Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's been a little while now since I last posted on a baseball related topic. Like virtually every other sports fan in America, I have been devoting most of my attention to college basketball of late. For instance, I filled out my second bracket sheet today on boston.com. I hadn't intended to enter their bracket challenge until I saw that I could compete against Brian Scalabrine. The way I see it, between my total lack of athletic ability and Dann Ainge's penchant for brain typing, if I beat Scalabrine in this competition, I should get a million dollar deal with the Cs.

I simply could not let this article in the New York Times pass by without comment. Because Philadelphia fans booed Mike Schmidt and Yankee fans boo ARod, the two situations must be somehow related. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will already know that Mike Schmidt was my favorite player as a kid. I even wrote a post using him as a foil when I addressed the revisionist claim that Jim Rice was the most feared hitter in baseball when he was in his prime. Thanks to the magic of labelled posts, you can navigate to it with relative ease by clicking the Mike Schmidt label in the right hand column.

Mike Schmidt and Alex Rodriguez are not as similar as a comparison of their career numbers would lead one to believe. A Rod broke in at a younger age, 19 as opposed to 22 for Schmidt, so he has much better numbers at age 30 than Schmidt did. But Mike Schmidt played in an era with fewer teams. He also played his entire career in the National League. Even though they're both third basemen, it's still relevant because NL lineups all have that glaring hole in the 9 spot because the pitcher bats. For a guy like Schmidt that had to be cost him 5-10 RBI over a full season.

Schmidt also played in an era of massive ball parks that were nowhere near as conducive to great power numbers as the stadiums of this generation. Think about The Vet, Riverfront in Cincinnati, The Astrodome, Three Rivers, Old Busch Stadium (when it was the ghastly monstrosity with astroturf in the 1980s before the renovation in the 90s) and Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta to name a few. And even without steroids, HGH or any of the rest of the illicit performance enhancing substances we suspect today's power hitters to have used at some point (if they aren't still cheating on the sly), current players have a massive advantage over their predecessors of even 20 years ago because of the advances in nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.

But A Rod and Mike Schmidt are different in more ways than just numbers. A Rod has better postseason stats than Schmidt, but Schmidt was World Series MVP and champion in 1980. And Schmidt's surprising low postseason stats (.236 with 4 HR and 16 RBI in 36 games) are in large part due to a disastrous World Series in 1983 (1 for 20 over five games, .050 average with no walks, no RBI and six strikeouts). But even the Mariner teams A Rod took to the playoffs had better lineups than the Phillies teams of the 70s and 80s. It seems impossible to believe, but Mike Schmidt hit 48 HR for the eventual World Series Champions in 1980. The other seven regular position players combined to hit 58 home runs.

Mike Schmidt's relationship with the fans and media weren't perfect because Philly is Thunderdome. A Rod's trouble in New York is largely his own fault. I don't blame Yankee fans for disliking him. To come out and suggest that his difficulties in connecting to the fans were the result of being good looking, rich and biracial is absolutely insane. After all, what is Jeter? He is all of those things, plus he comes up big in big moments and he bust his ass every game.

I've heard more than a few people say that Red will be looking down on the Cs and working the lottery in their favor. I don't believe that for a second. Karma hasn't deserted the Celtics. Karma beat the Celtics half to death and left the team bleeding in a ditch. If you don't believe me, consider this. The Celtics lost to the Bulls tonight in the United Center. When the Bulls wore GREEN jerseys. I don't give a damn if it is the only home game of St Patrick's Day week. You simply don't wear green against the Cs.

Can you imagine wearing green jerseys against the Celtics with Russell, Heinshon, Cousy, Hondo, Cowens, Bird, DJ, Parrish or McHale on the floor? When the Cs lose out in the lottery, and I'm predicting now that even if they had all but 3 ping pong balls in the draft, the universe would find a way to stick them with that 4th pick. So Celtics fans might want to brace themselves for Joakim Noah or Big Baby Davis. When they miss out on Oden/Durant they're going to take one or the other of last year's models. And next year, we'll see Pagliuca come out and say: "If Delonte becomes Bibby and Al Jefferson becomes Karl Malone, I'd say Danny has done pretty well." And who knows, maybe I won't be the only one who finds that preposterous.

At least Wyc has his red Ferrari with the Celtics plate to console him as Banner 17 runs the last vestiges of Celtics pride into the ground. Either he thinks he's Magnum, or he's overcompensating for something. But it doesn't change the fact that the team has gotten worse and not better since Banner 17 took the reins. And Tyrus Thomas wearing a green jersey had a career night against the Boston Celtics.

And congratulations to all the pundits who lamented the fact that Drexel were not granted an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. They did one hell of a lot of damage in the the NIT. They really made the committee look foolish.

No comments: