Thursday, April 14, 2011


I mentioned this briefly during the Japanese meltdown on Monday night.  But the more I think about it, the more I believe in it.  Matsuzaka grooved those pitches in the second inning 100% on purpose.  It was like Chan Ho Park versus Cal Ripken in the All-Star Game.

Another similar member of John Henry's portfolio is the marketable commodity known as Lebron James.  Of course, this is because Lebron James, like I'm alleging Matsuzaka did, cares about his own personal vendettas, stubbornness, and being smarter than all the "experts" more than actually winning games.  This is a reference to the player absolutely tanking it in the playoffs against the Celtics.  You can talk about the fact that he still had a triple double (and Pat did), but let's get real here:  Lebron wanted to prove the point of "my supporting cast sucks, so I'm leaving to where I have a better one."  The 2008 Lebron, the one where we all agreed he was awesome, took over games and dropped 40 against Pierce.  The 2010 Lebron, despite being wide open for shots, passed it so that the supporting cast who sucked so badly could F it up.  This was in the face of all the critics saying "Hey Lebron, your supporting cast IS good enough, stop being a baby and play." 

We already know that Matsuzaka and the Red Sox have not been getting along.  The Red Sox like pitch counts, light in-between workouts, and they don't like walking guys.  Matsuzaka likes the Japanese reverence of the battle signified by a 3-2 count, getting a lot of reps in, and not getting pulled.  Like Lebron, we learned on Monday, he thinks he's smarter than everyone else.  Think about this attitude toward putting seven consecutive flat fastballs right down the freaking middle of the plate.

"F you, Curt Young.  F you, Terry Francona.  F you, Boston fans.  You guys all think I should change who I am?  You guys want strikes?  I'll give you strikes.  I'm smarter than you, because with me, you need to nibble the corners.  Watch how right I am.  Watch how smart I am."

How about Happy Gilmore seething on the 18th green of the Waterbury Open after Chubbs Peterson told him to just "tap it in."  Same thing.  "Don't tell me what to do, I'm smarter."  To make it like Monday, or to make it like the Cleveland/Boston playoffs, Happy would have five-putted and lost to Lafferty, Llanos, and Denegri just to prove his point.  But Happy wanted to win, so he just got it done. 

It's civil disobedience.  And that's so beyond unacceptable that I'm done with this guy.  At a tradeshow on Tuesday, I talked to a Cleveland fan who said that the moment she knew he was gone and she'd have to start prepping her kids for it was when he started passing the ball in the playoffs.  Lost on purpose, she said.

But that memorable scene of Lebron walking down the tunnel and ripping his jersey off?  Matsuzaka did just that on Monday.  It's time to move on with this guy.  He's checked out.  He's undermining management more than he ever has.  And he's crossed the line:  intentionally throwing games with the purpose of undermining management.

We've seen it before with the phantom knee/hamstring injuries when Manny Ramirez was unhappy.  The guys on the radio were wondering whether Matsuzaka is such a d-bag that he would do something like this.  Um, yeah?  Here's why:

1.  Insisting on leaving his Japanese team early instead of waiting the free agency period.
2.  After five years, still having the interpreter.
3.  The marketing of the "gyroball" and "national treasure" rubbish.  Doesn't it sound like all the "witness" stuff?  You struck out Karim Garcia and mowed down a bunch of Americans in February - good for you?  Gimme a freaking break.
4.  He's in the Unaccountable Generation.  Did you notice that nothing is ever his fault, ever Lebron's fault, never John Lackey's fault?  How about Josh Hamilton:  He's blaming his broken shoulder on his third base coach?  Really?
5.  Four seasons of workout disobedience, resulting in the hybrid of the American and Japanese ways.
6.  Scott Boras.

In fact, can it be ruled out that Boras DIDN'T advise Matsuzaka to do this?  I mean, Boras almost flew the guy all the way back to Japan if he (Matsuzaka) didn't want what he wanted, where the player would be a pariah because he would have cost the Seibu Lions $51.1 million and split a year later anyway.  Is Matsuzaka the biggest DB in sports?  No.  In baseball?  No.  But let's not pretend he's not a DB and that he's not capable of grooving a game to prove a point, just like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Manny Ramirez, and Lebron James.

Because he would.  And that's what he did on Monday.  Time to trade for some prospects.  How is the Marlins' farm system looking?

It's time to send Lebronsuzaka's talents to South Beach.


Anonymous said...


