Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
The Phenom and the Humidor
2005-12-23 21:51
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I went to see LeBron James and the Cavs in Chicago Thursday night. It was pretty fun. James shot (and made) a lot of long fadeaway threes, but it's strange to see him bothering with long-range stuff when he can basically jump over anybody. There was one particularly memorable moment (mentioned in the lead to this story) when LeBron loudly clanged a breakaway dunk, but otherwise I think this guy is everything they say he is. It will be fun to one day taunt my nieces and nephews with stories of how I got to see LeBron play in person, along with Jordan, Bonds, Brady, and Gretzky. Who says this isn't a golden age?

One thing I have noticed more of lately is local writers on the Rockies beat claiming the Coors effect is on its way out, due to the assorted mad science that is practiced on the baseballs before Colorado's home games nowadays. I don't know whether this is true or not. I would like to see someone more mathematically inclined than I tackle the subject with the appropriate rigor. Sure, overall scoring per Coors game was down last year, but the Rockies pitching staff was slightly better than it usually is, and their offense was far worse. Even if the ball's movement has been deadened a little, the outfield gaps are still pretty huge. I don't know if I'm buying it. Besides, given that the Rockies have always won games at home at an above-average clip, what good what it do to "normalize" their park and eliminate their unusual advantage?

I don't know if I would have remembered to write this last paragraph, which has been rattling around in my brain for weeks, had I not just been watching the newly-released "Simpsons" Season Seven DVDs, which feature the great episode "Homerpalooza" where Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin utters the classic line "I want a walk-in humidor!" That is, in effect, what the Rockies have, I believe. I don't know if the Monforts actually store their cigars in there, but it would be funny if they did. Season Seven also has the episode where Milhouse is cast to play Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man movie. I hope you read my Toaster colleagues' 2005 music piece, which had nice things to say about Fall Out Boy, the band, and many others. I haven't written my 2005 Top 10 yet, but off the top of my head: Pelican, Kanye West, Sleater-Kinney, Archer Prewitt, The Frames, Broken Social Scene, Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Gorillaz.

I didn't really think Colorado was going to get him, but we have St. Louis to thank for taking Junior Spivey off of the open market. I will feel vastly more confident after Shawn Estes is safely someone else's problem, but Spivey would have been just as much a waste of money as Desi Relaford was last year. (Or slightly more. Spivey signed for $1.2 million in St. Louis and Relaford with his buyout made $1.05 last year.) As penurious as management has become in recent years, they have an odd fixation on spending not insignificant sums to let lousy veterans take playing time away from the youngsters they are allegedly trying to develop. Last year it was Relaford and Dustan Mohr. If Colorado had a gaping hole at second base, it would be one thing, but the inexplicably unloved Luis "N.R." Gonzalez is as good a player as Spivey and vastly more likely to improve. If I were Gonzalez I'd be a little miffed by now that the Rockies are always trying to give away my position. Since we were willing to basically set fire to it a day ago, why can't we now add that million dollars to our Byung-Hyun Kim bid, huh?

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