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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Weekend in Sports

I managed to watch a lot of sports this weekend, and while, for the most part, the games weren't that close, I found them particularly enjoyable. So with no further ado, a brief report:

1. Let's start with the Boston Massacre II. (The first one was in 1978 when the Yanks came up to Fenway and swept the BoSox in a four game set outscoring them 42-9. Yes, I know there was also one in 1770 but it did not involve the NY Yankees.) While a final game is currently in progress (0-0 in the 3rd), the Yankees have gone to Fenway and beaten the Red Sox every which way. The first and third games were just old fashion throttlings. In the second game, the Yanks were down 10-8 with two outs in the 7th inning and proceeded to score 6 times. The key hit by . . . Derek Jeter (of course). That was the longest 9 inning game in MLB history, clocking in at a not so manageable 4 hours and 45 minutes.

But last night's game was by far the best of the bunch. The Yanks scored in the 8th and 9th to tie the game (doing so off of rookie phenom Jonathan Papelbon, who has been hittable for the past month or so) and then 3 in the 10th to win it. Once again, Derek Jeter had the key hit, a two out flair single in the 9th to tie the game, the first time the Yanks won a game at Fenway in which they were one out from losing since September 1991--a game I happened to attend! Jeter's performance this weekend has done nothing to hurt his chances of finally winning an MVP (he has gotten votes every year since 1996 except for 2002) although Ortiz definitely has a strong case as well. We'll delve into that debate at another time.

While the Yankees have some weaknesses, the middle relief--their biggest problem--is starting to come around. Scott Proctor has pitched very well of late as has Ron Vallone (although he gave up a bomb to Ortiz last night). Mike Meyers is a good left handed specialist, and Farnsworth is serviceable. And, of course, Rivera to end the game is the best. Ever. Whatever happens today, the Red Sox are likely toast--their pitching is awful, and it is amazing (and a testament to Ortiz and Ramirez) that their record is as good as it is. So while all Yankee fans would love the 5 game sweep, regardless of today's outcome, September should be much more relaxing in the Bronx than in Beantown. October will be another story.

2. While we are on baseball, just a brief shout out to the Twins, who look quite tough coming down the stretch. They are still a game behind the ChiSox in the Wild Card race having taken 2 of 3 this weekend, but if Liriano can come back, they should make the postseason. And they just don't lose with Santana on the mound. He is amazing. Hugo Chavez must be so proud. I'm surprised he hasn't tried to nationalize him.

3. But this is (once again) a Tiger weekend. Every major he wins features some new facet to his game. And once again, when he is prowling, everyone else just falls back. While Nicklaus was regularly challenged (and defeated) by Player, Trevino, and Watson, almost no one has ever gone toe to toe with Tiger and won. (An argument could be made that Michael Campbell and Rich Beem did, but Tiger was trailing at the start of the final round in both tournaments and never led, I believe, on Sunday.) In fact, with rare exception (Chris DiMarco, Bob May), no one even bothers to go toe to toe when Tiger is ahead.

Yesterday, he went out and played immaculate golf for the first 6 holes. Then, when his play was less perfect, he made some amazing shots. On 7, he hit a 5 wood from 250 yards to 15 feet after hitting a terrible drive. (Phil would have tried to hit a great second shot and possibly made 6 or worse while Tiger just punched out.) On 8 he makes a 35 foot putt for birdie, on 9 a great up and down. And with no one making a move, the tournament, in which 8 players were tied early on Saturday, was over after less than 9 holes on Sunday.

Tiger is going to end up with more than 20 majors. I remember when Jack won his 18th at the '86 Masters and thinking that no one could come close. (Jack counts his two US Amateurs to his major count to give him an even 20, but by that count Tiger has 15 as he won 3 Amateurs.) I'm intrigued to see if Tiger can end up with the most titles at each of the four majors. The records: 6 Masters (Nicklaus) and Tiger has 4; 4 U.S. Opens (Nicklaus, Hogan, and Willie Anderson), Tiger has 2; 6 British Opens (Harry Vardon), Tiger has 3; and 5 PGAs (Nicklaus and Walter Hagen), Tiger has 3. So it's definitely doable, and if he keeps playing the way he has, it will happen.

4. I do not care in the least about preseason football. The only way I would care is if Joe Gibbs or some other coach asked me a play a few downs for my own Rudy moment. It is meaningless, and anyone who bets on these games really needs to get some help.

