Athlete of the Month October 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

September was here.

Pablo Sandoval.  Runners-up: JJ Watt, Justin Verlander, Marco Scutaro

January-Courtney Upshaw
February-Eli Manning
March-Kevin Love
April-Brittney Griner 
May-Josh Hamilton
June-LeBron James
July-Mike Trout 
August - Usain Bolt
September - Andy Murray
October - Pablo Sandoval

2 months to go.  

The World Champion San Francisco Giants. Again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

3 weeks ago the Giants were dead.  Down 2 games to 0 and headed to Cincinnati.

10 days ago the Giants were dead.  Down 3 games to 1 to the defending champs.

Today, the San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions.




The Occasional Tendown October 14-27 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dear Internet:

So, what's been going on with you?

142 is here. This is Tendown 143.

1. Hmmmmm.

I mean, you know.  Huh.

Let's start with the analysis - we're here because the Giants pitching that we were waiting for all season has finally shown up.  It's not that these are the Giants, playing as they have all season, just playing Giants baseball in late October - here were the ERA+ numbers for the SFG starters this season:

Cain 125 (meaning Cain was 25% better than the average pitcher this season)
Bumgarner 103
Vogelsong 103(meaning Bumgarner/Vogelsong were slightly better than average pitchers)
Zito 84 (meaning that Zito was Zito, a solidly below average pitcher)
Lincecum 67 (2 time Cy Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum was one of the worst players in Major League Baseball in 2012)

And since the middle of the Cardinals series when we were down 3-1 we've been unhittable.

Vogelsong=unhittable, Zito - Barry Zito kept us in the Cardinals series in Game 5 and then outpitched Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the Series, Bumgarner has had a terrible last two months, including the playoffs, right up until he wasn't, in Game 2 of the Series, and as quickly as Lincecum moved from being an elite arm to a candidate to be sent to Fresno he returned to form as long as its in the bullpen.

3 weeks ago today the Giants were dead.  We lost Game 2 of the Reds series three weeks ago, 9-0, getting 2 hit by Bronson Arroyo.  We were headed to Cincinnati where the Reds (a superior team) just had to win 1 of 3 games at home to advance.

10 days ago today the Giants were dead.  We lost Game 4 of the Cards series 10 days ago; we were down 3 games to 1 against the defending champs (a superior club to ours) with Barry Zito scheduled for Game 5.

And here's what the pitchers have done since.

Game 5 - shutout
Game 6- 5 hits, 1 run
Game 7 - shutout

World Series
Game 1 - 3 runs, 2 of which were in the 9th when the game was long out of reach
Game 2 - 2 hit shutout
Game 3- 5 hit shutout

We've outscored Cards/Tigers 32-4 in those 6 games.  The pitching staff's ERA is .67. We have not trailed in our last 54 consecutive innings.

I mean - when it isn't happening to your club you'd (correctly) chalk it up to a small sample size; within a limited time frame any team can go lights out or dead cold for a couple of weeks - but when it's the San Francisco Giants, who had never won a World Series in their history - when so much of your (and by your I mean my) personal narrative was tied up in those decades of just coming up short, to have won the Series in a dominating fashion in 2010 and now to be here in this spot, just 2 years later, I mean.  You know.  Huh.

2. I Write.
I've made 13 posts since my last Tendown two weeks ago; mostly about baseball - for those of you who come here for investment advice, my NBA season long win total post is here, and my track record for win total forecasts is pretty good.  There was a significant trade this weekend and probably that results in the Rockets ticking up a game, but I'll look at that more thoroughly before the first tip.  You can also read me here if the mood strikes.  I've also seen 4 star wrestling matches:

From NJPW in October:
Tanahashi v. Suzuki 4 1/2
Low Ki v. Ibushi 4
Okada v. Anderson 4

From TNA in October:
Harris v. Storm 4
Aries v. Hardy 4
Angle/AJ v. Chavo/Hernandez v. Daniels/Kazarian 4

ROH TV October:
Lethal v. Richards v. Strong v. Elgin v. Cole v. O'Reilly 4

And I'm moving - we're moving an hour north; now that I'm no longer tied to a campus, I can head someplace a little bit cheaper, so that will happen before our next Tendown.

3. X Factor

I enjoy reality competition, but the preliminary episodes of the music competition shows are now portraying the contestants as if they're seeking asylum.  Please don't make me go back to America.  I sell stamps in one of our decaying cities.  Let me stay forever in your beautiful country of X Factor.

4. I Voted

I struggled.  How is it that climate change, which was widely accepted in the United States as true and as a problem that needed to be addressed just a few years ago can no longer be discussed (like gun control or torture) in a political campaign?

 Because when the Democrats stake out a position, that's as far left as the discussion is allowed to go.

I often use a device that goes something like this; after the second debate Romney's kid said he wanted to punch Obama in the face.  Flip it around, we have a white President, a black challenger, and black challenger's son says he wants to punch white President in the face.  The reaction is what?

So, use that here - if Republican President uses drone strikes as pervasively as has this Democratic President - the reaction from people like me is what?

