Edgar! Edgar! Edgar!

Monday, August 31, 2009

He's had a terrible year.

And our schedule is significantly harder than Colorado's, such that we're not on whom you want to bet.

And, as predicted, the deadline deals have been busts. 

But that was a helluva weekend and, watching on the DVR at 11:00 PM last night, I came off my couch when Edgar Renteria hit that grand slam.  It's a fun team and it's been a fun year.  Giants!

What I watched after the game was the Daytime Emmy Awards; similar to the BET Awards, I like to use awards shows to maintain some type of annual connection with that element of the culture.  And my dominant thought was about the health care debate.

Not literally, although Krugman, and Kristoff, moved the ball nicely over the past couple of days, but what I was thinking about was the unease the people feel when their institutions are taken away from them.

The most insufficiently covered entertainment story of the summer is the end, after 72 years, of The Guiding Light.  I've written before (beats the hell out of me where, I thought it was in this space) about the way that media marginalizes a form of entertainment like soap operas because of it being culturally relegated not only to women but to "stay at home" women.  One can't say, "you know who's a tremendous actor, that Grant Aleksander" without being thrown in a barrel with those viewed as disposable. 

Probably, there are fans of the Guiding Light who have followed the narrative for decades - the
Spauldings and Bauers are integrated into their lives in the way that their daily newspaper used to be.

If you're a person of a certain age, and your newspaper is gone, and your television program is gone, and your house has significantly dropped in value, and maybe the stores where you shop have vanished and your bank went out of business - if those bedrock, stable institutions in your life have just...ended...over the past year, how unreasonable is it to believe that Democrats are going to take their health care away?

I'm empathetic to those who feel like screaming at an elected official.  Hell, I'm right there with them if the screaming is about the last administration's trillion dollar big government Iraq War or the big government suspicionless spying on US citizens undertaken by last administration, or the now unprecedented levels of economic inequality that have turned the 21st century into Gilded Age2K.

I'd even be willing the scream about the end of Guiding Light.  There are lots of reasons to yell at a Congressman.  Philadelphia fans wearing jerseys of a guy who put dogs on rape stands. The environmental unsustainability of our way of life and the use of the cloak of religion to justify our scientific ignorance.  The inevitable collapse of my Giants, certain to cause me maximum pain right around my birthday, as has happened virtually every year of my life. 

I'd yell at a Congressman about all of that.

But giving Americans the same level of health care as every other industrialized country in the world would give them?

No, that would be change worth believing in, thanks.  

Your Athlete of the Month - August, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Usain Bolt.

Runners-up:  Cliff Lee, YE Yang, Albert Pujols

Bolt joins the previous 7 winners (Fitzgerald, Holmes, Moore, James, Messi, Federer, Buehrle) in the race to be Athlete of the Year. 

And that will lead to the Athlete of the Decade Award (note, of course we end the decade here, otherwise when we talk about the 1990s, we wouldn't include 1990.  90s were 90-99.  So this decade is 2000-09.  It's not math.  It's culture.  Read Stephen Jay Gould.).

Your nominees:

Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning, Reggie Bush, Roger Federer, Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, and whomever wins this year.  Athlete of the Decade!  Fun to do.  (yes, I know Reggie Bush, for example, isn't one of the ten best athletes of this decade; these are my athletes of the year for each year of the decade)

Your Athlete of the Decade for the 90s was Michael Jordan.  Shockingly enough.  Runners up were Joe Montana, Mario Lemieux, George Foreman, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tiger Woods, Mark McGwire (again, see above.)

(I didn't do this every week in the 80s, so there's no official Blog of Revelation Athlete of the Decade, but it would have been Gretzky.  If I could get a do over, I'd reconsider that Foreman win in '94, as has been noted, I have no soccer players as my athletes of the year, and Romario was my athlete of the month for July of '94 - also, the absence of Jerry Rice, who was athlete of the month for September of '94, is bonkers.  Fortunately there's no counterfactual for my athlete of the month choices, no I won't do one. I picked who I picked and we're moving on with our lives.  You're lucky I haven't ranked Big Brother seasons or every episode of Arrested Development.  Maybe when the movie comes out.  No, I don't know why I'm like this.)

Timex Social Club

Friday, August 28, 2009

During the 2004 campaign, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who was on the fence about voting for Bush or Kerry; she's a social conservative but had grown opposed to the war in Iraq.

Eventually, she decided to vote for Bush, the reason being her inability to escape something she had heard at her conservative Christian church, that Kerry was trying to ban the Bible.

I did the best I could to disabuse her of this idea (Kerry's Catholic, every elected federal official professes religion, the free exercise clause would be a complete barrier to this, the United States is the most religious western nation and this would be unpopular, what in the hell does ban the Bible even mean in the first place?) and while she recognized intellectually the logic of my case, in the end, I think it just wasn't worth the risk to her. If I tell you "Tom's a child molester" even if I have no evidence, you're going to think twice about letting Tom babysit for you if you can just as easily choose non child molester Ernie.

I have a student, a bright student - engaged in the issues, open, inquisitive - who passed along to me with complete seriousness a forwarded email that purported to be a news report quoting Obama as calling American troops whiners for wanting supplies that he was rejecting - "they're an all volunteer army, they knew what they were getting when they signed up, they should quit whining".

She wasn't asking if it was true. She knew it to be true and was disturbed by it.

My reponse was a little simpler than was it 4 years prior. "There's youtube. If Obama said the US military was composed of "whiners" that's an easy thing to find. Go find it."

Now - you know that Kerry wasn't advocating banning the Bible. And you know Obama didn't say the military was made up of whining volunteers.

But not everyone does.

The willingness to tell any sort of lie coupled with the ability to now live in a hermetically sealed bubble of propaganda through multimedia platforms just allows these lies to grow and fester and exist in an uncontradicted way gives rise to, well, to people bringing guns to health care debates.

Look at this. That's an RNC mailer.

I get DNC mailers, so I'm not unfamiliar with partisan language like in question 3 that is clearly slanted in a way to draw the answer most beneficial to the cause. That's politics. I don't love it, but it's politics.

But that's not the question I want you to look at.

Look at question 4.

"It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person's political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?"

This isn't some leaflet passed out on the street by a guy in a tin foil hat; this is from the Republican Party.

How many people will read this and believe there must be some truth to it - otherwise, how could the Republicans say it?

How many people will believe it's not raising the possibility, but flat asserting that the Democrats must be trying to take away health care for Republicans?

How many people will pass it on, through the internet or talk radio or at church?

How is it that rumors get started? When you see the real passionate anger people had at those McCain campaign rallies, calling Obama a terrorist - when you see the rage people have at town hall health care meetings - rage directed at...stopping people from getting health care - it just seems baffling. How could someone quake with anger at the following prospect -

Americans who don't have health care will now have health care and you won't lose anything.

It's because that's not what they're mad at.

They listen to Rush and Hannity and Simple Jack and everyone in between.

Obama's not only a racist Nazi Muslim. He not only has death panels to decide to kill off the down's syndrome kids.

But he will keep the Republicans from getting to see doctors when they're sick.

It must be true. I read it someplace.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

(This is the last post I'm bringing over from any of the other places, I think - if I'm forced to choose, the best writing I've ever done isn't coming to this blog, it's going to stay over at what remains of my myspace page, behind a firewall until they shut that place down like its Friendster.  That stuff was gutsy and vulgar and smart - if there was ever a chance that someone was going to think I was an actual, real live writer and whatnot, it would be based on that stuff.  But it's staying there; too hard to explain the concept of a fictional voice writing about real stuff. 

This post was written at the very beginning of this year upon the passing of my girlfriend's dog.  It's self indulgent only in that I recognize that the death of the dog in my life is no more heartbreaking to me than the death of the dog in your life is to you.  But I can't write about everyone; only so much ink in my pen.  Fundamentally, everything here remains the same; my friend and I are good, thanks, all matters unchanged.  And we still miss Sadie a ton.  We were happier when she was around.)

I’m a child.

Those of you who know me more than a little bit recognize this; my tastes in food and entertainment remain as lowbrow as did they 30 years ago (want to see me brighten up – give me a fried fruit pie and a wrestling match to watch); my emotional architecture still collapses when I feel abandoned (no, I haven’t been dumped again, that’s not where this is going); I have never evidenced the slightest ability to put on a face other than the one that best expressed my immediate essence (I’d be terrible at the strategic reality shows I most like; I can’t pretend to like people I do not like and I’m still the 8 year old squirming in terrible boredom when forced to do something I don’t want to do).

Arrested development isn’t just the name of one of the ten best television shows of the past quarter century (you’re not reading my blog, dammit) it clearly defines who I am. I am stuck, immobile, a boyman, all change and I remain the same. Just a little less cute with each passing year.

My principal failure to grow has been in my childlike inability to wrap my mind around death with anything other than a barbed wire bow of terror and pain. I would lie awake nights trying to reconcile how one lives in a world where god was dead (I wasn’t really reading Nietzsche when I was 8, I stuck with The Sporting News, but I recall articulating a similar idea). Every ambulance I ever saw racing down the street was one which, one day, would be headed for my house. Every sickness brought to mind that one day, there’d be a stomach ache from which I wouldn’t recover. Every night I fell asleep I thought, “one of these nights I won’t wake up.”

A constant sword dangling over my head.

Only question was how will it happen?

How will it happen to me?

Will I suffer a long, lingering illness – a steady erosion of my body until I can no longer care for my most basic physical functions? Will I battle – go through painful and expensive medical treatments – only to eventually succumb? Will I shuffle painfully through hospital hallways, a shell of the man I used to be until finally I beg for it to end? John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach is 98, he says he wishes death would come. His wife died in 1985, and still today, 23 years later, her half of the bed is untouched – when the sheets are washed and placed back on the bed, he returns her dressing gown and pillow arrangement exactly as was it 2 plus decades ago. Is that how it will be? Will I watch that sword crash down upon everyone I love – filling my last, weakest, loneliest years with agony and grief?

Will I lose my mind? My entire life, I have always understood the benefit of the Buckaroo Bonzai axiom, “wherever you go, there you are.” It’s comforted me – there’s never been an occasion where the ability to slip inside my head wasn’t an option. Somewhere in my youth, perhaps 3rd grade when I was given candy by Mr. Callan for getting A’s on spelling tests – or maybe preschool when I was one of two four year olds able to read on his own, thereby negating the need for teacher interference (I always resented being told what to do – parents, teachers, bosses – I fight authority and authority, well, doesn’t always win, if truth be told – and if it does leave me bloody and battered…well, you should see the other guy). I internalized at a pre-conscious level that I was “smart” and that my brain was my friend – and while living in my head has often been isolating and left me alone – I’ve never been lonely in here. I always have me.

Will I lose that? Will I forget the starting lineup for the 1989 National League Champion San Francisco Giants?

C – Kennedy

1B – Will

2B – Robby

SS – Uribe

3B – Riles/Matty

LF- Mitch

CF – Butler

RF – Candy/Sheridan

Oberkfell played a lot of 3rd, Matty played a little short. Tracy Jones played too in our seasonlong inability to fill the sucking hole that was RF. The rotation was Caveman and Big Daddy and Garrelts and Downs and Krukow or Atlee in the last spot.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah.

Will I wander around the woods like Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond – will I stare vacantly at my family and friends – will people cry at the sight of me – will I be pitied-pathetic-Jesus – Jesus do I not want to be pitied – I’m the guy who gets angry if someone tries to help me pick up something I’ve dropped – it’s reflexive, automatic – leave me the fuck alone, I’m fine, I don’t need your help.

Will I need help? Help from strangers? Constant help, just to survive?

Will I be alone – no one to help – dying slowly, scared, confused – broken?

Or will it be quick?

A car crash. A homicide. Accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 44. Will I be texting on the way to work and never come home, smash into a crosstown bus and never think my thoughts ever again? There were a hundred two murders in my county last year, virtually all of them clustered around my home and work – will I be at the ATM – or a convenience store – or coming home from a late class and get shot for my watch or my ride or the 37 bucks in my wallet?

