Friday, January 14, 2005
Extending SantanaNow that their roster is essentially set for the upcoming season, the big Twins news locally is that the team is working with Johan Santana on a contract extension. The Twins have Santana under control for two more seasons -- meaning he won't be a free agent until after the 2006 season -- so there isn't a tremendous amount of urgency. Still, I get the feeling that if something can't be worked out before the start of the season, things could get messy in a hurry.
One of the themes of the early days of this blog (of which Santana is the "Official Pitcher") was criticizing the Twins' handling of Santana. While I am a fan of the Earl Weaver method of breaking young pitchers in by having them work out of the bullpen early on, I felt that the Twins went a little overboard in that regard with Santana. By the time I began complaining about his usage, Santana had already been pitching out of the bullpen for three seasons. Then the Twins left him there to start the 2003 season, his fourth year in the majors, at which point I began to voice my disagreement.
There is little doubt that the Twins went above and beyond anything resembling Weaver's strategy. As I discussed back in early October, Weaver himself never waited five years to stick a young pitcher into the rotation, as young studs like Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Dennis Martinez, and Scott McGregor were all starters by the time they were 23 years old and, at the latest, in their third season. Santana wasn't a full-time member of the rotation until he was 25 and in his fifth year.
In the grand scheme of things, Minnesota's ultra-conservative handling of Santana probably cost him 20 or 30 starts, 150 or so innings, and maybe 10-12 wins. Now we are finding out that holding Santana back for four seasons may end up costing the team a whole lot more. Here's a quote about the contract negotiatations from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
And there is this problem that looms over the negotiations: Several people close to Santana say he has not been happy with several decisions made by the Twins, including starting him in the minors in 2002 and having him begin the 2003 season in the bullpen. Those decisions already have affected him financially, because career starts is a key factor in arbitration.If I was so worked up about what was happening to Santana, then it only seems logical that Santana himself would be upset about it too. This isn't a new revelation, either -- Santana voiced his complaints about being in the bullpen several times in the past, the loudest of which came when the Twins handed him a rotation spot and then took it away after signing Kenny Rogers before the 2003 season. I still remember seeing the "Rogers' signing angers Santana, request for trade possible" headline and immediately feeling sick.
Santana and his agent are clearly correct about the Twins' decisions costing him money, but it goes beyond the arbitration rulings. Yes, if he had been a full-time starter in 2002 and 2003 -- or even in just 2003 -- he'd have been awarded quite a bit more in arbitration. But what if he had been a full-time starter in just 2003 and had put together a year similar to what he did in 2004 (his first full season as a starter). Can you imagine how much he could ask for in these current contract negotiations if he had back-to-back Cy Young awards or two 20-win seasons?
It is obvious that Santana is still holding a bit of a grudge. The danger is that the Twins have upset Santana to the point that he doesn't have an open mind in negotiations or, more likely, has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to things like signing up to stay with the team in the future. He could choose to play hardball during the negotiations, which by itself could get ugly and contemptuous. Beyond that, Santana may decide to just turn down whatever offers the team makes (the first of which -- three years and $19.5 million -- borders on laughable) and see what happens in 2005.
If he pitches like he did in 2004, he'll be looking at one more season before hitting the free agent market, and he'll be in a situation similar to Carlos Beltran last year. If Santana is months away from free agency during the 2006 season, every other article you read about the team will be speculating on his future and every Yankees fan will be drooling at the prospect of adding him for the 2007 season. That is a situation the Twins desperately need to avoid if they hope to keep Santana around, because once a player can see the money on the horizon, a small-market team has very little chance.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Remaking the Diamondbacks (by Aaron Gleeman)
Thursday, January 13, 2005
What I won't do for $35 and a free hatAs I write this sentence, it is 2:03 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning and I just got home from the Canterbury Park Card Club. It was my second trip out there (click here for the report of my maiden voyage) and I played for over 11 hours straight without so much as getting up out of my seat. I got there at 1:30 p.m., left at 12:50 a.m., and didn't miss a single hand. (In case you're wondering -- and I know you are -- I have an extraordinary bladder. The fact that I finished off a cup of Sprite every half hour for nearly half a day and didn't have to go to the bathroom once just adds to the legend.)
I came home with $35 more than I went there with, a profit margin that includes multiple tips for dealers (which were handed out begrudgingly, for sure) and a basket of French fries for lunch (which were delivered to and eaten at the table). In addition to paying for lunch, giving out far too many tips, and making a little over $3 an hour, I also won a free hat by making a straight flush in one hand.
