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Tag Archives: ESPN

espnIsn’t ESPN Boston redundant? Like, the same thing as an ATM machine or a PIN number? Isn’t saying ESPN Boston the same thing as saying ESPN ESPN?

Is the world of New England sports underrepresented somehow by the worldwide leader in sports? Are we lacking in Tom Brady status updates? Are there not enough of Peter Gammons’ prognostications on the airwaves?

What’s next? ESPN New York? ESPN Philadelphia? ESPN Brett Favre?

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A Dodger win is a good thing. A Dodger win in the NLCS is even better. What isn’t any good is the ridiculous posturing, chest-thumping, and finger-pointing in last night’s game. Listen guys, I understand. Somebody throws a pitch that hits you, you get a little upset. Somebody buzzes you out of the batter’s box, you get a little upset. But you know what, it’s part of the game. Man up and take it instead of sniping at your teammates through Bill Freakin’ Plaschke of all people.

If Chad Billingsley’s teammates are upset that he didn’t buzz any Phillies hitters, then his teammates are a bunch of maroons. Hey guys, did you happen to notice he had trouble even retiring apparent Silver Slugger candidate Brett Myers? In the midst of one of his worst outings this year, you wanted Billingsley to uncork a pitch and put somebody else on base?

Worst yet was Joe Buck and Tim McCarver — and it is a stretch to juxtapose the phrase “worst yet” and Buck and McCarver’s names — continuously rehashing the incident as though there were any redeeming social value to it. They were continuously reinforcing the meme that Billingsley let down his teammates. Well, he did in that he couldn’t retire Brett Myers, not because he didn’t — whether or not he refused to is unknown — partake in the insanity of throwing beanballs. McCarver and Buck kept picking at the scab of an idea that perhaps there was more to come of this, and when Clay Condrey hit nailed Russell Martin again, you could almost see the wheels-a-turnin’ in their heads.

Not surprisingly, ESPN was all over this nonsense. Forgetting that Hiroki Kuroda snapped off a gem last night, and that the Dodgers finally had their offense firing on all cylinders, all the media could focus on was this nonsense. Even Shane Victorino, Kuroda’s would-be victim, seemed to be imploring the media hacks to cut it out. “It’s squashed,” he said. But do you really trust a media hack to leave well enough alone? I’m sure the brushback meme will continue to be discussed repeatedly later tonight.

Mr. Grumpy, as related to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times:

“Scully is making the same point everyone else is making,” I said. “He says the stats indicate you are having success hitting behind Ramirez — tell me that isn’t the case.”

“I’m 40. You don’t get better when you are 40.”

What Kent is getting at is that just about everyone, the erstwhile Vin Scully included, is suggesting that Kent’s resurgence over the last three weeks has been solely the result of hitting in the 3-hole ahead of Manny. The idea is that pitchers have been serving Kent a steady diet of fastballs, because Manny is waiting in the on-deck circle.

The problem with that logic? What reasonable pitcher is going to extend the effort to put Kent on base? Wouldn’t giving Kent pitches to hit mean that he’s far more likely to get on base, and you know, present an RBI opportunity for Manny?

Furthermore, the idea of “batter protection” is largely false. Take a look at the links provided here. There isn’t conclusive data to suggest that a good hitter batting behind you increases the likelihood you’ll see better pitches. In fact, the opposite is much truer. The pitcher is far more likely to extend his effort to get the preceding batter out in order not to provide the “protecting” hitter with an RBI opportunity. It’s completely illogical to suggest that Kent is all of a sudden seeing a steady diet of fastballs now that he has Manny to “protect” him.

What is logical is to suggest that Kent was due, and he’s finally producing at the most opportune time — with an even bigger hitter behind him and two big hitters (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier) in front of him. Just prior to the Manny deal, Kent had been smoking the ball, but was finding fielders’ gloves instead of the holes. I don’t have splits showing this exact time period, but if you’ll look here, you’ll see that Kent’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and LD% (line drive percentage), indicators of how “lucky” or “unlucky” a hitter is — Kent was extremely unlucky prior to the trade — have come come closer to Kent’s career norms.

