Friday July 4, 2003
With the holiday, I didnít want to do too much thinking. However, I have received a number of very good e-mails in the last week that Iíd love to share with you. Some are just comments. Some are questions. So, with no further ado, letís get to the questions:
The first is in regards to my article on whether NASCAR is a sport and more specifically are the drivers athletes?
ďJeff Gordon is a showman and William Perry is an athleteď
I believe there is some sarcasm in this comment. I think if we compared the two, one would certainly be more athletic than the other, and especially if youíve seen The Fridge latelyÖ itís not him. This is a great point. I certainly am not saying that every ďball sportĒ athlete is a better athlete than every ďracerĒ. Those in the trenches, on the offensive line especially, in the NFL may not be the best example of athletes that I would use in comparison.
Athleticism is a tough thing to judge. I canít imagine that there are any race drivers that could do the things that Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant do on a basketball court. I canít see too many of them able to make defensive plays in the OF like Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones. I canít see Jeff Gordon standing up an offensive line the way that William Perry could when he came into the NFL. That said, it may be difficult for any of the taller basketball players or offensive linemen to even get into a race car, much less maneuver it around a track with the skill that the race car drivers do.
Thanks for writing, Bernie!
Next up, from Steve. Itís about my fan etiquette article (and some of the other segments) on Monday:
ďFirst, you're right on with the fan etiquette. However, I would like to add the etiquette of the visiting fans. I was at the game on Saturday and we sat next to the biggest loud mouth, jerk in the stadium. I guess I should have expected it with the Brewers in town, they bring in all the idiots from WI. He was yelling at, booing and swearing at the Twins and completely over celebrating any play by the Brewers. I can't believe anybody would act like that when surrounded by the home town fans. I guess he's just lucky for "Minnesota Nice."
Second, I completely disagree with you about Lou Pinella. He's looking for a little passion and a desire to win from his team. This goes way beyond one called 3rd strike. If you don't get upset about losing, how can you ever expect to be a winner? Pinella knows they're not going to change the call, but he wants to see a little emotion from his players.
Finally, did you say you actually want to see Peeler back with the Wolves? You may be the only one in the state of MN that wants to see that.
Three points to discuss:
First, another excellent example of fan etiquette, or lack thereof. Itís really frustrating seeing adults especially act out like this. Especially when there is vulgar language. Especially when there are impressionable kids around who may think that it is ok to act like that. I went to Milwaukee a year ago, and there were as many Twins fans as Brewers fans. Listening to the Brewers post-game call-in show, Brewers fans were calling in and talking about how respectful the Twins fans were. How they cheered on their team very well, without degrading the Brewers. I think itís important to remember that most fans are well-behaved. However, as with everything else, the actions of the few are magnified and stand out. Itís also necessary to remember that the even though the expectations on the Twins players and team this year are significantly increased, the expectations of fan behavior should never change.
To your second point, Iím afraid we may have to agree to disagree on this one. I have no problem with a manager expecting his players to play with passion and heart and desire. Lou Pinella is doing a great job with the Devil Rays. He showed by his tirade that he wants to win and wonít just continue to accept losing. He made it in the dugout for the world to see and got his name in the spotlight again. But, players who arenít prone to emotional outbursts arenít going to just going to suddenly change on the spot. And, in my opinion, thatís who Ben Grieve is, even-keeled, so he shouldnít change. Baseball teams of 25 players plus coaches are made up of many different personality types. The key is bringing those personalities together as a team. I just think the whole situation was handled poorly and all too publicly.
And, to your third point. Yeah, I may be the only one in Minnesota who doesnít hate on Anthony Peeler. Iím certainly not saying heís an All-Star, but if they can get him at a reduced price, heís not a bad 3rd shooting guard, if only for his occasional hot streaks. I know that the Wolves have made one deal, and we have to believe that there is at least one more trade in the works as we read this. Then the whole free agency situation. Will Rasho be re-signed? What other free agents could they lose and who could they bring in? The next month will be huge in the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thanks Steve for your thoughts!
I got an e-mail from ĎMike from Chicagoí, regarding my thoughts on the American League Central Race:
A couple of thoughts on your point system:
If the Twins starting pitching gets a 3, the Sox would definitely have to get a 5. The Twins only have one starter with an ERA better than the Sox top 4. Realistically, the Twins deserve a 1 or 2.
Also, you would think you would need to weight the importance of some areas. Certainly a 1 for starting pitching is going to be a lot harder to overcome than a 1 at a position. And if the starters for the Twins don't improve, they will be lucky to finish over .500.
Finally, I know how hard it is to overcome a reputation for poor defense, but Carlos Lee has greatly improved. While he has made a couple of poor plays, they have been outnumbered by great catches (such as last night). I won't go as far to say he is now a good defensive outfielder (I haven't seen any stats on his range), but I don't think its fair to say he is a below average.
