Wednesday February 18, 2004
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK - have your thoughts heard!
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Scott and Vinny
Yankees, Mets and the Rest
The other night, I had the opportunity to instant message using Yahoo Messenger with a couple of guys who have recently started Yankees, Mets and the Rest, another great baseball blog. We discussed a number of baseball topics. You will notice that the format is very similar to the “Conversations” I had last week. If you missed them, check them out here:
Tuesday - David Bergner, The Baseball Savant.
Wednesday - JD Arney, Redsfaithful Baseball Blog.
Thursday - Eric Justman Reichart, The Baseball Boys.
As always, we certainly hope you enjoy this discussion. Again, I would invite anyone who is interested in talking about baseball to e-mail me and I can tell you my Yahoo Messenger name or MSN Messenger name, and we’ll talk. If there are other baseball writers who are interested in a conversation like this, let me know. It’s fun! If you have any questions or comments for me or Scott or Vinny, e-mail me and also check out Yankees, Mets and the Rest. Let’s get to the chatting:
THE CONVERSATION BEGINS
Seth Speaks: Hey guys, thanks for taking some time to converse on some baseball with me. This should be fun. I’ll start out basic… Your site has now been up for a little over a month. What is it that made you decide to start writing your website?
Vinny: Scott, since you actually set it up, I suppose you should tackle that one.
Scott: We'd talked about doing something baseball related for months, actually. One day I just happened to get bored enough to head over to BlogSpot and sign up. The "Stated Goal" is to eventually unseat some of the meatheads on NY sports radio.
Seth Speaks: Where are you from? What do you do?
Scott: I'm from Dutchess County, New York, currently residing in Poughkeepsie.
Vinny: Originally from the Bronx, believe it or not, and raised in a town called Mahopac, NY. I work as technical support manager for an internet service provider.
Seth Speaks: So, how do you decide what to write about? And when do you write?
Scott: We work together, actually, which is how we met.
Seth Speaks: So, you two sit at work and research and write your blog entries... probably one looking out to make sure how authority figures are present?
Scott: I wish we could do the tag-team lookout thing. I'll either find an article online that I find interesting or particularly stupid, then add my thoughts or rip it to shreds. Other times, there's just something going on in baseball that I want to talk about for a little while.
Vinny: I usually make my rounds through the local papers and major sports web sites looking for something that interests me enough to write about it.
Seth Speaks: Do you have any goals for the website or where do you see your site taking you?
Scott: It's still pretty new, so it's tough to really look ahead, but getting on the radio would be nice. We've discussed that before. I wouldn't mind writing a column for a newspaper. (Prediction: Vinny's answer reads like mine.)
Vinny: For me, I just want to reach as wide an audience as possible and entertain people. And yes, like Scott said, we'd love to catch on with a radio station somewhere. Maybe not something on the scale of WFAN or ESPN radio (the two biggest sports stations in NY), but somewhere.
Seth Speaks: Radio would be great! OK, ‘Yankees, Mets and the Rest’ makes me assume that most of what you write about will be New York baseball... Is there anything exciting happening in New York baseball news lately?
Vinny: I heard the Yankees picked up some guy from Texas. What was his name again? Oh yeah, Mike Lamb.
Seth Speaks: Yeah, for a minor league pitcher! I realize that everyone is writing about it. Any real quick thoughts on the A-Rod/Soriano trade?
Scott: Good one, Vinny. I still can't sort everything out. I've gone back and forth on the defensive alignment aspect of it a few times. I think I'd favor Jeter at 2B if there were more time for him to learn that side of the bag. He's excellent on relay throws, and I'd hate to lose that. At this point, I don't care where they end up.
Vinny: It's obviously huge, but I don't think it guarantees the Yankees anything. It still comes down to whether or not their pitching can hold up for a full season.
Scott: That's true. They're not Orioles lopsided, but if Brown and Contreras crap out, they're lopsided.
