June 1, 2004

This and That

Here are some random thoughts and notes while I wait for my precious new laptop to arrive ...

The Insider

I just saw yesterday afternoon that Rob Neyer's ESPN.com column will now be a part of "ESPN Insider." I assume the content of the column will be the same (which is to say excellent), but this means ESPN.com will now be charging you to read them.

Here's the actual announcement, from ESPN.com:

Beginning June 14, you can read Rob Neyer's column four times a week as part of ESPN Insider. You will find Rob's insights at MLB Insider, as well as peppered throughout ESPN.com's baseball coverage.

The funny thing is that they make it seem like a good thing: "You can read Rob Neyer's column four times a week as part of ESPN Insider."

Wow, four times a week! The only problem is that you've been able to read Neyer's column four times a week for the past five years or so, completely free of charge. As someone who loves Neyer's writing and as someone who doesn't have a subscription to ESPN Insider, this is very troubling news, though not really that surprising.

More and more, as this whole internet thing keeps evolving, good writing is moving to the pay side of websites. We saw it with Baseball Prospectus and now with Neyer, and those are just a couple examples from the baseball-writing niche. There are probably hundreds of other writers in other areas (politics, entertainment, etc.) who are no longer free to read.

In a way, it's a shame, because one of the really cool things about the internet is the fact that you can get so much great entertainment and information, and it's all at your fingertips. Now it's still at your fingertips, but it's behind the wall of money.

Still, you pay for magazines and books and newspapers and such, so I guess it only makes sense that you'd also pay for good reading material on the internet. I like Rob's work so much that this news actually made me sad and then actually made me think about whether or not I should buy ESPN Insider. Of course, I'm the same guy who was begging for donations to help buy a laptop last week, so you can guess what my decision was.

I hope Rob at least got a nice raise for this. He definitely deserves it.


Yesterday, I complained about the Twins' handling of Justin Morneau and how frustrating their general approach to young players is. Then I saw the following in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

When the Twins called up top hitting prospect Justin Morneau from Rochester, they left open the possibility that he would hit his way into the everyday DH job.

Although he's batting .292, that hasn't happened. Because Morneau seems to be swinging for the fences, he's the leading candidate to be sent down when Mauer is activated.

First of all, to say that "they left open the possibility that he would hit his way into the everyday DH job" is incorrect at best and a regurgitation of the Twins' spin-job at worst.

The minute they called Morneau up all they did was talk about giving him the job on an everyday basis, allowing him to get his feet wet regardless of whether or not he hit well initially. The day they called him up, Ron Gardenhire said, "I guarantee you that he will be in the lineup, hacking. That's what we like to see."

His guarantee apparently lasts about seven days.

A couple days later, the same writer, Jim Souhan, who wrote the above about Morneau possibly "hitting his way into the everyday DH job," wrote that Morneau was "slated to DH every day."

This is just so incredibly typical of the Twins. For one thing, they jerk around every young player who isn't a crappy middle infielder. For another thing, they like to talk a good game about giving young players long looks and legitimate shots to establish themselves in the lineup. And then, inevitably, they completely change their mind a week later and either bench the guy or send him back to the minors.

It has happened with Morneau twice already and it has happened to Michael Cuddyer a couple times too. If you're going to call up your best prospect for a week and then send him down, regardless of how well he's done, then just say that. Don't give everyone some bulls--- story about how he's getting a real opportunity and then some other bulls--- story about how he's "the leading candidate to be sent down" because he "seems to be swinging for the fences."

So, in addition to lying about the opportunity they were giving him, the Twins are now finding fault with the play of a 23-year-old rookie who is hitting .292/.370/.542. It is almost comical, or at least it would be if I were a fan of another team.

This is similar to what happened to Michael Restovich last year. Restovich came up for a short time and hit .283/.406/.415 in 64 plate appearances, which is very nice production from a 24-year-old getting his first extended playing time in the big leagues. But when the Twins eventually sent him down, they knocked him for being too patient at the plate and for not being aggressive and not "swinging for the fences."

Well guess what? Now that's all Restovich is doing. Thanks to continually being brushed aside by the team, he is now in his third consecutive season at Triple-A, and he's hitting .242/.282/.522.

The Twins should be happy though, because Restovich isn't walking (seven non-intentional walks in 45 games, which is just miserable) and he's definitely swinging for the fences (12 homers and 40 strikeouts in 182 at-bats).

Oh, and just as I suspected yesterday, the Twins sent Justin Morneau back down to Triple-A to clear room on the roster for Joe Mauer. Wanna know the funniest part? Last night's starting DH was Jose Offerman.

The Aaron's Baseball Blog Jinx

On Monday, I wrote about the Timberwolves' 2003-2004 season and talked about how disappointing it was for them to lose a key player like Cassell in the playoffs, after suffering through so many tough years trying to get to this point.

Get this ... I got several e-mails (so it wasn't just one weirdo) telling me that I had "jinxed" the team, more or less, because I was assuming their season would end against the Lakers and talking about the season as if it were already finished.

Their season did end on Monday night, but the bigger point is that there is no such thing as a "jinx." What I say or write has absolutely no impact on the Timberwolves' ability to win games. It just doesn't, I don't care what you say.

Beyond that, even if I had the ability to jinx the team, how can you jinx a team that is down 3-2 in a series? If I write about how the Devil Rays' 2004 season was a disappointing one despite there being 100 games left, am I jinxing them?

This brings up a larger issue, which is this whole concept of jinxing and "knocking on wood" and all that other junk. A lot of people I know like to say stuff like "poo poo poo" or "knock on wood" in response to things I say, and it is incredibly annoying.

And people know it is meaningless too. Sometimes my mom will say "knock on wood" and I'll just look at her and say, "Why would you say that? Do you think that does anything?" She will, of course, say that it has no value and is just silly, but then she'll do it again a few days later.

The whole concept that what some random person says or does or knocks on can have an impact on the actions and lives of other people, often people the person doesn't even know, is beyond silly.

An announcer talking about a no-hitter will not cause a pitcher to lose the no-hitter. Someone knocking on wood will not change the course of events in a given situation in any way. Someone responding to you saying something negative with "poo poo poo" will do nothing but make you think less of the person.

This is just how the world works, people. The words I type on my computer don't cause Kareem Rush to make six 3-pointers, and the fact that you hit your knuckles on the kitchen table doesn't impact anything other than your knuckles and the kitchen table.

With that said, I'd appreciate it if everyone would cross their fingers regarding my new laptop arriving safely next week.

New article at The Hardball Times: Beat 'Em Like They Stole Something (Part Two)

Today's picks:

Toronto (Lilly) +130 over Seattle (Pineiro)

Boston (Martinez) -150 over Anaheim (Washburn)

Total to date: -$1,330

W/L record: 73-95 (0-4 yesterday for -415, with two non-bets thanks to pitching changes.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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