Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Monthly archives: September 2006


Live from the Cardinal Collapse
2006-09-29 17:16
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Who's watching this with me? What are the odds of Jeff Weaver getting cuffed around and making an early exit? It's an absolute certainty at this point, right? And what of the Brewers' role in all of this? Can you imagine all of these guys grumbling about having to go on that one last road trip, just waiting to get home and ice whatever it is they need to ice and see their families? After a disappointing season they have a chance to be a significant part of a historical baseball moment. It's the top of the first, with runners on first and third with two outs. Can Weaver get out of the jam? No, he cannot, Geoff Jenkins singles in a run. Oh, man, this is like a snuff film.

Weaver manages to escape the top of the first allowing just the one run, but he's thrown 22 pitches already. You have to give the Cardinal broadcasters a lot of credit for staying positive here. They're currently going on about the fact that St. Louis could become the first team ever to suffer through two eight-game losing streaks in one season and still make the playoffs. Well....that would be something to be proud of, right? Here's Albert Pujols coming to bat with two out and nobody on. You think he might get pitched around a little bit? No, give Chris Capuano credit, he gets ahead of Albert 1-2 and induces a weak grounder to short on a pitch Pujols had to extend his strike zone for.

It's scoreless in Atlanta but the Braves are threatening in the sixth with runners on first and third and nobody out. Back in St. Louis, the Brewers get a hit batsman and a seeing-eye single to lead off the second. Capuano wants to bunt but Weaver pitches him pretty carefully and earns a called strikeout. Anthony Gwynn (it just seems wrong to call him Tony) hits into a double play. That helps a lot, although Weaver is already up to 35 pitches after only two innings. And the Braves are on the board! It's 2-0 with only one out still in the bottom of the sixth.

You've got to take a moment to appreciate this Cardinal lineup: David Eckstein, who's hitting .292/.349/.343 this year, So Taguchi, Pujols, Juan Encarnacion, Scott Rolen, Ronnie Belliard, Preston Wilson, Yadier Molina, and Weaver. That explains a lot. Just as I'm trying to think of a good way to make fun of him Preston Wilson comes up and hits a homer to the left-field power alley, scoring Rolen who reached on an error. 2-1, Dead Birds Walking. The Cardinal booth guys are obviously a little punch-drunk because they're talking about Yadier Molina shaving his body hair. Thankfully Molina quickly lines out to left to put paid to that, as Roger Clemens manages to get out of the sixth down two in Atlanta.

How damning is it of this year's National League that the Reds are still in playoff contention at 79-80? No more damning than last year's National League, I suppose. As I'm contemplating that, Juan Encarnacion makes a fine running catch to retire Tony Graffanino. Prince Fielder follows that with an infield fly, and here's Billy Hall. Did you know that Hall has hit 34 home runs this season? Over on the out-of-town scoreboard, you can put up a 1 for the Astros. Craig Biggio with a leadoff home run. Eric Neel wrote a good piece today listing the many reasons to root against the Cardinals. Not least among them was that a completed St. Louis collapse would give the great Biggio another shot at playoff glory. Hard to be against that. Neel also randomly works the city of Boulder into his Biggio paragraph, you should go check it out. Hall doesn't hit his 35th and we're on into the bottom of the third.

The Astros get another runner on, but they can't get him in and Clemens is pulled from the game in the process. Too quick of a hook in the top of the seventh? I guess it remains to be seen. Fernando Nieve will start the bottom of the inning for Houston. Over at New Busch Albert Pujols actually gets a chance to hit with a runner on and draws the fabled unintentional intentional walk. It's all down to Juan Encarnacion. Boy, that's a sentence you don't want to hear applying to your team. Encarnacion singles, it's a close play at the plate, but the ball gets away from Brewers catcher Mike Rivera and the Cardinals lead 3-1. Here's Scott Rolen looking to break the game open. Rolen flies to right. Nieve has pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and the Astros are into that vaunted Atlanta bullpen still trailing by one.

The Weaver collapse is taking its sweet time in arriving, huh? St. Louis has three runs on two hits and Milwaukee only has one on four. Tyler Yates is now pitching for the Braves. I have no idea who that is. Stupid unbalanced schedule. I don't see how the Astros ever wear those rust-red alternate jerseys; they're ugly as sin. Back to Busch. Corey Hart singles with one out. David Bell hits one directly at So Taguchi in center and Taguchi completely misplays it. It kicks off the heel of his glove after an ill-considered flailing backhand attempt, and now there are runners on second and third. Here we go, Weave. Show me something. The Taguchi play was correctly scored an error. Mike Rivera at the plate. I have no idea who he is, either. A catcher, evidently. I'm trying to remember whether Chris Capuano can hit or not. 3-2 on Rivera. I wonder what Ned Yost will do if he walks. Well, it's a moot point now as Rivera hits one sharply right at Ronnie Belliard, who flips it to Eckstein at short for another double play. Boy, the Cardinals are really getting the breaks tonight. I guess they had to get some eventually. Lance Berkman is up with two out and nobody on in Atlanta. The Braves have brought in lefty Macay McBride to face him. Macay McBride is a pretty cool name, but not necessarily for a pitcher I think. And Berkman...walks, after fouling off a couple. Nice at-bat.

Milwaukee really needs a quick inning here. Capuano gets off to a good start by striking out Belliard. Here's our-hero-so-far, Preston Wilson. Billy Hall makes a hell of a play to retire him. Molina pops the first pitch he sees up to Hart in left and there's your quick inning. In Atlanta McBride strikes out Luke Scott and the Astros only have three more outs left.

If Chris Capuano can hit, he didn't show it there. Weak popup to shortstop. Uh-oh, Edgar Renteria leads off the bottom of the eighth in Atlanta with a homer off of Nieve. 3-1 Braves. And Chipper Jones hits another one. Make it 4-1. Not-Tony Gwynn grounds to Pujols and the New Busch crowd has absorbed the news of the score changes in Atlanta. Watch out, the Cardinals have some momentum for the first time this month. Milwaukee needs to get a two-out rally going here if we're going to keep this collapse train rolling. It's not happening. Graffanino strikes out.