Who will tell my mom? Who will feed my kitten? Who will write my wrestling Counterfactual?

Will I be scared? Will I be alone? Will I hurt?

I’ve never stopped thinking about these things; if there has been a single day over the past 30 years where I haven’t had at least a fleeting moment of terror – I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die – then I’m unaware of it.

And after death – nothing. No magical thinking for me. Ashes and dust and endless empty.

And yeah, I’m certain of it beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilty.

3 decades of existential terror. I’m a child. A chubby child who drinks diet soda all day long and listens to Lil Wayne.

My friend Sadie died last weekend.

Sadie was an 8 year old Labrador retriever.

I spent pretty much a portion of every day for the bulk of 2008 with her, a kinder, gentler, friendlier creature you would not meet. During her eight years, Sadie’s tail never stopped wagging with excitement and joy.

Kate and I were dating before her animals became a part of my life; she has 3 dogs and two cats; most of whom have been with her virtually their whole lives and most of Kate’s adult life – and were the animals to have indicated that I wasn’t a particularly good fit for the family, I’d have been cut loose.

They have seniority, after all.

But from the first day, Sadie seemed to rally all the others to give me a chance, “this chubby guy is okay, he likes to cuddle and play and smells like fried pie and Bret Hart dvds”

I didn’t think 2008 would be the year where I found “the one” – but as it turned out, I found a whole family.

I don’t live inside my head anymore. At 38 years old, I found my people.

And one of those people was Sadie.

What I really wanted to thank her for though were the years before we met.

When you meet the people you love, and hear about their lives – the one aspect which tears you apart is not having known them before you knew them. Because there were days when they could have used you, when you could have helped, when you could have made bad things better.

But you weren’t there, you didn’t exist yet.

I wasn’t there for Kate when she had those days – but Sadie was. As hard and painful (real pain as opposed to my boyman “will I get Parkinson’s disease like Alex P Keaton” pain) as anyone’s days could possibly be – and Sadie was there. There to take care of my friend Kate.

And I wanted to thank her.

So, I did, last weekend. I held Sadie’s head in my hands and thanked her for how she treated me and how she took care of Kate – and I told her I would do my best to be half as good a boyfriend as she had been a canine companion.

And not long after, she was gone.

And it hurt. And it hurts. There’s not a socially targeted way to grieve over a dog; my academic term started this week, I have five courses and I shuffled and danced and put on as high octane a performance as am I capable of at my rapidly advancing age. But inside I just felt empty.

I guess I can put on a face other than the one I want to wear.

I resisted my urge to write about it. Both because Sadie was not my dog and because it feels cliché; and really, talking about pet loss can lead to a dismissive “yeah, okay, I’ve got real problems” response.

But I don’t care. I’ve never written for anyone but me anyway. I never do anything for anyone but me.

I’m a child, that’s how I roll.

And tonight, I wanted to write about my friend Sadie. ‘Cause she deserves it. She deserves the words to be sent out into the world that she lived and she died and she mattered. I loved her, but that’s not why she mattered. She mattered because she mattered. She was all good and no bad. I don’t know how many people, places, or things you’ve ever encountered who were all good and no bad, but I have met two. One is Kate, and one was her Sadie.

And this is for both of them. They are my people after all.

Sadie Trimble


Thank you, Sadie.

The One I Wrote About OJ Simpson and Chris Benoit.

(Two years ago, Chris Benoit killed his wife and his son and then himself; a couple of days later I wrote this.)

My first hero was OJ Simpson.

In the late 1970s, I was a poor kid growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as OJ Simpson had been a generation before. And I was a San Francisco sports fan, of which there were relatively few in the late 70s, a deathtrap of an era for local teams. It's actually a wonder why I didn't choose to weave my boyhood with local color that would have brought me more elementary school prestige. I could maybe have worn t-shirts and caps supporting the local bathhouse. "Heyyyy, Gloryhole Junction! Whoo-hoo." My grandparents, who humored my endless need to talk local sports, perhaps would have been less supportive had I structured our conversations around NAMBLA's righteous struggle to lower the age of consent.

The Giants were bad.

The Warriors were worse.

The Niners were maybe the worst franchise in professional sports.

But we had OJ Simpson.

OJ Simpson, in the late 70s, was on his last legs (well, leg, as he was running on one knee at that point) but he was a 49er and his previous exploits left him still one of the most famous athletes in the world. I had an old OJ Buffalo Bills football card that I took to school 3 days out of 5; I began to follow USC football because that had been OJ's alma mater, a following that would, years later, lead to my brief, glorious, weekend stint as an undergrad there (everytime I go back to California, California kicks my ass – sometimes I consider heading back for a fourth tour of duty, as, were I to snap my fingers and be anywhere in the world, it would be San Francisco, but there's only so many times one dude can get thrashed about the head and neck areas).

Who knows what seminal influences go into making up a boy's identity, particularly a boy largely raised by women (although, admittedly, most of my influences were in the frosting family – dude liked to eat, yo) but probably OJ Simpson was significant, yeah.

I sat with Kirk Hiner in the brand new Subway restaurant in Ada, Ohio in the summer of 1994; I was 23, newly single, completely broken and about to start my 3rd year of law school; Kirk was visiting from New York where he was dating a girl with a great body and an unusual affinity for penguins; OJ Simpson, maybe as recently as a week or two previous, had just sliced off the heads of his ex wife and her ambiguous waiter friend.

It is a conversation that Kirk and I both vividly recall.

I recall it because I told him that I'd never be surprised by anything again.

He recalls it because he responded with the creation of a bumper sticker philosophy that I'm certain could be the basis of a new religion if he could write a couple of science fiction books to propagate it and maybe pick up a midlevel celebrity endorsement (my choice..Sandy Duncan): Everything Will Happen.

That was 13 years ago.

Since then, whether the event was something large and cataclysmic (9-11'ish) or whether it was smaller and more personal, like my winding up in a taxicab with Regis Philbin's pen – I have been able to pretty quickly synthesize every occurrence of my life into a digestible unit; I have been able to find the appropriate box inside my head in which I could fit whatever has presented itself.

Everything Will Happen.

I've been the youngest trial attorney in California and then made ten bucks an hour teaching high school history. I've gained and then lost 150 pounds. I've dodged student loan collection agents and then won six figures on a game show. I had a 4.0 in grad school and then couldn't get a community college professorship. Our play got produced by the first theater we ever submitted to and then we spent 10 months getting nothing but stage doors slammed in our faces.

Friends have come and gone. Family too. And Women.

Like a supernova, someone will flash into my life and then just as quickly fade away to nothing.

And I view it with something approximating Stoic equanimity.

Everything Will Happen.

OJ Simpson taught me that. Your first hero should teach you something.

My last hero was Chris Benoit.

I have a fair number of visitors to this blog, and they come in 3 types. There are those of you who are new. Welcome. You have a lot to catch up on. There are those of you who have been here awhile and maybe even have read the stuff from Thanks for sticking around; I apologize for the lack of output; I can't say that's about the change anytime soon, I really haven't decided what's the best outlet for what passes for my thoughts. I'm thinking about doing nothing but haiku, but it's tough to make my veiled references to ham products in 17 syllables.

Then there's the third group. There is a group of wrestling fans who have been with me since I wrote for a guy named Steve "Soundbite" Roberts in a freaky little internet wrestling subculture in the mid-late 1990s. They followed me to my Counterfactual (note, the lack of link is because this ain't a plug) a massive, ridiculously excessive in a very Jividen way, undertaking where I attempt to rewrite the last 25 years of professional wrestling in a way that could only be analogized to someone who spends his weekends piling on KISS makeup to look like Peter Criss or proudly proclaims to the Howard Stern interviewer that he is, in fact, Darth Nilus.

And some of those wrestling fans are still with me here; almost ten years later, still living on the margins of society with their Dragon's Gate DVDs and their unsettling knowledge of suplex variants (my favorite – the blockbuster – discuss…)

The rest of this isn't to them. They know all of it.

But it might be for them; if might be for them because this isn't going to get said anymore in polite conversation for a very long time.

Chris Benoit was arguably the finest professional wrestler who ever lived.

And the rest of you don't understand that, I know. You never heard of Chris Benoit until today and don't I know that it's not real so how could one fake athlete be better than another fake athlete and yeah, I get that, see.

Professional wrestling's not a sport, but it's a craft; like acting, for example. And you recognize that, say Phillip Seymour Hoffman is just better at the craft of acting than Scott Baio.

There's probably an actor you admire. Someone whose work is consistently great, but who doesn't get the recognition of Tim Cruise.

And you've loved him for years in the little roles, the supporting parts, the small movies. You go see him in anything; you hope he gets recognized come awards season; you talk him up to all your friends, remind everyone when he's gonna be on Conan.

I know he exists for you. He's an actor. Or a rock band. Or a painter. Or a poet. Or a playwright. Or a professor.

He's a craftsman. An artisan. He's great. He's a genius. He's on your personal Mt. Rushmore of dudes you really dig, who really speak to you in a deep and profound way.

And I have to be honest with you.

As good as he is, as brilliant as he is at what he does – he couldn't lace Chris Benoit's boots.

He, me, you, none of anyone who will ever read this will ever be as good at anything as Chris Benoit was at being a professional wrestler.  I know that sounds like the hyperbole of the moment.  But it's not.  Because these last three sentences I didn't write back in 2007; I'm writing them in August of '09.

And somewhere that just has to be said. 'Cause…the thing of it is…the thing of it is that he was great because his work was so…admirable. There was a dignity to Chris Benoit's work, to his craft – that was undeniable even when surrounded by the slop that makes up so much of what "sports entertainment" is in the 21st century.

You could…we could, my nerd brethren and I, safely watch a Chris Benoit match with one of you – with someone in straight society – and say see – see – do you see how hard he works, do you see how dramatic it is – do you see how real, how pure, how….how…good that guy is?

I've met someone recently, and she's coming to visit. This is a rare occurrence for me; not meeting someone, that's pretty common, but having a woman enjoy my company (and let's be honest, for me to enjoy hers, I know that cuts against my normal schtick, but I'm not gonna kayfabe this blog) sufficiently to spend time with me inside my home is a more rare happening than you'd guess.

My middle brother, with whom I have watched wrestling, usually taped from Japanese television, for two hours every week for the better part of the last ten years, gave me the following two pieces of advice about the impending visit of my new friend.

(And since both my brothers, despite being much younger than I am, are much more married than I will likely ever be, I tend to listen to their advice on such things.)

1. Don't talk. You know, like you do. You're only gonna fuck it up.

2. Tell her you only own six wrestling DVDs. Hide your shame.

No one was ever ashamed about Chris Benoit. He was who you wanted to watch. I am 36 years old; I have two graduate degrees; I am a professional and my closet is filled with suits and ties.

I have one professional wrestling t-shirt.

It's a Chris Benoit t-shirt.

I started writing the Counterfactual, hundreds of pages of reconstructed history, with a hidden goal I revealed to Kirk at one point; to fictionally save the life of Owen Hart, who was my favorite wrestler when I was a child, and who died in a ring stunt gone wrong 8 years ago.

But the more I dig in the dirt, the more I change the flapping of one butterfly's wings, the more it just keeps going wrong. I should probably take a lesson from this.

As a teenager, Chris Benoit trained with Owen Hart in Calgary. And for nearly fifteen years, Chris Benoit wrestled with or against a man named Eddy Guerrero; they were best friends and embraced in Madison Square Garden at the close of a major wrestling show in a moment akin to that favorite guy of yours winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Owen's dead. Eddy's dead. Chris is dead.

Chris Benoit killed his wife, his young son, and himself over the weekend. It was grizzly; it was indefensible; and it is about to turn him into a monster.

He's about to become OJ Simpson. He's about to become a thing. An issue. Fodder for talk radio and cable news shows and blogs. And he'll never be Chris Benoit again.


And that needs to be said too. Because it's true and it's real and it happened and it is literally the last thing you would expect.

But it didn't surprise me.

