a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

2009 - Match of the Year Candidates




Your current leader: Kenta v. Akiyama.  NOAH.  From May.

I wonder, following Misawa's death, how many matches at this level are remaining, as it is bone jarring.  Kenta's a runaway choice for Wrestler of the Year; there's really not a scenario where anyone else should be considered.  Akiyama should receive much more support than he does for the WON HOF; actually, that's part of a broader argument that I make which is workrate should be much more strongly considered than it is in making those determinations.  Akiyama seems to get injured by not being as good as the other elite AJPW workers, but setting the bar requiring one is the greatest worker of all time or can't be in the HOF based chiefly on workrate seems like a poor calculation to me.

As the other MOTY posts are lost to us, here is my list of the elite (4 1/2 stars and up) matches I've seen so far in 2009: (edit, I'll use this post to add additional matches)

Kenta v. Nakajima (Feb) 5 stars

Kenta v. Nakajima (Mar)

Kenta v. Kotaro (Jan) 

Doi v. Kanemoto (Mar)

Akiyama v. Go (April)

Ishii v. Inoue (Apr)

Tanahashi v. Goto (May)

Tanaka/Sekimoto v. Miyamoto/TSasaki (Apr)

Akiyama v. Kenta (May)

Nigel v. Marufuji (ROH - Dec 08)

Nigel v. Kenta (Mar -ROH)

Kenta v. Davey (Apr -ROH)

Danielson v. Black (May - ROH)

Sekimoto v. Sai (May - Zero1)

Kenta v. Marvin (June - NOAH)

Kenta/Go v. Nakajima/Kensuke (June - NOAH)

Marvin v. Ishimori (May - probably Kensuke Office)

Tanaka v. Hidaka (May - Zero 1)

Kodaka/Takeda v. Miyamoto/TSasaki (May - Big Japan)

Kanemoto v. Devitt (June - New Japan)

Kenta/Go v. Nakajima/Kensuke (June - NOAH)

Kenta v. Go (May - NOAH)

Ultimate X (Oct - TNA Bound for Glory)

My primary thought about Arturo Gatti's death is that Mickey Ward should have used a purse in that third fight.  My primary thought about Steve McNair's death is that - holy shit, was that dude unlucky.  The Sports Industrial Complex has wagged its finger a little bit, stepping as close to the "well, that'll learn you for stepping out on your wife" line as they feel the public will allow.  This is, of course, ridiculous - the number of professional athletes of the level of Steve McNair's wealth and celebrity who aren't sleeping with some 20 year old waitress is smaller than the number of those same athletes who have never "cheated" (didja see Bob Gibson saying that of course ballplayers cheated in his day, ballplayers have always cheated, and that if steroids were around for him he can't say he wouldn't have loaded up too) on the field.  The reason sportswriters aren't getting on top of a 20 year old girl is that none would have them.

McNair didn't face some cosmic justice - McNair just drew the wrong cards - I'm guessing that he was attempting to break it off with her (she was pulled over for a DUI 2 days before in the Escalade that they jointly owned, he was with her, obviously putting him in jeopardy of getting caught - not that I've been around a crime or two, but the proximity of the events leads me to suggest a tie in, that tie in being his saying something like "yeah, we gotta stop doing this." 

Maybe it costs him the car.  Hell, if she works hard, maybe it costs him the condo - but damn - murder/suicide by a 20 year old Dave & Busters waitress is a bad, unlucky ending.  I don't know if ballplayers will "learn a lesson" that they should be faithful to their marriage vows as much as they'll consider strapping up even when at home.

Sign Barry Bonds (no, this isn't a re-post - this is brand new. July 2009. Seriously.)

Greenwald http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/ wrote this at the top of the week; there's not likely to be a good response from the Republicans on the judiciary committee.

Sam Alito (from his confirmation hearing): When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.


Two weeks ago, Alito cast the deciding vote in Ricci v. DeStefano, an intensely contested affirmative action case. He did so by ruling in favor of the Italian-American firefighters, finding that they were unlawfully discriminated against, even though the district court judge who heard all the evidence and the three-judge appellate panel ruled against them and dismissed their case. Notably, the majority Supreme Court opinion Alito joined (.pdf) began by highlighting not the relevant legal doctrine, but rather, the emotional factors that made the Italian-American-plaintiffs empathetic.




Did Alito's Italian-American ethnic background cause him to cast his vote in favor of the Italian-American plaintiffs? Has anyone raised that question? Given that he himself said that he "do[es] take that into account" -- and given that Sonia Sotomayor spent 6 straight hours today being accused by GOP Senators and Fox News commentators of allowing her Puerto Rican heritage to lead her to discriminate against white litigants -- why isn't that question being asked about Alito's vote in Ricci?

More important that this; my side lost the All Star Game for 119th consecutive year; my only salvageable moment was Lincecum's shaky start not turning into an Atlee Hammaker clip.  There aren't any SFG fans who didn't look at Josh Hamilton coming up with the bases loaded and not see Freddy Lynn or Bo Jackson or whomever it was that took Jason Schmidt's arm or Billy Swift's soul.  The ASG is bad news. 