Let no one say we here at Bad Altitude don't know how to move with the change of the wind. Assuming this winds up being only the closest of close calls for the Cards, does that help or hurt them going forward into the playoffs? Last year's White Sox certainly reacted well to the late surge by the Indians, but that was a little different. They didn't lose eight in a row, and it wasn't this late in the year. In that case it wasn't so much that Chicago cratered as Cleveland played out of their minds. Houston has certainly been hotter than hot lately, but for St. Louis seeing such a large lead evaporate that fast, and that close to the finish line, is completely unprecedented. And it's had to see how the same problems that precipitated the regular season collapse won't follow them into the postseason. The rotation is still not so good, the lineup is still devoid of threats besides Pujols, and the manager is still Tony La Russa. Anyway, back to the action on the field. After a walk and a beautiful bunt by Eckstein, the Cardinals have runners on first and third with one out. Pujols is up. Well, this certainly looks like an excellent opportunity to make things academic from here on out. Bob Wickman is on to try and close it out for the Braves, by the way. Guess what Albert just did? Well, he hit a three-run homer. That was a little predictable. It's 6-1 St. Louis and I think we have an MVP.

Back to Atlanta. Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro flies out, as Encarnacion and Rolen hit back-to-back doubles to increase the Cardinal lead to 7-1. Biggio flies out to center. It looks like the Cardinals will have a game and a half lead with two (or three) games to play. Adam Everett represents the last chance for Houston. And he singles! Okay, well, they have some work left to do, but it's not over yet. Unfortunately the next guy in the Astro lineup is Brad Ausmus. My blatant attempt to reverse-jinx Ausmus succeeds. He singles and the Astros are just a long fly away from tying this thing up. They're going to need to because it's now 8-1 in St. Louis and I'm not even going to bother keeping up with the play-by-play over there any further. So who is Houston's secret weapon off the bench in this their great hour of need? It's...Aubrey Huff! Huff strikes out on four pitches and so much for that. Dang, I should have said some more mean things about Huff there. His at-bat hardly lasted long enough for me to have a chance.

Now, with the Astros in the direst of straits, will they pitch Andy Pettite on short rest Saturday or go ahead with some random rookie as scheduled? The Cardinals have Jeff Suppan and Chris Carpenter going Saturday and Sunday, the best they have at this point. It's not over. But it's a whole lot closer to over than it was tonight.

But We're Still Not Letting Go of This T.O. Thing
2006-09-28 15:00
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The posture of most sportswriters the day after is relief. They've decided, almost to a man, to accept the unbelievably flimsy excuse cooked up by Terrell Owens and his publicist so they can go back to breaking down the NFC and taking potshots at the Cardinals. Cue Jay Mariotti on "Around the Horn" this afternoon: "Can we puh-LEASE get back to talking about sports today?"

No, Jay. You really shouldn't. The Dallas police want an apology for the absurd claims made by Kim Etheredge that they deliberately concocted a phony police report containing Etheredge's account of removing pills from Owens's mouth and Owens's statement that he had tried to deliberately harm himself. As Deadspin has reported, there is gigantic, red-flashing precipitating event that happened in T.O.'s life earlier this week -- the woman to whom he was engaged broke up with him. If Owens was a political figure or a movie actor or a Hilton sister, journalists would be scrambling all over the place to to the truth here. But sports journalists are, apparently, cowards. They don't want to dig too deep because that would uncover a lot of unpleasant things about their business.

The thing that bothers me the most is the many, many professional sportswriters who have written pieces where the main thrust is "Well, T.O. just couldn't have committed suicide." They apparently know from watching him from the sidelines and maybe interviewing him once three or four years ago everything there is to know about his psyche. You know what? Anyone can attempt suicide. Rich people, successful people, seemingly happy people. No one is immune. It is profoundly offensive to the families of suicides and anyone who has ever suffered from mental illness to make broad categorical statements like "Oh, guys like him don't kill themselves." You don't know, and frankly, you don't deserve to have the job you have if you're going to write garbage like that.

I'm not saying for sure that Owens did definitively try to commit suicide. All that I am saying is a) it's certainly possible, as no one is "immune" to mental illness, b) he has a long record of curious past behavior, c) he's faced a great deal of stress lately between the broken engagement, the injury, and the relentlessly hyped upcoming game against his former Philadelphia team, d) he had been prescribed and was apparently taking these pain pills for 15 days without suffering any "allergic reactions," and e) either Owens and his publicist or the Dallas police are colossal cold-blooded liars and I sure as hell don't think it's the police.

If no one else is going to continue to ask questions, I'm going to do so. This story has really struck a nerve with me. Not that I ever much cared for Terrell Owens or even much do now. He is a human being and it's very distressing to see how many people think this is either hilarious or a huge scam. My unease stems not from that but from the way the story has been handled. I'm beginning to feel like sports journalism is an oxymoron. Why aren't sportswriters held to the same standards of truth and ethics that other reporters are? How can people write what they have written in the past several hours? Why are most sportswriters so willing to get past this difficult story and back into their comfort zone that they're willing to buy a steaming pile of grade-A bullplop? These are disturbing questions and I don't have answers for them. The worst part is, if the sportswriters are going to let it go, the NFL is going to let it go. And something is going to happen with Terrell Owens again, and next time, maybe he or others will get seriously hurt. Where is our sports reporting culture that allowing that is preferable than having to do some deep digging and facing up to difficult questions?

Yes, We Are Still a Rockies Page
2006-09-28 12:20
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Colorado is playing the Dodgers right now in what will be the final home game of the 2006 season. Right before Opening Day, I wrote that I wanted to see the Rockies win 75 games. A win today would put the team at 75-84 with three games remaining in Chicago against the worst team in the National League. A few days ago the research department asked me when I was going to write my evaluation of the team's season. Well, I wanted them to win 75 games. Barring catastrophe, they will do so. So, in the broadest sense, mission accomplished.

I didn't just want to see a raw number when I wrote that article way back at the beginning of the season, however. And I also haven't really written anything about the Rockies here all month, since, let's face it, they have been deeply uninteresting since that ghastly Mets/Milwaukee road trip in the middle of August. I will probably go player-by-player with the team, really get under the surface, after the playoffs are over and I don't have good baseball teams to which to devote my attention. But for right now, let's go back and check the Rockies' progress against the list of season goals I made in April.

I wrote that I was happy with Dan O'Dowd until at least his crop of superkids started playing in the majors and we could see whether they were any good or not. Well, the kids are here. If Colorado disappoints again next year, you'd have to think that it would be curtains for Dealin' Dan. In April I said that Clint Hurdle was a decent developmental manager but he doesn't have the game-managing skills to turn a up-and-comer into a contender. If anything, this season confirmed that. The Rockies had more pieces this year than any team Hurdle has managed before and he wasn't able to to stave off several long losing streaks. He turned great starts into losses by leaving pitchers in too long at least once every two weeks. He changed his mind about preferred bullpen guys with the logic and ephemeral nature of a sixth-grade crush. He bunted as if it was going out of style, which it indeed did, in 1959. Hurdle and O'Dowd will both be back next year. That's the story as of this writing. But if O'Dowd wants to protect his job, it might be wise of him to consider getting a manager who can actively make his team better rather than one who at best isn't making his worse. Next year expectations upon both men will be considerably higher.