You may be giving him too much credit. For him to intentionally throw a game suggests that he has the talent to do anything to the contrary. His fastball is 87 MPH! He leaves everything up in the strike zone. He's just not good.

I'm not saying there's nothing to your theory. There very well could be. But the truth is that Daisuke isn't a good major league pitcher. He's not even an average one. And he hasn't been since 2008.

I don't care if they trade him. I don't care if they waive him. I don't care if they send him to Portland. I just don't want to see him start for the Red Sox ever again.

Of course, if he somehow manages to turn his season around and make it a success, I'll gladly, GLADLY eat my words.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...


Batting practice pitchers do that kind of stuff on the regular. It's not hard to groove 87-MPH fastballs down the middle of the plate.

Rocci said...

Why on earth would a small market team like Florida trade anything for Matsuzaka? (Or really any team actually...)

How much longer is he signed for?

the gm at work said...

He's signed through 2012. Obviously Florida would have no use for him unless the Red Sox were to eat 90% of the money. I just wanted to send him there so I could have the punch line at the end of the post.

Rocci said...

Ah, of course. I'm a little slow.

PF said...

very much related to this post, and something we debated a lot last year but never really circled back on this year, is that the cavs' supporting cast was that terrible. i understand that most teams are going to regress when they lose their best player. but to go from finishing first in the east to finishing last, from the best record in the nba to second worst, to win 32 less games, and to at one point lose 26 games in a row, representing almost 33% of the season in consecutive losses? that shows you that lebron didn't have much around him.

i understand that cleveland won a few more games last year than miami did this year. but given how the cavs did this year, that just reinforces that it was all lebron. and the main reasons the heat won a few less games is that the eastern conference is MUCH tougher this year and they had to gel a new roster. it's deep for the first time in a long time. there's a reason the east has only won 3 of the last 12 championships - they've been inferior to the west. but this was a grueling eastern conference regular season. a few less regular season wins doesn't mean lebron isn't in a much better position now in terms of winning a championship than he was last year. he is, and it's not even close. the 19-63 supporting cast proved that.

Anonymous said...


I get what you are saying about Lebron but playing the devil's advocate here I will make a few comments in response:

- First, the Cavs franchise was built specifically around Lebron with complimentary pieces, and they were able to compile a better record last year than the Heat were this year. Clearly, if you build a team around a centerpiece and take that centerpiece away, the result is going to be disasterous. The Cavs did not have anyone else on the roster that was going to be able to lead a team through a season and be the man and that was largely by design. The model they had was to put pieces around Lebron that would compliment him and let Lebron be Lebron. That clearly worked to an extent, the meltdown against the Celtics aside. If you kept Lebron on that team again this year they would have been a contender.

Looking at the Heat, they are absolutely a contender this year as well but it is not nearly the runaway that was advertised. The reality is that you put 3 stars on a team in an ensemble cast and there is some overlap in the skill set and needs of the three stars. None of them make good complimentary players or second options. They all need the ball in their hands, and I do buy into the "there's only one ball" argument to a certain extent.

Bosh is not a scrappy rebounder or a guy that can play the pick and roll game very well (like Amare can). He is also not an inside post presence. He is a guy that wants to catch the ball in the mid-range space and face up. That's nice, but you'd rather have a guy on a team with Lebron that can make a difference without the offense running through him.

From Wade's standpoint, he is a lot like Lebron offensively. He is great with the ball in his hands and can get to the basket. But he's not a difference maker as far as being an off-the-ball shot maker or moving fluidly on the offensive end.

The result of all of this is you really have a team that takes turns being the man, rather than a team that is truly balanced offensively and can attack you from a number of angles. The good news is that if one guy has an off-night you have other guys that can step up. The bad news is that you have a lower ceiling than people realize because you really can't have eveyone firing on all cylinders.

To conlcude this long and winding post, I do think Lebron has a very good chance of winning a championship with Miami (that was never the argument, the argument was that he didn't really have any balls- but that's another conversation). But I would also say for the reasons I mentioned that there's not as much of a gap between the Cleveland situation and the Miami situation as people think. And it's also unfair to say that the 19 win season for the Cavs proves how bad of a supporting cast Lebron had- every single player there was brought in to support a teammate that's no longer there.


