Thursday, November 12, 2009

6 comments Random Thoughts: Me Being Critical Edition

Sometimes there are articles I read which aren’t worthy of a full post but I still would like to talk about them on this blog. I can’t let even the smallest piece of bad journalism or journalism I disagree with go unnoticed. That’s un-American and should never happen. Hang on to your hats or any other article of clothing available because we are going all around sports for some random thoughts on topics that have interested me lately.

-I am sure a lot of you have seen Sammy Sosa’s Michael Jackson-esque skin transformation. It’s just classic and fantasticly awesome that his skin looks like it is slowly turning whiter. Why would anyone go out in public like that? Sosa claims the lights caused him to look whiter, which I don't believe at all. Of course I personally have never really liked Sammy Sosa for various reasons (yes, I realize I am probably the only person in the world who doesn't like Sosa), which I am going to list before I comment on the article:

1. I always hated how he ran out to right field at the beginning of the game for the Chicago Cubs. Yes, I know he pumped the Wrigley faithful up and I am sure millions of children were so inspired by his joy for the game while he sprinted out to right field that they immediately became involved in charities in their communities. I always found it to be a bit annoying because it just seemed so self-involved to me. He ran out there and I felt like it was less about him going to right field for the beginning of the game and more about him wanting to alert everyone in the crowd that he was currently appearing in right field and the time was right to cheer for him in a loud voice. Trot, skip or jog out to your position in right field, there is no need to draw more attention to your self by running. In a way it shows up his teammates in my mind. Of course from the stories I have heard about life in the Sosa-era Cubs clubhouse, he didn't give a crap about his teammates there either.

2. He cheated two ways. He corked his bat AND was a user of PEDs. Yes, I know a lot of people did it at the time and many still cheat. In fact, Robin Yount recently had one of his bats go on sale that was reportedly corked. So even the gritty, white, mullet wearing players were cheating before we all knew how bad the cheating really was. I am sure 50% of MLB was using what are now illegal PEDs or a corked bat at some point. My point is that I don’t know of a person who used a corked bat AND was found to have used PEDs…other than Sammy Sosa. I suspect Albert Belle, but he only has achieved half of this accomplishment so far. So that gives me permission to dislike Sosa for cheating in two different ways, so I will.

3. I just never liked Sammy Sosa. Sue me. He always annoyed me. I would worry about him reading what I have written here, but since in front of Congress when testifying about PED use in baseball he was having trouble speaking English, I will assume he isn’t so great at reading English either.

On to the article and the reasoning behind Sammy Sosa’s new whiter appearance:

Sammy Sosa says a cosmetic cream he uses to soften his skin is the reason for his lighter skin tone.

Is the purpose of this cosmetic cream to make a person’s skin look whiter over a period of time? I am not a huge buyer of skin creams but I have never heard of a skin cream that makes a person’s skin change four shades from light brown to ghost white. Maybe I just don’t know anyone who uses this cream. Though, from Sosa’s history with PEDs and any excuses he may make about how he didn’t know what he was using, is it safe to assume Sosa didn’t know what the cream would do to his face? He is like every other baseball player who gets handed ointments, creams or drugs and just immediately puts it into his system without thinking.

He looks creepy white. Look at the picture. He looks like Michael Jackson’s slightly overweight brother. I keep waiting to see the new white Sammy Sosa pop up out of a grey van and ask me if I want candy and then try to abduct me. Look at his hair color and the contrast to his face color. His hair looks like it used to be salt and pepper dark while his face was a light brown. Now that his face has gotten pale white, his hair has gone back to what looks to be a darker color. I don’t know, maybe it’s the light and how it is shining on him, but I find it funny his face skin color and hair keep changing colors inversely.

Sosa says he has been using the cream for a long time, and combined with bright TV lights, it made his face look whiter than it really is.

If we are being technical, he wasn’t really on television. He was in a line to have his picture taken. I know flashes can see through sheer black clothing on the red carpet, but I wasn’t aware that a lethal combination of skin cream and bright lights could cause someone’s skin to look whiter. As far as I know, this has never happened to any other celebrity or person on the red carpet.

