the University of Kentucky. How do you exile into the gulag a guy who won you a national championship, who wins nearly eighty percent of his games, and is universally respected?
#3) Soviet Submarine K-19
K-19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles. Several people had died during its construction earning it the nickname “Hiroshima” among naval sailors and officers. On July 4, 1961 under the command of Captain Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev, K-19 developed a major leak in her reactor coolant system causing the reactor temperature to rise to a very dangerous 800 deg. Celsius. Due to poor design and failure to have a backup cooling system installed, Captain Zateyev had no choice but to order a team of seven engineering officers in crew to undertake a repair despite the lethal rates of radiation exposure.
The repair crew was successful in stopping the leak however all seven were dead within a week. The incident contaminated the entire boat and within a few years twenty more crew members were dead attributed to the incident at sea.
The Soviet Navy made extensive repairs to boat and it later returned to service. It did, however, continue to experience horrible accidents including an at-sea collision in 1969 and a fire in 1972 killing 28 sailors. It was finally decommissioned in 1991.
The movie “K-19: The Widowmaker” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson is loosely based on the nuclear accident on the K-19.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Manny Acta Being Fired by the Washington Nationals.
Blaming a manager for the woeful performance of the Washington Nationals is like shooting out all your light bulbs to make the sun go down. How do you expect anybody to manage anything with no pitching and an opening day lineup consisting of Daniel Cabrera, Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Jesus Flores, Cristian Guzman, Anderson Hernandez, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Ryan Zimmerman? Sure, Jim Riggleman wriggled more wins out of this roster, but this team still hasn’t cracked the 70-win mark, unless they win three of their last five in 2010.
On April 26, 1986 a nuclear accident occurred on the Number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. Workers at the plant were planning a test to determine how long turbines would spin and supply power to the main circulating pumps following a loss of main electrical power. Due to another regional power station going offline, the test was delayed and as a result, the test was conducted over the night shift where the workers had not been trained on the test procedure. Several subsequent errors, including a decision to disable automatic shutdown mechanisms, led to an unstable reactor configuration with nearly all of the control rods removed.
The reactor SCRAMed (rapid insertion of all control rods) but a flaw in the design of the control rods actually caused the reaction rate in the lower half of the core to increase. At this point, a massive power spike occurred and the core overheated. The precise subsequent course of events was not registered by instruments; it is known only as a result of a mathematical simulation. What is known is that there was a large steam buildup in the core that eventually exploded releasing tons of radioactive steam and fission products into the air. Radiation levels in the vicinity of the reactor core after the explosion were 30,000 times the lethal limit.
One person was killed immediately and his body was never found. Another died that same day as a result of injuries received during the explosion. Acute radiation sickness was originally diagnosed in 237 people on-site and involved with the clean-up and it was later confirmed in 134 cases. Of these 28 people died within weeks of the accident, six of whom were firefighters tasked with attending the fires on the roof of the turbine building. Nineteen more subsequently died between 1987 and 2004. Nobody off-site suffered from acute radiation effects, although a large proportion of childhood thyroid cancers diagnosed since the accident is likely to be due to intake of radioactive iodine fallout. Subsequent studies in the Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus estimate over 1 million people were affected by radiation from Chernobyl, however the extent of its effects may never be truly known.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Any coach who was fired by the Detroit Lions during the Matt Millen years.
Can you think of a bigger sports meltdown than the Lions? Millen was President and CEO of the Detroit Lions from 2000 until 2008, an era that saw the worst eight-year record in the history of the modern NFL (31-97). The coashes under Millen (Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, and Rod Marinelli) might as well have been the firefighters at Chernobyl.
#1) Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II have been the only time in history such weapons have been used on people. The justification for the bombings has been hotly debated since, but no doubt the memory of their destruction has been a large reason why they have been not used since.
On August 6, 1945 the uranium bomb, “Little Boy”, was dropped on Hiroshima killing 70,000-80,000 people immediately. Three days later, the plutonium bomb, “Fat Man”, was dropped on Nagasaki killing an estimated 40,000-75,000 instantly. Those that survived the initial blasts were then subject to severe radiation and thermal burns, radiation sickness and related diseases all aggravated by the lack of medical resources. It is estimated that another 200,000 people had died by 1950 as a result of health effects of the bombings.
Surviving victims of the bombings are known as hibakusha, a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion-affected people.” As of March 31, 2009 235,569 hibakusha were recognized by the Japanese government. The government of Japan recognizes about 1% of these as having illnesses caused by radiation.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Lou Holtz Running Out on the New York Jets.
If there was anybody that needed to be bombed in order to save lives, it was Lou Holtz’ NFL career. Every NFL general manager should be forced to print that picture and place it in a prominent space as a constant reminder of the danger of hiring college coaches. Every once in a while you get lucky with a Jimmy Johnson, but odds are you get another Pete Carroll, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Barry Switzer, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, or Lou Holtz; who mere months after signing a five-year contract quit with three games left in the season, leaving the Jets to finishe 3-13.
Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.
But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a Swim With The Sharks twist.