The Obama Presidency has not been a disaster; Democrats have been trying to get universal health care for generations, as this is not that, but it's closer than we've ever come.  We had an economy near total collapse and although the stimulus wasn't half as large as it needed to be, it was a success.

But if you're on the left and the President who you vote for is the guy with the kill list aggressively prosecuting whistleblowers you need to recognize that we're less likely to abandon those practices without opposition to those practices being allowed in mainstream discussion.  Our debate ranges from the Democratic establishment out to the furthest fringes of right wing thought.  From Obama out to women don't get pregnant when they're raped.  That's our national conversation and that conversation is from where legislation can exist- voting for Obama doesn't help that, it moves the dialogue further right.

But we keep health care.  We probably don't go to war with Iran.  We probably don't appoint federal judges who will continue to install our permanent plutocracy.

I'd completely appreciate a progressive who believed this vote to be error, even one who believed this vote to be fundamentally wrong; it's not a decision I made without consideration.

(Obama's going to win, incidentally.)

5. I Have Boxes to Pack, Lets Move it Along.
I'm going way to slowly today.  Gotta get to the finish.

Start here - by reading this study on the state of working America.

Spoiler alert - it's not good.

6. Cortisone
One of my longstanding discussions has been the distinction between what we call PEDs and what we call painkilling drugs is not as great as the distinction in the way we consider them - Barry Bonds gets a shot and it means his career did not happen; Kirk Gibson gets a shot (takes a drug absent which he could not perform) and he hits a legendary home run we still celebrate.  It is not a discussion that mainstream analysts often engage in - but USA Today, of all places, is where you can find it.

7. Would You Like some Right Wing Quotes About the Final Debate?
It's super fun.

Religious Right Attacks 'Demonic' and 'Mean' Obama in Final Debate

During the three presidential debate and the vice presidential debate we have kept an eye on conservative activists on Twitter who have routinely claimed that the debates have finally “exposed” Obama as a fraud in need of a teleprompter. But after last night’s debate where Mitt Romney shifted many of his foreign policy stances, in line with his record of changing his views on social and economic issues, to make him appear like he agrees with President Obama, conservative activists had little room to work with, unless you are Ann Coulter who called Obama a “retard.”
Glenn Beck said Obama is “mean” and a “liar,” lauding Romney’s performance as “divinely inspired.”
More than a liar, Faith2Action president Janet Porter maintained that President Obama seemed “demonic.”
Buster Wilson of the American Family Association claimed Obama is revealing his “angry black man persona” in the debate.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel amusingly believed that Romney’s attempt to agree with Obama really shows he was “smoking Obama.”
If you need more proof that Obama “lost,” LifeNews founder Steven Ertelt said it is clear Romney won judging by how the candidates hugged their wives:

8. 200 Arrested Development Quotes
They're here.

9. 21st Century Feudalism
In case you missed the message that the right wing believes you are the property of your boss - consider this.

10. Zirin On Bonds
I had a similar reaction as did Zirin when Tim McCarver made the Barry Manilow reference in game one.

When I come to you in this Tendown space again, two weeks from now, I will have moved, Obama will have been re-elected, and (gulp) the San Francisco Giants will be, once again, the...

Nah.  Not worth the risk.

I'll see you next time, if there is a next time...

Your pal,


Game 3

Saturday, October 27, 2012

They've been doing this for a hundred eight years, I don't need to tell you how many teams have ever come back from 0-3.

That's what's up.

Game Two

Friday, October 26, 2012


AJ Pierzynski, as disliked (and on merit) as any San Francisco Giant ever by the Giants fanbase, decided that Posey should have blocked the plate.

No, but the throw I thought, Tim, was inside enough where he could’ve held his ground.

I know Buster had the horrible injury last season. But that’s just, as a catcher, you know Tim as catching, sometimes that’s par for the course and you got to take it as part of the game. 

Thanks for the tip AJ. Good looking out.  Because instead of being up 2-0; we could be up 2-0 with our franchise player crumpled like Todd Greene

Madison Bumgarner looked like Madison Bumgarner is supposed to look; Dave Dombrowski had so many reaction thoughts I assume he must have 324 career wins and own the Texas Rangers, and Buster Posey isn't lying in a heap at UCSF Medical Center.

And we're up 2-0.


 See how Posey's walking away from that play at the plate?  What a pussy.

There have been 50 previous occasions in WS history where a team has gone up 2-0 in a Best of 7.

That team has won 40 of those 50 World Series'.

Ten years ago today was Game 6.  Today is better than that.

2012-13 NBA Season Win Totals

I tend to have good success with NBA over/under win totals.  I've got my projected win total next to each team, playoff seed next those who I project to earn them, over/under investment opportunities when my projection is significantly far away from the current sportsbook number, and my forecasted winner for both conferences.  I've picked the Heat/Spurs the last two years, here it is again.  

Finally, my projected All Conference Rosters.  

