Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reset: The Travelling Wilburys

Rock and roll “supergroup” (not unlike Blind Faith, Asia or the Zack Attack), updated with musicians of similar styles, substances and/or clothing in the present day

Bob Dylan
Tom Petty
George Harrison
Roy Orbison
Jeff Lynne

Replacement Parts

Bob Dylan => Bruce Springsteen
When legendary rock critic Jon Landau made his famous "I saw rock and roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen" proclamation back in 1974, it was likely with an eye to this achievement: a spot in a hypothetical recasting of a short lived supergroup(!!!) Bob and Bruce’s interiors and exteriors have inched closer over the past four decades. I think this works.

Tom Petty => Jack White
Not an obvious fit but Jack White does fill a lot of criteria in 2011 that Tom Petty did in 1988: widely known for a decade or so, enjoyed by “serious music fans” and broomheads alike, able to adapt to multiple styles, etc. Think about it.

George Harrison => Mark Knofler
Harrison was always “the quiet one” while Knofler has never been mistaken from Andrew WK on the mic stand. Neither would say much in panel interviews and were into causes. Good fit.
Also considered: Peter Buck

Roy Orbison => Willie Nelson
The dark horse of the Wilburys past and present. Strangely, Willie Nelson would’ve been an obvious ringer 20 years ago as well. Sadly, to truly fit the part, this “Red Headed Stranger” will have die shortly after the ink dries on the contract. Also, Nelson’s experience in the Highwaymen will be invaluable here.
Also considered: Waylon Jennings, Steve Earle

Jeff Lynne => Ric Ocasek
This was a very tough decision. To be straight with you, I’d have much preferred a British musician in this role but nobody came to mind. So Boston-bred Ocasek got the call. I’m OK with this, though, because neither man is an obvious fit but pretty damn cool (contextually) in their own way.

Reset Rating: 8/10
I like Springsteen, White, Knofler and Nelson. Lynne is British while Ocasek is not. This is troubling but their hair helps bridge the divide a bit.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Report: Top 10 WTF No Hitters

Most mundane career stats of pitchers who "twirled" no hitters during the MFS years.

1. Bud Smith (7-8, 4.95 ERA, 81 SO, 1.447 WHIP)
2. Mike Warren (9-13, 5.06 ERA, 139 SO, 1.500 WHIP)
3. Jose Jimenez (24-44, 4.92 ERA, 319 SO, 1.454 WHIP)
4. Juan Nieves (32-25, 4.71 ERA, 352 SO, 1.496 WHIP)
5. Joe Cowley (33-25, 4.20 ERA, 332 SO, 1.376 WHIP)
6. Tommy Greene (38-25, 4.14 ERA, 461 SO, 1.325 WHIP)
7. Len Barker (74-76, 4.34 ERA, 957 SO, 1.361 WHIP)
8. Eric Milton (89-85, 4.99 ERA, 1127 SO, 1.339 WHIP)
9. Charlie Lea (62-48, 3.54 ERA, 535 SO, 1.305 WHIP)
10. Wilson Alvarez (102-92, 3.96 ERA, 1330, 1.390 WHIP)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Off the Radar: Steve Sax

Hunky, single drillin' second baseman Steve Sax now handles high rollers with deep pockets for RBC Wealth Management somewhere in northern California. Please note he now goes by Stephen to throw off the riff raff, no doubt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Trade Gauge: Randy Myers and friends for John Franco and friends

December 6, 1989: The New York Mets trade Randy Myers and Kip Gross to the Cincinnati Reds for Don Brown and John Franco.

Mets fallout: This was a weird trade, since it's not very often you see two closers in their prime swapped for one another, especially when they're both left-handed. And yet the Mets and Reds did the deed, sending John Franco back to his hometown in exchange for the angry Randy Myers. Franco was a couple of years older but was also more established, since Myers had only been closing a couple of years at the time of the swap. Franco turned 30 during his first year at Shea and incredibly, played 14 seasons for the Mets, acting as the team’s primary closer until 1999 and tallying 200+ saves during that span. Despite his pointed rear and questionable moustache, Franco was a constant bright spot during an otherwise bleak decade for the Mets and by all accounts, a helluva nice guy.

Reds fallout: Myers teamed with Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton to form the bullpen three-way known as the Nasty Boys, leading the Reds to a shocking 1990 World Series sweep over the bulky Oakland Athletics. The trio was frightening, trashy and entirely dominant for that single season but the combo was clearly living on borrowed time. Dibble soon attacked manager Lou Piniella, they tried to convert Charlton to a starter and Myers was shipped to San Diego after the 1991 season in exchange for the lovable, scrappy Bip Roberts. Roberts kinda flatlined after a massive 1992 for the Reds, returning to the Padres in 1994 and putting together some bold average and steal numbers. As for Myers, he bounced between various clubs: the Cubs, Orioles, Blue Jays and ultimately a disastrous second stint with the Padres that saw Myers pitch horribly after a deadline deal and yet appear in his second and final World Series (where he likewise pitched horribly with a 9.00 ERA as the Padres were destroyed by the Yankees). A quality player whose stats generally sat between good and great (Myers is one of only nine relievers to tally 50+ saves in a single season and sits within the Top 10 of the all-time save lists… Franco is 4th if you’re keeping score) and yet one who seemed to wear out his welcome wherever he went. Best exemplified by a 1995 encounter where Myers wore out his forearm on the face of a Cubs' fan.

