Friday, May 21, 2004
The Beauty of the InternetIn addition to being a great source of baseball writing and porn, the other amazing thing about the internet is the little web communities
For instance, over the 22 months or so that this blog has been up and running, I've developed a great group of loyal readers and e-mailers. It's really quite wonderful. There are enough of you coming here (and The Hardball Times) to read what I have to say every day that I know I need to a) be on top of my game as often as possible and b) be prepared to get tons of e-mails when I'm not.
I also get plenty of feedback when I write something good (it does happen, contrary to what you may have heard), but it's the times when I'm off my game and someone tells me about it that I remember.
Beyond the daily readership and the e-mails keeping me on task, the other awesome thing about having this blog and the community that comes with it is that you guys are always looking out for me.
Over the last 22 months, I've been mentioned at any number of awesome places, from ESPN.com and Yahoo!'s Site of the Day to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Chicago Tribune. Now, I am on the internet, reading stuff, more than most would think humanly possible. In fact, I am going to admit right now that I am actually addicted to my computer.
Still, despite my spending approximately 23.5 hours per day surfing the web, IMing and e-mailing (this is barely an exaggeration, as anyone who has me on their buddy list can attest to), I am but one man, whereas you are an entire group of people. So, when my name pops up somewhere, I get e-mails about it almost immediately.
One of my favorite "community moments" was when I got mentioned in a Jayson Stark column on ESPN.com. I read Jayson Stark regularly (though not every column), but I hadn't read that one. I might have stumbled it on my own, but I never got a chance to. About 30 seconds after the column went live on ESPN.com, I got bombarded with e-mails telling me about it.
And when I say bombarded, I mean it. The first wave, the ones that come immediately after something shows up in "print," are the ones that say, "Aaron, you have to check out Stark's column ... you got mentioned!"
Then I head over there and I read it, obviously. And then the second wave comes a few hours later, when the e-mails say, "Not sure if you saw this yet, but you got mentioned in a Jayson Stark column."
Then the stragglers come in, maybe 10 hours later, and say, "You probably know this already, but you got mentioned in a Jayson Stark column."
The last batch usually comes maybe 2-3 days later. I would call these people the last line of defense. They are there just in case the entire world forgot to read Jayson Stark that week, so they say, "Aaron, you got mentioned in a Jayson Stark column three days ago. Congrats."
It's really a beautiful thing, because I get the feeling that there are a number of you who are honestly happy and excited to see my name in lights. And it goes beyond "big time" mentions like ESPN.com. It extends to all the hundreds of blogs and minor websites out there. Having you guys around to keep track of those for me is even better, because while I read Jayson Stark, odds are that I am not familiar with the New York Mets blog that gets 20 readers per day and has been bashing me for a week straight.
All of which (you knew there was a point to this, didn't you?) brings me to yesterday afternoon. I played a little more 1-on-1 baseball with my uncle around lunchtime (I lost by one run, yet again) and returned home to find a bunch of e-mails like this one, from D.L.:
Thought you might be interested in # 47.Or this one, from Kevin:
Aaron,And so I clicked on one of those links and found myself at a little blog called ...
Stripper by Night -- "Meanderings by me about my job, my other job, my poker hobby, my love life (or lack thereof), and other fascinating thoughts."
I looked around for a bit and saw that the blog has been up and running for just one week and there were only five total entries. Then I scrolled down to an entry from Monday entitled "Just tuning in? Here are 50 facts you now know about me."
Here are a few of them:
1. My name shall remian a mystery. However, you can call me Taylor, as it's the name I use at the club.Remember that first e-mailer who said, "Don't ask me why I was on this site, I think it's pretty obvious"?
After reading 1-5 on this list I figued out why. There is almost an unspoken rule among guys on the internet that there are some sites that a guy normally wouldn't go to, except for that fact that either a) it has pictures of good looking women on it or b) it is written by a woman who is good looking.
It is the internet equivalent of going to a Hugh Grant movie with a girl. If you run into your buddy at the movie theater and he sees which movie you're going to, you just say to him, "Don't ask me why I'm here, I think it's pretty obvious."
