Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Youz Doin

This is the final post.  After this one, we'll be closing up shop and the 1,645 posts and over 12,650 comments on How Youz Doin Baseball will probably just occupy Internet space for eternity.  It will be a good running record on the state of the Yankees, Red Sox, baseball, and life in general between the years of 2007 and 2011.  It was an interesting time period for both teams, the sports, and two American twenty-somethings growing up, and I don't think it's necessary for us to go over all the stuff that's taken place. 

It also, at least for me and for Pat, gave us a way to stay connected (probably too connected) to the game we've loved since we were kids.  Part of what made college special was the fact that I got an opportunity to argue with someone from the other side of the rivalry who had the same intensity, passion, and knowledge of the game that I had.  Despite the fact that we didn't like each other's teams, Pat and I seemed to agree on quite a bit, including how stupid it was for the Red Sox to trade Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.

The day, at least in my mind, that this blog became virtually unavoidable was the day our senior year when Sanchez threw the no-hitter.  Meanwhile, Ramirez won the Rookie of the Year, Lowell went about a month without an extra-base hit, and Beckett gave up 36 home runs.  That day, and my apologies for entering the Rocky III semi-weird area here, was the day I disappeared for three hours, seeking refuge and a place to vent at Pat's senior apartment.  Over the previous three years, Pat and I had spent countless hours coming up with clever ways to present baseball arguments - many of which are still hovering in the vapor over Dana Dining Hall or Alfond Athletic Center, and some of which were tragically deleted forever once we X'ed out our AOL Instant Messenger windows.  (In fact, in honor of my screen name, Pat's girlfriend tolerated a certain amount of "Tuna Time" every night so we could discuss baseball over A.I.M.) 

I'd say it was sometime in mid-2006 that Pat started planting the idea in my head that we should go in together on a baseball blog.  I was initially hesitant about the idea because I knew that once it started, I wouldn't be able to give a 99% effort on it.  But after three hours of my venting, profanities, and baseball frustration disguised as "insight" and "being right all the time" on Anibal Sanchez Night, Pat started pressing harder for the idea.  Two and a half months later, once the boy wonder signed JD Drew and Julio Lugo (five years ago tonight, in fact!), it was pretty much time to start planning.  So in February 2007, instead of having it all X'ed out at the end of a conversation, we started a blog so that we could eventually look back on how correct, incorrect, and/or entertaining our arguments were.

It wasn't too long until we reached my first goal:  To be able to refer to our own previous writing.  After a while, we developed a following.  We accumulated a small, but loyal and prolific community of followers who contributed to our comments section, including friends from school, friends from home, friends from work, and a couple of people who we either knew vaguely or didn't know at all.  We made it to a point where we reached nearly 15,000 hits a year, and most posts gathered dozens of comments.  With links coming from a couple of Yankee sites, one really popular Boston site, a Kansas City newspaper, and the foremost Tampa Bay Rays blog, our little blog became a lot bigger than we thought it would be. 
Over the years, when most of us graduated from college, got real jobs and lost the time to post during the work day, our lives changed and perhaps the quality of the blog receded a bit (not to mention Pat and I being at each other's throats for a lot of '09 and '10), we kept it going because it was fun to keep that conversation going.  I can speak for both of us by saying that if we didn't have the constant back-and-forth with our little community, we would have been out of the game years ago.

But it was you guys who kept it fun.  It was Bandi, the Gunn, Tim C, Ross Kaplan, and Jason who started as significant contributors and have stayed with us for the entire duration.  Over the years, we had (and occasionally still do have) From the Bronx, John, Mr. H, Rocci, Frankie Firefox, ZWeiss, Mike V, Jvins, Matt, the Big Ticket, Craig, Jack Sox, JFlu, Jon, Beau, Marino, and probably a few others I had forgotten.  You guys came up with some of the clever, insightful, and refreshing opinions that Pat and I were often unable to come up with ourselves.  In many different homes and workplaces throughout the country, I think there were and are people who checked How Youz Doin regularly and got a couple of laughs or some insightful baseball knowledge by following their bookmark to How Youz Doin Baseball. 

I'm proud of the body of work that Pat and I put together.  But I'm equally proud and grateful for the work that went into the 12,000 comments from our readers.  You really made it fun for Pat and me.  It's a lot more gratifying than having one of the countless other blogs across the Web that never got a comment, tossed out a couple of posts, published a normal post on a random Wednesday, and never was logged into again.

I also want to take a quick minute to thank my family for being among the silent followers of the blog, who took some of the stuff from How Youz Doin Baseball and started conversations about it at the dinner table.  I'm also very grateful to my fiancee, who had to share me with Pat and the blog from our three-month anniversary all the way to the present.  Somehow, me talking trash over the internet until 11:30 PM instead of coming to bed wasn't a dump-able offense, and that's pretty nice to know.  She didn't even get mad about last month's Coco Crisp post other than saying that her ex-boyfriend wouldn't have minded.  Same goes to Pat's girlfriend and Boston native Allie, who's been tolerant of what has undoubtedly been several thousand hours of Tuna Time.

Lastly, I want to thank Pat for three things.  First, thanks for getting me into the blog thing in the first place.  How Youz Doin, strangely enough, helped me professionally on a few occasions, as I got to talk about my baseball blog during a chamber of commerce event about two years ago.  Second, thanks for your tireless efforts in being just as big a part of this blog as I was despite not having enough passion for writing to use spell check (your words, not mine).  Your opinions brought balance to the blog and invaluable opinions that, at least in my eyes, shaped the way a lot of us view the game.  I think most of us in the comments section think your input had more impact on our relationship with baseball more than Bill James's input did.  Lastly, thanks for staying with it as long as you did.  I know that you probably could have called it quits two years ago, but you stayed aboard anyway and maintained our challenging schedule.  This is not ignored and will not be forgotten.

If Pat and I live until we're roughly 88 years old, our time writing for How Youz Doin Baseball, but moreso receiving immeasurable entertainment, insight, and a sense of purpose from this blog, will have been a central part of about 1/18 of our lives.  One eighteenth, of course, would be the equivalent of one half-inning of a baseball game.  And as we all know, one half-inning can make all the difference in the world.  Thanks to Pat and thanks to you all for being part of it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanks For A Great 5 Seasons

This is my last post. DV has one more tomorrow, and that's it for new content on this website. Before that happens I wanted to say a few words to wrap things up on my end.

I first met DV in September of 2003. Oddly enough - as we would go on to author a website together for 5 years - it was in a Freshman Composition/Writing Requirement class in college. I remember talking a little bit about the 2003 ALCS, but on a very general level given that we didn't know each other that well yet (there was no trash talking that I can recall, nothing like what it would be like if a series like that occurred now). DV was authoring a different website at the time, and I remember him giving me the link and me checking it out.

The first acute conversation I remember having with DV about baseball was the day the Yankees traded for Javier Vazquez (the first time). We had class that day (it was actually our last day of class, I think), and I remember I was somewhat reserved about the signing (remember this was back when the Yankees were going to the World Series every year, and getting a lion's share of the bigtime free agents and trade candidates). DV, on the other hand, was flipping out. Capital letters. I remember him pointing out that Vazquez's 241 strikeouts were 3rd to only Kerry Wood and Mark Prior in the game that year, and that he was not happy that the Yankees closed this deal after besting the Red Sox in the ALCS. Little did I know this was the first of many DV flip outs I would witness, and that it was extremely tame in comparison to what he is capable of.

From that point forward DV and I talked baseball a lot for the next 3 years. At the athletic center crossing paths to and from basketball/track practice, around campus (anytime I picked up a package at the mailroom when DV was working was always a great time to get him riled up about whatever Red Sox related issue he was ticked off about at the time), and lots, and lots, and lots of AIM conversations.

Like any sports fanatic in college, I was having similar conversations with other people. Bandi, The Gunn, Kaplan, The Big Ticket, TimC, and on and on. In large part this site was just a continuation of those conversations, just with the ability to include everyone in them at once. And that was, without question, the best part of this project for me. This site never became widely popular, and I'm not sure we ever intended for it to be. It was a place to continue to talk Yankees/Red Sox, baseball, and sports with our buddies after college just like we did in college, with a few others joining and adding to the conversation along the way.

For that DV and I have to thank our readers. All of them, and especially the group that came to read and comment pretty much every day. A few people have made comments during DV's (excellent) Greatest Hits series about realizing how often they commented. And that's absolutely correct. There is no way DV and I would have written posts for this long if we weren't debating those posts in the comments section. I mean, a lot of the time we didn't even talk about the content of the posts. We just talked about whatever somebody felt like talking about.

And that's what made this site worthwhile to maintain for five baseball seasons. Sports is an outlet for me, a hobby, a fun diversion from the things in life that are actually serious. The Yankees are my favorite team, and baseball is my favorite outlet/hobby/diversion, and this was a place to talk about the Yankees and baseball with some really knowledgeable baseball fans.

I'm not sure exactly why DV and I decided to start this site. I remember him interning at a radio station, talking about how cool it would be to have a talk show, and that morphing into the idea of maybe having a website. I remember grabbing lunch together at the dining hall one time to discuss logistics, DV coming up with the name How Youz Doin Baseball (based on the fact that I was always using sayings like that at the time), DV wrote our first post, and away we went. Whatever the exact reasoning was, I'm glad we did it. I had a lot of fun with this, my baseball knowledge increased greatly as a result, and my overall Yankees/baseball following experience was enhanced. This was primarily because of the people that came to read and comment.

