Monday, June 28, 2010

Week in Review - 6/28/2010




1.  The World Cup.  I'm not a soccer fan, not really at all, but I really, truly dig the World Cup.  All these countries, battling to be the king of the most popular sport in the world, and the more I watch, the more I understand.  I now know the difference between a good, legal tackle and a foul.  I now know a lot of the strategies involved, including the cross and various versions of the give and go, and I knew enough to know that once Ghana scored it would be very difficult for the U.S. to tie it up, so when they did on Landon Donovan's penalty kick I knew enough to know it was pretty incredible (and on a related note, I also now know why a commenter on this blog who posted a lot about soccer used the handle "L. Cakes.")

Will I continue to be interested in soccer after the World Cup is over?  Almost certainly not.  Will I keep watching even though the U.S. has been eliminated?  You bet.  I'm even at the point where I understand all that passing around the mid-field area.  Seriously, if you can't enjoy the World Cup, you might want to re-evaluate yourself as a sports fan.  And probably as a person, too.

2.  Carl Pavano.  At the time when the rest of the Twins' starters are pitching as if they've gone retarded, creepy mustachioed man Carl Pavano is coming to the rescue, much as Super Mario comes to the rescue of the Princess whether she has been kidnapped by a giant, barrel throwing, mechanically inclined monkey or a giant, fire-breathing, axe-wielding turtle dragon.  A nice little complete game shut-out on Saturday to stop the season death-spiral of doom was just what Dr. Mario ordered, and is the second complete game he's spun in a row.  Pavano actually has shockingly good numbers this year.  His ERA of 3.33 is 16th in the AL, and his WHIP of 1.03 is second behind just future Twin Cliff Lee.  I'll do a more thorough breakdown of why Pavano is so frickin' good and if I think it will continue or is just fluky in a future post, but for now I suspect he either ate a mushroom or some kind of fireball flower.

3.  Edwin Jackson.  It doesn't really matter that he walked 8 guys, and it doesn't matter that it took 149 pitches, a no-hitter is a no-hitter.  And a no-hitter against the Rays is an awfully nice feather to place in one's cap, if one was so inclined.  I've featured Jackson on here before for being awesome, and he's just been out of this world lately.  After running up a record of 3-6 with a 6.03 ERA during the first two months of the season and causing people such as myself to wonder if he was a lost cause.  Well, now in June he's , all topped off by this no-hitter.

Of course, 149 pitches is ridiculous, and now he'll probably get lit up like a Blackburn the next couple of times out.  Then he'll be put on the 15-day DL with "arm soreness" or "dead arm."  He'll come back and get lit up again, and then will be shut down for the year.  Then it will come out that he needs offseason surgery on his arm and he'll miss a full year.  Then when he comes back his fastball will have lost about 5 mph and he won't be an effective starter.  He'll reinvent himself as a mediocre middle reliever and hang on for a couple years before ending up in the Northern League for a couple years.  But hey, at least got the no-hitter.  Sweet.

4.  R.A. Dickey.  What the hell?  I mean seriously, what is going on?  Dickey, after tossing eight shut-out innings on Wednesday against the Tigers, is now 6-0 with an ERA of 2.33 and a WHIP of 1.29 since joining the Mets rotation in mid-May.  Carlos Silva is 8-0 for the Cubs with an ERA of 3.01 and a WHIP of 1.05.  Livan Hernandez is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.28.  What do these three have in common, other than their ex-Twinness?  Well, for one, they are all three putting up better numbers that Matt Garza so far (8-5, 4.10, 1.31), the only ex-Twin starter I thought I would miss.  For two, they'd make a better 3-4-5 than Baker, Slowey, and Blackburn right now, and it's not even close.  I still believe these guys are going to regress, and regress hard, but I've been believing that for two months.  For now, I'll just say this is a bunch of crap, but it doesn't change the fact that Baker/Slowey/Blackburn suck.  We need some kind of nickname for these dickfors.  Like, the Sucktastic Three or something.   

5.  White Sox.  I know I mentioned them in this space last week, but the run continues and they are suddenly just X.X games out of first place.  Last week you could chalk up to a scheduling fluke since they swept the Pirates and Nationals, but this week included a sweep over the Braves, and that's no joke.  A joke would be "A woman goes to check out at the Super Market, and puts a carton of eggs, a package of bacon, a gallon of milk, and some butter on the conveyor.  The checkout guy looks at her groceries, looks at her, and says with conviction, 'You're definitely single.'  She looks at the guy and says, 'Wow, you could tell that just from four items I bought at the grocery store?'  He replies, "No, it's because you're f*cking ugly."

Anyway the Sox pitching is suddenly really awesome (particularly Peavy) and they're probably going to win the division after they end up trading for Prince Fielder.


