Friday, October 31, 2008

Baseball wrap, Weekend Ahead, Red Sox note

Well the season is over and Philly won the title just as I predicted. That means I was 5 of 7 in my predictions. Not bad overall. I will try and give a preview of the 2009 Reds including what we need (SS, CF, C) and what we don't need (old, slow players who refuse to get on base). Otherwise, the blog will turn to football, both pro and college, as well as basketball, college only until the NBA playoffs, when teams start trying. There will also be some TV, food, and other topics thrown in for fun. Now some quick thoughts on football this weekend.

-UGA-UF will be the highlight of my weekend. Last year's game featured a combined 72 points, 2 Heisman contenders(Tebow and Moreno) and one great celebration. This years game features many of the same players plus an added element thanks to the celebration. Will Tebow and the Gators dance when they score, will Richt pull out another crazy idea, will there be an all out fight. I say yes to all. In the end, UGA's young, pathwork offensive line will falter as it did against Alabama and UF will make one great play on special teams to pull out the win 38-24.

-Texas-Texas Tech will be an interesting matchup. TT will throw the ball all over. Texas will blitz against a line that has allowed fewer than 5 sacks all year. The winner of that battle wins the game. I say TT wins because blitzing fails more than it works. Ask the Giants. you need to be able to get pressure with only 4 in order to succeed. Blitzing against TT will give Harrell one-on-one and he will pick them apart. Any worry I would have if I were Texas is that this is the biggest game in Lubbuck ever. This is the third biggest game for Texas this month. Who do you think will be more focused and ready. I will take TT in a squeaker 41-38. If Texas loses but somehow wins the Big 12 with 1 loss, and the SEC champ has one loss, I can't wait for the insanity of who gets to beat PSU in the title game. It is gonna be awesome.

-quick note regarding the Red Sox sloberfest posted yesterday. Yes, they have home-grown some talent. Yes, they have a large fan base. This is pretty easy to do when your area covers 5 states. The Red Sox own such a big territory that they can get their own TV station and make a ton of money off it. The Reds own half of Ohio, some of KY and some of IN. Their station is FSN Ohio which is only a small step above PBS in terms of quality and coverage. The Sox own MA, VT, NH, ME, most of RI and parts of CT. Their market is bigger thus generating more revenue from their TV station which is available in all of those states as well as on DirectTV. The Reds could never fund their own station and thus will never get the money that Boston does. And my problem with Boston, other than its fans, is how much it spends and how it spends it. They are able to draft players no one else can because they will pay huge bonus money no one else will. If the player flames out, it would hurt a normal team. The Sox just write it off and cut a million dollar check to another player to replace him. They can afford to pay Coco Crisp $5 million for 350 AB's, Julio Lugo $8 for 300 AB's, Jason Veritek $11 for a 73 OPS+, Schilling $8 to blog and piss people off. These would all be in the top 5 salary wise for the Reds and all were part time, no-time, or bad. The Reds mistakenly signed Eric Milton for 9 million and didn't recover for years. The Sox take it as if it were nothing because of their bags of money. If they make a mistake, they can correct it much easier than 26 other teams. That is unfair.

O, and the players you mentioned, only Nomar was home-grown. Manny, Papi, and Pedro were all bought for money that only 6 teams could have paid for. The Reds never had a chance at any of them. That also makes it unfair. Only one team in the last 15 years has won the World Series with a payroll in the bottom half of the league: The 2003 Florida Marlins. That shows how unfair it is. The only solution would be a salary cap. That will never happen because in order for MLB to make money, NY, BOS, LA, and CHI must be good. They can only be good if they can spend millions to fix their millin dollar mistakes. The cycle continues and, at the start of next season, 15 teams will KNOW they can't win a World Series. When do pitchers and cathers report?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big Deal Palace Up and Running - Red Sox

Sorry for the long delay, but it took some time to get the new and improved Big Deal Palace up and running. I've finally got the internet and a TV at home, so watch out I may up my production to 2 times a month. I'll try to come back with a few posts in the next week on various topics. Today I'll take on the Red Sox:

While I know my comrade on this blog has been very critical of the Sox "buying" players and points to the Rays success as proving that you can overcome the Big Bad Money Taking Big Market Team by developing talent. While the Rays success illustrates small market teams can compete, it doesn't make the Red Sox model obsolete or even bad. Unless you are a communist (and after this upcoming election we will all likely live in a socialist/communist society like Sweden, but that is a rant for another time and likely violates one of our rules about alienating people), you have to admire the way the Red Sox and Yankees take the revenues from running a successful team and put that money to making the team more successful. Boose's comments would lead one to a "wind fall talent tax" where the teams who generate enough interest to be profitable give some of their players to stupid teams like the Reds who overpay bad people and refuse to pay to keep talented people around (Adam Dunn). If this blog stands for anything (aside from getting dusty baker fired), it stands for capitalism and against socialism.

Boston does have the luxury of making more mistakes since they have an unlimited payroll, but that is because year in and year out they put a product on the field people are willing to pay for. They have found a way to maximize revenues by selling monster seats, pink hats and keeping their old stadium in decent shape. They have consistently paid for top players and even developed some talented players. Since they are willing to keep players around once they become good at baseball rather than sell them for more prospects (who they will get rid of when they get good at baseball), Boston has been able to create cult heroes that fans love (Manny, Nomar, Big Papi & Pedro).

Lets analyze why they have more money and point out the fundamental flaw in small market teams complaint that they just don't have the money to compete (basically assuming that those with money did nothing to deserve it). While metro boston is larger than metro cincy (~4mm vs 2mm), it isn't like Cincy is some sleepy Podunk tiny town. Cincy also doesn't need to support a hockey and basketball team, so it the Reds and Bengals (who don't seem like they will draw many people for years). There is a large enough population to support a baseball team (see 1970s and 80s). The reds stadium (which was paid for by taxpayers and not ownership) has luxury boxes, while Fenway doesn't, so technically is capable of producing more revenue. Cincy is a baseball town and the team was extremely popular in the 1970s when the team was good, so you can't argue Boston has more "history" or a better historical fan base. Cincinnati had the first professional baseball team and also has won a few more championships than Boston, so that excuse doesn't work either. National TV contracts are split, so all those boston-new york games on espn, Cincy sees some of that revenue. Boston has their own tv station (NESN) and is able to get all the revenue from that, but if demand were there Cincy could do the same thing.

So basically we can't hate Boston for "buying" world championships, because they have no built in advantage over Cincy as it relates to generating revenue (same cannot be said for NY, LA or Chicago which are much bigger cities). You can hate Boston for many things (the cold weather, Barney Frank, the fake sox fans who came out of nowhere over the past two years, the slightly overweight women of Cambridge), but hating them for buying championships is just hating success. Instead of saying the sox put a good product on the field, which can win titles every season because they have money, it would be more apt to say The Sox have money because they put a good product on the field and are competitive every game.

The Reds need to take a look at the Sox business model and find a way to put a good team on the field every season, quit rebuilding all the time and let the fans know you plan to make long term commitments to good players, find other ways to generate revenue and learn how to evaluate talent properly. A good start to all of this would be to get rid of Dusty Baker and find a competent manager and GM, who understand that a computer is not scary and it isn't a sin to allow statistical facts about a players ability to color your gut judgement about that players ability.

We have made this the quest of the blog, but i think gotten off track as our team went down and others succeeded. It is time to right the ship and make sure our single focus as it relates to baseball (we will continue to comment on all things non-baseball. Trust me there will be a full season recap of RR/RR Challenge this year as it is amazing) is to educate the good people out there about how to take a once very proud franchise that could dominate an entire decade back to the front of the MLB pack. The first step in that goal is firing Dusty Baker.

Viva La Revolution

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quick Thoughts

-So the Phillies are going to win the series, just as I predicted. Also, no shame in taking the Bill Belicheat approach to the game. It is only cheating if you get caught. I am sure the dirt that collected all season just happened to be in that one spot. Happens all the time, just ask Kenny Rodgers. There it is folks, the Honorable Phillies, your 2008 World Series Champs, from the Honorable city of Philadelphia. (Yes, this is an attempt to jinx them.)