I read on:
11. I've been moonlighting as a dancer at a gentleman's club for a year and a half now. I started to earn extra money to buy a house, and have kept it up.For those of you planning to e-mail to complain that this should be "a family website," let me remind you that families have women in them too.
So okay, we've got a "dancer" living in Minnesota and, in trying to figue out how to relate this to baseball, it sounds like she's got good "tools."
Moving on, I see the following combination that puts Joe Louis to shame:
15. I enjoy internet poker immensely. I love ESPN's poker shows. I play at Canterbury a couple times a week.To be honest, the cynic in me was saying "this is not an actual person" about half way through that. There are some other "interesting" ones too, but they probably cross the line for a "family website" that even I'm not prepared to cross (which is perfectly fine, in my opinion, just not for this blog).
- Lives in Minnesota
- Good tools
- Loves poker
- Seinfeld too
- Brewers fan (we'll cut her some slack on this one, since it's baseball at least)
- Becoming a T-Wolves fan.
After reading this, I think I probably had the same feeling some scout had many years ago, when he first saw Willie Mays. So overwhelmed that you're not even sure which thing to focus on. You call the GM and you just blurt out, "POWER! SPEED! ARM! OHMIGODOHMYGOD!"
And then I came to the kicker, the thing that made me go from "this isn't an actual human being" to "this better be an actual human being":
47. Aaron Gleeman is the best baseball writer out there. And, he likes poker and Seinfeld. I should ask him out.I guess this would be like if Willie Mays told the scout, "Did I mention I also pitch?" Actually, it's more like if he said that and then added, "Oh, and I have a twin brother who plays too."
Stripper by Night
(Stop by and tell "Taylor" I said hello.)
San Diego (Eaton) +140 over Philadelphia (Millwood)
Milwaukee (Sheets) -130 over Pittsburgh (Fogg)
Colorado (Young) +140 over New York (Ginter)
Houston (Pettitte) -150 over Cincinnati (Van Poppel)
New York (Brown) -155 over Texas (Benoit)
Chicago (Buehrle) -115 over Minnesota (Silva)
Total to date: -$430
W/L record: 53-65 (2-3 yesterday for -120. So much for my big comeback.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, May 20, 2004
"Why Kevin Garnett will lose Game 7"That was the headline on ESPN.com's Page 2 yesterday.
"Why Kevin Garnett will lose Game 7."
So here's what he did:
MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL32 points. 21 rebounds. 5 blocks. 4 steals. 2 assists.
He played in the post, he played point guard, he hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, he blocked five layups, including one in the final minute, and he cleaned the glass like he always does.
In the final 21 minutes of the game, the Wolves scored 36 points -- Garnett had 23 of them. He scored nine straight points for Minnesota in the third quarter and then put 14 in during the fourth. He shot 12-for-23 (52%) for the game.
Page 2 isn't exactly home to the most brilliant sports analysis and opinion in the world (though they are home to the best sports columnist in the world), but hopefully this will shut up all the anti-Garnett silliness (here, here and here) of the past week or so.
The idea that each and every important game is somehow going to determine a player's legacy is ridiculous, but if the Wolves somehow manage to stretch the Lakers to six or seven games, we'll be seeing the exact same stuff about Garnett needing to "prove" himself. He'll throw up a clunker at some point, but it damn sure wasn't last night.
For those of you looking for some Twins-related content, I have a brand new, 100% Twins article up over at The Hardball Times. And it's definitely Gleeman-length.
New article at The Hardball Times: Game Diary: Day Baseball
St. Louis (Marquis) -120 over New York (Seo)
San Diego (Valdes) -120 over Pittsburgh (Vogelsong)
Detroit (Knotts) +190 over Oakland (Hudson)
Chicago (Loaiza) -135 over Minnesota (Greisinger)
Baltimore (Lopez) +130 over Seattle (Moyer)
Total to date: -$310
W/L record: 51-62 (A perfect 6-0 yesterday for +645. This is what a comeback looks like!)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
What a punim!It's been way too serious here at Aaron's Baseball Blog so far this week, so let's step away from all that and have a little fun.