By WARP3, here is your top starting nine for all of MLB going into the break.

P Dan Haren

C Joe Mauer

1B Albert Pujols

2B Chase Utley

SS Marco Scutaro

3B Evan Longoria

OF Matt Kemp

OF Torii Hunter

OF Ichiro Suzuki

Note that neither Scutaro or Kemp made their leagues respective squads.

But really what I want to talk about is this:

From the 7-13-09 chat at Baseball Prospectus:

Jon (SF): Not going to happen, but do you think that even now, Bonds would be no worse than the third best hitter on the Giants, maybe second best?


Joe Sheehan: Maybe the best. Only Sandoval would have a chance to be better, and I'm not sure he would be.




What amuses me is that one of the criticisms of Bonds late in his career was that he couldn't run the bases. The Giants' best player, and the Giants' cleanup hitter, are slower than he was at the end.


Anyway, Bonds would make the Giants better, even at some .240/.390/.480 level of hitting.

Now, here's the thing, at the age of 44 after a year and a half away, even I (even I!) think Sheehan's a tad optimistic on what Barry could bring. But he knows more baseball than I do. And he's a real Trojan, unlike my inability to make it to my first class. The last time the greatest baseball player who ever lived swung a bat in anger his translated line for his 126 game season in 2007 was .265/.477/.565.

But lets assume Sheehan's right.  The Giants are 49-39; we have 74 games left.  Let's say Bonds could play in 50 of them at .240/.390/.480. 

That makes him our second best bat. 

Throw in the negative glove, and don't you still have an upgrade (particularly if he's the lefty half of a platoon)?

What were the arguments last year used by the Sports Industrial Complex as to why it would be unthinkable (unthinkable!) for any team to sign the greatest player who ever lived to the minimum salarly?

That it would be a circus.

Well, here we are in a week where two members of the NL All Star team have PEDs on their rap sheets (Franklin and Tejada) facts that went completely ignored by the telecast (remember whenever Bonds took the field in a national game that there always had to be a disclaimer "we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the cloud....").

And more importantly, this year we've had ARod and Manny.

Was there any consideration given to not bringing them back?  ARod's a bigger celebrity (in a bigger media town) than is Bonds - and (unlike Bonds) he got caught.  Wouldn't the sideshow argument be better made with ARod's return?

Where's the sideshow been?  The Yankees are fine; ARod's not in the news - he's a sidelight to this season.

The consensus best player in baseball, a guy who started the season dating Madonna and is now (apparently) banging Kate Hudson gets a positive drug test, has a book written that alleges (still uncontradicted) some level of pitching tipping and PED use far beyond the admitted range - but yet the world keeps turning.  He plays, the Yankees play, and the game continues.

And something else happened - something else, I can't quite...

Oh yeah.  Manny Ramirez got suspended.  Slugging iconic leaden footed somewhat mercurial west coast left fielder got caught in the PED testing.  And came back.

Came back.  Got a standing ovation last night.

What about the circus?  What about distractions?  What about too much trouble for any team to take on, teams need to turn the page from the steroid era - Bonds certainly isn't being blackballed - what a naive reaction, blackballed - of course not - these are good, sound decisions!

Sign Barry Bonds.  We have never won a World Series in San Francisco.  We have a need for a guy who can get on base and bop home runs.  There's one around.  For free.  Just sitting there.

(here's where I shoehorn in an old blog, in my attempts to salvage my past work - I wrote this last October)

12 guys played LF for the 2008 Mets. Fernando Tatis, who had his best year in a decade, was the chief among them. His WARP3 was 2.4 (because he was 10 fielding runs below average) and his OPS+ was 125. Half a dozen of those guys also played the other corner for the Mets, as they ran 6 RF out in 2008. Ryan Church had the most plate appearances in RF, and finished with a WARP3 of 4.2. His OPS+ was 112.


The Mets finished a game out of the NL Wild Card. One game.


Let me ask you this - would the difference between Barry Bonds and the corner OF for the 2008 NYM have been worth one game?

Barry Bonds and his 170 OPS+ in 2007 was free talent in 2008. He would have signed for the minimum for any team in Major League Baseball.

There is no evidence, in Bonds's career, that his presence harms a clubhouse in a way that is quantifiable in wins and losses. None. And, even assuming the very worst, that somehow a baseball team who signed Barry Bonds in 2008 was worse on the field because of that - said baseball team could have simply released him.

Free talent. OPS+ of 170 in 2007. Willing to work for the minimum (and by the way, a proven box office draw).


And no one gave him a call.

The 2008 New York Mets finished a game out of the wild card with Fernando Tatis and Ryan Church as their corner OF while Barry Bonds sat at home.

The next time someone tells you that sports are a pure meritocracy, where it's performance that matters - where what organizations care about is winning above all - that organizations want to go to the playoffs, win the World Series - do all they can do to give their fans a championship -

Tell them they're wrong.

Hey Mets fans. How you doing today?