Vinny: And it wasn't the Mets' fault!
Scott: But they'll just trade for Big Unit and everything will be fine.
Seth Speaks: OK, to get political, can you understand why perceived "small-market teams" and their fans would be upset about the current economic situation in baseball?
Vinny: I can see why they would be. There has to be a helpless feeling like there's nothing you can do to compete with the "big guys." Then again, the Angels and Marlins did it without huge payrolls.
Scott: I can understand it. The only workable solution that comes to mind is to get richer owners. The Players Association will never accept a salary cap. Vinny's point is sound, though.
Seth Speaks: I think the argument is that those teams can do it for one year, where the Yankees just buy their championships and buy what they need from year to year.
Scott: The counter-argument is that when you buy your players and gut your farm system, there's not much of a safety net. Lower-revenue teams are forced to have a system brimming with prospects in order to compete for an extended period, and the smarter ones can turn that to their advantage when dealing with big-money teams.
Seth Speaks: I think the Twins and A's are good examples of having a strong minor league system. The unfortunate thing is that when their players get to free agency, they can't retain them, and they go to the Yankees or Mets or Red Sox.
Scott: The Yankees are beyond that, even. It doesn't much matter if one guy gets hurt.
Seth Speaks: OK, to the next topic, where do you stand on the SABRmetrics vs Traditional baseball philosophies?
Vinny: I'm more of a traditionalist. The strategy involved in the game interests me far more than stats do. I see their purpose for evaluating talent, but I think they tend to dehumanize people at times.
Scott: Of the two of us, I'm closer to a SABR guy. I'm not out there inventing new ways to evaluate the game, but I pay attention to the new ideas in that area, even if I don't understand the more intricate ones. I started reading Bill James in the 80's, and that affected me, like many others.
Seth Speaks: Well put, I like that answer. I am primarily a traditionalist too, but I think stats are important in offseason, or inseason, transaction analysis. Reading Bill James made me really start thinking a little differently, but I like hit-and-run, stolen bases, etc.
Scott: There's a common misconception about sabermetrics in general, though... that it's about number crunching as the ultimate form of fanhood. I think most people who lean in the sabermetric direction would agree that it's more about finding out how the game actually works, what ideas prove to be true and which are just wrong. There is no true appreciation of the game without actually watching it being played, or playing it. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.
Seth Speaks: good point. It is an argument that will probably take a number of years to work through, and even then I don't know that there will be a definitive way of answering that question.
Vinny: I would say that I've been guilty of accusing stat freaks of only having an interest in the box score and not the game.
Seth Speaks: OK, speaking of playing the game... how much ball did each of you play?
Vinny: As a kid, I never even played Little League. I was like one of the kids in "The Sandlot," but I did play in high school before politics took over.
Seth Speaks: ah, high school athletics politics... gotta love it!
Vinny: I guess I wasn't nice enough to the coach's kid.
Scott: Haha... I wish I could have played on my high school team. There were about 150 kids at the tryouts. I played in town leagues until I was 17. Then took over a decade off. A couple years ago I got into softball, and played on a baseball team last year. Man, it's a hard game to come back to. I had quite a few embarrassing trips to (and back from) the plate. It brought me back toward the traditionalist camp a little bit. Can't think the ball into the outfield.
Seth Speaks: Good point on baseball really being an incredibly humbling sport!
Scott: Oh, man. Over and over.
Seth Speaks: So, where will the Mets finish in 2004? Will Mike Cameron, Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes make the defense credible?
Scott: All you, Vinny.
Seth Speaks: So, Vinny's the Mets fan and Scott is the Yankees fan?
Scott: Yep. We do cross-post quite a bit. We've had suggestions on how to make it clearer, but we've been too lazy to really work it out.
Vinny: Their best chance would be to finish 3rd, but 4th is probably more realistic. I guess it all depends on how far the Braves fall from their perch at the top of the division. As far as Matsui, Cameron and Reyes, I think the Mets are going to be a very exciting team to watch on defense and the basepaths.