Of course, I owe a big thanks to DV as well. His energy, abilities as a writer, baseball knowledge, and passion for the Red Sox were a huge part of starting this site and maintaining it for as long as we did. He put a lot of time and effort into this, and anyone who enjoyed this site can tip there hat to him for making it happen. So thanks, DV.

The best part about all of this is that, since we all pretty much know each other, the sports conversation is not stopping. We're just not using this as the forum anymore. Thank you to everyone who read and contributed to this site for the last five years. I appreciate it, and I know DV does as well. This was a worthwhile project and a lot of fun for the last five baseball seasons. Most importantly, I look forward to discussing the 2012 season with everyone. Go Yankees.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanks, JD Drew

A big part of why How Youz Doin Baseball exists in the first place is because the Boston Red Sox had the nerve to give a seemingly-interminable five-year, $70 million contract to a player who had never exceeded 100 RBIs and had played a brand of flat, underachieving, uninspired, lazy baseball that alienated fan bases in each and every city in which he had ever played.  Billed as the next Mickey Mantle because of the occasional flashes of his God-given talent, Drew held out for a year after being drafted because the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn't offer him triple the previous all-time record for a draftee signing bonus.  Maybe he'll make it into the Hall of Fame after all as a labor pioneer.

Sure enough, JD came to Boston amid some controversy and delivered in a way only he could.  He did in Boston exactly what he did in every other city he played.  He showed up about once a week, usually on Friday nights, drew a lot of walks when he needed to get hits instead, underachived his way out of the heart of the order and into the seven spot, and eventually underachived himself out of a starting position.  However, statheads loved him because he drew a lot of walks and took a lot of pitches.  Drew also sat out a tremendous quantity of games with minor injuries.

He showed a flash of brilliance in the 2007 ALCS after doing virtually nothing throughout the 2007 season, played well and put the team on his back for a month in June 2008, came short of sucking in 2009, and pretty much went into early retirement in July 2010.  He was a complete disappointment, not only in his Red Sox career, but in his career in general.

However, I do not think JD Drew is a bad guy.  I think he's a capitalist.  In the words of one of my co-workers, he treated baseball not as a passion, not as a privilege, but as a 9-to-5 job.  JD treated his job the way most Americans (maybe Europeans would be a better way to put it) treated their jobs.  Except he got to play a game that most people would love to player, and he got to make up to $14 million a year to play that game and give the bare minimum.  Most Americans also negotiate pretty hard to maximize their salary at every juncture of their career.  JD Drew is most certainly greedy, but so are most people.

I also think that along with this greed and clear (I'm not going to use "perceived" because even ultra-player's manager Francona crushed this guy for not trying/caring) apathy toward his job, he's a good human being.  He seems to have done a lot for his hometown in Georgia, and he seems to care deeply about his family and his church.  He doesn't strike me as a guy who beats the crap out of his wife, threatens to kill his pool boy with a machete, smokes crack in Tampa with his cousin, does steroids (doesn't care about baseball enough to do that), drops tens of thousands of dollars at strip clubs, leaks information about his co-workers to the media in a smear campaign, or does other immortal or misanthropic things that many of our favorite baseball figures do.  He's probably not the most friendly guy outside of his own inner circles, but who is?  A crappy player, a crappy employee, but not a crappy guy.

In the grand scheme of things, there are plenty of players, including Coco Crisp (who irresponsibly racked up a DUI in 2011) who probably deserved a lot more crap than what JD Drew got in this space for the last five baseball seasons.  I'm not apologizing for this in any way, because the scope of this blog was to analyze people's performance in their baseball jobs, something that this guy sucked at compared to what he was capable of. 

But I am saying that if for any reason this player or one of his friends, family members, or well-wishers, happened to stumble across the unwavering torrent of venom coming from nyycolbysox.blogspot.com, thanks a lot for understanding the passions of a baseball fan who cared a lot more about winning than this player did.  Thanks, JD, for being the inspiration of way too many posts here, and thanks for being there to inspire me to come up with creative ways to bash you.  But first and foremost, and I can say this for the majority of his baseball career in which he drew the ire of fans across the country, thanks, JD Drew, for being a good sport about it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pass the Kool-Aid

About 27 hours ago, I was lukewarm at best regarding the Bobby Valentine manager decision.  Now, I'm chugging the Kool-Aid.  Not because I am too thrilled about the continued undermining of Cherington, champion of "subjective" analysis.  Not because I'm too thrilled about the blatant disrespect for Gene Lamont.  But because of the following turns of events:

1.  ESPN Boston started reporting that various Red Sox are unhappy about the decision to hire Valentine.
2.  I read an article about Valentine being critical of the way that Beckett takes 40 seconds between pitches.
3.  I re-read the "Terry Francona, Fat Little Girlfriend" post.
4.  I started reading about how competitive Valentine is.  It sounded more like Steinbrenner and not at all like a "marathon" runner.
5.  I started to imagine what Valentine's reaction would be to incidents like 46 getting caught stealing third base on September 17th, Beckett getting fat, Lackey whining about the rain, Youkilis whining about competitive disadvantages against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gonzalez complaining about bus rides and Sunday Night Baseball, Crawford crying about being benched against Price, Ortiz crying about the number of power hitters in the lineup, Ortiz crying about the DH rule, Ortiz crying about official scorer decisions, Ortiz crying about who's the starting pitcher, Ortiz crying about his failed steroid tests, Ortiz crying about his contract, Wakefield crying about how the fans "deserve" to see him walk six guys and fail to make it out of the third inning, Drew asking out of a game after Clay Buchholz had already come in as a pinch runner, and all the other abominations that marked September, June, April, 2009, and pretty much the majority of the JD Drew era in Boston.

There would be blood.  There would be accountability.  There would be benchings.  There would be change.  And this line is for Pat:  The change would consist of more than mile markers every 0.2 miles on Interstate 95.

6.  I read the Bob Ryan article saying that JD Drew wouldn't last "sixteen seconds" under Valentine.  Think about this:  Francona mentioned to the media back in 2009 that "we already put a pitcher into run. That's all we got to do, put somebody out in [expletive] right.  Francona!  Who covered for absolutely everybody!  Before even being asked a single question, I could imagine what kind of incentive-laden tirade would start.
7.  Valentine himself in his press conference referred to his prior criticism, saying he welcomed the reason of why it's a good thing to wait 20 seconds between throwing pitches.  In his welcome speech he called out Josh Beckett!

I'm salivating right now.  Nothing would make me happier than an uncomfortable 46, Ortiz, Beckett, Gonzalez, and the rest of those entitled stiffs.  Them being miserable after being in the country club for so long is sweet revenge for them making me miserable being a Red Sox fan the last three years. 

Especially 46.  Let's make this guy squirm.  He doesn't want to be benched because it might hurt his fantasy stats.  So the days of getting caught stealing third to run up his fantasy stats should be over. 

As Pat says, he ripped the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball repeatedly (if you didn't know, the Sox were on Sunday Night Baseball a lot this year.  God's will).  The Red Sox, after being told that they're great and how easy it's gonna be their entire lives, apparently don't like criticism.  Now, instead of being told that it's not a sprint but a marathon, might actually get yelled at! 

One more thing about the "marathon" concept.  If the Red Sox had a closer next year, will his third 8th-inning appearance be in September?  Nope!  Valentine is known to be a pretty competitive guy who wants to win every game.  There will be no more babying of closers in the name of October.  There will be no more comments about "oh well, we lost, if we win tomorrow we'll be in first again, yay!"  There will be no more waiting for a pitcher to pitch the team out of the game (Wait for Seven, my dad calls it) before he's pulled.  This is because Bobby Valentine seems like the kind of person who doesn't want to limp into October, but instead the kind of person who wants to win 117 games and take his place on "Immortality Peak" like this team should have according to NESN.com's Eric Ortiz.

I stand by my previous comment about how it's just as easy to ignore a fiery, yelling manager as it is to ignore a coddling, cribbage-playing manager.  But this much is true:  The Red Sox had their chance to have a fat little girlfriend as a manager.  They blew it.  And, as Theo Epstein once said...

I like justice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Final Thoughts on Jacoby Ellsbury

As I pointed out last week, Jacoby Ellsbury died to me on December 4, 2007.  Previous to this date, it was sort of a conflicted thing for me, because he was making my favorite player Coco Crisp a redundant piece (a reason I didn't like the trade for Coco in the first place).  But he was a good player (the .353 batting average in 2007 speaks for itself) and one that seemed to like the game, enjoy playing the game, and respect the game.  As we've noted here and elsewhere before, fans seem to gravitate towards players who care about the same things that they do (i.e. winning, love for the game).

I'm also okay with players getting paid.  Being a baseball player is not an easy thing - being away from your family for six months out of the year, being hassled by the media, being accountable to millions (irony intended) for stuff you do at work, having to live like a celebrity just because you can hit a baseball hard or throw one 95 miles an hour?  If you want to be paid the premium for that, go right ahead and do that.  But I also expect gratitude, because few people have the natural skills to be able to earn that kind of money.  I expect effort being made toward winning and respect being paid to the hand that feeds you.  That's why Ellsbury died to me in three different ways.

The first was was in 2007.  When Arod opted out of his contract during the clinching game of the 2007 World Series, he and his agent made the clear statement that not even respect to the game is more important than the player's future earnings.  Slapped baseball across the face while on its biggest stage.  Arod blamed his agent on this tactic to distance himself from this atrocity.  Players revolted against Scott Boras after this, including one that has punched out a cameraman and one that was implicated in the BALCO scandal.  BALCO and assault are okay, but what Arod did was not, according to these players.  It seemed that Scott Boras may have been on his way to being mercifully eradicated from baseball at this point.