1.  Twins.  Really no other way to say it, these guys sucked balls this week.  A 1-5 road trip against a couple of middling National League teams?  Ugh.  And with the Tigers still playing well and the Sox nearly as hot as Alice Eve, we've got yet another three team barn burner in the central.  I really wish you could point to just one issue, but suddenly it's everything.  The pitching is completely mediocre, but giving up an average of 5.5 runs per game should lead to more than one win if you have a good offense - but suddenly they don't, scoring an average of just 2.5 runs per game themselves.

Getting shutdown by Yovani Gallardo is one thing - it sucks, but it's acceptable - and I guess Pelphrey has somehow become decent, but Manny Parra?  Jon frickin' Niese?  Special shout-out to Cuddy Bear for hitting .167 this week with no power and 3x as many strikeouts as hits.  Although to be fair, that might not be Cuddy's fault, since there was apparently a mandate that came down from high against hitting with any kind of power, since nobody bothered to this week unless they were going against Johan.  Apparently unless Carl Pavano comes to the rescue (see above comparison), this team is screwed.  Might as well not even bother trading for Lee.  Just becoming sellers and pick up some prospects.    

2. Timberwolves. Seriously, what the hell? The more I think about this draft the more upset I get. Wes Johnson is fine and was the obvious and necessary pick at #4, but after that they end up with another wing who has been in the league for five years and proved himself to be pretty mediocre, an undersized power forward, and two Euros? Euros never work out, everybody knows this. The success rate is like 4%. How would this have sounded instead: Johnson, James Anderson, Jordan Crawford, Soloman Alabi, and Derrick Caracter? Or Johnson, Anderson, Hassan Whiteside, Terrico White, and Gani Lawal? Either of those scenarios could have happened last night, with the trade of pick #23 or not. Instead they got the ball rolling with the insane trade of Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster, and just kept doing baffling things all night. Gomes' contract is a valuable asset because it isn't guaranteed, why thrown him in on a deal that's probably already slanted against you? Why I expected anything more, I have no idea.

3.  Tommy Hanson.  There are bad games, and then there are epic bad games (hi Nick Blackburn).  Hanson's outing on Tuesday was essentially the quintessential definition of "getting the shit ripped out of him."  Three and two-thirds innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, 9 runs allowed.  13 hits.  An average of more than three per inning.  Nick Blackburn's worst outing was nowhere near this bad.  "But wait!", you say, "Blackburn had back-to-back crappy outings, surely he is worse than Hanson."  Not so fast my uninformed friends.  Hanson pitched again on Sunday, and again lasted just three and two-thirds innings, this time surrendering six runs on eight hits.  An improvement.  At this rate he might last past the fifth inning by sometime in August.  It's a deadheat betwixt him and Blackburn for the Livan Hernandez award for worst starter who keeps getting the ball (a fluky Livan year does not change the name of the award.)   

4.  Italy (and France).  Defending champions?  Ousted.  Dirty frenchies?  Heading home in complete disarray.  No, I'm not an expert or even a novice when it comes to soccer analysis so I can't and won't really try to break down any of this, but these teams were both expected to, at the very least, advance to the knockout stage.  But they didn't, with France losing to both South Africa and Mexico and Italy losing to Slovakia and tying Paraguay (ok) and New Zealand (mind-boggling) to finish last in their group.  Seeing how soccer is the #1 sport over there, and the World Cup is the by far biggest event, I'm guessing there are a lot of wine drinkers not very happy right now.  Seriously, in Italy they have taps for wine right next to the beer taps.  Crazy.

[UPDATE:  I'm going to go ahead and throw England in here too, since I'm watching them get destroyed by Germany in the first knockout round.  Good god, they play defense like the Golden State Warriors.]

5.  A.J. Burnett.  At this point we almost have to assume he's actively trying to sabotage the Yankees, right?  In his two starts this week, Burnett lasted just seven combined innings, giving up 15 hits and 13 earned runs with an 8-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio.  And he certainly didn't waste any time setting the tone for the week, giving up three home runs in the first inning of his first start (against Arizona).  He's striking out about a third less batters this year than in previous years, giving up about 25% more home runs, and allowing batters to hit about .030 higher.  Oh, and he's lost a full mile per hour off his fastball, and it's by far his worst pitch, but since he's lost confidence in his curve for some reason he's throwing it far more often.  Which would explain why he continues to get hammered.  That's four out of five starts where he's given up at least six runs, three straight where he's pitched four innings or less, and a season ERA of 5.25, which ranks 51st out of 56 pitchers in the A.L. who qualify (Nick Blackburn is last), and a WHIP of 1.54, which is 49th.  Oh, and he's still owed $66 million over the next four seasons.  And THAT my friends, is really a joke.   

Lastly, I need to make a very, very strong movie review and I'm telling you to go rent She's Out of My League.  Funny throughout with several laugh out loud moments ("I'm sorry, are you a plane doctor?") and really hilarious scenes (bowling), to go along with a super hot chick.  Very strongly recommended.  The anti-Scottie Reynolds of movies, if you will.

Plus, this:


rghrbek said...

These look real...and spectacular, sorry for the long link, but it's worth it

Loretta8 said...

A+ for that link

WWWWWW said...

I also approve.