Thursday November 13, 2003
Pena/McKeon Named Top Managers
Olympic Qualifying Tidbits
Seth’s Movie Reviews
Reaction to Reusse
MORE MUMBO JUMBO
Today is another quick entry. I am getting excited about putting together the updated Bang for the Buck posting for tomorrow. It should be good. I hope it turns out well and is informative. Today, I cover just a few baseball topics. Be sure to check my thoughts on Patrick Reusse’s column in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He covers a topic that has bothered me for quite some time now. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
PENA/McKEON NAMED MANAGERS OF THE YEAR
I may have cast my “vote”for NL Manager for the Giants Felipe Alou, but we all knew that Florida’s Jack McKeon would win it, and I don’t have anything against that choice. As it should have been, the NL voting was a little closer. McKeon received 19 of the 32 first place votes. But four managers got at least two first place votes. McKeon did win substantially overall, but the other four deserved the votes they got. The Cubs Dusty Baker came in second, followed closely by the Braves Bobby Cox and Felipe Alou.
As completely expected, Royals manager Tony Pena won the AL Manager of the Year Award in a landslide. He received 24 of the 28 first place votes. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire received the other 4 first-place votes and finished a distant second place. Oakland’s Ken Macha finished third and former Red Sox manager Grady Little finished 4th.
I shouldn’t be at all surprised that Ron Gardenhire would finish second. Throughout the season, I questioned many of his game-time decisions, as well as his roster usage and his disdain for young players. But, it is important to note that the Twins dealt with a number of injuries and other issues that they hadn’t faced before. Repeating as division champs is not as easy as we may want to think. Teams did not look past the Twins in 2003! And, when the Twins really most needed to win, during the two Chicago series in September, the Twins came to play, and I think that the manager does deserve credit for that! Gardy seems to have the respect of his players, and sometimes that’s more important than other assets of managing. To summarize, Mr. Gardenhire, if you’re reading this (Which would be very cool!), Congratulations!
Will Young wrote a four part series on the trades that Terry Ryan has made in his tenure as the Twins General Manager. He analyses each trade and determines whether the deal was a good one for the Twins. For example, the Twins received Johan Santana for Jared Camp. The Twins received Kyle Lohse for Rick Aguilera. The got Lew Ford for Hector Carrasco. Jason Bartlett for Brian Buchanan. All great deals for the Twins. But what about Scott Erickson for Scott Klingenbeck? Mark Redman for Todd Jones? How does Will rate the Todd Walker and Butch Huskey for Todd Sears trade? It’s really very interesting reading. If for nothing else, it’s a stroll down memory lane for some former Twins names that you will remember. Check them out here: (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TIDBITS
In case you were wondering, (and based on how difficult it is to get this information, you’re not), Cuba beat Team Canada 5-0 to win the tournament. Cuba and Canada will be representing North and Central America in the Olympics next summer. Check out my bios on Team USA’s Roster and Team Canada’s Roster.
John Manuel was with Team USA throughout the fall in Arizona and then in Panama, writing for Baseball America. He and I certainly agree on one thing. As I’ve mentioned before, had Team USA qualified for the Olympics, they would not even be talked about. As Manuel writes:
Team USA finally got some publicity for its efforts in Panama during the Olympic qualifying tournament. Of course, it was for entirely the wrong reason.
I’ve already written too much about it, but I do want to mention a little more that Manuel wrote, specifically about Twins star prospect, Joe Mauer, who apparently made quite a name of himself in Arizona and Panama with Team USA. Here he discusses the last inning of their 2-1 loss to Mexico:
Scouts in the Arizona Fall League said catcher Joe Mauer (Twins), the Minor League Player of the Year, was the best player on Team USA…
Perhaps (Manager Frank) Robinson will be faulted for his lineup for the quarterfinal game, which didn't include his best player, Mauer. Instead of having Mauer start, Robinson pinch-hit him for Ernie Young in the bottom of the ninth, with runners at first and second and no outs.
Many fans who have read sabermetric analysis of the game disdain the bunt; let's not debate that here. The vast majority of managers or coaches would bunt in that situation to get the tying and winning runs into scoring position and to stay out of a double play. But if you're going to sacrifice bunt, why use your best hitter--Mauer--to do that? Perhaps Horacio Ramirez, who had to get bunts down all year for the Atlanta Braves in the National League, could have been used.
With Mauer used, Leone didn't come through, grounding back to the mound and leaving the runners stranded with two outs. That brought Laird to the plate. Had Mauer been available, Team USA would have had its best hitter, a lefthanded one at that with international experience, up to bat facing a sidearming righty. If you lose that situation, you tip your cap.