Boston 48-3
Philly 47-5
NY 46-6
Brooklyn 45-7
Tor 37(over)

Indiana 49-2
Chicago 44-8 (under 47.5)
Mil 38
Cleve 33
Det 28 (under 32)

Miami 61 -1
Atl 47-4 (over 43)
Wash 31
Orl 21
Charl 17


OKC 57-1
Den 57-4 (over 51.5)
Utah 45-8
Minn 47-7(over 38.5)
Port 29(under)

SA 57-2
Memphis 48-6
Dallas 43
NO 33 (over)
Hou 24 (under 29)

LAL 54-3 (under 58)
LAC 49-5
GSt 35
Sac 32
Pho 26(under)

San Antonio

C ABynum
F LJames
F JSmith
G DWade
G KIrving

G DWilliams
G RRondo
C GMonroe
F CAnthony
F Horford

G BJennings
c Noah

C DHoward
F KDurant
F BGriffin
G CPaul
G RWestbrook

F KLove
F RAnderson
G MGinobli
G JHarden
C LAldridge

G KBryant
G SCurry

College/NFL Picks Oct 27-8 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here are this week’s picks. I’m 61-58-1 on the season. Last week is here.

Indiana +1 Illinois win
Maryland +1 BC loss
MTenn -3 NTex win
Ore St. -5 Wash win

Miami +3 NYJ win
Rams +7 NE loss
Cle +3 SD win
Oak +2 KC win
Dall +1.5 NYG loss
Den -6 NO win


Game One.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pablo Sandoval became the 4th man in World Series history to hit 3 homers in the same game.

Ruth.  Reggie.  Pujols.  Panda.

Barry Zito outpitched Justin Verlander.  Tim Lincecum again was lights out in relief.  Angel Pagan doubled off the third base bag just days after Lance Lynn threw a grounder off the second base bag.  Joe Buck stood at a podium along the third base line like he was emceeing a Todlers & Tiaras pageant. Tim McCarver made a Barry Manilow reference.  A Republican candidate for US Senate said a pregnancy resulting from rape was all part of God's plan.  Presumably he'll fight with the other Republican candidate for US Senate who said women who were raped don't really get pregnant because God shuts that shit down.

And we whipped the Tigers.  One down.



2012 World Series Preview

Spoiler Alert - I'm picking Detroit

Detroit 87 Pythag Wins
1. Austin Jackson, CF OPS+ 130, WAR (Davenport and B-Ref) 5.5 (Det has edge in CF)
2. Andy Dirks, RF OPS+130, WAR 1.7(Det has edge in RF)
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B OPS+165, WAR 6.7 (Det has substantial edge at 3B)
4. Prince Fielder, 1B OPS+152, WAR4.7 (Det has substantial edge at 1B)
5. Delmon Young, LF OPS+89, WAR-.9
6. Alex Avila, C OPS+100, WAR2.5
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS OPS+85, WAR.4
8. Omar Infante, 2B OPS+79, WAR.2.9
9. Starting Pitcher
-The Tigers can/will hurt you through the first four but not much after that - of course Young (who is a real lineup hole) hit the ball in the ALCS because it's a short series and that's how it goes, but if predicting, you look for players to be who they are.  Fear 1-4 but no one after that and not 2 if/when they sit Dirks
-In Detroit, Young moves to DH and Berry/Garcia join the OF in a timeshare with Dirks.  Berry's OPS+ is 86, Garcia's is 91.  Laird (OPS+93)may also get in games against Zito/Bumgarner, our lefties have a platoon benefit against the Tigers whose power is minimized against southpaws.  
-Santiago (OPS+52) Worth (62) Kelly (44) is rest of the bench.   
San Francisco 88 pythag wins.  This is the 18th best SFG team ever.  This is only the third WS ever to match two sub 90 pythagorean teams; whichever team that wins will be approximately the 100th best WS winner ever.  
1. Angel Pagan, CF OPS+ 121 WAR (Davenport and B-Ref) 4.5 
2. Marco Scutaro, 2B OPS+ 145 WAR 4.3 (SFG substantial edge at 2B)
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B OPS+124 WAR 3.4
4. Buster Posey, C OPS+172, WAR8 (Best position player in Series, SFG substantial edge at C)
5. Hunter Pence, RF OPS+91, WAR.6 
6. Brandon Belt, 1B OPS+124 WAR 2.6
7. Gregor Blanco, LF OPS+95 WAR 1.2 (SFG has slight edge in LF)
8. Brandon Crawford, SS OPS+87 WAR 3.1 (SFG has substantial defensive advantage at SS)
9. Starting Pitcher
You'll know more about the DH plan when the roster is announced, if SFG keeps Whiteside (OPS+ 16, not a typo) over Huff (77) the plan is Sanchez (95); otherwise Arias (97) is best bet.  The rest of the bench - Theriot (84) Nady (110).
It should not go without mention (although it almost entirely has throughout the playoffs by mainstream media; McCarver said the Giants decision to leave him off the roster made it a "non-story", another story to tell would be "Giants intentionally leave second best hitter off the roster without a baseball reason for doing so" which sounds like a pretty goddamn important story) that while the Giants choose between Huff and Whiteside for who won't contribute off the bench, Melky Cabrera (OPS+ 158, WAR 5) sits at home.  I don't even care if he doesn't start in San Francisco, he can sit in the clubhouse shunned by the entire organization, but who is more likely to get a hit at the end of a game (or as a DH in Detroit) - Aubrey Huff or Melky Cabrera?  Who is the Giant who will be so bothered by Cabrera's presence that he will perform less well for those of you obsessed by magiks?  Will Zito's curveball miraculously not break?  Will Pence start dropping fly balls?  Will Crawford run screaming from the field "get that steroid monster off my team!!".
It's dumb.  This is a 51/49 series and we're keeping our second best player away from the field.  It's dumb.