I probably jinxed Todd Helton with the confidence I showed in him going into this season. Maybe it's just wishful thinking that given the decline in his production and the majesty of his contract, we are stuck with him for better or worse for the near future and beyond. In 2005, Helton wasn't healthy all year, but began to resemble his old self down the stretch. He ended up with numbers that weren't anywhere near his best but still approached respectability. In 2006, Helton again wasn't healthy, but his faith-restoring hot streak never came. Helton's numbers declined far and beyond what the depressurization of Coors Field baseballs alone could account for, and despite some encouraging progress on the part of some of the Rockies' younger hitters and a miracle season from Jamey Carroll, Colorado's offense couldn't pick up the pitching staff with Todd Lite gumming up the works. Finally demoted to the #2 spot in the lineup, Todd can continue to be a contributor with his bat control and his still-stellar on-base percentage, but paying $18 million a season for a #2 hitter is hardly maximizing the return from your limited resources. At this point we have to treat it as a sunk cost and hope Helton home runs and especially doubles make at least cameo appearances in 2007. So we thought we had Helton to hit #3, but now we don't. The good news is that Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins have been fantastic this year and both will return for 2007, although Holliday's free agency is looming menacingly. Helton-Holliday-Atkins is a pretty groovy 2-3-4 sequence. It's only the entire rest of the lineup that poses a problem for O'Dowd going forward. Jamey Carroll will not repeat his 2006. Brad Hawpe, Cory Sullivan, Yorvit Torrealba, and Clint Barmes did not do enough at their respective positions to win jobs for 2007. Jeff Baker, Troy Tulowitzki, and Chris Iannetta are the heirs apparent in right, at short, and at catcher. The center field job is still completely up in the air. See, I knew they never should have traded Eric Byrnes.

I wrote in April that if the big three guys in the rotation stayed healthy, Byung-Hyun Kim repeated his '05 numbers, and somebody who didn't suck held down the fifth starter spot, Colorado would finish .500. Well, all of that happened. Josh Fogg didn't suck, Kim was steady, and Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Jason Jennings were excellent. Unfortunately the offense barely progressed, thanks to Clint Barmes, Cory Sullivan, and an army of hitless wonder catchers. We know for sure that the important guys will all be back, and as a worst-case scenario returns for Kim and Fogg are both possible and not at all terrifying. The Rockies' starting pitching is very, very good. This has never happened before. I'm not quite sure how to deal with it, really. The vast majority of baseball writers haven't even picked up on it yet. I've read several confused columns on the subject of starting pitching in the National League. Maybe the reason none of those writers were able to come up with a satisfactory conclusion is that they didn't even think to look where the best rotation in the NL is hiding in plain sight -- Denver. There, I said it.

I am a little disappointed that O'Dowd wasn't able to turn another team strength, bullpen depth, into some offensive prospects at the trade deadline. As solid as Jose Mesa and Ray King have been this year, neither should figure majorly in the Rockies' future plans. Smart teams know that you can build a good, even dominant bullpen without spending very much money, and O'Dowd made an excellent move dealing for disgraced former Kansas City starter Jeremy Affeldt, who has been excellent in relief for Colorado. Ramon Ramirez, acquired from the Yankees in last season's much-criticized Shawn Chacon deal, pitched great all season. In fact he was vastly more valuable than Chacon was this year. Closer Brian Fuentes had his ups and downs but he's still a legit All-Star closer and yet another major contributor who is under contract for 2007 at an extremely reasonable dollar figure.

Nothing happened to change the Rockies' two biggest problems this season. Too few people still are going to the games, and nationally the team's profile is lower than the mediocre Nationals and the awful Devil Rays (who at least get to play Boston and New York tons of times every year). Despite their overall improved play, Colorado persistently got beaten up when they faced superior competition. The Mets utterly crushed them, and they continue to be the Dodgers' whipping boys. The at times dominant quality of the Rockies' starting pitching, which ought to have been a huge story, flew completely under the radar thanks to the underwhelming records the Colorado staff compiled (thanks a lot, offense) and the overblown stories about the humidor (thanks a lot, Jeff Cirillo). The other harsh truth applying is that it's often better to have one transcendental pitcher than three very good ones. Cy Young campaigns get attention; the yeoman's work put in all season long by Francis, Cook, and Jennings goes unnoticed except by fantasy geeks in very deep NL-only leagues. Which is too bad. Of course, if the offense can perform at even league-average levels next season any one of the trio, or all three, could easily win 20 games.

In any event, I set my hopes at a reachable level before the season, and my hopes were reached. Let's quote past me: "If the roster stays more or less the same the whole year round, save a veteran reliever flip or two, then 75 is the number to which I'm adhering. Simply managing to not be ghastly in April and May like last year would make it all possible." They weren't ghastly in April and May, and if they can just win one of the next four, all my dreams have come true. Except for the one with Kristin Bell in the RFK Stadium cheap seats.

The Things You Can't Ignore
2006-09-27 06:39
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I'm not a football writer. If I knew enough about football to write about it, then I wouldn't perennially finish out of the money in my fantasy leagues, and I probably wouldn't still be a Bears fan, either. But look at the title. Sometimes things happen in sports that are so monumental that they effect us all, like how blowing up the moon would totally wreak havoc on the tides here on Earth. Hang on to that outer space metaphor, I'm going to come back to it in a second.

Terrell Owens, the staggeringly talented Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, tried to commit suicide last night. Reports last night had indicated that Owens had somehow had an allergic reaction to the medication he'd been taking as part of his treatment for a broken finger. He was taken to Baylor Medical Center where doctors were reportedly attempting to induce vomiting. His publicist, already in full spin mode, was quoted as saying "this is not serious."

This is serious.

Owens' behavior since he was a San Francisco 49er has been, to put it mildly, irregular. When he arrived in Philadelphia to join the contending Eagles, things escalated. After a heroic performance coming off of injury in a Super Bowl defeat, T.O. first threw his quarterback, Donovan McNabb, under a bus and then engaged in a spectacularly bizarre and overhyped contract holdout. Owens has been such a regular fixture in the headlines of sports websites and the conversations of sports talk radio shows that many fans initially reacted to the news of his "allergic reaction" with sighs of exhaustion or even yelps of anger that T.O. was in the news yet again. Not least myself.

