The Weekly Tendown January 23 --29 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dear Internet:

Tired this week.  8 courses and 200+ students has broken my will.  Here's what's doin' for Tendown 62.

1. My Super Bowl Pick

I've got football posts coming this week; Tuesday is a new ranking of every SB winner, by regular season pythagorean record.  Wednesday is a rank of the ten greatest matchups in SB history. Thursday the "Real Super Bowl MVP, where we look beyond simply the winning QB from each team and name, once and for all, who should have received the MVP Trophy in each of the 44 Super Bowls, and then Friday my pick post, where I'll officially pick both against the spread and the straight up winner of SB45.

(Also, an 11 page post in my other blog will hit on Tuesday.  And last week I posted my Royal Rumble preview and my Athlete of the Month for January.  For those of you not wrestling inclined, the Royal Rumble post also included my look at the most successful Real World alums from each of its 24 seasons and a joke with the punchline "Pedophile Harriet Tubman".  So there's a little bit for everyone.)

But - because, you (yes, you!) my loyal Tendown reader is the sweetest smelling of all my readers, I am releasing the SB pick to you right now.  Right now!  Right now! (with the caveat that it might change before Friday.)

Here it is:

Steelers +3.  Packers straight up.

I'm for the Packers, they're a non-profit, publicly owned team - let's say you're one of my lefty/pop-culture/let's talk about Toddlers & Tiaras readers - you have no interest in football, but it's the Super Bowl and, like a Papal selection, you have to pick a side.  Your favorite team is the Packers; they're the least evil empirish team in the NFL.  You can root for them with less chance of finding out they donated your merchandise money to some candidate trying to take away Medicare than any other team in the league.

Now, I'm for the Packers because I'm in the Niner legacy protection business, so my postseason choices for the past decade have largely been limited to which team I need to lose the least.  Here, I need the Steelers to lose- their aggregate total is now past our 5 SB Titles, and this would be a third for Roethlisberger, putting him uncomfortably close to St. Joe.

And they might win - this is a really tight Super Bowl, by all of the advanced metrics.  Here's an example - pythagorean win/loss, which I'll be using for a boatload of lists coming up, is the record you'd expect a team to have based on its points scored/points allowed, compared to the rest of the league.  It's crude, but useful, and I've spent lots of time with it in recent months.

Green Bay and Pittsburgh, by pythagorean record, both went 12.1-3.9 this season.

In SB history - here's the list of opponents who had the same pythag going into their matchup:

SB17 -That was the first Skins win, when they beat Miami.  That was the short season, barely more than half a regular season played, so much easier to have a dead heat.

SB22 - This was the second Skins win, when they beat Denver.  This was the replacement player season, so the regular season records of these teams was the least reflective of any in SB history.

That's it.  That's the list.

I'm willing to say, flatly, this is the tightest matchup in SB history.

That doesn't mean it's a close game.  The Redskins won both SB17 and 22 going away.

But it means you shouldn't be surprised by a win from either team.

I'm completely on the fence about the outright game winner.  But I'm not on the fence about the line - just today, the 2.5 number went up to 3, and that's a good price when you're looking at a game this even, like getting a weighted coin on a flip.

It doesn't mean you should invest - you should almost never invest in a single game - but you are getting these 3 points for free given the Packers status as the public's favorite team.  I don't see it going to 3.5, so if you're playing - play today.

I may flip my overall winner by Friday, that's how close it is.  But I am locking in my number against the spread.

Steelers +3.

2. Whip Inflation Now
Obama's State of the Union sucked.

You want to compete with the rest of the world?  In the way we beat the Russians to the moon?

Raise taxes on the wealthy.  We built NASA on 90% top marginal tax rates.  In 2011, we can't afford a police force in Camden, New Jersey.  Support unions.  Penalize business which outsources to avoid paying union wages.  Raise the ceiling on the social security tax to a quarter million in income.  Stop giving away public school money and blaming teachers for poor student performance.  Declare a war on stupid as aggressive as the war on terror. 

The State of the Union reminded me of a meeting we've probably all sat through at work, where the company's troubles are laid at the feet of the workers.  How about working a little harder?  We need everyone to buckle down.

When the company is successful, the executives take tremendous bonuses.  And when the company isn't successful - the blame lands squarely on your shoulders.  Heck, for most of us - we get hit coming and going.

Theoretically, one could be a faculty member of a school whose population exploded over the past few years, as people went back to school when they lost their jobs.  What would that mean for the faculty member?  More courses, course sizes doubling - tripling.  More students who were less academically inclined than might they otherwise be and taking refuge in a student loan.

What that wouldn't mean is a raise.  Despite the exponentially increased workload.  In fact, what it would mean is having your between academic quarter breaks cut in half without compensation, meaning that, given preparation needs, you've worked maybe 350 days a year the past two years.  More courses, in more subjects, to more students, without a break. 

And when that ends - when the student population returns to previous levels, what that will mean is faculty layoffs, is blame placed on faculty for any student who leaves the institution without graduating, is increased talk about tough times and belt tightening.

Congratulations America.  If you didn't get rich in the boom years, and you didn't, given how concentrated was wealth in the hands of the few - and you've spent the past couple of years losing everything you did have - and now are told by the President you voted for that it's your responsibility to be more competitive - congratulations, you now work with me.  I'll show you how to work the copy machines.

It's on Obama's head now.  It's not just Reagan/Clinton/Bush.  It's the last 9 months.

we are in the midst of a great shift in social wealth in the US. It means that the last 9 months have likely seen a massive upward shift in the distribution of America's wealth. We have seen massive increases in labor productivity with stagnant wages. We have surging stock and bond markets and struggling housing markets. The shifts in wealth and income over the last year will take a while to show up in national data. There are already being felt around many kitchen tables. It is likely that the wealth and income trends discussed above will have profound impacts on life for tens of millions of American families. It is also likely that these trends and public responses to them, will drive American political developments for the next few years. 

3. The Gilded Age on Steroids
I taught the Gilded Age last week in my US History course, and spoke about it the way I always have, a period of intense struggle for working Americans.

Now is just as bad.  Here's Russ Feingold, and his is the language you would have liked to hear, at any point, from the President you voted for in 2008.

this entire society is being dominated by corporate power in a way that may exceed what happened in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century. The incredible power these institutions now have over the average person is just overwhelming: the way they can make these trade deals to ship people’s jobs overseas, the way consumers are just brutalized and consumer protection laws are marginalized, the way this town here—Washington—has become a corporate playground. Since I’ve been here, this place has gone from a government town to a giant corporate headquarters. To me, the whole face of the country—whether it be the government, the media, agriculture, what happens on Main Street—has become so corporatized that the progressive movement is as relevant as it was one hundred years ago, maybe more so. It’s the same issues. It’s just that [corporate] power, because of money, international arrangements and communications, is so overwhelming that the average person is nearly helpless unless we develop a movement that can counter that power. I know we’ve all tried over the years, but this is a critical moment. We need to regenerate progressivism and make it relevant to what’s happening right now. But there’s no lack of historical comparison to a hundred years ago. It’s so similar; the only real difference is that corporate power is even more extended. It’s the Gilded Age on steroids.

And when they call you a socialist - tell them to go to hell.  They think the minimum wage and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are totalitarianism and torture is a necessary exercise of governmental authority.  They're the John Birch Society.  They think Joe McCarthy's an American hero and the Progressive Era was Stalinism starting an out of town run in Cleveland before heading to Red Square.  They're coming for Social Security.  They're coming for Medicare.  They're coming for everything but guns - which they want their supporters to carry every chance they get to intimidate you. 