Here's baseball smart guy Rany Jazayerli agreeing with me on Melky:

Maybe there's some hidden wisdom in welcoming back a repeat offender who's a crappy middle reliever, while shunning the guy who was your best hitter before he got popped for the first time. But the Giants' double standard means that their starting left fielder will be Gregor Blanco, who hit .244/.333/.344 this season. And without Cabrera, the Giants don't have a single competent hitter on their bench, which will leave them exposed when the series moves to Comerica Park and they need a DH. Their most likely candidate is Aubrey Huff, who batted 95 times all season and hit .192 with one homer.
Whatever point the Giants are trying to make by holding Cabrera out, the Tigers are happy they're trying to make it.
Game 1: Justin Verlander ERA+ 160, WAR 7.6 (Best pitcher in baseball, an enormous advantage for Detroit) 
Game 2: Doug Fister ERA+122, WAR 3.3 (edge to Detroit)
Game 3: Anibal Sanchez ERA+ 113, WAR 2.6 (slight edge to Detroit)
Game 4: Max Scherzer ERA+ 113, WAR 4.1
In the pen, Valverde (ERA+112) blew up in the playoffs and has lost Leyland's confidence; it's unclear how long is his WS leash, behind him is Coke (106), Dotel (119) Smyly (106) and Alburquerque (only pitched 13 innings this season).  Benoit (15) and Porcello (92) round out the staff - Detroit's only got 2 lefties on the staff, Coke/Smyly.  
 San Francisco
Game 1: Barry Zito ERA+84 WAR .2
Game 2: Madison Bumgarner ERA+ 103, WAR  2.8
Game 3: Ryan Vogelsong ERA+ 103, WAR 2.4
Game 4: Matt Cain ERA+125, WAR 5 (edge to SFG)
In the pen the Giants get back a portion of what they give up in the rotation, Romo (ERA+196 closes), supported by Casilla (123) Affeldt (130) and Lopez (141).  Kontos (142) Mijares (140) are middle guys, Mota (68) shouldn't be on the roster and you won't see him pitch a meaningful inning in the WS. While Lincecum (67) was awful this year as a starter, he's been lights out in the pen this postseason.  In the way the Tigers lack of positional depth beyond their top couple/three stars isn't as big a deal in the postseason, the Giants' rotation issues aren't as important in the playoffs given the ability to go early and often to the pen.  
SFG runs the bases better, SFG fields better.  If you wanted to take SFG+155 to win the thing, I wouldn't try to talk you out of it; it's not chemistry that gives me some level of confidence in this WS, it's that Detroit isn't much better than we are.
But they are a little better - you just can't predict Zito to beat Verlander either time (it's just one game, Verlander might get lit up like he did at the ASG, but you don't bet that way) given the enormous disparity between them.  That means we have to win 4 out of the 5 possible non Verlander games - games where we only have the starting pitching advantage one time.  It's not a broad disparity - Detroit can struggle against lefties, we're going to start 2 and have 3 in the pen - Lincecum was one of baseball's best pitchers prior to this season's collapse, a collapse that has appeared, in the small sample of the postseason, to be nearly totally reversed when he's in the pen, and when you add him to what is already our solid relief advantage, the gap between the clubs shrinks quickly.
But it's still there - Detroit's got the best pitcher and middle of the order thump. SFG has home field advantage (although likely to lose it after tonight) and clearly won't feel any additional pressure having already killed 6 elimination games.  If the Tigers were to win in as few as 5 games, that wouldn't shock me - if the Giants were to come back home down 3 games to 2 and pull out another comeback to win the Series, that wouldn't shock me.  
But by a small margin the Tigers are better, so I'll pick them to win by a small margin - it's Detroit crushing my soul by beating my Giants in 7 games.  

The Giants Win the Pennant. Again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

3 elimination wins on the road in Cincinnati.

3 elimination wins in the NLCS.

And we're back in the Series.

Ideally I'll have time tomorrow for a more detailed post; my look at the history of SFG in the World Series will go up at the other place and I'll link to it at the very least - but for now I'll say this; I picked us to lose to the Reds in 5; I picked us to lose to the Cards in 7.

I'll keep going.

We lose to the Tigers in 7.  There's no reason to think Zito beats Verlander in either game 1 or 5 (anyone can beat anyone, but it's an enormous mismatch, an all time mismatch - I'd have to run the numbers but I'd bet Zito is an all time bad game one starting WS pitcher) meaning we need to win 4 out of the other 5 games to take the series.  4 out of 5 is not the side you want to play.