I turned over my cards, and as I was raking in the sizeable pot, the dealer yelled out, "Straight flush on table nine!" I figured I must have hit some sort of jackpot and prepared for my riches to be delivered. Instead, I got a Canterbury Park Card Club winter hat. Something like that has got to be worth, what, like $1.49? I'm counting my winnings as $36.49.
Anyway, I smell like smoke, I have the clackity-clack of chips ringing in my head, and my temples have been throbbing for the last three hours. In other words, I desperately need to sleep. Good night!
Canterbury Park Card Club Tracker:
Win/Loss: +$16 (4 BB; plus a free hat and two meals)
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Tilt, Bankrolls, and Moons
However, my gut feeling is that the show is going to be disappointing. ESPN also produced Playmakers, which while a semi-watchable show, sensationalized nearly every conceivable aspect of the NFL. Guys were failing drug tests, smoking crack at halftime, beating their wives, concealing the fact that they were gay, hitting on the owner's daughter, and getting into fights with coaches -- and that was all within the first 15 minutes of the first episode.
I had no problem with the show because it was strangely entertaining for short bursts, but if ESPN tries to do something similar in their portrayal of the poker world, I have a feeling it'll be a huge mess. On the other hand, who knows? I like Michael Madsen and the guys behind the show are the same ones who made Rounders, which is one of my favorite movies. Plus, any show with Frank Sobotka in it can't be all bad. I just hope ESPN can resist the urge to sensationalize every single bit of their topic for once.
The worst thing about the losing streak isn't the money I've lost -- my bankroll is still pretty good and it was all winnings anyway -- but the fact that I have now realized I am not a good enough poker player to make major changes in my game when I go through a tough stretch like this. I mean, I have a general idea of why I've been losing lately, but I am not at the level where I can step back, point to a couple things I need to change immediately, make the adjustments, and then go back to the tables and start winning again.
Imagine a great pitcher who had an incredible first half and then had 4-5 awful starts in a row to begin the second half. Now imagine he can't really explain why he's been struggling. I bet he'd tell you that's what scares him more than actually losing a few games.
And before you all e-mail me using the "what about the kids?" argument -- which is the #1 thing people bring up in a situation like this -- let me say that I have three young cousins who I am very close to and love very much. They are all great kids, they all do extremely well in school, they all have active social lives, and they all appear headed for extremely enjoyable and successful existences. And not one of them is scarred by the fact that a football player pretended to moon people. He didn't kill, he didn't injure, he didn't rape, he didn't get drunk and go driving -- he pretended to show his butt. And I use "pretended" in the loosest of terms, because clearly Moss doesn't have much of a future as a mime.
There are plenty of things to pick on Moss about without making what he did Sunday a headline story across the country. Also, I am sick of the media trying to create a story, rather than trying to cover a story. As ESPN.com Page 3's Paul Katcher pointed out on his blog yesterday, the amount of hypocrisy involved in the coverage of Moss' actions by ESPN and FOX is startling.
ESPN initially wouldn't show the clip, and Chris Berman and company had incredibly harsh things to say about Moss. Remember, this is the same network that produced the aforemorementioned Playmakers, which showed semi-clothed people having sex, smoking crack, and fighting each other (and worse, probably, but I didn't see most of the episodes). FOX wouldn't show the clip and their pre-game, halftime, in-game, and post-game coverage was devoted to telling the world what a horrible person Moss was. Remember, this is the same network that produced reality shows about women competing to marry millionaires they've never met, daughters trying to guess who their real fathers are, and much, much more.
Just to be clear, I don't object in any way to any of the things ESPN and FOX have shown in the past. I object to the fact that they act like they are above showing such things when it makes a story more sensational. I was watching the Vikings/Packers game live on FOX. When I saw Moss' touchdown celebration, the first thing I thought of was not that it was offensive or that he was a terrible person. No, the first thing I thought of was that I was now going to have to be subjected to intense media coverage of the non-incident for the next week.
Joe Buck, who was announcing the game for FOX, immediately called the celebration "classless" and "disgusting." I disagree, but even more than that I think it's worth noting that Buck is the guy who appeared in a series of beer commercials with a fictional character named "Leon" who portrayed the stereotypical view of athletes like Moss. Then later, during a World Series broadcast Buck was announcing, Leon was planted in the audience and interviewed for an extended period of time, during the game. I'll take Moss pretending to do something that isn't even all that horrible for two seconds over having FOX cram product placement down my throat any day of the week.