You don't call for civility - you don't say we need a new tone.  You tell them to go to hell.  They stole a Presidential election in 2000; they've opened up campaigns to unlimited secret corporate funding, they have, in Fox News, a propaganda arm that has only the barest tether to the facts in the all too often correct guess that their viewers won't know the difference. 

A hundred years ago, Populist Mary Lease said farmers needed to raise less corn and more hell. 

That's what Feingold's saying.  That's what I will need to hear if I'll ever cast a vote for a Democrat again.

4. Eisenhower = Bernie Sanders

If there's one theme in the totality of the 61 issues of Tendown that I've tried to stress - it's been that critics of Obama from the right talking about his Administration as some type of socialist takeover of the American government are profoundly, demonstrably without any understanding of history.

Fortunately, there's Rachel Maddow.

You want to talk about red meat for the base? Listen to some of the language the president used. "Workers have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers. And a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society." Wow.

How about this one? "Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice."

Listen to the way he goes after the right here. "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and"--and the president says--"their number is negligible and they are stupid."

That is not what Barack Obama said last night. That is way to the left of any national Democrat at this point. 

That was all Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower. That was all the stuff he said when he was president.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, president when the top tax bracket for the richest people in this country was 92 percent. President Eisenhower defended that tax bracket. He said we cannot afford to reduce taxes until, quote, "the factors of income and outgo will be balanced." Eisenhower insisting there must be a balanced budget and that taxes on the rich are the way to balance it. Dwight Eisenhower, you know, noted leftist.

The Republican Party platform of Eisenhower's 1956 called for expansion of Social Security, broadened unemployment insurance, better health protection for all of our people. It called for voting rights--full voting civil rights for D.C. It called for expanding the minimum wage to cover more workers. It called for improved job safety for workers, equal pay for workers regardless of sex.

This is the Republican Party circa 1956. The Republican Party.

The story of modern American politics writ large is the story of your father's and your grandfather's Republican Party now being way to the left of today's leftiest liberals. If Dwight Eisenhower were running for office today, he would have to run, I'm guessing as an independent, and not as some Joe Lieberman, in between the parties, independent. He'd be a Bernie Sanders independent. 

5. The Dream of the Nineties is Alive in Portland.

New shows you should be watching: Portlandia and Lights Out.  I love me a good sketch show and Portlandia's initial episodes are solid.  Lights Out is off to a strong start also - my Top 5 Sports TV Shows of all time can be found here; we're a couple of seasons away from considering Lights Out a potential contender, but it's off to a good start.

Also - the new At the Movies is worth watching - in the meantime, you can watch some clips from the old show.

6. Next Week - Santiago Casilla!

Giants closer Brian Wilson was on the George Lopez show this week.  He's in some sort of un-funny competition with Chelsea Handler, right?  'Cause I'm a pretty good Giants fan, and I still couldn't watch George Lopez.

It's behind the firewall, but Keith Law's look at the top 100 prospects in MLB is here. Two SFG on the list, Brandon Belt is 17th, and not unlike Posey in 2010, if you're a Giants fan a good, good sign is Belt being called up in the first half to take over either in first or left.  Zack Wheeler's 36th, you won't see him this year, but when Zito's deal expires (or perhaps when we deal Cain since we won't be able to afford keeping him) he'll join the rotation.

7. Would You Like to Talk About Rape?
Specifically, about how the Republicans would like to redefine it to change abortion law?

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

8. Have an Abortion!

Consider the following study of over 350,000 women.

Having an abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems, but having a baby does, one of the largest studies to compare the aftermath of both decisions suggests.

The research by Danish scientists further debunks the notion that terminating a pregnancy can trigger mental illness and shows postpartum depression to be much more of a factor.

9. Minka Kelly - Smartest Person Alive

Turns out that more attractive people also have higher IQ's.  Which seems fair.

10. Your World Champion San Francisco Giants

It takes 11 postseason wins to become World Series Champions.  This was our 5th.  NLCS - Game 3.

Matt Cain (combined WAR/WARP 9.2) shut the Phils down in Game 3.  They got two on in the 3rd on a single and hit batsman; they got two on in the 4th on a single and a walk - but we scored first in the 4th; Edgar Renteria (2.2) moving into the starting postseason lineup after (correctly) being benched for most of 2010, led off with a single; following two outs and a Burrell (6.0) walk, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff hit back to back singles to put us up 2-0; and that became 3-0 the following inning with an Aaron Rowand double/Freddy Sanchez single.  Cain put two on in the 7th, but again got out of it - Javier Lopez/Brian Wilson had a harmless 8th/9th to finish the 3-0 shutout.  5 down.  6 to go.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,


2011 Royal Rumble Preview/Top 10 Royal Rumble Matches of all Time/Who is the Most Successful Real World Alum of All Time?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sunday is the Royal Rumble.  As I've done, in one form or another, for almost 15 years, that means I preview the show for Kirk Hiner, my longtime on again, off again writing partner, who has largely moved away from following the goings on at World Wrestling Entertainment.

Me?  Not so much.

My preview of the 2010 Royal Rumble is here.  My listing of the best wrestling matches of 2010, including the top ten for WWE is here. My list of every 4 star match in WWF/WWE history is here.

And you could probably poke around and find additional...less savory wrestling related writings.

So, if you aren't Kirk (and since he's in San Francisco, my ancestral home, this weekend..I think for the Adult Video News Awards, perhaps nominated for Best Gang Bang) it's likely that you are not Kirk, you can certainly stick around, but this is really not written for you.

Hey, Kirk - am I too old, too established in my Professor J. lifestyle, to tell that joke?

So, the other day, we're watching a rerun of one of those To Catch a Predator type shows, and the screen name of the guy about to get caught in the sting is Tunnels12000.  I thought that was a curious choice of handle: "tunnels" - and the joke I wrote was I wonder if that's some type of child molester code; if there were a series of safehouses leading the accused to Venezuela or some other country with whom the US doesn't have a strong extradition treaty, like part of a NAMBLA Underground Railroad.  Tunnels12000 might be the pedophile Harriet Tubman.

I wrote that joke, but then I didn't put it in the Sunday Tendown blog, out of concern that a search for "jim jividen" + "pedophile harriet tubman" might one day cost me a job.

That's the difference between me at 40, writing about Royal Rumble 2011, and me at, I don't know, 30, previewing the Benoit/Jericho ladder match for you.  Hopefully my work hasn't degraded as far as has WWE.

With that - the Rumble is always good, a can't miss gimmick, and it's Sunday from Boston.

WWE Championship: The Miz v. Randy Orton
-When last we left our story, Orton was the champ, successfully defending the strap against Wade Barrett at Survivor Series, with the stip, recall, being that if Orton retained the title, then special guest referee Cena would have to leave WWE....forever...

Which has happened, obviously.  I wonder what ever happened to that Cena fellow.  Perhaps he's been named Employee of the Month at some Walmart in Kansas City over a half dozen significantly more deserving co-workers.

Orton lost the next night to the Miz, who had a number one contender's briefcase won at an earlier PPV, and we're still in that program.  Miz (heavily supported by Michael Cole, whose periodic heel character seems to ebb and flow throughout the broadcast) is booked as the undeserving heel champion, just surviving by chicanery.  This is a reasonable analysis of his skill; Meltzer was a significant cheerleader for Miz getting this title run, with his ability to work not part of the discussion.  Miz isn't a bad wrestler, in fact, the best WWE match of the year thusfar was his successful defense against John Morrison on RAW (3 3/4 stars, which will almost certainly mean it will finish the year in the WWE Top 10, and maybe even the Top 5) although that was almost entirely due to Morrison.  But it's not his work, nor even his promo ability (which is okay/good, but not special in any way) that gets him his title - it's the Real World, as Miz got some mainstream media run following his winning the title.  And in 2011 WWE, they need all the publicity they can get.  Enough so that you'd expect, somehow, the Miz to keep the title here - in fact, to keep it all the way until Wrestlemania. 

Okay - who is the most successful Real World alum?  24 years - each year gets a winner.  Let's run it down.

1 - Kevin.  An early upset, given Eric's out of the gate celebrity.  In fact, for peak value "who was the most famous Real Worlder at any one time" - it's Eric and it's easy.  But Kevin's articles, books, films, and the possibility of a NYC congressional seat wins the year for me.
2. Tami.  Not a big year for successful alums.  Could be that there's been non-public success by one of the guys who left the MTV family as quickly as he could. Tami gets the call for me because she's still getting reality show work based on marrying one of those NYC prep legend ballplayers.  Kenny Anderson, I think.  Or maybe Lloyd Daniels.  Or Pearl Washington.  I don't know.
3. Judd - his long comic book run beats out his wife being an AIDS researcher.  Because what's more important, really, in the overall scheme of things? Here I'm just operating from a lack of information, as I don't know Pam's level of success in her field.  It's telling about the strength of season 3 that Rachel, who I just saw talking about her blog on one of the cable news networks just this week, has to finish third.  Hell, maybe fourth behind Pedro, and I'm not being facetious.  Here's a good competition, Judd/Pam v. Rachel/Sean for most successful RW couple ever.  Miz should start banging Jamie Chung to make it a three way dance.
4. Jacinda - she's solidly done films for the past decade, and would be a contender in a "who was the hottest Real Worlder" list, should that ever happen (my initial response - Melinda, with DC Emily as a dark horse).   But I'm uncertain how to connect that list to Royal Rumble 2011. 
5. Dan - I still occasionally run into Dan, either through something he's written online or talking about some gay related issue, so he wins this less competitive year.
6. Sean - probably wins the whole contest, as he won his Congressional election and Kevin lost his; Sean might entirely be an empty suit, there's a path to success in this country based on family positioning and political connections that might account for his status - but it's status nonetheless.  Is Sean going to be Governor of Wisconsin one day?
7. Lindsay - I think, 'cause I know she still has some level of radio career.  I was a little hot for her during that Seattle season.
8. Justin - He's a complex litigation attorney in NYC, other than Miz/Jamie he'll probably pull down the largest income of any alum in 2011.  Although - since he quit before the end of the season, that probably makes him a RW dropout and not an alum, so he wouldn't be on a smarter list than this.  It's sort of like when the NFL players list their schools, even if they didn't graduate.
9. Matt - he delivered his own baby at the side of a road in 2010, and that's enough to win season 9.
10. Miz
11. Kyle - he's producing Jim Rome's radio show
12. Trishelle - presumably, her run as kinda hot, "oops, where are my pants" girl has come to an end, and a list like this in ten years won't include her, but right now, she still wins Vegas.  She's playing poker now.  Thumbs up to Trishelle for milking every drop of fame out of her pioneering hot tub threesome.  Again, still not being facetious.
13. CT - 'cause everytime there's some mass homicide, like at that Russian airport this week, I half suspect CT, and eventually, when he's the correct culprit, this makes me look prescient. 
14. Jamie - she's blown by Jacinda and is now the most succesful actor coming out of RW, as she got the Hangover sequel; you'd put her below the Miz right now...I think...if you're talking about entertainment success...but he's hit his ceiling and she has a theoretical shot to go by him.  Nah, she's by him.  Miz is more famous today, this very second - he can get on Conan and she can't, but that's true for another 3 months.  Jamie > Miz.
15. Uh...let's say Landon, because he won the Challenge last year.
16. Melinda - just for the hotness.
17. Tyler?  Again, for Challenge success.
18. Jenn?  This is not a good run for the alums; to be fair, they're young enough, freshly removed from RW that beyond remaining on MTV it's asking too much for a 3 page resume.  We really see that break between season 14 and 15, no one is coming who could crack a top 5 list.
19.  KellyAnne?
20. Kim?  This has become the "hottest real worlder ever" competition after all.
21. Ryan
22. CJ
23. Emily
24. Eric

What were we talking about again?  Bad Girls Club?  No - that's not...oh yeah.  Miz keeps.  Some type of screwjob.  Won't be terrible.

(Edit - Miz kept.  Screwjob.  Wasn't terrible.  3 1/4 stars.)

World Championship: Edge v. Dolph Ziggler
-It's Edge's 6th run with this belt; it hasn't been a good one.  Kane, recall, was champ when we last left the story - he and Edge had a draw at Survivor Series, and then Edge took from him at the December PPV.  Edge, in the storyline, was once married to Eddy's widow Vicki - and now Vicki is with Ziggler, a good young worker who has a little bit of Curt Hennig in him.  Ziggler was IC Champ back at Survivor Series and now, theoretically, this is an attempt to push him to the next level.  Edge is gonna keep; this should be the best match of the night.

(Edit - Edge kept.  Best match of the night. 3 1/2 stars and I would have liked it better than that if not for the screwy Vicki on the apron/ref bump finish.)

Women's Match.

As of Thursday morning, that's the whole card, which seems unlikely.

Rumble Match

Hey Kirk - how many entrants are there for the Rumble?

(Kirk would respond with some type of joke here, probably about the Berzerker, but he'd get the answer to the question wrong, because he'd say 30.)

Not this year.  This year it's 40.  I guess it's to sell the show; without Cena or Hunter or the Undertaker (or Jericho/Michaels/Batista) in the singles title matches, this show is entirely sold on the actual Rumble match, so maybe the thought is the curiosity of 40 will drive some buys.

Yeah, I don't know.

They've announced 28 of the names. (edit - as of Saturday morning it's 34)

Alberto Del Rio - he gets pushed super hard on Smackdown doing the Latino JBL gimmick.  He's fine in the way that the Miz is fine.  
CM Punk - Recall Nexus, the big heel group from the first season of NXT?  Punk is now its leader and he's feuding with Cena.
Daniel Bryan - one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived.  He's still US Champion, they're now putting him with one of the Divas.  Currently, he's nowhere.  
Darren Young - Superstars fodder
David Hart Smith - they broke the Harts up, Harry is the babyface, he's a Superstars guy.
David Otunga - part of the Nexus group
Drew McIntyre - turning face on the Smackdown side, they're giving him a Diva, he's always on the verge of getting pushed
Ezekiel Jackson - bodyguard type, now with the new heel group on Smackdown led by Wade Barrett, former leader of Nexus
Heath Slater - also in that group.  Called the Corre.  
Husky Harris - Mike Rotunda's kid, he's a good young worker, he's in Nexus
Jack Swagger - amateur champ, former Smackdown champ, his push has stopped and his growth as a worker has also
John Cena - yeah, he didn't really leave, he's still here.  He'll be in a main event at WM, so either he wins this or wins at the Feb PPV.
John Morrison - he and Sheamus pulled off the best WWE match of 2010 in December; he can do highspots that no one else in the company does
Justin Gabriel - in the Corre.
Mark Henry - been a babyface for a little while now.  Probably no longer the world's strongest man
Mason Ryan - brand new bodyguard type for Nexus.  Looks like Batista
Michael McGillicutty - Curt Hennig's kid.  In Nexus.  
Primo - Carlito's little brother; Carlito's long since gone.  Primo was a babyface a week ago, but apparently a heel this week.  
R-Truth - Ron Killings, still a face.  Works regularly on Smackdown. 
Rey Mysterio - he's Rey.
Sheamus - his push has stopped since he won King of the Ring last year.
Ted DiBiase - doing a losing streak gimmick that apparently ended on NXT this week, which is now an internet only show.
Tyson Kidd - turned heel in the Harts split.  Stuck on Superstars.
Wade Barrett - moved to Smackdown, now leads the Corre, the Nexus like heel stable over there.  Supposedly, they are setting him up to be the Undertaker's opponent at 27. 
William Regal - Now just a Superstars guy.  Can still go.
Yoshi Tatsu - Stuck on Superstars.  
Zack Ryder - Superstars fodder.