Because nothing surprises me.

And it needs to be said; it needs to be said because when a man kills his family it needs to be said that he did it.

It also needs to be said that same man performed his craft with a dignity that is beyond peer.

Both things can be true.

A man can be hero, and deservedly so. And also a monster, and deservedly so.

Both things can be true.

My last hero taught me that.

The One About My Mom

(I wrote the first version of this in 1996; a decade later this specific piece appeared as part of my production blog for at  At some point, that site will be gone.  So, I'm moving this piece here.)

My mom is probably better than your mom. 

My mom's a good egg; nice to me when other people aren't nice to me, which sometimes can cover a significant stretch of time. Not that everyone should be as nice to me as the mom; I realized long ago that the constant in all of my relationships was me, and people who wonder why the world doesn't turn and rock their way are fools. The thing that most interested me about that cyclist, Floyd Landis, getting busted was this quote from his Mennonite (if you don't know the Mennonites, they're like the Amish without the glitz—dude's a Mennonite turned world class cyclist; they're lucky it's only steroids he was taking, and not drinking bald eagle's blood or something; it's like the Randy Quaid character in Kingpin winning the Tour de France, give the dude the fucking trophy) mother, "I know that this is a temptation to every rider, but I'm not going to jump to conclusions," she said. "It disappoints me."

Yeah, that's the sound of Mrs. Landis throwing her embattled baby boy right under the bus.

And my mom wouldn't do that. So, when the day comes (and it will) when I am accused of something sufficiently dark that reporters call her for comment, I'm expecting she'll completely cover up for whatever horrible thing I', that's it, wrongfully, yeah, wrongfully accused of doing.

"I'm 100% innocent; and I'm confident that I will be completely vindicated! I would never smoke that rock/touch that girl/drink that bald eagle's blood 'till it's dry! Sweet, sweet nectar of the gods! I will be immortal! I am the Lizard King! Wait...where are those stem cells! I need embryos! Human baby embryos, calling out to Sam Brownback—'Please, please, don't kill me—I know I am as small as the head of a pin right now—but one day I will be a snowflake baby and I might become a nun or a nurse or a hotass college cheerleader!' Who among you dares call it murder? Who among you thinks you got the testicular fortitude to stop me! I will grab me ten thousand blastocysts and spread them all over my goddamn nachos so I can form an Unholy Nacho Army of the Night! Who are you to doubt El Dandy? I will ask you again, Who are you to doubt El Dandy?"

Yeah, the mom would help me out there. The mom's good that way, and I appreciate that. A boy generally only gets the one mom, and I wouldn't trade mine in. Sometimes, admittedly, I think of that BB King lyric, "Nobody loves me but my momma, and she could be jivin' too," but generally, the mom and I are cool. Which is why I told her about

"Whoa. Have you read us? The language, the themes, the overt attacks on all things decent and good? Why would you want to disappoint your mother like that? Why? Why? Why?"

I like the repetition of the "why," Voice in My Head. It's a rhetorical device. Antistrophe. Like Antony's repeating of "Brutus is an honorable man." Good craftsmanship. Yeah, see, I'm 35, no wife, no children, I'm not practicing law anymore—I figure the mom's pretty much comfortable with being disappointed in her eldest son. This blog's a drop in the bucket.

And truthfully, she deserves it. Why? 'Cause the mom's a goddamn liar.

"Okay, that's just...I could..."

Hey, that's aposiopesis. The deliberate failure to complete a sentence.

Excellent. You're doing a thing here, voice in my head! Tremendous.

"Just trying to class up the joint."

I appreciate it. I'll take all the help I can get.

Okay, here's the story. When I was in the first grade, I overheard a couple of the older kids, probably battle-scarred, wizened 8-year-olds, debating the existence of the Easter Bunny. It wasn't exactly Lincoln vs. Douglas; I believe the extent of the intellectual nuance to the dialectic was, "There is too an Easter Bunny!" "No sir." "Yeah huh."

To be fair, however, Honest Abe often considered "yeah huh" to be a rhetorically sound comeback.

Jefferson Davis: Mr. President, given the explicit reservation of the 10th Amendment, you simply haven't the power to compel the Southern states to abandon our...peculiar institution.

Lincoln: Yeah huh.

Which explains why the Gettysburg Address was only 24 seconds long. Either that or Lincoln had to beat the shot clock. Dude was a giant, crow-like; he had to be a baller. Actually, Lincoln was kinda built like Howard Stern; perhaps if he could have gotten Mary to ride the sybian, he wouldn't have written this letter to his law partner in '41:

 I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.

There's probably a message there about redemption, about hope, about Fitzgerald's being wrong when he said there were no second acts in American life, as the future 16th President couldn't have imagined that his leadership would aid in bringing about the end of slavery a quarter-century later. Were this a different blog, it might resonate as a message of hope. Life's long; things improve; people will like your play; people other than your mother will enjoy spending time with you; you'll meet your future bride; you don't keep your left foot in a jar on the porch.

"Hey, you didn't use any conjunctions there. That's asyndeton. And you said they didn't teach you anything in those communications classes at Ohio Northern."

But this is this blog. And in this blog, I think about Booth yelling out sic simper tyrannis and putting a bullet into the back of Lincoln's head.

And I think...dude got off easy. If my trip to the theater only goes twice that badly, I'll think I caught a break.

"You were talking about the Easter Bunny, tangent boy."

Yeah, see, I had never really given its existence any critical examination. Of course there was an Easter Bunny. Mom said so. There was an Easter Bunny the same way there was an orange Nerf football stuck in the tree outside. I had never heard any speculation to the contrary, and while, no, I hadn't actually seen the Easter Bunny—I had never seen China, either, but I figured it was real. And China never brought me candy. Anyone who brings me candy oughta get the benefit of the doubt. 'Cause, not for nothing, but I am really, really hungry. Between you and me, I've lost a little weight since I was on TV a few years ago; some people congratulate me, I say it's less a diet and more a cry for help. Give me a goddamn sammich you sick sons of bitches—can't you see I'm dying here?

"Easter. Bunny. Please."

Okay...there are some bells that are tough to unring. And the introduction of this alternate belief into my consciousness was enough to get my first grade neurons firing:

On the night before Easter, a giant candy lovin' rabbit comes to my house to hide eggs in the living room.


I slavishly composed my anti-Bunny argument, which was comprised primarily of obvious violations of Godel's incompleteness theorem and the middle plank of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and took it to a bench conference with the primary font of my prior understanding of the Easter Bunny—my mommy.

Me: Given the evolutionary issues alone, wouldn't it be fair to say that your so-called "Easter Bunny" is actually a fabrication of Nixonian proportion?

Mommy: Nuh huh.

My memory is perhaps a little fuzzy on the exact language of the conversation, but the bottom line was that, eventually, she broke and copped to being the Easter Bunny herself. Incidentally, my mother also confessed her identities as Aquaman, D.B. Cooper, and the lyricist to "I'm a Little Bit Country; I'm a Little Bit Rock-n-Roll."

Once I sorted out that the mom hid the eggs...well, there was a next step that, although painful, was unavoidable:

On the night before Christmas, a fat dude in a red suit comes down a chimney that we don't have to leave me presents in the living room.

Ah, hell. As a wise man once said, "There is a saying in Texas and probably here in Tennessee: 'Fool me once...shame...on me. Fool me twice...can't fool me twice...won't get fooled again!' "

Me: I'm beginning to see a disconcerting pattern of duplicity, mommy—if in fact that is your real name. Perhaps you'd like to take a moment to consider your role as one of the twin demons of deception? What about Rudolph? What about Rudolph? The craven use of a lonely animal shunned by his peers to manipulate the minds of impressionable children. What about the elves? Working all year round in freezeshop conditions to make my pitiful orange football which no one ever bothers to get out of that tree. Can't you see how wrong that is? Exploiting the least among us who are most in need of our protection?

"Least...most...that's antithesis. Sweet."

Me: Does Santa run a union workshop? Is the North a right-to-work Pole? What about the mining of the Cambodian harbors? What about CREEP and the enemies' lists? What about the 18-1/2 minute gap? What about Donny's purple socks? For the love of god, (note to imaginary editor, lower case, please—I never use upper case, both because in scholarly works under the Chicago style, one uses lower case—and because uppercase means there's one true god, and I don't go that way—always lower case) how can you possibly respond to the purple socks??

Mommy: Nuh huh.

I guess at that point I developed somewhat of a skeptical soul. Skeptical enough to not believe the soul exists, frankly. I mean, "soul" exists. As in "I got soul, and I'm Superbad." But "the soul"? Nah. Psychics? Nah. Astrology? Nah. Angels? Nah. Ghosts? Nah. Noah's Flood? Nah. UFOs? Nah. Life after death? Nah. Creationism? Nah. The guy in the sky who knows when you're sleeping, knows when you're awake, knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake?

Sorry. Nah.

"Hypophora. Nice."

Pascal wrote that humans are "thinking reeds" and I'm not going to turn that off for convention. I am; therefore, I think.

I don't believe in Beatles; I just believe in me.

A Half Century of SFG Shortstops

A Half Century of San Francisco Giants Shortstops

I've already done 2B (Kent) and RF (Bonds the elder) in compiling the all time San Francisco Giant lineup. Let's do SS. A reminder, the primary SS for each season is listed - the WARP3 includes all the value for that player for his full SF tenure, not his whole career and not just the value in those seasons he was the primary SS.

Of course, with the Renteria signing, this list will radically change in a few years. The glory that is late career Edgar coming to San Francisco!

(yes, the WARP numbers have changed)
2008 - 2005 Omar Vizquel

WARP3 16.7

The first half of Omar-by-the-Bay was solid stuff, but his bat fell off the table in 2007. His much lauded glove was a tick overrated by media; his career fielding runs above position is the same as Bartell's, but he didn't have the same pop that Dick did.

2004 Deivi Cruz

WARP3 5.0

2003 - 1996 Rich Aurilia

WARP3 42.6

Richie's Giants value might still be ongoing; if we head to spring with Ishikawa/Sandoval as our corners, I'd expect another year of Aurilia. His out of nowhere 11.6 in 2001 is, I'd expect, easily the best season for a SF SS and just pops off the back of his baseball card in a "maybe they should check the BALCO records again" type of way. We don't want to head to spring with Ishikawa/Sandoval, incidentally. His name is Adam Dunn. Give him a first baseman's glove and stick him in the middle of the lineup. Richie finished 12th in the MVP vote in '01; his teammate finished first and deservedly so - Sosa finished second and deservedly so - Bonds was 15+ and Sosa 14+, which might have been the greatest same year seasons of all time. Gonzo had a WARP3 of 12 - so 4th makes sense for Aurlia. Pujols was at 11, Berkman over 10, chicks dug the longball and whatnot. Jose Vizcaino played more short than Richie did in '97, he had a 4.7 WARP3 that season.

1995 - 1992 Royce Clayton

WARP3 15.8

Royce Clayton's still in the league? No one's going to carry Clayton on their roster in 2009, right? He hasn't had a WARP3 over 4.0 since the White Sox in '01. He wasn't so bad, an approximation of Vizquel, really.

1991-1985 Jose Uribe

WARP3 29

Giants SS can seem like a lifetime position; sort of like a federal judgeship. Uribe fits right in with the Clayton/Vizquel line of no hit shortstops; he had a helluva glove, 57 runs above position in a ten year career.

1984-1978 Johnny LeMaster

WARP3 8.6

And this is why I'm not as tough on Giants shortstops as was I, say, on the second basemen or right fielders. My first Giants shortstop was LeMaster, his translated career line was .229/.285/.300 and he finished 78 fielding runs below, that's below, position for his career. It could be that Johnny LeMaster's continued employment, despite any rational basis, was my initial experience with raging against the machine. 8 year old Jim Jividen, reading The Sporting Green (San Francisco reference) and slapping his palm to his forehead at the sight of another LeMaster 0-4. He was without redemption.