What Moss did on Sunday is catch two touchdowns and help the Vikings win a playoff game. The idea that one of his touchdown celebrations has led to any sort of public uproar is far more disturbing than anything he did or pretended to do. Beyond that, the idea that whatever public uproar he caused is anywhere close to the level suggested by the media is at best ridiculous and at worst outright false. For all the outraged members of the media screaming bloody murder, the results of ESPN.com's own poll on Moss that generated tens of thousands of responses shows a completely different story.
- 58.3% described what Moss did as "funny."
- 87.2% said they were more interested in the outcome of the game than anything Moss did.
- 53.8% said Moss should not have been fined by the NFL.
- 73.8% said they wished the media would "quit talking about" the incident.
- 67.4% said Moss is "good for the NFL."
Similar to the "national outrage" portrayed by the media in the case of the FCC crackdowns on "indecency" that have been taking place since last year's Super Bowl, the actual people outraged are in the minority, yet they are given a disproportionately loud voice. It's a shame, because there are an awful lot of people in this country -- men, women, and children -- who can see something like what Moss did on Sunday and simply go on with their lives.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Team Bullpens (by Studes)
- Rivals in Exile: Everybody Was Wrong (by Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
My Biggest FanIn addition to talking about the momentous occasion of this website's one-millionth visitor yesterday, I talked about a person going by the name "Mimiru" who e-mailed me to say he/she would no longer be reading anything of mine and then bashed me at another website. It was the first time I had come across this person, but a few people e-mailed me to say they've seen Mimiru bashing me in other places before. So, with the aid of Google, I did a little digging. What I found is ... well, it's a little distuburing, actually.
First, we have what Mimiru said to me in an e-mail on Saturday morning:
Dear Aaron,Certainly very harmless and well within her rights. (I am assuming the person is a she due to her e-mail address, which contains the word "lady" in it.) Then she headed over to USSMariner and said the following in a discussion that had nothing to do with me:
Starting with Aaron Gleeman, most of the stat-heads I know are incredible jerks and people, who if they write like they really are, I would not want to be around.But wait, it gets better. Mimiru is apparently a frequent commenter over at Bat-Girl's website and has had plenty to say about me there in the past. The following quotes all come from comments posted by "Mimiru" in the discussion section of Bat-Girl's blog, and the majority of them came without anyone mentioning anything to do with me. I've put them in chronological order, just so you can get a feel for the timeline. Also, I haven't corrected any of her bad spelling or grammar. And away we go ...
June 15, 2004:
Even the start before that, where he gave up for runs... he pitched 8 innings. He was GOLD for 7 of them, only that 1 slip.June 17, 2004:
Tee-hee, Luis Rivas asd BOD makes Aaron Gleeman tear his hair out. I love it!June 21, 2004:
I can't do any forumlae so don't ask me to figure out OPS+ or god forbid, the "Gleeman" Production Average. Besides, I'm waaaaay nicer than him which most stat-heads aren't.July 6, 2004:
I agree Gleeman, but he never follows his heart, just the damn math.July 14, 2004:
Look to Aaron Gleeman and the Hardball Times trascript of their chat during the All-Star game to see what I hate most about SABR people...July 23, 2004:
I agree that Jones deserves to SIT against lefties. But I've given up breaking his hold over Gardenhire. I swear, I hate Gleeman's guts but I agree with him about that.December 3, 2004:
I don't care one bit if he hits the ball or not, I care about him getting acolades he does not deserve to recieve. Stick that in your hand and deal it Gleeman.December 22, 2004:
Aaron Gleeman describes what I mean about the off-season rather well. Ugh, I feel a little ill about recommending his writing.There are actually more, but I think you get the idea. First of all, what a terrible loss it is to have such a supportive person stop reading this blog. This is the equivalent of one of those drunk fans in the bleachers yelling "YOU SUCK!" at the opposing rightfielder every game for an entire season, and then deciding one day it's no longer worth heckling because a player gave them a nasty look.
Beyond that, how amazing is it that this person is so preoccupied with who is nice and who isn't? For those of you keeping score at home, Mimiru called me an "incredible jerk," "insufferable," and "crazy cruel and mean." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. She also used the word "hate" to describe her feelings for "SABR people" and said she "hates Gleeman's guts." And, of course, she made sure to tell everyone that she's "waaaaay nicer" than me, said she wouldn't want to be around people like me, and repeatedly made negative generalizations about an entire group of people.
It takes a special kind of person to read someone's personal blog each day and then constantly say nasty things about them in a public forum, particularly when that public form is a light-hearted blog devoted to the Minnesota Twins that frequently includes such things as lego reenactments. Hell, even on the rare occasions when I wrote something that Mimiru didn't find terribly offensive, she "felt ill about recommending [my] writing" and prefaced saying she agreed with me on something by saying she "hates [my] guts."
