Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

Former major league baseball player Ivan Calderon was killed recently.

My one memory of Ivan ("ee-von") is of a grand slam he hit against the A's in the late 80's. I was sitting with my parents out in the left field bleachers in Oakland and the fellow sitting next to me caught the ball. That's pretty much the closest I've been to a batted ball at a professional game and I'll admit that I didn't move an inch as it headed towards me. I'll bet Steve Bartman wishes he had reacted the same way.

UPDATE: I've just spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out the exact date of the Calderon granny. The key factors that I remember from the game are as follows: Day game (saturday or sunday), Calderon's GS, Dave Parker was on the A's (his "non-HR" over the right field foul pole cost us the game), White Sox won the game, and it was a relatively high scoring affair.

Assuming my recollections are correct, the game was played on either 4/17/88 or 4/8/89. (That's the best I can do without checking the microfiche.)

Calderon's stats
Dave Parker's stats
1988 ChiSox Schedule
1989 ChiSox Schedule

Monday, December 29, 2003

Product Placement

Chicken of the Sea explains their company name to Jessica Simpson. The lesson: if you're going to say something stupid on TV, use a brand name and get free stuff.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Blowfish Prep

Ask Yahoo! has a great little tidbit about the life-threatening dangers of eating blowfish. My favorite line: "During the exam, which has only a 25% pass rate, the chef must prepare and then eat a meal of puffer fish."

Are the other 75% dying? What's going on there?

Bad Dude

Steer clear of Suge Knight at all costs.

He's a bad man.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Drunken Buffoon

Click on Namath's interview from this page and watch the whole thing. It just gets better and better.

Department of Homeland Budget Security?

"America needs to know that those who need to do things are doing them, that their government is working 24-7 to protect them against terrorist attack."
-Tom Ridge

This sounds like Ridge raised the terror alert level so we know he's doing something. I certainly hope that's not the case. (full article here)

Scooby Dooby Doo

It wouldn't surprise me if this whole situation was a publicity stunt to promote Scooby Doo 2.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Quality Pitching

Here are the A's team ERA for the last three years (AL rank in parentheses):
2001 -- 3.59 (2)
2002 -- 3.68 (1)
2003 -- 3.63 (1)

Based on the moves the A's have made, I'm projecting (loosely) that the team ERA should be around 3.47 in 2004. That would be the best team ERA over the last three years and ought to make up for the A's somewhat woeful offense (yes, "somewhat woeful" is a generous description).

Where we're going, we don't need Rhodes

...well, yes we do.

Looks like the A's signed Arthur Rhodes on Thursday. This, combined with the trade for Chris Hammond and the re-signing of much-maligned Ricardo Rincon, should really shore up the bullpen.

And the trade for Mark Redman could potentially reinforce an already dominant starting rotation. (The A's need to work out a 2004 contract for Redman by the end of Saturday in order to keep him.)

With all of these moves the A's are making, I'd argue that they have one of the best all-around pitching staffs in the American League, if not the best.

We still have work to do on the offense, but at the same time, I think the A's have really done a lot to improve the offense already. I think Bobby Kielty and Mark Kotsay are going to be great for the A's - better than T-Long and Chris Singleton, anyway. I'm very optimistic about the A's chances in 2004, in case you hadn't noticed.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Why I dislike Ricardo Rincon

I dislike Ricardo Rincon. His numbers with the A's really aren't all that bad. In about a year and a half, he's pitched 71 innings with a 3.21 ERA. That's fine. I can't complain about that.

BUT... his performance in the ALCS was miserable, or more accurately, made me miserable. In Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston, Rincon came in with two outs and one on in the top of the 7th inning. He promptly gave up a two-run HR to Todd Walker.

Then in game 4 at Fenway, Rincon came in to start the bottom of the sixth. He promptly gave up a HR to Todd Walker.

I suppose I could forgive RR if we won the series, but we didn't. And I guess I could forgive him if I hadn't seen the second collapse in person - but I was there in Boston for game 4, with maybe three other A's fans in the entire stadium. And I guess I could forgive Rincon if Todd Walker were some kind of home run hitting machine, but he's only hit 71 HR in his 8-year career.

Maybe it's not fair to blame Ricardo for losing the Series, but that's how I feel.