But here is the thrust of it: Terrell Owens is clearly not a mentally healthy individual. This has been obvious for years. But because he is gifted with prodigious speed and miraculous strength, he has been allowed to continue without the medical attention needed to save his life. When Owens escaped the Eagles to sign with the Cowboys, the stories written were not about whether allowing him to continue playing football as if nothing had happened in Philadelphia was medically prudent. They were about whether his addition made Dallas instantly a championship contender, and how many #81 Cowboys jerseys was selling, and in which round of your fantasy draft you would want to pick up Terrell Owens. Because he was still able to perform on a football field, no one had much interest in what else might be troubling T.O.

As someone who has intimate personal experience with mental illness, this whole story leaves me numb. It makes me wish I didn't care about sports as much as I do. By spending so much of my limited income on tickets, jerseys, out-of-market cable packages, and licensed video games, am I complicit in this system? The system that allowed a man that anyone who's ever watched SportsCenter knows is gravely sick to get to the point where he would want to take his own life? Because the NFL made him a star, Owens believed that the laws that apply to everyone else in the world didn't apply to him. He rejected any suggestion of professional help as just another ploy by the "critics" his ever-mounting paranoia wouldn't let him ignore. The Cowboys and the NFL were still willing to let him play football, even accomodating him more than they would most other players, because he's such an incredible athletic specimen. Owens sat out most of the preseason with a fishy injury. Bill Parcells, one of the most hardline, old-school authoritarian coaches in the business, didn't push him and wouldn't even talk to the media about it, giving T.O. the further impression that the rest of the universe's rules weren't for him.

Ancient astronomers thought that the sun, the planets, and the stars rotated on other planes far in the heavens. We could no sooner go out and reach them than they could come down and visit us. The laws of the earth were not the laws of the heavens. Terrell Owens, because he can catch a football, knock over five guys, and run eighty yards for a touchdown, thought he was on another plane of existence. It doesn't work that way. Gravity and entropy and all of those good things from high school physics apply the same in the Horsehead Nebula as they do here. The same fallibilities with which a struggling freelance journalist in Boulder, Colorado has to deal with can fell one of the richest, most famous, and most breathtakingly physically gifted men in America.

How You Want to Do It
2006-09-26 21:30
by Mark T.R. Donohue

As I'm watching the A's run it up against the Mariners, I'm realizing: the longer they can make this game go, the better their chances are of getting to celebrate their division title on the field instead of the infinitely lamer, infinitely less televised clubhouse celebration. The Angels are losing at home to Texas in a game that started at the same time as the A's contest in Seattle. For some reason, Extra Innings is showing the Seattle feed of the A's-Mariners game. This makes no sense. It's not as offensive to A's fans as when for an entire season and change the E.I. background image before and after games was the already-traded Mark Mulder in an Oakland uniform, but it's pretty stupid. Not as monumentally stupid as the NFL satellite package, but in the ballpark.

Who Ya Got?
2006-09-23 06:56
by Mark T.R. Donohue

For the most part, the playoff situation appears settled. The Mets and Yankees have already clinched. The A's can get in today by beating the Angels in a game that will be on Fox in most markets, including Colorado. The Cardinals look safe. The Twins and Tigers can still switch places between division winner and wild card, but either way they're in. That leaves two spots for three teams, the Dodgers, Padres, and Phillies.

So which team do we as Rockies fans pull for in the playoffs? I believe it's okay to go ahead and pick a club now. The Padres and Dodgers are disqualified from consideration because they're our bitter division rivals and we hate them. The Phillies have special problems of their own. But back up a second -- do we really hate San Diego and Los Angeles? No, we don't. We don't have particularly strong feelings either way about either team. With their complete lack of history Colorado has been unable to build up much enmity for any of the NL West teams. If there's anybody we find mildly distasteful, it's Arizona. They are newer than we are and yet they've won a championship. Plus their ugly uniforms totally stole the thunder of our ugly uniforms. Our purple pinstripes were pretty ugly, but then they came along with those sleeveless things and completely blew us out of the water. As it happens the Diamondbacks are changing to a red and tan look for 2007, but if the NHL Phoenix Coyotes' look is any guide, those uniforms will be hideously ugly as well. It's something to look forward to for the offseason, at the very least.

OK, so we don't really hate the Dodgers (except for Jeff Kent) or the Padres. The point is we should. Let's start pretending we do and hope they both make the playoffs so they can both lose in the first round. This would also eliminate the Phillies, who I have just had it with. Every year it's something else with that team. They've got the talent, but not the heart. They've got the heart, but not the bullpen. They've got the manager, but what they really need is this other manager. Just go away already. After Bobby Abreu was traded, the Phillies by all rights should have skulked off into the darkness and left us alone for several years. Instead, they've forced their way to the brink of playoff contention. This is so annoying. The only thing Philadelphia has been consistent at the last five years is making baseball writers look stupid. They dealt Abreu, inspired a thousand "raise the white flag" columns, and now they've back up in it. Enough!

So, officially, we don't care who among the three teams still fighting makes it into the playoffs. What about those teams that are already guaranteed a postseason spot? First of all, the Yankees are not an option. There will not be a discussion about this. That leaves the Tigers, Twins, A's, Cardinals, and Mets. There's a few interesting choices in that group. The A's have our old friends Jay Witasick and Joe Kennedy and a payroll that somewhat resembles our own. The Twins are also a midbudget team, they feature the best pitcher on the planet, and they're vaguely in our geographic vicinity. The Cardinals are also our quasi-neighbors and the Rockies tend to play them well every year. That's always a good straw-grasping reason to pick a postseason team. The Mets on the other hand beat us like a drum this season. They're a big money team, but they appear downright scrappy when contrasted with the ludicrously big money team with whom they share a city. New York has an intriguing blend of established playoff heroes (Pedro, Beltran) and some embraceable debutantes (Wright, Reyes). Then there's Detroit. I have bagged on the Tigers all year long. Wouldn't it be kind of noble to turn around and cheer them on now that they have proved themselves? Also, among the playoff teams Detroit is the one that most closely resembles a supercharged version of the Rockies. They have a dominant young pitching staff and a fitful offense that doesn't walk nearly as much as it should. Of course, in this comparison Josh Fogg is Kenny Rogers, and I'm not comfortable with that at all.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this important issue. For my part I picked Oakland and the Mets to meet in the World Series this March and I am going to root for them so I can brag about it incessantly if they make my prediction come true. As far as reversing course and giving the Tigers some love, that is never going to happen. I hope they crash and burn, the phonies.

