140 thoughts on “June 14, 2011: Lopsided?”

  1. I'll be at the game on Thursday with much of the Hayes family. It would have been Ma & Pops Hayes' 21st wedding anniversary*, so Ma & the kids thought we'd do something the whole family enjoyed doing together. If you're going to be there, drop me a line.

    * Just to be clear, I'm the product of an earlier marriage.

  2. In realignment news, the Diamondbacks sound much more open to moving to the American League than they did under former owner Jerry Colangelo:

    Responding to a USA Today report that the D-backs and Astros would be the most likely candidates to switch to the American League if realignment happens, D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said his club would consider the move.

    "If asked, we will look into it if it's in the best interests of baseball," Hall said. "However, we have to balance it against what is in the best interest of our fans."

    "I personally am a National League fan -- from the pace of the game and from the strategy that is involved without the designated hitter," Hall said. "However, we would certainly gauge the interest of our fans, our season-ticket holders, to see if this is something that we should look into if asked."

    That would likely mean the Astros would move into the NL West. If any team switches leagues, I think I'm most amenable to it being Arizona.

    1. I could handle interleague all season if realignment is minimal. In terms of long standing rivals, the Twins are in just about the optimum position. If they could replace Cleveland with Milwaukee, that would be cool, but otherwise, I like having these teams in our division.

      1. I'd rather they did nothing, which may just mean that I'm old. The main things I'm opposed to are: 1) adding more wild card teams and 2) eliminating divisions altogether (can you imagine trying to promote a fifteenth-place team?). Baseball is the one sport in which the concept of a pennant race still exists, because it's the one sport in which finishing first still means something. I'd hate to see that go away.

        I could handle one team switching leagues and constant interleague play; that's not to say I'd like it, but eventually I'd get used to it. I think, though, that these realignment plans are a way of avoiding a problem rather than solving it. If Boston and New York have become so strong that they're impossible to compete with, the solution is to find a way to level the playing field, not to create more wild card spots or to realign the teams.

        1. The solution to The Problem is relatively simple. Baseball needs a third team in NY. Now, make it happen, Bud!

          1. Population-wise, that will work. However, that third team is going to be trying to claim the fandom of lifelong Yankee fans (good luck pulling the front-runners away) and Mets fans (good luck pulling the people willing to suffer away). I don't think plopping a new team in town will solve the issue too well. It's not like there are millions of New Yorkers just waiting for a team they can call their own.

            That's not to say I have a better solution. I just don't think it's that simple.

            1. It obviously wouldn't be a short-term fix, but the Yankees existed long before the Mets and the Mets still have enough of a fan base to support a $100M+ payroll. I think if you brought a team in and associated it with a borough, like Brooklyn, eventually you'd have good local support for that team. Surely the Mets cut out some of the Yankees' revenue streams and a third team would cut out more.

              I think there also needs to be some control on how many elite players any one team can sign (like a hard salary cap with each team able to exempt three contracts from the salary cap) in order to really stop what the Yankees are doing, but I think a third team in NY could be a successful franchise, which is probably a more compelling reason even than just that it would hurt the Yankees.

              1. The Mets also were created as a way to give all the Dodger/Giants fans an outlet to continue to avoid the Yankees. That no longer exists.

                1. I think the Yankees make a bunch of money off of casual fans in NY with no special attachment to the Yankees other than that they win. It's easy to say that it's not going to work, but the population is just incredibly large and ticket prices to Yankees games are obscene. As I noted, it wouldn't work without doing something else to limit the Yankees' short-term success, but if you started a team in Brooklyn today, in 10-20 years, if the Yankees have a few sub-.500 seasons, I think a Brooklyn franchise would be in a better position than Tampa Bay is today.

                  1. Heck, if the team is in the same division as the Yankees, they could mark up Yankees games to half Yankee Stadium prices and make a killing off their fans.

                1. New Jersey seems like a better alternative to me, given that the Mets effectively claimed both Queens and Brooklyn (I'm not sure how much of Upper Manhattan/Harlem ever became Mets fans after the Giants left, or if that's disputed territory now, or what). Could Newark/Jersey City support a team?