1977 Tim Foli

WARP3 1.8

I have no memory of Foli as a Giant; the first baseball I remember is the '77 Series, to which, shockingly, the Giants were not invited.

1976-1971 Chris Speier

WARP3 48.1

I'm already wrong about Aurilia; Speier had an 11.7 in '72 - which either edges Richie's 11.6, or finishes behind his 12.0 (BP has two different WARP3 numbers for Aurilia's 2001...grrrrrr....) Speier is clearly the top SS thusfar, beating Aurilia out - and (spoiler alert) he's gonna win this game. Speier had a sneaky good career - a career WARP3 over 80, 101 fielding runs over position. Yup - a better Giants glove that Vizquel, and not by a little bit either, was Speier. Line him up next to Kent, with Bonds Sr. in RF on your all time SF Giants squad.

1970 - 1967 Hal Lanier

WARP3 24.7

-This includes his time at second also.

1966 Tito Fuentes

WARP3 31.1

-Most of this is his time at second also.

1965 Dick Schofield


1964-1961 Jose Pagan

WARP3 11.9

We got his career year in '62 - so take that!

1960 - 1959 Eddie Bressoud

WARP3 13.3

1958 Darryl Spencer

WARP 3 16.2

-A WARP3 over 8, a translated slugging pct of .433 - it would be a long time before we had a shortstop as good as Darryl Spencer

Your all time best SF SS - Chris Speier.

MVPQ - 1960s

Here's the story.


Willie Mays CF Giants (RMVP)
Hank Aaron RF Braves
Eddie Mathews 3B Braves

Mickey Mantle CF Yanks (RMVP sub 10)

1961 - MVPQ

Hank Aaron RF/CF Braves (RMVP sub 10)

Mickey Mantle CF Yankees
Norm Cash 1B Tigers (RMVP)


Willie Mays CF Giants (RMVP)

Hank Aguirre P Tigers (RMVP sub 10)

-That's two for the best player of the 60s.  Willie Mays. 


Willie Mays CF Giants (RMVP)
Dick Groat SS Cards
Sandy Koufax P Dodgers

Gary Peters P WSox (RMVP sub 10)
Camilio Pascual P Twins (RMVP sub 10)

-That's three for the best player of the 60s.  Willie Mays. 

1964 - MVPQ


Willie Mays CF Giants (RMVP)
Ron Santo 3B Cubs
Dick Allen 3B Phils

Dick Radatz P RSox
Dean Chance P Angels (RMVP)
Ron Hansen SS WSox

-That's four for the best player of the 60s.  Willie Mays.
1965 - MVPQ

Willie Mays CF Giants (RMVP)
Juan Marichal P Giants

Mel Stottlemyre P Yanks (RMVP sub 10)

-And that's 5.  4 straight; Bonds will tie that in the 2000s, and 5 overall. 

1966 - MVPQ

Ron Santo 3B Cubs
Juan Marichal P Giants (RMVP )
Joe Torre C Braves

Frank Robinson RF Orioles (RMVP)

-The Giant domination of the RMVP Award continues unabated!  So many titles must have been won!
1967 - MVPQ

Ron Santo 3B Cubs (RMVP sub 10)

Carl Yastrzemski LF RSox (RMVP)

1968 - MVPQ

Bob Gibson P Cards (RMVP)

Carl Yastrzemski LF RSox (RMVP)

-Yaz goes back to back. 


Reggie Jackson RF Athletics (RMVP)

Larry Dierker P Astros (RMVP)

-Because who doesn't think Reggie Jackson without Larry Dierker?

MVPQ - 1970s

Here's what's happenin'.

1970 - MVPQ

Johnny Bench C Reds
Ferguson Jenkins P Cubs (RMVP)

Jim Fregosi SS Angels (RMVP sub 10)

1971 - MVPQ

Wilbur Wood P WSox (RMVP)

Tom Seaver P Mets
Ferguson Jenkins P Cubs (RMVP)
Dave Roberts P Padres

-Fergie Jenkins opens the decade with back to back RMVP Awards

1972- MVPQ

Steve Carlton P Phils (RMVP 16+ )
Joe Morgan 2B Reds
Johnny Bench C Reds
Cesar Cedeno CF Astros

Gaylord Perry P Indians (RMVP)

-Lefty joins Maddux with a 16+ season in the past 50 years. 

MVPQ 1973

Joe Morgan 2B Reds
Tom Seaver P Mets (RMVP)

Bobby Grich 2B Orioles (RMVP)

MVPQ - 1974

Joe Morgan 2B Reds (RMVP)
Johnny Bench C Reds
Jon Matlack P Mets

Gaylord Perry P Indians (RMVP sub 10)

-Perry's second RMVP of the decade.

1975- MVPQ

Joe Morgan 2B Reds (RMVP)
Randy Jones P Padres

Bobby Grich 2B Orioles (RMVP)

-Grich gets his second RMVP Award

1976 - MVPQ

Joe Morgan 2B Reds (RMVP)
Mike Schmidt 3B Phils

George Brett 3B Royals (RMVP)

-3 consecutive RMVP Awards for Joe Morgan, the best player on the Big Red Machine. 

1977 - MVPQ

Rick Reuschel P Cubs (RMVP)

Rod Carew 1B Twins (RMVP sub 10)


Ron Guidry P Yankees (RMVP sub 10)

Phil Niekro P Braves (RMVP)

MVPQ 1979

Phil Niekro P Braves (MVPQ)

George Brett 3B Royals (MVPQ)

-Brett and Niekro each pick up their second RMVPs of the decade.

Some Say the World Will End in Fire. Some Say Ice.

We said goodbye to the 2009 San Francico Giants last night. As a volunteer member of one of those Obamacare death panels, I'm proposing the plug be pulled on the ballclub. I'll call Conrad Murray to see if he saved a couple extra vials of propofol.

Actually, just the offense. If only there were a way someone could have seen this coming. Like if there could have been a spring training brief entitled "National League Pitching Determined to Attack Inside the Giants Lineup."

Last night is in the inner circle of devastating losses in a franchise with a history of them. If it happened to the pre-2004 Red Sox Dan Shaughnessy would have already written a book entitled The Curse of Freddy Sanchez

A walk off grand slam home run. And you thought this would be the worst torture uncovered yesterday.

I slipped in the torture link (which you need to click) but can't find a similar way to incorporate this plug - you need to buy the current issue of Rolling Stone (there is an interview at, but not the piece itself) to read Matt Taibbi's health care piece.  It's really not optional, you need to read it.

MVPQ - 1980s

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Here's what's happening.

1980 - MVPQ

Steve Carlton P Phils (MVPQ)

George Brett 3B Royals
Rickey Henderson LF Athletics (MVPQ)

1981 - MVPQ

Mike Schmidt 3B Phils (RMVP)

Rickey Henderson LF Athletics (RMVP)
Buddy Bell 3B Rangers

-I mentioned in the 90s post that Rickey is my favorite non Giant; I was 9 and 10 living in the Bay Area when Rickey was the best player in the AL, as a kid, just barely over 20 years old, crazy exciting - impossible not to root for the A's too.

1982 - MVPQ

Robin Yount SS Brewers (RMVP)

Gary Carter C Expos (RMVP)

1983 - MVPQ

Cal Ripken SS Orioles (RMVP)
Robin Yount SS Brewers

Dickie Thon SS Astros (RMVP)

1984 - MVPQ

Cal Ripken SS Orioles (RMVP )
Alan Trammell SS Tigers

Ryne Sandberg 2B Cubs (RMVP)

-Just a handful of dominant players in the ALRMVP race in the 80s; following Henderson's back to back, here's Ripken.

1985 - MVPQ

Dwight Gooden P Mets (RMVP)
Pedro Guerrero LF/1B/3B Dodgers
Willie McGee CF Cards
Ozzie Smith SS Cards

Rickey Henderson CF Yankees (RMVP)
Wade Boggs 3B RSox
Charlie Hough P Rangers

-3 for Rickey. 

1986 - MVPQ

Roger Clemens P RSox (RMVP)
Wade Boggs 3B RSox

Rick Rhoden P (RMVP sub 10)

1987 - MVPQ

Roger Clemens P RSox (RMVP)
Wade Boggs 3B RSox

-Clemens goes back to back.
Tony Gwynn RF Padres (RMVP sub 10)
Bob Welch P Dodgers (RMVP sub 10)

MVPQ 1988

Wade Boggs 3B RSox (RMVP)

Andy Van Slyke CF Pirates (RMVP)
Kirk Gibson LF Dodgers (RMVP)

MVPQ 1989

Kevin Mitchell LF Giants (RMVP)

Bret Saberhagen P Royals (RMVP)
Wade Boggs 3B RSox (RMVP)

-And then Boggs goes back to back.

MVPQ - 1990s

See what we're doing here.

1990 MVPQ

Rickey Henderson LF Athletics (RMVP)
Roger Clemens P RSox
-A couple of weeks ago, Canseco said someone currently in the HOF was a steroid user.  Rickey's my favorite ever non Giant, and I don't care at all about steroids - but the circumstances suggest that this season might be the one that he's referencing. 

Barry Bonds LF Pirates
Eddie Murray 1B Dodgers
Frank Viola P Mets (RMVP)

MVPQ 1991

Cal Ripken SS Orioles (RMVP)
Frank Thomas 1B WSox
Devon White CF BJays
Robin Ventura 3B WSox

Bobby Bonilla 3B Pirates (RMVP)

1992 - MVPQ

Barry Bonds LF Pirates (RMVP)
Ryne Sandberg 2B Cubs
Greg Maddux P Cubs
Sid Fernandez P Mets

Robin Ventura 3B WSox (RMVP 14+)
Frank Thomas 1B WSox
Roger Clemens P RSox
Brady Anderson LF Orioles

1993 - MVPQ

Barry Bonds LF Giants (RMVP 14+)
Jose Rijo P Reds
Lenny Dykstra CF Phils

-The best season for a position player in the 90s, Barry's first year as SFG.

John Olerud 1B BJays (RMVP)
Rafael Palmeiro 1B Rangers

1994 - MVPQ

Greg Maddux P Braves (RMVP)
Jeff Bagwell 1B Astros
Barry Larkin SS Reds

Frank Thomas 1B WSox (RMVP)
Albert Belle LF Indians

1995 - MVPQ

Albert Belle LF Indians
Randy Johnson P Mariners
Tim Salmon RF Angels (RMVP)
Bernie Williams CF Yankees

Greg Maddux P Braves (RMVP 16+WARP)
Barry Bonds LF Giants

-Maddux's back to back RMVPs follow Bonds's back to back - it's important to recognize the flip side of the run inflation of the "steroid" era - that means the pitching numbers have to me similarly adjusted.  Maddux's '95 is the best season of the past half century. 
1996 - MVPQ


Barry Bonds LF Giants
Jeff Bagwell 1B Astros
Kevin Brown P Marlins (RMVP)
John Smoltz P Braves

Alex Rodriguez SS Mariners (RMVP)
-ARods first RMVP

1997 MVPQ

Roger Clemens BJays P (RMVP)

Craig Biggio Astros 2B (RMVP)
Mike Piazza C Dodgers
Pedro Martinez P Expos

1998 - MVPQ

Scott Rolen 3B Phils (MVPQ)

Ken Griffey CF Mariners (MVPQ)
Roger Clemens P BJays
Alex Rogriguez SS Mariners

MVPQ 1999

Pedro Martinez P RSox (RMVP)
Nomar Garciaparra SS RSox

Mike Hampton P Astros (RMVP sub 10)

MVPQ Seasons - 2000s

The best unintended benefit of my blog vanishing, requiring a manual move of my previous posts back to this space, is that I had to redo my baseball list.

That seems like madness, given the extensiveness of the work it took to put it together the first time, but as I mentioned in my last list post - one of the main components of my rankings, WARP3, went through a pretty significant defensive overhaul this season.

The current numbers are better. And now my list is better.

The other element that's better is I've solidly increased the degree to which the list values peak - I still think career value is what should primarily be measured - but I wanted to reward excellence - wanted to give some recognition for greatness.