-Got to love college football this year. Penn State, with their ONE big win will likely play in the title game. Alabama has played ONE good game thus far (at UGA) and will play another in the SEC title game. (The LSU game is mediocre after the Tigers have been exposed against UGA, South Carolina, and UF. What a great SEC defense they have, allowing 125 points in the last 3 games). USC played ONE good game against a non-Pryor lead Ohio State. (At UVA is mediocre now that they may win the ACC) After all that, the decision of who plays Texas is decided by writers and coaches who watch, at best, half the top 25 each week. Sound reasonable. I would hate for those 3 teams, which are practically indistinguishable right now, play in a 4 team playoff with Texas. (Oklahoma is out because you have to at least qualify for your championship game to be considered) Let's let some very biased human beings decide it. This helps preserve the regular season. That great regular season where every week matters. Except the last week because you can lose then and still go to the title game or go undefeated and have no chance at it. (See LSU last season, Nebraska years ago, Oklahoma in 2003, Boise 2 years ago, Aubrun 2004, etc. ) This system is really working.

-So it is down to the Bengals and Lions. Both staring 0-16 and a place in history in the face. Here is the Bengals remaining schedule with my win probability in parenthesis: Jax (5%), BYE (80%), Philly (15%), at Pit (2%), Balt (10%), at Indy (15%), Wash (20%), at Cle (25%), KC (40%). Not looking good.

Here is the Lions schedule: at Chi (15%), Jax (10%), at Car (15%), TB (10%), Ten (5%), Min (15%), at Indy (10%), NO (15%), at GB (10%). Not much better. The only difference I see is Detroit has 6 home games remaining. Cincy has a bye and a finale against a terrible KC team. I'd say it is pretty much 50/50 but, knowing that Ryan Fitzpatrick will probably start for the rest of the year, I will take the Bengals to complete the perfect season.

-I have written before about my love of hamburger helper. The cheesburger macarroni is excellant along with the standards of Lasagna, four-cheese, and beef pasta. But did you know they have Chicken Helper. Cooked the same way only with Chicken. I recommend the Chicken Fried Rice or the Fettuccine Alfredo as a change of pace. Chicken is easier to cook(no draining) and, when mixed with some Frank's Hot Sauce, can be mighty tasty. I should get a Betty Crocker sponsership for this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

World Series Thoughts

I hate Philly. I know I have said why in the past but now it is because they have ruined my predictions. I successfully picked the winner of the four series' in which the Phillies were not involved including the correct number of games in the ALCS and emergence of David Price. For some reason the Phillies have been my nemesis but it is alright, I have a solution. I am picking them to win the World Series in 7. This will effectively jinx them because the only prediction that I have missed have involved the Phillies and now that I have picked them, they will lose. This is the complete opposite of what I think will actually happen, but it must be done in order to ensure a Rays victory in 5. I sure feel better now. Here are some other thoughts on the Fall Classic:

-Great to see the Red Sox fail to finish the comeback. I am sick of hearing about their comeback against the Yanks in 2004 and the Indians in 2007. When you spend $130 million every year, putting together a 3 or 4 game winning streak is not that impressive. Now their key players are hurting (Papi's wrist, Drew's back, Lowell's everything) and their position players are not developing well. Ellsbury was supposed to be the next Beltran but tanked this season, they need a shortstop and corner outfielder, not to mention replacing Paul Bako 2.0 behind the plate. I am sure they will go out and spend $30 million to fill the holes because they are the new Yankees and money is no object. It would be nice to see them miss the post season next year only to see all their "fans" disappear overnight. If they have any significant injuries during the year to a pitcher or two, I think they will miss the playoffs.(I made a comment earlier this year about the crowds at Fenway being terrible and many writers commented on the fans in games 3 and 4 being lackluster and only their to see and be seen. The lesson here is, I am always right.)

-The Rays are one hell of a team. They are better then the Phillies defensively(by a long shot) and, other then Cole Hamels who is the best pitcher in the Series, their starting pitcher is superier. The Rays are also younger, fearless, and are coming back fairly quickly. The Phillies have had a week off which doesn't work out well against a team coming off a dramatic 7 game victory(See Tigers in 2006 and Rockies in 2007). David Price is going to be a superstar and I think he will be used again to nail down a close game. Another outing like Sunday and he will become a legend in Tampa, until he becomes a free agent and the Red Sox give him $150 million to replace another $30 million pitcher who didn't pan out.

