January 15, 2019

Will Red Sox Eat Cold "Hamberders" At White House On February 15?

The Red Sox - winners of the 2018 World Series - will visit the White House on Friday, February 15.

The one sure thing about this visit is that Mookie Betts, David Price, Alex Cora, and everyone else associated with the Red Sox (including those from various "shithole" countries) will be shunted to the side as mere bit players to the event's Most Indispensible Person: Donald Trump. His pathological need to be the center of attention means that every event he attends must be all about him.

As I noted last month, I am absolutely against this bizarre practice of having the conquering heroes brought before the king and feted at the castle. I do hope, however, that the Red Sox are provided with a lunch a few steps above what the Clemson Tigers - national college football champs - were forced to choke down on Tuesday.


As Rachel Leah of Salon reports:
Boxes of McDonald's Big Macs and Filet-O-Fish, along with burgers from Wendy's and Burger King, stacked on silver trays, alongside fast food salads and a bounty of McNuggets. Fries and Domino's pizzas provided variety. Handfuls of sauce tubs piled inside grand gravy boats; the room's dim lighting aided by candlelight from gold candelabras. ... Trump, in his uniform of an ill-fitting coat ... grinned at the fast food feast before him as he told reporters that it was a spread of "great American food." ...

Adam Serwer from the Atlantic tweeted, "there’s a certain cleverness to the fast food ... at the White House as a metaphor for Trump presidency as false advertising and underwhelming results."

Championship athletes are usually served a meal from the White House kitchen, but due to the government shutdown, Trump decided to go in a different direction. ...

"If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff," Trump told reporters, as if the fast food needed clarification on its origins. "300 hamburgers, many, many french fries — all of our favorite foods." [In a tweet early the next morning, Trump would lie and claim there were 1,000 burgers.]

"I thought this was a joke," one athlete can be heard saying in a video from the dinner. ...

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with fast food, but anyone who indulges knows there is a hierarchy, and McDonald's sits squarely at the bottom. ... [L]eave it to Trump to have even abysmal taste in fast food. ...

[T]he president boasted of the value meal dinner as a success on Twitter, inflating the amount of food and even initially misspelling hamburgers as "hamberders." He also repeatedly emphasized that he paid for the meal, out of his own self-professed billion-dollar pocket. ...

Trump's banquet serving his own drive-thru favorites only further proved his unmatched ability to center himself regardless of the occasion.



Helen Rosner, The New Yorker:
[S]erving a meal of fast food at a fancy gathering is not inherently a bad idea. ... No less glittery an event than the Vanity Fair Oscar party has served In-N-Out burgers to its throngs of the gorgeous and powerful. ... [But] if you hire In-N-Out and Shake Shack to do the catering at your event, they show up in person and sling their burgers fresh.

Trump's bulk order, on the other hand, was a dinner fighting against the odds. One imagines those poor sandwiches steaming limply inside their cardboard boxes on the drive to the White House, and during the fuss over arranging them on their silver platters ... and properly lighting the gilded candelabra. Then came the photo shoot: Trump, centered beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, flinging his arms out behind this table of quick-serve abundance, in a gesture that's equal parts ownership and invitation. There is a particular awfulness to McDonald's or Burger King once it's gone cold. By the time America's greatest collegiate football players arrived ... to pick up porcelain plates and work their way through this cardboard buffet, the French fries would have grown cold and mealy, the burger buns soggy, the precise half slice of American cheese on each Filet-o-Fish sandwich hardened to a tough, flavorless rectangle of yellow.

Trump, in typical form, spun Monday's catering as ultimately the fault of his political opponents ... Trump, a purported billionaire, made a big deal out of the fact that he paid for the fast food out of his own pocket. ... "We went out and we ordered American fast food, paid for by me," Trump boasted to the reporters gathered before the fast-food spread, grinning his fast-food grin ... "Lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza. Three hundred hamburgers. Many, many French fries."
Before the event, Trump told reporters that the meal was for "very large people that like eating."

January 5, 2019

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year for 2019!