Seth Speaks: And, Glavine and the rest of the pitching staff should be happier!
Vinny: Well, the Mets pitchers make the hitters put the ball in play. There are no big strikeout guys on the staff, so the defense should do wonders for them.
Scott: I think Vinny's about right on the Mets. They're going to be a lot better than last year's team. Vinny stomped me pretty good when I asserted that Leiter was done.
Seth Speaks: I thought Leiter was done a few years ago, but he continues to be really good every year, regardless of the team around him. How much will Piazza be at 1B? Will he and Jason Phillips just rotate between 1B and C?
Scott: Oh, haha, I interpreted that as a Piazza-out-from-behind-the-plate comment.
Seth Speaks: Good one!! I didn't think that at all!
Scott: I'm good at misinterpretation.
Seth Speaks: Understandable!
Vinny: From what I hear, the plan is to put Piazza at first against speedier teams and day games that follow a night game.
Scott: I hadn't heard that. That makes a lot of sense.
Vinny: Piazza probably won't do much catching against the Marlins.
Seth Speaks: I think that makes sense... And Phillips proved he was capable last year.
Vinny: Considering he had never played the position before, I think he did a great job. I really like watching him play.
Seth Speaks: Who were your favorite players when you were growing up? Stars or "others"?
Scott: Mickey Rivers - "Mick the Quick." Then Willie Randolph.
Vinny: Keith Hernandez I loved the whole team, but every time Mex (Seth Note – Apparently this was Hernandez’ nickname. I didn’t know that.) came up to the plate it was like an event for me. I studied his every move. Apparently, A-Rod grew up idolizing Keith as well.
Seth Speaks: And now Hernandez is off the HOF ballot.
Scott: It's a shame that Hernandez is off the ballot so quickly. I'm not sure what the voters were thinking.
Seth Speaks: Who are your favorites now?
Scott: On the Yankees I root harder for Bernie (Williams) and (Jorge) Posada than the others. I hate to admit that, in addition to being a Yankees fan, I'm a Bonds fan. It's funny - in baseball I've ended up rooting for the behemoths, but in real life I'm much more of an underdog guy.
Vinny: I like scrappy guys like Jason Phillips and Ty Wigginton. The kind of guys who bust their tails at all time and get their uniform dirty.
Seth Speaks: Of the Yankees, I always liked Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Soriano, Pettitte and Rivera; the guys that came up through their system. Of course, Soriano and Pettitte are gone now.
Scott: That's something that never comes up in “Evil Empire” discussions - just how much of that team came from within. People dispute Soriano because of a couple years in the Japanese minors, but he was really homegrown. And yes, he and Pettitte are gone now.
Vinny: Shall we have a moment of silence?
Seth Speaks: You two may need it. Hey, were you upset that Clemens "Came out of retirement" to pitch at home and with Pettitte?
Scott: Actually, our first posts were both about how we didn't feel Clemens was a traitor. I don't mind it a bit.
Vinny: You have to admit, that Post article was a "steaming pile," as you would say, Scott.
Scott: Well, yeah. I mean, it was a New York Post article. I'd a probably said "steaming lump" but pile works too.
Seth Speaks: I'm not there, but I didn't think it was a bad thing. He went home. His kids have season tickets there. Pettitte is his best friend, and he's in the National League.
Vinny: I could never blame someone for wanting to be closer to his family and play in his hometown.
Scott: I agree... which would get me lynched in certain watering holes in the City. Well, maybe not lynched. Shot, stabbed... but not lynched. Nobody carries rope around anymore.
Seth Speaks: I agree... except for Stephon Marbury!! (Sorry, that's the Wolves fan in me!)
Scott: Hahaha - another trade I'm happy about.
Vinny: Isiah (Thomas) is a madman!