Sosa says he is not trying to look like late pop star Michael Jackson and is not suffering from any skin illness.

Sammy Sosa wants to make it clear that he looks like a freak not because he idolized Michael Jackson and his look, nor is he sick because of any type of skin disease, but he looks like a freak because of his own doing. So if he knew he was going to the Latin Grammys (where the picture was taken) why didn’t he lay off the cream a little bit? I find it hard to believe this is the first time he has applied the cream and then gone out into public. How much of this cream exactly did he use? I can’t imagine just a little bit of the cream would cause him make this pale.

Sosa made his remarks on the Univision Spanish network. He declined to identify the cream.

Probably this is a good idea. You wouldn’t want sales to go through the roof when people who want to look like Michael Jackson find out they can expedite the process and skip all the surgery and skin whitening and just use a cream to bleach their skin.

-Hasheem Thabeet broke his jaw the other night in the Grizzlies game against the Trail Blazers. Thabeet was one of my favorite targets to mock for potentially being a bust in the NBA when I was talking about this last year’s NBA Draft. In fact I have given him a new nickname in honor of my feelings towards him. I will call him Hasheem “Thabust.” Very creative I know. The best part about how Thabeet broke his jaw is exactly how he broke his jaw. Was he going up for a rebound and took an elbow to the jaw, was he blocking a shot and got hit in the face or was he making a move to the basket in an attempt to score? Not exactly.

The 7-foot-3 center from UConn was injured late in the first quarter during a battle under the Memphis basket.

I wonder how the Grizzlies are going to manage to survive the next game or two when Thabust is unable to play? How will they manage to replace his 0.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg, and 6 minutes per game? I know he is still young and hasn’t been playing basketball for that long, so we can't expect that much from him...but he plays for the Grizzlies. Even their fans know the team is hopeless. How does even a halfway competent big man not get 10-15 minutes per game just based on being tall and playing for Memphis? Just know that Thabust is already 22 years old and will be 23 years old by the end of the basketball year. It’s not like he is fresh out of high school or anything. I try really hard not to be critical of Thabust, but other than the fact he was tall and could block shots based on that fact, he never showed me that much in college that would make me think he can useful in the NBA.

I don’t dislike Thabust or anything, so I am willing to admit his 0.9 blocks per game isn’t too shabby and I don’t think he will ever have a hard time blocking shots in the NBA. He could probably block many just by accident. Of course Shawn Bradley didn’t have trouble blocking shots either and he has become a national punchline. I am still sticking to my claim that Hasheem Thabust was not even close to being worth the #2 pick in the draft and I know we haven’t had a lot to go on this year, but he is averaging very few minutes on a really crappy team. Let’s get to how Thabust broke his jaw:

Replays appeared to show Thabeet’s jaw colliding with forward Zach Randolph’s head.

Is Zach Randolph good for anything? If Thabust's jaw had gotten hit by any other part of Randolph he wouldn't have gotten hurt because the shock would have been absorbed by Randolph's doughy body. But now Randolph is injuring his own players with his head. So to recap, a fairly useless basketball player who has an enormous contract and zero motivation injured one of his teammates who was a highly drafted rookie struggling to earn minutes with a crappy team. This happened to the Grizzlies just a couple days after Allen Iverson decided that God did not want him to play for the Grizzlies anymore…just a few months after God announced to Iverson he should play for the Grizzlies. That God fellow sure does waffle a whole lot like Brett Favre. I wish he could make up his mind.

The conclusion we can draw is that the Grizzlies are still fucked.

-It’s free agent season in MLB, which means it is time for columnists to come out with lists of players who are good buys or bad buys. These lists have about as much relevance as a mock draft, yet we still read them and sportswriters still write them. Last time we heard from Bert Blyleven he was telling baseball players what it takes to succeed in the playoffs by bragging about all of his accomplishments in the postseason. Today, Bert Blyleven decides instead of making list, he is just going to list the pitchers who he thinks are good buys this offseason. I just want to warn everyone, Bert has not ever heard of a “contract year.”