It's close, both teams are sub 90 pythagorean win teams, making it the second worst WS in history; you can't call either side more than a slight favorite.

But honesty compels me to pick the Tigers.

Not that I care even a tiny bit.

The Giants Win the Pennant.  Again.

Game 7

Monday, October 22, 2012

I have for you one number.

Over the past 35 postseasons, 14 previous teams have won a Game 6 at home to force a Game 7 with 13 of those 14 teams then going on to win Game 7.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

The San Francisco Giants drafted 20 year old Ryan Vogelsong 14 years ago.  Our top pick that year was Nate Bump; in 2011 after 13 minor league seasons and almost 1100 minor league innings pitched, Bump was still pitching for Lehigh Valley.

Now is the time when I'd say something like "it's hard to make it in the Show" but that's a little more Ring Lardner than I can get away with.

Vogelsong was in the same Single A clubhouse with Giants farmhands like Damon Minor and Joe Nathan; in the same Double A clubhouse with Scott Linebrink and Cody Ransom; in the same Triple A clubhouse with Calvin Murray and Ryan Jensen.  Lot of Ghosts of Giants Past, Well Less Past and More Ghost of Giants Never in Vogelsong's real view mirror.

And then he was gone - sent to Pittsburgh in 2001 in the Jason Schmidt trade.

When your prospects leave, particularly in what turned out to be an incredible heist, you lose track of them quickly; one day Vogelsong's someone you're keeping track of in Shreveport, and the next he's just another guy bouncing around.

3 seasons in Japan.  And not great seasons.  Ryan Vogelsong was 11-14 with an ERA over 4 in over 200 innings pitched before returning to the States in 2010 to get kicked around AAA in both Salt Lake and Lehigh Valley.  33 year old Ryan Vogelsong hadn't thrown a pitch in the major leagues in five years when he returned to the Giants organization in 2011.

Ryan Vogelsong had been gone a decade.  He missed our losing Game 7 of the World Series; he missed our getting knocked out of the playoffs on a home plate collision; he missed Barry Bonds breaking both the single season and career home run records; he missed the bottoming out of the organization at the end of the first decade of the 2000s and he missed the first World Series Championship in the history of San Francisco.

Almost all of the pivotal moments in recent Giants history - and Ryan Vogelsong, who first signed a Giants contract when Bill Clinton was President, has no connection to any of them.

In 2011, Ryan Vogelsong had his career year; he had more value (by WAR, B-Ref version) in 2011 than the entire rest of his career combined, and tonight, with the Giants having already won four elimination games in this year's postseason, Ryan Vogelsong struck out 9 (his career high) and won his second game of the NLCS.

Ryan Vogelsong is 34; I don't know what level of reflection he allows himself tonight - if he'll think about Altoona or the Hanshin Tigers - if he'll think about that 20 year old kid who signed his first contract in 1998 and what would become of him.  I know in my own life during moments of unexpected, seemingly life altering triumph who I've most wanted to tell is an earlier version of me; to tell him to hang in there, to keep punching, that a day would come where I'd approximate the person I wanted to be.

I don't know if Ryan Vogelsong does any of that tonight.

I do know that he got the Giants to Game 7.  See you Monday.

The Best 100 Players in the NBA 2012-13

ESPN has done its now annual ranking of the top 500 players in the NBA.  That's Eddy Curry.  Number 500.

I don't do 500, but here is my ranking of the 100 best players in the NBA as projected for the 2012-13 season.  Note, this is not a fantasy ranking.  Don't use it for your draft.

In parentheses is the ESPN rank.