December 22, 2018

This Is Not Your Father's Blog Post

1996

Dan Shaughnessy, At Fenway: Dispatches from Red Sox Nation: "The charm of Fenway is that it is your father's ballpark."

1997

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe, March 29: "This is not your father's Fenway anymore."

1999

Gordon Edes, Boston Globe, February 21: "[C]learly, these are not your father's Red Sox, or your grandmother's."

2000

Joel Sherman, New York Post, May 29: "These are not your father's Red Sox. This is not a team simply around to break New England's hearts. This club is conceived to topple the Yankees ..."

2003

Hartford Courant, April 7: "These are not your father's Red Sox. These are the Whiz Kid's Red Sox. These are the Red Sox who don't need a closer."

George Vecsey, New York Times, October 9: "'They hate us,' Derek Jeter said Tuesday, with a dollop of respect. He gets it. Jeter knows these are not your grandfather's Red Sox."

2004

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe, May 16: "He [Youkilis] is not your father's third base prospect."

Jayson Stark, ESPN, October 5: "The Red Sox are going to win the World Series. ... We're not used to Red Sox teams that look at life as one giant chucklefest. But these are not your grandfather's Red Sox."

Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, October 23: "[T]hese are not your father's, or grandfather's Red Sox."

Martin F. Nolan, Boston Globe, October 29: "Not My Father's Red Sox" (headline)

Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, October 29: "These were not your father's Sox ..."

2005

Chris Snow, Boston Globe, April 3: "[T]he team you will see opposing the Yankees is not your father's Red Sox."

Stephen King, New York Times, April 3: "These aren't your father's Red Sox fans. No longer are they o'ercast with sickly gloom; their faces are as bright as the day."

2007

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe, April 11: "As home openers go, this was not your father's Toyota."

Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, July 3: "These are not your father's Red Sox, or your grandfather's, or probably not even your great-grandfather's."

Richard Griffin, Toronto Star, October 29: "These are not your father's Red Sox. Gone are the fears of ghosts, demons and curses, replaced by expectations of success and post-season success."

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, November 5: "Mike Lowell further defined it when he said, 'With the Red Sox, people expect you to win.' ... These are not your father's Red Sox."

2008

Jayson Stark, ABC News, March 25: "They're not your great-grandfather's Red Sox anymore. They're not the tragic, accursed figures of not-so-long-ago anymore."

Bob Stern, Patriot Ledger, March 27: "Under Theo Epstein, these are not your father's Red Sox."

Boston Herald, April 4: "Not Your Father's Sox" (op-ed headline; broken link)

Collin Hager, Bleacher Report, October 14: "These are not your father's Red Sox. This is not the team nor the city that it was when racial divides caused players to not want to show up."

2009

Jeff Goldberg, NESN, October 10: "[T]hese are not your father's Red Sox. More importantly, they're not your goofy uncle's Red Sox either ..."

2012

Sean McAdam, NBC Sports, March 2: "In 2004, when the franchise rid itself of the ghosts and ended the title drought, it was said: These are not your father's Red Sox anymore."

Geoff Baker, Seattle Times, September 3: "This is certainly not your father's Boston Red Sox team coming in today to face the Mariners ..."

2013

Kevin Flanagan, Boston Sports Desk, July 19: "This is not your father's, or for that matter your older brother's Red Sox/Yankees match up but I guess it will have to do for now."

Wesley Morris, Grantland, October 8: "These aren't hipster beards. They're ... not your father's facial hair but his great-grandfather's."

Bob Duff, Windsor Star, October 12: "These aren't your father's Red Sox, nor are they your grandfather's Red Sox. But they could be your great-grandfather's Red Sox."

Jesse Scardina, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, October 26: "Not Your Father's Red Sox: Youths Expect World Series Showing" (headline)

Larry Lucchino, NESN, December 24: "We joked that this was not your father's Oldsmobile, this was not your father's Red Sox."

2014

Bill Chuck, Gammons Daily, May 13: "Not Your Father's Mayor's Trophy Game" (headline)

2015

Joseph Coblitz, The Comeback, December 1: "These aren't your father's Red Sox ..."