Big Show - he's a real big show
Chris Masters - there's never any reason to watch a Chris Masters match
JTG - the remaining half of Cryme Tyme
Kane - see below for Kane's possible historic night Sunday
Kofi Kingston - Kofi's good
Santino Marella
Vladimir Kozlov - Santino and Kozlov are comedy tag champs

Who wins?  Hell, I don't know.  I'd guess Hunter, in a surprise return.  If not Hunter - Cena/Punk and then Del Rio would be my picks.  I love the Rumble, it's always superfun and I'll enjoy it this year as well.

(Edit - it was Del Rio; 3 1/4 stars, and it was giving back points as it finished.  I really liked the first half - the Danielson/Regal exchanges, the Punk/Danielson dynamic, the terrific Morrison spot, the Chavo suplexes - the Nexus throws everyone out spot - which, incidentally, I did several years ago with the Clique in the number one contender's battle royal over in the Counterfactual.  It was Hornswoggle where they started to lose me; even if you like comedy wrestling, and I don't, that spot just went on forever.  The final four finish neither had any good wrestling or heat - and something I like from a battle royal is when there's just a couple guys left and we get an extended wrestling sequence.  That didn't happen, there really was very little wrestling once Danielson got tossed.  And I hated - just hated the finish - it wasn't just that Santino, a comedy wrestler, was who appeared from under the ring - it was that he was selling that comedy hold he has as the one that would win the Royal Rumble.  It really detracts from the idea of this being important to try to tell me that Santino is a legitimate Rumble winner, and at 2 men left I have to believe that, much less that he's going to win with a comedy spot.  I hated that finish.)   

It is unlikely that any of Sunday's matches crack the following list:

10 Best Matches in Royal Rumble History:
1. Angle v. Benoit ('03)
2. HHH v. Cactus ('00)
3. Jericho v. Benoit ('01)
4. 2004 Rumble Match (Benoit)
5. 1992 Rumble Match (Flair)
6. Bret v. Diesel ('95)
7. Quebecers v. Bret/Owen ('94)
8. Rockers v. Orient Express ('91)
9. Hardys v. Dudleys ('00)
10. HBK v. HHH ('04)

(edit - they did not).
And now some other stuff.

Past Winners:

2010 - Edge #29

2009 - Randy Orton #8

2008 - John Cena #30

2007 - Undertaker #30

2006 - Rey Mysterio #2

2005 - Batista #28

2004 - Chris Benoit #1

2003 - Brock Lesnar #29

2002 - Triple H #22

2001 - Steve Austin #27

2000 - The Rock #24

1999 - Mr. McMahon #2

1998 - Steve Austin #24

1997 - Steve Austin #5

1996 - Shawn Michaels #18

1995 - Shawn Michaels #1

1994 - Bret Hart #27, Lex Luger #24

1993 - Yokozuna #27

1992 - Ric Flair #3

1991 - Hulk Hogan #24

1990 - Hulk Hogan #25

1989 - Big John Studd #27

1988 - Jim Duggan #13

Most Eliminations (Career): Michaels (38) (Kane needs 4 to tie him)
Most Eliminations (Single Rumble): Kane 2001 (11) (with 40 men this year, will this be broken?)
Longest Time Mysterio 2006 (62 minutes, 12 seconds)

TBOR Athlete of the Month - January, 2011 + 2002 Athlete of the Year

My 2010 Athlete of the year post is here.

Nick Fairley

Runners-up: Aaron Rodgers, Rashard Mendenhall, Jimmer Fredette

I waited until Nadal got knocked out of the Australian Open to finalize that last spot; if Rodgers had a better NFC Championship he would have gotten the nod.

Fairley is now the first contender for 2011 Athlete of the Year.

Back in 2002, the Athlete of the Year was Barry Bonds.  AP took Lance Armstrong, starting a run of four consecutive wins for him; AP's been giving that award since 1931, no one else has ever won 4 in a row.

January - Vernon Forrest (Ken Dorsey, Jerry Rice, Donovan McNabb)
February - Adam Vinatieri (Kobe Bryant, Sarah Hughes, Joe Sakic)
March - Sue Bird (Drew Gooden, Luke Recker, Cael Sanderson)
April - Randy Johnson (Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Paul Pierce)
May - Jason Kidd (Mike Cameron, Patrick Roy, Shawn Green)
June - Shaquille O'Neal (Lennox Lewis, Luis Castillo, Ronaldo)
July - Lance Armstrong (Serena Williams, Jeff Kent, Ernie Els)
August - Alex Rodriguez (John Smoltz, Rich Beem, Barry Bonds)
September - Serena Williams (Miguel Tejada, Oscar de la Hoya, Charlie Rogers)
October - Barry Bonds (Russ Ortiz, Emmitt Smith, Troy Glaus)
November - Carson Palmer (Brett Favre, Larry Johnson, Michael Vick)
December - Rich Gannon (Priest Holmes, Marvin Harrison, Mario Lemieux)

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #100-91

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The previous ten, which includes #200-101, is here.

Are you ready for the 100 greatest baseball players who ever lived?  Hells yeah!

100. Dennis Eckersley RHP WARP+WAR=136.2

Red Sox/Athletics
ERA+ 116
MVPQ none, Best season 1979 (13.4)

All 3 closers on the list are in this section; two both started and closed in their careers.  Here are my essential thoughts about closers.

1. They're overrated in the minds of the public and traditional baseball media.  
2. They're underrated by WAR, and so I'd subjectively push them up this list and maybe add a couple more.

In my previous post, I had two separate lineups, one, just going down the list for career value - which would mean that Eckersley takes the slot, albeit momentarily, as best right handed pitcher thusfar; and the second, more subjective, just asking "who would you pick" - not looking at career value, as this list is, but thinking more about peak.  Eck doesn't get near that 25 man roster.  

99. Willie McCovey 1B 136.9

OPS+ 147
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .284/.392/.585
MVPQ 1969 (17.7)

McCovey's the fourth greatest San Francisco Giant of all time.  Here's his SFG career with WAR/WARP totals.


1959 6.9                                          
1960 3.5                                          
1961 4.6                                          
1962 4.6
1963 12.1
1964 .2
1965 11.4
1966 13
1967 10.3
1968 14.9
1969 17.7
1970 14.1
1971 5.3
1972 -.7
1973 7.4
1977 3.5
1978 -1
1979 .3
1980 -1.4

McCovey doesn't pass McGwire on the subjective team.  Willie Mac played many more years, didn't pick up much ground on Big Mac with the glove, and didn't have the OPS+ or the slashline.  I'm all SFG, McCovey's one of my guys - he wasn't as quite as good as McGwire.  

98. Rick Reuschel RHP 137.8

ERA+ 114
MVPQ 1977 (17.4), 

Yes, Rick Reuschel is massively underrated.  19 seasons, while a good number, isn't like a 26 year compilation only career.  He did have one MVPQ season and the ERA+, while putting him near the bottom of the pitchers on the list so far, matches Bunning, and beats Sutton, Tanana, and John, the guys he should most readily be compared with.  That's the company you should think of when you consider Reuschel.

