July 20, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • Between the incredible amount of tripping over his own words, cheesy false excitement, misused vocabulary, odd inflections, name-calling, and constant proclamation that "we're going to get into that later," I initially assumed that Jeff Straub's podcast devoted to criticizing me must be satire (and exceptional satire, at that). Having thought about it a little further, I'm pretty certain that it's actually just really bad.

    But feel free to decide for yourself, if you can get through it (I had a tough time and the entire show was about me). The whole thing reminds me of some sort of insane cross between the famous "boom goes the dynamite" clip and Will Ferrell's "I drive a Dodge Stratus!" skit on Saturday Night Live. You stay classy, Jeff.

    UPDATE: After noticing that Straub's podcast had been removed by the site hosting it, I sent an e-mail requesting that they put it back up so that everyone could listen to it. They agreed to do so, although it was apparently done under protest:

    This podcast had been temporarily pulled down, but it's back up now at the request of Aaron Gleeman. Mr. Gleeman asked that his readers have a chance to hear Jeff Straub's take, and that seems very fair.

    If you have any complaints regarding this edition of Mr. Straub's podcast, please direct them to me, Cory Humes, the director of baseball for MVN.com. You can reach me at chumes@mvn.com. I'll do my best to respond promptly.

    As both the person being criticized and the person fighting to keep the criticism available to the public, I'm confident that this must be what it's like to live in a bizarro world. Also, in the future anyone who suggests that I don't welcome criticism should be the subject of Straub's next podcast.

  • After reading this story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, here's my first question: For a 500-pound man, is tubing down the St. Croix River really "a fun but safe activity"?
  • People seemed to enjoy the Win Probability Added (WPA) breakdowns for both the season totals and last weekend's series against Oakland, so here are the WPA figures for the three-game series against Detroit:
                          WPA                                WPA
    Pat Neshek .266 Dennys Reyes -.037
    Matt Garza .260 Luis Castillo -.094
    Michael Cuddyer .134 Jeff Cirillo -.112
    Jason Kubel .129 Scott Baker -.118
    Johan Santana .070 Jason Tyner -.130
    Matt Guerrier .044 Nick Punto -.132
    Joe Nathan -.148
    Torii Hunter -.168
    Mike Redmond -.171
    Jason Bartlett -.217
    Lew Ford -.223
    Garrett Jones -.237
    Joe Mauer -.294
    Justin Morneau -.323

    Ugly. In sweeping Oakland, the Twins received positive contributions from 13 players and negative contributions from eight players. In being swept by Detroit, the Twins received positive contributions from six players and negative contributions from 14 players. The pitchers combined for a solid .337 WPA, but of the 13 hitters who came to the plate against the Tigers only Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel added to the Twins' chances of winning.

    The other 11 hitters dragged the team down and most of them did so in a big way. Torii Hunter, Mike Redmond, Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, and Garrett Jones were all awful, but the two best hitters on the team, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, combined for an astounding -.617 WPA. The two of them were essentially twice as bad as the Twins' pitchers were good, combining to go 5-for-24 (.208) with eight strikeouts while leaving 17 runners on base in a series of three straight one-run losses.

  • Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com LaVelle E. Neal III had an interesting article in the Star Tribune about athletes and blogging. Not only did LEN3 go to Deadspin's Will Leitch for quotes and provide the traffic numbers for Pat Neshek's site (surprisingly low, given all the press he's received of late), we learn that both Cuddyer and Johan Santana are thinking about starting up blogs of their own.
  • In case you were wondering, former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Jessica Alba is still nice to look at even when wearing ridiculous sunglasses. On the other hand, even in a bikini Tara Reid just looks painfully odd. Hard as it may be to believe now, there was a time before all the botched surgeries and heavy drinking when she was really cute in sort of a natural, girl-next-door way. The lesson? Plastic surgery is not always your friend.
  • Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. has set a new team record by going 219 plate appearances without drawing a single walk. To put that in some context, Mauer has drawn 27 walks over his past 219 plate appearances. Asked about Pena's streak, first-year general manager Dayton Moore had this to say:
    I couldn't care less if he walks again all year. I don't want him worrying about that. The biggest mistake that players make is they start focusing so much on their weaknesses that they don't maintain their strengths.