2016

Steve Melewski, MASN, February 28: "This Is Not Your Father's American League East" (headline)

2017

Steve Buckley, Boston Herald, May 3: "Put another way, these are not your father's Tom Yawkey-era Red Sox."

Bill Speros, Boston Herald, July 13: "But this is not your father's 'Red Sox-Yankees' rivalry. It's no longer your older sister's 'Red Sox-Yankees' rivalry, either."

2018

Evan Drellich, NBC Sports, August 4: "The premise here, as the Sox sit on the cusp of a four-game sweep of the Yankees, is not your mother's sense of Boston fatalism."

Bill Speros, Boston Herald, October 4: "This is not your father's Sox-Yanks hatefest. Not even close. Nor does it approach the vitriol shared by many earlier this century."

Nick Friar, Southcoast Today, November 1, 2018: "These aren't your father's Red Sox."

It's Everywhere!

1997: "These are not your father's expansion teams."
2004: "These are not your father's Orioles."
2004: "This is not your father's bocce. Actually, it's your grandfather's bocce. And your great-grandfather's bocce."
2006: "This is not your father's Great White Hope."
2009: "This is Not Your Father's School Nurse"
2011: "This Is Not Your Father's Democratic Party"
2011: "[A]n edgy, not-your-father's-Nike brand positioning"
2011: "This is not your father's Berkshire Hathaway."
2012: "[T]his is not your father's stadium hot dog!"
2013: "This is not your father's Little League."
2013: "No, these are not your father's [Cleveland Baseball Team]."
2013: "Not your father's VA"
2014: "[N]ot your father's blues band"
2014: "Not Your Mother's Motherhood"
2014: "These are not your father's Yankees"
2014: "But it's not your father's 'Moneyball'."
2014: "These are not your father's Tigers."
2015: "No, these are not your father's Atlanta [Baseball Team]"
2015: "Not Your Uncle's Gold Watch"
2015: "These are not your father's Yankees."
2015: "These are not your father's Yankees."
2016: "These are not your father's Yankees."
2016: "[N]ot your father's (or mother's) SI"
2017: "But this is not your father's federalism anymore."
2017: "Not your father's leadoff men."
2017: "These are not your father's Falcons."
2017: "[T]his is not your father's SportsCenter."
2017: "New 'King Arthur' is not your father's Camelot."
2017: "This is not your father's football box score (and probably not even yours)."
2017: "Not Your Grandfather's Shop Floor"
2017: "Not Your Mother's Jersey Shore"
2017: "These are not your father's Vikings."
2017: "This is not your father's 401(k)."
2018: "Today's marijuana is not your father's pot."
2018: "[W]e are 'Not Your Father's Museum'."
2018: "So these were not your father's Rockies."
2018: "This is not your father's Ohio State running game."
2018: "But at 46-26, this is not your father's Mariners."
2018: "It's Not Your Minnesota Uncle's Political Season"
2018: "Not your father's Pittsburgh Pirates"
2018: "[N]ot your grandfather's mining industry"
2018: "Not Your Father's Chicken Dinner Banquet"
2018: "[T]his is not your father's NFL."
2018: "This is not your grandmother's lumpy cream of wheat"
2018: "These are not your father's Democrats, nor your mother's Liberals."
2018: "This is not your grandfather's Democrat party."
2018: "In other words, this is not your father's Rockies team."
2018: "But this is not your father's Virginia Tech squad."
2018: "This is not your grandfather's L.A.P.D."
2018: "This is not your Father's Yankees team."
2018: "It's not your father's sports section."
2018: "It's not your father's orthodontist office."

December 19, 2018

Jackie Bradley: "What I’ve Been Taught My Whole Life Is Completely Wrong. It's Scary To Say That."

July 1, 2018. That date may well be remembered as the turning point of Jackie Bradley's career.

Bradley was hitting .198 when J.D. Martinez suggested that his personal hitting coach, Craig Wallenbrock, might be able to help him.
He threw it out there. He said, "This guy really knows what he's talking about." ... J.D. had said how much he helped him and how knowledgeable about the game [he was, and] what it takes to be a pretty good hitter. I was introduced to him right before the All-Star break. ... I'm not trying to bog J.D. down because he also has a job to do, too. ... I wanted to go straight to the source. ... It was definitely starting to work. Things were starting to fall into place. But then also there were times I might have had a good game but I knew I wasn't doing it fully correctly and consistently. ... [T]here is just so much you can do when you're trying to explain things over the phone and show things from a distance.
Bradley posted a .827 OPS in the second half (compared to .647 in the first half). His slugging percentage was 142 points higher in the second half and he raised his batting average 36 points by the end of the year. Bradley had an .835 OPS in the postseason. He was named MVP of the ALCS and knocked in 10 runs in the 10 ALCS and World Series games.

Last month, Bradley spent nearly a week in Los Angeles at Wallenbrock's facility.
This is the first time I heard any of this stuff. What I've been taught my whole life is completely wrong. It's scary to say that, but it's wrong. I feel fortunate enough to make it this far doing it wrong. ... That's the good thing about the offseason, being able to make adjustments and get everything locked in and that can be your main focus because you don't have to compete. During the season there are other things you're thinking about ... I think forming good habits start now. It's night and day. ... [T]o consistently do it, that's the difference. All the great players in the game do certain things pretty consistently and that's what makes them great. ...

We all have the talent. That's the thing. I think once you find a way to maximize the talent, that's what makes players great. Knowing I can hit the ball just as hard as them physically, it all comes down to the way I impact the baseball. Well, I hit too many ground balls so let's solve that problem. Let's get the ball off the ground, get it more in the air, on a line and that way the shifts will be beaten. Actually seeing it person and looking at videos of great hitters who already do it. They all pretty much do it. That's what makes them great. Some might not even know they do it. It's just the natural ability to do it. Other guys do know they are doing it and continuously work on it. I think one of the most difficult things for me is knowing my dominant hand is on the bottom instead of the top. So getting that motion I want down is going to take a little bit more work. But I took to it really quick and I'm happy with the direction I'm going, for sure.
When Alex Cora was asked who he's looking forward to watching in 2019, he did not hesitate:
Looking forward to Jackie the whole season. That's going to be cool. ... [H]e understands who he is now and I don't think the whole -- like the roller coaster Jackie Bradley will happen again. ... [W]ith that offensive approach over 162 games, we'll see what happens.

December 13, 2018

Red Sox Radio Broadcasts Might Be A Complete Train Wreck This Year

Chad Finn, Boston Globe, posting at Twitter and SoSH early this morning:
Story will be up later, but WEEI is going ahead with plans to do the talk-show format during its Red Sox broadcast. Saw the job posting sent to staatalentDOTcom subscribers last night.
Unbelievable. ... While I could see someone rubbernecking her way past this accident for maybe five minutes (actually, that's probably being generous by about four minutes, forty seconds), I have to think fans would abandon Red Sox radio broadcasts in droves if this truly happens. It would make Dave O'Brien and Steve Lyons sound like Vin Scully in his prime, by comparison. What possible market research could WEEI have done to even half-seriously consider such an shitty idea?

That Finn tweet was at 8:15 AM. Then the discussion began.

Joe Zarbano, WEEI's program director, 8:24 AM:
This is not true. If you checked with me I could've told you that. The only thing I sent to StaaTalent was a reply confirming that the job was open and people can apply.
Finn, 8:29 AM:
It says in the email: "STAA knows these plans to be true. WEEI wants to drop the concept of a conventional radio broadcast to make the game sound more like a talk show. WEEI PD Joe Zarbano is eager to receive applications ..."
Zarbano, 8:36 AM:
Ok well STAA is wrong too. Again, you could have checked with WEEI and we would've told you that. We do not want the Red Sox broadcast to sound like a talk show and anyone reporting that is spreading misinformation.
Finn, 8:42 AM:
Reply to my email. Glad to add your comments. What would you like it to sound like?
Zarbano, 8:48 AM:
We will post the job later today on our website. @AlexReimer1 will have a story up shortly on http://WEEI.com.
Alex Reimer, WEEI writer, 9:04 AM:
FWIW, @RedSox spokeswoman Zineb Curran tells me the team "does not plan any format changes to our (radio) broadcast." Will have more on this later.
Finn, 9:09 AM:
Two weeks ago, they told me Tim [Neverett] was staying.
And:

Lou Merloni:
The @GlobeChadFinn story was misleading. It will not be a sports talk radio broadcast. He probably should have talked to someone at the station before he wrote it
Finn:
The story isn't up yet.
UPDATE: Now it is. Reporting by both Finn and Reimer.

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports:
A few well-done exceptions aside, there is nothing more annoying than sports talk radio. It tends to be constant, empty chatter about controversies real or imagined and overheated either way. ... It's almost always boorish narcissism masquerading as "analysis." ... My thoughts and prayers go out to Red Sox fans who listen to the games on the radio.

December 12, 2018

With Tim Neverett Out Of A Job, Maybe Dave O'Brien Will Return To Radio (... He Posted With His Heart Full Of Hope)

Red Sox broadcaster Tim Neverett will not be back in the radio booth in 2019. Last June, WEEI executives told him he might want to start polishing up his resume. Neverett hoped the situation would improve, but it did not.
I chose to let my contract expire rather than go back and work for them. The Red Sox were very supportive of me during a very difficult year. They wanted me to return. It had nothing to with the Red Sox.
Neverett shared the booth with Joe Castiglione for three seasons.

The Globe stated there were "industry rumors about possible changes all season long. One, which multiple sources have said was a genuine consideration, had WEEI dropping the concept of a conventional radio baseball broadcast to make the call of the game sound more like a talk show." Good lord, that sounds dreadful.

Could Neverett's departure pave the way for Dave "Swifty" O'Brien to (get off my TV and) return to the radio realm?

Cora Announces Change To Batting Order For 2019

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said yesterday that in 2019 Andrew Benintendi will be at the top of the lineup and Mookie Betts will bat second.
[W]e're going to maximize Mookie in a different spot. ... Talked to him, it makes sense. ... I put it this way to Mookie. And I know Beni's OK with it. But if you play 162 games, you're going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on. And last year, what I wanted from him in the leadoff spot we accomplished. It's a different season and we have to make adjustments ... It's not that we did it wrong last year. It worked for us.
While Betts had the highest OPS (1.083) and batting average (.346) of any leadoff hitter last year, 23 of his 32 home runs came with the bases empty.

Benintendi had a .366 on-base percentage, third-best on the team behind Betts and J.D. Martinez. He was second on the team in walks.

In 2018, Betts actually hit a bit better with the bases empty (.358/.435/.653/1.088) than with men on (.319/.444/.613/1.056). As the first batter of the game, Betts hit .286/.351/.504/.855.

In his career, Betts has batted in every lineup spot except #5.

December 11, 2018

Harold Baines Never Received More Than 6.1% Support For The Hall Of Fame, But He Is Now On His Way Into Cooperstown

Harold Baines received 5.3% of the BBWAA's Hall of Fame votes in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Baines never topped more than 6.1% and was dropped from the ballot after failing to get the minimum 5% of support in 2011.

Baines was elected to the Hall of Fame last weekend, however, by the Today's Game Era Committee, which gave him the minimum 12 (of 16) votes required for induction. (Baines received only five votes from the committee two years ago.)

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated called the balloting "the most stunning Hall of Fame selection I have seen":
Baines gained election largely on the basis of 2,866 hits, and no doubt was helped by influential committee members Tony LaRussa, his manager in Chicago and Oakland, and Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox owner who erected a statue of Baines in Chicago. If you stretch really, really, really hard you can make a case that being "a professional hitter" for so long is worthy of Cooperstown. When he retired in 2001, Baines held the "records" for most games, hits, homers and RBI for a DH – which just means he was the best compiler among only American League players in a 28-year window. (Edgar Martinez, now a lock for induction on the writers' ballot this year, and David Ortiz since eclipsed him.) Baines won just one Silver Slugger Award. ...

