Monday, August 6, 2012

Grumpy Old Man Strikes Again

It’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at one of Jerry Green’s popular “get off my lawn” articles from the Detroit News. Luckily, Mr. Green has supplied us with one this week that’s quite the doozy. How nice of him.

Detroit’s crankiest commentator (that actually lives in California) is upset this week over the Wild Card and also the trade deadline. More than 4/30 teams in the playoffs? Hogwash! Players switching teams instead of being locked into the same franchise for a decade or more? Poppycock!

If we’re lucky, we might hear some complaining about gas no longer being a nickel per gallon, these darn kids everywhere wearing skirts above their knees, and that doggone hippity hop music. FDR wouldn’t stand for it, I tell you!

Yeah. Let’s begin.

These are the perilous weeks of the baseball season. 

per·il·ous (adjective) 

involving or full of grave risk or peril;  hazardous; dangerous 

Really? Please explain. (Spoiler: He doesn’t.)

The major trade deadline passed with a flurry of activity as some ballclubs surrendered two months before the finish.

Yeah. These ballclubs that are 16-30 games out of first place with just two months to go are silly for trying to build for the future instead of staying pat with these teams that clearly aren’t winning ballgames. If you are awful, you should stay that way.

Hooray for communism?

The better ballclubs attacked, some fortifying their rosters with seasoned athletes who will hang around for two months before testing their free-agency appeal.

And others traded two of their three top prospects for a #3/4 starting pitcher that will be gone in two months and an infielder they traded away for a sack of steaming garbage not long ago.

Oh, I kid. Maybe.

The Tigers cannot — yet — be declared a team in peril.

Holy thunder, I hope not. They were only 1.5 games back of the overachieving White Sox entering today. 

Who said they were in peril? The voices are back again, aren’t they Jerry? Take your meds.

But they have been playing on the edge.

They’re on their way to beating the Yankees for their fifth straight win. That would put them on a 20-8 run, if I’m not mistaken. If that’s “on the edge”, I sure hope they stay there.

Curiously, if the season had ended Friday night, the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Athletics and Angels would be the teams targeted into the American League's pennant playoffs. The Tigers would have failed to make it into the postseason.

And your point? Curiously, if the season ended after one game, seven AL teams would be tied at 1-0 for a playoff spot. If it ended July 21st, the Tigers would have won the AL Central. We could do this all day. And it would be stupid.

They would not have qualified even under commissioner Bud Selig's new brainstorm of sending two wild-card teams from each league into the playoffs. Bud just loves wild cards. It's so merry.

Six quick notes about those Wild Cards.

1. With the league now at 30 teams, it only made sense to add more playoff teams at some point. Every other sport has a large number of postseason teams. Why not baseball? It’s called evolving. To have 26 out of 30 teams left out of the playoffs, as it would have been under the old divisions and formatting, would be ridiculous in 2012. And yes, it means more money for everyone, which is a bad thing to many fans for some reason.

2. Even pint-sized, smug, baseball purist Bob Costas has come around and admitted the Wild Card has improved baseball.

3. The added “play in” wildcard team has left more ballclubs within striking distance at the trading deadline. Thus, less teams were in “sell mode” on July 31st this year. And considering how you complain about teams trading their stars during the season, you’d think you’d be a supporter of such a thing.

4. Don’t bitch about the Wild Card to Tigers fans. Without it, 2006 and Magglio taking Street deep would never have happened. Don’t belittle my greatest moment as a baseball fan with your “good old days” nonsense.

5. Ten total Wild Card teams have made the World Series and five have won it, including three straight from 2002-2004. The majority of people enjoy underdogs and drama in their sports. The rest are Yankee fans and they’re not even human.

6. Without the Wild Card, the 2004 Playoffs wouldn’t have happened. As much as I despise Red Sox fans today, that 3-0 comeback against the Yanks and finally eliminating "The Curse" was one of the greatest sporting moments of all time.

But that is the conjecture of early August. Speculation, mashing the numbers, what-if?

What if Jerry Green would just enjoy retirement instead of subjecting News readers to his constant complaining and pining for times past? I’m just speculating…

In Major League Baseball, the games of August and September comprise the most enjoyable — and most dangerous — time of the season.

Yes, dangerous. Little known fact: Center fielders are ten times more likely to be attacked by bears in late summer than in April. Look it up.

Eight weeks or so to go, some 55 games. Games that will determine the actual qualifiers for the playoffs and on to the ultimate, the World Series.

Unlike the previous 107 games that don’t count in the standings.

Still, the Tigers' current situation is far away from what it was supposed to be. It might not be time for panic, but it is time for alarm.

20-8 run. A half game back if Chicago keeps losing tonight. 
The weekend's standings show the Tigers trailing the White Sox in the American League Central. These are the rivals the Tigers whipped up on just two weeks ago in Detroit.