The verdict: Easy. John Franco. Better stats. Better attitude. An even swap at the time that is now largely one-sided in retrospect.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anti HOF: Lou Whitaker

Longevity seldom gets equated with greatness in pro sports. But maybe it should. Granted, there is value and intrigue in somebody who burns brightly and then fades away quickly (i.e. Sandy Koufax) but especially in MLB with a 162 game schedule, coast-to-coast travel and six months straight that sees players/"playas" bounce 5-6 nights a week, it'd be nice if we gave the spotlight to those who endure at a strong, servicable (but not superstar) level for many years.

This reason got Bert Blyleven elected to the MLB HOF in 2011 and Lou Whitaker elected (named? fingered?... what works) to the MFS Anti-HOF in 2011. Whitaker was always just "around" in Detroit: solid numbers, solid defence, no boat rockin' or fist bumpin'. He just did his job and did it well for 19 seasons, most of those with the jittery Alan Trammell at his side. Aside from a Rookie of the Year award, five All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves, Whitaker's career numbers speak to this longevity and big picture. And to make a bold statement, they are QUITE impressive when compared to many of his MLB contemporaries who also appeared on the 2001 HOF ballot:
- 1386 runs (more than Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter or Jim Rice, all of whom are in the HOF)
- 2369 hits (more than Carter, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy or Keith Hernandez)
- 244 homeruns (more than Mattingly... another "shined briefly yet brightly" example in the Koufax mold)
- 1084 RBIs (more than Hernandez or Lance Parrish)

Without getting too cosmic, staying healthy is a skill in itself and accordingly, let's give "Sweet Lou" a slap on the butt and a membership card to the Anti-HOF.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Report: Top Five Texas Rangers Starting Pitchers

The Texas Rangers don't get enough "credit" for being a mediocre franchise. Repurposed from Washington in 1972, it took the Rangers a cool 24 years to make the post season. And then in spite of making the play-offs three times between 1996-1999, they stayed true to their rep by going a collective 1-9 in post season play, effectively playing the role of the Yankees' bitch for the last few years of the millenium (Phun fact: lovable bowler John Burkett was the only hurler to win a game for the Rangers during this stretch).

... and speaking of pitchers, the Rangers have a completely brutal track record for developing quality arms. It's perhaps not a coincidence that their 2010 World Series team featured three of their finer homegrown hurlers in recent memory (CJ Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz... although Feliz is technically not homegrown, since he came over in the now-lopsided Mark Teixeira swap). The Rangers' MO during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties was signing future HOF/Anti-HOF pitchers in their twilight years, providing quality in addition to name recognition. But clearly, not a model that can be built upon.

It's shameful.

Here are the Top Five single season performances by Texas Rangers' starters during the MFS years:

Nolan Ryan, 1989
32 GS, 16-10, 3.20 ERA, 301 SO, 1.086 WHIP
Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr was lauded for his Texas home coming in 1989. Ironic since he was just cutting across state from Houston. No matter, the freaky hurler put together a huge 1989, fanning over 300 hitters and winning a solid 16 games, in spite of some tepid run support.

Fergie Jenkins, 1978
30 GS, 18-8, 3.04 ERA, 157 SO, 1.080 WHIP
Jenkins' second tour of duty in Arlington started with a bang, showing that this rangy Ranger could still bring it at age 35. Unfortunately, this was his last truly great season before age caught up with him. Well, age and a fine selection of contraband at the Canadian border in mid-1980.

Bert Blyleven, 1977
30 GS, 14-12, 2.72 ERA, 182 SO, 1.065 WHIP
The loopy Dutch hurler was a man without a country for much of his career, since he bounced between several different teams and likely affected his HOF chances as a result (of course, he's in as of 2011). His 1977 campaign in the Texas heat was a good one. This was the third lowest ERA of Blyleven's 22 year career.

Nolan Ryan, 1991
27 GS, 12-6, 2.91 ERA, 203 SO, 1.006 WHIP
This was Ryan's third massive 40+ year for the Rangers and also the year he spun off his record sixth no hitter.

Kevin Brown, 1992
35 GS, 21-11, 3.32 ERA, 173 ERA, 1.272 WHIP
A charter member of the MFS Anti-HOF, 1992 was Brown's first huge season and his 21 wins remains a franchise record. Solid performance but again, THIS is the fifth best season for a team that been around 40 years?!? Damn.