The first major league player to reverse this trend and sign Boras to represent his interests after the Arod incident was Ellsbury.  He was the first to make the statement of "Arod's opt out was okay with me.  Disrespecting baseball is okay with me."  I don't like players who disrespect baseball in the interest of future earnings.

Ellsbury's second offense was with the rib injury.  Do I believe the Red Sox' medical staff sucked at diagnosing him?  Yup, and I am all for him holding that resentment (I have not seen my primary care doctor since he poo-poohed my discomfort that landed me eventually on an operating table in 2010, so I'm on the game page as Ellsbury here).  Do I believe Ellsbury really was hurt?  Yes, I do.  Do I believe he exaggerated the injury?  You bet I do.  And do I believe he disrespected his team by going to Arizona to rehab?  Yes.  I also believe that all this took place so that he would not play a single play at less than 100%.  There was too much, in terms of his future free agent value, riding on his rate stats and ability to play center field.  Is Ellsbury going to let an injury or a managerial decision to play him in left field decrease that market value one iota?  Nope.  So he effectively went on strike for 144 games in 2010, completely disrespecting my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.  I don't like players who disrespect the Boston Red Sox in the interest of future earnings.

Ellsbury's third offense was with that caught stealing in September.  As we have previously gone over, with a 4-2 deficit and a .300 hitter at the plate, stealing third base provides little to no tangible value toward winning that game and solidifying the Red Sox' playoff position.  The player gets a green light to steal whenever he wants to, and he decided to try unsuccessfully to steal third base here for one reason only:  To get himself closer to forty stolen bases for the year, thereby increasing his market value during his 2013 free agency campaign.  I'm sure the sabermetricians would tell you that the moment he took off for third base, Ellsbury (a league-average base-stealer in terms of percentage) probably DECREASED the changes the Red Sox won that pivotal game in the pennant race.  That's downright embarrassing and disgusting.  It was tangible evidence that this player does not give a crap about winning and only cares about earnings.  I don't like players who deemphasize winning baseball games in the interest of future earnings.

So here's a recap: 
1.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about respecting baseball.
2.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about his team.
3.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about winning baseball games.

Last time I checked, CC Sabathia did and continues to do everything right.  He's not going to be struggling to heat his mansion this winter.  Premium players and mediocre players alike are going to get the money they deserve.  The bottom line is, Ellsbury has pulled these three separate incidents for what might ultimately be the difference between $108 million and $119 million.  If you suck so much at financial management that you would spit on the game for an extra $11 million on the top of $108 million, Oregon State has failed you.  
I needed to get this off my chest, once and for all.  I'm looking forward to citing this post in all future baseball arguments I enter for the next two years, up until the inevitable day in December 2013 when everyone starts to agree with me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Valentine Hired; Cherington Hired As Groundskeeper

Larry Lucchino 2, Ben Cherington 0.

Cherington will THINK he's mowing grass while it's actually Lucchino mowing the grass.  Meanwhile, like the 2002 Mets under DISCIPLINARIAN manager Bobby Valentine, maybe the bullpen will be SMOKING grass.  The ownership group has given the champion of "subjective" information absolutely no power, so maybe Carmine will make the decision that JD Drew's coming back.  What a bunch of smart, professional businessmen.  Maybe they'll have the professional courtesy one of these days to tell Gene Lamont that he didn't get the job.

Valentine is not a stupid baseball manager.  Not smart, but not nearly as dumb as many others who currently hold major league jobs.  I do, however, think many of his opinions are full of crap.  I also think that Lucchino's decision to tell the baseball people to F themselves are emblematic of the fact that this team cares more about what happens during the postgame show than what happens during the duringgame show.  Well, except for Ben Affleck, Ernie Boch Junior, Jay Peterman (who IS funny), Lenny Clarke (who is NOT funny), and John Kerry appearances with Remy and Orsillo.

It is also possible if not probable that one of the following exchanges takes place:

Bobby: Stop swinging at the first pitch with a man on base.
Gonzalez: F*** you, old man, it was God's will.  Plus, I was tired because it's Sunday night and I wasn't concentrating.

Bobby:  If you dare trying to steal third base with two outs and a .300 hitter at the plate, you will be either benched or banished to the Arizona Fall League.  We're trying to win baseball games.
46:  F*** you, old man, I'm not trying to win baseball games, I'm trying to get that paper.

Bobby:  Find a salad bar.
Beckett:  F*** you, old man, I do what I want.

Bobby:  Shut the f*** up and play base--
Ortiz:  Bobby, I'mma let you finish, but that was supposed to be an RBI! 

Yeah, this is a bonus post, and I didn't want to look forward.  But isn't that the point of this blog in the first place?

Greatest Hits (4 of 4)

My final selection of twelve posts that deserve a second look.  Especially looking back on these posts while trying to find the greatest hits, it's put into context that How Youz Doin has remained a significant part of my life for a long time.  What started as a daily update of OkayTUNA14's AOL Instant Messenger profile became something a lot bigger.  I'm glad Pat talked me into it, and I'm glad we got people reading this stuff for so long.

July 2010:  "Overmatched."  As DV goes under the knife for surgery, Pat sends him an unfriendly memo.  The one-hour special involving a narcissistic basketball player is discussed in great detail.
July 2010:  "$4,125,000."  Facing off over AJ Burnett and the debate regarding "value" and "winning," the authors and commenters get a little testy.
August 2010:  "A Madman, Your Honor."  In an indictment of 46's on-field actions, DV channels Fletcher Reede and Ross Kaplan questions Pat's whereabouts in an office-wall-worthy comment.
August 2010:  "No."  Johnny Damon-to-the-Sox rumors swirl, DV kills the NESCAC in general.
September 2010:  "How Wrong Was He?"  Pat claims victory in the Battle of Mark Teixeira.
October 2010:  "Clueless."  As the Yankees are eliminated, Pat provides a cocktail of anger and insight in a way that only he can pull off.
December 2010:  "There Isn't a 48% Tax in Soccer."  DV's response to John Henry's "Neither Will Your Readers" interview and questions whether the Red Sox ownership cares about winning at all.  If people are looking, maybe for a research paper, how Red Sox fans view George Steinbrenner, this might be a good counter-argument.
January 2011:  "Texts From Last Night."  Sort of a collaborative post between the two authors, the Eric Ortiz NESN.com article about the 2011 Red Sox challenging the 1927 Yankees as the best team in baseball history is dissected line by line.
May 2011:  "It's Not the Losing that Bothers Me."  It's the fact that Youkilis and Pedroia only hit the Yankees, explains Pat.  Angry Pat is really the most entertaining version of Pat.
July 2011:  "Great Game."  I assume that by the time of this article's publication, Bobby Valentine will be the new manager of the Red Sox.  In the wake of Bobby V criticizing Adrian Gonzalez for about five innings straight during an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game (insert punch line here), this is a more interesting post in hindsight.
July 2011:  "DJ3K."  In one of our most read articles ever, Pat waxes poetic about Derek Jeter.
September 2011:  "Hang Fifty."  The Red Sox deserve to lose, argues DV. 
September 2011:  "Terry Francona, Fat Little Girlfriend."  Francona deserves to lose his job, win or lose, argues DV.  After about a month, most of these statement prove to be correct.

This is it, guys.  Depending on my willingness to contribute one more bonus post, we should be done with this project by the end of the week or next Monday at the very latest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Greatest Hits (Part 3)

Continuing to record the best posts we've done.  As always, we welcome comments, either to look back or to call attention to other posts if there are any glaring ones we've missed.  I understand it's comical to list fifty posts as the best ever, but when you're weeding through over 1,600 posts, it's hard to leave some out.

February 2009:  "Your Words In Italics."  Dan Shaughnessy writes a stupid article about JD Drew.  DV responds.  DV's girlfriend drops by in the comments section under the gender-unspecific name "Beau."  It was not until 2011 that I found out that was her. 
March 2009:  "2009 Rivalry Matchups:  Bullpen."  A major point of contention was surrounding the 2009 Yankee bullpen, consisting of "a bunch of guys from SWB."  DV drops the infamous line first here.
May 2009:  "Who Wants To Win Baseball Games?  Not Brett Gardner."  The "Brett Gardner is a legitimate baseball player" versus "No he's not" argument really reaches a boiling point when Pat flips out.
August 2009:  "Who Wants To Sweep?  Not Francona."  Playing off of the previous title, DV writes another post about Francona's unwillingness to manage some games like sprints.
August 2009:  "Just Go Home."  Francona questions JD Drew's willingness to play baseball after the outfielder asks out of a game during which Clay Buchholz comes in as a pinch runner due to the team's array of injuries.  DV responds, Pat leaves a "DV-level analysis" in the comments section that still hangs in DV's office.
October 2009:  "F These Guys."  For the first time in many years, DV's natural hatred for individuals wearing pinstripes comes out as the Yankees close in on their 27th World Series.
November 2009:  "Perfect Attendance."  DV pays homage to Hideki Matsui, but as the Yankees clinch the Series, the comments section becomes the place for the New Yorkers to voice their pleasure.  Pat writes a poem the next morning.