-No more Frank TV ads or reruns or The Steve Harvey Show. No more Buck Martinez. No more TBS. Now we are blessed with Joe Buck(Jim Nantz) and Tim McCarver(Billy Packer). I only wish FOX would get rid of Tim the way CBS dumped Packer. They are both past their prime and discuss the sport as if it is 1978. The game has passed Tim by and he hasn't realized it. His comments about Manny disgracing the game by not running out groundballs was so hypocritical in light of his non mention of Brett Myers and his domestic violence charge. Which do you think disgraced the game more? I will take the wife beater.

-Enjoy the games and the blog will turn to football and other baseball musings after the series. Remember Phillies in 7 (but really Rays in 5).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

LCS Predictions

Well I got 3 of the 4 series right. The one I got wrong just happened to be my world champion. Hey, it's not my fault CC turned into Eric Milton, Prince Fielder turned into Corey Patterson, and Ryan Braun became Paul Bako. Now onto the LCS. I have a good feeling about these.

Phillies - Dodgers

The Phillies looked good in the first round and now have homefield. They also have some pitcher named Christopher Gruler. O wait no. That is who the Reds chose ahead of their real pitcher, Cole Hamels. Hamels should win 2 games in the series but who will win the other? Brett Myers? The same Brett Myers who was so terrible he was sent to AAA earlier this year and is now pitching in the biggest game of his life. I think he may revert back to his pre-minors form. Who else? Joe Blanton? His statistics have been average with a 106 ERA+ but he went to the University of Kentucky. Probably too interested in being mediocre in football and overrated in basketball to concentrate. The 45 year old Jamie Moyer is all that is left. By the way, he was once a teammate of Davy Lopes who was a teammate of Hoyt Wilhelm. Hoyt was born in 1922. It took only one common teammate to go from Jamie Moyer to a man who played at the Polo Grounds for the New York "Baseball" Giants under Leo Derocher. That is old. And his 71 mile an hour fastball won't fool Manny. He will sit back and crush it.

The Dodgers on the other hand have young players who are still fresh but lack experience in big games. Some people think this is bad but I think it can be good. Say your team has been beaten in their last 3 straight playoff series. They have experience but it is of losing and getting tight in big games. If they didn't have that experience, they would probably be better off. These Dodgers don't have those bad experiences(I am looking right at the Angels and Cubs). Manny has some pretty damn good ones. Their pitching is pretty solid with Lowe, Billingsley (taken 10 picks after Ryan Wagner), Clayton Kershaw (chosen one pick ahead of Drew Stubbs,), and whoever else they throw out there. They also have 4 time Cy Young award winner Greg Maddux if needed. Overall, the teams look pretty even.

In the end though, I like Joe Torre over Charlie Manual and Manny Ramirez over anyone else. I'll take the Dodgers in 7. And if you think this is a pick just because I hate Philly fans and want them to be miserable, well, you are right.

Rays - Red Sox

Another one where everyone likes the road team. Most of it is because Boston controls most of the media and can make it say practicly anything. Did you know the Red Sox are the greatest team with the greatest fans ever? I didn't until I heard and read all about it. I thought they finished in second in their division despite spending $90 million more then the first place team. I guess I thought the team that finished first was better.

As for the series, I originally picked the Rays in 7. I am sticking with that but I am not quite as sure. The Red Sox did as I expected and woke up for the playoffs. They have become the San Antonio Spurs of baseball meaning they coast through the regular season then turn it up for the postseason. If Beckett were 100% they would have the advantage. If Manny were still there, they would have an advantage. Without that, the teams are equal so I will take the home team in 7 and yes, it has something to do with my dislike of their "fans."

Tampa has great pitching, a great bullpen, and good hitting. They also have speed so if Boston does what they say and pitch Wakefield (I don't think they will), the Rays will steal all over the place. But who knows. These teams were pretty even in the regular season and should be pretty even in this series. A couple bounces one way or another could change the game. I am rooting for the young, entergetic, worst-to-first, low payroll team. I guess I am somehow hoping this is what the Reds become. Too bad we would need a competent manager.