97. Eddie Murray 1B 139.4

OPS+ 129
MVPQ none, Best Season: 1984 (13.8)

Palmeiro is probably the best comparison; you'd put Murray behind McGwire/McCovey and I'd take Clark third for the 3/4/5 slashline.  

96. John Smoltz RHP 139.6

ERA+ 125
MVPQ none Best season: 1996 (13.3)

He's over 200 IP in the postseason, so that's an extra year.  15-4, 2.67, 199K, 73BB.

You'd want him to have that one big year, and he just didn't - instead, it's two decades of really good baseball; you'd rank him right with Schilling.  His career looks a little like Jim Palmer's.  Ed Walsh was better.

95. Craig Biggio 2B/C 140

OPS+ 111
MVPQ 1997 (20.3)

What I need to do now is a list of every 20+ season after the 19th century.  Biggio wasn't as good as Jackie, and I'm going to leave Kent as the current subjective backup.

Here are the 20+ WAR/WARP seasons, non 18th century version.

Sosa 2001 (22.5)
Feller 1946 (21.3)
Marichal 1966 (20.6)
Robinson 1951 (21.7)
Walsh 1908 (22.5)
Walsh 1910 (22.1)
Walsh 1912 (22.2)
Boudreau 1948 (22.6)
Banks 1959 (21.2)
 Santo 1967 (20.5)

And then Biggio.  So, Boudreau has the top season through the first 110 players, assuming no one remaining in this section catches him.

94. Mariano Rivera RHP 140.9

ERA+ 205
MVPQ none, Best season 2008 (13.3)

-Yes, that ERA+ is correct.  It's the best of all time.  Walsh has the best untranslated ERA of all time, and his 146 ERA+ is the best we've seen thusfar, right up until Rivera.

205.  It's the ERA+ equivalent of Milton Berle's dong.

While we're here, here's the postseason record:

8-1, 42 saves, IP 139.2, ERA 0.71, 109 K, 25 walks.

If Rivera's 2011 is the equivalent of his 2010, he'll finish the year in the top 75 of all time, that's how tight things still are at this level.

So, what to do with all of that?  Rivera's at 1100+ IP for his career; that's a third of the innings pitched by the guy who is coming next, Drysdale.  It's a little more than a third of the innings pitched of the guy Rivera would be replacing on my subjective list of the best pitcher on the list so far, Walsh.   Even that postseason record, which might well mark Rivera as the greatest postseason player who ever lived, is still just 139 innings of work, a really good sample for a closer - but half a season for Drysdale.  Were you arguing against Rivera (or any closer) that's where you'd point; and while many of those innings are very important innings (the average inning for Rivera more crucial than the average inning for Drysdale) the extent to which that is true is overstated (the ninth inning isn't always the most important, and a run in the second against Drysdale counts just as much as one in the ninth against Mo).

At the end of the day, where I come out is I like closers a little more than is reflected by the list.  Billy Wagner  and Trevor Hoffman could both be subjectively placed at the end of a top 200.  Eckersley could be pushed a tick higher.  And Rivera, with that 205 ERA+ should be considered one of the 50 best players ever.  Right now, I'll put him ahead of Walsh and call him subjectively the best pitcher on the list thusfar.

93. Don Drysdale RHP 142.7

ERA+ 121
MVPQ 1964 (17.6)

Drysdale will finish this section as the top pitcher, for career value, on the list so far.  

92. Roberto Alomar 2B 142.9

Blue Jays/Orioles/Indians
OPS+ 116
MVPQ none, Best season 1999 (15.6)
Alomar and Biggio both appear in this section, clearly similar in both peak and career to a guy like Sandberg.  Robinson keeps his spot as the subjective best second baseman ever, his bat just solidly above everyone else in the field thusfar.  And I'll keep Kent as his backup, his bat just nudging him ahead of the pack.  

91. Gary Sheffield RF 143

OPS+ 140
MVPQ 2003 (16, with Braves)

If you're playing along, you know my adoration for a translated 3/4/5 career slashline, the list of guys so far carrying one adds a member with Shef.

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen
Joe Jackson (3/4/6)
Elmer Flick
Edgar Martinez

It's tight, but I'll keep Flick ahead of Sheffield as my subjective all time RF thusfar.  Here are the current lineups.  First, the subjective lineup, not looking at career value, just looking at who was best.  Backups in parentheses.  It will add up to a full 25 man roster.

C Berra (Piazza)
1B McGwire (McCovey)
2B Robinson (Kent)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Santo (Allen)
LF Jackson (Stargell)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Walsh, Feller, Marichal, Halladay, Smoltz, Schilling)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

And now, going off the list, here's the current all time career value roster. 

C Berra (Fisk)
1B Murray (McCovey)
2B Alomar (Biggio)
SS Jeter (Banks)
3B Santo (Robinson)
LF Clarke (Burkett)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Sheffield (Walker)
RHP Drysdale (Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, Keefe, Schilling, Radbourn)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

110 down.  90 to go.  I'm going to take next week off to just make football posts, but two weeks from today I'm back with the next ten.  Promise.

The Weekly Tendown January 16 --22 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dear Internet:

A naked Lance Armstrong must mean its Tendown 61.

1. Lance Armstrong's Going to Jail.

There was a stretch in the middle of the last decade where I wrote about a half dozen letters to the editor for Sports Illustrated.  All were unpublished.  All went something like this.

Although it feels like SI, along with all traditional sports media, is speeding toward irrelevance, I would argue that talk radio, the blogosphere, and the balance of fan opinion still gets its cues from SI and ESPN.  Accepting that as true, I would like you to really reconsider the disparity in your coverage of Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong.  A fair minded reading of the quality of the evidence against both would find  similarly strong cases, but that simply isn't reflected in your magazine.  Sometimes, within the same handful of pages, there seems a clear attempt to deify Armstrong while vilifying Bonds.  It could be, of course, that Armstrong is an innocent victim of a vast European conspiracy, and is a clean man dominating an otherwise dirty sport; and it could be that in a sport which has seen spitballs, corked bats, sign stealing, game fixing, Klansmen, segregation, xenophobia, bucketsful of clubhouse greenies and enough painkiller to dope up small countries, that it's Barry Bonds who should be expunged from the record books.  

But if it's not - you're gonna look awfully stupid in a few years.  History will not be kind to the era where we focused our national rage not on unwinnable wars, but instead on what particular athletes put into their bodies.

I kept it on my hard drive.

Here's what we now know.

 Between 2001 and 2004 the US Postal Service (that's us) spent over 30 million bucks supporting Lance Armstrong's racing team.

And that's important, because taking government money puts Lance in the cross-hairs.

From Sports Illustrated this week:

In the late 1990s, according to a source with knowledge of the government's investigation of Armstrong, the Texan gained access to a drug, in clinical trial, called HemAssist, developed by Baxter Healthcare Corp. HemAssist was to be used for cases of extreme blood loss. In animal studies, it had been shown to boost the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity, without as many risks as EPO.

(Floyd)Landis tells SI about the day in 2003 that he, Armstrong and team members flew into St. Moritz, where customs officials requested that they open their duffel bags for a search. "Lance had a bag of drugs and s---," says Landis. "They wanted to search it, which was out of the ordinary." Sifting through Armstrong's bag, agents found syringes and drugs with labels written in Spanish. As Landis recounts, Armstrong then asked a member of his contingent to convince the agents that the drugs were vitamins and that the syringes were for vitamin injections.

When Italian police and customs officials raided the home of longtime Armstrong teammate Yarolslav Popovych last November, they discovered documents and PEDs as well as texts and e-mails linking Armstrong's team to controversial Italian physician Michele Ferrari as recently as 2009, though Armstrong had said he cut ties with Ferrari in 2004.