2006-09-22 07:49
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Some thoughts on the baseball news of the moment:

The guys who wrote Game of Shadows are going to jail, pending appeal, for withholding the name of their source. I am of two minds about this. Have you seen the "South Park" episode where there is a debate over the racist town flag, and everyone interviewed keeps saying well, on one hand, it's historic, but on the other hand, they can see how it might be offensive? I feel like that. The government needs to be able to keep some things secret in order to try criminals, and they have a right to use the courts to try and track down the source of leaks. But you shouldn't have to go to prison for doing your job and not being a snitch. Unless this is like the episode of "Murphy Brown" where Murphy went to jail for protecting a source. I would have gone to that jail. It looked nicer than the place I live now. They had TV, and crossword puzzles, and knitting. I don't think that would be so bad. I might feel worse for the Game of Shadows guys had their book not been such a shallow, pedantic read. Jeff Pearlman's Barry book was much better. See, there's journalism, and then there's writing. With the latter, you can make up the dialogue, and you don't have to go to jail. That settles that. I'm a writer!

Peter Gammons is making the rounds on the ESPN family of networks. It's nice to hear his voice again, right in time for the postseason. He clearly hasn't missed a beat, either. He's back on the phones with his sources, doing his Gammons thing. I certainly hope he will continue to do so for many years to come. I also sincerely hope he will not record any more albums.

I think if you are a South Florida baseball fan the words "last straw" have lost all meaning. The team has conducted bald-faced post-championship teardowns not once but twice, erected an outfield fence ad that can be seen from outer space, and courted every city in North America without an MLB team with the grace and subtlety of a transvestite hooker. Now the word has come down than manager Joe Girardi, who first didn't quit when his entire major league roster was traded away weeks after his hire and then managed to guide a solid AA team to a major league .500 season, will not return for the 2007 season. The reason, I think it's widely known, is Girardi publicly asked the team's owner to stop acting like an ass in the stands at games. I would suggest Marlins fans organize a walkout like the one that just went off in Baltimore, but the sale of an extra thousand tickets to a Florida game would be a huge attendance spike and send the wrong message entirely.

Silence: Golden
2006-09-20 13:58
by Mark T.R. Donohue

It took me giving up on the Rockies entirely for them to start the hot streak for which we've been waiting all year. What gives? I couldn't tell you, but I still believe what I said a few days ago about ending the season on a positive note being a desirable thing. They're leading again today as I write this.

As of today, Dan O'Dowd has been the Rockies' general manager for seven years. He hasn't accomplished a hell of a lot, as he'll freely admit, but I am among those few Colorado fans who is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for maybe two more seasons. Here's why: in the middle of O'Dowd's reign, Rockies ownership spontaneously decided that Denver had gone from being a large market to a tiny market overnight, immediately after okaying a deal that would commit half of the team's new small-market payroll to one player for the next 15 years. To their credit, the Monforts (wow, I never thought I'd ever write that clause) didn't make O'Dowd the scapegoat for their own inconstancy. The Colorado farm system is good for the first time in franchise history. And I'm not just saying that, it is good. They have to win soon though. And despite my overall faith in O'Dowd, his loyalty to the bunt-happy, reliever roulette-playing Clint Hurdle is a bit mystifying.

I have been meaning for weeks to do a little post about the changing face of the NL West, some sort of bookend thing saluting Luis ("O.G. Original Gonzalez") Gonzalez, who has been informed by the Diamondbacks that he won't be returning for next season and pointing out how crazy good Giants rookie Matt Cain is. Then the Rockies tapped Cain for 11 hits and 7 runs yesterday. Still, he has allowed just one hit in five of his starts this year. He was 3-0 against Colorado until Tuesday. Cain is going to be a thorn in the Rockies' side for many years to come just as Luis "O.G." was in his time. Of course, the Giants' offense is going to be dire for Cain's entire prime since the San Francisco organization only drafts pitchers and all of their decent hitters are in their mid-forties. If Arizona's hitting prospects and the Giants' young pitchers could somehow combine to form the Arifrisco Diamondgiants, they'd be a force in the division. They can't do that, though. It's going to be the Dodgers and the Rockies. These things I believe.

Speaking of the Dodgers, it took exactly 27 hours for the world to absorb the news of the Greatest Game Ever Played, raise their collective eyebrows, and get over it. I'll say it again: both San Diego and Los Angeles are going to make the playoffs. So, grand scheme, it's just another game. Sorry, everybody.

It's Only Healthy to Be Wrong Sometimes
2006-09-19 08:07
by Mark T.R. Donohue

If you followed my viewing advice last night, all you got was a depressing finale to a frustrating and futile White Sox season. Of course, the contest was settled well in time for you to flip over to the Rockies' 20-8 blowout win over the Giants, which featured a pair of Jeff Baker home runs and six RBIs apiece from Baker and Garrett Atkins. Baker is playing right field and has yet to show any ill effects from doing so. The future is now for the Rockies, who featured several players -- Baker, Chris Iannetta, Jeff Salazar, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Hampson -- who will in all likelihood be regulars in 2007. Wouldn't it be funny if Colorado could have been scoring runs like this all season if only they'd subbed in Baker and Tulowitzki for Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes much earlier? Wait, "funny" is a poor choice of words. I mean something more like "horribly, horribly tragic."

Of course, the big game of the night was the surreal contest at an apparently full Dodger Stadium where L.A. came back on the Padres by hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning and then another homer in the tenth for good measure. I was driving to Burger King to get a late night snack at the time. You know something marvelous has happened in the world of baseball when ESPN radio cuts in on its regularly scheduled nonstop football bleating (and boy, were there a lot of interesting things to say about Jacksonville's hideous 9-0 win over Pittsburgh) to do an MLB update. I don't want to rain on the parade of the numerous Dodger fans who occasionally wander by this site, but I'll say it anyway: with Philadelphia's loss to the Cubs, both the Dodgers and Padres are highly likely (86.22% and 79.25% respectively) to make the postseason anyway. Does that diminish from the instant classic-ness of last night's game? Yeah, a little bit, it does. But if you can make a triple play in the same night seem routine you've accomplished something.

The Sox Turn Three
2006-09-18 17:16
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I don't know if this means anything, but just as I was yelling at the White Sox to take an ineffective Mark Buehrle out of the game in the first inning, Carlos Guillen hit a soft liner to short with the runners on first and second going. Triple play. I told you this game was going to be a must-watch!