Oakland Options

So far, I've heard three main options for the A's closer situation:

1) Closer by committee with Chad Bradford, Ricardo Rincon, et al.
I'm not against the closer by committee per se, but I'm against a committee that includes Ricardo Rincon.

2) Move one of their younger starters, like a Rich Harden, into the bullpen as a closer.
Moving Harden to the 'pen might be a viable option, but I have no idea. It worked great for Eric Gagne in LA...

3) Acquire someone, whether it's Ugueth Urbina, Arthur Rhodes or *ghasp* Armando Benitez.
I'd love to have Ugie, who's full name is Ugueth Urtain Urbina Villarreal. Urbina had a 1.41 ERA with the World Champion Florida Marlins in the second half of 2003, and I'd love to see that in an A's uniform. But there are no circumstances under which I'd be happy to see Armando Benitez playing for the A's. None.

Anyway, I'm hoping for Ugie and willing to settle for Rhodes or Harden as our closer.

Urban Legend?

Ask Yahoo has a great answer to the question "Which direction does the water flow down a drain at the Equator?"

The best of their suggestions is to visit "Bad Coriolis," a page assembled by a Alistair B. Fraser (Meteorology professor at Penn State).

And I thought only linebackers came from Penn State...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Interesting Comparison

The Red Sox' top three starters this coming year will be Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Derek Lowe. Over the last two years, those three have combined for 1,236 innings and a 2.97 ERA.

The A's top three starters this coming year will be Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito. Over the last two years, those three have combined for 1,236 innings and a 2.97 ERA.

The Yankees' top three starters (probably) will be Mike Mussina, Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown. Over the last two years, those three have combined for 1,166 innings and a 3.48 ERA.

And then consider this: The Red Sox' top 3 starters will be a combined one-hundred years old, the Yankees' top 3 will be a combined 101 and the A's big three will be a combined 80 years old. Which threesome would you rather have?

I'm sticking with the youngsters. Now all we need is a little offense and a closer.

Bad Weekend for the A's

...But it could have been worse.

Keith Foulke signed with the Red Sox for 4 years/$26M and Miguel Tejada signed with the Orioles for 6 years and $72M.

There are two positive aspects of these deals:

1) Neither of our two free agent defectors went to an AL West rival.
2) Because we offered them arbitration, we're going to get draft picks - four of them I think in the first two rounds.

That's small consolation, but it certainly could have been worse.

Friday, December 12, 2003


Good Morning Silicon Valley always seems to have great odds and ends in addition to quality Silicon Valley news. Today, GMSV brings us a great article from England about Nerds. It's just a good read. My favorite part:
Emboldened, I ask Alan if he would consider himself to be a geek or a nerd? "Well, neither," he replies. "I think words like that are a bit rude and old hat, frankly. There's no need for them nowadays."

Those nerds across the pond sure know how to use the English language!

Flu Outbreak Over-Rated

"We also need to remember that for almost everyone, flu is not such a serious disease."

So says Julie Gerberding, Director of CDC

It's not a serious disease, people. Getting the flu isn't the end of the world. Simmer down. There's no need to panic.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Lack of Niners Coverage

I've got the Niner's logo up top there, but I've hardly uttered a word about them. I've been meaning to discuss their season - I just haven't gotten around to it. It's almost too depressing to comment on. How can a team lose to Arizona in late October and then beat them by 36 points a mere six weeks later? It's just a sad state of affairs. Anyway, I'm looking forward to dissecting the season at some point.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

AL West

Good news today for the Angels, who signed Bartolo Colon away from the White Sox. And good news for the Mariners, who signed Eddie Guardado away from the Twins.

This news, of course, is bad news for the A's who have to face these two divisional rivals 19 times apiece each year.

And it's doubly-bad news for this reason:
The loss of Guardado means the Twins have lost their top two relievers, LaTroy Hawkins to the Chicago Cubs and now Guardado, to free agency in the span of a week. They have some money now, though, to sign a free agent closer or acquire one in a trade. They expect to actively pursue that at the winter meetings this weekend.

As a reminder, the A's are trying to re-sign their own closer (Keith Foulke), and Boston is trying to steal him away. What are the odds that the A's win a bidding war against Boston? Not good. What are the odds that the A's win a bidding war against Boston and Minnesota? Even Worse.