So, now I've done that. Included as a component in the New and Improved Ranking of the 200 Greatest MLB Players ever is MVP Quality seasons, those with a WARP3 of 10+. The new WARP really solidifies that as the benchmark number, I think - those players who reached it really, in an ordinary year, could absolutely have been legitimately called the best player in their respective leagues.

So, I'm going through the decades and providing (1) all of the MVPQ years and (2) all of the Real MVPs, the player in each league with the highest WARP3. Currently, the new WARP database is only sortable through 1954, so that's where I'll stop with this list for the time being.

But I won't need to wait much longer to unveil...The 200 greatest players in major league baseball history.

When that's done - the 50 greatest QB, RB, WR in NFL history.

When that's done - my new line of erotic cakes.

Here's the first decade of the brand new century. 2009 isn't over yet, I'll update as needed once the season ends:

Alex Rodriguez SS Mariners
Pedro Martinez P RSox (RMVP 14+WARP)

Greg Maddux P Braves (RMVP sub 10WARP)

-Who had the best season in the decade? Pedro Martinez in the year 2000.

2001 MVPQ
Barry Bonds LF Giants (RMVP)
Sammy Sosa RF Cubs
Luis Gonzalez LF DBacks

Bret Boone 2B Mariners (RMVP)

-Let the steroid speculation begin! Bonds, as you'll see when I add the 90s list, is no stranger to MVPQ (total of 8 for his career). But by the time we reach Bret Boone, it's fair to wonder how he reached this level of performance.

MVPQ 2002
Barry Bonds LF Giants (RMVP)
Randy Johnson P DBacks

Derek Lowe P RSox (RMVP)

-Two straight for Bonds. Why has Johnson (now with my club, so I don't want to raise my voice too loudly, avoided the PED chatter?

MVPQ 2003
Barry Bonds LF Giants (RMVP )
Albert Pujols LF Cards
Marcus Giles 2B Braves

Esteban Loaiza P WSox (RMVP sub 10)

-3 straight for Bonds and Pujols, who gets a good bounce from the new WARP numbers, makes his debut. The AL has a lot of Tommy Tutone one hit wonders during the decade.

MVPQ 2004
Adrian Beltre 3B Dodgers
Barry Bonds LF Giants (RMVP)
Randy Johnson P DBacks
Scott Rolen 3B Cards
Albert Pujols LF Cards

Johan Santana P Twins (RMVP)
Miguel Tejada SS Orioles
Carlos Guillen SS Tigers

-The Bonds run ends with 4 straight. Santana is 4th pitcher in 5 years to take ALRMVP

MVPQ 2005
Dontrelle Willis P Marlins (RMVP)
Roger Clemens P Astros

Eric Chavez (RMVP)

2006 MVPQ
Carlos Beltran CF Mets
Miguel Cabrera 3B Marlins (RMVP)

Grady Sizemore CF Indians (RMVP)

-Beltran's had a better career than you think.

2007 MVPQ
David Wright 3B Mets
Albert Pujols 1B Cards (RMVP)
Jake Peavy P Padres

Alex Rodriguez 3B Yanks (RMVP)

-Pujols and ARod with their first RMVP Awards of the decade.

2008 - MVPQ
Albert Pujols 1B Cards (RMVP)
Carlos Beltran CF Mets

Cliff Lee P Indians
Mariano Rivera P Yanks (RMVP)

-Pujols wins his 2nd; it's the best season of Rivera's career.

2009 - MVPQ
Albert Pujols 1B StL (RMVP)

Joe Mauer C Min
Zack Greinke P KC (RMVP)
Evan Longoria 3B TB
Roy Halladay P Tor

SummerSlam 2009 is(was) Sunday

Friday, August 21, 2009

SummerSlam is Sunday from Los Angeles.

As I explain here, (and if you scroll a little bit, more thoroughly explain here) I have been doing previews of the major WWF/E PPV's for my longtime friend and occasional writing partner Kirk Hiner since 1996. Now, as we entirely communicate through our various blogs (hey, Kirk!) I do the previews in this space.

World Title TLC Match: Jeff Hardy © vs. CM Punk
-This is the Smackdown Title as opposed to the lineal WWF Title. The next time you are wandering through the dial on Monday, going in any direction other than RAW probably makes sense. But if it's Friday night and you have a few minutes - probably there's something good going on MyNetworkTV - as Smackdown has been on a helluva roll.

When last we left - Cena took this belt in a 3 way from Edge (Show was the third participant) at 25, then dropped it back to Edge at a PPV 3 weeks later:

(Imaginary Quote from Kirk Hiner as he Reads This): They have another PPV 3 weeks after Wrestlemania? Doesn't that sort of cut into the special nature of Wrestlemania? "Hey everyone, here's our Super Bowl - and three weeks later we have another one!"

That type of thinking is what kept wrestling marginalized in the state fairs before being brought into the mainstream by the benevolent and glorious McMahons. Each one more intelligent and sexier than the previous. Hey, Linda's considering running for US Senate. Which is tremendous. I assume her feud with Trish will fill up campaign ads against her.

Mmm, Trish. Makes me want to compose this list:

1. Keibler
2. Trish
3. Beulah
4. Maria
5. Kimberly

So, back to our story. Edge dropped to Jeff in a Ladder Match at the June PPV - and then immediately Jeff dropped to Punk. Punk, recall, had won Money in the Bank at 25 to get a title shot he could cash in whenever he wanted - and in the very first step in an awesome heel turn, he cashed it in on babyface Jeff. Punk then could take on a "why are you booing me" line with the fans - "I had the right to cash it in and I did, where's the problem" - and then a series of incidents that allowed Punk to claim the moral high ground over Jeff and the fans ensued - which allowed Punk to morph into his old heel "straight edge" indie character - Punk essentially saying that he is stronger of character than Jeff and the fans, and that is demonstrated by, among other things, his refusal to inhale.

Jeff took from Punk last month - and here we are again, in a TLC match for the strap.

Punk's had a ton of good free matches over the summer (lots of good TV matches on Smackdown and Superstars and a couple on ECW during the summer) and is a superhot act (and has made Jeff a hot act) going into the show. Jeff's wrapping up with the company, his last scheduled date is TV for next week.

Don't know if Punk takes now (that's how I'd do it) or Jeff drops next week, but this should be a real good match, my expectations are high.

(edit - expectations were rightly high, I've got it at 4 1/4 and the northern end of 4 1/4, it might move up a quarter star and into MOTY contention pending additional viewings. It's the best WWE match since Armageddon 2006)

WWE Title Match: Randy Orton © vs. John Cena
I'm less optimistic about this.

This is the WWF title belt, I'm unsure if this is the official company number - but Orton is the 92nd WWF champion, and they should make a thing about being the 100th when we get there. Back at Mania - HHH kept over Orton in a crappy match. Orton took at that PPV 3 weeks later

(Imaginary Kirk): You gotta stop saying that. There's no way there's a PPV 3 weeks after Wrestlemania 25.

Orton took in a 6 man tag (yes, the WWF Title changed hands in a 6 man tag, a 6 man tag that Skippy worked of all things)

(Imaginary Kirk): Shane McMahon is still wrestling? In 2009? How did WCW go out of business again?

Orton dropped to a returning Batista in a crappy match at the June PPV - but Batista (shockingly!) got hurt again and vacated the belt - there was a 4 way on RAW (Hunter, Cena, Show) and Orton retook.

So, it's Orton/Cena again. I have no interest in seeing it. I assume Orton keeps.

(edit - this was worse than I had anticipated.  I went 1 3/4.)

DX: HBK/HHH vs. Legacy: Cody Rhodes/Ted DiBiase
Unless it's as a heel team, I have zero interest in seeing Hunter and Shawn tagging anymore.

Rhodes/DiBiase are in a stable with Orton - so the offshoot of Hunter's feud there is a feud with these guys; it's hard to say if the young guys will turn out to be any good - RAW doesn't lead to many good matches. There's nothing to dislike about either of them though, particularly young Ted. Following a beatdown of Hunter - he brought back Shawn (Shawn's been gone since his 25 loss to Undertaker, one of the better WWF matches of the year and one of the more overrated matches in years. This allows me to direct you to my ranking of every 4 star match in WWF history. ) Shawn returned; he and Hunter got beat down - and so there's a match. It will be okay and probably the babyfaces go over and I couldn't possibly care less except for the Cena/Orton match about which I do care less.

(edit - this was about what I expected, maybe a little better - I went 3 1/4 and the northern end of that, so really, it was as good as it could have been).

WWE Unified Tag Team Title Match: Chris Jericho and The Big Show © vs. Cryme Tyme
-Fortunately, we're now down to one tag champs, in the dark match at 25, the Colons (Carlito and Primo) went over Miz and Morrison to unify the belts. The Colons dropped at the June PPV to Edge and Jericho, who had aligned as a superheel team in an effort to bring some prestige to the tag belts (my suggestion would just be to have good tag matches, but nobody listens to me). Edge then got hurt (and apparently, post injury, kinda turned babyface in an effort to build to Edge/Jericho for 26) and they swapped in the Show. Paul obviously can't work even a little bit in 2009 and the act has really taken most of the heat off of Jericho's heel character, really stopping his momentum cold.

The other thing stopping the momentum is the pairing against Cryme Tyme, which has largely been a crummy act since their debut (although, they did finally have their first ever good match, on Smackdown, as part of their feud with the Hart Dynasty, Davey Boy's kid Harry along with Tyson Kidd, another former Calgary trainee, with the Anvil's girl as their valet). Cryme Tyme got this match when it was made by Shaquille O Neal.

Okay, when you turned in and saw Freddie Prinze, that was because each RAW has a celebrity host. Largely, this has led to all the awful you can imagine. One host was Shaq - they started a little feud with he and the Show - and they shoehorned Cryme Tyme into that.

The heels will keep and it won't be good.

(the heels kept and it was the definition of a 2 star match, about as anticipated, maybe a little better).

IC Title Match: Rey Mysterio © vs. Dolph Ziggler
-Rey took from Bradshaw in a squash that ended Bradshaw's WWF run at 25; he then had a terrific in-ring feud with Jericho that saw them have good matches on TV and PPV - Jericho took from Rey in the June PPV; Rey re-took (putting up his mask) at their second June PPV meeting. When Jericho then went tags - young Dolph Ziggler got the big jumpstart push into a belt feud with Rey. They met last month; Rey kept - and now they're doing it again which presumably means a switch. Ziggler looks okay - there are a dozen guys on the roster not doing anything I'd rather see get his push, but I don't hate him.

(edit - I like Dolph a little more today, this was the best match of this program, I went 3 1/2, which might be a quarter star heavy, but I really liked it.  Rey's had a helluva good year.)

ECW Title Match: Christian © vs. William Regal
Everything being equal, this is the match I'd most be looking forward to. As it is, I assume it will go 8 minutes and I'll still enjoy it.

Christian returned from TNA at the top of the year; he was in Money in the Bank at 25 and took the ECW strap from young Jack Swagger at the 2nd April PPV. He then dropped to Dreamer in June - and re-took from Tommy last month. They've hot-shot this angle, Regal was just named number one contender and then this week, he seemed to form a stable, with the awful Russian Kozlov and the awful (but mean looking) black dude Ezekial Jackson. Christian's looked good - he was good before he left, he was good in TNA - and he's good now. Nothing bad to say about Christian.

Regal's the best wrestler in the company. Not "ten years ago, Regal was the best wrestler in the company" but, right now, in 2009, the best wrestler in the WWF is Steve Regal. Every time he's on TV something good happens. He had a 6 minute match with young Japanese junior Yoshi Tatsu that actually looked like a wrestling match looks in the 21st century (as opposed to a WWF style wrestling match).

Every couple of years, Regal gets a few weeks on TV - but ECW is an open field right now - and I think he might get the ball for a couple of months. I expect him to take with his heel group. I'd love it to go 20 minutes. It won't. But it would be terrific.

(edit - WWE hates us for our freedoms.)