                2. I'd be open to looking at it. I'd guess you'd have to put the team in Trenton to make it really work as a NJ team, and does Trenton have enough corporate support to make it work?

                  1. Then again, Trenton's probably too close to Philly. I guess that's the rub with the NJ sports market. Plenty of those in Newark and Trenton probably don't really identify as much with NJ as the adjacent metropolises. At least that's my impression.

                    1. I was thinking along the lines of the Devils, Giants, Nets, and Jets.
                      A third NYC team, just across state lines, rather than having to find an appropriate borough.

                    2. I think it's a bit harder to do that with baseball, since the compact schedule magnifies difficulties with travel to/from the stadium. Any good plan for a new franchise puts the ballpark in the middle of the population that it is serving.

                      If there was a new Brooklyn team, say, to be successful they'd need a location like where Ebbets Field was. It essentially takes an hour to get from the Ebbets location to Yankee Stadium, and that's part of the reason I think you'd be able to create fans. It'd be so much more convenient to get to the ballpark fifteen minutes each way than it would be 60 minutes each way. And according to Google maps, to get from Brooklyn to Citi Field is about 60 minutes on the subway as well. I think New Yorkers from Brooklyn would identify more strongly with a team they were able to see conveniently in person as long as the team was competitive.

                  2. Trenton has the New Jersey State Prison, which has two maximum security wings. The "Trenton Convicts" would certainly be interesting, but I don't think Trenton is large enough (population under 90,000) or has enough corporate support.

                    Newark, on the other hand, has several companies - Prudential, IDT, BCBS New Jersey, and the Port. Plus, it has good public transportation and Newark International. And it might just have enough graft to get the job done. Per Newsweek:

                    Newark, where every mayor since 1962 (except the current one, Cory Booker) has been indicted for crimes committed while in office.

                    1. With George Steinbrenner's passing, baseball does have a need at convicted felon owner. Find a criminal owner to combine with the criminal government and you might have something!

        2. I agree. Getting rid of the divisions would be a huge mistake. The regular season in the NBA and NHL means almost nothing now. If anything, they should check out the model of the NFL. It has eight divisions and it is the most successful pro league in the U.S. by far. Now, I'm not saying having many divisions is a big part of that, but it certainly hasn't hurt. If you're going to emulate a league, that should be the one.

          1. Part of the reason the NHL and NBA regular seasons mean so little is that the playoff pool is so expanded. Half of the teams make it, and there's a good chance that a team with a losing record is a playoff team. (Less so in the NHL, where OT games award 3 points, so the average record is "winning".)

            Which goes to why I'm against expanding the playoffs further.

            But I could be behind four divisions and no wild cards:
            AL West: Ms, Angels, Athletics, Rangers
            AL Midwest: Twins, Rays, Royals, ChiSox
            AL Mideast: Tigers, Cleveland, Toronto, Orioles
            AL East: Yanks, BoSox

            Spoiler SelectShow

            NL West: Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Dbacks
            NL Midwest: Rox, Cubs, Cards, Brewers
            NL South: Braves, Marlins, Stros, Reds
            NL Northeast: Mets, Phils, Nats, Pirates

            1. The trick seems to be having a season/playoff structure that is short enough so that most of your teams remain in contention for something for most of the season. Baseball maintains enough parity that many teams feel they are in contention through the trade deadline. The only reason I like a 10-team format is if the 10-team format disadvantages the 4th and 5th seeds (by subjecting them to a last-minute one-game playoff) so that teams have a good reason to fight both for the top seed and for the third seed. I can see where in a 14-16-team league, just having two playoff spots might put too many teams out of contention by the trade deadline.