In a letter reviewed by SI, Armstrong's testosterone-epitestosterone ratio was reported to be higher than normal on three occasions between 1993 and 1996

Stephen Swart, a New Zealander who rode with Armstrong on the Motorola squad in 1995, describes the Texan as the driving force behind some of the team members deciding to use the banned blood booster EPO. "He was the instigator," Swart tells SI. "It was his words that pushed us toward doing it."

Ten years ago, a French news crew taped Armstrong's team driving 90 miles to dump bags of syringes.  Greg LeMond, the second most famous American cyclist ever, clearly believes Armstrong to be untruthful.  Today, there is a grand jury empaneled to investigate and Floyd Landis has filed for whistleblower protection.

And maybe he's clean.  And even if he wasn't, maybe there's no reason to care.

But it would be nice to have had a different balance in the past ten years of coverage.

2. Who Got Axed This Week?

Seemingly out of nowhere, one of my favorite television hosts suddenly lost his job this week.  It really stunned and disappointed me.

I'm talking, of course, about Conor Knighton leaving Infomania.  He was the best of the hosts of those clip shows.

Oh, and MSNBC future endeavored their top rated show hours before it went on the air Friday night.

But it had nothing to do with the sale to Comcast being approved the day before.

Cable news cancels their highest rated show a year out of a presidential campaign all the time.  O'Reilly will probably get dropped at Fox this week.  Although, Olbermann is notoriously challenging to deal with, and its understandable if his baggage just became too heavy.  'Member how he settled a multi million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit against one of his former producers?  He really couldn't keep doing the news after that - it's a surprise he lasted this long.

Oh.  Yeah, that's right.

Here's why Keith mattered - Keith punched back.  What's always been the characterization about why talk radio is almost entirely right wing - those guys are aggressive, they hammer away at the opposition.  The left is all NPR-ish, looking for nuance and thoughtfulness and multiple perspectives.

Olbermann unapologetically went on television, every night, and called the liars, liars.  Showed contempt for the wise old men in their grey suits who lied us into war and bankrupted the country.  Look, Stephen Colbert is brilliant and I've already said Jon Stewart was the Entertainer of the Decade, but more often than not a Newt Gingrich can come plug his book and get away unscathed.  Keith Olbermann planted his feet on a truthful patch of ground and fired haymakers.

Sometimes it would make you cringe.  But sometimes it was astonishing.

Rachel's sharper than Keith and has a better show; if you promise me she slides into that number one spot on MSNBC and becomes their standard bearer, and that what this move does is open up a slot for a young progressive like Chris Hayes, then I'm cool.  I'm not on board; were I consulted (as I should be, honestly, about most things - decisionmakers really should start reading the blog; I'm hella-busy but not hard to find) I would have said there are 24 hours in the day, there's room for Keith on the channel.

But I don't think that's how it works out.  I think the wiggle room for someone who challenges corporate power as aggressively as does Keith is nonexistent, and even having the top rated show on the network isn't enough when Comcast sits in the executive suite.

It was the wrong answer, and I knew it at the time, but 11 years ago when I did my stint on ESPN and was asked who my favorite ever Sportscenter anchor was - I told them it was Keith.  One assumes this had nothing to do with my inexplicable mispronunciation of Tatupu.

3. Finally, a President Who Will Do Something About All that Regulation.
Well, here's the change I voted for.

This is a case of corporate blackmail pure and simple. The economy is sluggish because of a housing crisis that shows no sign of improvement. It stands history on its head to blame government financial regulations that had worked splendidly for six decades for the meltdown or the failure to fix a housing market that is the key to improved consumer spending.

Obama, and the party he heads, failed to provide a progressive narrative during November’s election holding the financial elite that created this mess responsible. The key issue is not big government or onerous regulation but rather transparency and fraud prevention. When you are evicted, it is a government agent, a marshal or sheriff, who will force you out, so shouldn’t the government also be involved in assuring that the consumer is protected by a properly vetted contract? Instead the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the marketing of an alternative narrative, as successful as it was devious, by Republican candidates that held regulation—rather than deregulation—responsible for the mess. Now Obama seems poised to join their ranks. 

4. Finally, a President Who Will Get Tough on Terror
Okay, so I was being facetious in that last one; I actually think Obama's in the tank, in a Clintonian type way, for Wall St. and would not be surprised if he opens the door for the erosion of Social Security in his State of the Union.

But this one, this one I completely believe.

Aside from the repressiveness of the policies themselves, there are three highly significant and enduring harms from Obama's behavior.  First, it creates the impression that Republicans were right all along in the Bush-era War on Terror debates and Democratic critics were wrong.  The same theme is constantly sounded by conservatives who point out Obama's continuation of these policies:  that he criticized those policies as a candidate out of ignorance and partisan advantage, but once he became President, he realized they were right as a result of accessing the relevant classified information and needing to keep the country safe from the Terrorist threat.  Second, Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies.  At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them.  At least there was a pretense of vigorous debate over their legality, morality, efficacy, and compatibility with our national values. Those debates are no more. Third, Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them.

5. He's Not Heavy, But Neither is he my Brother
I don't care even a little bit if the new Governor of Alabama doesn't want to be my brother.

So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother.

I've got brothers, I'm good, thanks.  So I'm not going to wave the flag of oppression on this one.

But do me a favor the next time we go through the "there's a war on Christianity in the United States" deal the right pulls out to fire up the rubes.  Imagine a governor in the United States saying:

So anybody who still believes in ancient fables about men who live in the sky instead of living their lives according to reason, who prefer superstitions literally no more relevant to the world than Zeus or Sagittarius to facts and evidence, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother.

Because this is that.  That's what anti-Christian bias would look like - and even then, it would still just be equivalent to the anti non-Christian bias that exists in government today.  When that speech happens, get back to me.

6. The 3/5 Clause Was Actually Anti-Slavery!
That's the argument made by the former Ohio Secretary of State, and literally not a single reputable historian ever, here.  Slavery was protected by the US Constitution, without that protection, the southern states would not have agreed to the document.  This is a closed matter. Don't let them lie to you.

7. The Entire 20th Century is Unconstitutional .
A Utah Senator said federal laws regulating child labor are unconstitutional. 

I really like this and have enjoyed this aspect of John Birch Society 2.0.  Their arguments about health care reform, for example, are the same arguments they had about Medicare, and about social security and the minimum wage and health and safety regulations in the workplace.  It has always been true that if you take right wing constitutional interpretation at face value (as Clarence Thomas might do, were he the only justice on the Court) it would repeal much of the 20th century.

Between 1880 and 1900, 6.6 million American workers went on strike.  In 1900, skilled workers earned 20 cents an hour, unskilled workers 10.  Workers put in 10 hours a day, six days a week, worked literally until the day they died (which for African-Americans in 1900 was at the average age of 33).  Immigrants, veterans, children died every single day at work while the American Medici, untroubled by federal regulation, had parties in which their guests dug for jewels in troughs.  The idea that labor was a virtue to be exploited like all the other natural resources - stripmined until used up and then discarded, was viewed not just as a practical necessity, but as a moral good in a social Darwinist way.  Workers were farm animals.  We were worked until shot or eaten.  Through the mechanism of the federal government, we spent the first 80 years of the 20th century, slowly, working our way out of subordination - and then came the Republicans, and trickle down economics, and deregulation.  And now the top 1% of income earners in the US take home a quarter of all the income.  And now we don't have a political party that isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of the plutocrats.  

Maybe Obama will tell the Wall St. Journal he's not opposed to some child labor concessions.  Hey, we can't be too partisan.  Really, aren't both sides a little bit too extreme in this whole "how many hours a day should 12 year olds be working" debate?