MVP vs. Jack Swagger
-MVP was a long running heel US Champ - now as babyface isn't really getting a lot of traction. Swagger is a really good looking young heel. They won't get any time at all, and they'll do a real basic match; Swagger went over on RAW so probably they do it the other way here. These are good workers and I'd like to see them spotlighted a little more heavily than they are. Hopefully they don't cancel this match, as The Counterfactual really needs this match. I'm looking forward to however long they give this.

(I shouldn't have been.  This was one star.  They gave them no time and it showed.  This was a bad program.)

Kane vs. The Great Khali
-There's literally nothing good that could come out of this. Don't watch it.

(edit.  I took my own advice.)

So, that's the show - there have been worse SummerSlams (or as Jeremy Piven called it "the SummerFest") the TLC has a chance to be a 4 star match, the IC and ECW will probably both crack 3 stars given the match length - and we'll see if they give Porter/Swagger enough time to do anything. You're unlikely to see a Match of the Year Candidate such that I'd put it here. Hopefully they toss some workers like Morrison and Kidd into a dark match to help my little endeavor.

That's the big, big show. Coming your way this Sunday.

Why Is No One Covering This?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No, not that poll. We're not bright. At this point, if you don't recognize that's dog bites man, you're not paying attention. The rest of the industrialized world has health care for all its citizens - we think that means death panels. We have the 37th best health care system in the world and we'll shout you down if you want to fix it. We're completely held hostage by insurance companies and forced to take whatever crap is shoved down our throats at work because it's the only connection we have to those insurance companies. But a system that would fix both of those conditions would by tyrannical. U-S-A. U-S-A. U-S-A.

No, not this. That's a senior Obama official telling the Washington Post that the "left of the left" is killing health care because of their ridiculous desire for a public option. As the official spokesman for the left of the left, let me say we actually want single payer.

That's a helluva spin. It's not the corporate interests who have spent; well spent this:

Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $4,026,933)

Max Baucus (D- MT- $2,833,731)

Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $2,758,468)

Ben Nelson (D-NE- $1,196,799)

Joe Lieberman (D- CT- $1,036,302)

Chuck Schumer (D-NY- $981,400)

Chuck Grassley (R-IA- $884,724)

...those are campaign contributions spent by anti-health care reform forces in the last decade. Or this:


...the amount of lobbying money spent during the same time frame by those same anti-health care reform forces. Yes, that's in bbbbilions. As in "what would motivate an industry to spend billions of dollars in lobbying? What could they possibly receive in return to justify all that money spent? I mean - the CEOs who approved this sort of expenditure - they probably got punished somehow by their boards of directors, right?

Or maybe Ron Williams of Aetna made 24 million dollars in 2008.

Our health care system, the one that is being defended by billions of health insurance dollars, kills Americans every day while the CEOs of those insurance companies pocket millions.

But universal health care = Nazis.

We're idiots. But this isn't about that.

Or this (quoting Bernie Sanders)

The estimate is about $400 billion a year in administrative costs, in billing, in profits, in CEO compensation, in advertising--all of those things which have nothing to do with the provision of healthcare...

In California, my understanding is that 1 out of every 3 dollars of premiums goes to administration. If we are gonna address the very rapid and dangerous increase in healthcare [costs], then the only way to do that is through a single-payer system which wrings out all of the waste that private health insurance creates.

It's not those corporate interests and purchased politicians of both parties; it's not the wedding of corporate purchasing power, authoritarianism, and the ignorance of the American people.

(a note - a response I've gotten to my "uh, why all the guns outside the town halls" is "it's protest! Free speech! You like free speech, Jividen!" I do. True story. Sure, this is clearly designed not to promote, but to chill speech, but I can pick up what you're laying down. People should be able to protest their President, absolutely. And if it was Bush, giving a speech, and say protesters showed up with loaded automatic weapons and signs talking about watering the tree of liberty, I'm sure that would have been fine.

Or - they would have been arrested without a peep from the media.

And that's if they were just holding the sign.
With no gun around anywhere.

But that was just once, right? Or maybe twice?

These people:

got arrested.

This dude:

got interviewed.

What kind of country would it be if the 4th Amendment had the sort of lobbying muscle that the 2nd Amendment does? Would George Clooney stand before a cheering throng as he yelled out "You want to search my house without a warrant supported by probable cause? You can have the keys to my front door when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands!!"

But none of that is what I want to talk about.

I want to discuss the curious tie in between Bravo (gay ESPN) and Operation Smile.

You all know what I'm talking about!

The 2009 television drinking game of choice at my house (fair disclosure, I don't drink, but I sure can eat me a chocolate chip cookie - particularly now that the Nestle cookie dough recall is over. A longer national nightmare I cannot recall. Hey, homonyms!) involved taking a shot whenever Jessie starting yammering about the good people at Operation Smile. It was a weird season long product placement; as intrusive as the Diet Dr. Depper in the new 90210 (as of yet, there's not a character I care about even a little bit since they shipped off Lucinda Bluth. I keep waiting for BlackBrandon to pull out a trenchcoat and a sawed off shotgun to start killing off drug dealers.)

But if it remained there it would only be a mild curiosity that helped add to my tremendous weight gain.

However, on last week's Miami Social - suddenly Hardy (who is mysteriously silent about his days on Big Brother 2. Don't think we don't know who you is Hardy! You are Captain Club Promoter now, with your {absolutely bizarre} tendency to be shot like you were Don Cheadle's partner in Oceans 11. But we know you as the All-american boy next door who fell under Nicole's dark and mysterious spell in what remains Big Brother's best season {6 was better, right? The result was unsatisfying, but 6 was better. And maybe All-Stars was better too - but for historical importance, what beats BB2? I'm still doing the Chilltown hand signals. Talk about being under the sway of authoritarianism}) suddenly Hardy is putting on a benefit for, wait for it, Operation Smile. It was like when NBC has one of their enviro-friendly weeks and Tracy Jordan is talking about chlorofluorocarbons, "The ozone layer is racist, Liz Lemon!"

And I just need to know what the hell is going on. Where's my Fox News poll:

27% of Americans believe that Operation Smile will force healthy white Christian babies to be disfigured by Obamacare plastic surgeons. Your tax dollars will fund this.

Sometimes my stories confuse me. NYC Prep and Miami Social both pimping for Operation Smile!

And I turn to mainstream media for answers.

But the answers do not come.

And now what?

(Update - so, if you read the comments, you'll find that I now have an answer - the fine people at Operation Smile not only do good work - they have excellent taste in blogs.  That was surprise number one for the day - surprise number two is my friend Kate, baker of the aforementioned cookies, ran into the aformentioned Jessie later that day.  She did not inquire about the whereabouts of PC.  Although that would have been awesome.  The Blog of Revelation~  Solver of Mysteries, Eater of Cookies.) 

The 20 Worst Baseball Players Ever

Any idiot can rank the greatest major league baseball players ever, which reminds me - soon I'll be able to put up the updated and revised list of the 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever -- but it takes some skill to rank the 20 worst baseball players ever.

The better phrasing of this list would be the most destructive 20 baseball players ever, as there are a hundred players who were "worse" than those on the list, players with a half dozen ABs, who got a cup of coffee start and never were seen again. That's not this list - to be truly destructive, truly bad - you had to accumulate some time in the Show - some hard, hard time - a couple thousand terrible plate appearances, a few hundred torturous innings pitched.

To be really "bad" - you had to convince someone, slews of someones, that you were good.

That's what makes a player bad - a player harmful - these are the players that bury your franchise, the reasons your HOF OF never won a WS. It's decision making, the inability to understand performance which gets us to real destruction in sports.

A couple of notes:
1. I may have missed someone. Unlike the top 200 list where I think I've combed over all of the potential suspects (although, occasionally I will think something along the lines of "Aw, hell, did I not check out Mark Langston?) it's a lot harder to mow through all of the bad players. Were there omissions, I apologize.

2. Of the 20, only four are pitchers. My deduction from pouring over a couple of hundred terrible careers is that bad pitchers are harder to hide than bad position players. It makes sense if you think about it - a bad pitcher might hide for awhile, say, piling up some wins while having bad peripherals - but eventually he gets exposed. But consider the first baseman or corner outfielder who might have an okay batting average without power or walks - or the no hit infielder who makes the occasional flashy play but has no range and never gets on base - or the catcher who can't do anything at all but somehow gets a reputation as a great "game caller." Those guys could linger for years, defended by their local beat writers as good locker room guys - guys with heart and guts and character that can't be quantified by the statistics - their contributions can't be measured, Jividen, with your newfangled statistics - why don't you come out of your momma's basement and watch a game sometime?!? You bloggers make me sick, by god - all the time injecting facts into a discussion. You know what you're problem is - you're in the reality business, so there aren't actually weapons of mass destruction - so global warming is actually happening -- you tell your evidence to shut up. U-S-A! U-S-A! If you don't think Brad Ausmus was a helluva catcher, you hate the troops.

3. Yes, I know the WARP numbers have changed since I wrote this in 2008.  These numbers are all smaller now than they were when I made the list.  It's all contextual, it doesn't impact the rankings. No, unlike the list of best players I'm not going through it again to change everything.  One day I'll do it.  Today is not that day. Edit - it's early 2011 and this post is solidly my most read each week.  Welcome!  Poke around!  Enjoy some tasty meats and/or cheeses.  I'm updating the numbers for you to reflect the multiple statistical advancements just in the past couple of years.  I'm cool like that.  Additionally, I've now really burrowed a little more deeply into the ugly; I've got a full 50 worst baseball players of all time.  One day, I'll rework this entire post, maybe even into a book, to reflect that - but for now, I'll just update this when I can.  I make multiple posts each week, inluding a long post every Sunday.  Consider telling whatever friends you might have who like to make donations or hire people to write snarky things about professional wrestling. 

With that.

WARP 6.8
WAR -1.7
Worst season: 1927

His nicknames were Flunky and Weeping Willie, so it's an appropriate place to start the list. Top comp. is Todd Van Poppel, who would be in the next 20. Had a good '29, won 15 games had a WARP3 of 5.4 - then lost 17 games the following year with an untranslated ERA of 7.59. That Phillie team had a total WARP3 of under 30.0 and lost 102 games. Also throwing for the Phils that year was Les Sweetland (lost 15 games, 7.71 ERA) Hal Elliott (lost 11 games, 7.67 ERA) Hap Collard (12 games, 6.80). (edit, Willoughby looks better in 2011; his career WARP is 6.8 with only two negative years - who was worse was Van Poppel, who had 7 negative WARP seasons, just a horror show - a career WARP of 1.9; a translated career ERA of over 5; an ERA+ of 80 - so that's even worse than Willoughby's but with 11 seasons and 900 IP. His career WAR {I use the baseball-reference version}, if you prefer that stat, was sub negative 2.  Yeah, TVP aces Willoughby out of that spot.  Pat Mahomes is closest to TVP in similarity scores; take a look at his numbers if you'd like to compare. 

None of those guys would make my current bottom 50 however; you're going to get almost no arms at all on that bottom 50)

OPS+ 86
WARP -10.8
WAR 3.3
Worst season: 1879

Was okay for 2 seasons, '82 and '83 where he had a total WARP3 of 9.8; he hit .342 in 1882. But the other 3900 plate appearances in his career were terrible, he put up negative WARP seasons 3 times, those 2 seasons were his only two full time years where his OBP was over .300.  His career WARP is now -10.8; his translated career line was .265/.294/.353.  In 1879 alone he put up a -4.9 WARP, which may well be one of the very worst seasons of all time; his OPS+ that year was 50 in 263 plate appearances.  Career WAR was better, 3.3, and that would take him out of the bottom 50 of all time. 

18. JESUS ALOU LF/RF Giants/Astros
OPS+ 86
WAR -2.3
Worst season 1969

I hate you Jesus Alou. An OPS+ of 86 for a corner OF who got 4500 plate appearances is unbearably bad. An excellent example of a guy who could fool someone not doing good analysis - his lifetime BA is .280 - but his lifetime OBP is only .305. He had 5 negative WARP seasons, this is a corner OF with 32 career homers in 4500 plate appearances.