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up
2006-09-18 13:21
by Mark T.R. Donohue

No matter how things shake out in the Tigers-White Sox series that begins this evening, the postgame manager interviews are guaranteed to be interesting. With Sweet Lou Piniella (temporarily?) retired and Bobby Valentine in Japan, there are no two bigger characters in the game than Ozzie Guillen and Jim Leyland. They're crusty, they're quirky, they have their vices. Sportswriters can't help but write about Leyland's cigarette smoking in almost fetishistic terms. Guillen, allegedly, was more disturbed by the lack of beer in the Oakland away clubhouse than his team getting swept by the A's. Put aside my hometown connection to the White Sox for a second. Forget my desire to see my preseason bitch-slap of the Tigers made to look less foolish. Forget even the residual bitterness most long-term Rockies fans have left over from Leyland's brief resentful run as manager in Denver. The best reason to be rooting for the White Sox to pull off the required three-game sweep is that such an event would keep both Guillen and Leyland on the front of the sports pages for another few weeks. Perhaps we can encourage Lions wideout Roy Williams to guarantee the Tigers will win at least one game.

The first game matches up two lefties who are having atypical seasons. The Tigers will start Kenny Rogers, who usually fades in the second half but hasn't (indeed, his starts have been the only thing keeping Detroit afloat these last few weeks) and the White Sox turn to Mark Buehrle, once reliable, now not so much. In addition to all of the pressure we have been repeatedly assured they don't feel, the Tigers also now have the fresh news that Placido Polanco won't return this year to consider. Every time it's looked like curtains for the Tigers in this cold snap, Rogers has been there to stem the tide. If Chicago manages to get the best of him tonight, that could be the final straw.

As the gap between Detroit and the rest of the American league widened all summer, mean-spirited Tiger-haters like myself kept repeating the mantra that Detroit's young starters would wear down as autumn approached. Isn't it great being right? Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman will start the second and third games of the Chicago series for the Tigers. Both have gone from near-Cy Young territory to bad news since August began. Verlander is 2-4 in his last six starts. The team is 2-6 the last eight times they've pitched Bonderman. The story on the White Sox meanwhile has been that all of those complete games thrown during the ALCS last year somehow ruined their pitching staff for this season. Of course, Javier Vasquez didn't play for the White Sox last year, so I'm not sure how his disappointing numbers fit in there. In any event, despite shaky peripherals the team seems to win when Jon Garland starts (he's 17-5), and Freddy Garcia has been better as of late. Garcia faces Verlander on Tuesday; Garland gets Bonderman on Wednesday.

So upon whom does the most pressure ultimately lie? Well, logic dictates that it's the team that has to win all three games, not the club that really only needs a single win. All of these looming psychological factors aside, when two teams of around equal ability play a three-game series, the chance of a sweep by one of them is very near to 1 in 8, (1/2)^3. I doubt very much that Guillen and the White Sox want to hear those odds. To the Tigers, too, I imagine it seems like a much taller order. The first game means everything, as Rogers has been the staff anchor for Detroit all season and the pitching matchups favor the White Sox in the other two contests. One spot of luck for the Tigers is that Minnesota is off tonight, meaning at the very least they would remain half a game up in the division in the event of a loss to the White Sox. Given the presence of the wild card the division lead ought not to make any difference at all to the Tigers or the Twins, really, but the collective psyches of baseball teams are very fragile and mysterious things.

I hope very much that Rogers and the Tigers do not win in a laugher tonight, because that would make all of the thought I have put into this series rather a waste. I suspect that they will not, but obviously I am often wrong. Had I not been so wildly off about what Detroit's chances to contend were as the season began, I wouldn't have enjoyed rooting against them so hard all summer long. Whether you're joining me in rooting against the Tigers or you're praying for the White Sox to bite the dust, I think the dread Playoff Atmosphere has finally arrived. With the National League's sad general ineptitude and Boston's surprisingly early collapse, P.A. has been MIA during the 2006 regular season. Here it is, possibly borrowed ahead from the NL playoffs, which likely won't have any except in the most dryly literal sense.

Let's Recalibrate
2006-09-18 06:17
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Ultimately, no matter how you slice it the Rockies' season is another disappointment. It's got to make you at least a little happy to watch Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, and Jason Jennings pitch. The Rockies' front three has been reliable all season and they'll all be back next year. It's been pointed out to me many times before that having good pitching and no hitting is no better than having good hitting and no pitching, but I don't care. I just like pitching. A close loss in a low-scoring game is more elegant than a win in a goofy 19-15 Coorsathon. This is just the way I feel. I realize it's irrational. If you don't like it, you can get your own damn weblog.

So while we were all taking some time off from baseball to let our bitterness and disappointment rage, the Padres came back to take the NL West lead away from Los Angeles. I have maintained that the Dodgers were the division favorite all year long, and I guess I still feel that way, but it is time to admit I was at least a little wrong about San Diego. It seemed to me as if they had done nothing to get better after defaulting to a division title last season. Well, they are almost certainly going to win more than 82 games this year. The odds are quite good that the much-maligned NL West will take the wild card, too, if either Los Angeles or San Diego can outlast the Phillies. It's hard to be much excited about our division vindicating itself, however. Let's face it: the NL West didn't get that much better. The rest of the National League sank to our level.

All year I have been appealing to the baseball gods to smite the Tigers down with their mighty wrath. I famously wrote a preseason breakdown predicting another decade of seventy-win-ish futility for Detroit, and then they took off like the '01 Mariners. It's not enough for me for Detroit to simply back into the playoffs and make a quiet first-round exit. I want them to collapse abjectly. With the Rockies' year over, this is the major thing holding my interest in what's left of the regular season. Minnesota has been unbelievably helpful towards this end despite facing much adversity, but the White Sox inconveniently are not cooperating. Chicago's last chance starts tonight, as they begin a three-game series against Detroit at home. Let us all now engage in the mystical sweep dance.

I'm no football writer, but it "bears" saying: Bear down, Chicago Bears.

Whatever the odds are on whomever emerges with the National League pennant getting swept in the World Series, take that bet. Pedro Martinez is not healthy for the Mets. Jason Isringhausen is out, period, for St. Louis. San Diego, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia are as wishy-washy as they come. On the other hand, as it looks at this minute with Francisco Liriano being a question mark and the Tigers just sucking, wouldn't an A's-Yankees ALCS be a hell of a series? Of course in addition to going out of my way to harsh Detroit's gig this spring I also predicted Oakland and New York in the World Series. I love seeing good baseball, but you know what I love even more than that? Being right. Go, you A's. Go, you Mets.