Seth Speaks: Oh well, we ended up with Terrell Brandon and then Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, so a few years later, I'm ok again!
Scott: Yeah he (Thomas) is. I don't necessarily love the latest one, I don't care much for Tim Thomas, but it was just Van Horn. And yes, Cassell and Sprewell are loads of fun to root for. More fun to root for than Marbury.
Seth Speaks: Do you keep tabs on other sports?
Scott: Well, I follow basketball, obviously. I rarely watch football. I keep a fantasy team going to tide me over, but football doesn't interest me much anymore.
Vinny: In addition to baseball, it's pretty much only hockey for me. I lost interest in the NBA and NFL years ago.
Seth Speaks: What is it about fantasy sports that appeals to you?
Vinny: Bragging rights against co-workers, friends and former co-workers.
Scott: I like the competition - I only play in leagues where I have at least one friend involved. I save most of my fantasy energy for baseball, of course. It keeps me involved with all the players on all the teams. Bragging rights are brutal.
Seth Speaks: OK, final question, and it is open ended. Are there any topics that you would like to discuss or things you would want readers to know about either of you?
Scott: Well, if we wanted readers to know a whole lot about us, we probably wouldn't go by first name only. I'm just having a blast writing about baseball regularly, and winning fantasy baseball leagues. I hope other teams get richer owners so that outspending everyone else becomes a non-issue. There are a lot of richer guys in the country than George. I just wish they liked baseball.
Seth Speaks: Excellent point!
Scott: Thanks... I hope Mark Cuban and Bill Gates read this.
Seth Speaks: Me too! That would be great!! I want Glen Taylor to own the Twins!
Scott: (John Henry is richer than George. OK, I'll let it go.)
Seth Speaks: I do think it's a good point. And, look at the Mets, they've spent money and it hasn't always gone well. Steinbrenner spends on smart investments.
Vinny: I want people to know my struggle, being from an Italian family in the Bronx. And yes, all my friends are Yankee fans, too. It's been hellish.
Seth Speaks: Hey guys, this has been fun. I’m glad you were willing to do this.
Scott: Great, Seth. Thanks - this has been more fun than I expected.
Again, if you have any questions or comments, please be sure to send me an e-mail.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK (reprinted from Monday’s posting)
Clearly baseball’s current economic situation leaves much to be desired. So this week’s Discussion Question is devoted to it. It really is more than one question, so I will leave it up to you to answer as you’d like. What is the main problem with baseball’s economic situation? If you were commissioner, what would your plan be to remedy the economic inequities in baseball? I realize this is a big question, but I think it is an important question.
Here is how the Discussion Question process works again.
1.) I post a question on Monday.
2.) The readers read the question and consider their thoughts on a possible answer.
3.) The readers e-mail me with their response to the question.
4.) On Friday, I will post any responses to the question that I receive.
I hope that many of you will take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and send me a message with your response. Who knows? Maybe the right people will be led to this site. Maybe someone in the commissioner’s office or someone with some connections will read it and one of our ideas will lead to a good resolution the next time an agreement needs to be worked out.
For those unfamiliar with these questions, be sure to check back at these previous Discussions:
Who Would You Want to Talk To? - Which ball players would you ask questions to?
All-Time Best Lineups - Who would you pick to play on your team?
Your Thoughts on the Twins Chances - Lots of you were ready to give up on the Twins!!
Is Terry Ryan “The Man” or “The Goat” - Thoughts on Terry Ryan’s moves.
What is your Favorite Sport - Baseball? Football? Basketball? Other? Why?
Twins Bobbleheads/Your Favorite Players - Who you thought would be the 2004 Twins players on bobbleheads, and who your favorite players have been.
(Note - by the way, the Twins have announced their 2004 bobbleheads, they will be:
June 6 - Shannon Stewart
July 9 - Al Newman
August 21 - Paul Molitor
September 19 - Walter Johnson - (part of an 80th anniversary of the Washington Senators championship weekend)
So, please, send me an e-mail and let’s have a great posting for Friday! Thanks!
