Siberian Baseball

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm officially concerned

OK, I was done with the posts for the evening - and I'm making a major effort to lay off the Red Sox and the Cubs and focus on the leagues as a whole more this year, I swear - but it has me worried that Daisuke Matsuzaka has been taken under Julian Tavarez's wing.

Between the little mime theater about how to pitch - and maybe drill - A-Rod and now him being buddy-buddy in the dugout, I feel like a concerned parent who sees their kid starting to hang out with a rougher crowd.

Labels: ,

I'll pay you later - the IOU post on the weekly wrap

With openly pulling for a back-to-back no-hitter situation for Mark Buehrle, I'll go ahead and ask it - is that a preemptive jinx or something?

I mean, if you can talk about one as it's happening, it has to be bad mojo to talk about one before the game even starts, right? Still, if you're a White Sox fan and you're secretly hoping for this to happen, you have to like seeing Kansas City on the schedule, huh?

Buehrle takes the ball Monday night in Kansas City.

* The Red Sox went back-to-back twice against some poor rookie for the Yankees tonight and while the ESPN crew went on and on about the historical significance, it's pretty easy to see why a shell-shocked pitcher is rarely put in a position to equal that dubious feat.

Usually, you let in two homers and you're getting pulled. Four is just cruel. Plus, by adding in the waiting factor as you swap pitchers, etc. it kills the momentum, but hey, it was fun while it lasted. It couldn't have happened to a nicer team.

* The talk radio in the Twin Cities is officially questioning Joe Nathan's spot as closer for the Twins, citing late-inning trouble he's gotten into (and usually out of) since the beginning of the season.

Imagine that - a man with newborn twins at home is having a hard time at work. I can only imagine what the problem might be... Perhaps the coaching staff should allow the poor guy to cat nap in the clubhouse during the games and they can wake him in the seventh inning if the game is close or something.

* Just a quick programming note that I'll be at Twins games Monday and Tuesday night, so I plan to post after those if anything exciting happens. Like a walk off grand slam like in Los Angeles Saturday night. Because that was pretty rad.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

They're not saying 'Boo', they're saying 'Boo-Ehrle'

Mark Buehrle pitched a no-hitter, and was a walk to Sammy Sosa away from a perfect game, tonight in a game that was over by the time I made it home.

While I won't try to offer any sort of insightful commentary from highlights I'll see tonight, I will say this.

For a pitcher to pitch well on a night that was in the mid- to low-4os, you really have to had it to the guy. It's hard to unlock a car door in that weather some times - I can't imagine nine innings of no-hit ball.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekly Wrap-Up 4/15

It's Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball and ESPN is doing a great job on the coverage as a whole.

So far, Robinson's wife, Rachel, Hank Aaron, Don Newcombe and Frank Robinson have been given a minimum of an inning each to talk to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on-air, which they're using as a history lesson and to tell stories about Robinson.

While I appreciate the effort and the man they're honoring, they're really not covering new ground for baseball fans who have kept up with the game's history.

The popular refrain has been that with prominent African-American players following Ken Griffey Jr.'s lead in wearing the number 42 jerseys today, it will force the discussions about African-American participation in the sport (Note that this isn't minority participation, which is doing quite well) and to prompt conversations between parents and children about Robinson and his role in American history.

My big question is why do we need a special reason to talk about this? (Update: Looks like I'm not the only one.)

It's a bit of a disconnect on my part, but many African-American players and coaches are pushing for stronger marketing to the black community to encourage kids to start (and keep) playing baseball.

Why does this discussion only have a window once a decade when we remember Robinson? If there's a problem, why can't we discuss it all season? Better than that, why can't we discuss the instant money and relative better package given to athletes who select football or basketball - a better shot at a guaranteed education, not to mention no time toiling away in the minors - that makes baseball unappealing to talented, multi-sport athletes, regardless of their skin color.

Again, all told, it's been a fun night, with some good stories being told one more time from the game's old guard. I guess I feel about this in much the same manner as I feel about Valentine's Day - why do you need a special day to take care of things that should be discussed every day?

Also, my heart goes out to the announcers for the Dodgers, Cardinals and unknown other games today. I honestly thought that with every player on the team wearing number 42 that they'd add nameplates above the numbers. Nope.

* Weather continues to be a factor, with storms rolling east and rain shutting down several games this weekend.