8. I Saw the Social Network, and You Should Too.

It's like a really good episode of West Wing.  That's enough to make it the best movie I've seen in 2010.

I also saw Cyrus, which is good enough to watch.  And Youth in Revolt and An Education.  You can watch all of them.  And I read Patton Oswalt's book.  And watched the two new shows by The Onion; you should watch Sportsdome, it's funny.

Additionally, on Barefoot Contessa, Ina, in explaining that she likes a combination of high and low foods, said she liked truffled popcorn or baked potatoes with caviar - you know "nothing pretentious."

And then she threw to Mariska Hargitay who was setting her table.

'Cause what could be pretentious about caviar covered potatoes and Jayne Mansfield's daughter laying out the salad forks?

9. Thank God I'm an Atheist
Fortunately, Ricky Gervais is my brother.

If you thought he was somehow inappropriate in making pointed jokes at the expense of unbelievably rich and pampered celebrities, you are not.

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants

You have to win 11 playoff games to win the World Series.  This was our fourth.

The fifth best regular season in SFG history (94 pythagorean wins) led to a NL West title, an NLDS win over the Braves and a matchup in the NLCS against the 2 time defending NL Champion Phillies.  The Giants came into the postseason hot, riding one of the great September pitching staff performances in MLB history - but as hot as we were - the Phils had been baseball's best team over the second half of the season, and at 95 pythag wins, the best team in the National League.

They were favored - and I picked them to beat us in 7.

I was wrong.  Fabulously wrong.

We won Game 1 4-3, our 7th straight one run postseason game dating back to 2003 - I'm saying it's a record, although, at the time of this writing, I haven't seen that articulated anywhere else.  Two time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum beating the eventually named winner of the 2010 award Roy Halladay (I voted for Adam Wainwright).

We swapped third inning homers to open the scoring - Cody Ross, a surprise starter when Jose Guillen was left off the postseason roster, hit one in the top - Carlos Ruiz in the bottom - we escaped worse fate - they had two in scoring position when Lincecum struckout Ryan Howard to end the inning.  We put two on ourselves in the 4th on singles by Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell - but a Juan Uribe groundout ended that threat.

We won the game in the fifth and sixth - Ross hit another homer in the 5th; and a Burrell 6th inning double scored Buster Posey to put us up 3-1 - which became 4-1 when Uribe singled home the pinch running Nate Schierholtz.

It wouldn't be 2010 Giants baseball without a little torture - Jayson Werth hit a two run homer in the bottom of the 6th to make it 4-3, but the Phils couldn't get a tying runner in scoring position over the final 3 innings, Brian Wilson closing it out with a 4 out save.

4 down.  7 to go.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


2011 NFL Playoff Picks - The Conference Championships

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not to be immodest.  I'm 7-1 against the spread in the playoffs thusfar.

NFC:  Bears +3.5 Packers (GB wins game) loss/win
AFC: Steelers -3.5 Jets win/win

I could easily lose both of those games; I pick them with little confidence.

I'm confident about the straight up winners (I'm 5-3 straight up thusfar); if you're following along with me, you'll know I picked Green Bay to win the NFC before the season started, picked them to win before the playoffs started, liked them getting the points last week in really strong terms, and I like them a considerable amount this week.  I do not believe there are many circumstances where the Packers lose this football game.

The line opened at 3.  At 3, I would take the Packers.  And if, for some reason, you have to play this game, wait, as I don't think it's going to close at less than 4.

I'm not going to give more than a field goal to a road divisional opponent in a conference title game.  And that's just how it goes.  The Packers are solidly better.  They should win.  And I am not investing in this game.  But the disciplined play here, if you're playing, is the home divisional opponent dog getting more than a FG in a conference title game.

This is a post that I'll edit, as I occasionally do, to reflect a late line shift.  I don't see a scenario where the line moves back to 3, but if it does, I'm taking the Packers.  Far more likely is it goes to 4.

And that should tell you why I'm giving the 4 in the Steeler game. (edit - as of Friday night, it's back down to 3.5)

The Steelers were the second best team in football this season, behind only New England, and solidly better than the Jets.  In this scenario - Pittsburgh's at home, and not facing a divisional opponent.

So - I give the 4.  I don't love it; yesterday it was 3.5 and it opened at 3, but even at 4, I'm taking the Steelers, and there's not really a number that it could get to (I don't think it goes higher than this) where I wouldn't take Pittsburgh.  Better team, at home, not a divisional opponent.  I'd rather just give 3, but this morning's line is 4.  If you can get less than that, as you maybe still can if you read this post Thursday morning,    and this is the kind of thing you do - then get in now, as it's going to 4.

(I'm rooting for Green Bay and the Jets).

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #110-101

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#120-111 is here.

110. Joe Cronin SS WARP+WAR=133.7
Senators/Red Sox
OPS+ 119
Translated BA/OBP/SLG .280/.365/.465
MVPQ 1930 (18.2)

Cronin, like Boudreau, didn't miss time for the war, but he was a decade older, so it's unlikely it was a "shortstops are automatically 4-F" thing.  I've got two more shortstops in this block of ten; when we get through them both, I'll run down the full list.   

109. Ernie Banks SS/1B 133.8
OPS+ 122
MVPQ 1955 (17.8), 1958 (19.5), 1959 (21.2), 1960 (17.3)

4 MVPQuality seasons (seasons with a combined WAR/WARP of 16+) puts Banks in the upper reaches of this half of the top 200 baseball players of all time.  Here's everyone on the list so far with multiple MVPQ seasons.

Vance (2), Bunning (3), Wynn (2), Joe Jackson (2), Caruthers (3), Snider (2), Feller (3), Baker (2), Newhouser (3), Marichal (2), Dick Allen (3), Jackie Robinson (3), Kevin Brown (2), Ed Walsh (5), Radbourn (2), Sandberg (2).

So - the position player on the list with the most MVPQ seasons is Banks, behind only the pitcher, Walsh.

108. Ron Santo 3B 134.1
OPS+ 125
MVPQ 1964 (18.3), 1966 (18.3), 1967 (20.5)

Look at the Cubs, 7 MVPQ seasons in a little over a decade.  One could, were one inclined, go through those rosters to figure out why they didn't win a title.  Santo's the only third baseman in this section.   Here's all of them with OPS+

Collins 113, Nettles 110, Cey 121, Bell 109, Boyer 116, Hack 119, Evans 119 (one MVPQ season), Ventura 114, Baker 135 (2 MVPQ seasons), Allen 156 (3 MVPQ seasons), Robinson (104) 

That's 12, that's a good number of dudes.  Brooks has the best glove; Dick Allen the best bat and by a wide, wide margin.  Santo, as reflected in this number, had the best career and given his playing just 15 years, I think he was the best player.  If you were picking teams, I think I'd take Santo by a hair over Dick Allen with Home Run Baker third.  

I don't get too worked up about the Hall of Fame and don't have any emotional attachment to Santo at all, but I assume it would have mattered to him to have been recognized, and in the strongest possible terms, what I'd like to communicate is the baseball writers who did not vote for him when he was alive do not understand baseball well enough to keep their votes.  

107. Derek Jeter SS 134.4
1995 -
OPS+ 121
MVPQ 1999 (16.5)

Jeter's got 600+ postseason plate appearances now, so that's a regular season worth of work.  Here's his untranslated postseason line:


Jeter, like virtually every athlete who has a large enough postseason sample size to make a reasonable determination, is essentially the same guy in the playoffs as in the regular season.   Guys don't have magical powers in October.  

Jeter had a down 2010, his combined WAR/WARP was 4.4.  If he can duplicate it, he's 98th after the 2011 season.  