              Home court in a 7-game series doesn't seem like a big enough incentive for top teams to fight hard for playoff position at the end of the season. I'd guess the end of the NBA season would play out differently if there were 3-game playoff series or if the top seed had home court in games 1,2,4,5,7 of a playoff series. The alternative would be to shorten the NBA season somewhat to keep there from being too many games at the end of the season which mainly matter to the 6-7 teams in the league fighting for the last playoff spots. There's probably not enough parity in the NBA where just dropping playoff spots would improve the situation. Leaving the season as is with fewer playoff spots would just leave a lot more lottery teams without much to play for at the end of the season. If they upped parity in the NBA, giving incentives for top players to play on different teams, they could probably keep their current format and the regular season would be really compelling.

            2. Not that it would ever happen, but I love your idea of segregating the Yankees and Red Sox into their own division so that one of them would miss the playoffs every year.

                1. Right, and ESPN and Fox could have like 30 games between them every season, and if they tie, there's a tiebreaker play-in game! Everyone wins!

        3. I think that eliminating divisions would be a big mistake with a league that covers such a vast geographical region. With four time zones and a grueling schedule, having somewhat unbalanced schedules can help to reduce the wear and tear on players from travel.

    1. Yikes. That one's a definite turn-off. And I'll admit that I wouldn't be against an occasional culling of the already established header herd.

        1. heh. that's why i like that one...

          anyway, unless it's a resource hog, i don't see the need to pull any. i'm not saying this because i created a chunk. i would actually advocate even more. i love having a wide selection that randomly pulls up from time to time. my computer desktop at home changes automatically every few minutes (a pretty cool little feature of windows 7), and i have at least 100 different desktops in the queue.

          so, i say, let's make some more, nation.

          1. I might suggest that while this is mainly a site for Twins fans, it also has been traditionally a site for the Wolves. I'm not a huge Wolves fan, but I think a Wolves-themed banner should be representative of the site.

            1. For a couple of bucks, I could get the rights to this one, which would be a nice place to start a derivative work for the banner representing 20+ years of T-Wolves basketball.

        2. All the new ones are hungry joe creations. I resisted the Tolbert one for a very long time, but I wanted to see what people thought.

          1. Count me as a supporter of the Tolbertin Tolbert banner. Its hideousness is a perfect representation of his game. That one is deep with symbolism.

        3. I have no desire to pull yours, E. It's a touch of class among hj's sea of intentional idiocy. That said, if you want to replace it or add another, don't hesitate.

            1. When it's ready, Rhu_Ru, attach it in an email to me. There's a lot of hungry joe up there right now, so a little more variety in representation would be cool.

    1. Does it make me a bad person if I hope he is forced to retire without collecting #3000?

      1. I would be fine with the Heat winning the next 5 NBA titles if this happened.

        1. I'd rather see the Captain break Pete Rose's record than the South Beach Beyotches winning even one title.

          1. I would like to see Miami win, right after they trade LeBron to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

    2. Bah. 3,000 hits is for also-rans. I can't wait for Jeter's 4,000th hit, which I was told as late as last season was surely just around the corner.

    3. This one killed me:

      Sixteen seasons of manning the most physically taxing position in the sport -- outside of the masked man behind the plate, of course -- have stripped the shortstop of his explosiveness and left him to rely on his resourcefulness, experience and smarts.

      It's a lot more to the point to say that he's had sixteen seasons of manning the second-most physically taxing position in the sport, but of course that doesn't make his accomplishments sound as Jeterian. (Given the injury rate for pitchers, I'd maybe even downgrade SS to third-most physically taxing.)

      1. Considering they play the fewest innings of any player, pitcher should definitely be considered the most taxing. Catcher is the only other position that requires routine off days.

      2. Did it ever occur to any of these idiots that if Jeter had moved to centerfield five years ago like he should have he might still be going strong?

      1. I think they should be more concerned that Jeter doesn't have much value anymore period, but even if they think so, they'll never say it. I'm loving the fact that the golden boy won't give in and demands playing time, and even though he's been a prima donna all career long, the team has been touting him as the greatest team player in baseball's history so now they can't bench him without an outcry from the fans.

        Love it.

