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Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day........
13) A very smart man named Bill James pioneered much of the statistical analysis we see in baseball now; his rise from a security guard in Kansas to a revered numbers guru really is the stuff of movies, but one area where I strongly disagree with him is in the area of closers; James doesn’t think you should pay serious money for a closer, which may explain why Jonathan Papelbon was allowed to walk by the Red Sox, the team that James now works for.
12) Opinions are split on the closer issue; over the last eight years, the Rays have had eight different guys lead their team in saves, and this year Fernando Rodney will make it nine, but look at the Bronx, where Mariano Rivera has owned the 9th inning for over a decade. Don’t tell a Bronx Bomber fan that Rivera hasn’t earned every penny he makes.
11) I’m thinking if you have a quality closer, the guy is worth his weight in gold, since it shortens the game by an inning. But there are people a lot smarter than me who disagree; that’s part of what makes sports so much fun, its OK to disagree and debate the issues, and in the end, maybe there isn’t only one correct answer.
10) Red Sox’ disabled list right now has players who are earning a total of over $73M this season, and when Josh Beckett goes on later this week, it'll be $90M. Oakland’s total payroll this season is $52M.
9) Cardinals are retiring Tony Larussa’s #10 jersey Friday night. Ironic that his longtime pitching coach, Dave Duncan, also wore number 10 when he played. Duncan was Larussa’s coach in Chicago, Oakland, St Louis.
8) As a lifelong (since 1968) A’s fan, was torn whether to go see Moneyball in the theater, but I did; now that’s its on Starz late at night every couple of weeks, I find myself watching it all the time. The theory of Moneyball is totally misinterpreted by mainstream media, but that’s another whole column for another day. Its simply staying ahead of common wisdom.
7) In 1988, Angels had a manager named Cookie Rojas who had been a pretty good 2B for the Phillies; not sure why I remember this, but Rojas had a punching bag installed in the tunnel behind the Angels’ dugout. When got players got frustrated (see Stoudemire, Amare), they had to hit the punching bag, or hit nothing at all. Healthier way to take your frustrations out, and it was away from the public eye. No stitches, either.
6) Good news for orthopedic surgeons: in his first 56 innings after Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg has 8 walks, 58 strikeouts. There will be kids who go get the operation without being injured, because some people believe it makes your arm stronger than it was before being injured.
5) Red Sox scored 45 runs in Clay Buchholz’ first five starts.
4) Conference USA is losing four of its 12 schools, so they went out and added six schools, so they’ll have 14 for the Fall of 2013. Old Dominion/ Charlotte are the only two of the six new schools that will help C-USA on the hoops side. Losing Memphis’ basketball program will be damaging for the league.
3) CAA takes a hit, with Georgia State (Sun Belt)/ODU leaving, especially if the rumor is true that George Mason/VCU will take off for the A-14, which would make it the A-16.
2) Butler has moved to the A-14; hope they thought about LaSalle, which was a Butler-like program 20-22 years ago, dominating the MAAC, but the move upward spiraled the Explorers into obscurity from which they’ve yet to emerge. Sometimes its better to be a big fish in a smaller pond, especially in March.
1) Knicks are exactly 50-50 since they traded for Carmelo Anthony. Now subtract the games Jeremy Lin played in this year, and then make your own judgments.
Friday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Not sure what to say about the Junior Seau situation, other than you hurt for his family, and you never know what demons lurk inside someone. This is just unspeakably sad.
12) That said, its to the point now that every bad thing that happens to every retired football player is being blamed on concussions, as mainstream media and opportunistic lawyers jump on an anti-football bandwagon.
Just because A happened and B happened doesn’t mean A caused B. No one knows what the reasons are, but you can bet lawyers will spin it in their favor to help win their multi-million dollar cases.
11) I’m a big believer that a lot of athletes get depressed after their playing days, simply because its difficult to replicate the thrill of what its like to be a famous performer, once you’ve stopped performing. You never feel quite as alive again. I believe that more people go thru this than care to admit it, whether they had ever been hit in the head or not.
10) When was last time Roy Halladay started a game that ended up 15-13?
9) If Bryce Harper is successful right away for Washington, what does it say about minor league baseball? Both he and Josh Hamilton spent very little time in the minors, for very different reasons.
8) San Francisco Giants are paying Aaron Rowand $12M this year, even though he’s no longer playing. Must be nice to sell out the ballpark every night.
7) There’s nothing quite as dramatic as overtime hockey in NHL playoffs; Wednesday’s Ranger-Washington game was the 18th OT game this spring, and the Flyer-Devil game the 19th.
6) Baseball needs more exposure to the casual fan; they’re not helping themselves not letting their highlights go on YouTube, and blacking out 3am replays on ESPN of their games in home markets. Who knows how many new fans they might make if those replays are shown? Every business needs new customers; baseball is no exception.
5) When was last time the Orioles went to the Bronx and allowed three runs in three games?
4) Diamondbacks have used a different lineup in every game this season. Brewers used only 12 lineups in their first 25 games.
3) Saw worst call I’ve ever seen or will see in a big league game Wednesday afternoon. Went against the Dodgers; Todd Helton came off first base to field an errant throw; his back leg was 2-3 feet off the base, yet Tim Welke called him safe. Couldn’t have been more wrong. If a 14-year kid did that in a Little League game there would be issues, much less in a big league game. MLB will have instant replay very soon, on everything but balls/strikes.
2) Ever hear of Phil Taylor? He made $938,497 LY, just playing in darts tournaments.
1) Sometimes all people need is opportunity: Kurt Warner once stocked shelves at a Hy-Vee supermarket in Iowa. Bill James was a night watchman at a Stokely baked bean factory in Kansas. Both achieved greatness. It can happen, if you’re ready when your chance arrives.