Post Script: So the Reds could have had Cole Hamels and Chad Billingsly. Instead we drafted two guys who are not in the majors. We also missed Kershaw by one pick for a guy who is 25 and still not in the majors. I sure hope Walt Jocketty knows what he is doing because all the other GM's we have had sure screwed the pooch.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Break out the champagne! Ring the bells! The long wait is finally over!

No, the Reds have not won anything in over a decade but Walt Jocketty came out and said the most glorious words any Reds fan could hear today: Corey Patterson will NOT be back in 2009. This is cause for celebration. And this time real celebration, not the wake up on the coach, stay drunk for 48 hour, celebration I had last week after passing the bar. I'm gonna party Michael Irvin style.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Playoff Predictions

Before the playoffs begin let me give you my thoughts:


I smell and upset. The Cubs have red flags all over the field. They haven't played a meaningful game all of September thanks to the total tank job of the Brewers. Big Z has also struggled his past two starts and, if you throw out the no hitter which was against a ravaged Houston team worrying about their city and homes disappearing while playing a "home" game in Milwaukee, he hasn't had a quality start since August 14th and that was against the Reds. Ryan Dumpster takes the ball in game one and any long-time Reds fan knows he is not as good as advertised. Call me a skeptic but how does a pitcher have far better numbers then he has ever put up at age 31 in a hitter's ballpark. His WHIP is .300 lower then his career average(that is a big number) and his ERA+ is 152, 32 points higher then his previous best season which was when he was 23 and in his prime. Something doesn't look right. 31 year-olds don't do that naturally-er-normally.

I think LA will steal one in Chicago then win both at home to take the series 3-1. I am mostly picking it because I hate these fans. And they will be coming out of the woodwork this week. Look out.


CC is a monster. I think he can win two games by himself. No questions asked. Just goes to show you how much of a difference there is in the two leagues. While he was good in the AL, he is untouchable in the NL. That leaves the Brewers only needing one more win. I think Ryan Braun will get one big hit and win that game for them, as long it isn't needed today(Rosh Hashanah) or next Wednesday (Yom Kippur). You probably didn't even know he was Jewish. See, you learn something new every day when you read the blog. So keep doing it. Or else.....

I will take the Brewers in 5. Good series but Ryan Howard can't hit lefties and that will come back to haunt them against CC. But, if Gagne pitches, all bets are off. He is like 3 Corey Pattersons rolled into one.

Red Sox-Angels

One team is the defending world champs and the other hasn't played a meaningful game since before the all-star break. Got to take the Red Sox. As much as I hate them, they have the best team. That is what you get when you spend 9 figures every year for a decade, and not just on their major league team, they fill their minors with best talent money can buy. Good for them and bad for everyone else. They will be loaded for a long time thanks to no cap and a ridiculous international system where any good player will be snatched up by who spends the most, not through the draft. Why isn't there a seperate international draft? O yeah, because baseball wants the big market, rich teams to be good and an international draft would hurt that. The rich keep getting richer thanks to good ole Bud.

Boston in a sweep. The Angels are good but the Red Sox get bored in the regular season. They will turn it on now that they are on the big stage. I just wish Boston fans weren't so obnoxious. I'm not the only one.

White Sox-Rays

Love the Rays. They are what the Reds could be if they could draft and develop talent. Almost all of their team is home-grown or acquired in trades for other home-grown talent with a few, low-level fre agents thrown in. They have been winning all year in the toughest division in baseball. Now they get the White Sox who are in "we are just glad we made it" mode after winning three tough games the last three days. The Rays should handle them easily and, although it would be nice to see Griffey make a run at a championship, I think the Sox don't have enough left.

Rays in a sweep. Pitching is too good and wait until you see David Price. He pitched against Louisville in the AAA playoffs and his stuff is filthy. He is better then Joba was last year but without the New York media machine to tout him.

Those are the first round predictions. Here are the rest quickly but I will provide more once the first round ends and my picks inevitablly fail. Brewers over the Dodgers in 6 thanks to CC showcasing for his future employer, Rays over Red Sox in 7 because of the advantage in the giant pinball machine, and Brewers over Rays to win it all. Why not? The Badgers just choked away their season, Brett Farve is gone, what else do they have in Wisconsin? And anyway, anything is better then listening to insufferable Cubs or Red Sox fans talk about how great their team is even though they couldn't name more then 10 players. Go Brew Crew!