Cancelled are games in New York, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh and Baltimore and that's just Sunday.

At least it's not three feet of snow like Cleveland last week and you don't need to wait for rain to melt.

* The story that's under the radar, but that the real nutty fans are having fun with is the second week of play and second time through the rotation. While it's still too early to panic for anyone, a truer picture is starting to come into focus.

A pitcher gets shelled once and it's troublesome. A pitcher gets shelled twice and it starts to look like a trend. Three times? Might mean a bus ticket to AAA.

* Speaking of not panicking, Albert Pujols went yard twice today and had five RBI. I only wish there were people stupid enough in our fantasy league to bail on him for a slow start.

* BJ Ryan is out in Toronto with arm trouble and Jason Frasor is while Ryan heads to the DL. Given that all of the teams in the AL East have had solid starts, with each team having 10 or more games under their belts, this injury is worth keeping an eye on.

It's not an injury-bug thing, but I'm waiting for John Danks to come through soon and I'm keeping an eye on him as well. With five earned runs scattered over two games, it's not unheard of to have two losses hung on him so far, but just a little weird.

* Finally, Johan Santana lost - gasp! - at the Dome this weekend, which hasn't happened since before Joe Mauer was able to grow sideburns and was attending high school down the street.

Something tells me he'll rebound, but it's a real bummer that he pulled up one short of tying the record. Espcially against Tampa Bay and all... This is the equivalent of Kobyashi going down.

I have no idea how to process this.

(Image from


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wild Thing

The first thing I thought of when I saw Kyle Farnsworth's new J-Lo glasses was, "What a pretty, pretty princess!"

Well, that was second after the usual, "Farnsworth? Fucking Fransworth!" from several years of residual Cub bitterness.

I was honestly worried that the whole solution to his control problems would come from the addition of vision and we'd all have to listen to Wild Thing Ricky Vaughn references as he tore through the AL this year and took Mo Rivera's job.

Then he got rocked for four runs faster than I can eat four White Castle burgers. When the dust had cleared, Farnsworth pitched a third of an inning, four runs, all four earned, a walk and a strikeout.

I should have known better than to worry.

Side note: This post was echoed almost a year to the day ago, with Farnsworth melting down in Minneapolis and the Yankees losing 5-1 on April 17, 2006. Weird...

(Image from Fox Sports Network)


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Uh-oh... Ponson gets shelled

Not for nothing, but here's Sidney Ponson's line on his start against the Yankees last night - 12.71 ERA, 5.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 2 K - where it was a train wreck in the Metrodome.

Hey, at least water cooler conversations about how "Ponson got bombed last night" didn't end in an arrest, right?

I'm all for second chances and picking arms off the scrap heap and all, but sometimes there's a reason guys have flamed out.

Ponson has won me over after seeing him pick up steam this spring and then actually catching a game he started in Fort Myers.

Then again, it's a different story when the games start to count, too.

And for the record, I don't think it's a coincidence that it was the Yankees that put Ponson through the ringer, considering they used to see him a few times a year and still see his former team, the Orioles, 19 times a season.

It might be a bump on the road back, but with the rumors this spring, this shootout and the young arms in AAA right now, I wouldn't get too attached to Ponson, Twins fans.

For sure, don't buy a Ponson jersey in the near future.

(Photo taken for Siberian Baseball)

Labels: ,

Papelbon finishes off the Rangers

As promised, here's the video of Jonathan Papelbon Sunday night versus the Texas Rangers and the previously mentioned clock tower stare.

Look around the 20 second mark and you'll see exactly why anyone who questioned Papelbon's return to the bullpen should rethink that stance.


Monday, April 09, 2007

In case you missed all the hoopla

It's been big news in the mini-universe this weekend, but Colin Cowherd of ESPN essentially assassinated where his listeners all swarmed over and smashed the little server to bits in a matter of moments.

The Big Lead is up and running again on a more robust server and isn't blinking when it comes to the Worldwide Leader or Cowherd's stupidity.

There was a lot of talk being thrown around regarding legal actions against Cowherd and ESPN was forced to weigh in via its freshly-minted ombudsman (who is, in fact, a woman) but in all, Cowherd gets a slap on the wrist and is told not to do it again.

It should be noted that this isn't the first time Cowherd has been in hot water with the bloggers, as he directly lifted content from a Michigan sports blog, read it on the air and then refused to apologize when he was called out on it.