  3. I hope this isn't taken to be too far into the banished topic, but this headline just made me giggle.

    Boehner adds to calls for Weiner resignation

      1. He might, but not for more than about say, four hours, after which it can become problematic, or so I've heard.

  4. Given the current team MVP's ability to man (though not necessarily "play" or "field") several positions on the diamond, I think a link to Harmon Killebrew and "Veratility", published yesterday at Baseball Analysts, is appropriate. The strategy the Twins and Reds used works particularly well in fantasy baseball if one is fortunate enough to have players eligible at multiple positions and can hit well enough to play every day (sorry, Cuddles).

    1. I have Cuddyer on my fantasy team precisely because he has 4-position eligibility (1B, 2B, 3B, and OF). He's not an ideal starter, but it helps me keep from having holes in the lineup.

        1. Makes me wish UZR was one of our scoring categories. (Hey, Delmon would apparently have some fantasy value this year if it was!)

          1. I've said before that a few saber-friendly stats would be an interesting addition. UZR isn't so great over the course of a single season, though.

            1. I would love to, say, use something DIPS-oriented in place of ERA. Not only does it tell you more about what the individual pitcher's doing, it also ought to be generally easier to predict and gauge value-wise season-to-season. (The biggest problem with using advanced defensive stats for fantasy, in my mind, is that making meaningful projections for them for any single season would be nearly impossible because of that large-sample necessity.)

    2. That would be an interesting study to compare the runs a player costs a team as a good hit, bad glove compared to the runs gained by the player allowed to be in the lineup for the defensive switch. As for Cuddyer, he is an above-average hitter for every position except first base, including DH, and I'm not sure he really hurts the team on defense at first, at least not this year with Morneau's struggles with his neck. His OPS (.770) is nearly 100 points better than the average AL second baseman. And of course, his offense is even better when compared to Tolbert and I don't know if Cuddyer is all that much worse defensively than Luke Hughes and Cuddyer certainly is a better hitter than Hughes at this point.

    3. I like your "Veratility" typo there. I thought it might actually be the word you wanted, and wanted to know what kind of a heady essay there was about how true the utility of a utility player is.

      1. In the linked article - this is pretty cool:

        Looking at the brew sheet, the beer seems to be a relatively straight-forward IPA with a couple of minor twists (and I do mean “twists,” hint). Perhaps the greatest differentiating factor, Fremont and Chris Ray plan to age the beer on maple. And not just any maple.
        “Louisville Slugger donated some bats, so were going to sit the beer on those,” Chris tells us.
        The maple bats will be used to lend some extra character to the beer. They will be added to the conditioning tanks. Some of bats will be left whole and pristine, others cut into smaller pieces to help enhance the flavor imparted on the beer. Once the beer is ready, the whole bats will be removed, dried, and autographed by Chris’ teammates. The bats will then be auctioned off to raise money for Operation Homefront.

        1. “I’m not going to do baseball forever. What I really want to do is brew beer, but you can’t pass up the opportunity to play baseball,” he said with a smile and a bit of a laugh, suggesting he recognized the relative absurdity of the statement.


  5. From the Ft. Myers Miracle site after last night's game:

    Making his seventh rehabilitation start from the Minnesota Twins, catcher Joe Mauer finished 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored. Mauer caught all nine innings for the first time since joining the Miracle.

  6. From LEN3, Nishi and Perkins should be back for Wednesday's game.

    Mauer just around the corner and Nathan and Thome in Florida rehabbing. Things are looking up.

  7. For all you fans of big engineering projects, this one is pretty cool.

    In the breezy open lands along San Francisco Bay, just east of Palo Alto, a historic engineering project is taking shape. And even though it sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, it has nothing to do with computers.

    Dozens of construction workers in hard hats are welding together a massive, high-tech digging machine, transported from Japan on cargo ships in 65 crates, that by next month will begin carving a 5-mile-long tunnel under the bay's floor to deliver drinking water to more than 2 million people.

    "It's like the giant worm in the movie 'Dune,' " said Bob Mues, project manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is building the $313 million project.