1. L.James Miami (1)
2. K. Durant OKCity (2)
3. C.Paul LAC (4)
4. D.Howard LAL (3)
5. R.Westbrook OKC (9)
6. DWade Miami (8)
7. A. Bynum Phil (13)
8. B.Griffin (14)
9. K.Irving (22)
10. K.Love (7)
11. JSmith (31)
12. DWilliams (10)
13. MGinobli (25)
14. GMonroe (49)
15. JHarden (26)
16. KBryant (6)
17. SCurry (40)
18. CAnthony (17)
19. JLin (78)
20. RAnderson (50)
21. LAldridge (20)
22. AJefferson (44)
23. BJennings (61)
24. PGasol (15)
25. RRondo (12)
26. AHorford (30)
27. JNoah (36)
28. PPierce (29)
29. PMillsap (53)
30. TLawson (12)
31. TDuncan (27)
32. AIguodala (28)
33. EGordon (38)
34. KLowry (51)
35. CBosh (18)
36. SIbaka (41)
37. DNowitzki (11)
38. KFaried (71)
39. DCousins (34)
40. JWall (55)
41. ADavis (62)
42. JHolliday (73)
43. TParker (16)
44. NBatum (63)
45. DGallinari (54)
46. PGeorge (75)
47. KGarnett (21)
48. DRose (5)
49. KLeonard (95)
50. LWilliams (88)
51. MGasol (24)
52. DGranger (39)
53. RGay (32)
54. TChandler (23)
55. MConley (65)
56. RHibbert (35)
57. BLopez (60)
58. GDragic (83)
59. MGortat (57)
60. EIlyasova (72)
61. TYoung (91)
62. AVerejao (74)
63. JMcGee (77)
64. ZRandolph (34)
65. DLee (59)
66. K Walker(199)
67. IThomas(150)
68. J Teague(109)
69. JJohnson (33)
70. MEllis (46)
71. ABogut (45)
72. LDeng (37)
73. AKirelenko (79)
74. RRubio (47)
75. GWallace (70)
76. SNash (19)
77. CBoozer (67)
78. TGibson (82)
79. KHumphries (84)
80. BWright(212)
81. Nene (52)
82. TEvans (69)
83. KMartin (76)
84. MThornton(131)
85. RSessions(146)
86. RStuckey (103)
87. TSplitter (149)
89. DFavors (89)
90. GAyon(214)
91. DJordan (86)
92. DWest (56)
93. TAllen (66)
94. ABargnani (58)
95. JBayless(197)
96. GHayward(123)
97. RBeaubois(204)
98. DWright(182)
99. WMatthews(109)
100. DGreen (160)
-Highest ranked ESPN not to make my list - AStoudemire (43), RAllen (64), LScola (68), AAfflalo (80)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The LCS moved to a best of 7 in '85; 33 teams fell behind 3 games to 1 and only 6 of those teams won.

In MLB history, 76 teams have fallen behind in any best of 7 three games to one and only 11 of those teams won.

The Giants, either SFG or NYG have never made such a comeback.

Barry Zito has been a San Francisco Giant for six seasons; in only one did his adjusted ERA match league average.  That was 2009.  Barry Zito's total number of wins above replacement (B-Ref) version in six years as a Giant is 3.

Three.  He's an average of half a win better than a freely available pitcher per season.  Half a win a season.

In that time he's made 99 million dollars.  3 wins above replacement.  99 million dollars.

Barry Zito is one of the all time sports free agent busts.  99 million dollars (and more to come) for no more value than you could get for the league minimum.  It is astounding.

Last night Barry Zito kept the Giants alive.  It was an improbable outcome. No team in MLB history had ever won 4 road elimination games in the same postseason.  Until now.

It's a temporary outcome, the series is still 3-2, we still have a Melky sized hole in the middle of the lineup and there isn't a starting pitcher you love seeing take the mound.

But we live another day because of Barry Zito.  In 2012.

College/NFL Picks Oct 20-21 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last week is here.

52-51-1 (you have no reason to believe me because I’ve been treading water for two months, but I’m sort of jazzed about this week).

Texas &M +4 LSU loss
Iowa St. +14.5 OK St loss
Aub +7 Vandy win
EMich +3 Army win
North +5 Neb win
Mich St. +10 Mich win
Indiana +3 Navy win
UL Monroe +3 WKU win
KSt +3 WVU win
Marshall +3 SMiss win
UAB +3 ECarol loss
Ore St. -10 Utah win

Rams +6 GB loss
Carol +2.5 Dall loss
TB +2 NO loss
Bengals +1.5 Pitt loss


The Occasional Tendown September 30-October 13 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dear Internet:

Every time I type the name Pettitte I always think I'm putting in too many T's.

Guess what name I'm never concerned about misspelling?  Good work TBS.

141 is here..  This is Tendown 142

1. Back in the NLCS

The Giants were dead a week ago and now they're not - the Cardinals were dead just a couple of days ago and now they're not.

I don't think we're going to win this series; the Cards as I discussed here, had a better pythagorean record than did SFG, and out of 107 World Series winners only 11 had pythagorean records as low as this year's Giants club.

I teach a course at the new gig with a textbook that really should be called "On the Other Hand" as each theory is essentially presented with a stream of qualifiers.  That doesn't bother me; it's good scholarship but can irritate students who just want to hear "this is the right theory, this theory sucks."

So, the Cards are better than the Giants and teams as bad as the Giants rarely win the World Series; on the other hand, 5 of those 11 teams with comparable pythagorean records won the Series this century (including both of those Cardinals winners), as the expansion of the playoffs bring in a larger pool of teams and demonstrate that the best team really doesn't necessarily come out of a short series.

The piece of analysis I'm most comfortable making is the Giants are intentionally going into battle with a suboptimum roster.  Which, you know, should draw more attention than it has.

The Nationals went into the playoffs with less than their best possible roster; the narrative through which the DC season will always be remembered is the much criticized decision to shut down Strasburg; I thought conventional wisdom was right - the reason to protect Strasburg as an asset is the belief that he will be able to get you to the World Series.  And that's where they were this year; this was the year they needed that asset. It's one thing to have investment property, but if you need a house today just move in.

The Nationals made a conscious decision to be less good than they could have been; it was and will remain and much debated decision.

Melky Cabrera was the Giants second most valuable player this year; I'm not prorating that; even given his missing the last quarter of the season Cabrera was only behind Posey for season long value.