How do you now not put Rusty Staub in the Hall? (He had 2,716 hits and more than 600 more games in the outfield than Baines.) Omar Vizquel? (More hits than Baines, 2,877, and a far superior defensive component.) Al Oliver? (He had 2,743 hits and a greater WAR, more MVP votes and more Silver Sluggers than Baines.) ...

Baines had two seasons with a WAR of at least 3.0. Two. That's it. There are 791 players not in the Hall of Fame with more than two 3-WAR seasons, including Brendan Ryan, Brad Ausmus, Corey Koskie, Larry Bowa and Oscar Gamble.

Baines never had 200 hits, never scored 90 runs, never hit 30 homers, never hit 40 doubles, never finished in the top five in OPS, never finished in the top eight in MVP voting, rarely played defense for his final 15 seasons, and had a .313 OBP against lefthanded pitching.
The decision surprised a lot of people, including Baines himself.
I was only on [the Hall of Fame ballot] one year, so I wasn't expecting this day to come. ... [People questioning the decision] can't take it away from me now, even if they don't think I should be there.
(As noted above, Baines was actually on the ballot for five years.)

Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer:
He was a slightly below-average base runner, a slightly below-average right fielder for most of the first half of his career, and a DH the rest of the way (almost 60 percent of his career plate appearances). During his career, he was never regarded as one of the best players in baseball, finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting only twice (in 1983 and 1985) and never placing higher than ninth. ...

JAWS — a system devised by writer Jay Jaffe that presents a player's career value as the average of his career WAR and his "peak" WAR (defined as the sum of his best seven seasons) — ranks Baines 74th among players whose primary position was right field. To offer some sense of the company Baines keeps on the right-fielder JAWS list, that's three spots ahead of Nick Markakis and two and three spots, respectively, behind Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz. Baines's JAWS score is 30.1, compared to an average of 57.8 for all other Hall of Famer right fielders. ...

Relative to the historical statistical standards of his position, Baines is now the seventh-least-deserving Hall of Famer, after fellow right fielder Tommy McCarthy, Lloyd Waner, Jesse Haines, High Pockets Kelly, Freddie Lindstrom, and Rube Marquard. ... Statistically speaking, Baines is probably the worst player to qualify for the hall in 42 years, and his election is shocking in an era of relatively enlightened evaluation. ...

Baines bypassed the BBWAA's approval and slipped in the side door because of the same combination of cronyism and sentimentality [the Eras Committee, formerly known as the Veterans Committee] that minted many of the least-deserving Hall of Famers. ...

[T]he committees are mostly made up of players and executives, [and] many of their members are professionally and personally linked to the players whose candidacies they're considering. In some cases, committee members have actively lobbied for former teammates who didn't come close to Cooperstown's established standards; Bill James wrote a book about it [Whatever Happened To The Hall of Fame?]. Frankie Frisch, a Veterans Committee member from 1967 to 1973 ... gerrymandered a museum on behalf of his friends. ...

Although there are no definitive criteria of Hall of Fame worthiness, it delegitimizes the museum when its honors are conferred by voters who are doing favors for friends, exhibiting bias (even if it's subconscious), or suffering from statistical illiteracy.
Jay Jaffe, Fangraphs:
Not only is there no precedent for a candidate with so little BBWAA support [6.1%] gaining election by a small committee in the era of the "Five Percent Rule" (from 1980 onward), but there's really no precedent for a player from the post-1960 expansion era doing so. ...

[T]here's no modern precedent for the election of a candidate such as Baines ... [With] Baines, 94 to 95 percent of [BBWAA] voters consistently judged him to be unworthy.