Great White Shark: The Texas Rangers
Clearly, The Texas Rangers are going to need a bigger boat. Rangers’ General manager Jon Daniels played the role of Chief Brody to a tee. Not only did Daniels figure out he’s got a team ready to reel in winning now, he set sail to bag the fish he needed to make this team complete. The Rangers have been playing fur seal to the Angels’ Great White for nearly a decade now, but the additions of of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina, infielder Cristian Guzman, and slugger Jorge Cantu make a frankly scary roster when mixed with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and ironically enough Vladimir Guerrero, who was acquired in the off-season from the Angels.
Not only does this make the Ranges likely to seal up the American League West sometime in August, barring an unforeseen collapse, the Rangers become an honest-to-goodness World Series contender. If that weren’t good enough, the Rangers, who are awash in bankruptcy even managed to get the Nationals and the Marlins to toss in cash in their respective deals. Could this finally be the year where a good-looking Ranger team doesn’t get grilled into oblivion in the broiling Texas summer?
Tiger Shark: San Diego Padres
The Padres have spent eons being the bottom feeder of the NL West, so much so they gained a reputation for eating anything that would come their way; they were so desperate a few years ago they were the only team that showed interest in a clearly-finished Mark Prior. However, even a creature that eats everything occasionally gets a gourmet meal. Gaining the services of both infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while not giving away anything useful cement the Padres as a legitimate force come October.
Ludwick’s big bat finally provides some protection for Adrian Gonzalez, while his glove complements a stellar pitching staff. As long as they manage Tejada correctly, meaning they play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the disabled list. Once Eckstein returns, it will be necessary to platoon him with Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop. Otherwise, the Padres run the risk of seeing Tejada’s age and lack of range cost them in the long run.
Bull Shark: New York Yankees
Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Yankees commit the most atrocities against humanity. The Bronx Bombers were likely the best team in baseball before the trade deadline, however, that didn’t stop them from adding Lance Berkman to shore up the DH slot, Austin Kearns to make them even better against left-handed pitching, and (if he stays healthy) Kerry Wood to add the consistency to the setup role Joba Chamberlain seems completely incapable of doing.
Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies
Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen the combination of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay could’ve dominated National League lineups. Instead, they must give up a good bullpen guy to get Roy Oswalt.
With some hindsight, they might have seen that Greg Dobbs alone isn’t a good enough insurance policy against injury. In the absence of Ryan Howard, imagine how that line-up would look now had they dealt Jayson Werth for the obligatory bag of magic beans. In other words, they easily could be the bottom-feeder that didn’t find the good meal.
Nurse Shark: Los Angeles Dodgers
Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Dodgers looked like a contender until the calendar read August. Honestly (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), it really isn’t general manager Ned Colletti’s fault for once. Coletti is suffering the Malachi Crunch of being pinned in between the ugly divorce of owing junta Frank and Jamie McCourt and the over-priced, under-performing Manny Ramirez who is rapidly becoming the millstone around the neck of this franchise.
In other words, Colletti is trying to do his job, but he is in a swimming race in a shark tank with a bleeding side of beef chained around his neck. Somehow, he has manged to make deals for effective B-list players like Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel; the trouble is this team needed a couple of A-listers to make the difference.
Mako Shark: Minnesota Twins
This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. Just look at that thing; I shit my pants just uploading that picture. But the problem is the Mako wastes that fearsome nature chasing Charlie the Tuna. This is the perfect analogy for the Twins; a franchise that can grow some seriously scary talent, yet has no idea how to get full value on a trade.
It was no secret that even though the Twins uber-catching prospect Wilson Ramos was never going to do more at Target Field than sell hot dogs to the “ya, you betcha” Minnesota crowd as long as God in a Mask Joe Mauer is a Twin uniform. Sure it was obvious Ramos was the chum to catalyze any deal, but with high-quality bait you expect a high-quality catch.
To be blunt, Ramos should have got the Twins Miss Universe, but Matt Capps is Miss Iowa. Now don’t misunderstand us here, while Iowa may be an acronym for “Individuals Out Watering Animals,” Miss Iowa is a hottie in her own right. But unless she becomes Miss Universe, she’s a decked-out Cadillac Seville in a world of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows. In other words, Capps is a fully-loaded, brand new Cadillac for which the Twins paid $750,000.
Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks
Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. However, teams wading through Arizona do occassionally run the risk of having their legs mistakenly bitten. However, this timid nature leads some to believe that this shark may be an endangered species when in fact they may have put a screwing to a couple of larger sharks in the Baseball ocean.
Frankly, I’m amazed to hear people who think the Diamondbacks got screwed in the Dan Haren trade. Keep in mind this is a franchise in need of swimming into a gill net and hoping for a better lot in the next life. Just in the deal with Angels alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson, the D-backs now boast a farm system stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year’s draft.
Remora: San Francisco Giants
Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Giants got a few nice bits in relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Plus, the bit of “addition by subtraction” that happened by shipping Bengie Molina to Texas, thus opening the way Buster Posey to look like a right-handed coming of God In a Mask Joe Mauer could easily move the Giants up the food chain.