February 2010:  "Come At Me Bro.  Come At Me Bud."  Allan "Bud" Selig, MLB commissioner, is compared to William "Bro" Adams, Colby College president.  Neither character is painted in a favorable light.
February 2010:  "In Defense of the Run Batted In."  The evolution of HYD's sabermetric odyssey continues.
March 2010:  "Earthshattering Run Prevention Breakthroughs!"  A look at defensive metrics and "run prevention" that later proves to be downright prophetic.
May 2010:  "USC vs. Notre Dame."  Similar to USC under Pete Carroll, the Yankees get outmanaged but beat the Bridge Year team due to the significant talent disparity.
June 2010:  "The Anti-Red Sox."  The likability of the 2009-2010 Celtics is juxtaposed with the dislikability of the 2010 Red Sox.  A basketball argument springs up.  "Marino" makes an appearance.

This seems like a good transition point, as the next "Greatest Hit" was when "The Decision" sent shockwaves throughout sports and How Youz Doin.  Also coming Monday night, PF and DV trade barbs, John Henry's "plane talk" gets ripped apart, Eric Ortiz of NESN writes a stupid article, PF vents his frustration about the fact that Youkilis and Pedroia only hit against New York, the Red Sox collapse, and a little bit of forgotten Bobby Valentine analysis appears.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Greatest Hits (Part 2)

A continuation of Tuesday's post...

August 2007:  "Now People in the Metropolitan Area Do Need A Helmet."  Forgot this one yesterday, but ti's another classic Pat F post written between 12:30 and 3 in the morning.  Also, Bandi trolls From the Bronx about Phil Rizzuto. 
October 2007:  "Lots of Consecutive Professional At-Bats."  Red Sox win World Series, Matt busts DV's balls about the Beckett/Lowell trade he hated so much.
October 2007:  The A-Rod opt-out fall out occupies How Youz Doin for pretty much the rest of the month. 
"Teeing Off on the Former Third Baseman."
"More on the Selfish Mutant."
"Red Sox Fans:  Will You Quit?"

April 2008:  "Fans, Gunn, and THE Waterville House of Pizza."  As DV compares pre-pink hat Red Sox fans to "townies," The Gunn offers his own perspective as a townie from Waterville.
June 2008:  "Stop Drinking Protein Shakes You Meathead."  The second most visited post in our history, Pat blows up at the Yankees' new manager.  In the comments section, he said that four Yankee relievers literally suck.
December 2008:  "I Am A Professional Athlete."  DV does not like the fact that Hideki Okajima decided to run the Honolulu Marathon.  Instead of training for a marathon he should have trained for baseball so he would not be a disaster in 2009 and 2010 or out of the majors in 2011.  Check out the splits here.

Uh-oh.  Here comes the Mark Teixeira stuff.

October 2008:  "Tex Education."  DV starts calling Teixeira a role player.
November 2008:  "No Tex, No Problem."  DV uses word play to call Teixeira a bad fit for Boston. 
December 2008:  "Teixeira is a Yankee."  Teixeira ruins Gunn's Christmas.
December 2008:  "Step Out [sic] From That Ledge My Friend." The battleground continues in a 36-comment post.

Lots more, including more Teixeira battles, barbs being thrown about New Yankee Stadium, Brett Gardner, and other stuff. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greatest Hits

It's an extremely difficult task to isolate the greatest hits we've come up with here on How Youz Doin.  I've tried and I've probably failed.  In no particular order, I have a few links to the posts I consider the best.  I'll try my best to give a little explanation of why these posts are particularly good.

April 2007:  "Wanted."  Pat blows up on the Yankees' relief pitching core, Gunn takes Pat to task for saying that bad things only happened to the Yankees.
May 2007:  "Too Bad Dave Winfield Retired."  DV references Dan Johnson as "The Second Coming of Ted Williams," a reference to a 2005 Michael Urban mlb.com mailbag.  Of course, in the next few years, things got more interesting regarding this guy.
Days earlier, in "Surprise of the Season So Far," Mets fan The Big Ticket hammers, among other things, Steve Phillips. Phillips also took heat over our time for saying that Julio Lugo had "pop" in his bat and for saying that the 2008 Tigers were going to have the "best offense in the history of baseball."
May 28, 2007:  "The State of the Yankees."  The debut of "From The Bronx."  This guy is one of very few commenters here whom don't know Pat and I personally, but he stuck around for nearly three years, bringing some of that Bronx bravado, keen baseball insight, and constant headaches for Pat F.
June 27, 2007:  "What do the New York Yankees need?  Me."  Pat completely combusts, taking it out especially on Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano.
September 19, 2007:  "Save Him for Later."  Though the Red Sox won the World Series this year, the words about saving Papelbon for later instead of bringing him into the game when he's needed most run just as true four years later.  This one's a classic DV blowup.
December 2007:  "Yo Quiero Mas Dinero."  Jacoby Ellsbury dies to DV, DV's friend Jared reveals that he would fit right in on a Bobby Valentine team.

April 4, 2008:  "We Could Be That Mistake."  A quintessential DV post, praising Coco Crisp for some inane reason, criticizing JD Drew after Drew homers, gets a comment at 7:11 AM on a Saturday morning, gets criticism for overemphasizing spring training stats.  A bit of foreshadowing.
April 8, 2008:  "Hurricane Katrina is Good for Profit Margins."  A DV rip job of Red Sox ownership and its "Red Sox Nation" fan club heirarchy, perhaps calling out "Vice President" Rob Crawford.  Gets a comment from "Vice President" Rob Crawford!

Also on April 8 (we actually had a really good week), DV posted the blog's 506th post, "A Good Negotiation to Win" and got a pretty special troll comment: 

I'm sorry, i cant resist. I know you guys are doing this all in fun and what-not, so power to you, and i hope you all have fun with it.....BUT The smugness and pretentious odor that you oozes off these blogs is ridiculous. I've never seen such a display arrogance [sic] and stroking of eachothers [sic] and of course your own egos. i'm sure ill get blasted for this and have no interest in some sort of cyber fight. Basically, get over yourselves.....its real easy to blast evryone [sic] and everything sitting in ur damn chinos and cartigans [sic] at your desk. my guess is none of you have played baseball since the glory days of little league......act like it

Arrogant, smug, pretentious:  Sure, guilty as charged.  After all, a lot of us, including both of us with administrative privileges, went to Colby College.  My Little League days weren't even glory days, although the only kid I ever faced who ended up playing professional baseball, I have a 1.000 on-base percentage against.  But at this point, the entire comments section did blow up at this tough guy, and that was greatly appreciated.  It was probably here that I realized that Pat and I had not only a following of readers that enjoyed our writing, but a following of readers that would stick up for us.  I appreciate loyalty, respect, and retaliation, although it may have just been in words.  And, to follow up on Pat's reason we're calling it quits after five years, I think if we didn't have you guys, we would have gone on with the rest of our lives a lot sooner than now.  The theme of "Chinos and Cartigans" did re-surface several times over the subsequent 1100+ posts on How Youz Doin Baseball over the next few years. 

I also like to think that I was adequately critical of myself when it comes to my own performance as a high-level athlete.  I hold myself to the same standards as the baseball players I criticize.  More on this in the comments section, perhaps.

I hope you guys get a chance to click through some if not all of these links today.  There will be more coming throughout the week.  I anticipate that we'll be done for good by the first weekend of December.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Final Thoughts on Sabermetrics

"I thought you were gonna ask me about JD Drew having the second-highest OPS of all AL outfielders."

With that, it was over for me.  Over the course of our five years at the helm of How Youz Doin Baseball, Pat and I (and all of you, I'm sure) have had a complicated relationship with sabermetrics, their value, and how important they are when trying to put together, evaluate, and manage a baseball team.  I think somewhere around 2009, when Theo Epstein said the line above to justify another painfully mediocre season by JD Drew that you had to start calling everything into question.  I'm gonna try to boil an intricate argument into a few bullet points.

1.  There is value in sabermetrics and in the stuff contained within the book Moneyball.  I still fully support the Moneyball philosophy of preferring college players in the draft because their statistics are more reliable than high school statistics because you know how good the competition is in college whereas high school competition has many other variables.  It also provides value within managing games:  At times, when it's a toss-up, go with the numbers.  Proving the indisputable correlation between getting on base and scoring runs (which is intuitive without looking at the numbers) definitely enabled managers to abandon some "cute" tactics that really didn't provide much value.  It's also very interesting to see what happens on the aggregate level. 

I also do believe strongly in some of the pitching metrics.  FIP is a great statistic in particular.  The offensive equivalent, BABIP (I know they're not perfect mirror images, go back under your bridge), is not really as valuable in my book, but I am impressed with the intuitive nature of FIP and the important stories it tells.

2.  The problem I have with a lot of statistics, including BABIP many aggregate stats (including Pythagorean winning percentage, and virtually every defensive metric ever invented, is that they force you into a ceteris paribus (all else being equal) assumption.  They make you do this stuff in economics classes and science classes alike.  The experiments you read about in a textbook are performed in a vacuum, and UZR150 doesn't take anything into consideration, such as where a guy is positioned, what the situational strategy is, whether there's a shift on a lefty hitter, or anything like that.  We're told in economics class or science class that in real life a feather and a bowling ball won't fall off the Leaning Tower of Pisa at the same speed or that markets are never actually 100% perfectly competitive.  In sabermetrics class, we are not told that a lot of these statistics are only scientific in a vacuum.

2.5.  As I wrote in a previous post, OBP was the last frontier of labor market inefficiencies in baseball.  Trying to find it in flawed vacuum stats like the defensive ones results in failure.  Several Oakland teams, the 2010 Mariners, the 2010 Red Sox.  Period.  Run prevention does not work.