Here's an e-mail I got over the weekend...
Hey, what's the deal with the two pictures of Johan Santana you have on your blog? He looks slimmer and healthier in one, but bloated and a little overweight in the other. Is the bigger Santana this year's version? If so, should we think that he's not in as good of shape this season or what? Just curious if you knew the deal.The pictures Scott is referring to are the ones on the left-hand side of this page, under the heading "Guys I Talk About A Lot."
Here are the two pictures in question:
Twins fans will no doubt recognize that those two pictures are not both of Johan Santana.
The one on the left, with the straight Twins hat, heavier goatee and skinnier face, is of Santana, The Official Pitcher Of Aaron's Baseball Blog.
The one on the right, with the tilted hat, lighter goatee and bloated face, is of Luis Rivas, perhaps the most hated man in Aaron's Baseball Blog history.
This is not the first time that the irony of this -- that the player I like the most and the player I hate the most look nearly like twins (judge for yourself whether this pun was intended or not, I'm sick of being told) -- has come to my attention. It's also not the first e-mail I have received asking something about why there are two pictures or Rivas or two pictures of Santana.
I found this particular e-mail amusing, because it is basically just saying Rivas looks like a fatter, bloated, less-healthy version of Santana.
Oh, and for the record, despite his bloated appearance, I don't think Rivas' physique is a reason for his horrendous play over the last several seasons. Or, if it is, it's about 100th on the list.
As long as we're talking lookalikes (and bloated faces), here's another for you...
I defy you to look at those two pictures and see anything less than identical twins. Astute football fans will recognize the man on the left as ESPN.com football writer Len Pasquarelli. Astute TV watchers will recognize the man on the right as one of the greatest characters in modern television history. Yes, that's right, Uncle Don Vito from Viva La Bam on MTV.
Not only do I think Don Vito needs his own spin-off show, I am of the opinion that a 24-hour-a-day Don Vito channel ("Vito TV") would be a national phenomenon.
Now, these next guys aren't lookalikes, but their ESPN.com pictures are notable for one reason or another...
I'm a fan of strange facial hair (as anyone who has seen me on a Monday morning can attest to), but Doug Davis' look has got to take an awful lot of maintenance. That thing he's got going on his chin could almost pass for a gang-sign. [In my best Ice Cube voice] WESTSIDE!
Dustin Hermanson has long been a fan of strange and intricate facial hair, but he's actually toned it down over the years.
The funny thing is, back when Hermanson was just another pitcher trying to make the big leagues, he was completely devoid of any and all facial hair.
The above picture is of Hermanson's days at Kent State, back when he owned a razor. Actually, I take that back, from the looks of Hermanson's various facial stylings over the years, it's clear he owns a razor. Probably a high-tech one too.
Here's a picture of Doug Davis' Milwaukee teammate, the hot-hitting Lyle Overbay.
Now, there are those who might say that's not a great picture, and I would tend to agree. However, it is about one thousand percent better than the shot Overbay took last year.
Simply put, that's not pretty. And I say that in the nicest way, as someone who has taken plenty of godawul pictures in his lifetime.
Now, let's see how many angry e-mails I get about this entry!
Philadelphia (Milton) -145 over Los Angeles (Nomo)
Houston (Redding) +120 over Florida (Pavano)
Arizona (Webb) -105 over Atlanta (Thomson)
Cincinnati (Acevedo) -135 over Colorado (Jennings)
Chicago (Schoeneweis) -100 over Cleveland (Davis)
Baltimore (Bedard) +125 over Seattle (Franklin)
Total to date: -$955
W/L record: 45-62 (2-3 yesterday for -165.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Reader Mail (Pedophile/Rapist Edition)I knew it would happen. In fact, I even warned it would happen. In writing about Roman Polanski yesterday, I said the following:
"I rarely get political on this site and I rarely state strong opinions on things other than sports and entertainment, but I will this time."