He's healthy - he wants to play - and he's not coming back.

And there's almost no discussion about it; the Giants are going into the NLCS with very little corner outfield production (Blanco producing solidly more than Pence - Hunter Pence has given us virtually nothing; I know he cheerleads and I think it's fun too, but what we need are more extra base hits) and an absolute zero sitting on the bench in Aubrey Huff - but yet they are choosing to keep their second best player at home.

And there's almost no discussion about it.  It's a little infuriating; Andy Pettitte (confessed PED user) started Game One for the Yankees, there was no outcry - Ryan Braun (failed a drug test last year, beat it only on a chain of custody technicality) was again one of the five best players in the NL this year, there was no outcry. Guillermo Mota, who came off a hundred game PED suspension this very season and is sitting (hopefully in the very back) of the Giants bullpen right now and there is no outcry.

I'm unsure what the Giants think will happen if Melky Cabrera replaces Aubrey Huff on the NLCS roster.

I'm unsure if we will lose without him (I think we will, but it's like 55/45). I'm unsure if we would win with him, but what I am absolutely certain about is Melky Cabrera is a better baseball player than Aubrey Huff, and that means we are intentionally going into the NLCS with less than our best possible roster.

2. The History of the SFG in the NLCS.
Here's the short version:

'71 - lost to Pirates
'87 - lost to Cardinals
'89 - beat Cardinals
'02- beat Cardinals
'10-beat Phillies

Or you could read the long version.

3. Would You Like to Watch Some Videos of Game 5?
They're here.

4. Would You Like to See Willie Mays (er, apparently it's Mayes?) in a 49ers cap?

The guy in the middle, if you're unfamiliar, is the owner of the San Francisco 49ers.  Just in case you were feeling insufficiently old today.

5. Do You Know Who This is?

It's David Siegel.  He used to be a billionaire; now he has less than that as his attempt to build a 90,000 square foot house was subject of a documentary this year.  This week he sent his employees an email threatening to fire them if Romney doesn't win the election:

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.
So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

I'm going to say this is more common than we think; my previous position was at a for profit college, and for about a year every mandatory faculty meeting I attended included criticism from my boss about the policies of the current administration and how they would negatively impact our industry broadly and possibly our positions specifically.  I have been a professional for nearly two decades and have attended meetings through Clinton's second term and Bush's full 8 years - it was not until the current administration that I ever sat in compulsory meetings and heard people for whom I work threaten the security of my job given the outcome of elections.

Here's a second example. And a third.

6. If You Ever Get to Ask Justice Scalia a Question
I've got one for you.

So, here was Scalia talking about some of the controversial, justiciable, issues of the day:

"The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state," Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

To whatever extent this got any traction, it was centered just on Scalia discussing cases that may come before him, before they come before him.  That's worth talking about, but it's not my angle.

What I want to talk about is the substance; Scalia's saying look - it can't be unconstitutional for a state to criminally penalize homosexuality because the Constitution was ratified in 1789; the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791, and despite that states continued to have laws criminalizing homosexuality until just the past decade. Scalia's saying the Constitution has to permit those laws because those laws remained in place after those dates.

Giving Scalia the benefit of the doubt that really he doesn't mean 200 years, he really means since the passage of the 14th Amendment after the Civil War, we can still have the same discussion.  There was an equal protection clause - but still there were laws criminalizing homosexuality.  What changed?

Here's where you get to the question.

Justice Scalia; you said the following about the power of the state to criminalize homosexual conduct "for 200 years it was criminal in every state."  Under that reasoning, shouldn't states have the ability to prohibit interracial marriage, given for 100 years after the passage of the 14th amendment, there were states that had that prohibition?  Under that reasoning, shouldn't states have the ability to curtail individual gun ownership, given that for 200 years after the passage of the 2nd amendment, states passed those restrictions; in fact, should any the protections of the Bill of Rights apply against state governments at all, given that it was not until the 20th century that courts decided to read the constitution in a way that would make those Bill of Rights freedoms that each American possessed regardless of in what state we lived.  From Brown v Board of Ed to Citizens United please explain how the reasoning that you wish to apply to laws criminalizing homosexuality would not undo a massive amount of American jurisprudence.  

And let me know how that works out.

8. Oh, Lance...
Barry Bonds is the second greatest player in the history of baseball.  He owns both the single season and career home run records.

But baseball and sports media told you it didn't count; told you it wasn't happening; told you that it wasn't real.  They did it day after day for years and years.  Probably you believe them.  The San Francisco Giants organization believes them - the lack of commemoration for Bonds's career, given the way the Giants have systematically mythologized lesser greats like McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal is appalling; the degree to which the Giants want to run into the embrace of conventional wisdom at the expense of the man most responsible for building their stadium does not speak well of their organizational integrity.

It's also, of course, the primary reason why Melky Cabrera sits at home and Aubrey Huff sits on the bench.

Huff sure did have a weird late career offensive spike in 2010 and then fall completely off the table.

Just saying.