Every bit as unsettling is the fact that Baines accumulated just 38.7 WAR (using the Baseball-Reference version) and 30.1 JAWS. Considered as a right fielder — I consider every DH candidate at the position where he accrued the most value — he ranks just 74th in JAWS, below 24 of the 25 Hall of Famers (19th century outfielder Tommy McCarthy is the exception). From under-supported BBWAA candidate Larry Walker (10th in JAWS among right fielders), to players such as Dwight Evans (15th) and Reggie Smith (16th) who have never sniffed a small committee ballot, that's a troubling inequity. ... Tony Oliva, Rusty Staub, Dave Parker? All rank in the 30s in JAWS among right fielders, and appear to have stronger traditional credentials as well. ...

Baines' election is simply not a great day for the institution, or for anyone bringing an analytical, merit-based approach to it while reckoning with its objective standards. The precedent it sets is nearly unmanageable, if future committees are to take seriously candidates of his level.
Neil Greenberg, Washington Post:
While this is a time to celebrate for Baines, it's also a time to mourn for the standards of the Hall of Fame.

Think that's harsh? ... Players ahead of Baines [in JAWS ranking] include Carl Furillo, Brian Jordan, Tim Salmon, Jesse Barfield and Brian Giles. Do any of those sound like Hall of Famers player to you? ...

Per FanGraphs version of wins above replacement, Baines ranks 70th in fWAR (38.5) among all hitters playing from 1980 to 2001. ...

[T]raditional metrics don't bolster his case much, either. He ranks 46th all time for hits (2,866), 65th for home runs (384) and 34th for RBI (1,628). His career .820 OPS was 21 percent higher than the league average after taking into account league and park effects but still pedestrian enough to place him 15th among the aforementioned DH peer group. Players ahead of him on that list also include Kevin Buckley, Travis Hafner, Ken Phelps, Tom Dodd, Troy Neel, Cliff Johnson and Jeremy Brown. ...

The selection of Baines makes it harder to argue against [players who performed far better than Baines, but still well below the established threshold for reaching Cooperstown], and that's why the news has so many baseball fans up in arms.
Kyle Koster, The Big Lead:
It's a joke. It may be an intentional troll as well, the last dying breath of those who hold pitcher's wins and batting average sacrosanct. A "screw you" to the analytical community, or any other sane person who looks at Baines' stats and critically concludes he has no business in the Hall of Fame.
Rob Neyer, Twitter:
Let's be frank: The elections of Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and (especially) Harold Baines are fully intended by voters to troll everyone who believes in objective analysis. They've lost power everywhere but here, but by God they're gonna use it. Embarrassing to Hall (or should be).
Aaron Gleeman, Twitter:
Harold Baines was on the ballot as recently as 2011 and received 4.8% of the vote. It was his fifth straight year with a vote total below 10%. Why, just seven years later, do 16 people get to decide that he's now a Hall of Famer when 95.2% of the voters didn't think he was one?
Jeff Blair, Sportsnet:
There has been no Hall of Fame selection – by whatever committee or voting pool at any time – greeted with as much shock as Baines'. Ever. Baines was a lovely man and great teammate, but some of the serious national voices in the game have used words such as "embarrassment" to describe his selection. ...

Baines? My god ... I've covered baseball since 1989 and I didn't realize I was watching so many Hall of Famers. ...

[H]as Harold Baines' selection cheapened the Hall? Not as much as the sorry exclusion of Marvin Miller, who made millionaires of a lot of these players. You want to get exercise about something? Look there.

A History Of Schadenfreude

Excerpt from Tiffany Watt Smith's Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's Misfortune (Little, Brown and Company, 2018):
The Japanese have a saying: "The misfortunes of others taste like honey." The French speak of joie maligne, a diabolical delight in other people's suffering. The Danish talk of skadefryd, and the Dutch of leedvermaak. In Hebrew enjoying other people's catastrophes is simcha la‑ed, in Mandarin xìng‑zāi‑lè‑huò, in Serbo-Croat it is zlùradōst and in Russian zloradstvo. More than 2,000 years ago, Romans spoke of malevolentia. Earlier still, the Greeks described epichairekakia (literally epi, over, chairo, rejoice, kakia, disgrace). "To see others suffer does one good," wrote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. "To make others suffer even more so. This is a hard saying, but a mighty, human, all-too-human principle." ...