"While writing this blog, I have learned that no matter how right you think you are about something and no matter how black and white you think the issue is, there will always be someone who disagrees with you."
"It's hard to convince everyone of everything, and that's something all writers should remember when they state opinions and get feedback from readers."
Sure enough, I got plenty of e-mails yesterday from people who disagreed with at least parts of what I said about Polanski. Here are some samples, along with my responses (all of which will almost certainly lead to even more e-mails from even more people who disagree with me, which will further make it clear to me that I shouldn't talk about non-sports stuff)...
It seems obvious, to me at least, that the standing O was for Polanski's work on a brilliant film, not because he is a child molester. In the same way that baseball fans can appreciate the greatness of a Ty Cobb without condoning his vicious racism or sociopathic personality, one can appreciate the work of an artist without condoning some of his other actions.While I believe Polanski was being honored because of his work as a filmmaker, I do not believe for a second that he would have received a standing ovation if he hadn't molested/drugged/raped a 13-year-old girl and fled the country to avoid prosecution.
Plenty of people are honored at plenty of award shows without receiving standing ovations from the entire audience. The fact that they gave one to someone who wasn't even in attendance (because he was in another country) says to me that a lot of people in the audience simply knew that he got into some trouble and that he was a controversial figure, much like my grandmother (who I quoted yesterday) thought.
I don't think these people were applauding Polanski's crime or Polanski's work, they were applauding the fact that they thought he had been "wronged" in some way. It is my belief that Polanski has not been wronged at all, and that in fact he has wronged someone else and not been punished sufficiently for it.
As for Randy's statement that "You applaud the good and condemn the bad," I suppose what I am saying is that I'd like to see a little more of the latter in regard to Roman Polanski.
I am sure I am not the only person who will e-mail totally in agreement with you about your and Kruk's comments and drawing a parallel between that situation and the Kobe Bryant case, but I will still do so.First of all, let me just say that I won't be giving Kobe Bryant any standing ovations either. However, unlike Polanski, he did not flee the country and he is actually facing the consequences of his (alleged) actions.
Matt writes that "If Kobe is acquitted when his trial comes around..." which makes the situation totally different from Polanski's. No matter what you think about Kobe or anything else Matt wrote, I think you'd have to admit that someone who is tried and acquitted of a crime is a lot different than someone who flees the country to avoid being tried.
Also, I just wanted to touch on one major theme throughout many of these e-mails ... apparently once you come out against something like the Polanski situation, like I did yesterday, many people assume that you are sort of against "all things evil."
In other words, I got e-mails from people about any number of things that are varying degrees of wrong, from stuff that is just morally and ethically wrong to stuff that is legally wrong. Here's the thing though ... I really don't care if Kobe Bryant cheats on his wife.
I care if, by cheating on her, he rapes a woman, but that's an entirely different issue. Kobe and his wife are free to do whatever (and whomever) they want in my mind, assuming everything is between consenting adults. I don't know why, but when I saw Matt mention it in his e-mail ("Whether or not he is guilty of rape, he is certainly guilty of cheating on his wife"), I wanted to respond.
Two of my Top 10 favorite films of all time are 'Chinatown' and 'Manhattan'; and whatever Roman Polanski or Woody Allen have done in their lives before or since making those films, the works themselves stand as great artistic achievements.First, let me just say that nowhere have I ever said that a movie made by someone like Polanski should be viewed for anything beyond the quality of the movie itself. I never said you shouldn't watch a movie by Polanski, I never said you shouldn't enjoy a movie by Polanski, and I never said you can't give a movie by Polanski awards and praise. I simply have a huge problem with giving the man a standing ovation based at least partly on him being controversial because of what he did many years ago.
I suppose this all comes down to whether or not you believe the standing ovation came solely for his work as a director, and not as a result of what he did or did not do with a 13-year-old girl. I choose not to believe that it's all based on his directing, but obviously many people do believe it.