I spent most of the past ten years pointing at Lance Armstrong; the sports mythmakers made a clear choice to deify him while demonizing Bonds, and here's where we sit  in 2012; 11 teammates testifying against him.


The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: About 200 pages filled with vivid details (PDF) -- from the hotel rooms riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centers to the way Armstrong's former wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to all the cyclists.
In all, a USADA report released Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, week after week, year after year, spared no expense -- financially, emotionally or physically -- to win the seven Tour de France titles the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away.
It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand-in-hand in cycling and that Armstrong was the focal point of a big operation, running teams that were the best at getting it done without getting caught. Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.
USADA said the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules."
It accuses him of depending on performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and "more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates" do the same. Among the 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong are George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
It details the way those men and others say drugs were delivered and administered to Armstrong's teams. It discusses Armstrong's continuing relationship with and payments to a doctor, Michele Ferrari, years after Ferrari was sanctioned in Italy and Armstrong claimed to have broken ties with him.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the cyclists were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

9. From the House of Representatives Science Committee:
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth,” he said. “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”
If you wonder why the American people would ever listen to a corporate boss say "it's really the unions who are hurting you; you don't want the ability to bargain collectively" and believe them; if you've wondered why the American people would ever listen to a politician say "the distance between the wealthy and everyone else has done nothing but increase for 30 years and what we need to do for your benefit is keeping cutting taxes on the wealthy" and believe them; if you've ever wondered why any American would be against a guarantee of health care - this is why - our complete inability to separate facts from the magical bullshit that is pounded into our brains.  
If you want to start from just this critical thinking decision - either we die, like all other living organisms, or there's this magical cloud where your grandpa lives forever with Jesus who hates government regulation and dudes touching other dudes - and you pick the latter it just opens the door for all of the "women who are actually raped have special magic powers to keep from getting pregnant" and "if we give all the money to really rich people everything will be okay" ideas that continue to control the electorate. You're worried about how the budget debt impacts future generations?  What about climate change?  That's right - it can't be real because God wouldn't let that happen.
A poll released this week revealed that the number of Americans who are Godless is on the rise.  You want to start pushing the rock up the hill to fix the country, cheer for that.
10. A Nice Piece About Brandon Crawford
1992 5-year-old Brandon Crawford couldn't hide his emotions during what was believed to be the final Giants game at Candlestick. Photo: Tom Levy, The Chronicle / SF
That five year old boy at what appeared to all of us, at the time, to be the very last game the Giants would ever play in San Francisco is now the starting shortstop for the team that, in fact, never moved to Tampa.

When I return in two weeks; someone's going to be in the World Series.
Go Giants.

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

Your pal,


2012 NLCS Preview

Saturday, October 13, 2012

ALCS was here.

There have been 107 WS winners, 96 had 90+ pythagorean win regular seasons.  Granted, 5 of those sub 90 win teams have been in this century with the enlarging of the playoff pool, with both Cardinals winners members of that group.  Let's look at the four contenders:



In a short series, anyone can win - the Giants have home field advantage and the Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball - but were you predicting (and I am) the picks are Yankees and Cardinals.  The really unlikely outcome is having a Tigers/Giants series, as a WS where both teams had sub 90 pythags has only happened twice in 107 years (but both were in the WC era). The Giants/Cards are, of course, the past two WS winners; the previous two WS winners haven't met in the postseason since '58 (the year the Giants moved west, incidentally). The most important takeaway from the NL pythag numbers is that the Giants/Cards matchup is actually the opposite of the appearance of the regular season records. SFG won their division and had a better record; StL was the better team. 

I write about the Giants occasionally; I'm picking the Cardinals in 7.

Here are the WAR (B-Ref+Davenport/2) numbers.

C Posey 8 (the best player in the series)
1B Belt 2.6
2B Scutaro 3.3
SS Crawford 3.1
3B Sandoval 3.4
LF Blanco 1.2
CF Pagan 4.5
RF Pence .6

Sanchez .3
Arias 1.7
Nady -1 (the worst position player in the series)
Theriot -.2
Huff .1 
Not on the Roster: Cabrera 5(even though he missed the last quarter of the season, still our second best player this year; we should absolutely be using him in this series; the Nats shut down Strasburg and are getting killed for it; if we lose this series, mainstream analysis won't raise that we intentionally left our second best player at home; I'm raising it now)

Bumgarner 2.8
Vogelsong 2.4
Cain 5
Lincecum -2 (the worst player left in the playoffs)

Romo 2.5
Lopez .3
Affeldt .9
Kontos .5
Zito .2
Mijares .4
Mota -.3

C Molina 7.3 
1B Craig 2.5
2B Descalso .3
SS Kozma 1
3B Freese 4.2
LF Holliday 3.8
CF Jay 3.6
RF Beltran 3.2

Schumaker 1
Robinson .4
Chambers .2
Cruz -.1

Lynn 2.5
Carpenter .2
Lohse 4.4
Wainwright 1.7

Motte 2.6
Boggs 1.9
Rzepczynski .1
Mujica .9
Garcia 1.6
Kelly 1
Rosenthal .5
Salas .2

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