Thanks for your time,
Well, Mike, I hate to admit it, but youíre right. Again, for those who havenít read it yet, the posting was my thoughts on the Twins, White Sox and Royals, position-by-position, with a 1-5 grading system for each position. I really probably didnít think through the point system enough. Youíre absolutely right that certain positions should carry more weight than others. ESPECIALLY starting pitching. I canít argue that if the Twins starters donít start performing, the Twins will not stay in contention! But, part of my thinking in giving the Twins a 3 was that Kyle Lohse had a good first half, until his last four starts. Rogers hasnít been terrible. And, the big thing for me is that, they canít be as bad as they have been in the first half. Can they? Also, hopefully, Johan Santana will be in the rotation soon, and for good!
The White Sox got just a 4 out of 5 because Buehrle and Colon both havenít pitched to expectations. Buehrle seems to have turned a corner, can Colon too? And will Esteban Loaiza continue to be as amazing as he has been in the first half? Jon Garland had a point where he was going to be out of the rotation and heís pitched great the last couple of months. Can he continue that (and I really donít know why he couldnít) If all that happens, the White Sox may run away with the division, even if the Twins starters come around. With the additions of Alomar and Everett, they may be able to produce even more runs. So, the White Sox, to me, have to be the favorites at this point.
And, to your point on Carlos Leeís defense, youíre right. Maybe Ďbelow averageí isnít fair, but to say heís better than average probably isnít true either. We can call him average. Which is probably still better than Raul Ibanez. I guess Iím just spoiled seeing Jacque Jones play left field every day. And, that Lee catch robbing AJ Pierzynski of an extra-base hit was great! But Jones or Randy Winn probably would have got to the ball without needing to dive. But, yes, his improvement is left field is noticeable.
Thanks for taking the time to write, Mike!
One more question for me to answer today, and a new nickname for me apparently, I think. This one is from Fred, a Boston Red Sox fan, from Virginia (the state, not the Minnesota city on the Iron Range) by way of New England, asking about my All-Star selections. (my American League choices/my National League choices)
ďEnjoyed your posting on AL All Stars. As ever-suffering Red Sox fans my brother and I must complain of your second degree snub (by leaving him off the Snub list) of Jason Varitek. I will go further and question your assertion that "Posadaís clearly the best catcher in the American League." Let's look at the data:
.250 BA 16 HR 49 RBI .396 OBP .496 SLG .993 FPCT 41SB/17CS=41%
.291 BA 13 HR 45 RBI .359 OBP .555 SLG .988 FPCT 33SB/15CS=45%
We haven't even discussed who handles their pitching staff with more skill. And then to choose AJ Pierzynski as your reserve catcher. Such injustice! What say you Mr. Snub?Ē
First, I do have to point out that I made those selections more than a week ago. The statistics have changed since then. At the time, AJ was hitting right around .300. If I were to make that choice today, I would absolutely select Jason Varitek as the reserve. (Thatís hard for a Twins fan to do! OK, Iím over him not signing with the Twins).
OK, clearly I have to take back the word ďClearlyĒ. Maybe it would be more fair to say that Posada is the Ďpremiereí catcher in the American League, in that he has hit for power for a longer period of time. To make my argument (and maybe save face), it would be like comparing this seasons stats of Rangers SS Alex Rodriguez and the Marlins SS Alex Gonzalez. Donít get me wrong, I think the All-Star game selections should heavily factor in who is performing this season (along with career in a tie-breaking type situation). Thatís why I agree with you that this year, Varitek should be the American Leagueís reserve catcher. To add to your point that selecting Pierzynski was an Ďinjusticeí, Iíll go further and say that AJ probably ranks no higher than 5th among AL catchers (with Posada, Varitek, Oaklandís Ramon Hernandez and Torontoís Greg Myers all ahead of him) right now. Thatís not to say that by the end of the year, AJ wonít be hitting .310 with 15 homers and 85 RBI though.
This is what I love about this site. I can express my opinions, and thatís all they are, my opinions. Others may have other opinions, and if people can put together an e-mail like the above from Fred, I can be convinced.
That said, there are probably plenty of other changes I would make if I were to make my selections now, rather than almost 2 weeks ago This early in the season, numbers can still change quickly.
I think Jeff Kent should be the starting 2B, and Giles should be snubbed. (Although if Kent is hurt, that may be a mute point)
I could easily argue that Geoff Jenkins, not Richie Sexson should be the Milwaukee Brewers representative.
Now that it appears Torii Hunter wonít be a starter in the All-Star game, that means Hideki Matsui will be there instead. But, it also almost assures that Corey Koskie will make the All-Star team. And, with Torii and AJ probably not making the team, Koskie will probably be the Twins only representative.
Well, thatís the end of this mailbag posting. Thanks to all those again who took the time to write, and I hope more of you will write. E-mail me any time.
Again, have a great 4th of July Holiday weekend. Be safe! Go Twins!
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