Saturday, April 07, 2007

Angels win

Seriously, I'll be back to blogging games soon. But last night I fell asleep on the couch at about 8:00, and the next thing I knew, it was 8:30 this morning.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Frankie Update - er, Updated

Frankie Responds to Matt Hurst of the Press Enterprise (yay, Riverside!):
I talked to Francisco Rodriguez about this white substance on the underside of his bill and he grabbed the hat from his locker, flipped it over and said "This?"
On the black underside of his cap was a sizable white smudge.
"It's rosin," Rodriguez said.
There is a rosin bag on the back of every mound in professional baseball filled with the white, chalky substance that pitcher's can use on their hands to eliminate sweat so they can better grip the ball. John Lackey, for instance, puts it on his left wrist, just above his glove, so he can wipe his right hand on the wrist instead of constantly going to the rosin bag.
So, why does Rodriguez continually tug on his cap, bringing suspicion about?
Because he stopped wearing his trademark goggles, he fidgets with his hat instead of his glasses.
More on MLB.Com.
The Angels had a two-word response to Internet posted allegations of doctoring baseballs by closer Francisco Rodriguez in two games this week against the Texas Rangers.

"It's resin," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

"It's the same stuff I've had since I was called up [in 2002]," Rodriguez said, showing his cap to a pair of reporters at his locker to show the resin residue on its bill. "A lot of pitchers use it. They rub it on their pants and use it when they need it. I have it on my cap. You can see it in all the pictures; it's there.
As for Derek, well, this is pretty weak stuff:

Rosin is a foreign substance, same as pine tar. Now, players have pine tar on their helmets and uniforms, and that goes unenforced. But this is where they might take action: it’s clear that there was something on his cap, whether they find evidence that it was applied to the ball at any point. But it seems like it’s a lot more likely that the most dramatic action they’d take is a warning.

Part of this is political: if the league takes action on something that’s perceived as coming from the internet, MLB might see it as opening the floodgates for every fan to start making rules complaints, and there’s no way they want that.

Umm, Derek, I like you, but seriously, get the fuck over yourself. They aren't going to refrain from taking action because it came from the internet. They aren't taking action because there's no there there. It's fucking rosin. Do you think they walk out there and inspect the hands of every pitcher after he drops the bag to make sure that no specks remain on his hands before he grabs the ball? Fucking A, I'm sure there are trace amounts of rosin on EVERY ball. It's one thing to have pine tar on your hands as a pitcher. It's a whole 'nother thing to have the same exact crap they put on every mound SPECIFICALLY FOR A PITCHER TO HANDLE on your hands, or hat, or glove, or any other part of your body.

Seriously, that last paragraph is probably the dumbest thing I've ever read, and it reeks of CYA because I think Derek is smarter than that. But that's what happens when you have to defend a post entitled "Francisco Rodriguez Doctoring the Ball."

Anonymous in the comments asserts:
um... even if it is rosin...
The he quotes rule 8.02(a). You can read it yourself in the comments.

I'm quite aware of that rule. I already linked to that rule in the previous post. That's why I called loading up a hat with rosin technically illegal. And it's the foundation atop which Zumsteg builds his entire argument. And it's stupid.

Ya know, it's also technically illegal to have your back foot out of the batters box, and there's such a thing as a catcher's balk. Show me the last time they were ever enforced.

They put a freaking bag of the stuff on the goddamn mound, fer chrissakes. This isn't like glue. It isn't like pine tar. This isn't like vaseline. It's stuff they put on the mound for the use of every pitcher in every professional baseball game. When they start putting a pine tar rag or a tube of super glue on the mound, I'll treat those the same way.

But if you're a real crusader, I expect to see you out there with a pitchfork demanding that the umpires make pitchers wash their hands between pitches, lest they get dirt on the ball.

Frankie Under the Microscope

Apparently MLB has initiated an investigation into whatever the stuff is on Frankie's hat. This all started when Derek Zumsteg blogged about it on the site he set up, I assume, to promote his book, but I could be wrong about his intentions (about the site). Full disclosure, I've always liked Derek, and had a few very brief electronic conversations/thread interactions with him in the old Primer days. I don't think he wrote a book and then went looking to find a guy cheating to get his name out there. I think if anything, he wrote the book and got used to looking for that kind of stuff. You know how when you're in the market for a new car, you start noticing every car on the street and wondering what it costs (or is that just me)? Kinda like that. Anyway, I'll try to break down what we know:
  1. Frankie had some white junk on the underside of the brim of his cap. It's pretty clearly visible in some pictures, so it's really undisputed.
  2. Frankie seems to like to touch that part of his hat a lot before he pitches.
  3. Frankie throws some really nasty stuff.
That looks bad, but there's a few other things that we also know:
  1. Frankie has been going to his hat like that since he entered the league in 2002.
  2. The underside of the new hat that New Era is producing this year is black.
  3. Frankie has been throwing really nasty stuff since he came into the league.
That's basically all that we know for sure. Now for the speculation:
  1. Possibility #1 - Frankie feels like he needs something extra this season, so he's started loading up his cap with a foreign substance to get more action on the ball. If I were, say, a Mariners fan (like, for example, Derek), I'd probably be pre-disposed to believing that. It would also be good pub for my book if I pointed that out and everyone ran with it(hey, like I said, it's speculation).
  2. Possibility #2 - Frankie has been cheating for years, and no one has ever caught him, and no one has ever said anything, including current Mariner and noted cocksucker Jose Guillen, who famously ratted out Brendan Donnelly a couple of years ago when he was in Washington. Note, however, that Frankie didn't pitch in any of those games, or maybe Guillen would have done the same thing then.
  3. Possibility #3 - Frankie has been cheating for years, and no one ever noticed because the color of the underside of the hate hat. Note that this also requires Frankie to be really stupid, as he must have not noticed that any substance he was using was now pretty noticeable.
  4. Possibility #4 - Frankie has loaded his hat with some rosin, or whatever the hell they're putting in the bag this year, so that he can dry his fingers without constantly going back to the bag. This is seemingly innocuous, but also technically illegal.
  5. Possibility #5 - Frankie goes to the bag, then wipes his fingers off on his hat, inadvertantly depositing rosin on his hat in the process. This would, one would think, also leave a white mark on the top of his hat. Photos are inconclusive at best.
Personally, it doesn't make much sense to me for him to have started cheating this season. If he's doing it, chances are he's always been doing it, and I have a hard time believing that with all of the video of opposing players that teams pour over looking for any edge, any quirk, any little tip-off, that they wouldn't have noticed that, and at least had it questioned at some point.