Okay. The Tigers are barely behind a team they outclassed two weeks ago. They still play this team seven more times. And Detroit’s final thirteen games? Against the Twins and Royals.
The three-game sweep enabled the Tigers to vault over the White Sox into first place after playing in the doldrums through May, June and into July.

The sensible thought was that the Tigers, finally on top in the division, would run joyously off toward October, never again to be dislodged.

I should know now that baseball, such a beautiful game, hardly is ever sensible.

Any sport that employs “Country” Joe West as a top authority figure is hardly beautiful or sensible.

If it were the Tigers would, at worst, be wild-card worthy.

Yes. On August 4th, when this article was published. I must ask again, what’s the point? 

Alas, it never figured that the Athletics — with Brandon Inge —
Jerry Green, everyone. The world’s oldest troll.

And Inge, for the record, is hitting .220 as an Athletic with an OBP of .274. His OPS+ is 83. So just stop.


would fit prominently into the mix behind the Rangers in the AL West. Better than the Angels, a wobbly, desperate club that fortified itself with a rental addition of pitcher Zack Greinke — bound for free-agency. Playoff-bound, nonetheless.

The Angels are a half game behind Oakland entering today. They have the fourth highest win total in the American League. Their team features Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Jered Weaver, Mark Trumbo, and CJ Wilson. Add Greinke to that.

Wobbly and desperate? Hardly. Girls that go home from the bar with Brennan Boesch are wobbly and desperate. The Angels, though I loathe them, scare me more than any other AL team.

And further food for controversy, the Angels' Jared Weaver

It’s Jered, you dunce.

just happens to be the American League's best pitcher this season, not adversary Justin Verlander.

Seriously…is there a point to any of this?

Of course, all this is baseball fodder with eight perilous weeks remaining in the season.

No, this is random nonsense.

But imagine — a third-place team eking into the playoffs and somehow making it into the World Series and becoming champions.

Adding an additional Wild Card team is not like letting a 110 loss Astros team in. It’s not the end of the world. Quit being dramatic. A #8 seed won the Stanley Cup this year, didn’t they? Did the league fold yet?

Bud would go wild with his new wild-card concept.

The purist in me rebels.

How does Jerry Green rebel? He stays up past 8pm. Take that, you whippersnappers!

The good old days

Oh, Christ. Here we go.

The purist rebels again when certain MLB franchises wave white flags in July and deal off precious talent to other franchises with ambitions to reach the postseason.

Oh, come on. The trade deadline is hardly something new. We’re talking decades here. In Detroit alone, how many times have we had to hear about Smoltz for Alexander? That was 25 fucking years ago! Does the purist also prefer the days when blacks weren’t allowed into the big leagues?

And you earlier applauded the teams that were buyers! Where do you expect them to buy from? Japan? Brad Penny is no longer available!

In the previous half-dozen seasons — back to 2007 — the Phillies were one the premier clubs in all of baseball. They played in two World Series, winning the world championship in 2008. They finished first in the National League East for the five past seasons.

A year ago, the Phillies won 102 games during the regular season — more than any other club in Selig's two-league empire.

That’s a good run. You know what happens in six years? Players get six years older. Eventually, you have to start planning for the future or you end up like the Tigers from 1988-2005.

This year the Phillies already have quit — burdened by contract overloads, luxury-tax problems and injuries. Beset by the economics of Major League Baseball in 2012, they lacked the pride to fight into October. They did not even make a pretense of trying to compete.

Philly is ten games under .500 and sixteen games out of first as of this writing. They can’t keep anyone healthy for more than a week. Are they supposed to be buyers and add more millions to their bloated payroll? Of course not. Pride has nothing to do with it. Whether anyone likes it or not, while it's still a game to us, it's a business to everyone involved in it.

Instead, in this past week, they dealt away Hunter Pence to the Giants, and Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton to the Dodgers.

For the slumping Pence, they received a 23 year old, 6’6 pitcher that’s striking out 10.9 batters per nine innings. They also got a 21 year old catcher that was a second round pick in 2009. In addition, they received Nate Schierholtz and unloaded the $10M+ contract of Pence that will climb to #13M+ next year.

For the underperforming Victorino, they got two pitchers from the Dodgers. One was a 1st round pick in 2008 that Baseball America says has #2 starter stuff. The other is a 25 year old reliever with solid numbers thus far. And yes, they got rid of the $3.3 million left on Shane’s contract to play like crap this year.

Blanton was getting paid $8.5 million this year to pitch like a Quad-A pitcher. If Philly gets a signed Matt Kemp baseball card from the Dodgers for him, they should be happy.

Only Pence is still a quality player. But even he was well under his career numbers this year. Is trading a guy with a 0.5 WAR away for prospects really so terrible for a team sixteen games out of first?

I’m actually impressed that a team stupid enough to start Juan Pierre in the outfield in 2012 was able to pull off these deals.

Philadelphia's vagabond pitcher Cliff Lee, this weekend, was on and off waivers, reportedly claimed by the Dodgers without a deal being consummated.