So for once, I agree with Jeff Kent. His resurgence has nothing to do with Manny. And anyone watching the Dodgers had to know that Kent was starting to warm up long before Manny was in the picture. But don’t count on ESPN, the LA Times, or anyone else to bother looking into that.

But Kent was dead wrong when he said this of Vin Scully:

“Vin Scully talks too much,” Kent said.

“We all love you, Vin,” Kent added with a mischievous grin, “but you still talk too much.”

Vin might have been wrong about Kent and Manny’s “protection,” but I’ll take Vin’s play-by-play a million times before I willfully listen to any of the other hacks out there.

Case in point — yesterday’s TBS broadcast of the Dodgers/Brewers game was presumably a national broadcast, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the excitement in Chip Caray’s voice when the Brewers mounted their 9th inning rally.

This is from ESPN’s Jayson Stark:

Life sure is beautiful these days on Planet Manny. Uhhh, a little too beautiful.

Hey, we couldn’t be happier for those Los Angeles Dodgers, who are selling about 30,000 tickets a day now that they’ve moved their home games to Planet Manny. But we’d like to ask one little question of all those people in L.A. who are showering their man Manny Ramirez with so much love:

What the heck are you cheering for?

For a man who decided his personal net worth was more important than an entire franchise and all the people who played with him, covered for him, depended on him? Sheez. How sad is that?

“It really bothers me,” one GM said this week of the Manny-mania lovefest that has unfolded in L.A. “What he did in Boston was criminal. Now he goes there, and everything’s OK? No, sir. It doesn’t change the fact that how he got there was criminal.”

If I’m understanding this correctly, Dodger fans should feel bad that Manny is OPSing 1.430 since he arrived in L.A.? Dodger fans should feel bad that all of a sudden a 6-1 deficit to the NL East-leading Phillies turned into a 7-6 win? Dodger fans should feel bad that Manny wanted out of Boston?

Tell you what, Boston. I don’t feel bad for you at all. After all, the Red Sox and Scott Boras helped J.D. Drew finagle his way out of the option portion of his contract with L.A. And now I’m supposed to sympathize with Boston? Why? It’s not like Boston had to rid themselves of Manny. The guy only had a 1.030 July OPS (4 HR/16 RBI), so contrary to popular belief, Manny wasn’t dogging it in order to “force” a trade.

Theo Epstein and company evidently decided that Manny’s obvious production wasn’t worth the bother. That’s their loss, and the Dodgers’ gain. Nothing against Jason Bay, but really, Manny’s a first-ballot HOFer, and Jason Bay, is well, doing a good job of upholding that fine Canadian baseball tradition. If you follow Stark’s logic, Rangers fans ought not to cheer for Milton Bradley, considering how he “forced” his way out of L.A.

If anything, articles such as this one reek of sour grapes. Boston inexplicably trades away one of the best RH hitters of this generation, and now we ought to feel bad for them? Should we be rewarding incompetence — really, it is — with sympathy? The Red Sox’ loss is the Dodgers’ gain — and Dodger fans don’t need to feel guilty for it. Manny was just being Manny, to borrow a phrase. It wasn’t his fault, or Dodger fans’ fault that Boston thinks Jason Bay is a better asset to hold.

Seriously, Jayson Stark. We’re supposed to feel bad about this?

I don’t!

Someone should remind Chris Berman and Rick Sutcliffe that Jim Edmonds isn’t very good anymore. Jim Edmonds 2008 (.455 OPS) is a far cry from Jim Edmonds 2004 (1.061 OPS), but that didn’t stop them from openly gushing about him on-air. Someone ought to remind Lou Piniella as well, since for some reason, he saw fit to have Edmonds bat ahead of Geovany Soto.

Then again, Berman & Sutcliffe waxed poetic all night long about the managerial virtues of Joe Torre (playing Andruw Jones/Mark Sweeney at all; playing Juan Pierre ahead of Andre Ethier) and Piniella, so maybe this is a hopeless cause.