I actually think the most likely most likely explanation on that list is #5, and it gets decreasingly plausible as you ascend towards number 1. Of course, they also get increasingly worse for Frankie as you ascend towards number 1, so my rules of plausibility are probably based in bias.

A couple of other notes: Derek claims that video shows the pitches where it's "clear" he loaded up (all fastballs) move a lot more than the pitches where it's not clear. Personally, I think this is crap. It's almost impossible to perceive the motion on a four seem fastball on television, and the gameday feature on shows the ball moving anywhere from about 2-3 inches consistently. FWIW, Rob Neyer thinks it's either chalk or talcum, which he's using to keep his fingers dry, presumably as opposed to loading up the ball.

And finally, I'm not trying to bust Derek's chops on this, but I think he reported this incredibly unprofessionally. That's fine, it's his blog. But for Christ's sake, the title of the post is "Francisco Rodriguez Doctoring the Ball". That doesn't leave you a lot of wiggle room in case the whole thing turns out to be fairly innocent. You'd think a guy who spent a lot of time wiping egg off of his face after announcing that Pete Rose had reached an agreement with Selig for reinstatement might measure his words a little more carefully.

I'll be curious to see what they have to say about this tonight during the broadcast, which I get to watch now.

See also: The Chronicler's take on the subject.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why I Gave Money to John Kerry

The man gets things done. InDemand and MLB just announced that they've reached a deal that will put Extra Innings on cable television this season, and going forward. Baseball is back on in my apartment.

Seriously, games are already on my television. This is a happy day. I'm welcoming myself back to the Halosphere.

And a major, major thumbs up to Maury Brown over at the Bizness of Baseball and Bizness of Sports for following these negotiations non-stop for the last few weeks. He did a great job of aggregating the reports and being essentially a one stop shop for updates, and a forum for all of us to bitch about not having access by opening day. Great work, Maury.

Angels win again

Sure wish I could have seen it.

Thanks, Mr. Selig, you piece of shit.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I Know Yesterday was Opening Day...

But if you're looking for baseball content, you've probably come to the wrong place. And there probably won't be any for a while. You can keep checking here to find out when it might be back, if ever.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Re-visiting Saturday Night

I'm gonna be honest, I've got very little memory of what happened Saturday, and that's probably for the best. The brief post that preceded this one was an alcohol fueled rant, and trust me, there was a lot of alcohol involved. Word of advice, it's probably not a good idea to get really, really drunk the night before you have a morning golf tournament. We finished second, which was less surprising than the fact that we were even able to wake up in time to make it. Of course, we won it last year, and I played the whole round with food poisoning after spending the morning puking, so maybe I was in better shape this year.

If you had told me before the game that the Bruins would win the turnover battle 16-3, I would have felt pretty good about the game. Of course, that would have meant omitting the fact that they were completely dominated on the boards, that they couldn't shoot (39%), and that they really couldn't shoot from beyond the arc (22%). The Bruins had the game within four early in the second half before Florida ran off a 21-4 run that more or less decided the game.

As for the officiating, I don't believe the refs cost UCLA this game. I do believe that the game was pretty much over when they called the second foul on Arron Afflalo. They can't win a big game without Afflalo playing a major role, and when he was taken off the floor practically before the game even started on what were really ticky tack fouls, the game was essentially over. They can't win a big game when he only gets 22 minutes.

Before the game, I figured that a key for the Bruins would be the player (either Afflalo or Shipp) who was not guarded by Brewer, because I figured that was a matchup advantage for UCLA. When Afflalo was taken off the floor in the first two minutes, it took away that advantage. I'm not saying that analysis was correct, but we never got a chance to find out whether it was.

Speaking of Shipp, he provided a lot of hope for next year. His play down the stretch this year was excellent, and he was the lone bright spot in the semi-final. He finished with 18 points, shooting 50%, grabbed four rebounds, dished out five assists, and stole the ball four times. It will be good to have him back, even if Afflalo decides to leave.

So ignore the vitriol in the previous post. It was a disappointing end to an excellent season, and again, the Bruins should be even better next year with the arrivals of Kevin Love and Chace Stanback, combined with the continued improvement of Aboya, LRMAM, Keefe, Roll, and Westbrook. They may even get contributions from Ryan Wright and Nikola Dragovic. I still think they're a top five team going into 2007-2008.

So congratulations to the Bruins on a great season, and hopefully OSU will beat the shit out of Florida.