3.  Closely related, these statistics come from a very high volume of data played out over a 162-game season (lest you summons the Sample Size Police).  However, baseball is a situational game.  It is foolish to play the same style of station-to-station baseball at all situations throughout the game.  I always cite the same situation of Drew drawing a walk with a runner on third, one out, and Varitek on deck.  On the aggregate, the walk makes sense.  In this very specific situation, it does not.  While formulating this post in my head, I was consdering the shunning of the bunt.  But if you have Mark Reynolds up, say he's hitting .250, hits a lot of home runs, strikes out 1/3 of the time, and you have a guy on second, no outs, and a fly ball hitter at the plate.  You gotta think about bunting him.  You're taking the bat out of his hands, but he might do the most inefficient thing you could possibly do in baseball, and that's strike out.

4.  Some of the math is fuzzy.  I have read more books than I care to admit about sabermetrics and the value of a player in a situation.  There have been interesting situations about the value of a win, the marginal value of a win, and so forth.  Vince Gennaro and JC Bradbury especially write some interesting stuff about it.  But (as much as it's a punch line regarding certain terrible catchers with extra letters on their jerseys) intangibles do count, both on the field (sorry, I believe in clutch) and to fans.  Even if Jeter hits .260 in his final season in New York, losing him would subtract value from the Yankee franchise.  And this is something that cannot be calculated in a lab.

5.  Closely related to point #4, it's a human game.  We're not playing on the Strat-O-Matic machine, and we're not even playing Baseball Mogul here.  Sometimes you need the scouts "selling jeans" (a Moneyball term) to see that despite his high OBP, a player does not give an F about playing the game.  Either that or you look at the way that player is viewed by former managers, former players, and each fan base he's ever played for (and one he spurned, of course).  Sometimes you need someone selling jeans to tell you that a reliever vomits on the mound during high-leverage situations.  Sometimes you need to look at traditional statistics, such as RBIs or wins, to see the way a player actually goes about playing the game.  As much as I hate 46, he was aggressive in all the right times (except for one particular Saturday afternoon), and his RBI total reflected that.  Spreadsheets do not indicate whether a player has balls.

In closing, I treat hard-core sabermetricians like sky-is-falling global warming advocates.  Just because they have a high volume of data they've never had available before, they cannot accept the fact that some of the data is exaggerated, imperfect, or just plain irrelevant.  To justify their existence on Planet Earth, they have to exaggerate the importance of the data they have and make a big story about it.  As I said earlier, sabermetric statistics have their place in baseball, and when used responsibly they give a club an edge over a team that completely disregards statistics.  They also help explain a lot about the nature of the game we watch.  However, as Pat and I (and long-lost commenter Craig) have proven over the past five years, if you dig deep enough, you can use a statistic to support any argument. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Laughingstock of Baseball

This was the blog post tag assigned to the Best Team Ever by legendary baseball blog nomaas.org.  But the embarrassing behavior coming from the Best Team Ever's organization will not stop.  I thought the thirteen-post rampage I went on throughout the month of October was going to put closure to this.  But the continued moves being made by clearly Larry Lucchino and to a lesser extent John Henry and Tom Werner is further solidification of the Best Team Ever's current position of the laughingstock of baseball.

Today, the following broke:

1.  Despite a second interview with Dale Sveum, the Best Team Ever sat with their thumbs up their rear ends instead of offering the managerial candidate a job.  Sveum took the job with the Cubs.
2.  Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that Sveum was the overwhelming choice of the baseball operations people, but was vetoed by ownership.  What a great way to usher in your new general manager than to have him screen out potential hires for one of the most important positions in the organization, then tell him to go and get his shine box.  Good job, Larry.  If this guy had any balls, he would bust out the gorilla suit immediately.  If you like justice, you would hope Cherington tells Lucchino to find another GM as well.  After all, Lucchino has John Henry, so he'll never walk alone.

The Rosenthal article said in as many words that Lebron, Liverpool, Fitzy, and Associates kicked Francona's ass out the door, made working conditions so unpleasant that the GM from Brookline ran out of the job not once but twice, and now, in the new GM's FIRST managerial decision, decides to not listen to him.  I don't understand why Roush Fenway Racing would so something like that.  Then again, NEITHER WILL MY READERS.

3.  The Sons of Maverick Carter have not only vetoed Cherington's first recommendation, virtually stripping him of all power, but have already spoken with Bobby Valentine.  The same cat who vehemently crushed their coaching staff for their handling of the Gyroball Kid and the same guy who more or less treated the Mets' on-field product like Joe Torre treated the arms of Scott Proctor, Tom Gordon, and Tanyon Sturtze:  Drove them right into the ground.

4.  Cherington and most of the baseball people are going to the Dominican Republic.  Therefore, the Disciples of Carmine very well may re-interview Valentine and, who knows, offer him a freaking job without the general manager actually in the room, region, or country!  I have a feeling the private jet only charters flights to Liverpool and Mark Teixeira's house only and doesn't stop by any countries where the primary language is anything but the Queen's English. 

The fact that these major baseball-related decisions are being made without the input of the baseball people is just further evidence that this ownership group prioritizes winning baseball games far lower than membership cards, concourse bricks, Sweet Caroline, Pocket Money, Sox Appeal, college GPAs approaching a gillion, income approaching 20% higher than the year before, Liverpool, lower luxury taxes overseas, NASCAR racing, the holes in Carl Edwards's car, Charlie Moore, Ernie Boch Jr. doing play-by-play, Maverick Carter, Phish concerts, rugby games, and at least the first three quarters of certain NBA playoff games.  I feel like this group values winning baseball games slightly more than it values performance in the fourth quarter of certain NBA games, because that has not seemed to be a priority either judging by the way #6 plays.  Talk all you want about George Steinbrenner; his meddling was borne from an intense desire to win.  John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner care about profit.

Speaking of which, Valentine is most certainly a Werner thing.  He provides dubious value at all when it comes to managing a baseball team (perhaps a bit of a hyperbole), but his real value corresponds with him being an animated character who will enhance the ratings of post-game press conferences on NESN!  Who cares what happens between 7:00 and 10:00 on game nights, it's all about what happens between 10:00 and 11:00.  Apparently the team will be in the market to hire a new booth babe with Heidi Watney moving on as well.  Great news for the 11th guy on the Lakers' bench.

5.  Sources tell Boston radio show hosts Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak that the source of the Bob Hohler article material was none other than Theo Epstein.  Interesting, especially considering that the article was reasonably critical of the former general manager and as recently as a few days ago said that the 2011 team was a bunch of "choir boys" compared to the beloved 2004 team, something counterintuitive to anything written in that article.  This is clearly Lucchino leaking the information to the Globe in the first place, saying that "there were a lot of articles in the Globe" in a smug, snarky way, denying it, and now throwing Theo under the bus for one very last final time.

6.  Sean McAdam and Peter Gammons have also started going after the Lebron Group for undermining the general manager and the Francona smear campaign (respectively).

I was thinking about the following when all this went down on this fine Thursday:  The Best Team Ever was a freaking mess when the idea for this blog came about in 2006.  They are in far, far worse shape now than they were five years ago.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

December 31, 2006

You don't need Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones to tell you so to know that baseball (or sports in general) intertwines with your lives.  I remember writing about "the next Maury Wills" in sixth grade the day after a shortstop named Nomar Garciaparra hit his first home run, I remember a relationship with a baseball-noncompliant girlfriend falling apart the day Nomar hit three home runs on his birthday, and I remember a party at loyal commenter Jason's house the day he was traded for two .246 hitters.  I hit my first 100 mile running week when the Red Sox lost a 19-inning game to Chicago, and I remember the Patriots getting blown out by Denver on MNF when my grandfather died.  Most recently, I got engaged with the unintentional backdrop of the epic Game 6 (the 8th inning, to be exact) of the 2011 World Series. 

Opinions are formed by your own experiences, which is why, as a marginal professional athlete, I hate steroids and why, as someone who suffered from a sports hernia in 2010, had empathy toward Mike Cameron's situation in 2010.  No incident shaped an unpopular opinion, however, more than what happened on December 31, 2006.  The following story is 100% true.

I was a senior in college, Hanley Ramirez had just won the Rookie of the Year while Josh Beckett gave up 36 home runs, and the Red Sox had an underachieving center fielder.  There were preliminary talks about starting a blog with this basketball player with whom I shared a freshman year class, hours in the gym, and an unbridled passion for baseball.  I had already been writing prolifically about baseball in my AIM profile, including some choice words about the Red Sox' new center fielder Coco Crisp, whom I thought was a terrible acquisition.  Makes no sense to bring in (and extend) a fragile leadoff hitter who had a career OBP worse than the league average, I argued, and I was absolutely correct.  However, this night I was to celebrate the New Year with my new girlfriend in her hometown, a reasonably tightly-knit community in which now I also reside. 

She was a freshman and shortly before acquiring me, she had let go of her last boyfriend.  All indications pointed to the fact that this kid was a terrific boyfriend, and they had parted ways shortly after she went to college.  As the replacement boyfriend who was brought into this situation shortly after the previous break-up, I had big shoes to fill and probably unreasonable expectations.  I could be a decent to good boyfriend and still be compared unfavorably to the guy who came before me.  Whatever, I just did the best I could, including not objecting to the illegality of the Captain Morgan in her trunk while my girlfriend and I stopped at the local convenience store for some Coca-Colas.