Pitching undoubtedly will be a huge focus as teams look to shore up their staffs for 2010.

I don’t believe it. This may be the first time ever pitching has been actively searched for in free agency. Usually no one cares about pitching, which is why there have never been huge contracts given to pitchers who are free agents. Has there been an offseason in the past 10 years when pitching hasn't been a huge focus of teams?

I don’t think it’s a particularly strong market for pitching this winter.

No kidding. Take a look at this list and who do think is the second best pitcher behind John Lackey that is available through free agency? Could it be Rich Harden or Erik Bedard? The fact there is a legitimate debate answers the question.

Then what do you do in what is a thin pitching market? There are some interesting names out there with impressive track records: Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Brad Penny and Randy Wolf among them.

Not a single one of those pitchers deserve anything more than a two year deal. Now that is a thin pitching market. Still there are a couple of guys I would take a chance on in that list and I think four of these guys should be on a Top 10 list ranking of available free agent pitchers. Three of the pitchers that Bert puts on his list I am not sure if I would put in the Top 10 at all...but he thinks they are the top pitchers in this year's free agent class.

But in my mind, there are some better options than all of those names. Here are my top four starters, with one reliever thrown into the mix.

Here are Bert Blyleven’s top 4 starters and one reliever. These are the guys who he believes are pitchers #1-5 in the free agent market, not pitchers who are diamonds in the rough, but the best pitchers available through free agency this year.


No one in their right mind would argue with this. Clearly, Lackey is the #1 starter in this free agent class.

JASON MARQUIS (31) 15-13, 4.04 ERA in 2009 with the Rockies

Marquis will certainly be an afterthought this offseason, but he is a solid, consistent pitcher who is only 31, and could be a good bargain as a free agent.

There is a chance he is an afterthought because he isn’t that good of a pitcher. Now I do have to admit he is consistent. He is consistently just average to below average. Let’s take a look at his numbers since 2005:

2005: 13-14 4.13 ERA 1.329 WHIP
2006: 14-16 6.02 ERA 1.523 WHIP
2007: 12-9 4.60 ERA 1.388 WHIP
2008: 11-9 4.53 ERA 1.449 WHIP
2009: 15-13 4.04 ERA 1.380 WHIP

He is consistent in that he will always be a consistent #4 or #5 starter in a contender’s rotation at the very best. He pitches innings but he has never been more than a league average pitcher and he probably will never be more than that. Is it a coincidence he had his best year as a pro in a contract year? Probably not. Please remember these are all his numbers in the National League. In the American League it is possible he has no value. (I know, I am being harsh today)

JOEL PINIERO (31) 15-12, 3.49 ERA in 2009 with the Cardinals

Piniero is an awful lot like Marquis. A guy proven to be a winner when healthy, a solid No. 2 or 3 starter for any team.

First off, Marquis is not a proven winner nor is he or Piniero a solid #2 or #3 starter when healthy. Piniero has had some injury problems but he also hasn’t been an incredibly effective starter when he was healthy. I know injuries can hurt a pitcher's effectiveness, but I still don't think he is a #2 or #3 starter in MLB. You can judge for yourself.

Piniero had a career year this year, which also happened to coincide with his contract year. Again, what a coincidence! Nothing against Piniero because if my favorite team signed him I wouldn't be upset, but I would be upset if he was the #2 or #3 starter for them. He thrived under Dave Duncan and without him I would be concerned he would regress.

And if you’re worried that he simply found magic under the guiding hand of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, remember that Piniero also had success in Seattle, going 14-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 2002, and 16-11 with a 3.78 ERA in 2003.

I don't really care he had two good seasons 6 and 7 seasons ago! His bad, injury filled seasons still number more than his healthy, productive seasons. That's not a good risk in my opinion. The fact he had two straight good seasons 6 and 7 years ago respectively shouldn't completely override the fact that Piniero hasn’t been completely healthy or effective for every season since then, excluding 2009 of course. Isn’t that the type of pitcher every team wants? A perennially injured, average starter? What, that doesn’t sound like a #2 or #3 starter to you either?