The Chum Bucket:
Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did net a nice catch in Dan Haren, but this team really needed a big bat at a corner infield position/designated hitter position (Adam Dunn, anyone?). When you combine that with the price of the Haren deal, it’s pretty hard to say the Halos helped themselves for the long term. Another team that needed offensive firepower and didn’t get it were the White Sux. Not only they not get Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman shot down the Sux with his no-trade clause. They still can make this worse by engineering one of those Kenny Williams “waiver wire” specials by grabbing Manny Ramirez. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out there – oh wait, Williams has already made that mistake before.
Then there’s the teams who added nothing. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a neck-in-neck race with the Cardinals, but just couldn’t get that extra horse they need. Roy Oswalt cost too much, Dan Haren pulled out the no-trade clause, and they came up empty looking for bullpen help. In the end, they are pinning their hopes on a couple of senior citizens they have stashed in Triple-A Louisville, Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen (yeah, I can’t believe they are still alive either!) But at least the Cardinals’ swim in the shark tank came out as a net zero. Sure, Jake Westbrook helps the rotation, but giving up Ryan Ludwick when the Cards were already offensively challenged… this team better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games. The Mets literally did nothing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely can’t replace the injured Kevin Youkilis (except as a Scrabble word) for the Red Sox, much like Jhonny Peralta won’t come close to replacing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen for the increasingly toothless Tigers.
The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:
Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool. Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team that actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes.
But worry not sports and shark fans; while Shark Week is just a week, there still the waiver wire deals for which August is notorious. In fact, I hear Adam Dunn may still be available…
For me, the All-Star break has always represented the “far turn” in the horse race that is the Major League Baseball season. This is the point when general managers acting as jockeys must decide whether they are contenders or pretenders; whether to go to the whip (trade for talent to augment a “stretch run”) or “wait for next year” (have a fire sale).
This is why the rumor mills are always abuzz in the weeks around this time. Even before we can get to that buzz, the Blue Jays have decided they are selling, and the Rangers are clearly buying. The Braves grabbed a veteran shortstop while doing a bit “addition by subtraction” by sending perennial underacheiver Yuniel Escobar to Toronto in exchange for Alex Gonzalez. On the other side of the coin, the Rangers finally discovered that pitching might be the key to a run through October by acquiring all-star caliber pitcher Cliff Lee from the Mariners, who were clearly over-rated to start the season.
Speaking of pre-season ratings, the far turn is also a good place to really look at how wrong your prognostications were. While the Blue Jays gave us a nice surprise for a while, ultimately they are showing they don’t have the ponies to run with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Meanwhile teams that looked to be at the front of the pack are running like they shattered a collective leg.
For example, the Phillies entered this campaign as the defending National League champions; for 10 weeks they played as such. However, for the past six, they have forgotten how to score, and for large stretches of that time the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer has been a more effective pitcher than the bazillion-dollar ace Roy Halladay. The turning point came during that Mets series in June when the Phillies’ seemingly discovered how to score negative runs.
In contrast, the Minnesota Twins never really had such a clear-cut moment spelling doom. Instead, the Twins seem to be on a march toward “death by a thousand cuts;” every day brings a new seemingly small problem that while insignificant by itself, in total they become a blow to the system that can’t be overcome. The loss of uber-stud Justin Morneau to a concussion could have been that fatal blow if only the Twins weren’t 90% of the way to bleeding out by then.
Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.
- New York Yankees ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #2)
- Tampa Bay Rays ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #4)
- Atlanta Braves ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #8)
- San Diego Padres ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank #25)
- Boston Red Sox ↑ 8 (Pre-season rank #3)
- Texas Rangers ↑ 11 (Pre-season rank #11)
- Chicago White Sox ↑ 14 (Pre-season rank #9)
- Colorado Rockies ↑ 10 (Pre-season rank #5)
- Los Angeles Dodgers ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank # 13)
- Cincinnati Reds ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #18)
- Detroit Tigers ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #14)
- New York Mets ↑ 7 (Pre-season rank #23)
- San Francisco Giants ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #17)
- St. Louis Cardinals ↓ 6 (Pre-season rank #6)
- Los Angeles Angels ↓ 5 (Pre-season rank #15)
- Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 11 (Pre-season rank #1)
- Minnesota Twins ↓ 14 (Pre-season rank #10)
- Toronto Blue Jays ↓ 11 (Pre-season rank #28)
- Oakland Athletics ↓ 3 (Pre-season rank #21)
- Florida Marlins ↓ 5 (Pre-season rank #12)
- Chicago Cubs ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #22)
- Milwaukee Brewers ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank#20)
- Kansas City Royals ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #29)
- Washington Nationals ↓ 4 (Pre-season rank #24)
- Houston Astros ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #26)
- Seattle Mariners ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #7)
- Cleveland Indians ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank #30)
- Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #16)
- Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 2 (Pre-season rank # 27)
- Baltimore Orioles ↔ (Pre-season rank #19)