We walk into the store together and, inevitably, she knew the kid working behind the counter.  Inconveniently for me, my predecessor had also worked at this convenience store, so my girlfriend knew the entire staff, including this poor kid.  The first question from this kid to the Franchise was something along the lines of how school was going.  The second question was asking how my predecessor was doing.  The third question was whether she had seen my predecessor during Christmas break.  The fourth question was whether she was spending New Year's with my predecessor.  There I was, standing there with the Drew Bledsoe Face on (wow, a Bill Simmons reference!), with all this going on. 

At this point, I realized something.  I was Coco Crisp.  It didn't matter how much trash this guy talked on his way out (there was quite a bit).  It didn't matter whom he ended up with in the aftermath of this breakup.  It didn't matter if I did the equivalent of hitting .310, stole 40 bases (and didn't get thrown out at third base at an inane point trying to get to 40 bases), and scored a hundred runs.  I would seemingly forever be the guy after this guy.  There was already a bench mark that was seemingly attainable.  If I screwed up or worked on my blog all night instead of hanging out, it was a story of how I sucked and my predecessor was so much better.  If I did something good, it was a story of how I was cool but my predecessor did it this way.  It could never be a story of I sucked, period, or a story of how I was great, period. 

Just like Coco Crisp never, ever got a chance in this town to just suck without being worse than Johnny Damon.  He never got a chance to make a catch without being compared to Johnny Damon.  He couldn't work a 10-pitch season-saving at-bat in the ALCS after being benched the night before without it being compared to the way Johnny Damon worked at-bats.

The way I saw it after that night, Coco Crisp couldn't walk into a convenience store and buy a self-endorsed gallon of Hood milk without fielding questions about the guy who ran his mouth and went to New York.  He never got to suck independently of the guy who came before him.  He never got to save the 2008 season independently of the guy who came before him.  Yup, Johnny Damon may have been the best to ever fill that role.  Good for him.  But Coco Crisp never got a chance.

Despite the fact that he wasn't a great player and certainly wasn't a cerebral player, after December 31, 2006, Coco Crisp got a chance from me.  When that blog (this blog) started a month and a half later, Coco Crisp was defended mercilessly against a legion of people who thought he sucked and Johnny Damon was so much better.  When Crisp was hitting .220 during Senior Week 2007 (as Pat, the Franchise, and many others know), I may have been mid-meltdown, but I continued to plead for this guy getting the chance he deserved.

Coco Crisp was a good player in Boston, and he was certainly underappreciated.  Due to the events of December 31, 2006, I was able to appreciate his contributions, his work ethic, and the true magnitude of his 2008 ALCS at-bat.  So thanks, Coco Crisp, for doing what you could about an unfair situation and inspiring me to do the same thing.  You deserved the chance to come into your own.  You deserved the chance I had.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why We're Stopping HYD At 5 Seasons

This is probably my second to last post. DV has a bunch of other stuff he wants to tie up, and I hope he takes as long as he needs to do that. The more of his work I get to read, the better. But I've said pretty much everything I want to say. After this I'll have one more post to wrap some things up, but that's about it.

Not that we are remotely serious enough that anyone would expect an explanation as to why we are shutting down - I think everyone understands this particular project has just run its course for us - but I figured I'd offer one up anyway. After all, most of our readers have been with us since the very first day, and are every bit a part of this as we are (more on that in the last post). So before we stop talking baseball here, I think DV and I can at least briefly offer some insight into why.

There's not a whole lot more to it than what I mentioned above - authoring HYD has run its course for both of us. I won't speak for DV beyond that, as I'm sure he'll want to say some things of his own. But for me, that's really what this is about. I have no interest in continuing. Not because I dislike it, but just because I don't like it as much as I used to.

There are a number of reasons for this. When we first started this site, we were in college. There was a lot more time to research and post on all sorts of topics. As there became less and less time to devote to this after college, I found myself posting less frequently and more narrowly regarding subject matter. When we first started, I would post on the Yankees, but also other teams, prospects, and a lot of analysis - both statistical and from a scouting perspective - on individual players on the Yankees and other teams alike. And I would sometimes post 2-3 times per day. As time went on I posted less and increasingly about just the Yankees. More specifically, I was posting more and more about the hot topics surrounding the Yankees, and barely more.

I don't think I had anticipated that I wouldn't like doing this, I just know that once it started I knew I didn't like it. Not because I didn't like talking about the Yankees; obviously, that was the main purpose of starting this site. I just felt like the proportion of time spent talking about the "buzz" topics as opposed to getting more creative discussions was not where I wanted it to be. Obviously, I had complete control of this. But again, when time becomes an issue it's easier to talk about what's right in front of you as opposed to going out and finding new stuff. Further, it's not that I didn't want to talk about the "buzz" stuff. Again, that was a part of the enjoyment of doing it too. It's just that that wasn't the only thing I wanted to be doing. Largely because of time, that became the case.

The time issue also got us into a very structured process here. When we first started posting was fluid. DV and I each went through various periods where we were more and less busy, and we posted accordingly. But between the two of us, we had a lot of posts going up. Sometimes there would be 4-5 in a day, sometimes there would be zero. In all, there was a lot more than 5 per week going up, and it was great because that was happening purely as a result of us posting when we wanted to and when we could. But as time went on we could really only realistically get one post up every day Monday through Friday, and even that was a struggle at times. While I am very proud of the consistency with which we were able to do this for the last few years, the structure of it became somewhat of a chore. Instead of posting when we wanted to, we were sometimes posting just because that's the way it was set up. And that just isn't as fun.

The comments section was the part I continued to and still continue to enjoy. I liked debating the content of the posts as well as different topics that were brought up. But the posting part just wasn't, and isn't, realistic anymore. Which is fine. Things change and this certainly is not a very serious one. I'll miss the comments, but I won't miss putting the time into posting.

That said, just because things have changed, and we're shutting things down, doesn't take anything away from how much I've enjoyed this for the last nearly 5 years. I'll touch on that point more in my final post, but suffice to say I've enjoyed it immensely. Otherwise I wouldn't have done it as long as I did. This is just the right time to stop, and I'm content with that too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Less Accountable Guy

I feel bad for whoever's going to be the Red Sox' manager next year, especially if it's Sandy Alomar, Jr. who thinks this team can police itself.  By my calculations at the end of the season - when I was melting down to the same extent that the Red Sox were melting down - there were exactly five players on the 2011 roster (Aceves, Scutaro, Pedroia, Saltalamacchia, Papelbon) that I want to ever see in a Boston uniform again. 

Contrary to a lot of stuff I have said over the five years on HYD, Papelbon was one of those five guys.  So now there are only four left that I ever want to see again.  This guy, and this is a theory that was first developed by Tony Massarotti (unlike David Ortiz, I will cite my sources), was one of the few people on this team who were accountable when they screwed up.  Papelbon will go out there and say he f***ed up or sucked out there.  He won't blame the ballpark like Lester.  He won't blame the official scorer like Ortiz.  He won't blame the rain like Ortiz, Lackey, Francona, or many others.  He won't blame God or the ESPN schedule like Adrian Gonzalez.  He'll take ownership for his own actions.

And he'll take that ownership, accountability, and his talents to Philadelphia.  That stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph is, in Cherington's words, subjective stuff.  And it's very troubling that the guy who is valuing subjective stuff instead of looking at spreadsheets and listening to Carmine like Theo Epstein did, has also inherited Theo's inability to negotiate poorly when it comes to free agency.

One quick note on the future:  Papelbon very well may struggle in Philadelphia because in that stadium, those warning-track fly balls might not be warning-track fly balls. 

I may be in the minority on this, but I'm one of the people who would have matched Philadelphia's four-year offer.  Sorry, the market for closers was not set by Papelbon, though that was his goal.  It was set a week ago with the Phillies and Ryan Madson with the deal that almost fell through.  Second-tier closers, as well as first-tier closers, are getting four years now.  So why not give four years and pay a premium for someone who has proven over the course of six seasons that he can get the job done?  Now Boston will get a guy who pees down the side of his leg in high-pressure situations (remember Toronto and the Wakefield game?), a fat drunk slob who spent more time on the DL than the field, a guy with an elbow that was partially created in 2010, or a guy with exactly 1.3 years of major league closing experience.

I really am trying to wrap things up here, but the core of what we do is discuss current baseball events.  Feel free to use this space to talk about your Papelbon memories.  I think the 2006-7 utter dominance, wondering if he'll ever give up a run, and putting a case of beer on his head will significantly trump the less favorable memories of bad car commercials, an occasional stupid comment, a few blown saves or extra-inning home runs.  Papelbon won me back this year, and it's a shame to see him leave.

I'm still on vacation, y'all have a great Monday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big Mouth, Big Performance

The first post of substance (and something that I had actually written for another blog three months before Pat and I signed up for this gig) on How Youz Doin Baseball was about Johnny Damon.  I wrote that Damon's four-year contract with the Yankees (signed in December 2005) was paying double for two years' performance and two years of crap.  I compared paying a premium for Damon, which the Yankees did, with paying a premium for a Slurpee at 7-Eleven, which I do with some sort of regularity.  I was happy the Red Sox didn't sign him, because I was convinced that after being in the majors since age 21 and after never having played less than 145 games since age 22, Damon was going to crap out sooner than most.

I was wrong.

Damon played for New York at the ages of 32, 33, 34, and 35, and he did a really good job.  I will continue to generally crush him for his overall demeanor regarding a business decision the Red Sox made, jumping at a series of microphones nonstop for the past six years so he could talk about how much he was disrespected.  But I cannot crush him for performance.  Formulating a criticism of the Red Sox' acquisition of Carl Crawford in 2010, I researched a lot of players who featured speed and/or stolen bases as a major part of their game.  While most players really fell off a cliff after age 31 (including Rickey Henderson, by the way), Damon wasn't like that.  He stole 95 bases with New York after having stolen only three more in four years with Boston.  He developed more power, which was certainly helped by the stadium he was in, but posted arguably his best offensive season in 2009.  Gotta give it to him.