Again, with Kobe Bryant, he is facing the consequences of his actions. If Kobe fled the country rather than face that, then his situation would be comparable to Polanski's. As it is, he is innocent until proven guilty. I would perhaps give the same benefit to Polanski, had he actually stayed around.
Just as I said I have no problem applauding Polanski's work as a director, I have no problem applauding Bryant's work as a basketball player. I believe what Polanski received at the Oscars went beyond that, quite clearly.
Regarding my "looking the other way" in respect to Barry Bonds ... please. Allegedly taking steroids is, in my opinion, on a completely different planet than drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl and then fleeing the country. They aren't even close, and I think it is rather silly to compare the two. If Bonds has been accused of beating his wife, I have not heard about it. If there is something to those accusations, perhaps Bonds should be brought up on charges. Until then, a rumor about him beating a woman is, again, not even on the same planet as what Polanski did.
If someone can honestly ask "how is the Polanski situation different" than Barry Bonds taking steroids, than I suppose we have to just agree to disagree. There is a chasm of thinking there that I don't think even Evel Knievel could cross.
From Steve Silver:
You know, back when Roman Polanski was awarded the Oscar, I kept returning to one very important question: how does John Kruk feel about this? Now we have our answer, as Kruk has written a timely response to Polanski's award, only 18 months after the fact in his SPORTS column.I would like to second Steve's comment about the absurdity of this whole discussion starting by way of a John Kruk column on ESPN.com. Still, I bash Kruk plenty, so I figured it was only fair to give him credit for saying something I agreed with.
The question of whether or not Polanski would have received similar treatment had the 13-year-old been a different gender is interesting, I suppose. However, Michael Jackson has been accused of doing similar things with young boys and I've certainly seen him applauded plenty of times by plenty of people.
By the way, this seems like as good a place as any to answer a question I got from multiple e-mailers yesterday ... the girl was 13 and Polanski was 43. I know there is some confusion about this and some people (like my grandmother) were under the impression that the two were close in age, but Polanski is and was 30 years her elder.
From an anonymous e-mailer:
The audience was cheering a great film and a great director, not the other parts of him that have anything to do with them. Just because he molested some chick doesn't make the film any less great. Seems pretty clear to me.First of all, we're in 100% agreement on the Kruk-being-an-assclown thing.
That said, here's something to think about ... if Polanski hadn't fled the country to avoid being punished for his crime(s) against a 13-year-old girl, he may not have even been able to make the movie that some people seem to think he was receiving a standing ovation for.
That may be a bit of an overstatement, since I'm not sure how many years in jail (if any) he would have received, but certainly the whole thing would have set back his directing career a bit. Or perhaps not, and I'm just being naive.
Also, who said anything about his actions making the film any less great? If I go out and murder 100 people but I am a really good painter, it doesn't make my painting any less great. However, should people give me a standing ovation when I get an award at an art show?
Roman Polanski is one of the sleeziest people who still gets a pass from too many otherwise bright people. I think that response is only slightly more incomprehensible than the fact that some people still support Bush despite his repeated lies and failures.Now, no offense to Rich, but this is exactly why I don't get into non-sports issues on this blog much.
I say something about Roman Polanski and I get an e-mail bashing George Bush. And I got several of these; e-mails using Polanski to branch off into other areas for ranting. This is all fine and good and I agreed with a lot of the stuff people ranted about, but if I wanted to discuss George Bush, I would discuss George Bush, you know?
Finally ... I urge everyone who finds themselves interested in this discussion to go to The Smoking Gun and read for yourself about Polanski. I suspect that the things you feel about the situation right now may be different once you read the actual documents related to the situation.
I know for me, what little I knew about Roman Polanski was certainly not factual and my thoughts on him changed dramatically after reading about what he did.
Back to baseball tomorrow, I promise.
New article at The Hardball Times: News, Notes and Quotes (May 18, 2004)
Los Angeles (Alvarez) +120 over Philadelphia (Padilla)
St. Louis (Morris) -110 over New York (Glavine)
Arizona (Johnson) -140 over Atlanta (Hampton)
New York (Vazquez) -155 over Anaheim (Sele)
Chicago (Garland) -130 over Cleveland (Durbin)
Total to date: -$790
W/L record: 43-59 (0-1 yesterday for -100.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, May 17, 2004
Hell, Frozen OverThis has nothing to do with baseball or sports in general, but I think it might be the only time I will ever agree strongly with something John Kruk has to say on anything, so I'm going to discuss it a little bit.
Kruk is a new cast member on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and I find his "analysis" and commentary to be completely horrible and bordering on unwatchable. I have said this and other things about the downfall of Baseball Tonight before, so I won't go into it again now.
The beauty of having a website is that, although I no longer watch Baseball Tonight, I have readers who do suffer through it, and they often e-mail me with some of the more idiotic statements that are made on the show. One loyal reader named Tyson even has a name for his e-mails. He calls them the "Baseball Tonight Idiot Updates."
For instance, several of you e-mailed me yesterday to say that Kruk picked Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn as his front-runner for the AL Cy Young, on the basis of his 7-1 record. Washburn, of course, has a 4.68 ERA and has received approximately 1,000 runs of support in each of his starts thus far. But I digress...
In addition to doing his part in the ruination of a once-great TV show, Kruk also pens a weekly column for ESPN.com's Page 2. The column, as far as I can tell, is basically just his random thoughts on whatever he feels like talking about, and I've found it to be fairly unreadable thus far.
However, I was skimming through his most recent column when I came to the end and saw the following:
Here is something that I still don't understand.Now, I rarely get political on this site and I rarely state strong opinions on things other than sports and entertainment, but I will this time.
I agree with John Kruk here about as much as I could possibly agree with someone. In fact, I like what he said and the fact that he said it in a public forum so much that it washes away some of the bad feelings I have about his "work" on Baseball Tonight.
The Roman Polanski situation is a funny one. Funny weird, not funny haha, of course. Back when Polanski got the award Kruk was talking about, in 2003, I remember talking to my grandmother about it. I would consider her a very intelligent, rational person, but her thoughts on this matter absolutely floored me.
I, like Kruk, had read all of the Polanski-related material and documents on The Smoking Gun, and I told my grandmother about what I had learned about the situation. Her response was that it wasn't a big deal and that Polanski was a great director of movies. What one thing has to do with the other is beyond me, but that's not the point.
The point is that smart, rational, kind people can feel this way about someone like Roman Polanski. As Kruk said, an entire room of Hollywood types gave him a standing ovation. I would like to think that some in the room booed him as loudly as their peers cheered him, but I'm not sure.
I mean, my own grandmother, who has two daughters and three young granddaughters, even after hearing about the details of the situation from me, still didn't agree that what Polanski did was bad. I imagine she would have been standing and clapping for him as well.
While writing this blog, I have learned that no matter how right you think you are about something and no matter how black and white you think the issue is, there will always be someone who disagrees with you. Whether you're talking about the winner of a trade that you think is heavily lopsided or you're talking about a player who you think quite clearly stinks, there is someone out there who will vehemently disagree with you.
Such is the case with Roman Polanski too. In my mind, I can't see how anyone can take an objective look at the documents related to his situation and come away from it with anything but disgust for the man and his actions. Still, it is obvious that this is simply not the case, as people continue to work with him, honor him and even give him standing ovations on national television.
It's hard to convince everyone of everything, and that's something all writers should remember when they state opinions and get feedback from readers. I'm not quite sure whether John Kruk and I agreeing strongly on something proves that we're both right, that John Kruk has had a rare moment of clarity, or that I've gone completely insane. I will, as usual, let you figure that out for yourself.
I'd give John Kruk a standing ovation before I gave one to Roman Polanski and, as scary as that sounds, the fact that so many people feel differently is even more frightening to me.
New article at The Hardball Times: The Exp000000000s
Chicago (Diaz) +115 over Cleveland (Lee)
Total to date: -$690
W/L record: 43-58 (2-0 on Friday for +310.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****