If you lose with perhaps your worst hitter--Laird--at the plate, you leave yourself open for second guessing.
I think that’s a pretty big compliment to Mauer. A little bit of a hit against Robinson’s decision-making. But I need to point out that Manuel does what should be done, he gives credit to the three former major league pitchers who held Team USA to one run.
ESPN.com’s Baseball Writer, Jim Caple wrote a great article on this whole Olympic Qualifying Tournament process. As most people agree, the format of the qualifying tournaments is a big issue. Here’s how his article starts out:
The world-renowned Greek baseball team will compete at next summer's Olympics.
So will the Italian team. And the Dutch team. And the Taiwanese team. Even the South African team may play in Athens next August.
But the United States team will not. Such international baseball superstars as Guo-Gang Yang, Claudio Liverziani and Patrick de Lange may earn Olympic medals next summer, but Roger Clemens will not have that chance.
Caple is one of my favorite writers. Even if I disagreed with a couple of the points he was making, he had me laughing as I was reading it. But the main reason I mention this article is because of his Boxscore of the Week. It puts a lot into perspective. There is a lot of talk about the IOC eliminating baseball as an Olympic sport. Check out this story. It’s worth the read, and I do apologize to Mr. Caple if share too much of this. So please, be sure to bookmark Jim Caple’s Index page and check back frequently for his articles!
While the U.S. and other teams from the Americas were trying to qualify for the Olympics in Panama, eight countries were playing for two Olympics spots in Sapporo, Japan. Among those, interestingly, was Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan.
Utilizing their cricket background, the Pakistanis could hit a little -- they scored 11 runs against Indonesia -- but they couldn't pitch at all. Pakistan allowed 36 runs in three games, including 31 in two games that ended after seven and eight innings due to the tournament's mercy rule. China beat Pakistan 19-0, scoring 15 runs in the final two innings, 11 against the country's hapless bullpen of Asjid Mehmood, Muhammad Umer Islam and Saleem-Haider.
And you thought the Rangers had bullpen trouble. The Pakistani combined bullpen line from the tournament:
7 IP, 11 H, 19 R, 13 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 4 HBP
Pakistan wasn't the best fielding team, either, occasionally celebrating a cleanly caught ball by jumping up and down as if they were Little Leaguers.
But they did win one game, beating Indonesia 11-5. And when they did, they dropped to their knees and prayed to Allah in thanksgiving.
There was a lot of bad news out of the Olympic qualifiers last week, but that last item explains why it's important to keep baseball in the Olympics. It builds the game around the globe from even the humblest of beginnings.
I agree. Keep baseball in the Olympics, even if Team USA isn’t going to be participating! What do you think? E-mail me.
REACTION TO REUSSE
I have mentioned before that I enjoy reading the articles of Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist, Patrick Reusse. I assume that part of his job description is to write in a way to help sell more newspapers. Makes sense to me. Well, I think he may have written some of his best stuff for today’s article. Here’s the title, “Culpepper bashers need to back off“. That caught my attention. Even after putting up huge numbers against San Diego on Sunday, I had people come up to me and tell me that Gus Frerotte should be starting because Culpepper is too “dumb.” I just shake my head. I wanted to say something, but just didn’t think that I should.
What I wanted to say, Patrick Reusse had the courage to not only think, but to put into news print today. He asks the question, “Are people who bash Daunte Culpepper for being a “dumb” quarterback just stupid, or are they racist… and stupid?” Reusse quotes coach Mike Tice discussing some of the mail he receives from Vikings “fans” regarding Culpepper, and I love his next paragraph after it:
Most of the Culpepper-bashing correspondence Tice receives is not as blatantly racist. It comes with "dumb" and other code words popular among those bar jacket-wearing rednecks who use the telecast of a Vikings' game as an excuse to drink in the daytime.
I love that, and unfortunately, it is far more accurate than anyone probably wants to admit. Now let me say this, to be fair and honest; last year, I was someone who thought that Daunte Culpepper should be benched in place of Todd Bouman because he was playing so poorly. I always added, “just to get him out of the fire for a week or two, and give him a chance to step back and see things happen from a different angle.”
Culpepper was always the future of the organization, and with his 10 year, $100 million contract, that will remain the same for years to come, and Vikings fans should be thrilled by that. And although the dollars are quite high, just look at the quarterback situations throughout the NFL now. Vikings fans should be excited because they’ve got one of the top 5 QBs in the NFL, in Culpepper, and a very serviceable backup in Gus Frerotte in case anything bad happens again to Culpepper.
So, are you a racist/idiot? Here is the test to give yourself, according to Reusse:
You probably know in your heart which group you belong, idiot or racist/idiot, but here's the test: If you in any way found yourself blaming Culpepper for Sunday's loss in San Diego, then you are in the second group.
