In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Friday, March 12, 2004

In A League of Their Own Tom Hanks berates his players by telling them, "There's no crying in baseball" Well, I'd like to add an addendum to that: there should also be no facial hair in baseball unless, of course, it make you look like a porn star (or, as Steve points out in an earlier blog, like Freddy Mercury ... but I guess there's really not a real big difference between looking like a porn star and looking like Freddy).

If you want a great example of baseball facial hair check out Edgar during his rookie year. Ladies and gentleman, here we see the sweetest stache meeting the sweetest swing in all of baseball.

But, if you want really bad examples of facial hair just take a look at Mr. Scott Fucking Spiezio or Chan Ho "Out of the" Park.This is just wrong and while I certainly have no love for the Yankees, I think Steinbrenner may be on to something by outlawing facial hair on his team.

I only bring this up because as I was doing my rounds of the goings-on in the AL West, I came across an article about Park's supposed rebound. This got me thinking, "rebound from what? From sucking a lot to sucking less?" When Boras got Hicks to sign that gargantuan contract for A-Rod I thought it was stupid to pay one player so much money but I could also see some logic. After all, at that point and still today, A-Rod was being touted as potentially the best player ever to play the game. If I squinted and looked slightly to my left at the right time of day I could see the logic in that signing. But giving Park a five-year, sixty-five million dollar deal completely baffled me then and baffles me now. You don't need to be a sabermetrician to understand that this is just way way way over value. No, Virginia, A-Rod's contract didn't sink the Rangers, Park's did. The fact there are absolutely no takers for Park -- that no team in their right mind would want any part of Park or his contract -- is a clear indicator that Boras pulled the proverbial wool over Hicks's eyes.

Contracts like Park's are usually reserved for Cy Young caliber pitchers – perhaps the likes of Pedro or Mussina not for middling guys like Park. Only once in his career did Park have an ERA under 3.50 and that was in 2000 when he went 18-10 with an ERA of 3.27. So, yes, he had a very good year but that was also the year Park was 27-years old. Not too surprisingly his two best years (2000 and 2001) correspond with the normal peak years of players (27 and 28 years old). Anyone could have predicted Park would steadily decline and when you add on top of that he would be moving from the expansive Chavez Ravine to the little bread box known as The Ballpark at Arlington, then the fact the steady decline turned into a rather fast freefall should surprise no one.

But, not to be such a naysayer, I would like to point out that Alfonso Soriano is going to have one hell of a year and that if he stays in Texas (rather than move over the Mets), Soriano will most certainly be a 40-40 player. To some extent, I think the Yankees got worse, at least for the short term, by giving away Soriano. If you look at Soriano's and Arod's raw numbers, they are actually pretty close.

Yes, A-Rod has better numbers but when you consider that A-Rod played in Arlington while Soriano played half his games in Yankee Stadium then the differences between miniscule. Also consider that A-Rod has been having a fairly steady decline in terms of both average and power. These numbers will drop even more in New York. Mark my words, sonny boy, for the next two years, Soriano will have better numbers than A-Rods. The one exception might be, of course, OBP. Despite a declining batting average, A-Rod has had a very consistent OBP which certainly speaks volumes about his patience at the plate (or Soriano's lack thereof).

S-2001 .268 .304 .432 .736
R-2001 .318 .399 .622 1.021

S-2002 .300 .332 .547 .879
R-2002 .300 .392 .623 1.015

S-2003 .290 .338 .525 .863
R-2003 .298 .396 .600 .996