I wrote this as a baseball fan, not as a Yankees fan

April 13, 2007 at 5:43 am | Posted in baseball, lee | 5 Comments

Baseball Needs A-Rod
How Alex Rodriguez can save baseball

You might hate Alex Rodriguez. You might want to rethink that hate, though, because he could be one of history’s most important baseball players.

I know, I know. He is so easy to hate and the reasons to do so are more than plenty.

There’s the record-setting, 10-year, $252 million dollar contract he signed in 2001 that will earn him $27 million this year alone (not to make you hate him more, but if he gets 572 at-bats like he did last year he will make $47,202.80 per at-bat).

Perhaps you hate that despite all that money and his numerous American League Most Valuable Player awards, he usually doesn’t perform well when it seems to matter the most: the playoffs.

It could be that he seems fake. He is too good of a person. Everything he does seems so scripted, his answers so rehearsed. It could be all three.

Or, maybe you just hate the Yankees.

Whatever your reason, you might want to start rooting for Rodriguez because he is important to the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). Why? Because he hits a lot of home runs and doesn’t do steroids. This combination could make him the one to help baseball move on from the “steroid era” that has dragged baseball’s good name through the mud for almost 30 years.

Homeruns are the most prominent of all baseball plays. They show the skill and power that a player possesses. They put a run – or runs – on the scoreboard with a single swing of the bat. The records for homeruns have always been considered sacred and important parts of baseball’s rich tradition.

For a few decades, Babe Ruth held the two biggest records for homeruns that exist: home runs in a single season (60) and homeruns over a career (714).

In 1961, Roger Maris broke the single-season record by hitting 61 homers. His record maintained the sacredness of Ruth’s. Maris held the record until the 1998 season, when Mark McGwire passed him by hitting 70 homeruns. Just three years later, Barry Bonds out-did McGwire by hitting 73 in 2001. Because both Bonds and McGwire have been all but convicted of steroid use, the singe-season homerun record has lost its prestige and had become almost laughable.

The career homerun record is considered by many to be the biggest record in all of sports. The Babe held onto the record until April 8, 1974, when Henry Aaron became the homerun king by hitting his 715th homer. Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 homeruns and more than 30 years later, the record has remained holy. It appears that it won’t last past this season, though, because Barry Bonds is at it again.

Going into the 2007 baseball season, the 42 year-old Bonds has dinged 734 homers, only 21 shy of Aaron’s record. That’s a small margin, considering that over his 21 year career, Bonds has only hit less than 21 homers in three seasons: 2005 when he only played in 14 games on account of injury and two others within his first four seasons in the Major Leagues. So, barring an (un)fortunate injury to Bonds or unforeseeable luck for baseball fans, the record will fall well before the season ends.

Alex Rodriguez, though, can make Bonds reign last less than a decade. In 11 seasons the 31 year-old A-Rod has already amassed 464 homeruns. That is an average of 42 homers per season. Let’s assume that Bonds will play one more season after 2007 and finish his career with 800 homeruns. If Rodriguez keeps with his pace of 42 homers, he will break the record in just eight seasons. This means, that in 2014, the all-important record book of baseball could start looking pure again.

Because Rodriguez is a human (despite your perception of his robotic personality), he will age and age will probably bring a lack in production. We’ll guess that his production won’t fall much farther than to an average of 32 four-baggers per year. This would make him baseball’s all-time homerun leader midway through the 2017 season. Far away as that may seem, Rodriguez will only be 41 (turning 42 in July of 2017) that season, which is not an uncommon age for baseball players to still be productive at.

Even though you hate Rodriguez (or, used to), you probably hate Bonds more, or at least can admit that having baseball’s biggest record held by someone clean would be better than someone who used steroids.

Baseball fans need A-Rod to maintain his physical abilities for another decade. For that to happen, we need to do our part to ensure that his mind doesn’t go before his body does because of all the stress caused by unfair criticisms and petty hatreds. Although not short on physical prowess, our new-found hero doesn’t always have a psyche of steel. He’s a pleaser and he wants to meet the expectations placed on him. He wants to be a part of another New York Yankees dynasty of championships. He wants these things so bad, that it can be to his detriment. Mistakes can haunt him and criticism can hurt his confidence. He starts over-thinking and routine things like swinging a bat can become so complex in his brain that it seems almost impossible to do.

Alex Rodriguez is the only one who can put the cheating of the steroid era behind us in the near future, so rather than pick apart every mistake he makes or every thing he says, he should be cut some slack and not held to standards he can never meet. He doesn’t need to be coddled, just treated fairly. Otherwise, the dark cloud of cheating will continue to hover over baseball.

Then again, maybe you are of the line of thinking that everyone was juiced on steroids so it wasn’t really cheating. If so, shame on you. Baseball’s better than that.

