What The 2010 Minnesota Twins Tell Us About Closers

October 4, 2010

In late March, Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his 2010 season before it even started. To many fans and analysts, this loss seemed to constitute nothing short of a mortal wound to the Twins’ playoff hopes. This was a reasonable opinion on the surface. Since joining the Twins in 2004, Nathan had thrown 418 innings, allowed 271 hits, struck out 518, and walked 120 batters. His 1.87 ERA and 246 saves in that span earned him the reputation of the best closer in the game not named Mariano Rivera. This was what the Twins were losing.

Soon after, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal wrote a column addressing the impact of Nathan’s injury on the AL Central. The following exercise is not meant maliciously, or as an attempt to single out Rosenthal as the only Chicken Little in the sports media ranks. But Rosenthal’s words are perfect examples of not only the way the Twins were being discounted, but also of our bizarre reverence for the supposedly mystical abilities of “proven closers.” Some quotes:

Short-term, the Twins simply cannot replace Nathan, who has a “significant tear” in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow, according to the team.

And:

But manager Ron Gardenhire likely will need to mix and match in the ninth inning; it’s difficult to imagine him anointing right-hander Jon Rauch or anyone else in the Twins’ bullpen as the sole replacement for Nathan.

And:

While the importance of identifying a closer remains a subject of debate in baseball, no one disputes the value of a closer such as Nathan. Managing a bullpen-by-committee is difficult; roles become less defined, and relievers often struggle when asked to perform in higher-leverage situations.

And finally:

The Twins need Joe Nathan.

Six months later, the Minnesota Twins are AL Central champions. Their 94-68 record dwarfs their 87-76 record in 2009, when you consider the marginal value of wins 88 through 94. Their +110 run differential more than doubled their 2009 edition’s (+52). While they scored 36 fewer runs in 2010, they also allowed 94 fewer. They won the division by six games. Last year they won by one. The 2010 Twins are simply a better team that last year’s bunch, and they did it all without the supposedly indispensable Joe Nathan throwing a single pitch. But how? Read the rest of this entry »


Mat Latos

September 8, 2010

Way back in early April, I traveled to Brooklyn for a night of baseball, beers, and balcony (his view is pretty much this) with my Denverite friend. As C.C. Sabathia flirted with a no-hitter against Tampa Bay, I asked my friend who was pitching for the Rockies against the Padres. “Hammel,” he said. My reply: “Cool. You guys should be okay, as long as Latos isn’t going for the Padres. He could be pretty good.”

He was. And he is.

I couldn’t help but think of that moment as I watched Mat Latos destroy the Dodgers last night in San Diego. Sure, the Dodgers have a pathetic offense. They rank 12th in the National League in OPS, and that’s including the contributions of the departed Manny Ramirez. Even worse, manager Joe Torre seems intent on driving that ranking downward, consistently batting the slaptastic Scott Podsednik leadoff, the punchless James Loney third, and the relatively potent Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in bottom half of the lineup. This is all to say that while Latos wasn’t exactly facing the 1927 Yankees, last night’s performance may well have shut down any lineup in the game. It wasn’t just dominance. It was an evisceration.

Ever since the Padres shocked the baseball world by going 30-20 in their first 50 games, I’ve been telling anyone who has had the displeasure of my company that they weren’t for real, that they would eventually lose the division to the Rockies. And while I recently decided that the Giants will win the division instead of the Rockies (although they aren’t totally cooked yet), my opinion has been obnoxiously consistent since late May: the Padres’ overachieving starting pitching and consistently impotent offense would eventually catch up to them. That has, to an extent, turned out to be true. Their recent 10-game losing streak has put them neck-and-neck with the Giants in a thrilling pennant race.

Still, it would be utterly stupid to count out the Padres at this point. Their record is 78-59 on September 8th, so we are given little choice but to accept that this is a good baseball team. But if the Padres are going to succeed – if the Padres are even going to make the playoffs – they are going to need to rely on Latos’ powerful right arm. Latos is an obviously different breed than the rest of the Padres’ starters. His fastball consistently hits 94 miles per hour. Everyone else’s sits at 90. Batters swing and miss at 11% of his pitches. They whiff on everyone else’s 7-8% of the time. Latos strikes out nearly 10 batters per nine innings. Everyone else strikes out between six and seven. Latos doesn’t need a good defense or a spacious home ballpark to thrive. Everyone else needs both. The Padres’ rotation really is Latos and everyone else. He is cut from a different cloth.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just turning Latos loose in September. He is not C.C. Sabathia or Roy Halladay or any other veteran with the freakish durability that permits such an aggressive tactic. No, Latos is a 22-year-old with 162 innings on his arm after throwing 122 combined innings across three levels in 2009. Were the Padres not in a pennant race, he would have been shut down by now. The Padres themselves hinted at a 150-inning limit for Latos in 2010. But circumstances change, the Padres have much to play for, and Latos’ boundaries have clearly been stretched, if not re-drawn entirely. I’m sure the Padres organization has a new plan in place for Latos given the unexpected success of the team. I don’t know what it is – as far as I know, it hasn’t been advertised – but I’m sure it’s there.

It’s odd, but for the first time ever, I’m echoing the old baseball guard and hoping that that plan is to push Latos hard down the stretch. Even with my antipathy towards the whole “back in my day, pitchers threw 250 innings every year,” medically-ignorant mentality, I think there’s something to be said for taking the reins off Latos in order to secure a playoff spot. Read the rest of this entry »


I Am Irritable, Which Must Mean It’s Baseball Season

March 31, 2008

For your reading pleasure, I present to you the first potpourri of moronic baseball analysis, followed by my corrections and/or opinions. Today’s victims are the Detroit Tigers’ broadcasters.

Edgar Renteria is at the plate with runners in scoring position:

“Edgar Renteria is a clutch hitter. He hit .341 with RISP last year – clutch indeed.”

Renteria hit .332 last year. The difference between that and .341 is a handful of hits. He OPSed .860 last year, and .875 with RISP. Again, minimal difference.

Also about Renteria:

“Edgar is an unselfish baseball player. He’s always looking to go right back up the middle with a pitch.”

That…is nonsense. Pulling the ball is selfish? What does it even mean to be selfish in baseball? Isn’t the goal in baseball for an individual player to achieve the best possible outcome in every encounter? Questions abound.

Lastly:

(camera shot of Tigers’ starting pitchers) “There are the Tigers’ starters. And boy, do they have some good ones.”

In 2007, Justin Verlander had a 125 ERA+. He’s fine. Jeremy Bonderman was at 91. Nate Robertson = 96. Kenny Rogers is at 103 and is 57 years old. Dontrelle Willis put up an 83 in the NL, with consistently increasing hits, homers and walks allowed, and declining strikeouts. I think the jury is (or should be) out as to whether or not the Tigers have good starters. Time will tell.

Happy baseball season everyone, from Scrooge himself.


What’s The Difference?

March 6, 2008

This Spring Training, I have repeatedly heard that the Red Sox have the slight edge on the Yankees because the Yankees are relying too much on their young starters. I would find a quote for you, but I have seen this is in too many places and too many times to document it completely. Anyway, I would like to formally present this complex statistical analysis to you, our valued readers:

  • Young Red Sox starters (Lester/Buchholz): 167 IP, 4.25 ERA
  • Young Yankees starters (Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy): 115.7 IP, 3.18 ERA

This comparison is essentially a wash, which is exactly my point. Both teams are not entirely sure what their young starters will do, yet both teams are relying heavily on them. If the implication is that relying on young starters is dangerous because they’re an unknown quantity, then this logic should apply to the Red Sox as well. I suppose an argument could be made that the Yankees are more reliant because three-fifths of their rotation could be comprised of their young starters. But I would counter by saying that, with Curt Schilling out until mid-season, the Red Sox are just as reliant.

If the numerous sportswriters and analysts are looking for advantages the Red Sox have over the Yankees, this is not one of them. The Red Sox have a better bullpen and better defense; those are good answers. Saying the Yankees are in trouble because of their reliance on young starters while ignoring the same issue for the Red Sox is lazy analysis.


Yeah, The Yankees Are Still 24-30

June 3, 2007

But nevertheless, the following information makes me happy. These are Red Sox starting pitchers versus the Yankees this season:

  • Schilling (4/20): 7 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
  • Beckett (4/21): 6.2 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
  • Matsuzaka (4/22): 7 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
  • Matsuzaka (4/27): 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
  • Wakefield (4/28): 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 3 K
  • Tavarez (4/29): 5 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Wakefield (5/21): 5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K
  • Tavarez (5/22): 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
  • Schilling (5/23): 6 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  • Wakefield (6/1): 3.2 IP, 5 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 2 K
  • Schilling (6/2): 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Beckett (6/3): 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Now…

I understand that the Yankees aren’t going to come back and win the division. They’re not. I understand that the Yankees are 6 games under .500; they sure have played like it. I understand there’s a long way to go, and that taking 2 out of 3 in Fenway in June does by no means prove anything. With that being said, it makes me really happy to see the Yankees beating up a rotation that was (in my well-documented opinion) overhyped before the season began. Red Sox starters have an ERA of 7.07 against the Yankees this season, with a WHIP of 1.73. Yeesh.

The Yankees really can play with the Red Sox. I just hope they show they can play with everyone else.


The State Of The Yankees Address

May 19, 2007

There are probably two prevalent thoughts amongst you, the Fan Interference readers, with respect to me and the Yankees. Thought #1 is “HA! Explain the Yankees’ season NOW, Special K!”. Thought #2 is “Who is Special K, and why do I care about his opinion?” While I cannot make you care about my opinions (but you should, because they are smart and you can never hear enough smart things), I can attempt to explain what the hell is going on with the New York Yankees.

After the loss to the Mets today, my first reaction was pretty much anger. I was angry with the players for not performing, Joe Torre for being on quaaludes, and Brian Cashman for shoddy roster construction. Watching this team over the last few weeks has been easily my most frustrating experience as a sports fan (Jordan’s Bulls regularly beating Ewing’s Knicks is a close second, or anything Vanderbilt football-related for that matter). Being the analytical sort, I have been trying to come up with an explanation for the Yankees’ terrible, awful play. At last, I have come up with my official current stance on the New York Yankees’ 2007 season through May 19th:

The Yankees have been historically unlucky.

Before the angry, torch-wielding mobs show up on West 87th Street, demanding I admit that the Yankees just aren’t that good, I implore you to listen to my reasoning. I have no idea if I’m right or not – there are, after all, 121 more games to be played. Maybe the Yankees aren’t that good, who knows. But right now, I am of the reasoned opinion that the Yankees have just been incredibly unlucky.

We can start with the starting pitching. In April, Yankee starters gave up runs at a blistering, alarming rate. This was, in my opinion, due primarily to injuries. Lots of injuries. Random, bizarre, unforseen injuries (excluding Carl Pavano). The Yankees’ projected rotation coming out of Spring Training was Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa. Wang didn’t pitch until April 24th, because of a hamstring injury. Mussina only made two starts in April because of a hamstring injury. Igawa sucked. Pavano is hurt again and out for the year. Only Pettitte hasn’t missed a start. The result of all these injuries was the promotion of several minor-league pitchers.

Contrary to popular belief, the Yankees have a good farm system, particularly with respect to starting pitching. The Yankees’ FIVE call-ups can easily be divided into two categories: servicable/good pitchers, and outright scrubs. The former group consists of Darrell Rasner, Phil Hughes, and Jeff Karstens. Guess what happened to them? Broken hand, torn hamstring, broken leg. Scrubs Matt DeSalvo and Chase Wright managed to stay healthy and therefore sucked. So what we have here is a pitching staff that, primarily in April, was unable to stay healthy. When they did get hurt, their generally decent replacements all got hurt too. Ouch.

Yet the Yankees’ offense thrived in April, scoring 5.35 runs per game, which was good for 4th in baseball. The Yankees’ team ERA in April, however, was 5.02 (27th). As the calendar turned to May, it seemed reasonable to assume that as the starting pitchers returned from injuries, the team would begin to reach its potential.

Nope. Despite a 3.83 team ERA in May (12th in baseball), the Yankees have continued to suck. Why? A regression in offense and bad luck. The Yankees have scored 4.88 runs per game in May, which is only a small drop to 9th in baseball. The Yankees have outscored opponents 83-63 in May, yet have a 9-9 record. Furthermore, the Yankees’ expected record based on their season’s run differential is 22.5-17.5 – quite different than their actual 18-23 record. Given this information, it would seem likely that a correction is coming. After all, it is extremely difficult for a team to maintain a losing record while outscoring its competition. This gives me hope.

What makes it difficult to fully accept this likely correction, however, has been the Yankees’ offense of late. While Jeter, Posada, Matsui and Mientkiewicz(!)/Phelps have performed well in May, important cogs such as Damon, A-Rod, Giambi, Abreu and Cano have posted a .607 OPS between them. That’s awful. While the pitching in May has been average-to-good, the offense has been declining.

So what do we make of all this? The pitching in April sucked, but the offense was clicking. The offense in May has sucked, but the pitching has been fine. Intuitively, one would expect a .500ish record based on these occurrences. Let’s put the Yankees at 21-20 then. Throw in the 83-63 run differential in May leading to a 9-9 record, and you’ve got your bad luck. So let’s take off a few wins, putting the Yankees at – ta-da – their actual 18-23 record.

To form a reasonable, educated opinion on the rest of the Yankees’ season, we must ask ourselves if the pitching and the hitting will ever overlap. My cautiously optimistic answer to this is “yes”. A rotation of Wang, Mussina, Pettitte, Clemens and Hughes – which is very close to being a reality – is a reason for optimism. Even if one of them gets hurt, the Yankees can insert Igawa or Tyler Clippard for a turn or two. Hey, the Red Sox are 29-13 with Julian “Acid Fight” Tavarez as their fifth starter, so Igawa or Clippard wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. If the Wang-Mussina-Pettitte-Clemens-Hughes rotation materializes (and it seems likely), the starting pitching should be fine.

This rotation would be useless, however, if the Yankees continue hitting like they have in the past few weeks. The question is whether or not this is the “real” Yankee offense or a slumping one. I think it is somewhere in the middle. I am not concerned about Jeter, Posada, A-Rod, or Matsui. They should all perform up to their expected levels. Damon worries me a little because of his nagging injuries; he’s probably due for a slight decline. Abreu has looked awful at times, but there’s no way he’s become a .600 OPS hitter this quickly. There’s no reason to think he won’t rebound. Cano concerns me primarily because of his inability to lay off bad pitches. He needs Ritalin or something. But he is only 24 and to expect another .890 OPS season without a regression would be unreasonable. I say Cano rebounds, but not quite to his 2006 form. Then there’s Giambi, who worries me the most. He’s 36, physically breaking down, and seemingly cannot consistently get around on fastballs. While he remains useful because of his fantastic eye, he seems the most likely candidate for a sharp decline. The net effect is, in all likelihood, a slight offensive regression as compared to 2006.

Despite all these statistics and whatnot, I think the rest of the Yankees’ season can be determined just but looking at a few simple numbers and remembering a few key circumstances:

  • The Yankees’ pitching in April was awful, and now it’s solid. Furthermore, it is now solid and has upside. The return of Phil Hughes – along with Clemens’ arrival – calls for some improvement over the Yankees’ 11th best team ERA and 10th best OPS against. Theoretically, this should make the bullpen more effective as well.
  • The Yankees’ offense in April was fantastic, and now it’s slumping. Again, there is upside. The chances of Damon, Abreu, Cano and Giambi continuing to perform at this level is highly unlikely. A simultaneous precipitous decline in all four’s offensive ability would be one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in baseball. In any case, the Yankees are 3rd in baseball in runs scored, and 4th in OPS.
  • The Yankees have outscored their opponents 221-198 this season. Based on this differential, the Yankees should have a record around 22-19, not 18-23. 
  • For emphasis, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Darrell Rasner, Jeff Karstens, and Phil Hughes have – in total – missed substantial time due to freak injuries. When they have been healthy (and none has a history of injuries), they have been effective. Furthermore, a rotation of Wang-Pettitte-Mussina-Clemens-Hughes is fast-approaching. This bodes well.

The season pretty much rides on two events occurring: the offense regaining some semblance of its 2006 form, and the pitching staying healthy. I’d say each event has a good chance of occurring. The remaining question is, quite simply, will it be enough to reach the playoffs? I don’t have an answer for this. It seems highly unlikely that the Yankees can win the AL East, although that would be sweet if they did. The most realistic goal is the Wild Card. I certainly think that the Yankees can do it. I watch each and every minute of each and every game, and I can tell you with complete honesty that I have never seen a team subjected to more bad luck than the 2007 Yankees. Everything that could wrong has gone wrong (knocking furiously on wood). I am pretty confident that the Yankees will bounce back and play good baseball for the rest of the season. I remain uncertain, however, as to whether that will be enough to get to the playoffs. 


Let’s Talk About Clemens

May 8, 2007

I stumbled upon this column this morning. There’s nothing special about it; it’s par for the course when it comes to the Yankees’ signing of Roger Clemens. The writer unleashes the standard set of rationalizations arguments against the deal that seems to have permeated virtually all forms of sports media. Whether it’s ESPN or The Boston Globe, Peter Gammons or Gerry Callahan, it seems like everyone has adopted the same company line(s) about the Clemens’ deal.

I’m pretty tired of it, to be honest. The only things I’ve been reading about this deal are negative. Of course, people are entitled to their opinions. And if they’re negative, then so be it. But these opinions should be based on sound reasoning and clear thinking, not on gut feelings, emotional reactions, or (my favorite) bitterness. So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to put forth the primary, dominant arguments against the Clemens/Yankees union that are permeating the sports media. Then, I am going to logically, reasonably, and coolly (maybe not the last one) completely disembowel these arguments. As a Yankee fan and a rational human being, I am tired of reading and hearing shitty arguments against the deal. I am perfectly willing to listen to smart things, but I have no tolerance for dumb things. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dumb things being said, and here they are:

(1) Signing Roger Clemens shows how pathetic and/or desperate the Yankees really are.

The Yankees are not desperate, they are injured. Keesup said it the best the other day: “it just seems like everyone is equating their pitching injures with moral failure”. I couldn’t agree more. I cannot stress this enough – the Yankees are not desperate, they are not pathetic, and they are not morally flawed. Their pitching staff has endured an unexpected rash of significant injuries. That’s it.

Chien-Ming Wang was out until late April with a hamstring problem. Mussina missed 3 weeks with a hamstring problem. Phil Hughes is out for a couple months with a hamstring problem. Carl Pavano is Carl Pavano. The only Yankee starting pitcher to have not missed his turn has been Andy Pettitte. So let’s quit it with the pathetic and desperate Yankees talk. If your team suffered a rash of injuries that forced 14 starts from Jeff Karstens, Chase Wright, Kei Igawa, Matt DeSalvo, and Darrell Rasner, your team would have a sub-.500 record too.

It’s also May. Early May. If you think a 6 game deficit can’t be made up in early May, then you need to shoot yourself in the head right now (I’m looking at you ESPN). The Yankees aren’t done, finished, dead, floundering, or on life support. The Yankees are, however, a good team that has been set back by random, weird pitching injuries that have forced the Yankees to address this new need. The Yankees need more quality starting pitchers as a hedge against any future injuries. Roger Clemens was available. Makes sense to me.

(2) Roger Clemens isn’t that good because he was 7-6 last year in Houston.

I may have mentioned this once or twice, but wins are stupid. STUPID. The “win” is the most uninsightful, non-descriptive, useless statistic in baseball (sports?) today. Seriously. If anyone – mother, father, brother, lover – tries to make a point based on wins, then you must automatically consider that person an idiot. I cannot stress this enough. Wins are stupid. Stop using wins to judge pitchers.

This is why Roger Clemens had only 7 wins in 19 starts last year: lack of run support. Houston was 25th in baseball in runs scored, 21st in OBP, and 28th in OPS. That’s horrible. Houston couldn’t score runs, and therefore Clemens could not get “wins” – despite posting a 2.30 ERA in 113 IP, and a WHIP of 1.04.

It someone makes the argument that Clemens is bad now because he only had 7 wins, please punch them in the face. I will post your bail when you get thrown in jail.

(3) Roger Clemens is old and he’s going to break down.

I understand that Clemens is 44 and it is reasonable to wonder about his health. But he’s also averaged 33 starts per season for his career. He hasn’t missed a start since 2002. He’s in fantastic shape, he works hard to stay in that shape, and he has a healthy history. I have a hard time believing that this would be an issue if he were with any other team than the Yankees. He signs with the Yankees, and he’s injury-prone. He signs anywhere else, and he’s a medical marvel and a tribute to hard work.

Might he break down? Sure, he’s 44. But please don’t make a gigantic stink about this when there’s minimal reason to.

(4) The Yankees paid too much for a part-time player.

It’s funny how we didn’t hear this argument when he was doing the same thing in Houston. I understand that a starting pitcher’s value is less than an everyday player’s. Clemens can only help the Yankees win every fifth day. I get that.

But here’s the thing: the Yankees don’t give a shit about the $18.5 million or so that they’ll be paying Clemens. They’re the Yankees. It’s chump change. They’ll get some more money later. If the Yankees do not use their vast financial resources to improve their team, they are completely neglecting their competitive advantage. The Yankees should never cut costs, because there’s no reason to. They can afford to spend the most to acquire the best, and they should. The Yankees had a need, and someone was available to fill that need, but for a lofty price. The Yankees could afford that price, so they made a deal.

One more thing. Clemens, despite being a “part-time player”, is a significant upgrade from the status quo. Come June, the Yankees’ rotation will be Wang, Clemens, Pettitte, Mussina, and Hughes. That’ll do. The upgrade Clemens provides over Igawa/Rasner/Wright/DeSalvo is significant. So yeah, the Yankees paid a lot. And yeah, they paid a lot for someone who helps 20% of the time. But they could afford it and it made sense. Isn’t that why people make purchases?

(And also, Gerry Callahan, the Red Sox paid $51 million to pick up the phone and talk to Dice-K. He also plays 20% of the time. Quit your bitching.)

(5) Roger Clemens special treatment will tear the clubhouse apart.

Seriously? Really? Does anyone believe this? Brian Cashman either (a) traded dissenting players or (b) confirmed this treatment with current veteran players. It’s been widely reported that he’s done this. He got rid of Randy Johnson partly for this reason, and he checked with guys like Mussina, Posada, and Jeter to make sure they didn’t have a problem with Clemens’ privileges. They didn’t. Do you know why? Because he’s Roger freaking Clemens, and he’s a huge asset to the team.

Look, the Yankees play in New York. The media is insane, vicious, cutthroat, unreasonable, scheming, conniving, agenda-ridden, and suffocating. I don’t think the players are going to be sitting around moping about how Roger isn’t in the clubhouse today. They’re professionals and they understand that if anyone has earned this right, it’s Clemens. The Yankees’ clubhouse will not implode. This is a stupid suggestion.

(6) Roger Clemens is only doing this for the money. It’s not about winning a World Series. If it were about winning a World Series, he would have signed with the Red Sox.

I’m sure the money is a huge part of Clemens’ decision. He also, however, already wipes his ass with $100 bills. So it can’t be entirely about the money.

I also reject the notion that if he wanted to win a World Series, he would have signed with Boston. The obvious implication is that Boston is better-equipped to win it all than the Yankees. That is not so clear to me. Boston has had near-flawless starting pitching, near-flawless bullpen work, and a healthy offense. Everything that could have gone right for the Red Sox has. Beckett is not going to pitch sub-3.00 ERA ball all year, nor is Wakefield. Schilling will regress a little as well. Who knows what Matsuzaka will do, but he hasn’t looked good so far. The bullpen has been untouchable, which also will not continue. The lineup has been completely healthy, which also cannot last.

In short, it’s not as obvious to me as it is to everyone else that the Red Sox are clearly better than the Yankees. Maybe they’re better. I don’t know. But it’s too early to definitively state that the Red Sox are better than the Yankees, and therefore provide a better opportunity to win it all.

(7) General bitterness and hypocrisy

As I’ve stated, the sports media has depicted the Clemens signing in a decidedly negative light. The Yankees are desperate/pathetic, Clemens is a mercenary asshole, the ship will continue to sink, etc. This is mostly true within the Boston media.

But if the Red Sox had signed Clemens, the media would have creamed all over themselves, philosphically and elegantly waxing about how things have come full circle and how this will provide “closure” to the Boston fans and Clemens’ career. But no, the Yankees signed him, so now it’s pathetic and corrupt. The Yankees spending money is a deplorable, immoral act that sets a bad example for other franchises and disgraces the game. The big, bad Yankees are up to their old tricks again, using their financial advantage to (gasp!) win ballgames. What a bunch of assholes.

Here’s what I have to say to that: deal with it. I’m tired of the Yankees being hated and loathed because they have money. They have money because they are an old, storied franchise with a competitive and rich owner that puts out a fantastic product in one of the biggest markets on the planet. I can understand not liking them because they win a lot. That’s natural. But it drives me nuts when sportswriters get all jittery and bitter because the Yankees spend their money.

You know which team was the most expensive to win the World Series? The 2004 Boston Red Sox. You know which team was the most expensive to have missed the playoffs? The 2006 Boston Red Sox. Money does not equal World Series victories. Stop whining.

That’s pretty much it: stop whining.