I'm a Giants fan; the Giants have not won a WS since the move despite having a combined quarter century+ of two of the greatest American athletes who ever lived and the honest devotion of a bookish young boy. If you're Willie Mays and you spent the last two decades of your career chasing a second world title, it's fair to wonder why you kept falling short. (Edit, July 2011.  I'm sorry.  Did something happen?  I was probably watching Jerseylicious.  Why can't Frankie Jr. and Gigi just work it out!!  There's a link to all my 2010 Giants posts, 'cause I made some.  It's here.

All he had to do was look to the side. Jesus Alou was the starting LF or RF next to Mays from '64-68. He had approximately 2200 plate appearances in those 5 seasons. He had a total WARP, in 5 years as a starting corner OF next to Willie Mays, of 7.2. Mays, in the same span, had a WARP of just under 60.0.

In '66, Alou had an OPS+ of 61.

The Giants won 90+ games in each season between '64 and '68, save for the last when they won 88. In '64, they finished 3 games out of first place. In '65, two games out. In '66 1.5 games out.

I'm not saying that necessarily Jesus Alou was the reason we fell just short from a pennant in those three years.

But on the list of factors, he's high up. Edit - his new lifetime WARP is -9.  He had a negative WARP every single year in San Francisco.  Every one.  Jesus Alou had 2300+ lifetime plate appearances as a Giant and was always below replacement level. (career WAR was -2.3)  Yeah, I'm good with Jesus Alou being right here.  I wonder if he's the worst San Francisco Giant of all time.  Johnny LeMaster, who was "my" Giants SS as a kid in the late 70s had a SFG career WARP of -4.9; Alou's was -5.6  Alou's '66 is the worst year for a right fielder in SFG history. 

He's bad - but Alou will wind up just missing out on the all time bottom 50.

Athletics/Red Sox
OPS+ 88
WAR .5
Worst season: 1937

5000 plate appearances from a player at a power postion in the high offense 1930s. Finney had 31 career homers. As with Alou - his lifetime BA is high, .287 - but when you factor in era and ballpark, it drops to a translated .269 with a translated .314 OBP. He had 5 negative WARPs. Had one okay season - 1940, where he had a 5.1 WARP and made the All Star team. He really piled up the negative value from '33-37, where his OPS+ for each year was 78, 77, 65, 81, 60.You wonder what Jimmie Foxx was thinking about when Finney followed him to the Red Sox in '39; they were teammates on the A's from '31-35 and then on the RSox from '39 to 42. In those years Finney put up a WARP3 of 12.4 while Foxx's was near 75. When Foxx was dealt to the RSox in '35 - it was Finney who took his job. And when Foxx was cut by the Sox as he wound to a close, again, Finney picked up first base ABs. One of the worst players in major league history replaced one of the best twice. May have been a Single White Female situation.  If you ever see a picture of Jimmie Foxx where he has a weird resemblance to Bridget Fonda, then the circle gets the square. Current lifetime WARP is -8; WAR is .5  That won't be enough to stick him in the bottom 50.

16. IVY OLSON SS Indians/Dodgers
OPS+ 74
WARP -13.8
WAR 3.1
Worst season 1918
Couldn't hit, lifetime OBP under .300 and SLG at .318. Also couldn't field, 110 runs below average for his career at SS. Highest WARP3 in 14 seasons was 3.9, just consistently bad for years and years. Edit - now we break double digits with the negative career WARP numbers; Ivy's got a -13.8 that he's waving in front of your face.  He's right outside the all time bottom 50.

15. KEN REITZ 3B Cardinals
OPS+ 78
WARP -3.5
WAR -4.2
Worst season: 1975

The '77 season is the first one in my memory; I was 6. I began playing baseball by myself, either in the street or with balloons in the house - I'd use the current rosters, whatever statistics I could get, from backs of baseball cards when I started - eventually this would evolve into my creating a dice game and spending a significant percentage of my life floating inside baseball statistics instead of you know, dating and whatnot.

I recall thinking, at the age of 9 or 10, that Ken Reitz was an above average baseball player - good, he must have been good, right? I knew he had been a Giant in '76 - but that wasn't what caused me to think he could play - it was the batting average. He hit .268 and .270 in '79 and '80. Hell, Ken Reitz was an All Star in 1980 - so that clearly legitimized him in my 9 year old brain as a good baseball player.

I was lied to. The baseball media lied to me. I read the Sporting News when I was 9 years old, I read Dick Young and Joe Falls and Furman Bisher. I was told that a .270 batting average from a third baseman was good, All Star worthy - and that meant I should think of Ken Reitz as, if not an elite player, on just the next tier.

Ken Reitz!

I was lied to - in how many ways, in how many ways was the "official" line, the "accepted wisdom" wholly contrary to the weight of the evidence? Ken Reitz had a lifetime OBP under .300. 5000+ plate appearances and a lifetime OBP of under .300. Why must you fill my house with lies - every sportswriter in the 1970s?

Sad part is - you ask Joe Morgan today, he'd tell you Ken Reitz was a solid ballplayer. Good character guy. Heart of a ballclub. Hey - he hit .270 that one year - made the All Star team. Good stuff.  In 2010 (hey, an edit, fun!  The blogosophere, much like the Constitution, is a living, breathing work) there's a starting position player in the National League with 4000+ plate appearances and a lifetime sub .300 OBP.  And he's a former Giant.  Anyone?  Anyone?  I'm looking at you Pedro Feliz.  If I ever revist this list, your UZR won't save you.  Nor will an expanded view of the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Reitz isn't quite bad enough to make the final bottom 50 list; Feliz is not good, but better than Reitz, he's in the black for his career in both metrics. 

Who's the worst current player in major league baseball?  Well, let's start here - how about a vote for the runner-up for the title worst position player of the 21st century - Matt Walbeck.

His career WARP was -7.3, WAR -3.8 - that would mean he'd just miss out on inclusion in the bottom 50 baseball players of all time; but it makes him the worst position player of the century thusfar.  His career OPS+ was 54; his translated BA/OBP/SLG was .234/.279/.322.  7 of his ten seasons were negative WARP.  Both the Twins and the Angels gave him multiple 300+ plate appearance seasons and he never had a year with a 700 OPS. 

The worst pitcher of the millennium?  He's still to come. 

The worst active player?  The worst active player (as of 2010) is the worst player of the 21st century - and you'll see him on the final list for the worst 50 baseball players of all time.

Yes, there is a player, active in 2010, who is one of the 50 worst baseball players of all time.  He might even crack the bottom 25.

Do you know who it is?

It's Juan Castro.

WARP -6.1
WAR -10.4
OPS+ 55
Translated line: .234/.275/.315

14. FRANK LACORTE RHP Braves/Astros
WARP 4.6
Worst season 1977

LaCorte only pitched 490 innings in his ten year career - but they were bad ones. That AERA is the worst of any pitcher I looked at in putting together this list. In '77, his AERA was 38. He went 1-8 in '77 from the pen, he only pitched 39 innings but gave up ten homers, 67 hits and 29 walks. That's 98 baserunners in 39 innings. 98 baserunners in 39 innings. Wow. His untranslated ERA was 11.68. That Braves team had a total WARP3 of 22.7. 38 year old Phil Niekro was over a third of that total at 8.9. That's an all time bad club and LaCorte was its worst player. 98 baserunners in 39 innings. No wonder Ted Turner decided he wanted to manage.  Career WARP is now -3.9; WAR -3.7.  I referred to his '77 season in the main text - it just...his WHIP was over 2 and a half.  His H/9 was over 16 and BB/9 was over 7.  23 baserunners a game!  23 baserunners a game!  Even at only 39 innings pitched, it is an all time bad season.



OPS+ 62

BFW -15.2

WARP3 9.3

Worst season 1954 (-1.6)

And when you're talking about an adjusted OPS of 62, now you're talking about feeble bats at an elite level. He was also 50 runs below average with the glove for his career - and that's what separated Demaestri from the ordinary, rotten bat at SS. His translated lifetime BAOPB/SLG was .228/.263/.321 in nearly 3700 plate appearances. When you're looking for truly bad, bad all time bad baseball players - this is the template - minus glove, non existent bat, and a decade sucking up plate appearances. The WARP3...wait - remember what I just said about that '77 Braves team being one of the worst ever -

The total WARP3 - the total WARP3 for the '54 A's, the last ever year in Philadelphia before the move to Kansas City -- was 7.5.

I would have bet a thousand dollars there was never a team in MLB history with a WARP3 below 10.0. That means if you double - if you double the production of the entire team - it would still fall short of the very best single seasons by individual players in MLB history. 7.5 for an entire team. Wow. Demaestri was the worst player at -1.6 -- the best, actually having an okay year, was Arnie Portocarrero, whose name I had never heard before until right now, and given the years I've spent reading the baseball encyclopedia, I half believe it to be made up. Portocarrero had a 5.4 -- a 5.4 on a team with a total of 7.5. He might have been the most valuable player to an individual club in the history of baseball. There's another bar bet you can win, you're welcome.

Demaestri's best season was '57, he had a WARP3 of 3.0 - his translated OBP that year was .273 - and he made the All Star team. The next time there's a discussion of worst All Stars Ever - Demaestri in '57 needs a mention.

7.5 for a whole team season. Yikes. Absent a sortable database, I don't suppose you'll see me put together a list of the worst teams in baseball history...although I might, I might - but the leader in the clubhouse, the hard leader in the clubhouse is that last Philadelphia Athletics team from 1954.  Edit - WARP -9.5, WAR -4.9.

12. CRAIG PAQUETTE 3B Athletics/Royals/Cardinals


OPS+ 77

BFW -15.1

WARP3 8.5

Worst season: 2002 (-1)

Paquette's the worst third baseman in the history of MLB.

Of the 20 on this list - none are center fielders, so the all time worst team would have a hole in the middle, which seems fitting. For purposes of completion, the worst CF of all time, I think, would be Jerry Morales (1969-83, Padres, Cubs, OPS+ 91, BFW -15.4, WARP3 16.2).

Paquette gets to start at 3rd with his OPS+ of 77. This doesn't factor in, but in his postseason career he was 2-15 with 7 strikeouts.

He had a negative glove, 23 runs below average for his career and had a translated OBP of .270 for his career.  WARP -6, WAR -2.9

11. KEVIN JARVIS RHP Reds/Padres



PW -11.6

WARP3 3.6

Worst season 1996 (-.6)

The second worst pitcher in baseball history. The worst right handed pitcher in baseball history.

Jarvis had 10 negative WARP3 seasons, he's like Bizarro Joe DiMaggio. He should go to Anna Nicole Smith's grave every day and steal roses. He never had an AERA at 100 for even a single season, meaning that he was never once, never once in 12 years a league average pitcher. In 6 seasons Jarvis had untranslated ERAs over 10.00. Rarely do you see a guy who gets to have six years in the bigs with 4 digit ERA numbers - I mean, those aren't hard numbers to ferret out, when you look at the back of his baseball card and see 6 years with ERA's over 10.00, that's gotta make you think twice before sending him out to face the bad men with the bats. Only twice in 12 seasons did Jarvis win more games than he lost (12-11 and 1-0). Only twice in 12 seasons did Jarvis give up fewer hits than innings pitched. In 2000 and 2001, Jarvis was given the ball in a little more than 200 total innings - and gave up a total of 63 home runs.

A note - on reflection, I have Jarvis too high, or low, or whatever you'd call it - he's worse than Kekich, they can switch spots - Jarvis, with ten negative WARP seasons, is the worst pitcher in the history of baseball.

WARP -6.5, WAR -5.6 His career WHIP was over 1.5.  His translated ERA was 6 and a half.  780 innings pitched with a translated ERA of 6 and a half.  How did this happen America?

