Thursday, August 24, 2006

Steve Miller and the end of an era

I'm all finished up with Carderock now and the countdown is at 2 days until I make my triumphant return to Ann Arbor. 8 grand and a nice suntan later I completed an era of lifeguarding that spanned approximately 6 summers. I think I held my own at the pools, but enough was enough and it's time for a change. Who knows what next summer will bring? I don't even know if I'll be back in Maryland. But if I'm not, I will have ended it with a bang. Last night, myself, Matt, and Battey got to see Steve Miller Band, 10th rowish, at Wolf Trap. I had never been there before, but I must say that it is fucking sweet. The whole structure is made out of wood and almost looks like a giant old time pirate ship. Steve Miller went through all the hits plus a couple covers. Definitely a solid show. But the thing that made the night complete was the sign language people at Wolf Trap. Because it is a national park, I assume Wolf Trap has to have somebody to communicate with deaf people, so they don't get sued. And these sign language people put on another show by themselves. There was the male who was clearly a huge Steve Miller fan because you could tell he didn't even need to look at his sheet of paper with the lyrics. The guy knew them all. And he wasn't just signing, but was actually like dancing along to the music. And then during "The Joker", at the part where Miller talks of himself as a midnight toker in the chorus, the sign language female would switch it up in her signals. One time she did your typical hit a bowl symbol. But then other times she would use the universal symbol for smoking a jay, and point to the sky to symbolize being high. Definitely a show within the show.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chipper Jones in the Hall of Fame?

So on MOnday night I got the privelege of sitting in the front row third base line for the Natties/Braves game. The Nats and their collection of AAA pitchers got shelled by the Braves. Most notably, Chipper Jones had three homers in the game which I thought was pretty God damn impressive. And after he hit the third bomb, my Dad, who was sitting next to me, asked if I thought Chipper was a Hall of Famer or not. And it got me thinking. I wasn't sure. So I looked up Chipper's career stats and it kind of surprised me. He's got a .305 lifetime average, 350 homers, almost 1200 RBIs, 1900 hits and has one World Series ring from the 1995 Braves. That isn't a bad little stat line right there, but is it Hall of Fame worthy?

I looked up the three of the most recent Hall of Fame third basemen to see if Chipper has got a shot at going to Cooperstown. The three being Wade Boggs, Mike Schmidt, and George Brett. In the batting average department, Chipper compares rather well with the three. Boggs was notorious for being a great hitter for average, so its understandable that Chipper falls a bit short to ol' Wade. Boggs was a lifetime .328 hitter. Brett had the same lifetime average as Chipper and Scmidty was just a .267 hitter over his career. So far, so good for Chipper. But, we must not forget an imporatant point here. Chipper is now entering the twilight of his career at age 34 and that .305 average will almost certainly go down a bit in the next few years.

Chipper's power numbers also seem to boost his Hall worthiness. 350 homers is clearly not even comparable to the nearly 550 that Schmidt hit, but it is way more than Boggs and Brett could muster over their careers. Not to mention that at 34 Chipper definitely has enough time to get over the 400 homer plateau atleast. His RBI total of nearly 1200 is lower than both Brett and Schmidt who each had 1,595 RBIs during their careers. But let's assume Chipper has atleast another three seasons left in his career. He may not equal those RBI numbers, but he will not be far off. So, again, Chipper comes through.

Hit totals is where it gets tricky. Both Boggs and Brett each had over 3,000 of them. With just 1900 hits so far in his career, 3000 is probably an unattainable number for Chipper. But, he has far better power numbers than Boggs or Brett. Schmidt, who was a power hitter, had just over 2200 hits in his career. With a few more seasons, Chipper can, and I think probably will pass Schmidt's hit total. So where does that leave us in this Hall of Fame discussion?

Well, obviously, if he were to retire after this season Chipper would not be in the Hall of Fame. Currently he does not have any particular statistic that sticks out as fantastic. Brett and Boggs had 3,000 hits, while Schmidt had 500 homers. If you look at Chipper's stats over the past three seasons, 2003-2005, he averaged 130 hits, 26 homers, and 91 RBIs. And this came during a period of time where he had some trouble staying healthy, as in '04 and '05 he played in just 137 and 109 games respectively. This season, he has also had some injury troubles, playing in just 83 games so far. But his batting average is way up at .339, and therefore his hits are a little above average. Meanwhile, his power numbers are right on pace with 18 bombs and 65 RBIs so far.

To decide this debate we have to do a projection. Let's say Chipper plays four more seasons in the Big Leagues. That would make him 38 years old. And let's say he averages 130 hits, 25 homers, and 90 RBIs a year. That would put him at 450 homers, 2420 hits, and 1560 RBIs. That would mean Chipper wouldn't be putting up huge numbers the rest of the way, but by no means can he be offset by injury or have a terrible year. It will be tough, considering he is on the downside of his career, but I don't think it is impossible to conceive. But would those numbers be enough to get to Cooperstown? His power numbers would be a little lower than Schmidt's, but his average will almost certainly be higher. And his hits are only slightly better than Schmidt and way down compared with Boggs and Brett.

And after typing all of this, I don't think he should make it. Unlike the three Hall of Famers I mentioned, Chipper is just not going to have one of those "numbers". He won't have 3,000 hits. He won't have a inordinate amount of RBIs, and he won't have 500 homers. The 500 home run plateau seems to be the only reachable number for Chipper, but that would mean increasing his home run output dramatically during the twilight of his career. I just don't see it happening (without artificial enhancement). Sorry Chip. Good player, but the greats are the ones in Cooperstown.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

God, I hope Portis is alright

I got back from a vacation in fantasy world (i.e Sherman, Conn) just in time to catch the beginning of the Redskins first preseason game this year against Cincy. And it wasn't the carefree start of the season the Skins wanted. Technically the Skins can't aid themselves in a run to the playoffs until the first game in 29 days against MInnesota. But, in this game their playoff hopes dimmed just a little. Clinton Portis is a huge focal point of the Skins and if his shoulder injury forces him to miss any significant time, the SKins should be very worried. And although the scoreboard at the end of the game as well as Joe Gibbs thoughts afterwards were very negative, I did take some positives out. But, to be honest, none of these positives mean much if one CPort has anything seriously wrong with his shoulder.

Picking up where they left off last year, the first team defense looked awesome. And even though they weren't matched up against the Bengals starter, Carson Palmer, they did exactly what you are supposed to do against a bad quarterback. They buried him. On offense the team moved the ball pretty well for a first preseason game despite Brunell's early pick. Brandon Lloyd particularly impressed me. And in the second half Jason Campbell looked damn good against the Bengals back-ups.

Monday, August 07, 2006

NL Wild Card Race

Sitting at the pool today, mildly bored, I began to look a little more closely than I normally do at the MLB standings in the sports section of the paper. And what stood out to me was how wide open the NL Wild Card race is. While in the AL the wild card will seemingly be a four team race with the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins and White Sox duking it out, the NL has atleast eight teams that can legitimately say they have a shot at this thing. The Reds lead the Dodgers and DBacks by only one game, and I hope we all realize how shaky the Reds are at this point. They are lacking big time in the pitching department, especially the starting rotation. The up-and-coming Rockies trail the Reds by just 2.5 games. And the most intriguing team in this race are the Philadelphia Phillies. In the midst of all the talk about them trading Cory Lidle and Bobby Abreu while getting nothing of value in return, the Phillies have re-entered themselves into the wild card picture, trailing Cincy by 3.5 games. IMagine if they had kept their front end of the rotation starter and the OPS. monster Abreu. And everyone is writing off the Astros right now and with a little under two months to go in the season, they trail by only 4 games. Same with the Giants...just 4 games. If the Braves get real hot they are only 5.5 games back after Sunday. Hell, the Nats are only 8 games out. A good three weeks could cut that down to 3 or 4 games if the cards played out right. But, in the end, my pick in this crowded race would be the Dodgers. They just won their ninth straight game on Sunday, and the improvements they made through the trading deadline are really going to pay dividends this season. Wilson Betemit and Julio Lugo are good, solid players, and Maddux adds another solid arm to that staff. And now Nomar is back healthy, along with Jeff Kent to solidify the lineup. This race is going to be about the team that plays spectacular the rest of the season, because none of these teams are that good in the watered-down

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bowden is a BUM

The MLB trade deadline has come and gone and Alfonso Soriano is still a National. I said it a few posts ago that if Nationals GM Jim Bowden didn't get rid of Soriano for some good prospects he should be fired. Well...I'm calling for his head. Reports indicate that his asking price with Soriano was way too high. Two prospects and a major league ready player is just way too much to ask a team to give up for a guy who isn't a superstar. That's right. NOT a superstar. He's a damn good baseball player, but you can't put him up there with the likes of Papi, Pujols, Vlad, and Bonds (a couple years ago) because as witnessed by the Nats' horrible record, he can't elevate his own team to playoff status. Now, all the Nationals will get is two draft picks in a lousy draft year if Soriano signs with another team this offseason. And let's just hope the Nats don't cave in and sign him themselves. 12-15 million dollars a year for a player who can't even propel his own team to play .500 ball is ludicrous. This is the last straw for me with Bowden. The guy has made some controversial moves and none of them have worked out. It's one thing to take a calculated risk, and it's another think to just be dumb. Just during this trading deadline, he didn't trade Soriano when his value was peaking and he traded away our best young reliever (Bill Bray), while receiving a terrible fielding shortstop (Felipe Lopez) and a "power" hitter whose numbers were inflated from playing in Cincinnati's hitters park (Austin Kearns). The bottom line is that there is no way SOriano is going to replicate this season ever again during his career. This was the time to trade him seeing as no less than eight teams were pursuing him. But, Bowden overthought the situation, and thought he was in the driver's seat. And it came back to bite him in the ass.