    Pena is an outstanding defensive shortstop and it's obviously vital that he "maintain" that "strength," but would trying to draw a walk once every month or so really keep him from doing that? In 130 big-league games, Pena has hit .272/.289/.367 with a 62-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, so in terms of hitting there aren't a whole lot of strengths to worry about maintaining.

  • As someone who was in a reporting class with Ali Lucia at the University of Minnesota's journalism school, I was surprised by how quickly she managed to become on-air talent at FSN. I'm not quite as surprised by this.
  • Thanks to Alyssa Milano's blog, we now know that Dmitri Young "isn't built for power" and "isn't built for speed," but "is built for comfort and has the loveliest way about him." Seriously. There's sadly no visual evidence of Young being "built for comfort" in Milano's presence, but there are pictures of her hanging out with Russell Martin (not to mention Jeff Garlin, Ernie Banks, and Ozzie Smith).
  • Speaking of Martin, he was one of the topics when Jon Weisman of Dodgers Thoughts joined Gregg Rosenthal and me on NBCSports.com's "Fantasy Fix" show Thursday. Ken Tremendous from Fire Joe Morgan joined us on Monday's show and was a very good guest, but displayed a lack of sanity in writing about the experience afterward:
    The fine folks at NBCSports.com had me on today for some good old fashioned fantasy baseball talk. Got to chat with legendary Twins blogger/Rotoworld.com writer Aaron Gleeman, which was as close to an honor as a baseball blogger can get.

    If that's truly "as close to an honor as a baseball blogger can get," then we should all just quit now and move out of our parents' basements.

  • Yesterday in this space I criticized the Twins for trying to censor their radio broadcasts, including Ron Gardenhire's quote that "they should be with us" in response to critical comments about Juan Rincon's decline and Santana's pitch counts. Today in the Star Tribune, Judd Zulgad agrees with me:
    Most of what Gardenhire said was off base. KSTP pays good money for the Twins' rights and on-air talent has no obligation to be cheerleaders for the team. If this had been a criteria, the club would have kept its games on WCCO. Not only was Thompson well within his right to broach the subject, but it's an interesting point.

    While the Twins may be used to the rose-colored coverage they receive from FSN and MLB.com, it's sad that so many people are resigned to the idea that media outlets working closely with who they cover should preclude them from being at all critical. Rincon was suspended for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy two years ago and his performance has consistently declined in the time since then. Those are facts and commenting on them is perfectly reasonable.

  • Francisco Liriano undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last year was a little easier to swallow knowing that Santana was still around to start every fifth day, but the Cardinals have no such luck with Chris Carpenter.
  • Not only is there a new announcement about a different newspaper cutting jobs seemingly every week as the industry continues to decline, now entire newspapers are closing up shop.
  • As someone who spent way too much of my youth in various Shinders locations, I was sad to see the news that they are no more:
    The loss of Shinders, known equally well for comic books, pornography, magazines, baseball cards and sports memorabilia, hit some customers hard on Monday. They compared the store to such other longtime Minneapolis originals as First Avenue and the Electric Fetus.

    I'll let you guess which of those things brought me to the store in my teens.

  • If you're interested in the four Gophers football players who were dismissed from the team yesterday and haven't yet done so, set aside some time to read the criminal complaint.
  • Back in October, I created a WhatIfSports.com Hardball Dynasty league for readers of this blog. We recently completed Season 3 of "Gleeman World" and there will be a handful of open franchises this offseason. The league is filled with a bunch of friendly AG.com readers who fill the message board with daily chatter, but it's also extremely competitive. Because of that, any new owners would have to convince me that they're capable of devoting time to maintaining their team on a near-daily basis.

    Previous experience with WhatIfSports, and especially Hardball Dynasty, is a plus, but not necessarily required. If you're interested in claiming a spot and aren't worried about real-life responsibilities getting in the way of managing a fake baseball team, drop me an e-mail. And if you're curious, my team, the Minnesota Fatboys, has won three straight division titles and 91, 95, and 95 games, but have yet to make it to the World Series. I suppose we're sort of like the Twins.


  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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