Posts Tagged ‘David Ortiz’

Aught Lang Syne: Top 10 Games — Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball hit a bit of a rough patch in the Aughts, what with steroids and tie games–well, one at least–and out-of-control payroll imbalances and talk of contraction and ugly stadiums and all. It’s odd to say this, but it might even have been a worse decade for the game than the ‘90s.

Okay, now that’s not true. But still, the Top 10 Major League Baseball Games from the ‘90s would certainly be a more impressive list than this one. I can think of four absolutely transcendent games from that decade, which is double the number the Aughts can boast of.*

*In chronological order because it’s too tough to rank them: ’91 World Series Game 7, ’92 NLCS Game 7, ’97 World Series Game 7, ’99 NLCS Game 5. Others that would make the top 10 off the top of my head include ’93 WS Game 6, ’95 WS Game 6, ’96 WS Game 4, and ’99 ALDS Game 5.

But that still leaves the Aughts with two games to be pretty proud of. And you know what, these other eight are pretty good, too. Most, but not all, are one-run games; several went a few extra innings, and a few went several extra innings; and a surprising and perhaps statistically significant number of them ended with a score of 6 to 5.

In case you’re wondering, hitting a walk-off home run in the World Series for your first homer of the year still wasn’t enough to get Scott Podsednik and the ’05 White Sox on the list, who also had Game 2 of their ALCS against Anaheim and Game 3 of their World Series with Houston short-listed. Brad Lidge not only escapes the Podsednik homer unscathed, but also the shot he surrendered to Albert Pujols a series earlier in Game 5. Armando Benitez is off the hook for Game 1 of the 2000 World Series, as is Steve Bartman. I heard that guy’s had some other issues to deal with.

The worst game of the decade goes to the Rangers and Orioles for that 30-3 charade they had a few years ago. I can’t imagine anyone sitting through to the end of that one.

Final clerical note: Not all of the games have videos supported by YouTube, and thus capable of embedding. Don’t blame me; blame Time magazine’s Person of 2007.

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In Defense of the Designated Hitter

Ben SheetsOh Pierre. Oh young, naïve, stupid Pierre. Where do I even begin with all the inaccuracies and logical fallacies in your argument?

I think I ought to start with your most ludicrous claim: that somehow the AL benefits from interleague rules more than the NL. Tim and I touched on this briefly before, but this argument is practically indefensible.

Here’s why: Adding a DH to your lineup can never—I repeat, NEVER—make a team worse. Pierre points out that Matt Stairs and Ben Francisco are not as good as Hideki Matsui. Well, duh. And Mark Teixeira is better than Mark Teahen. But guess what? Stairs and Francisco are a lot better than the hitters they replaced: Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez. There is also the added defensive upgrade of playing the better fielder—Francisco—in left over Raul Ibanez for two games.

On the other hand, losing the DH always makes a team worse. And for AL teams, it often makes them significantly worse. Hideki Matsui, the eventual World Series MVP, had to essentially sit out half of the games because of the NL’s antediluvian rules. People made a big deal—rightfully so—about Chase Utley tying Reggie Jackson’s record of five World Series home runs. Well, at Matsui’s rate—3 HRs in 14 plate appearances—he would have surpassed the record with as many opportunities as Utley. But, hey, Andy Pettitte got an RBI, so it all evened out! Continue reading

The Myth of Clutch

A-Rod

If I took 100 pennies and I threw them up in the air, about half of them would land heads and the other half tails, right? Now, if I looked around closely, I’d probably find some heads grouped together in a cluster. What does that mean? Does that mean anything?—A Civil Action

Statistics are great. They help us find the answers to important questions. Need to know if smoking causes lung cancer? Look at the data. Wonder if height is correlated with material success? There’s probably a study you can find. Think Albert Pujols is a better hitter than Mickey Mantle? Look it up. Statistics aren’t the final answer to any of these questions, but they certainly help.

The problem with statistics is that, like most great things—the automobile, plutonium, superpowers—they can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. One need only to look at the myth of baseball’s “clutch players” to see how statistics can be misinterpreted.

One week ago, Alex Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero were first-ballot Hall of Famers. CC Sabathia was one of the best pitchers in the game. But all three had reputations as guys who couldn’t come through in the playoffs. They were not “clutch players.” Clutch players are guys like Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Cole Hamels.

Except here’s the thing: Rodriguez and Guerrero each had clutch ninth-inning hits in their division series. Sabathia gave up one run in seven innings vs. the Twins. Meanwhile, Ortiz went 1-for-12 with no walks and three strikeouts, and Hamels gave up four runs in five innings at home (Derek Jeter had a great series, but that’s because Derek Jeter is fucking awesome).

So what happened? Did A-Rod, Vlad and CC all suddenly learn how to be clutch players? Did Ortiz and Hamels just forget? Neither. The truth is this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CLUTCH PLAYER. Continue reading

In Defense of Steroids

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Nobody likes steroids. On a list of things that are popular, steroids probably fall somewhere between cancer and traffic. While the popular outrage over steroid use in baseball has diminished recently, the primary reason for this is not any change in attitude; it’s mainly due to the fact that so many players have now been revealed as steroid users that fans have generally become jaded about the entire subject.

Most fans, however, still think that steroid use is objectionable, and that if Bud Selig could wave a magic wand and eliminate them from the game, then he should.

What exactly is it that makes steroids so despised, and should we so hastily vilify their use?

Now, a lot of people have made the argument that steroid users should be allowed in the Hall of Fame, and that their accomplishments should not be erased or totally invalidated. Even Bill James recently released a paper saying that he expects steroid use to be tolerated in the future—though his article is descriptive as opposed to normative.

But it doesn’t seem that anybody, aside from Jose Canseco, is actually advocating that baseball lift its ban on steroids.

Well, I am. Steroids are not bad for baseball; banning steroids is bad for baseball. Continue reading

I Hate to Say I Told You So…..

Actually, I don’t hate it at all. In fact, it makes me feel vindicated and smugly satisfied: I told you so.

Monday Medley

What we read on the clandestine flight to South America:

  • This probably isn’t Tom Junod’s best work–the paragraph-to-paragraph logic is a bit lacking at times–but it is the best thing we’ve read about who, and more importantly what, Michael Jackson was. It’s also another reminder of a simple rule we have: If Junod writes it, we’ll read it. See: The Falling Man, which may just be his best.
  • Josh alluded to David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster earlier this week. Here’s the NPI consensus best essay from that collection. Take our word: It’s about much more than grammar. (N.B.: Feel free to skip the first paragraph/subtitle.)

Steroids, Popularity and David Ortiz

It is no surprise that Alex Rodriguez is not popular at Fenway Park. He’s not really popular anywhere, and Boston fans in particular have never been very fond of the Yankees. Nevertheless, I was still a little surprised when the Yankees went into Boston a few weeks ago (June 9-11), and A-Rod was greeted with a pretty loud and forceful “You do steroids!” chant.

Now, as a Yankees fan, I’ve never had much respect for fans of the Red Sox, but this seemed beneath even them. To taunt an opposing slugger for juicing requires ignoring a pretty giant elephant in the room: Continue reading

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