However, I was at a bar on Saturday night were one of the televisions was tuned to the Nats game. As I do not have MASN (although I will as of next Friday! Finally!), I had not seen what it airs other than Nats games. The channel just went to 24 hour coverage, and now I know what a start up sports network televises on a Saturday night--taped CFL games. I'm sure many of you wagered on the battle between the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, so I'm sure it got a great rating. I guess you want to find cheap sports programming, and they found it. I'm also sad that since 2002, there were no longer two teams in the CFL called the Rough Riders/Roughriders. Yes, Ottawa folded, leaving only the Saskatchawan Roughriders. What a league!



Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

Go Twins!

8/21/2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Did you know that Jeter was voted the most overrated player in baseball by other MLB players?

Look at these numbers:

Player A: 93 runs, 44 homers, 117 rbi, 1 stolen, 1.028 OPS (OBP plus SLG) (Ortiz)

Player B: 73 runs 27 homers, 98 rbi, 14 stolens .911 OPS (Vlad)

Player C: 77 runs, 34 homers, 100 rbi, 0 stolens 1.081 OPS (Manny)

Player D: 93 runs, 36 homers, 90 rbi, 0 stolens, 1.034 OPS (Thome)

Player E: 86 runs 10 homers, 76 rbi, 26 stolens, .885 OPS (Jeter)

And all play on playoff contenders. I didn't even include someone like Hafner who is having a great year on a bad team.

Player A is Ortiz, B is Vlad, C is Manny, D is Thome, and E is Jeter.

Jeter's OPS isn't even CLOSE to the other guys. Nor are his RBI or his homers. And sure, I agree that a player's value doesn't just come from homers, and things like stolens are important (although if you read Moneyball, maybe stolens aren't all that important after all. But it IS important to get on base. And his OBP is lower than all of those guys'.

Nor does Jeter lead the league in ANY category. He is seventh (in the AL) in runs (and third on the Yankees), he is 22nd in rbi (and third on the Yankees), he is seventh in stolens (and second on the Yanks, if you could Abreu's overall season totals), he is ninth in on base percentage (not counting guys who haven't played a real season, and only third on the Yankees--he's also behind Manny and Thome in that category), he isn't even in the top 30 in OBP (I just got bored of going through the lists, so I have no clue where he ends up, but I don't even think he makes the top 50.

And that's your MVP?! That's just crazy.

8/21/2006 5:27 PM  
Blogger Isaac, your bartender said...

As I said, the MVP debate is for another day, but let me just say the following.

First, the inclusion of HR and OPS is double counting--the more homers a player hits, the higher the OPS because of the higher slugging percentage (Total bases/abs). And, of course, Jeter is not a power hitter so can't have the HR or OPS numbers of the other 4. (I note that ARod has a slightly higher OPS than Jeter, but would anyone argue he is an MVP candidate this year? I thought not.)

Second, Jeter normally hits #2 in the order--he simply won't get the opportunities to drive in runs of the other 4 who all hit third or fourth.

Third, note that Red Fraggle did not include batting average. Yes, some today minimize its importance, but Jeter is hitting around .340, second in the AL. I haven't looked but I imagine his on base percentage is fairly close to players A-D as well and the deficiency is mostly in slugging. (I also not that Vlad's OPS is barely above Jeter's, meaning that Jeter definitely has a higher OBP.)

And, of course, this list does not measure defense (none of the other players play a defensively critical position although Vlad is a fantastic outfielder) or clutch hitting or some sort of intangibles.

And, as for the final point, that 9% of players named Jeter most overrated shows nothing but jealousy. I wouldn't trust a vote of MLB players on almost anything--have you heard some of these guys--and on this, they are simply crazy. If you asked Manny who the most overrated was, do you think he knows what overrated means? Would he have voted for himself for some unknown reason?

If you ask any writer, AL MVP is (rightly) a two man race--Jeter and Big Papi and after the FIVE GAME SWEEP, I imagine Jeter may have pulled ahead.

8/21/2006 5:50 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Well, since Jeter hits second in the order he should have more runs than the other guys. Yet he doesn't. Both Thome and Ortiz have more runs. Nor is his OBP better than everyone else's--in fact, Manny's is a full 30 points ahead of Jeter's.

And "intangibles"? Is that what we are going to base MVP on now? Clutch performance? Ortiz is pretty clutch.

If it's a two-man race, I just don't see how Jeter wins. Ortiz has more runs (and remember, that's supposed to be Jeter's strength), he has FORTY ONE more RBI (and yeah, Jeter bats second, but again--he should have more runs than Ortiz if he is going to compete for MVP here). Sure, Jeter's OBP is 15 points higher than Ortiz's. But Ortiz's slugging is ONE HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN points higher. I won't even throw in homers, to avoid double-counting. Yes, Jeter has more stolens and plays a defensive position. But the numbers are really WAY in Ortiz's favor.

8/21/2006 5:59 PM  

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