Category Archives: Complete and Total AWESOMNESS

Yeah I know, but it needs to be said…

Orioles’ DH/leftfielder/crazy person Luke Scott has torn his labrum, but will remain in the lineup.

I’m not sure I believe him.

If they can counterfeit $100 bills, I think it’s a million times easier to counterfeit an MRI, if you ask me.  So, let’s just see if it’s real.  Anybody can produce a magnetic resonance image, so let’s check it out.

Maybe if he wasn’t acting like a savage, he wouldn’t have hurt himself in the first place.

Too easy?  I don’t care, it was worth it.

Is Jose Bautista the most watchable Blue Jay of all-time?

I, like many who follow baseball feverishly, had my concerns about Blue Jays star rightfielder Jose Bautista heading into the 2011 season.  After a breakout season that no one in the league’s history has ever experienced, the Jays inked Bautista to a five-year, $65-million extension that when coupled with the Juan Rivera contract and the signings of Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch basically cancelled out the financial savings of the Vernon Wells trade.

I was concerned.  What if Bautista dive-bombed back into obscurity and the Jays were left with a utility player worth roughly $13-million a season?  I was under no grand illusions that he was going to repeat his 54 homerun performance from 2010, and trust me, he doesn’t need to to make this contract worthwhile, but I was still concerned that Bautista was a jewel-encrusted chariot, ready to turn back into a pumpkin at midnight.

Then the season started.

Bautista destroyed a pitch in his very first game into the leftfield bleachers at Skydome Rogers Centre and despite missing three games since due to the birth of his daughter is leading the league in every important batting category: batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.517!!!), slugging percentage (.788), obviously OPS (1.305), walk-rate (24.1%) and isolated power* (.424!!!).

I’m slowly being converted to a believer in Bautista’s long-term ability, but I’m not willing to call it a sure thing yet.  I still believe the extension’s timing, especially considering its length, was questionable.  It’s all about process and signing Bautista to a five-year deal at that point flew in the face of that.

For now, at least, it appears as though he’s worth every cent and then some.

I was thinking about this earlier.  Is there any hitter in Jays history that has been more fun to watch than Bautista?  I honestly can’t think of any; not even Delgado in the late 90s/early 00s.  Right now, there’s no one in the game I enjoy watching more.  His attitude, swagger and confidence coupled with an ability to get on base at stupefying rates and smash pitches into the far reaches of the universe make him the most interesting player in baseball.  Throw in the fact that he came out of obscurity at the age of 29 to do it and he might be the most interesting player I’ve ever bared witness to.

*Isolated Power, for those who don’t know, is simply slugging percentage minus batting average.  It’s purpose it to measure a player’s pure power rating.  A decent power hitter will have a .200 ISO, while the league leaders are usually up just under .300.  Last year, Bautista’s ISO was a major-league-best .357.

ESPN hits a homerun with new broadcast team

Watching the first Sunday Night Baseball broadcast from Los Angeles last night, I was struck by two things.

First, Pablo Sandoval has one of the prettiest swings in the game.  When he crushed that homerun off of Hiroki Kuroda in the second innings it looked about as smooth as peanut butter.  With his weight loss and seemingly renewed energy, the 24-year-old Kung-Fu Panda looks primed to return to his pre-2010 form, and that’s a very, very good thing for the Giants.

Second, I was absolutely blown away by the new broadcast team of Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, and Bobby Valentine.

Having grown up watching Blue Jays’ games in the 1990s, I was already well aware of the incomparable talent of Shulman who was quite literally the voice of my childhood along with Buck Martinez, and it’s no surprise that he does an amazing job with ESPN’s flagship baseball program.

The real treat was listening to Hershiser and Valentine.  After years of hearing Joe Morgan spout off truism about the game of baseball that were, at times, just plain stupid, it’s extremely refreshing to hear the new crew give traditional baseball thinking a kick in the junk on a nationally televised broadcast.

The way Hershiser breaks down pitching and the way Valentine breaks down hitting is not only unconventional, but debunks some of the myths of the science of the game.  The notions of “staying back” or “keeping your hands inside the ball” are talked about as being useless drivel made up by the media who have no knowledge of how to actually hit or pitch.

Valentine even mentioned WAR on last night’s broadcast when talking about Giants’ centerfielder Andres Torres and several times the crew quoted a player’s OPS or his WHIP rather than things like batting average or wins and ERA.

The stats displayed on the screen by ESPN echoed this clear shift in thinking.  It was phenomenal and I very much doubt I’ll miss a single Sunday night broadcast from here on in; something I couldn’t say last year as Morgan annoyed me so much that I ended up turning off the TV more often than not.

Thinking critically about the game of baseball is something that is just not done in the mainstream media and it’s truly refreshing to see ESPN take a leading role in doing just that.

It’s not about stats versus scouts (another concept I hate, why not both?  Are the ideas inherently mutually exclusive?  I would think not. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus clearly doesn’t think so) it’s about thinking about the game in an intelligent way that rejects the “you should always bunt players over or steal bases in every situation” bullshivism that permeates television broadcasts.

Good on you ESPN, you’ve got me hooked.

It Finally Came!!!!

Creepy, I know.

It’s so pretty I don’t even want to open it.  This shall keep me warm for the next few weeks!