(I wrote this for my magazine writing class.)

here’s an email i sent today

April 13, 2007 at 4:16 am | Posted in basketball, brian, fespn | Leave a comment

dear skip bayless,

i watched you on cold pizza today.  you probably thought you were being witty and clever when stated your amazement at allen iverson’s play during the denver nuggets winning streak.  i think you were like, “i’m truly amazed that allen iverson is actually deferring.  deferring.”  that might not be totally accurate but that’s ok since i’m only holding myself to the analytic standard you seem to hold for yourself.  i am pretty sure that you repeated deferring twice.  that makes sense.  it’s a underused word and you want people to know that you know how to use it.

here’s my question: which of your jokes did you laugh harder at when you came up with them?  your iverson actually deferring joke or your me, myself and iverson nickname joke?

love, brian form this person knows what i’m talking about

what ever happened to bobby fisher?

April 10, 2007 at 8:11 am | Posted in baseball, brian, chess, sports history they never taught you in school | 1 Comment

chess is a lot like baseball. at least that’s why i think. sometimes fight and i have this discussion when we accidentally watch an inning of a baseball game on tv. (last year, we had this idea to make a demo-tape showcasing our baseball-related broadcasting skills. our hook — and it’s a hook that anyone would get snagged in by — was to claim that whoever was up to bat was also related to some famous person, living or dead, with a similar name. we also would snort lines of coke anytime anyone hit a homerun. that or eat tacos. you gotta keep coming up with new material if you want to make it in the world of baseball broadcasting.)

baseball and chess. how did anyone think up those games? according to the limited, casual research i’ve conducted over the last 21 years, no one really knows. baseball maybe grew out of some weird game where you’d try and hit gophers with sticks before they could return to their respective holes that celts used to play in the dark ages. when europeans came to the north american continent, an adaptation of this ancient game merged with a game played by indigenous cultures adapted from that basketball-like games aztecs used to play. in the native american indian game, participants would attempt to throw a gopher through that sideways hoop from various points on the playing field. the place you through the gopher from determined your possible score.

(while checking out sights of historical importance near the federal district of mexico, greg — the same greg who once contributed a piece to this blog — used up 4 of our 7 disposal cameras trying to shoot a panoramic recreation of one of these fields. he pasted all the photos up in his living room. it’s almost like being there.)

naturally, these two games merged with balls, bats, strike-zones and bases replacing gophers, sticks, holes and positions. then thomas edison invented the dh and baseball was born.

or that’s one theory about the origins of baseball. here’s an equally compelling theory:

a guy in the south of france got a job helping in the construction of the statue of liberty. during construction, an angel appeared to this guy in a dream and told him all about this game god thought might be interesting. upon waking, the guy made an outline of the game and hid it in the statue of liberty. when the statue of liberty arrived in the united states, the outline was found and baseball invented.

but chess? i can’t even make up a story about how that game was invented. i am satisfied with jeremy spinrad’s summary:

I am satisfied with the summary
contained in “Capsule History of Chess,” by Chielamangus (a.k.a. C.J.S.
Purdy), in The Fireside Book of Chess: “The conclusion to be drawn is that
the game originated either in India, or not in India, between 10,000 BC and
2000 AD. Practically all the opponents of this view have now been
discredited.”

some say moses invented it and you can still feel his presence when you play.

Dice-KKKKKKKK!

April 9, 2007 at 4:27 am | Posted in baseball, whitney | 1 Comment

Joe Blanton makes me want to barf, he’s so ugly. That’s why I bought a Red Sox hat.

Because when it comes to pitchers…..DICE-KKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!! There is nothing cooler in baseball than the gyroball (this year). Here are some other things that are cool about Matsuzaka:
1. Not fat.
2. Pretty good looking. He doesn’t have any questionable facial hair…
Calero
… approachable hair cut and muscle size, nice smile. There seems to be something very classic about him, despite the fact that he’s so unclassic (doesn’t even speach English, bless his heart).
Dice-K
3. Got me on the six o’clock news in Boston on Wednesday. (Just a flash of my mom and I in the sports bar, but considering how often I’m in sports bars and how often I get on the news in a sports bar, I’m batting like… .789 … or something.)

So, he had a pretty great start (as I so enthusiastically cheered for Japanese television.) walking only one player and giving up six hits. Not bad for a debut…and, yeah, the thing has maybe been hyped a little too much. Maybe his gyroball really is his totally awesome changeup, but isn’t the fact that Matsuzaka just goes on letting people believe he has the ability to throw an entirely new pitch (after about 131 years of the sport) kind of funny anyway? It makes me like him more, trying to fool all these overally excited Americans.

Still don’t know anything about baseball. Only know that the A’s are mostly overweight and Dice-K is fully sweet.

wingspans

April 4, 2007 at 1:17 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., fespn | 2 Comments

i was watching some of the college basketball tournament and somebody (i don’t know names) blocked some shot and the announcer was like, “he’s only 6’6″ but he has a 6’8″ wingspan.” so i was like, “i wonder if i think and act like a primate because i might have the wingspan of a primate?” three weeks later i was at dusty’s house measuring everybody’s wingspans and that was that. here are the results:

wingspans

dusty says i drag my knuckles, but at least i can reach my computer keyboard.

Church of Baseball

April 1, 2007 at 10:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So, I’m late in the game this year (since the season starts tomorrow), but I decided tonight to go ahead and do a fantasy baseball league this year, and who ever reads this post is invited.

If you’d like to play the ID# is 295769 and the password is cherryblossom

http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/b1

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