Sunday, December 7, 2003

A is for Abritration

The A's offered arbitration to Miguel Tejada, Keith Foulke and Ricardo Rincón before today's deadline. I guess there's a glimmer of hope that we may resign Tejada and Foulke, but more likely, this means we'll get compensatory draft picks when they leave.

USC Got Screwed

The final BCS Standings are out for college football, and for the second time in three years, a team that couldn't win their conference championship will be given an opportunity to win the National Championship in college football. Two years ago, Nebraksa played in the BCS championship game despite finishing 3rd in their conference. This year, Oklahoma makes the championship game despite taking an all-around whupping in the Big Twelve championship.

So, both human polls (coaches and writers) have USC as #1, LSU as #2 and Oklahoma as #3. But USC gets the big snub and will play in the Rose Bowl. We can only hope that USC beats Michigan and shares the national title with the winner of the LSU-Oklahoma Sugar. Hopefully then, we'll be another step closer to a college football playoff, which would be just about the best thing since sliced bread.

Showdown Sunday?

ESPN is calling today "Showdown Sunday," as there are a lot of great matchups with playoff implications. Here are the fourteen NFL games today at either 1pm or 4pm EST:

Favorite / Underdog / Combined Record
Tennessee vs. Indianapolis, (18-6)
Denver vs. Kansas City, (18-6)
New England vs. Miami, (18-6)
Philadelphia vs. Dallas, (17-7)
Minnesota vs. Seattle, (15-9)
Baltimore vs. Cincinnati, (14-10)
Green Bay vs. Chicago, (11-13)
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay, (11-13)
**Buffalo vs. New York, (10-14)
**New York vs. Washington, (8-16)
Jacksonville vs. Houston, (8-16)
San Francisco vs. Arizona, (8-16)
Pittsburgh vs. Oakland, (7-17)
Detroit vs. San Diego, (6-18)

For some reason, the only games on TV in New York today are the Jet's and Giant's games. The only "showdowns" I'm going to see today are going to be battles of ineptitude and incompetence. (So far in the first 10 minutes of the Giants-Washington game, the G-Men have already lost a fumble, missed a FG and trail 3-0. Woo hoo!)

I understand that the networks have to show the local teams, but why can't they also show us a good game? I'm stuck watching two of the worst games with four of the worst teams when there are 4-6 arguably great games, in terms of match-up. Shame on you NFL, CBS, FOX and New York.

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Responding to Criticism

After some criticism from the Stone, I've added some not-so fancy, unoriginal graphics to the site, as you can see.

Here's some more bandwidth-eating imagery:


Not Me:
Kris Benson

A's Rumors

There are two A's-related updates on ESPN's Rumormill (Subscription Required).

The first piece is about Tejada:
Dec. 5 - The Seattle Times reports the Mariners have offered Tejada a three-year contract at $24 million to $25 million, with an option for a fourth year. That offer comes on the heels of the report out of New York that the Mets have made a three-year, $21 million offer to Kaz Matsui, the Mariners' other shortstop target.

However, Tejada's agent told the Orange County Register the shortstop really like[s] Anaheim, and the Tigers have said they are prepared to overpay to lure a player such as Tejada. The Orioles plan to pursue Tejada, as well, but have have said they will wait until after Sunday's arbitration deadline to make a formal offer.

The Cubs and Phillies also have been mentioned in connection with the former MVP, and the A's haven't given up hope of re-signing him, either. Oakland is waiting to see what kind of market develops before making a proposal.

The second rumor suggests the A's may be working on a solution to their catcher problem.
Dec. 5 - The L.A. Times reports the A's are interested in acquiring [Paul] Lo Duca in exchange for Jermaine Dye and cash to help defray Dye's $11 million salary. Lo Duca made only $2.6 million last year, and the A's could use a front-line catcher after dealing Ramon Hernandez to San Diego for Mark Kotsay.

It will probably take a mirable for the A's to keep Tejada and acquire Lo Duca while shedding Dye's contract, but if anyone can do it - it's Billy Beane.

Friday, December 5, 2003

The Bidding is Now Open

Seattle made an offer to Miguel Tejada. At 3 years and $24M, the A's might actually have a shot at resigning him. Should be interesting to see what happens. I'd hate to see our MVP go to a division rival.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Who's on First?

With Nick Johnson gone to Canada, who's going to play first base for the Yankees? Jason Giambi never looked totally comfortable in the field, and I would be shocked if he played anywhere near 162 games at first.