While other sports broadcasters can see where all this Internet mumbo jumbo is going, paying attention and dropping "You're with me, Leather" references on SportsCenter and beyond, Cowherd is the poster boy for big media agoraphobia, lashing out against defenseless sites and basically reliving high school, only as the jock this time.

So, until bloggers as a whole are given a bit more respect from big media outlets and are seen as something more than a diversion for frustrated wash-outs and hack writers, those with axes to grind and everyone's favorite stereotype, the blogger in his mother's basement (Woo-hoo, pass the Cheetos and let me know when my new Star Wars action figures get here, Ma!) expect more run-ins like this one, as well as more outright plagarism from cretins like Cowherd.

Let's face it, if you put something good out there into cyberspace, there's a chance that someone will be waiting to rip it off as soon as it's posted. The real kicker is that the smaller your blog is, the less likely anyone is to notice, even if you're screaming bloody murder the whole time.

I think that's one of the nicest things about the Deadspin community - the fact that bloggers and commenters of all stripes really got upset about this and e-mailed and called nearly everyone at ESPN with a published address or phone number and generally just getting cranky about the whole thing.

So, while I'd still love to see Cowherd have to defend himself against actual charges in court, it's nice to know he's pissed off his bosses this week and will hopefully be that much closer to working the morning drive in Fort Wayne, Ind.

For me, it's not so important where he's stealing material from or what kind of creepy stunts he's pulling by crashing defenseless sites, but the fact that he's becoming more and more well known for those types of character issues.

You hear his name once in the whole M-Zone fiasco - and if you don't think outright, indefensible plagarism isn't a major, major problem on ESPN's radar, you're crazy - and you think "Hmm... interesting." You hear about his latest problem with being a jackass and it really starts to set off red flags.

Personally, when I hear the name Colin Cowherd from now on, my first reaction won't be "Oh, ESPN, right?" it will be "Shrutebag."

(Image from


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Weekly Wrap-Up 4/8

We'll give this a short test drive to see if it's doable through the course of a baseball season. Depending on how diligent I am about keeping up during the week, it could be a simple link dump and weekend recap, but at least to get off the ground, this is a great place to start.

* We've seen nothing but parity in the 3-4-5 spots in most big league rotations this week as teams flew out of the gates only to come back to reality when their second-tier pitchers had to take the ball on Wednesday and Thursday.

This is why so much is being made of the starters and proven stars, as well as the Mets rotation shocking the National League by handcuffing the Cardinals to start the season off officially.

Watch for plenty of ink to be spilled regarding injuries to Chris Carpenter as well as Pedro Martinez and the return of Roger Clemens. It's only the first week, but it really does look like pitching will dictate who will be the major players in both leagues this year - go figure, huh?

* It'll come up in a day or so when I can post video, but Jonathan Papelbon needs to stay right where he is as the closer in Boston. He wasn't screwing around tonight when he took the mound with one out and the bases loaded in Texas.

I can't place it, but he's lost the goofy kid vibe and looked like a madman in the ninth. Needless to say, I like this turn of events.

* With the Cubs trailing 6-0 against Milwaukee, it was refreshing to see the team surge and try to make a comeback and not just because it was the third game on a Sunday afternoon on the road, but because the Cubs haven't had a lot of spark recently.

To paraphrase Ron White, "That team's got a lot of quit in it."

I'll need to see more, but the fact that the starters didn't get a 45-minute head start on the Tri-State makes me think things might actually be different with Lou Pinella in charge.

* Alex Rodriguez took Chris Ray deep to notch a walk-off grand slam and silence his critics who claim he's a world-class choke artist and that he can't deliver in the clutch.

Yeah, he sure rocked the Orioles in the fourth game of the year with his team down by three runs... That'll show 'em.

* Finally, the biggest story of the weekend is that everyone was too cold to play baseball - ask Paul Byrd how that worked out for him - and there were a few places where games were snowed out.

I'll admit that weird stuff happens when the weather goes cold like that, but it didn't provide quite the opening week we had all hoped for. Instead, we had pitchers taking it easy, players being overly concerned with pulling muscles and pitchers being given the A-OK from the umps to blow on their hands.

There were plenty of odd moments to open the season and while no team can get into trouble in just a week, it was a good enough opening act. The important thing - as I've been saying for a week - is that baseball is definitely back.

