Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Great News

So it looks like the Mets got Johan Santana, at the mere price of Carlos Gomez and three of their best pitching prospects. I’m almost sad: I had pretty much resigned myself to futility in ’08, and now I’m going to have to be all disappointed, angry and depressed when they blow it.

But seriously folks: Santana, Pedro, El Duque, Ollie and John Maine? That rotation is so good that I think I’ll be able to sleep at night, even with Shoenwise in the bullpen.

Anyhow, in honor of the Mets sudden relevance, and because this is the 100th post on this blog, here is a look back at ten of my favorite posts:

--This post suggests that an additional honor be bestowed on one of the inaugural Hall-of-Famers.

--This post also looks back at baseball history, at a player whose rare disability gave his team an unusual dimension.

--“Please Sir, can I have some more?” Oliver Perez is currently in arbitration talks with the club, asking them for an extra $4 million. This post illuminates why I would be happy if he got it.

--Gary Sheffield latter clarified his comments about Latinos being easier to control than African-Americans, saying that he was actually talking about how Latin-American players are ineligible for the draft, and thus more at the mercy of ballclubs. I took his pre-clarified statement to task in this post.

--This is a chronicle of my first trip to Shea in ’07.

--“The Called 3rd Strike in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” is probably the best title that I ever came up with.

--This post discusses the similarities between mets.com and Pravda. And now that Comrade Marty Noble has been utterly discredited, can I have his job, please? No?…bummer.

--I offer these posts as a specimen of pre-Mitchell thinking on PEDs.

--This is a poignant reflection, on the time between the second-to-last, and last games of the season.

--It is hard to feel sympathetic towards Stephon Marbury, as the Knicks recent stretch of not being utterly horrible seems highly correlated with him being out for the season. I still like the job that this post did of exploring the intricacies of his persona.

Thanks to "Nigel" for help with the list.

Friday, January 25, 2008

NBA Updates

Firstly, a few weeks back I made a reference to Oscar Robinson without including a link to The Big O’s website. This was a mistake. Particularly, his FAQs are one of the most eloquent commentaries on the idiocy of ever asking anyone anything about sports.

Also, on December 22 I wrote “…the Bulls are so bad this season that they lost a game to the Knicks. The Bulls are so bad that they would probably be better if they had hung on to Eddy Curry…So why aren’t people assembling with gigantic pink-slips to demand the ousting of the Bulls management?” On December 24th, Scott Skiles, the Bulls coach, was fired. While I give myself points for prescience, this seems to weaken my argument that Isaiah Thomas was operating within an acceptable level of awfulness. Since the ousting of Skiles the Bulls have played about .500 basketball, and the players have unanimously voted to bench my fellow Laurentian, Joakim Noah, for insubordination to an assistant coach—which seems not to have had any positive effect of the level of team unity. (Noah was actually only a Post Graduate at L’ville and went to actual high-school somewhere in New York)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I am Jack’s Tenuous Grasp on Reality

First off, thanks to Dan for sending me the link. This is completely amazing.

Jack Kerouac created a personal fantasy baseball league, using invented teams and made-up players, which he played (presumably by himself) and modified, from the years 1937 (when he was 13) until 1965 (when he was 42, eight years after the publication of On the Road). Detailed biographies were created for players and coaches, and were kept in spiral-bound notebooks. The article is vague about how games actually operated: “He created a set of cards that, in combination with the skill level of the batter and pitcher, controlled the progress of the game, possibly in conjunction with the use of dice,” which yields a picture of the legendary beatnick, sitting in a cold-water flat, with a jug of wine and a Camel hanging out of his mouth, playing Dungeons and Dragons by himself.

There is, I believe, a cautionary tale about technology here. Kerouac’s system, a fantasy baseball league with one participant, has to be one of the nerdiest things of all time. It might follow, since this thing seems to have taken up a lot of Kerouac’s time over a thirty year period, that Kerouac, in some essential way, was one of the nerdiest guys ever.

However, because the technologies needed to enable serious, hardcore nerdyness had not yet been invented, Kerouac went on to literally write the book on being cool. Coolness would seem to consist of drinking, smoking, sleeping with lots of girls and being an ass about it, doing recreational drugs, hanging out with non-white people, and listening to jazz music; Kerouac not only participated in all these behaviors, but he helped make them popular with America’s youth. (a last component of Coolness, New York Mets baseball, wasn’t invented until 1962)

The increased connectivity of the world has provided many more options for people who want to participate in things like imaginary baseball leagues, and since Kerouac’s death millions of people have spent thousands of hours on things like videogames, internet fantasy sports leagues, and Dungeons and Dragons, all of which seem to share a certain spiritual kinship with Kerouac’s baseball leagues. Did On the Road only get written because no one had invented Playstation in the 1950s? I guess we’ll never know.

Or maybe it’s a reason to be hopeful. The granddaddy of all hepcats seems to have been born to have a pocket protector and an opinion about StarTreck—under the pressure of circumstances he became Jack Kerouac. So throw your X-box out of a high window, tell you buddies on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan-fiction message-board that they can get started without you, buy a bottle of the cheapest wine at your local liquor store and head on down to the nearest highway and stick up a thumb… and you too might start a social revolution.

Kerouac seems to have named all of his teams after American car companies. That sort of makes the whole thing perfect.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Confused by the Acquisition of Pagan

The Sam’s Mets Blog brain-trust is completely divided on the impact of the Angel Pagan trade—indeed, while it is almost universally agreed that he brings a good name to the squad it is hard to tell if it is really a good baseball name, or if it is something more fitting for a minor character from Pynchon.

And what does he mean for the team? The club, apparently, says that they acquired him only for depth, which, if true, is a depressing admission of a lack of faith in Carlos Gomez or a firm conviction that Alou would spend the entire season injured. It would also imply that they gave Milledge away for a pile of beans in Ryan Church. All these things are bummers.

On the other hand, could it mean that they are considering a deal including both outfield prospects, Gomez and Francisco Martinez, for pitching? If this is true, it might or might not be a good thing. The need for pitching is desperate and I’d really by happy to see anything done to address that, but is throwing away their entire outfield future for some big name that might or might not produce a really a good plan? Hard to say.

Delgado says he is fully healthy and ready for 2008, and I sincerely hope that he is. With the way the team is looking, they could really use a monster year from Delgado in ’08. My prediction: in the middle of a 3-60 stretch Delgado says something insightful about the election, making it impossible for me to hate him.