    1. It must be a one-and-done postseason experience; the 1998 Minnesota Vikings disappointed many fans by losing the NFC Championship Game in overtime after a 15-1 season, but at least they got that far.
      See, they're the Vikings so obviously you should be happy they even won a game.

    2. How did the '99 Bills and the Music City Forward Pass avoid this list? That was one and done.

      1. Well, from what I saw of the list there were only two games. A lot of games would need to be cut for such a short list.

        /doesn't like paying for extra east coast news

  8. I have an off-the-wall, work-related question for the Citizenry. Anybody out there familiar with companies doing IT/database work in the medical insurance field? I'm looking for competitors to ISO Claim Search but know nothing about this industry.

    1. This might have been something I know about, seeing as I work with medical insurance database outputs for my actuary job.

      But I know nothing about this.

    1. Fatigue sabotages reaction time? I'm glad there are neurologists willing and able to help us with these otherwise baffling conditions. I wonder how much funding Dr. W. Christopher Winter acquired for his research.

      In other news, sky blue, water wet.

  9. Someone needs to text me the score at ~8:15 or so; I'll be hustling between gates at Chicago-Midway, and I need to know if I should sport my smug look or not.

    1. on a related note, there are ~2' of sandbags around the terminal just below me outside the window of my seat here at the gate at Eppley Field. Gonna be interesting when the College World Series arrives; I'm not sure that the street to the airport will even be open then.

        1. too bad you don't have a little more time here. and going through an airport that i might actually drive close to.

  10. Nishi leading off and playing shortstop for the Wings. He grounded out to shortstop and struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch in his first two at-bats. Mauer has the day off for Ft. Myers, which is playing in Jupiter.

    1. Nishi grounds out sharply in his fourth at-bat. Still 1-0. Perkins warming up in the bullpen. I guess the plan is to have him pitch two innings tonight. Not sure what Scott Diamond's pitch count is, but he's been pitching great. Would hate to see him pulled early just because of a rehab assignment only to have the lead blown. But, the Twins have to take precedence.

  11. USMNT looking a lot better tonight. With a Panama draw against Canada the States will finish atop their group going into the quaterfinals if this result holds.

    1. US has had a lot of good chances tonight, there is no reason they shouldn't have 2-3 on the board. I'd hate to see Guadeloupe put a cheap one in late to make it level.

    2. I thought I read somewhere that Panama drawing against Canada ensured they would win group C regardless of what the US did.

      1. I have no idea why I typed that. You are totally correct. If US wins the are second in the group. Two wins and one loss, six points.

    3. Ummm, Dempsey. What happened there? I am going to need to see a replay but that sure looked like he should have been able to put that in.

    4. Good win for USMNT, 1-0. They will take on Jamica this weekend in the quarters.

        1. If I keep this up I might stop posting when I am tipsy and exhausted.

  12. This is so infuriating. Considering it's Shecky, I wouldn't worry about it except I suspect the Twins use the media as mouthpieces to have them call for personnel changes to gather public support or at least ease the outrage. I can't believe they would displace Valencia because of Hughes hitting well for one whole week. Seriously, seven games ago, Hughes had a .546 OPS on the season. Nevermind that he has a .750 career OPS in the minors compared to Valencia's .820. Or that Hughes has 23 strikeouts to just five walks this season. Valencia has 37 strikeouts to 21 walks in more than twice as many PAs. Even without looking at his balls in play stats, it's been obvious that Valencia has had no luck. This can't last forever. And Valencia is much better defensively than Hughes. I like Hughes. I want him on the roster, but as a replacement for Tolbert, not Hughes. Having Revere replace Young makes far more sense than displacing Valencia. Could they really be that stupid? I guess I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think they just might be.

    1. One of my co-workers asked me who I thought would be sent down with Nishioka, and I responded that it would likely be Valencia. He thought that was lunacy. I think if Morneau wasn't hitting the DL, it would happen, as stupid as that is.

      1. I don't think Valencia is the first to go (I think that's the Dink, who very likely is not more than a replacement-level player) but signs sure are looking good (that is, bad) for him to be one of the others to follow should the sickbay continue to empty.

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