Jerry, you’ve been around long enough to know that nearly every player gets put on waivers at this time of the season, only to be pulled back if claimed. Ugh. If the Phillies really had no pride or whatever, they would have unloaded Lee’s monster contract on LA, too. But they didn’t.

By your logic, shouldn’t you applaud that?

The Giants and Dodgers are involved in an intense, old-fashioned race in the NL West. The Phillies shamefully dwell in last place in the NL East.

The Giants and Dodgers are trading like crazy to out-do each other. That’s old-fashioned? I thought it was terrible.
Once upon a time, baseball actually had a commissioner with the gumption to void such a surrender.
Anyway, about my washtub. I’d just used it that morning to wash my turkey, which in those days was known as a walking bird. We'd always have walking bird on Thanksgiving with all the trimmings: cranberries, injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder. Then we'd all watch football, which in those days was called "baseball”…

He was Bowie Kuhn, who was commissioner when free-agency became a fact for baseball via a federal court ruling in 1976. Before that, the heavily stacked Oakland A's had won World Series in 1972, '73 and '74.

In '76, Charlie Finley, the A's curmudgeon owner, traded Reggie Jackson to the Orioles. In mid-June — the trade deadline back then — Finley sold Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for a million bucks each. He then peddled Vida Blue to the Yankees — after luring the Tigers' Jim Campbell into a bidding affair — for $1.5 million.
The last time meteors came by, we thought the sky was on fire. Naturally, we blamed the Irish... we hanged more than a few…

Kuhn termed Finley's offloading of three stars a "fire sale." Then invoking the commissioner's "best interest of baseball" mandate, Kuhn voided the three sales.

In the end, the commissioner prevailed and Finley was widely quoted as saying Kuhn "sounds like a village idiot."

Now the Phillies have conducted a fire sale — and it might not be over with waiver deals still possible. To me, the Phillies have been in violation of the best-interests-of-baseball clause.

Sigh. I can’t see anyone with an IQ above their waist size thinking that Philly trading three underperforming, high salary players for prospects in an attempt to build toward the future while sixteen games back is the same thing as Charlie Finley looking to make a buck 36 years ago.

It’s like comparing apples to orangutans. Different times, different circumstances, and quite frankly, different games. Again, baseball has evolved. It’s sad when people can’t evolve with the times.

And if I'm not mistaken, all those players left the A's via free agency the next year. The Athletics did not receive any comp picks or jack squat. And they were terrible for a long while after that. Kuhn was an asshole.

But Selig seems more interested in his wild-card project as baseball enters the perilous weeks of the season.

Again, the supposed “wild card project” made for more buyers and less sellers at the deadline in its first season. You complain about something and then begin bitching about another thing that remedies your first.

I think my head is going to explode.

Readers, the next time you’re walking down the street and see an elderly white male, punch him in the balls. If they complain, blame Jerry Green.


Jay Hathaway said...

"Nick Schierholtz"Nate.

Jay Hathaway said...

He really is unbelievable.  And the fact that he is calling Finley a "curmudgeon" is even funnier.  His article is barely coherent.

SRogo said...

I don't like guys named Nate. Actually, I was looking at Castellanos' stats at the same time. I am dumb. Thanks.

B Ward said...

Well done Rogo. My only complaint- the lack of the obvious pun "Jerry-atrics".

LongGone6 said...

Rogo, until this year, it was 22* out of 30 not making the playoffs, not 26. 4 teams made it from each league, 6 division winners and 2 wild cards in all of MLB. 6+2=8. 30-8 = 22 left at home. I get the point anyway, but you repeating 26/30 seems like forced dramatics.

SRogo said...

Perhaps I should have been more clear on that. Since we were talking about "the good old days", I was referring to when each league was set up as the East and West with only two teams from each League making the playoffs. Yes, teams have been added since then, but I've seen complaining about the three divisional format, too.

LongGone6 said...

I understand now. Although back when there were only 2 teams from each league making the LCS in the playoff format, There weren't 30 teams. 26 until Rockies and Marlins in 1993, 28 until Dbacks and DRays in 1998. Still, like you stated, have 4 teams make it out of over 20 teams is ridiculously low.

h2opolopunk said...

I really, really enjoyed this one. Easily one of my top five written by you.

Biff Mayhem said...

I really enjoyed this piece but unless the comment about black players was intended as "way over the top theatrics to combat Jerry's insanity" then I think that part could have been left out. It's easy enough to figuratively punch Jerry in the yamsack without lowering yourself to the low hanging fruit strawman IMO.

SRogo said...

Thought it was obvious that yes, that's what it was.

Mark in Chicago said...

Best line:

"I’m actually impressed that a team stupid enough to start Juan Pierre in the outfield in 2012 was able to pull off these deals."

that's classic.

Also, is Green's article really just the random stream of consciousness it appears to be?  Yikes.

All around, well done.

whitaker said...

To his credit, Jerry Green is only slightly stupider than Joe Falls.  Nicely done, though this is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.