Bert also wants you to know that Piniero is only 31 years old too! Please don’t worry about the fact he was injured a lot when he was younger, I am sure his body actually grows stronger and less injury prone as he gets older.

CARL PAVANO (33, turns 34 on Jan. 8) 14-12, 5.10 ERA with Indians and Twins in 2009

Somewhere every New York Yankees fan reading this is laughing. Even though I don’t know how much intelligence Bert has, he has to be smarter than to fall for Carl Pavano. He has had 1 good year of pitching while he was in the major leagues and 2 years that were passable as decent. That's it. It just so happens two of those years he pitched passably well were also his contract years. Shouldn't that concern Bert Blyleven a little bit when he was making his list? Forget Pavano's name, pretend his name is James Anthony, and take a look at these numbers. Tell me this is a good enough pitcher who you would think is a Top 5 starter in even the worst pitching free agent class. There is no way.

Pavano had four miserable seasons in New York, as everything went wrong and he just couldn’t stay healthy.

What Bert means by “miserable seasons” is “Pavano got minorly injured and then refused to pitch for the rest of the year for some unknown reason. What he means by “everything went wrong” is “he lied about how he got injured and pissed off all of his teammates by not rehabbing hard enough to contribute to the team.”

Hopefully the Twins will keep him in the fold. He was a good leader and a strong presence in the clubhouse, taking a lot of pressure off young pitchers like Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker. I was very impressed with his work ethic and the way he went about his business.

If Bert really was impressed with Pavano and his work ethic, then he would be the first person I have ever heard talk about Pavano in a favorable fashion. What kind of advice and counseling is he giving the young pitchers for the Twins?

"If you ever get injured away from the baseball field, immediately make up a lie about what happened and then sit out the the rest of the year."

"The key to alienating your teammates is to go to Tampa to rehab at the team's facility there instead of working hard and traveling with the team...this works especially well if the team you play for needs starting pitching help during the year and you aren't around."

Everyone should read “Living on the Black” by John Feinstein sometime to hear what Mike Mussina and the rest of the Yankees thought about Pavano and his work ethic. He is a risk at best and an absolutely mistake signing for more than a one year deal at worst.

The last guy Bert picked was JJ Putz and as far as relievers go, he may be a good risk for a team. He may not be a Top 5 pitcher in this free agent class, but he is better than the other guys Bert mentioned here. Apparently Bert Blyleven has never heard of a “contract year” and these three guys I talked about all are over the age of 31 and had their best years in contract years. It is not a coincidence.

-Our long national dream is over. The Browns have put Brady Quinn back in the starting lineup. Now we can’t see the epic depths that Derek Anderson is able to achieve. So it looks like JaMarcus Russell and Jake Delhomme can fight it out for the worst quarterback of the 2009 season. I wanted Brady Quinn in the lineup, but I thought it would never happen. I got what I wanted, but I still wanted to see how bad Derek Anderson can be. Of course in typical Browns fashion, they have chosen to start Quinn against the Ravens who are coming off a tough loss to the Bengals…and the game is on Monday Night Football. Just a brilliant move. This should keep the pressure off Quinn and put him in a position to succeed. The Browns un-bench Quinn for a game against a team with a good defense coming off a tough loss to a division rival and the game is on national television.

Browns coach Eric Mangini has decided to go back to Quinn after Anderson went 1-4 as a starter and posted the NFL's lowest quarterback rating (36.2). Mangini said he would like to stick with Quinn for the remainder of the season.

(A tear slowly falls down Bengoodfella’s face at what could have been with Derek Anderson starting for the Browns all year)

Mangini has been impressed with Quinn's work ethic since being demoted.

When the other quarterback on the roster has a QB rating of 36.2, do you really need to use the “work ethic” excuse to replace that quarterback? All you have to say is, "Derek Anderson sucks and we want to attempt to be competent and plan for next year. We need to know if Brady Quinn can be an NFL quarterback, so if he can't, we can draft a player who could be an NFL quarterback. Derek Anderson sucks."