And you Bears. How many weeks until we see a "Super Bowl Shuffle" remake with Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco? How dope would that be?

Now live:, a spinoff site with some of my thoughts about TV and video games. If you like TV and video games, maybe you will want to read it.

Getting Past the Past
2006-09-13 19:10
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I just received an e-mail from the Rockies announcing that Vinny Castilla is the final "player of the homestand" for Colorado's last stretch of home games. I had actually been planning on going to a couple of those games, even with the disappointing turn the season had taken, but now for sure I'm not. I am really sick of the attitude many casual Rockies fans have that Castilla's heyday represented some sort of golden age for the club. I am even more tired by the current regime's cheap ticket-selling ploy of bringing back the profoundly washed-up Castilla for one last go-round. Vinny Castilla was an average player who happened to have a couple of his peak seasons in the most offense-friendly environment in major league history. He was the fifth- or sixth-best player on one team that barely made the playoffs in a strike-shortened year and several more that accomplished absolutely nothing. While the Rockies managed to finish off last season on a positive note by winning some ballgames and showcasing some of their leigit young talent, they are closing this one out by reminding those scarce few of us who are still paying attention just how profoundly little they have accomplished in their fourteen years of existence.

When the Yankees or the Dodgers have an old-timers' day, it's a special occasion. The Rockies have nothing in their brief history that in any way deserves to be celebrated. They have had two legitimately great players, Larry Walker (who was a complete pain for the last year and a half of his stay in Denver) and Todd Helton (who is now, for variety's sake, dragging the franchise down by sticking with them for life). And it's not like Colorado is bringing Castilla out to wave to the crowd, throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and spend a half-inning reminiscing with the broadcast team. They're giving him a real uniform and roster spot. This month should be about Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Iannetta (who just hit his first ML homer), Jeff Salazar, and Jeff Baker. Instead it's about the embarrassing spectacle of the Rockies trying to pimp the decrepit reanimated Ghost of Third Base Past into a few extra ticket sales to yet another stretch of depressing, meaningless playing-out-the-string September games. You can tell by the excessive number of modifiers in the last sentence that I'm really ticked off about this.

Unrelated: Baker's debut Friday made him the 29th major leaguer ever to have been born in Germany.

They Don't Make Linings Any More Silvery
2006-09-12 09:31
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Every year Sports Illustrated does something they call the Fan Value Index, which is a rating of ballparks as nebulous as those U.S. News and World Report college rankings and about as closely to linked to actual user mileage. For what it's worth they have Coors Field as #2, second only to Angel Stadium. What tipped the scales? Well, I'm no scientician, but the fact that they won the World Series four years ago and we didn't may have contributed. Several of the clubs in the top ten (Colorado, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Kansas City) owe their high rankings to pristine stadiums, manageable local traffic, cheap parking, affordable ticket prices, and short concession lines, all of which are the partial product of crummy attendance. So be it. The SI writeup has a lot of perceptive things to say about Coors, not least that too few of the fans in attendance have much if any interest in the baseball being played there. Nice conclusion, though: "Coors also delivered what so many new baseball palaces promise but never accomplish: anchoring a revitalization of a previously downtrodden neighborhood into a hip section of town filled with people, restaurants and shops. Sometimes tax dollars DO go to good use."

Football Scores
2006-09-10 17:17
by Mark T.R. Donohue

If you had "one regular season game" in the Broncos QB switch pool, you can collect your money now. Also, my hometown Bears beat up on a Packer team that must be making Brett Favre strongly reconsider his retirement decision with every three-and-out.

We're not a football site here, however. The Rockies beat fellow also-rans Washington by an NFL-like score this afternoon, 13-9, completing an improbable but ultimately meaningless 8-0 season sweep. Todd Helton hit a grand slam and Garrett Atkins added his 25th homer of the season. You have two choices when it comes to playing out the string. You can collapse brutally and let the bad feelings run rampant (see the Cubs), or you can go on a nice little run, play with dignity, and round off some good individual lines. Last September, the Rockies had their best month of the whole season. Cory Sullivan pretty much locked down his starting job for this year during that stretch. BK Kim got himself invited back. This year, the Rockies have a few things to play for, assuming you're the type who finds grasping at straws fun and relaxing. There's a distant chance that all of the Colorado starters could finish with double-digit wins. Jeff Francis already has 11. Josh Fogg and Aaron Cook have nine. Kim has eight. Jason Jennings, who has been the ace of the staff, has not seen much in the way of run support; his record stands at a terribly unrepresentative 7-12. The Rockies have 19 games left, so everyone except Francis should get 4 more starts. Brian Fuentes needs five more saves for 30. These numbers are of course all completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it would help for next year's prognosticators perhaps noticing that the Rockies' pitching staff has gone from a running joke to the one of the league's best in a very short period of time. I wouldn't count on it, but it could happen.

I watched the Tigers-Twins game today, until it got ugly late. Is there a matchup more analagous to Christian vs. lion in the MLB today than Neifi Perez squaring off against Johan Santana? The Tigers will make the playoffs, since the White Sox seem unable to seize the moment and Detroit's schedule the rest of the month is Kansas City soft. I highly doubt they will advance past the first round, especially if they end up facing the pitching-rich Athletics. The Tigers simply don't have hitters who work counts. It ought to be the Indians in their place. There is no weirder story in baseball this season than Cleveland's inexplicable underperformance. Sure, they miss Kevin Millwood and even Bob Wickman, but that hitting attack is the real deal. I'm sure I'm not alone in believing that they will be back with a vengeance in 2007. The Tigers? I don't know. I think we may be seeing (begging your pardon) their real stripes just now, and the likelihood of Kenny Rogers repeating this year's performance next season? Not good. And Jim Leyland is just one more bad series away from exploding with the force and finality of a Spinal Tap drummer.

Other than one final series against the Dodgers, the Rockies don't play anyone interesting the rest of the year, unless you find the Atlanta and Chicago trainwrecks somehow compelling. So, am I going to tell you to watch anyway? Hell no. You should be watching soccer. The other day in England, Sheffield and Blackburn played a bizarre game which featured no fewer than three missed penalty kicks in the second half. Now that's compelling.