(Photo from the Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 06, 2007

Yes, I'm happy now

Our short national nightmare came to an end late this week when Major League Baseball realized what was in the best interest of its fans responded to any combination of external stimuli and released its out-of-market games to a cable television audience.

I'd like to think that legions of unhappy fans e-mailed a few times like I did and took unsolicited shots at MLB on their survey pages, but the truth is that some series of cash-related decisions needed to be made and it just so happened that the games were returned to the cable audience.

As of Friday evening, the customer reps answering the phones for Comcast were up to their eyeballs in phone calls for the service, which makes me smile almost as much as knowing that the division got its ass kicked for nearly a week straight.

I know that some poor series of programming teams took the real brunt of that storm while Bud Selig washed down stupid pills with $900 a bottle wine, but I can pretend that he was hearing about how the whole product was circling the drain unless massive upgrades were going to be made shortly. If it ruined at least one morning, I'm pretty happy with the result.

In all honesty, I question how much Selig had to do with a decision this rational and pleasing to a wide spectrum of fans. I think that it's even money that someone from the future played at least a secondary role in the whole mess. Whether or not documents were moved around or someone snuck into Selig's bedroom at night with a radiation suit and a walkman, I can't say, but it's nice to have baseball back.

And at more than a two-by-three inch screen.

(Image from


Monday, April 02, 2007

Everyone's a winner on Opening Day

Opening Day - It's like Christmas, only I don't have to put up with my family... I think it's pretty cool that you say "Opening Day" and it's pretty apparent what sport you're talking about. I'm not really sure what the NFL's Week One is known as, other than Week One.

Aside from that, who cares what you call basketball or hockey.It usually takes a few weeks for anyone to really notice those sports have started.

* The big question I have when I see pictures of Pete Rose at Opening Day is whether or not he has to watch his mouth around the ballpark - well, in public, really - when using the word "bet."

Like, let's say Adam Dunn comes up with two homers already and some know-it-all in the section chimes in with, "Dunn is automatic! Here comes the third homer, baby! Woo!"

Can Rose still say, "Wanna bet?" without serious repercussions?

I bet he can't... Damn, I would make a sub-par Pete Rose.

*One of the common refrains that I'm seeing in league previews is that the top two guys in most rotations are solid starters and the three through five guys are where you separate the men from the boys.

This is pretty self-evident as you look at the top-tier teams and work your way down to the Mariners and Royals of the world. Hell, just look at the cash commanded for very average pitchers in the offseason.

The capper might have been on-air speculation tonight about what Dennys Reyes would command on the open market. It was done in all seriousness.

My gut tells me that as we get into the three, four, five guys in every team's rotation, you'll be able to see which teams are in for a long season and which ones are ahead of the pack by virtue of having normal pitching depth.

* All told, from the highlights I'm seeing and the bits of games I caught live, it was a pretty predictable day around the league, with the top-shelf starters performing the way they're paid to and competition being pretty equal for Opening Day. The exception is the fluke blowout by Cleveland over the White Sox, which had more to do with the first game than talent levels.

I refuse to believe that the Sox are that bad or the Indians are that good, but I could be wrong.

* Ben Sheets got off to a hot start and as he goes, so goes Milwaukee - which should have been the case for years now, save for his injuries and under performing from year to year. A two-hitter out of the box certainly bodes well for the Brewers.

* Manny Ramirez apparently has a tough time getting things going every year according to the announced at the Royals/Red Sox game from Kansas City today. I'd never really noticed, I guess, but just add it to the list of Manny's quirks.

One player who has no such problems is Vlad Guerrero who until he just ripped a shot down the left-field line in his first at-bat had hit home runs off the first pitch he saw in 2005 and 2006.

OK, that's pretty cool.

* My new goal for this season is to try and get a more accurate read on which sleeper teams that start hot are for real and which ones will fall back to earth. Last year, I picked the Brewers and panned the Tigers after hot starts by both... yeah, that worked out well.

This year, I don't even need to pick the sleepers, I just want to be able to call it one way or another more quickly than I usually do.

By that, I mean before the second week of October.

(Photo from the Associated Press, via

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Major League Baseball, land of the Sodomites

Hellfire and damnation, Major League Baseball has sodomized more fans today than they can fit into most of their big league ballparks. Don't believe me? Here's the link to their blog dedicated to "fixing" the "itty-bitty" bugs they've run into today.