Another issue for the Yanks could be this quote from Omar Minaya, GM of the Expos:
I think Vazquez is one of the better young pitchers in the game. When he goes out there, he gives you everything. He's got one of the higher pitch counts in the game. That means he wants to be out there.

Does it mean he wants to be out there? Or does it mean he's going to break down soon? Here's how STATS inc described AJ Burnett before 2003:
He was among the most durable starters in the majors, ranking behind only Randy Johnson in total pitches thrown and pitches per start through the first five months.

In case you weren't paying attention, Burnett blew his elbow out after only 4 games this year. Could the same be in store for Vazquez?

Parade of Yankee Acquisitions Continues

Bob Klapisch points out that since the Red Sox made their Curt Schilling trade, the Yankees have gone wild. They've agreed to terms with Gary Sheffield (3 yrs, $36M), re-signed Aaron Boone (1 yr, $6M), signed Tom Gordon (2 yrs, $7.5M), re-signed Felix Heredia (2 yrs, $4M), signed Paul Quantrill (2 yrs, 7M) and now they've traded to acquire one of the best young pitchers in the game. Sure, the Yanks gave up Nick Johnson, but in Javier Vazquez, they got what Klapisch is calling "a younger version of Curt Schilling."

You can't argue the fact that both the Yanks and Sox are improving their teams dramatically with these moves.

What you can argue is whether or not this is good for baseball. While it may be entertaining to watch this "blood feud" boil over, fans of the other 28 teams can't feel too good about (arguably) the best teams getting better.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Yankee-Induced Nausea

This article from The Onion has already made the rounds, but as Peter Gammons points out, "George Steinbrenner wants to prove that he can bring that famous piece in The Onion... to life and take it to Broadway."

It's a little sickening to look at the Yankees' 2003 salaries (scroll to bottom of page) and realize that they're adding even more salary for the coming season. And it's amazing that my A's can even begin to compete with the Yanks on only one-third of their budget.

Interesting Note #1: The 2003 Yankees paid just over $10M in '03 for Sterling Hitchcock and Jeff Weaver. The two combined for 209 innings and a 5.86 ERA. That's just terrible.

Interesting Note #2: With $10M, the 2003 A's could afford Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder (a combined 658 innings and a 3.03 ERA) and still have enough money left over to afford Eric Chavez, a gold glove third baseman with 29 HR and 101 RBI!

The message here is that the A's have a razor thin margin of error when making personnel decisions, while the Yankees have a Cecil Fielder-sized margin of error, as evidenced by the Weaver/Hitchcock contracts.

More on this later...

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Hot Closer Market

With LaTroy Hawkins signing in Chicago, Tom Gordon signing with the Yankees, Guardado possibly staying in Minnesota and Foulke all but conceded to Boston... the A's are running out of options at closer. Here's hoping we (A's fans) don't get stuck with Ricardo Rincon.

Monday, December 1, 2003

No Limit, Ltd.

With the shooting death of Soulja Slim piled on top of C-Murder's conviction for murder (oh, the irony!), Master P's No Limit rap label has got to be hurting. There's no way "P" is making $57M per year, as he did in 1998.


From the publisher of Shogun:
A bold English adventuer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in a mighty saga of a time and place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust and the struggle for power.

From the commercials/trailers I've seen, that might be the exact storyline of Tom's Cruise's new movie. What's up with that?


This article in the NY Times about pre-employment testing makes me think back to Akili Smith, former Oregon Duck and first round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999.

I was under the impression that Akili was one of the dumbest players in the NFL, but my brief research this afternoon showed otherwise. While Akili did score a meager 13 the first time he took the Wonderlic test, he pulled out a 37 on his second attempt and 27 on his third. Looks like he was at least smart enough to either cheat, guess better or pull his head out of his ass.

The lowest score I could find came from another Bengal draft pick:
In 1997 the Bengals drafted the "dumbest" player in the draft, and that's no joke... Reinard Wilson who was regarded as an exceptional defensive end from Florida State University... scored the lowest of all 300 athletes given the [Wonderlic IQ] test with a score of 4 out of a possible 50 on the Wonderlic IQ test.

The national average is 21.4, and the minimum for Mechanical Engineers, just for comparison's sake, is 30.