You also gotta give it to him after the way his 2007 season started.  At that point, I was riding high on my brand new blog, talking about how smart I was and how dumb Brian Cashman was and how much Damon sucked in the work ethic department (he got fat, ate cheeseburgers, and contemplated retirement all winter).  In the second half of that season and in the entirety of the next two, he came back.  He never played less than 141 as a Yankee, which is particularly amazing considering the way he plays baseball.  Let's not make him out to be an Aaron Rowand or Kevin Youkilis, playing so hard that he breaks himself every year.  But he's not exactly 46 or JD Drew out there either.  Guy plays hard but still manages to stay on the field.  Even this year, his seventeenth in the majors, he played over 140 games for the sixteenth straight year.  He now seems like a lock to be in the 3,000 hit club before the age of forty.

A final thing I want to say about this player is that, contrary to what you'd think about a tried-and-true Scott Boras guy, he's a team guy.  He's big into the clubhouse thing, he's big into developing relationships with his teammates instead of his private bankers, and (I hate this word) he does have some kind of intangible, veteran value.  You saw it in Boston, New York, to an extent in Detroit, and especially this year in Tampa.  Tampa was supposed to have the dream die this year, but that didn't happen.  And that's not all Joe Maddon's doing.

So here we are, heading into the 2012 season, and while Damon is certainly becoming the icy, crummy matrix of what he used to be, even if this year is indeed the beginning of the end, it's coming four years and 600 (!) games after I - and the Red Sox organization - expected.

The Best Arguments in HYD History

Note:  This one is coming from Pat F through the email.  I probably would have added the topics of Joe Girardi, particularly when it came to his intake of protein shakes and bullpen management, whether Kyle Farnsworth deserves to breathe air that other people can breathe, and the Red Sox ownership treating their entity like a minor league team.  I decided also to attached "The Yankees' Former Third Baseman" as a label.  Here we go...

DV's excellent post recapping our debates about steroids over the last five years got me thinking about some of the other big topics that were much discussed on this site. If steroids wasn't the biggest topic, it was one of them. But there are certainly others, and thinking back to generate this list was rather entertaining. There were some that I completely forgot about that are downright hysterical when you consider how much time we devoted to them and how ultimately meaningless they were in terms of actually impacting baseball.

Here are the highlights:
- Josh Beckett as an effective pitcher, period.
- Roger Clemens as an effective October pitcher.
- Robinson Cano v. Dustin Pedroia
- Hideki Okajima, real deal v. will get figured out.
- Alex Rodriguez's on-field contributions, specifically big numbers and coming up short in the clutch pre-2009.
- Alex Rodriguez's off-field happenings.
- Chien-Ming Wang, ace or unsustainable style of pitching.
- Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain/Ian Kennedy as question marks pre-2008 season.
- Coco Crisp.
- Jacoby Ellsbury.
- Coco Crisp v. Jacoby Ellsbury.
- Jonathan Papelbon's on-field decline.
- Jonathan Papelbon's off-field commentary in media.
- Mark Teixiera as an impact player.
- The legitimacy of Dustin Pedroia's 2008 MVP.
- A.J. Burnett's 2009 Postseason as a pass for the rest of his tenure in pinstripes.
- J.D. Drew, generally.
- Is Pat F. writing too much about NBA and college basketball and not enough about baseball, 2010 offseason.
- Is DV writing too much about Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew, entire tenure of HYD Baseball.
- Does DV have any grasp on reality when it comes to Coco Crisp.
- The New Yankee Stadium, a real baseball park v. a joke.
- The 2009 (World Series Champion, I might add) Yankees bullpen, real depth v. a bunch of guys from SWB (this one still really makes me smile).
- Melky Cabrera.
- Brett Gardner.
- Melky Cabrera v. Brett Gardner.
- Being very careful with pitchers' workloads while they develop v. pushing them.
- 2011 Curtis Granderson v. 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury (Not that the player's vote has any huge meaning because it can be swayed by things like who they like more personally, but Granderson won the AL Most Outstanding Player on the player's ballot. Then again, the writer's vote doesn't carry much weight with me either, so the more data the better.)
- And finally, one of the biggest debates in HYD history, a buzz-name so controversial that any time it was merely mentioned on the blog the comments section went nuts and people we hadn't heard from in weeks if not months would come back to chime in...
Manny Delcarmen.

What were some of the great debates/arguments that we've had that I missed on this list (and I know there are a lot as this list was mostly off the top of my head)?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Word on Steroids

I'm going to try to make this quick, because I think over the past five years we've talked about it pretty much to the point of exhaustion.  We all have differing opinions on it, and I think when it comes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, there's a spectrum of opinions on which all of us fall a little differently.  As we're wrapping it up, I just want to summarize opinions that come from many different places:  As a professional athlete in a dirty sport, as a purist who enjoys what historical baseball statistics used to be, and as one who is not blind to the fact that people respond to incentives.  Here we go.

1.  The steroid era in baseball is largely over.  It will never be completely over until the disincentive to use is greater than the incentive to use.  As the players and owners continue to BS around about an HGH test, the disincentive (between probability of being caught and the punishment that comes when you are caught) is still lower than the incentive to use for some.  However, public outcry has probably influenced prospective PED users to be more scared to do it or more scared to actually do the math and say "what's fifty games?"

2.  The players were not the ones to blame.  Think about this:  Darnell McDonald got busted for steroids in 2005.  Can you blame him?  By juicing (or by being in an organization with a center fielder who wanted to take a year off due to sore ribs), he might get his cup of coffee in the major leagues.  You know, maybe make a couple million dollars.  By not juicing, he stays in the minors, rides buses until he's 32, and gets a real job.  If you were him, would you do it?  This is why I find it amazing that Lou Merloni, in his new Boston sports media gigs, doesn't flip out about it.  Merloni (who has admitted to doing amphetamines), was one of the guys who probably wouldn't have had so many trips between Boston and Pawtucket either if he had used himself or if nobody else did. 

The people to blame are Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, who let it happen.  And I care because in my sport, I am Lou Merloni and guys like Alene Reta, a guy who shows up to races with big money and no testing, are Manny Ramirez.

3.  Fehr and Selig deserve this on their conscience.  I hope the record books remain unchanged, as the fact that many of the record holders were in the 1990s and 2000s can be a footnote of an era of heinous, borderline-criminal mismanagement.  Cross-referencing the record books with the Hall of Fame and trying to figure out where Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are, is further historical confirmation that these guys sucked at their jobs, particularly Fehr, because if these guys start dropping dead at 60, it's clear that he didn't work in the best interest in his constituents.

4.  The Mitchell Report was crap.  Imagine writing a term paper with one source?  Imagine being paid millions of dollars to write a term paper and only get one source?  Maybe you'd get an A at George Mitchell's alma mater, Bowdoin.  The bottom line is that Mitchell decided to tell a stupid story about the tip of the iceberg instead of either actually investigating with any kind of depth or delving into this issue.  The issue was and continues to be economic at the very core, and this very obvious fact completely glosses over the root of the problems.

This is now the seventy-sixth, and probably final, post about steroids on How Youz Doin Baseball.  I feel that we covered more ground and made more progress than almost anywhere else.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The More Things Change

The more they stay the same.

As we wind down our fifth and final year on HYD, I've been thinking a lot about how things were for the Yankees and Red Sox the year we started this site. While some things have undoubtedly changed, it's interesting how many things haven't. Let's take a look.

The Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2006, and again in 2011. The Yankees made the playoffs both years.

The Yankees are still getting (varying degrees of) high level production from Rivera and Jeter.

The Red Sox are still looking for a replacement for Trot Nixon.

The Red Sox are still looking for a replacement for Nomar Garciaparra. I know they've had some guys do some good things in short spurts (including Scutaro this year), but it's amazing how unable they have been to fill such a key position for so long.

An intriguing Japanese starting pitcher was posted in 2006 in Daisuke Matsuzaka. It wasn't the first time this had happened, but it was the first time it created that kind of frenzy. The second time such a frenzy will be created is if Yu Darvish is posted this winter.

In 2006 the Yankees were trying to find a #2 pitcher to pitch behind Chien-Ming Wang. In 2011 the Yankees are trying to find a #2 pitcher to pitch behind C.C. Sabathia. I hope they are as successful in that quest as they were finding Andy Pettitte five years ago.

The Yankees, for all their regular seasons dominance (And it has been dominant, Cashman's .605 winning percentage since 1998 is the highest of any GM with at least 5 seasons in one organization since 1950. Think about playing .600+ ball as an organization for 14 years!) are still trying to figure out a way to dominate the playoffs in the same fashion. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem t work that way. Which is part of what makes baseball beautiful. Once October starts, all bets are off. The Tigers eliminiated the Yankees in 2006, and again in 2011 despite being inferior regular season teams both times.

Alex Rodriguez stuggled in the postseason in 2006, and again in 2011. This is about the things that have stayed the same, but his postseason struggles have gotten so much attention over the course of this site it is worth noting two major changes to subcategories of this "stayed the same". 1. He has company now in Mark Teixeira, who is nearly as high profile and has struggled just as mightily for three straight postseasons now. 2. And much, much, much more importantly is that any postseason struggles are no longer a big deal. And that is because he put together one of the best individual Octobers in the history of this game, leading the Yankees to the one World Series they won during this site's tenure.