Fortunately, by having this site, I can go back to what I wrote Monday:
So, don’t blame the offense, they did their jobs. Culpepper threw for 370 yards and 4 TDs. You can’t argue with that. I do wish he would run more frequently though.
Yes, I do think that Culpepper should run more. However, I think that the direction away from running was given to him by the coaching staff in an attempt to keep his turnovers down. Sometimes, I’d like to see him throw caution to the wind and just throw the ball deep and take more chances. I’d like to see him run more designed QB draws or sweeps, and I’d love to see him take off when the coverage is tight on the receivers. I understand that with risk, things can go poorly. But in some circumstances, with risk comes reward. But, living in small town Minnesota, I know how people react to everything negative Culpepper does. They call him “dumb”. When Steve Young took off running, was he “dumb”? How about Sunday when Doug Flutie ran for a couple of touchdowns? Was that dumb? No, it was courageous.
Sometimes it’s good to read an article like this one. It can be good for us to take a step back and see where we stand. Hopefully, we’re in the right place.
So what do you think? Is Reusse right? Are Vikings fans racist when they call Daunte Culpepper dumb? E-mail me your thoughts.
SETH’S MOVIE REVIEWS
There’s not a lot happening right now in the world of sports. Nothing else that really needs to be addressed. So, I thought I’d spend just a little bit of time on a couple of brief movie reviews for you. Saturday night, I watched three movies (yes, I know, quite the life I’ve got, huh?). Here are the run downs:
Legally Blonde 2 - I generally don’t have a problem with sequels, even if they’re not as good as the original. That is definitely the case with this movie. I thought Legally Blonde was a great movie. This movie was average at best, and for me to say that takes a lot. I mean, Reese Witherspoon is in it! One of the fun things to do while watching this movie was noticing the times when the cameras were obviously hiding the fact that she was pregnant.
Elle Woods is preparing for her wedding, which is supposed to be on the Fenway Park field. She is making out invitations to the wedding with her dog, Breezer when she realizes that she needs to invite Breezer’s mom. Well, she finds out that Breezer’s mom is being used by a cosmetic company to test cosmetics. Well, she decides to take the case to Washington. So, Elle Woods takes on the politics as usual congress in an attempt to pass a bill disallowing the use of animals in such tests.
It does have a number of very funny parts, but like so many sequels, it goes the way of trying to make a point, with being entertaining coming second. I laughed a lot.
Seth’s Stars - 3.0 out of 5.
View From the Top - Gwyneth Paltrow is an excellent actress. She’s actually almost too good to be in a movie like this. This is a pretty good movie. Paltrow is best in the more serious parts of the movie, which doesn’t surprise me. The comedy of the movie obviously comes with the slow-eyed Mike Myers character who is the flight attendant instructor. Christina Applegate also plays a funny character.
Paltrow’s character, Donna, has lived in the same small town her whole life and just needs to get out. She becomes a flight attendant for a small carrier. She goes to a seminar and is the class’s best student. However, she doesn’t do well on the test, so she gets assigned a bad market, Cleveland. She definitely thought she deserved the New York market, with international flights. But, while in Cleveland, she met a guy, and well, it’s a typical comedy and I won’t spill the details.
Seth’s Stars - I’d give it 3.2 stars, out of 5.
8 Crazy Nights - First, it is an animated movie. I have to say that because I know that may affect whether or not you’ll like it. If you can get past that and enjoy laughing, I strongly recommend this Adam Sandler cartoon. NBA fans a year ago saw the Sandler “I love this game” commercial where he and a cartoon character sang about the NBA. That character is Whitey, who, in the movie is a 70 year old volunteer youth basketball referee who is just a great guy. He lives with his Twin sister, Eleanore.
The main character, Davey, is a 30 year old who is the town’s bad guy. He’s got drinking problems and trouble with authority. He creates havoc and gets arrested. He’s about to be sent to jail for a long time when Whitey interrupts the court session and offers to take Davey home, hoping to give him just one more chance. He has to stay out of trouble and referee youth basketball. As you can imagine, there are laughs all over the place.
Adam Sandler is probably my favorite actor. In this movie, he is the voice of Davey, Whitey, Eleanore and the deer. His voice inflections are amazing. He and the other writers penned some great songs for the movie too, in line with those he has performed on his comedy albums and on Saturday Night Live.
Seth’s Stars - I would give 4.8 stars out of 5! I loved it!
So there you have it, some thoughts on a number of topics. If you have any questions or comments on any of them, please feel free to send me an e-mail! I’d also love to hear where my readers are from. If you’d like, e-mail me and just let me know what part of the country you are from.
Have a great day!
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