Here's all the shortstops: Glasscock (OPS+ 112), Reese (98), Ward (92), Wallace (105),  Boudreau (120), Cronin (119) Banks (122).  It's close, right?  Jeter/Banks/Boudreau?   I'll take Banks, on the strength of those MVPQ seasons and that big adjusted SLG  if I'm drafting.  He and Santo next to each other on the left side of the 101-200 infield.  Jeter's gonna move solidly through this section for career value before he's done.   

106. Carl Hubbell LHP 134.5
ERA+ 130
MVPQ 1932 (16.3), 1933 (19), 1936 (18.9)

Hubbell's the last lefty in this hundred.  Tanana (ERA+ 106), John (111), Newhouser (130) is the balance of the list.  Newhouser and Hubbell pretty solidly the cream of that crop; I'll take Hubbell, but it's razor thin.  

105. Mark McGwire 1B 134.7
OPS+ 162
MVPQ 1998 (16.6)

Look at that adjusted .650 SLG.  Boom.  That's the highest of anyone in the bottom hundred.  An adjusted .650 slugging percentage.  Put him in the Hall of Fame.  Here's every first baseman and everyone with a 150+ OPS+ so far.  

Killebre-w (143), Olerud (128),  Beckley (125), Clark (137), Hernandez (128), Palmeiro (132).

Jackson (170),  Allen (156), 

Mac's the best first baseman.  The bat is solidly better than his nearest competitor (unless you want to call Allen a first baseman, then it's only a little better) and that makes up for the glove deficiency.  Best both for career and if you were picking.  McGwire joins Banks and Santo in the infield.  Hubbell the left handed pitcher.  

104. Yogi Berra C 135.1
OPS+ 125
MVPQ none, Best season 1950, 1956 (13.1)

Here are the catchers: Kelly (138), Torre (128), Ewing (129), Hartnett (126), Dickey (127), Piazza (142), Fisk (112).  Kelly played a lot of RF, so that's why he's lower ranked despite his bat, and Fisk played forever, boosting his value despite the relatively weaker bat.  Everyone else ('cept for the one guy) is in essentially the same spot; Yogi's defense gives him the top career spot.

But what to do about Piazza's bat?  For career value, I'll take Yogi.  But if I'm picking sides, does Piazza's bat outweigh Yogi's glove?  

I'm gonna say yes.  I know.  It's a hard call; even now, I'm considering changing my mind.  

Okay, I've changed my mind.  I'll take Yogi's glove.  Hard to do.  

103. Billy Hamilton CF 135.8
OPS+ 141
MVPQ 1894 (17.1)

Only 14 years to accumulate that value; that's a helluva career.  

Here are all the outfielders with their OPS+.

LF Goslin 128
LF Cruz 120
LF Medwick 134
LF Jackson 170
LF O'Rourke 133
LF Simmons 132
LF Williams 133
LF Stargell 147
LF Burkett 140
LF Clarke 132
CF Beltran 119
CF Wynn 128 
CF Lofton 107
CF Smith 137
CF Ashburn 111
CF Jones 111
CF Snider 140
RF Bonds 129
RF Clark 137
RF Guerrero 146
RF Slaughter 124
RF Dawson 119
RF Abreu 131
RF Caruthers 133
RF Sosa 128
RF Evans 127
RF Winfield 130
RF Flick 149
RF Keeler 126
RF Heilmann 148
RF Walker 140

If I'm drafting - Joe Jackson in left.  Elmer Flick in right, just over Heilmann.  Billy Hamilton in center.  

102. Tim Keefe 135.9 RHP 
ERA+ 127

So, who are the right handed pitchers with their ERA+?  

Vance (125), Bunning (114), Halladay (136), Mullane (118), Griffith (122), Saberhagen (126), Tiant (115), Feller (122), Palmer (126), Galvin (108), Marichal (123), Ruffing (110), Rusie (129), Sutton (108), Lyons (118), Brown (127), Walsh (146), Radbourn (120), Schilling (128).

The outlier is clearly Walsh; he's the guy you'd pick on the schoolyard without reservation. 

101. Edgar Martinez DH 136.1
OPS+ 147
MVPQ 1995 (16.3)

Edgar can't fit into the groupings of position players, but he allows me to do my favorite grouping of this list - the guys with the translated .300/.400/.500 slashlines.

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen
Joe Jackson (actually, a 3/4/6)
Elmer Flick.

And now Edgar.  His bat was undeniable.  

I haven't recapped second base yet (spoiler alert, it's gonna be Jackie).

Here they are with OPS+

Doerr (115), Gordon (120), Herman (112), Robinson (131), Randolph (104), McPhee (106), Sandberg (114), Kent (123)

Jackie's the best.  So - two lists here.  If you were drafting, just "who was the best player, not who had the best career"

C Berra
1B McGwire
2B Robinson
SS Banks
3B Santo
LF Jackson
CF Hamilton
RF Flick
RHP Walsh
LHP Hubbell

And then, for career value, just going off this list - here's your team.

C Berra
1B McGwire
2B Kent
SS Jeter
3B Santo
LF Clarke
CF Hamilton
RF Walker
RHP Keefe
LHP Hubbell

And here's the list.

200. Harmon Killebrew
199. Goose Goslin
198. Jimmy Collins
197. Jose Cruz
196. Bobby Bonds
195. Graig Nettles
194. Jack Clark
193. Ron Cey
192. Dazzy Vance
191. Jim Bunning
190. Bobby Doerr
189. Buddy Bell
188. Roy Halladay
187. Tony Mullane
186. Ducky Medwick
185. Clark Griffith
184. Carlos Beltran
183. Bret Saberhagen
182. Vladimir Guerrero
181. Enos Slaughter
180. Ken Boyer
179. Joe Gordon
178. Andre Dawson
177. King Kelly
176. Jimmy Wynn
175. Kenny Lofton
174. Joe Torre
173. John Olerud
172. Joe Jackson
171. Stan Hack
170. Bobby Abreu
169. Frank Tanana
168. Buck Ewing
167. Jim O'Rourke
166. Reggie Smith
165. Al Simmons
164. Richie Ashburn
163. Bob Caruthers
162. Billy Williams
161. Darrell Evans
160. Jake Beckley
159. Sammy Sosa
158. Duke Snider
157. Dwight Evans
156. Tommy John
155. Andruw Jones
154. Robin Ventura
153. Luis Tiant
152. Dave Winfield
151. Bob Feller
150. Jack Glasscock
149. Elmer Flick
148. Gabby Hartnett
147. Will Clark
146. Jim Palmer
145. Pud Galvin
144. Willie Stargell
143. Home Run Baker
142. Billy Herman
141. Hal Newhouser
140. Juan Marichal
139. Red Ruffing
138. Dick Allen
137. Bill Dickey
136. Amos Rusie
135. Pee Wee Reese
134. Keith Hernandez
133. Jackie Robinson
132. Monte Ward
131. Don Sutton
130. Willie Randolph
129. Jesse Burkett
128. Wee Willie Keeler
127. Bid McPhee
126. Mike Piazza
125. Harry Heilmann
124. Ted Lyons
123. Kevin Brown
122. Ed Walsh
121. Larry Walker
120. Brooks Robinson
119. Fred Clarke
118. Hoss Radbourn
117. Ryne Sandberg
116. Bobby Wallace
115. Lou Boudreau
114. Curt Schilling
113. Jeff Kent
112. Carlton Fisk
111. Rafael Palmeiro
110. Joe Cronin
109. Ernie Banks
108. Ron Santo
107. Derek Jeter
106. Carl Hubbell
105. Mark McGwire
104. Yogi Berra
103. Billy Hamilton
102. Tim Keefe
101. Edgar Martinez

100 down.  100 to go.  See you in a week.  

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