The best part of the story is that Eric Mangini claims he didn’t know about the clause in Quinn’s contract that gave him salary escalators for 70% of the snaps this year.

Judge asked Mangini about the possibility that Quinn was benched due to the escalator clause. And here's what Mangini said."No, absolutely not. With all the different contracts. . . . I don't know what the incentives are. But that wouldn't make my decision [even if I did]."

Really? This is the point where Bill Simmons would write, “Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2009 Cleveland Browns!”

So the head coach of the Cleveland Browns did not know there were escalators in Brady Quinn’s contract that gave him more money for taking 70% of the snaps? If that is true, then Mangini was the only person who follows football closely who didn’t know about this. More than likely I think Mangini is outright lying here, which is typical in football, but if he isn't lying and really didn't know about the clause in Quinn's contract, he has reached new levels coaching ignorance.

I don’t see how Mangini lasts as Browns coach after this year. He is like Bill Belichick’s mentally handicapped younger brother (not to insult mentally handicapped people, I love them, and they can not help their fate in life. It is an insult to compare something out of a person’s control to the idiocy that is Eric Mangini…which is completely in his control). He is Bill Belichick if Bill Belichick decided he was going to do everything completely and utterly wrong in building a franchise. If Belichick felt a gut instinct and went the other way from it or did the exact opposite from how he would normally do it, that’s Eric Mangini.

-It took two losses but now Woody Paige is calling for Kyle Orton to be benched.

To give themselves a jump-start, the Broncos should give Chris Simms the start against Washington on Sunday.

He believes that Chris Simms is a better option for Denver. I admit I began the season thinking the Broncos should give Simms more of a shot to be the starting quarterback in Denver, but I was wrong. I’ll say it again, I was wrong. Orton was the right guy and I think he has proven that. The Broncos have lost to the Steelers and the Ravens. It’s not like they lost to two shitty teams who have yet to win a game. They lost to the two participants in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Don't hit the panic button at this point. The Broncos have no quarterback on the roster who can do better than Orton is doing right now.

Kyle Orton hasn't performed awfully (except for the three interceptions Monday night). Yes, the Broncos still have won six games — but he is what he is — the 18th-best quarterback in the NFL. And the Broncos are a reflection of that number. They are 22nd in scoring (18.8 points per game), just ahead of the Titans, and behind, ahem, the Bears. They are 19th overall in offense, 17th in passing, 18th in rushing.

Part of the reason the Broncos are playing well is because Orton isn’t trying to do too much and he is managing the game. Seriously, quarterback changes are a desperate move for a team and they are not a move that a 6-2 team generally makes unless that team’s coaching staff is a bunch of morons.

It has been suggested, wisely, by my columnist colleagues at Postmortem that the Broncos start Correll Buckhalter at running back, which they did against Pittsburgh, and open up the offense, which they didn't do. It doesn't matter who starts at running back, and McDaniels can't unleash the offense with Orton.

Yes, you can tell from Chris Simms’ career numbers that he isn’t exactly the type of quarterback who needs the offense unleashed with him at the helm. He is not exactly a horrible quarterback but he would basically end up being a left handed version of Kyle Orton for this year. Look at Orton’s career numbers and they are similar or exceed what Simms has done in his career. Both options aren’t fantastic, but 6-2 teams don’t change quarterbacks.

When I suggested this move to a rather large cheese at The Post, he said: "Simms hasn't played since early in the 2006 season."

Orton only played three games in 2006-07 after being benched, following 15 starts in 2005, before the Bears went on to the Super Bowl. Simms has started 15 NFL games.

So basically Orton has more starts in one year than Simms has for his career. Woody really has no point here.

Yeah, but Simms has a stronger arm. Orton's lack of arm strength was revealed twice against Pittsburgh when he tried to make throws off his back foot and couldn't get the ball to open receivers.

Chris Simms isn’t exactly the model of arm strength either. Really, Simms is a less experienced, more mobile version of Kyle Orton. Let's all recall how Chris Simms didn't start his entire senior year at Texas because Major Applewhite was beating him out for the starting quarterback position. Remember that? How come Woody doesn't? I am not down on Simms, in fact I thought he should get a chance to start this year, but the loss of two straight games to tough teams after a 6 game winning streak is not the reason to change quarterbacks.