#10. EDDIE MIKSIS 2B Dodgers/Cubs


OPS+ 62

BFW -17.4

WARP3 9.1

Worst season 1944 (-.3)

Miksis had 5 negative WARP seasons; a lifetime untranslated OBP under .300 and a negative glove. He only had one year above 2.0; this is exactly what you'd expect from this list - Miksis had a 15 year MLB career, he couldn't hit and couldn't field. But he's not the worst second baseman who ever lived.  13 seasons with negative WARP - Miksis's best season - his very best season, with the Cubs in '51, his WARP was .4  Career WARP -7.7, WAR -3.8.  He got a vote for the Hall of Fame!  Eddie Miksis and his career OPS+ of 62 had one writer, in 1964 say "yes, this was one of the greatest of all time.  Miksis will get my vote today.  Miksis!  Poor little Miksis."

#9 DAN MEYER 1B/LF Tigers/Mariners/A's


OPS+ 85

BFW -17

WARP3 7.6

Worst season 1978 (-.5)

4 negative WARP3 seasons for Meyer - he had a really bad glove - negative runs above position for 3 separate positions; Meyer was -46 as a LF. Tack that onto a sub .300 OBP and you get the worst LF in the history of MLB. Had an OPS+ of 66 as the Mariner first baseman in '78, soaking up 477 lousy plate appearances. One of the worst players on terrible teams for virtually every season of his dozen year career - just a disaster. Career WARP -14.3, Career WAR -9.  Each of those numbers is the worst of anyone on this list thusfar.  9th worst of all time may be generous to Meyer. 

#8. JOE QUINN 2B/1B Braves/Cardinals


OPS+ 74

BFW -24.7

WARP3 24.6

Worst season: 1884 (-2.7)

4 negative WARP seasons; Quinn's translated OBP was sub .300 and he finished 74 fielding runs under league average; Quinn got 7300+ PA in the bigs; 18 years and over 7000 plate appearances of mostly bad.  WARP -8.4, WAR 1.6 - where we have the largest disparity is in fielding evaluation between the 19th century players, let me suggest. 




PW -11.8

WARP3 1.4

Worst season 1970 (-.3)

The worst pitcher in MLB history (except I switched him with Jarvis)

860 innings pitched, a translated ERA of over 6.00. Two years with a translated ERA over 10.00. And then there was the wife swapping.  Keikich gives Jarvis a good run with a career WARP of -7.8, and a WAR of -5.8.  They really can be 1-2 in either order nestled right around this spot in the all time list. 

#6. GARY BENNETT C Phillies

1995 - 2008

OPS+ 64

BFW -13.9

WARP3 3.2

Worst season 2006 (-1.2)

The worst active player in MLB (no longer so)

Why is it teams keep giving Gary Bennett jobs?

His translated career OBP is under .300 (he finished at .301) He's had 3 negative WARP seasons. You see his OPS+. And he is 52 runs below average behind the plate.

Gary Bennett has no value. Playing in an inflated offensive era, he has 22 career homers in over 1800 plate appearances. He's struck out twice as much as he's walked. His best ever WARP3 was 1.2. 1.2! 14 years in the bigs - a career in the 21st century - and never had a year above 1.2.

He can't do anything. Gary Bennett's never done anything. He's had a big league job since '95. It's a crime against decency. Career WARP -5.1, WAR -3.7.  Bad, of course - but not Dan Meyer bad.  Meyer's sliding all the way here.  Let's see if he can keep going. 



OPS+ 70

BFW -17.9

WARP3 4.8

Worst season 1919 (-1.6)

5 negative WARP3 seasons in a 12 year career; the everpopular translated sub .300 OBP in 2500+ PA. In that 1919 season, Janvrin's OPS+ was 37; he had 253 PA in '19 and made 190 outs. That was also his only really terrible glove year, 12 runs below average. But - the Sox won back to back WS in '15-16, so Janvrin was presumably endowed with special championship character. Granted, his OPB on those two WS was .208 in 24 PA, but he clearly had a winner's DNA that probably allowed him to do the little things it took to win. Good clubhouse guy.  Didn't take up 4 lockers to himself.  That '16 team wasn't very good, with a WARP3 that just scraped over 50; Ruth was its best player - the year before it was Speaker. Hard to win back to back titles with the fifth worst player in MLB history sucking up PA, helps to have inner circle HOF'ers picking you up.  His translated slugging knocks him over, so this isn't exactly true - but I love seeing an all 200 slash line - untranslated, Janvrin's career was .232/.292/.287.  And that's a bottom 20 all time ballplayer.  WARP -5.6, WAR -2.5

4. BILL BERGEN C Dodgers


OPS+ 20

BFW -15.7

WARP3 .5

Worst season: 1901 (-.9)

The worst hitter in baseball history.

Take a moment. Here he is.

An OPS+ of 20 means he would have needed to be a 5x more productive hitter just to be average.

Here are his translated numbers - they're shocking. .166/.193/.188

In 4200+ PA.

In 4200+ PA Bill Bergen had a translated OBP of .193 and a slugging of .188.

You know how Potter Stewart defined pornography, "I know it when I see it?" It's pornographic how bad a hitter Bill Bergen was. He violated all community standards at the plate, having no artistic, literary, or scientific value.  At best he should have gone to the plate in a brown paper bag. No one I looked at in this study was even half as bad with the stick as was Bergen. There needed to be a Comstock Act seizure of his bats.

Why is he only the 4th worst player ever - dude could glove. He finished 51 fielding runs above average for his career. Catching is hard to do, the batting standards for the position are lower than most others, you can have a mediocre bat and still be useful.

But Bergen didn't have a mediocre bat - Bergen was the worst hitter who ever lived.

Eleven seasons.  All negative WARP.  All of them.  His best season was -.4.  In his best season ever, his translated BA was .168.  His career WARP was -16.4.  His career WAR was -17.6  I already gave his translated slashline - but even his untranslated line is .170/.194/.201.  I know I have him fourth here - but if the reason you're reading this is to definitively know, once and for all, who is the worst player of all time - it's Bergen.  His bat will not be denied.  You know how in a dunk contest when someone really slams it down, everyone jumps up in the air and starts waving their arms and throwing tens all over the arena?  That's me reading Bergen's player card.  I'm making the "it's over" motion like Vince Carter back in 2000.  It's over.  It is all over. 

3. TOMMY DOWD 2B/OF Cardinals


OPS+ 82

BFW -23.9

WARP3 8.2

Worst season: 1898 (-1.7)

Bill Bergen was the worst hitter who ever lived. Tommy Dowd was the worst fielder.

'Cause you look at that 82 OPS+ and you think - well, that's pretty terrible for an OF, but he also played 2B, he looks more like a bat bat than an all time awful bat - hard to see Bergen's OPS+ of 20 and rank anyone as a worse player than he.

Then you look at Dowd's glove. Recall, Bergen was 51 runs above fielding average for his career --- Tommy Dowd was 144 runs below average. He was as bad with the glove as was Bergen with the bat. Terrible at second base (61 below in 328 games) terrible in center (56 below in 331 games) terrible in right (33 below in 349 games). But - where he could field was in left (15 runs above average in 284 games) - had he just been left in left his whole career, while his bat was really bad for a corner OF (translated career .252/.302/.373) you wouldn't see him as the third worst player who ever lived.

144 runs below - combine his glove and Bergen's bat and you have Bizarro Babe. The worst baseball player ever created.  But my man Dowd was bad too - career WARP -18.3, worse than Bergen - although Dowd did have one season in the black numbers.  His WAR is also awful, -8.4; I'm inclined to believe his glove is as bad as Bergen's bat - but I'm inclined to flip them in the final ranking.

2. DOUG FLYNN 2B Mets/Expos


OPS+ 56

BFW -27.6

WARP3 8.4

Worst season: 1977 (-1.8)

Sure, you thought I was just picking on the turn of the 20th century guys, with their handlebar moustaches and their untreated venereal diseases. No! In steps Doug Flynn.

You knew Flynn couldn't hit; he was probably referred to in every publication for a decade as sure handed or slick fielding or some other euphemism for "you know Doug Flynn can't hit - right?". His translated line is .240/.268/.290 - which would be absolutely abysmal given he got 4000+ PA to do it in, except, of course, that you just saw Bergen's line - and Flynn was effectively twice Bergen's bat (but half of an average bat).

But Flynn also couldn't field, 31 runs below fielding average for his career - almost all of that as the Mets shortstop; as the Expos second baseman, he was just slightly below average.

So - you take a bad glove and an all time bad bat - and you get Flynn - sure, Bergen had a worse bat, and Dowd's glove - GOOD LORD did Tommy Dowd have a bad glove - was much worse - but combine them both and you say Flynn ekes out the spot as the second worst baseball player who ever lived.  WARP
-11.7, WAR -12.1 -- so Flynn, with his sub 60 OPS+ and his crummy glove, mixing Bergen with Dowd, does deserve this bottom 5 ranking - but I'm going to say he's only the third worst player ever.   

Which leaves only this.




OPS+ 82

BFW -23.2

WARP3 2.9

Worst season 1882 (-2.4)

Here's what's good.

Charlie Comiskey, of course, is on the list of all time bad baseball owners as well, his refusal to pay the White Sox stars their promised bonuses is perhaps the motivating factor in their throwing the 1919 WS. The evidence suggests he then made all attempts to cover up the scandal.

Here's also good - Charlie Comiskey, of course, is in the HOF. He's Comiskey Park (RIP).

And he was terrible. Terrible. 6 negative WARP seasons; his -2.4 in 1882 is an all time bad number. Now, his bat doesn't look terrible compared to Bergen (translated: .249/.279/.356) but keep in mind this is a first baseman. A first baseman with over 6000 PA and a .279 adjusted OBP. A first baseman who couldn't field, 28 runs below average for his career.

And Comiskey, for almost his entire career, was his own manager.

So, for 13 years, he kept writing himself, and his .279 adjusted OBP into his lineup at first base.

He went to four championship series' in the 1880s, sucked up 151 ABs with a .301 OBP.

He only had one year where he even reached a WARP3 of 2.0.

He couldn't hit; he couldn't field; he wrote himself in the lineup for 6000 PA; then his ownership was a direct cause of the scandal that almost brought down the entire sport.

I began the list saying that the worst baseball players ever had to be harmful, had to cause destruction.

There's no better candidate for that slot than Charlie Comiskey. The worst ballplayer who ever lived.

And his career WARP -25.8, is the worst ever - but his WAR ain't bad, 11 - not negative 11 - but 11; here's where you get the height of the real radical defensive metric distinctions.  I'm inclined to leave Comiskey as the 4th worst player ever, maybe 5th behind Meyer.  His -4.3 WARP in 1882 is funkyfresh. 

Brand New Edit.  It's July, 2011.  I got namechecked in Deadspin and chances are, if you're reading this anytime approximating right now, that's from where you come.  

With respect, here are the 50 Worst Baseball Players of All Time:

1. Bill Bergen
2. Wally Goldsmith
3. Lou Say
4. Eddie Booth
5. Tommy Dowd
6. Charlie Sweasy
7. Doug Flynn
8. Dan Meyer
9. Jim Clinton
10. Jim Levey
11. Cub Stricker
12. Fred Warner
13. Bill Lennon
14. Harry Wheeler
15. Fred Raymer
16. Holly Hollingshead
17. George Creamer
18. Sam Crane
19. Sam Crane
20. Henry Kohler
21. Jimmy Hallinan
22. Art Croft
23. Frank Selman
24. Ecky Stearns
25. George Barclay
26. Luis Pujols
27. Skeeter Webb
28. Bob Lillis
29. Juan Castro
30. George Sutherland
31. Vic Harris
32. Charlie Comiskey
33. Scott Hastings
34. Jim Tipper
35. Ned Cuthbert
36. Oscar Bielaski
37. Charlie Pabor
38. Juice Latham
39. Art Allison
40. Jim Holdworth
41. Dalton Jones
42. Mike Kekich
43. Tuck Stainback
44. Eddie Miksis
45. Keith Jarvis
46. John Demaestri
47. Luis Gomez
48. John Guttierez
49. Jack Heidemann
50. Henry Kessler

Thanks for reading.

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