Equally amazing is that something I wrote on January 6 was the straw that finally broke Mimiru's back. You'd think she would have given up on me a long time ago, seeing as though I'm such a horrible, crazy, mean, insufferable jerk who isn't nice, never follows his heart, and made her ill on at least one occasion. I guess I give her credit for having the bravery to stay as long as she did, but my incredibly powerful January 6 entry wasn't exactly controversial (the entry's title was "Link-O-Rama" ... how bad could it have been?).
So while she isn't around to see this after pledging to "never read anything you write again," I would like to take this opportunity to induct Mimiru into the AaronGleeman.com Crazy Reader Hall of Fame. She is the second person to receive this prestigious honor, joining the infamous "Crazy Frank" as a first-ballot inductee.
Congratulations Mimiru! I wish you a long, healthy life of hypocritically and ironically complaining about the lack of likable qualities displayed by others. And may you always take pleasure in bashing me, "stat-heads," and "SABR people" all over the internet!
Today at The Hardball Times:
- The 1952 American League (by Steve Treder)
- Beltran to the Mets? (by Studes)
Monday, January 10, 2005
1,000,000As you can see from the "hit counter" directly to the left, at some point today this website will pass one million total visitors. Considering the lack of thought that originally went into starting all of this on August 1, 2002 and the lack of an audience this blog had in the early going, one million visitors is almost unbelievable to me.
This is a major milestone that I'm very proud of, and there are far too many people to thank to even begin to name names. First and foremost, I want to thank you, the readers. Without you guys I'd just be babbling to myself, and the constant readership growth is what has kept me going. Knowing there will be actual people expecting to have something to read here each morning has motivated me to write countless entries when I otherwise might have taken the day off.
I'd also like to thank the many other bloggers out there, both for inspiring me to blog and for sending thousands upon thousands of readers here through various links on their sites. The blogosphere runs on word of mouth and the willingness to promote the work of others, and I've been very lucky when it comes to both of those things. I've also been fortunate enough to have had a number of mainstream links, from guys like Jayson Stark at ESPN.com to the good people at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and I'd like to say thank you for that as well.
Beyond that, I'd like to thank my family for always being supportive of my writing here when it would have been really easy to ask why the hell I was wasting so much of my time on something called a "blog." And finally, a big thanks goes to the many outstanding baseball writers who first inspired me to become a fan of the greatest game in the world, and then inspired me to try to write about it. Rob Neyer, Bill James, Peter Gammons, Jim Bouton, John Sickels, and the whole crew from the early days of Baseball Prospectus -- if you're looking for people to blame for unleashing this blog on the world, those are the guys to start with.
Since the launch of The Hardball Times last March, the amount of general baseball content on this blog has gone downhill. I've continued to write about the Twins here on a regular basis, but all of my other baseball writing has been shifted to THT (or to places like Rotoworld and Insider Baseball). Because of that, this blog has become much more of a place for odds and ends -- stories about my personal life, entries about music or movies or television, and all sorts of other non-baseball stuff.
I'm still not quite sure what the best way to juggle writing on a semi-daily basis for multiple websites is, but the fact that my audience here has actually gone up substantially since I began writing for THT (and other places) is really encouraging. This is my 30th month of blogging and the average number of visitors per day has risen in each and every month, despite some major dry spells in content and some major shifts in the topics I cover.
I realize this entry isn't very interesting to most people, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I hope you'll continue to make AG.com a part of your daily reading and I also hope you'll add The Hardball Times to your routine too (if you haven't already).
And, just in case you thought this whole blogging thing was all fun, I'll leave you with an e-mail I received over the weekend:
Dear Aaron,As if that weren't enough, Mimiru then proceeded to bash me over at USSMariner, chiming in during the stats vs. scouting discussion (which had absolutely nothing to do with me) by saying, "Starting with Aaron Gleeman, most of the stat-heads I know are incredible jerks and people, who if they write like they really are, I would not want to be around."
The funny thing is, I went back to that January 6 entry to see exactly what sort of horrible things I had written, but I couldn't really figure out what was so offensive. Oh well. A million hits is a really nice thing, but having people call you names is definitely also part of the territory. I do plenty of name-calling myself (too much actually, I'm trying to work on that), so I can take it. Plus, in 30 months of doing this, I've been called so many names by so many different people that what Mimiru wrote might actually qualify as a compliment.
See ya tomorrow (everyone except Mimiru, that is).