McDaniels told me he doesn't care to switch quarterbacks in midgame or midseason, but, then, he had Tom Brady as his quarterback at New England, and who's going to remove him?

This has nothing to do with Tom Brady or who the backup in New England was or wasn’t, it has to do with the options available to the Denver Broncos, which aren’t vast. This has nothing to do with Tom Brady or when Josh McDaniels would or would not switch out a starting quarterback for the backup. What McDaniels should have said is that he doesn’t care to switch quarterbacks while the team has a 6-2 record. Maybe Woody Paige is hitting the panic button a bit too early here?


AJ said...

All those mentions of creams in the sosa article...everytime I saw it I thought of Balco and the cream.

Oh man, these pitchers on this list are looking real good. This is going to be a horrible off season for pitchers. I am hearing a name being shopped around...Edwin Jackson. Maybe this off season will be more about trades then it will about free agents.

It was only a matter of time before Quinn got the start again. You could put just about anyone on that team and they won't win much. I do hope they beat the Lions though.

Not a bad trip to Vegas...didn't really win, didn't really lose. Me and my friend did win on the Lions though, always good to have them to bet against! I sucked at picking the college games (go figure, I'm winning our pickem league) but made a nice little comeback picking the NFL games. Of course, the Eagels screwed me the last night, but whatever.

Bengoodfella said...

Everytime I wrote it I thought of BALCO as well. I also thought of shaving cream as well, for some reason.

That list of pitchers available this offseason is horrible. It's horrific and the worst part is that somehow Blyleven somehow managed to pick the most mediocre starters to say were good. He will never convince me Marquis and Pavano are worth taking a shot on. Maybe if you gave Pavano a one year deal.

It's all about the trades this offseason. Every Braves starter outside of Jurrjens, Hudson and Hanson are on the trading block for a corner outfielder. I think Halliday will go this offseason, as well as Felix Hernandez.

Of course, Quinn had to start. There is no doubt the Browns have to figure out if he can do the job or not. It would be pure incompetence to not do this.

That's the best news ever when coming back from Vegas...that you didn't do well or poorly, it means you didn't lose all your money. I bet it was Bill Simmons epically good though.

You are doing a good job at the Pick 'Em league this year, but I am planning on coming back and hoping you have a few more bad weeks at picking games. I don't know if I could ever pick games in the NFL. I don't have a great grasp of them for some reason.

Martin said...

I preferred Off the Wall to Thriller. Sammy looks terrible. I've never much liked him either.

Blyleven is a nut job.

Bengoodfella said...

I actually didn't like Thriller either. It's too played out for me. Sammy is creepy looking now. He looks like some sort of child molester or something to me.

Bert Blyleven is a nut job.

KentAllard said...

There is a cream that gradually whitens your skin, so Sosa may be using that. It is commonly used by people with vitiglio. An interesting trivia fact: Vitiglio has been linked to steroid use.

There seems to be a fine crop of fourth or fifth starters in baseball this year. Blyleven makes more sense when he's drunk.

I wish Mangini had said "Brady Quinn spends all his time lying on his back on the training table, mainlining heroin. But for fuck's sake, he could spike the ball on every passing play and we'd be better off than with Derek Anderson."

Notice that Mangenius said he'd "like" to keep starting Quinn. That means he'll have regrets when he benches Quinn after the third play against the Ravens and goes back to Anderson.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't know why anyone would want to use a cream that gradually whitens your skin, but I don't understand a lot of things that go on in the world. It's interesting the cream has a link to steroids.

Yeah, if teams are looking to overpay for a solid #4/#5 starter this is the offseason to do that. Or they could take a chance on a player with a higher ceiling like Harden on a one year deal.

Actually, the Browns might be better if Quinn did just throw every ball incomplete. His QB rating would almost be as high as Anderson's.

I have a feeling we will see Derek Anderson again before the year is over.