It's safe to say that the natives are more than just a little restless.

If I wasn't waist-deep in the backed up sewer that is the Mosaic, I'd be absolutely giddy with the nerd war that's flaring up over there. It's an ongoing debate between whines to "Give us what you promised!" and "I'm in IT and they're doing the best that they can!" mixed in with a few folks I'm almost certain are plants to try and settle everyone down.

The reason that I'm not giddy is because the whiners are more right than the apologists on this one. (You may want to skip down if you're not ready for an extended discourse on this - Frankie was right in his post the other day - I think this might become my pet issue for the season in varying amounts of copy).

The arguments are breaking down as follows:

* It's not the user's fault that the servers can't handle the demand.
* It's not the user's fault that did not properly test/spec their equipment for these types of workloads.
* While the Mosaic feature (which previews 6 games at once, albeit at a lower video quality) might be an add-on, it is something we're paying for, so it should work as advertised.
* Multiple bugs and promises to fix things "asap" are not good enough for Opening Day.
* The user has every right to be mad because of the problems from today.

What I truly suspect happened here was that all of the nerds who had previously watched all of these games on cable are now flooding the servers and are used to the actual television quality instead of the "near television quality" that is being promised with the Premium package. I don't think it's too much to ask that a paid service provide what it has promised in writing, regardless of actual server loads or truncated schedules because of short-sightedness by the parent company.

The percentages of displaced cable fans are probably along the lines of 2 percent switched to Dish, 1 percent gave up on baseball because they felt used and 97 percent went over to, which is where the conspiracy theories started popping up in the first place. The more I hear that MLB tried to force the fans' hands and push them to their exclusive Web content, the more I believe it, especially after today.

When I got home later in the day - so we're not even talking issues during the bulk of the games - I saw plenty of lag, a few bugs everyone was seeing and constant freezing of the video signals. In addition, the audio signals were pretty awful. Imagine watching a YouTube video of someone videotaping their television - we've all seen those - and you get a pretty good idea of what is charging $120 to $90 for.

From a personal standpoint, I deal with customers, technology and managing customer expectations all of the time as I work on projects. One of the golden rules for me personally is to resist any job where I feel that I'm giving the customer an inferior product, compared to what they have. (Personally, I miss being able to rewind, as I've been spoiled by TiVo. However, even with TiVo, I still missed the gem on LaRussa last night that was either caught or made up by the guys at Diamond Hoggers.)

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a situation like that will not end well. People think they want a big, expensive system with projectors and new speakers, but in some cases, they will be worse off than they were when we stepped on site. And these are people who voluntarily call us to upgrade - not angry fans forced to use Web streaming to watch out of area games.

Now, those fans have a product that is worse than they had last year, is apparently untested and unable to keep up with demand - especially with the cable wrangling going down to the wire - and I can't see how is going to be able to make up ground quickly enough to fix this problem.

Adding in the inconvenience or having to run everything through a computer, now there will be an unusable product, too? I can honestly say that if things don't get better within the five-day trial period, this is money that would be better spent anywhere else.

The last thing baseball needed to do was give angry fans an excuse to pull their cash out of MLB's pockets. I really wonder in future generations of fans will be able to say the name Bud Selig without spitting on the ground as well.

(Image from


Sunday, April 01, 2007

That's Jeter, always screwing things up

As a quick follow up to the Derek Jeter Topps No. 40 card from last night - the one with Mickey Mantle and George W. Bush looking on - I got a little more information today as I headed to a card shop in the Twin Cities.

It seems that every yahoo with a few bucks in their pocket has been snapping up as many Topps cards as they can find in the hopes of finding a rarer version of the card.

What this has done is drive the price of unopened boxes and packs through the roof.

I was reminded again about how many different sets are now available and how the prices are getting out of hand.

If I ran a card company, I think one of the first things I'd do would be to release a no-frills card set that wouldn't have strange autographs, special inserts or complete subsets dedicated to Ken Griffey, Jr.

Instead, you'd pay $30 or $40 for a box of cards that would just be 600 players and it would leave the hobby open to knuckleheads like me and kids looking to drop a dollar per pack at the corner store.

I ask you, how would the world not be a better place with me in a position of power.

(Image pulled from eBay)