The Wolves returned home from the All-Star break to host the Phoenix Suns. Flip Saunders, Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell all represented the team well in Los Angeles, but it was time to get back to the regular season schedule. Led by Garnett, Cassell and should-have-been-All-Star Latrell Sprewell each scored over 20 points. It was the 17th time they have done that this season. That is the most that has happened since 1991.
Garnett led the way with 32 points and 14 rebounds. Cassell scored 22 points with 10 assists. Sprewell chipped in 21 points in the win. I think that the Wolves got great contributions from the role players as well. Ervin Johnson had 7 rebounds. Trenton Hassell scored 10 points to go with 4 boards and 4 assists while playing his usual defense. Mark Madsen had 8 points and 8 rebounds. Troy Hudson returned and scored 5 points (with 3 assists) in just 18 minutes. Fred Hoiberg scored 7 in 20 minutes. Gary Trent and Oliver Miller also did some little things.
The Wolves expect to activate both Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi in time for a nationally televised tilt against the Sacramento Kings. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the Wolves roster. My assumption would be that Darrick Martin will be let go to make room for Wally. I think that when Olowokandi is activated, Ndudi Ebi will end up with some mysterious injury that will put him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. And that makes sense.
The team is now 38-15 and hold a 3 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the Midwest Division. Last night, Sacramento defeated Boston, giving them a 38-13 record, and a one game lead over the Wolves for the best record in the Western Conference.
The last time the Wolves played the Sacramento Kings, the Wolves pulled out a 112-109 overtime win. It was the fourth consecutive time that these two teams played into overtime. Kevin Garnett had 33 points, 25 rounds and 6 assists that night, and Latrell Sprewell threw in 37 points. Kings All-Star Brad Miller had 35 and 10!
Any thoughts on the Wolves, e-mail me.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
As I have mentioned numerous times in the past, American Idol should be mandatory viewing in schools across the country, through the high school level. I think that in high schools, sports and athletes are put on such a high pedestal. I think it is good for these kids to see that music can be cool. That they do have other options out there. And, from watching last night’s episode, they could really think that they have a chance to compete for the title of American Idol. Most people who have sung in the shower could have performed as well as most of the performers last night.
Anyway, I am not going to discuss the eight finalists that sang last night individually. It was too bad to discuss in that manner. I am just going to mention a few thoughts.
So far, I have been incredibly disappointed in the contestant’s choices of songs. What are they thinking? Don't they realize that the people voting are going to connect better with songs that they've heard before? Of the eight tonight, I had heard of maybe three of the songs. And how did Noel and Jesus Roman make it this far? They were terrible! I literally could sing better than them! (Seriously! I can sing. I’ve got range. I’ve got skills!)
I didn't think that Matthew Rogers (the FB player) was too bad. Kara Master was good but something wasn't quite right in her voice. However, she is SO HOT, and has some of the most killer eyes ever! Camille Velasco sounded great at some points, but not the whole time. Simon used the word “potential.” That is totally true. I actually thought that Marisa Joy wasn't too bad, or at least showed enough energy and was different.
But, big picture, it was truly a terrible night of singing. There were three or four from Group 1 who didn't make it to the next round that were head and shoulders above anyone in the group last night. So, what do I think? Who will advance?
The two that I would vote for are Kara Master and Matthew Rogers.
The two that will probably advance are Camille Velasco and Matthew Rogers.
Watch again tonight when we find out which two will advance.
Do you have any American Idol Thoughts, please e-mail me.
And on that note, I am going to call it a day! I hope you enjoyed the conversation above. I hope you are starting to watch the Wolves because they are truly great and really entertaining to watch. If you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, ideas, or would like to answer this weeks’ Discussion Question, please send me an e-mail! Have a great day!
Back to Archives Home