In historical portraits, people beaming with joy look very different to those slyly gloating over another's bad luck. However, in a laboratory in Würzburg in Germany in 2015, thirty-two football fans agreed to have electromyography pads attached to their faces, which would measure their smiles and frowns while watching TV clips of successful and unsuccessful football penalties by the German team, and by their arch-rivals, the Dutch. The psychologists found that when the Dutch missed a goal, the German fans' smiles appeared more quickly and were broader than when the German team scored a goal themselves. The smiles of Schadenfreude and joy are indistinguishable except in one crucial respect: we smile more with the failures of our enemies than at our own success. ...

There has never really been a word for these grubby delights in English. In the 1500s, someone attempted to introduce "epicaricacy" from the ancient Greek, but it didn't catch on. In 1640, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote a list of human passions, and concluded it with a handful of obscure feelings which "want names." "From what passion proceedeth it," he asked, "that men take pleasure to behold from the shore the danger of them that are at sea in a tempest?" What strange combination of joy and pity, he wrote, makes people "content to be spectators of the misery of their friends"? Hobbes's mysterious and terrible passion remained without a name, in the English language at least. ...

And so we adopted the German word Schadenfreude. From Schaden, meaning damage or harm, and freude, meaning joy or pleasure: damage-joy. ...

Moralists have long despised Schadenfreude. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called it "an infallible sign of a thoroughly bad heart and profound moral worthlessness," the very worst trait in human nature. ...

I have come to believe that Schopenhauer was wrong. We might worry that a taste for other people's misery will corrupt our souls, yet this emotion is far from simply "bad." It touches on things that have mattered most to human societies for millennia: our instincts for fairness and hatred of hypocrisy; our love of seeing our rival suffer in the hope that we might win ourselves; our itch to measure ourselves against others and make sense of our choices when we fall short; how we bond with each other; what makes us laugh.

If we peer more closely at this hidden and much-maligned emotion, liberate ourselves from its shame and secrecy, we will discover a great deal about who we really are.

December 9, 2018

How About Enjoying 2019 Before We Start Worrying About 2020?

It's December 9. About six weeks ago, the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series. It was the team's fourth championship in the last 15 seasons. The Red Sox won a record 108 games - and the entire team (almost) is returning next spring. Mookie Betts was nearly the unanimous choice for AL MVP. Nathan Eovaldi re-signed at an extremely reasonable price.

But many members of the Boston sports media believe Red Sox fans should be in a perpetual state of worry and agitation, no matter how or what the team is doing. Read or listen to certain people and you'll be told that the team is relying too heavily on hitting, relying too heavily on pitching, hitting too many home runs, not hitting enough hone runs, scoring runs "the wrong way", beating up on only shitty teams, having just a few hot hitters, etc. Even having everyone on fire is a cause for concern, because that means a big slump is coming very soon.

So what should we be concerned about right now? ... The 2019-2020 off-season!

That's Rob Bradford's take. He also appears to believe the Red Sox are now trailing the Yankees in doing what needs to be done for the future:
See what the Yankees did ...

The challenge for the Red Sox will be to execute what Brian Cashman was able to for the Yankees ...
If you want to worry about the 2020 roster, I won't try to stop you. But keep in mind that pitchers and catchers are still two months away from reporting for 2019!

I'm not claiming that what Bradford is writing about is not real. Obviously, the front office is thinking about these things; they have been thinking about the 2020 team for many years. But I have no say in running the Red Sox and I see no benefit (or point) to worrying about something that may not even be an issue in eight months.

The Gift of 2004 caused me to take a much shorter view of the Red Sox. I'm far less concerned about the team's future than I was back in the dark times. In fact, I don't think "worry" has been a part of my Red Sox vocabulary for quite a while. I'm still enjoying the memories of 2018 and I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2019. I can't see too much further ahead than that.

Except Mookie. Seriously. Do NOT let Mookie go!