Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ranting, Raving and Updating
By Ben Valentine

And now, for a short rant:

Saturday night after returning from the Mets game with Zach, we turned it on ESPN’s SportsCenter to see highlights of Felix Hernandez’s start against the Twins. Wanna guess how many Felix highlights we saw? Zero. SportsCenter opened with Mets/Nats highlights. David Wright, Ramon Castro and Jose Reyes all went deep. How many highlights of that did we see? None. Just the bullpen implosion and Chris Woodward’s winning hit. What did ESPN do with it's freed up time? We all were treated to a pie eating contest in Maine and preseason football highlights.

I’m flat out sick of ESPN. I’m tired of the analysts who know less about their respective sport than me and half the free world. I’m annoyed with all the gimmicks, the dumb catch phrases and kiss ass behavior towards the big names. Most of all, I’m fed up with ESPN thinking they own the sports world. Months back during the NHL lockout, they had the audacity to propose what would happen if THEY bought the NHL. They called the “ESPNHL.” Much like the rest of their network, their idea was chock full of trendy rule changes which had no practicality in real life. But hey, they can’t be wrong. They’re ESPN and they “know” sports.

Here’s what I know. 30 seconds on the Little League World Series is too much. Larry Brown isn’t god’s gift to the NBA. TO is a jackass. Chris Berman has been repeating the same lines over and over again for at least 10 years. Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark would probably run a baseball team into the ground faster than my mom would. And if you put pie eating over baseball in August, I’m turning off the TV and doing something else.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, how about some baseball talk?

How about Jhonny Peralta, who jacked his 20th homer Monday night? Normally I probably wouldn’t mention it, but the guy is on my fantasy team. (For Brian Roberts straight up, an absolute steal I might add). I haven’t seen Peralta play, so I can’t comment on his defense. But with the grand trio of five years ago, A-Rod, Jeter and Nomar, either declining or shipped unfairly to a new position, the 23 year old Peralta may very well be on the fast track to being one of the most valuable commodities in the game. How many other SS in baseball have 20 hrs this year? One, Miguel Tejada. Yep, Jhonny’s getting into some rarified air in Ohio.

Well of all the teams in the wild card race, the Mets are the one team that hadn’t had a real hot streak of any kind this year. Looks like this might be it. I’m not sure what has gotten into the collection of Ramon Castro, Victor Diaz and Mike Jacobs, but I’ll take it. As for Jacobs, in four days he’s gone from “emergency backup catcher” to potential starter at first base after hitting 4 homers in 4 games. Not a bad week for the kid.

Has any manager fallen so far from grace, so quickly, as Dusty Baker? Two years ago he was one of the game’s elite managers, outs away from taking the Cubbies to the promised lands of October. Now, he’s just an out of touch loony who overworks his pitchers. Sadly, Dusty always overworked his staffs, but they were either adept to handling it (Livan Hernandez) or just not good enough for anyone to care (Shawn Estes, Kirk Rueter, Mark Gardner… etc…) Problem here is, Kerry Wood is hurt again, and Baker is looking to pitch Prior and Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs’ only hopes for the next three years, into the ground. For example, Prior’s thrown 490 pitches in his last 4 starts, or 122.5 pitches per start. He threw 132 today in a 3-1 loss to the Braves! The Cubs need to let Baker go now. Hopefully, it’s not too late to save those arms.

Come to think of it, could Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella be the same person?

Braves OF Jeff Francoeur walked unintentionally for the first time in his 133 AB career. The guy is good, real good. But he won’t keep it up unless he shows more discipline. Eventually, pitchers will get him out on stuff he can’t reach. It’s what separates a phenomenal hitter like Vladimir Guererro and a good hitter like Alfonso Soriano. Francoeur has drawn Vlad comparisons, but if he wants to be like the reigning AL MVP, he’d better start walking like him.

After that miserable losing streak, the Royals have won 3 of 4 from the A’s and Red Sox of all teams. That’s baseball for you. Even the Royals can win on any given night.

So can the Devil Rays by the way, provided they’re playing the Yankees.


Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Ben, you negleted to mention the other guy playing shortstop in Ohio who has hit 20 (well, 19) homers this year...Felipe Lopez of the Reds...maybe there's something in the water.

As for the whole ESPN rant, you know I basically agree. But the truth is that ESPN has long been trying to get themselves out of the pure sports niche and appeal to more people. And whether that's by doing stupid gimmicky nonsense like the 50 States in 50 Days, or by producing original movies or series, or whatever, they're trying to expand their audience. Of course, since you and I were already watching ESPN before they tried all that, we feel neglected. Time will tell whether or not the strategy is successful.

4:48 PM  
Blogger David Arnott said...

Bobby Crosby was injured (freak injury). Clint Barmes was injured (freak injury). Both of those guys would've easily reached 20. PayRod is playing out of position, and I'd give it a 40-60 chance he moves to SS next season if the Yanks don't make the playoffs this year. Michael Young will reach 20 (and may finish with more than Peralta), with a higher BA, more R, and many more RBI. Throw in Tejada and Lopez, subtract Alex, and that's five shortstops you could justify taking ahead of Peralta next season. And some might argue that BJ Upton, with his power potential AND speed will be a starting-caliber impact player next season. Peralta's good, no doubt about it, but he's no keeper.

And the wheels have been turning against Dusty for some time now. At least in SF, people kind of "deferred to success", to use the Moneyball term applied to LaRussa. It was clear that he was slowly going insane and doing stupendously idiotic things, like batting Neifi Perez leadoff and second on a semi-regular basis, but the team was winning. Now, with his essential blackballing of Hairston and Walker in favor of Perez and Patterson, it's totally clear that he's crazy.

And finally, I totally agree about the LLWS. Little League is NOT baseball. The fences should be at least 220 feet away. I can't respect a league that doesn't allow leads, plays on a field that's too small for the 12 year olds, and has home runs hit the other way on a wrist-flick slap. Pony League is so clearly the way to go, but LL has the name cachet, I guess.

Ben, you wrote a good column and riled me up:)

10:06 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

If you're talking fantasy, then odds are Peralta is a very valuable commodity. Like it or not, idiocy of organizations have to be included here. Upton should be playing at the bigs with the numbers he's putting up, but Rays dont seem inclined to. They must see something in Julio Lugo we all don't. As for the Yankees, they're idiots in their own right. But like it or not, they will not move the "captain" no matter how much better and more valuable A-Rod is a short.

Tejada, Lopez, Young, A-Rod (who isn't SS eligable) will all be kept. That leaves Peralta, Barmes Crosby and Upton. There's still a month to be played but right now, I'd take my chances with Peralta, who has done more than those two and is just 23.

Thanks for the compliment on the post.

12:09 AM  
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9:43 AM  

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