PF said...

bandi -

i conceded in my comment that, obviously, whenever you take a team's #1 player away without replacing him they are going to regress. the cavs are an extreme example because of how good lebron is and the way they were built entirely around him.

we know they were a supporting cast and nothing more, but the debate was, were they a good supporting cast? did lebron have anyone around him that could help him win a championship? the answer to that question, with this season as overwhelming evidence, is a resounding no. a good supporting cast, with anything that resembles a #2 option, is going to win more than 19 games. they are not going to lose 26 games in a row. there as a time this summer, before lebron made his decision, that people were on here saying that the cavs supporting cast was better than the knicks. the knicks, as horrible as they were before this year, won 29 games last year. that's a lot better than 19. 50% more wins for that supporting cast than the cavs supporting cast.

we - and specifically you, mr. bandi - all talked about how the knicks were in a better spot with amare, but needed to add another guy to do anything serious. so now we have to be fair. why shouldn't this apply to lebron in cleveland? not only did he not have a #2 guy (after 7 freaking years), but his supporting cast was 50% worse this year without a star than the knicks were last year without a star. based on your comment, you're going to want to tell me that the difference is that cavs supporting cast was built to play around lebron. well guess what? the knicks last year were the exact same way because donnie walsh was building a supporting cast to play around a star like lebron, he just didn't have one yet. so it's a direct comparison. and the knicks group won 10 more games.

all i'm saying is there is little, if anything, on the record that the cavs group is a good supporting cast. there is a lot on the record that it was all lebron. how can we sit here and talk about how amare needs another guy, and then when they get melo talk about how in the nba these days you might actaully need 3 guys, and then say that the cavs supporting cast is actually okay? again, a regression is expected. 30 wins, 25 wins, sure. 19? 26 losses in a row? i don't care how much you were built to play around anyone, if you're decent you don't lose 26 games in a row. forget "good". i'm talking decent.

Anonymous said...


Your last comment kind of misses the overall point in my opinion for the following reasons.

First, I think one of the reasons people were frustrated with Lebron was that his move to another team was really an admission to everyone that he wasn't really that different from other upper tier players in the league. Does Amare need another number 1 to win? Yes. But Amare is not a transcendent player that comes along once in a generation. Amare is an above average all star and sometimes MVP contender (what happened to the Amare for MVP movement by the way- you were all over that earlier in the year). He's not really one of the all time greats.

Lebron is supposed to be the type of once in a generation player like a Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan to which the normal rules don't apply. He had a chance to prove that by winning with the Cavs but he decided to take the easy way out in my opinion.

I also don't buy that he couldn't win with the Cavs for the very reason that Wade won with that heat team in 2006. The team Wade won with was comparable to the team Lebron had last year. If Lebron had more pride he'd try to get it done with that group. Just my opinion. As it is, he's saying hes no different from Amare, or Chris Paul, or Carmelo Anthony or any other pretty good player that thinks they need another superstar to win.

Secondly, for all the talk about going somewhere where he can win, he's joined a Heat team that's flawed for the reasons I mentioned. Don't get me wrong, they are a good team and have as good a chance as anyone. But I don't think his chances with the Heat are that much better than they were with the Cavs. They are not a special dynasty making type of team in my opinion.


PF said...

i can see why you would think my comment missed the point, because i'm not really talking about any of the stuff you are. i'm talking about lebron, but only in relation to his supporting cast. my only assertion here is that his supporting cast wasn't any good at all. did he have a chance with them? of course. you want to say his chances weren't all that different with them than the heat? i disagree, but fine. all i'm saying is that any chance he had with the cavs was because of him. his supporting cast wasn't good, they weren't mediocre, they were bad. playing with that group in cleveland is no different than putting him on half the bad teams in the league that have some semblance of balance. he's good enough to take them to the top in the regular season and then it becomes almost impossible to do by himself in the playoffs, as we saw time and time again with the cavs. that's all i'm saying. his supporting cast wasn't good. maybe he still could have won eventually despite them, but that doesn't change the fact that it was a weak roster. being as bad as they were this year is all the evidence we need to know that. if they had won 25ish+ games and only lost 10 in a row, i wouldn't be able to say this. but with the worst record in the conference and a 26 game losing streak, i can.

Anonymous said...


I'm going to end the argument in just a minute because I don't think this is worth fighting over, but I will say that the Cavs had a lot of injuries this year that contributed to their 26 game losing streak. If they had their whole team they probably win 25 games. I'm not saying that's impressive, and I don't really know why you are making the distinction, but whatever.

At the end of the day, you understand why Lebron went to the Heat. If you look at my original response to you comment, you'll see I said I was playing the devil's advocate.