The Yankees were excited about Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy in 2006. They are excited about Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances now.

Jacoby Ellsbury was a prospect in 2006. He's somehow maintained prospect status five years later.

All of the stuff we've covered, discussed, and argued about the last five years has been a lot of fun. It's good to see, as we shut things down, that many of those same things are still there to cover, discuss, and argue about.

What else stayed the same from when we started this site until now?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Still Counts As Looking Back

At this pace, we will never shut down the way we are supposed to.  Although my vacation between this upcoming Friday and the following Wednesday might not coincide with my posting the most important final posts, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.

With Dan Duquette landing a job in Baltimore, it is necessary to look back at his time in Boston, even though it also pre-dates the How Youz Doin era.  Might also be something that we all want to talk about on a Monday.  Especially given that Duquette, one of the more polarizing figures in Boston sports since most of our readers were old enough to follow sports, just got a three-year job as the general manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

I have a couple of interesting connections to Duquette.  A lot of my former co-workers later worked for him, and he's also friends with my godfather.  I'm not interested in protecting people though; as I have been for the last five years, I'm interested in rabblerousing across the internet.  However, being as objective as possible here, I can't hammer Dan Duquette, but on the other end, I'm not part of that camp who is so anti-Theo that they're crediting the 2004 and 2007 World Series to Duquette or protecting Duquette.

The way I see it, Duquette was average, no more, no less.  He's not as good as Theo Epstein.  He's not as good as Andrew Friedman.  He's better than Brian Sabean, Omar Minaya, or Steve Phillips.  The few times I've met him, he did not seem to be the prickly character he's made out to be; just a socially-awkward guy who could very easily rub people the wrong way.  Definitely not the kind of guy who could easily go toe to toe with Scott Boras.  The grown-up version of that ultra-nerd in middle school who knew all those baseball stats, got picked on a lot, but didn't know how to talk to anyone.  You know, but didn't grow up to find a moderate amount of talent in distance running and didn't have the kind of writing acumen or passion to create a 1600-post baseball blog with a classmate from college. 

When we talk about trading for Pedro Martinez and signing Manny Ramirez, the following criticism is something that people criticized Theo Epstein for.  It DOES NOT TAKE ANY SHREWDNESS to look at the guy with the best stats of everyone either on the trade or free agent market and throw the world at him.  There's no skill involved in writing $200 million checks.  Beyond that, his best acquisitions were not in Boston; they were in Montreal.  Finding Ramon Martinez's little brother and trading Delino DeShields was smart, but trading for Ramon's little brother a second time was a little more obvious.  He did turn the Red Sox from their 1992-1993 disaster mode to the 1995 AL East champions pretty quickly, and this high is really something that the Red Sox have not come back down from.  Tim Wakefield and Tom Gordon were good aquisitions; Jose Offerman's on-base percentage was not.  Bringing in Heathcliff Slocumb was good; getting rid of him after riding the hot hand was fantastic because what they got back were two minor leaguers named Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.  Troy O'Leary wasn't exactly David Ortiz, but you could still argue that his impact was better than Coco Crisp's.

At the same time, the 1996 team was pretty mediocre.  The 1997 team was borderline bad (when Tim C once gave me a quiz of "name the Opening Day rosters," I scored the worst on the 1997 team, but Shane Mack and Bill Haselman might not register as household names).  And the 2000 and 2001 teams were just not compatible with each other, which was a symptom of about 50 years of Boston teams, the mid-2000s Yankees teams, and the 2009-2011 Red Sox as well.

His player development:  Also not stellar.  Obviously you can cite Nomar, Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez, and Freddy Sanchez, and you can also throw in Carl Pavano and Adam Everett.  But to Theo Epstein's credit, he put through more similar-impact players in half the time (and we're yet to see the fruits of his later labor).  But for every Youkilis or Pavano, you have about five Wilton Verases and Brian Roses.  Guys Theo would call "fake prospects."  Although, to his credit, the 1994 Expos, many of which were "his" players, were on top when Donald Fehr and Bud Selig "f***ed everything up" (wow, an NBA strike reference?).

You can't talk about Duquette, however, without mentioning four notable tactical F-ups:  Kevin Kennedy, Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and More Days in First Place.  I actually didn't know about Kennedy until reading the paper this morning, but the GM and manager were at each other's throats.  Clemens being in the "twilight of his career" pissed off the player and killed those negotations.  Sorry, Tom Gordon didn't fill that gap, and Clemens went "closer to home" by crossing a border into the most inconvenient place to play in the American League.  Mo Vaughn was not entirely Duquette's fault (nobody in their right mind would give a big fat guy the money Anaheim gave him), but saying that signing Jose Offerman (who could no longer steal bases) to "replace his on-base percentage" was perhaps the first time the sabermetric school of thinking was used inappropriately and condescendingly.  Saying the Red Sox had more days in first place than the Yankees was glorifying early performance and discounting a full 162, which is what really matters:  Perhaps Dave "Mr. May" Winfield had more days atop the AL leaderboard when playing for New York in the 80s.

Look, the Baltimore Orioles have some problems:  Being in the AL East, having an idiot as an owner, having a power-hungry manager.  The idiot owner, however, is willing to spend a couple of bucks.  He also has a good core of players, though they're starting to near those arbitration and free-agency years.  Duquette is a few moves and a little bit of player development away from making the O's respectable.  Even in their previous configuration, they were in the right direction.  It's up to him to not drive them off the road.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keith Foulke Appreciation Post

I've had the Internet as my platform for the past five years, and as you all know, we are stepping away in a few weeks.  We started doing this a little while after Keith Foulke threw his last pitch in Boston, so I never really got to broadcast this opinion when it was pertinent.  So before I sign off, I have to put it out there:  Keith Foulke deserves your adulation.

I will never forget the infamous "Johnny from Burger King" game on June 28th because I was there.  After a really disheartening, deflating game that was really, for all intents and purposes, the end of Keith Foulke's career in Boston, I got some disheartening girl-related news on a bus ride home with a large group.  Let's say it was tantamount to Jose Contreras signing somewhere else, minus the creepy parallel of renting out every other room in his hotel room.  This news pretty much reinforced the way I already felt after the game.  It was not enfuriating.  It was not maddening.  It was just a deflating, disappointing, disheartening game.  They had a commanding lead over a crappy Indians team, not mailing it in after being down 3-0 and 4-3 to go up 8-5 in the sixth.  Then Timlin coughed up some runs, then Foulke blew the save, and then Foulke gave up a grand slam to Travis Hafner.  After ending the inning, Foulke was booed off the field, while I was in a minority who was just flat-out upset.

The pitcher took offense to it and said, after the game, that he didn't think he deserved to get booed by "Johnny from Burger King."  Unlike Youkilis, he didn't complain about his privacy.  Unlike Ortiz, he didn't complain about his contract.  Unlike Adrian Gonzalez, he didn't blame ESPN's Sunday Night schedule.  He was just frustrated.  Unlike JD Drew, he actually cared about playing well on the field, and unlike 46, he actually gave a crap that he let his team down.  Honestly, the infamous "Johnny from Burger King" comment sounded more like Jonathan "The Only Accountable Red Sox" Papelbon than anything else.  He had pitched the entire season injured, and had two knee surgeries after the season.

I thought Keith Foulke deserved a little better than what he got that night, considering (especially looking back on it) he sacrificed his career to win the 2004 World Series. 

Say what you want about pink hats - and I have - but this was returning to pre-2004 vitriol from Red Sox fans.  And it was just plain not justified, because he left his arm and his legs in 2004.  It was evident by May 2005 that he had little to anything left, and we had just watched the ERA creep up and up and up until the June 28th implosion.  Eight months earlier, Foulke threw literally 250 maximum-leverage pitches in three weeks (did John Lackey do that at all this year?) from a frame the size of Rheal Cormier's.  Daniel Bard would have balked during half of these situations just so he could vomit on the side of the mound. 

Foulke also got the job done both before his Red Sox career and during the 2004 regular season.  He was key in stabilizing Chicago's bullpen, and he was one of the original Moneyball guys when he went to Oakland in 2003.  He was effective, and he provided stability in that bullpen after Theo Epstein and Bill James's "Bullpen By Committee" experiment, Byung-Hyun Kim, and not a hint of stability since (another undersized guy) Tom Gordon blew his arm out against the Atlanta Braves.  He absolutely should have won 2004 World Series MVP as a culmination of his postseason performance that very well may stack up (if you're into comparing apples and oranges) of any single Derek Jeter postseason.

I understand the hate of Johnny Damon, although I think a lot of it is misdirected (more on that later on).  But there's no reason Keith Foulke should have gotten the same treatment.  For Foulke, it was one comment.  And he gave you his career.

Foulke was also a success story because he sort of was the Dustin Pedroia of relief pitchers.  He was completely undersized, his fastball may have hit 90 at the peak of his career, but he just somehow found a way to get guys out.  Your guess is as good as mine had he stayed healthy - whether he'd continue to do what he did or whether he'd get "figured out" a la Okajima.  But he didn't because he sacrificed his career in October, 2004.  He did it for his teammates.  He did it for the World Series.  And yes, Johnny from Burger King, he did it for you.

So Keith Foulke, from one fan out in Section 31 that night who was more upset than inclined to hammer you (and if I had a blog back then, I'd probably feel the same way), I just want to say thanks.  It may be a small place on the Internet, but your accomplishments, your attitude, your passion toward your job, your career-long body of work, and - most importantly, your sacrifice - are appreciated.