Collapse and Recovery
2006-09-08 02:33
by Mark T.R. Donohue

My laptop crashed quite dramatically two days ago. I have been working around the clock on getting it fixed. I'm not quite there yet (it won't recognize the battery, for some reason) but I did finally manage to get the DVD player working again. Now that I can watch a baseball game AND a "Buffy" DVD at the same time again, my life is a whole lot nearer to being restored to balance.

One of the things I did today was go through and recreate my obsessively organized and detailed set of links for every MLB team. Of course, the season is almost over and the chance I'll be needing to check in on what the local papers are saying about the Mariners between now and next preseason (when inevitably site redesigns will force me to go through the whole process again) is pretty slim. That doesn't matter. I am bound and determined to make things as they were. I was working pretty rapidly so I didn't give every site the thorough reading that I might normally do before writing one of my little "around the league" posts, but I did learn a couple of things.

Investor confidence in the Tigers is at a season low. Everywhere you look, the seeds of doubt are sown. This despite the fact that neither the White Sox nor the Twins, both of whom would have to raise their level of play substantially in order to disqualify Detroit from the playoffs, seem particularly interested in doing so. The attitude has gone from "they can't be bad, they've won all of these games" to "they've won all of these games, but they're still bad" in what seems like the blink of an eye. I guess that's not really true. The Tigers haven't been playing well for quite some time now, but the more public and sudden demise of the Red Sox distracted a lot of attention. As far as I myself am concerned, the combination of the (meaningful) end of the Rockies' season and the beginning of English Premier League play has quite reduced the amount of time I spend every day contemplating baseball. At the moment, I am just watching A's games, so that when the playoffs begin, I will be familiar enough with their roster to give the impression that I have been following them all season. They used to be my favorite team, you know. I never imagined when I moved to Colorado that I would become so immersed in the quagmire that is the Rockies franchise to neglect the exponentially more successful Oakland club, but there you have it. My one present comment on the Athletics: I deeply regret not paying the extra money the jersey place near Comiskey Park demanded for the additional letters and manpower that would have gone into customizing a "DUCHSCHERER" shirt. I went with Bobby Crosby instead. Bad move on my part.

It's been written before, but it is so unfair that the Marlins franchise has had so many great moments in front of a fanbase that mostly doesn't want it and a series of owners who have been eager to move it or get rid of it. The Rockies have the beautiful stadium, the attendance records, and nothing to show for it. Who is at fault? Florida has had better front office guys, and they've had better luck. It's no more complicated than that. In the wake of Anibel Sanchez's no-hitter, a lot of national writers have reflected on the Florida team's unique history taking the general tone that well, despite everything, they're going to move anyway. I don't think so. I have learned in my years as a baseball fan that it's completely impossible to underestimate the intelligence of the game's owners both as individuals and as a group. Have they learned anything from the salt-the-fields campaign in Montreal, a city where there once was (and still should be) a huge audience for pro baseball?

No, they haven't learned anything. If anything they know less than ever. But if you're a businessperson in Las Vegas, Portland, or San Juan you have to be looking at the situation in Washington with ever-increasing horror. The owners moved the Expos to Washington some three or four years after they'd stopped being a viable operation in Canada. Then, despite the fact that there was obviously no other place for the team to go besides D.C., they dragged their feet on every possible issue, from TV coverage to stadium construction to selecting new owners. Their strategy seemed to be to wear down the local investors and politicians by simply being as annoying and intractable as humanly possible. Amazingly, it seems to have worked, in large part. As an object lesson, though, the whole absurd farce of a transition has to have made some sort of impression on all those who might be fool enough to want to bring Major League Baseball to their own hometowns. It can't possibly be worth the trouble. And who's to say you're not just going to end up with a new version of the Royals? Or the Nationals themselves, for that matter, who despite a miraculously successful inaugural season have a farm system utterly strip-mined from years of underfunding and mismanagement in Montreal and compromised revenue streams thanks to all of the concessions given to Orioles owner Peter Angelos. If you're a potential sports owner and you've got half a head for figures (which if you're wealthy enough to a potential sports owner, you most likely do), you have to be looking at the precedent set by the ExpoNationals and thinking, "It's just not worth it." The same goes for the political figures and taxpayers of cities considering luring in existing owners. Is it worth the headache? Maybe better off to see if the IHL or Major League Lacrosse is interested.

One Rockies note. Colorado is 8-20 in one-run games since April. That's not very good. It doesn't mean a lot. If they had a record in the close ones that more closely reflected their overall winning percentage, they still wouldn't be a playoff contender, but sometimes these things are signs of surprising impending leaps in performance. If the Rockies get a little better and a little luckier in 2007, they could win ten or eleven more games. Unless the National League changes course abruptly for next season, that would be a pretty nice place to be.

News Items
2006-09-04 20:53
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Rockies are seriously considering bringing Kaz Matsui back next year. Write your own punchline. He has been OK since being called up, but the sample size is tiny. It's entirely a question of price tag. If Colorado can get him for next to nothing, that would be fine, but since he used to be a star in Japan, why would he take next to nothing? Couldn't he just go back overseas? I'm not completely sure how this works. Maybe he feels a deep need to prove himself in the United States and would accept an opportunity to redeem himself playing for peanuts in Denver. If that's the case, I'm definitely in favor of bringing him back. You can never have too many bitter guys with chips on their shoulders. Never.

The team that wins the NL wild card -- if MLB doesn't decide, in the interest of saving face, to just call the whole thing off and give the Mets a bye to the NLCS -- isn't going to be very good this year. We've already been over the fact that just because the Rockies were closer to contending than we ever thought they would be for a while this year doesn't make the season a disappointment. The team that wins the wild card won't be good, but they will be less not good than Colorado are right now. Next year, we will be less not good. I feel it on the inside.

Cal got smacked around by Tennessee in football. I mention this only because I went to Cal, and every now and then, I try to support them by watching their games. I don't really know why I do this as they always disappoint me when I do. Also, football on TV has become completely and utterly unwatchable. The signal-to-noise ratio in football telecasts is so extraordinarily low that it takes a better man than I to stay awake all the way through one. Maybe in this sense it's a relief that Cal's preseason hype immediately turned out to be a mirage. Now I can not watch their games and not feel bad about it. Except for the Stanford game. As much as I desire to not watch football, my hatred for Stanford trumps it. That's really the one thing I learned in college that I am comfortable discussing on a site that my parents read from time to time.

Troy Tulowitzki is 5 for 17 with one double. Chris Iannetta is 2 for 16 with 2 singles. All September callup stats are essentially meaningless, even more so than Matsui's 40 AB sample, but what else have we as Rockies fans to look at right now?