Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm Back Now

What's up, nerds?  I've been in Denver this past week to visit Snacks, Mrs. Snacks, and new Baby Snacks and as such kept getting too drunk to post at night.  But now I'm back.  First, a few things about Denver:

1.  We went to a Rockies' game at Coors Field and I was impressed.  Very nice stadium, especially considering how old it is (relatively).  It reminded me quite a bit of the newer stadiums I've been too, including Target Field, but considering the Rockies' came into existence in 1993 and it went up a few years later, I was impressed.  Even more impressive was the security.  We had two tickets in their club level and two normal poor people tickets, so the plan was for me and the Mrs. to go into the club, then I'd go out with both tickets and get Snacks, then Mrs. W would go out and get Mrs. Snacks and everybody wins except for the Rockies.  The same scam Dawger used to get us into the Legends' Club at Target Field that worked flawlessly.  One problem - at Coors they're on the lookout for it.

When you go into the Club area they stamp the back of your ticket, and when you leave they stamp your hand.  Then when you try to get back in you can either show your stamp or you need an unstamped ticket.  If you have a stamped ticket but no stamp on your hand they won't let you back in.  Actually, Snacks managed to sweet talk his way in, but Mrs. Snacks was unable too.  So we all just went and sat somewhere else because nobody was there anyway because the Rockies totally blow.  Also Cuddyer didn't play that night which sucked because I wanted to be able to say I've booed him at two different parks for two different teams.  Ah well.

The other problem with Coors, besides the fun-hating, is that if you want to get a Rockies' shirt with one of their guy's names on the back you have almost zero options.  The only guys they had were Carlos Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, the manager, the mascot, or Giambi who I'm not even sure is on the team anymore.  I realize they're pretty faceless as a team and all, but when you can get an Alexei Casilla shirt at Target Field you'd think the Rocks would be a little more generous with the choices.

2.  Denver is right up there with Portland when it comes to homeless people, to the point where we could play the classic game, "Hippie or homeless" that we invented last time we were in Portland.  I'd give Denver the edge with the homeless dudes, but Portland wins for most hippies.  In both cities they're littered around the place to the point where you have to be careful you don't trip over anybody who is either passed our or sleeping on the ground.  Common denominators?  Horrid college basketball programs and a massive love of weed.  Drugs ruin lives, kids.  You'll either end up drunk under a bridge with a sign begging for money and claiming you're a veteran of some war or sleeping on the sidewalk with those weird holes in your ears wearing a knitted poncho and carrying around a skateboard.  Choose wisely.

3.   Denver was seemingly constructed by someone playing Sim City, and not just anyone but a child with severe ADD.  You can drive down a street and have some really nice bars next to some scary bars where you'd get murdered if you looked at them for too long.  Pretty much the same thing with houses - mansions next to houses that might actually currently be on fire.  Nothing makes sense.  A "long-term stay" business hotel a block from a Walgreen's in a neighborhood so bad the hotel clerk tells you "I wouldn't walk there."  A knock-off of Grand Avenue, but without any bars.  It was just weird and never made sense.  The only area I saw that made sense was the "Bail Bonds District", which was an intersection with seven different bail bonds places (no joke, seven.)  Normally you might feel a bit uneasy in that kind of neighborhood, but never fear because less than a block down was a restaurant that served things like duck liver mousse and escargot.  Bizarre.  Decent town, I had a lot of fun, but really kind of just ok. 

And that's that. Now for a couple real quick sports things because man am I tired:

1.  I kind of understand why the Nationals are planning on shutting Strasburg down when he hits 180 innings.  I completely disagree with it, however.   You're taking a positive (having Strasburg all year and for the playoffs) and eliminating it based on the fear of a negative (future arm issues for Strasburg).   I'm not 100% sure but I'm fairly certain there is no correlation between Tommy John surgery and future injuries, and Strasburg's surgery was basically two full years ago at this point, and it's generally said it takes 1 year to get back to normal.  His velocity is pretty close to what it was pre-surgery (pre = 97.3, current = 95.8) and although he's throwing his curve less it's been more effective - so yes, he's pretty much the same pitcher.  Smarter people and better writers than me (which is pretty much everybody) have tackled this already so I won't dwell on it, but it seems to me he's just as likely to get injured in his first Spring Training start next year, a random start in Mid-July next season, or at some point this year.  This is the opposite of taking a gamble - it's playing it safe to the extreme.  It's like having a 3-to-1 chip lead in a poker tournament and offering a 50/50 chop.  It's like getting 11 against a 6 in blackjack and not doubling down.  Horrid.

And if you're dead set on limiting him to 180 innings, why not skip a start earlier in the season here and there?  If you'd skipped a random start here or there vs. the Padres or Rockies or other shitty team he might still have 60-70 innings left instead of 40.  Or use him out of the bullpen.  Or do something.  By any metric you look at he and Gio Gonzalez have been the two most valuable players for the Nats this year, and Gio's probably been a little bit lucky while Stras is Stras.  I just don't get it.  How many shots do you really get at the playoffs?  Even if the future looks bright there's a billion things that could go wrong and this could be Washington's one and only shot.  And they're going to go into it without their best weapon.  Sad.  I almost hope Strasburg gets hurt early next year, but then I wouldn't get to watch him so I really don't.  Just almost.

-  I don't really want to talk Twins, so I won't much, but even if the lineup looks pretty much set already for next year (barring a trade of Morneau or Span) I'm very curious to see how the rotation turns out.  I mean, from 2-9 you have Mauer, Morneau, Carroll, Plouffe, Dozier, Willingham, Span, and Revere with Doumit your likely DH (along with M&M).  For better of for worse, that's probably what we're seeing next season.  They may sign a cheap free agent to help the middle infield like Jeff Keppinger (I would approve of this) or Maicer Izturis (I would not) or maybe some hitting type depth like Ty Wigginton (pass) or Ryan Spilborghs (omg gross) but basically that's your lineup.  The pitching though?

Lots of candidates.  Scott Baker will get a hell of a lot less interest as a free agent than he would have if he had, you know, pitched this year.  I can't see the Twins picking up his option at $9 million, but I can see them trying to resign him on the cheap so he could be back.  Pavano will hopefully not be around unless they can get him for super cheap, which again, may be possible since he's been injured nearly all year.  Nick Blackburn sucks donkey balls, but seeing as the Twins' are on the hook for $5.5m next year he's going to get every opportunity to be in the rotation.  Then you've got the young guys:  Scott Diamond (best pitcher on the team this and should be in the rotation next year for sure), Sam Deduno (his numbers mask how shitty he's actually been, but there is some potential here), P.J. Walters (remember when he had those couple good starts?), Cole DeVries (perfectly fits the teams no-walks no-Ks mandate), and Liam Hendriks (please god no).  Not to mention guys who have mainly been in the bullpen with starting experience in their past (Swarzak, Manship, Waldrop) and hopeful prospects (Gibson), guys picked up in trades (Pedro Hernandez), retreads (Luke French who the Twins apparently have), and guys I've never heard of (everyone at New Britain right now).

Let's be clear - it's a platter full of crap no doubt, but other than Scott Diamond nobody is guaranteed to be in the rotation next year.  You have four other spots and 13 possibilities (Baker, Pavano, Blackburn, Deduno, Walters, DeVries, Hendriks, Swarzak, Manship, Waldrop, Gibson, Hernandez, and French) not to mention a bunch of question marks at AA and the possibility the Twins sign a shitty free agent as per usual (Derek Lowe?  Joe Saunders? - both fit their shitty philosophy perfectly).  Free Agent wise your best (realistic) scenario is they find a way to sign Brandon McCarthy to a team friendly contract.  Worst case they sign one of the above dudes.  Actually worst case is they sign Dice-K, but I can't imagine even this team is that misguided.  It's a mess, but at least it's an interesting mess.  Or that's what I'm telling myself.  You have to be able to get a couple good pitchers out of 13 candidates, right?  Please?

- Lastly, can somebody help me out with the Luck vs. Robert Griffin III debate?  Luck started for three very productive years setting the single season and all-time records in the Pac-10 for completion percentage winning a dickload of awards (including two Hesiman runner-ups) and basically setting every Stanford record ever for a QB.  He also did it while running a pro-style offense under the tutelage of a former NFL QB, already known as a cerebral player, who then came in and made Alex Smith suddenly understand how to be an NFL QB, and did it while (in his senior season at least) basically calling all his own plays at the line like a second Peyton Manning.

Griffin won Big 12 freshman of the year in 2008 before missing 2009 with an injury, then had two awesome years culminating in a Heisman winning season in 2011 running the same offense under the same coach NFL superstars Case Keenum and Kevin Kolb ran in putting up insane numbers in college.  I get why Griffin is so tempting, particularly after Cam Newton's early season success, but if Newton doesn't get out to that hot start is Griffin even considered a rival to Luck at #1?  Everyone seems to point to his athleticism and runnability as to why he's so fascinating as a franchise player and granted his 4.41 forty-yard dash is a record for QBs and the 39 inch vertical is impressive, but he's not that far ahead of Luck, who ran a 4.67, had a 36 inch vertical, and actually beat RG3 in the broadjump at 10-4 vs. 10-0.  Actually Luck's measurables were very similar to Newtons (4.67 vs. 4.59, 36 inch vert vs. 35, and 10-4 vs. 10-6) and Luck's said to be a far better passer and the kind of guy who already understands the game at a veteran type level.

I'm not saying Griffin will be a bust, I'm just saying anyone comparing him to Luck is delusional at best.  And no I'm not just saying this as a fantasy smokescreen.  I'm taking Luck, assuming he's there for me. 

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