Lebron leaving the Heat is like a guy that dates an okay looking girl for 2 years and then leaves her when he finds out a much more attractive girl is interested in him. You can criticize him for not being loyal, or being superficial, but you acknowledge that you would consider doing the same thing were you in his situation.

Having said that, you have to admit that there is a part of you that wished Lebron said, "F-it, I'm the man, I'm going to win by myself in Cleveland."

The reason we all feel this way is not because we blame Lebron for leaving, or think he's a terrible guy, but because that is really what it means to be American at it's very essence. The Pilgrims came to America because because they said, "F-it, I don't want to be part of the church of england anymore."

The founding fathers started America because they said, "F-it, we can do better on our own."

In the end being American is about having independence. And what Lebron said is, "I really need Dwayne and Chris to get the job done. I can't do it on my own."

PF said...

we're really just not talking about the same thing. i understand there is a natural connection between "the supporting cast stinks" and "that's part of why lebron left". i also understand that the entire conversation about the cavs supporting cast is somewhat born out of lebron leaving/staying (though we were talking about it long before that).

but i'm not making that connection right now. if i alluded to it, i apologize. i'm stopping it at the supporting cast themselves. we debated whether they were any good, and i thought they were poor when lebron was there and proved how poor they were this year. when you look at other good teams in the league (lakers, celtics, bulls, spurs, thunder, etc.), and take the best player off of those teams, their remaining group is better than the cavs without about three miles. that's all i'm talking about right now.

would it have been cool for lebron to have stayed despite this? of course. do we understand why we left in part because of this? yes.

but i'm not talking about any of this. i'm just pointing out how those who thought the cavs had a good supporting cast were wrong.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't know why you were arguing about that because I certainly wasn't arguing with you on that point. I don't think anyone thought the Cavs would be good without Lebron.

It should be an interesting playoffs this year.

Patrick said...

we knew the cavs wouldn't be good without lebron. but the original question that i responded to here was "is the cavs supporting cast good?" them being as bad as they were this year is something i'm using as evidence that their supporting cast wasn't good. but that's still not the point. the issue that i'm discussing, that we've debated here in the past, is this: is the cavs supporting cast good compared to other supporting casts in the nba? my answer to that question was always no, and has been for years, for a variety of reasons. being as bad as they were this year is further validation of that for me. what are your thoughts on this?

Anonymous said...

I already said that they were not good without Lebron. However with Lebron they were one of the best teams in the league because you had team that was well suited to play with Lebron. You had big guys that would do the dirty had guys that could make spot up jumpers. There was no one that had to dominate the ball.

Now Lebron is on a team that would be better without him than the Cavs have been without him. That is, without Lebron, the Heat are still better than the Cavs this year. But that's not really best way to judge a supporting cast. As currently constituted the Heat have too many guys that need the ball and not enough off the ball players.

With that said, even though the Cavs are mess this year, I also don't feel like the Heat will win the NBA title this year. With that said, how much did Lebron improve his position to win?

I would say he's really not in a much better place.


PF said...

we're still not really matching up here. we know they aren't good without lebron. this has nothing to do with lebron, nor them not being good without him. it has to do with a discussion about whether or not they are a good supporting cast, in a vacuum. by your comment saying that they had big guys who could do dirty work and guys who could make spot up jumpers you seem to think it was a good supporting cast. and i just disagree with that. i don't think their particular skill sets complimented lebron any better than most averagely balanced teams would. that's all i'm saying. i think you could put lebron on most teams in the eastern conference the 3-4 years before this one (not this year, the conference is too good) and they'd be at or near the top of the league in wins. look at the knicks or sixers or pacers. three of the worst teams in the east last year. you don't think if you put lebron on those teams last year they aren't one of the best teams in the league? of course they are, look at those teams this year in a tougher conference without - save the knicks - a lebron type player. what does that tell me? that there is nothing special about the way the cavs were constructed outside of lebron. in grading supporting casts around the nba, i would give them a very poor grade. that's all i'm talking about here. go around the nba, take their star(s) player(s) off the roster, and analyze the supporting casts. i'd have the cavs well in the bottom third. you can make obvious connections about what these means for lebron last year vs. this year, but i'm not talking about any of that. i'm just talking about looking at the supporting casts around the nba, and that i don't think the cavs is a good one. i think there is evidence of this last year, and i think there is evidence of this this year.