10 November 2005

"Abandoned," '94 Expos, Cy Youngs, Vincent and Teen Wolf...

OK, so if you're not interested in spoilers about recent episodes of LOST... skip ahead. That means you, Mom.

Right, so Shannon is dead. One thing I've never really understood about people and fans of TV shows is their acceptance of the death of a major character. The producers of Lost- and God bless them- seemed to be trumpeting the death of major character(s) as a "promise," as in a fulfillment of something the fans were clamoring for. Maybe I'm reading that wrong, but I personally don't like to see them go. Especially in a show like this where, when they die, it means (ostensibly) the effective end of the exploration of their past/ character. That's a bummer.

I think a bigger factor in killing characters, though, is the need to tell the story with some level of authenticity (as much, at least, as can be had on a show about a deserted island that has a monster, polar bears in the tropics, and a hatch with a crazy hermit in it)- and as such, in a situation like the one presented, people will die. That includes ones you don't want to die. So, c'est la vie. Movin' on. Looks like there is a Rutledge/ Carlyle family plot now developing on the island.

Some small clearings up from the episode. Walt appeared, once again, and spoke backwards, once again. Here's his scene with the dialogue corrected (re-reversed). To call this creepy would be an understatement. Click here for video (loads quickly/ small file).

Also, there has been some debate about the final scene, and Shannon's death. A few points:

  • First, upon freeze-frame, it looks like her wound is more stab-created than bullet-created. Take from that what you will.

  • It also appears that there is some wiggle room for the killer NOT to be Ana, but instead someone else. We never see Ana, emerging from the brush with her gun and her party in tow, and Sayid/ Shannon in the same shot. There's also this: Ana is shown with the gun dispensed in her right hand. After that, we have a cut to where we see Shannon, dying, in Sayid's arms, and the camera positioned to the LEFT of the shooter. The gun is now in the shooter's left hand. There's also a possibility that it isn't a gun in the person at the fore of the shot's hand.

  • Finally, if Shannon had been shot, and as you see in the picture here, the wound was around her sternum- there would be an exit/ entry wound, which there appears not to have been. But maybe not.

  • My take is that there is something fishy and unresolved about the scene- besides the obvious with Walt/ the Others- but it isn't a question of who killed Shannon. To me, despite a few tiny hints otherwise (which easily could be explained as continuity errors/ photographic decisions), all is what it seemed to be in that regard. Something is defintely "off" about that last 5-10 minutes of the episode.

    Way back when we were learning Jack's backstory and seeing how he met his fiance-to-be, we see that he met her when she came into the ER after a car accident, and that Jack is able to save her, but not the man that collided with her, a "Mr. Rutledge." That, of course, is Shannon's last name, and knowing that he died, it was speculated that this was him. As it happens, it looks like it was- see the screen cap above. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot in Shannon's flashback scene from this week where Jack is seen running by the doctor that tells Shannon and her stepmother that Mr. Rutledge is dead, from injuries sustained in a car crash.

    Finally- that stretcher they "threw together" in the middle of the jungle while basically running from savages was pretty well made, huh?

    Also, a couple updates from the Hanso Foundation site. When you go there and click on "Active Projects," then "Life Extension Project," you get this:

    On the site, when you roll your mouse over the last paragraph of the letter, you are directed to this site, which asks for a password. Typing in "Copenhagen" gets you this:

    ...and no, I have no fucking clue what any of that shit means. It's cool though.

    So, here are how the AL/ NL Cy Young Awards shook down:


    1. BARTOLO COLON, LAA__________17_________11________0_______118

    2. MARIANO RIVERA, NYY__________8__________7________7________68

    3. JOHAN SANTANA, MIN___________3__________8_______12________51

    4. CLIFF LEE, CLE_______________0__________2________2_________8

    5. MARK BUEHRLE, CWS____________0__________0________5_________5

    6. JON GARLAND, CWS_____________0__________0________1_________1

    7. KEVIN MILLWOOD, CLE__________0__________0________1_________1


    1. CHRIS CARPENTER, STL____________19___________12___________1__________132

    2. DONTRELLE WILLIS, FLA___________11___________18___________3__________112

    3. ROGER CLEMENS, HOU_______________2____________2__________24___________40

    4. ROY OSWALT, HOU__________________0____________0___________2____________2

    5. CHAD CORDERO, WAS________________0____________0___________1____________1

    6. ANDY PETTITTE, HOU_______________0____________0___________1____________1

    I don't have a huge problem with the NL vote- there were merits on all sides for the top three candidates. I initially chose Carpenter myself, but in the last week or so, whenever I thought of it, I felt like Clemens deserved it. The only thing he didn't have over Carpenter or Willis was run support. Period. Carpenter and Willis each had a few more innings, but not to make up for Rajah's 1.87 ERA. So I guess this evens out his Houston ledger, as he didn't deserve it last year but won, and did deserve it this year and lost. Doesn't make up for 1990 though, when Welch got it over him and shouldn't, but then again, no way Clemens deserved it in 2000 either, so all's fair I guess. That is, until you realize this isn't the fucking Oscars and these jerkoff baseball writers should get it right, every year. There's, more often than not, concrete evidence of which pitcher performed better in a given year, but time after time, so they have something to write and debate about, there is this complexity injected into the issue. These arguments made over whether a pitcher pitched for a contender, or if he threw well down the stretch, or if he was big in "clutch situations," and on and on, ignoring the lone and simple premise of the award: BEST PITCHER IN THE LEAGUE. Then they all just vote on wins. Maddening.

    They don't get it right, and no more egregious example of this than the 2005 AL Cy Young vote, given, unbelievably, to Bartolo Colon over Johan Santana (if you're a reliever and you're gonna win it, it has to be a Quisenberry in '83/ Lowe in '99/ Radatz in '63 type season to me- sorry Mo). Consider this- Santana had more strikeouts, more strikeouts per nine innings, a greater strikeout to walk ratio, a lower ERA, a higher ERA+, pitched more innings, a lower WHIP, a better DIPS ERA, lower OBA, lower opponents SLG and lower opponents OBP, and a higher VORP. You know HOW I know all these things without checking them against Colon? Because Santana was 1st in the AL in ALL OF THESE CATEGORIES, with the exception of ERA, where he was behind Kevin Millwood, IP where he was behind Buehrle, and K/ BB where he was behind Carlos Silva. The ONLY thing Bartolo Colon bested Santana in was wins, 21 to 16, largely on the strength of his run support and his pitching for a better team with a better bullpen.

    It is absolutely time to think about handing off the voting to BP or SABR guys, who will actually take the time and effort to do getting these things right, and to using relevant numbers in that effort. Bartolo Colon was very good in 2005, but he wasn't anywhere near the best pitcher in the AL- and he got a $500,000 bonus for it. That's more than Cliff Lee made all season, and even he may have been better than Colon.

    Actual email conversation between Erin and I:

    ME: So what did you do for lunch?
    ERIN:McD's. I got chained up on the top floor. I went to leave, but they blocked off the stairs with a chain and garbage cans. I had to call for help. Pretty embarrassing.
    ME: that email is going in my blog tonight.
    ERIN: Tim, no! I'm just a harmless little soul.

    Well, after my little blurbs on the '68 Tigers and the '93 Blue Jays, I'm continuing a theme I sort of randomly established here recently, and I decided to take a look at one of the great undheralded and greatly screwed teams in baseball history- the 1994 Montreal Expos.

    For starters, the talent collected on this team (and in the early-90s era Expos in general) is phenomenal. This was the definition of a dynamic, exciting YOUNG team, one that relied heavily- and almost exclusively- on a remarkable farm system and a few well placed trades to rise to a plateau of performance. Many of these players eventually went on to even better things with other teams, but even as young players, just look at the talent that was collected on this team:

    Pedro Martinez
    Jeff Fassero
    Ken Hill
    Kirk Rueter
    John Wetteland
    Mel Rojas
    Gil Heredia
    Gabe White
    Moises Alou
    Larry Walker
    Marquis Grissom
    Cliff Floyd
    Rondell White
    Darrin Fletcher
    Wil Cordero

    Now, of course, not everyone was at their peak just yet- Cliff Floyd, for example, wasn't very useful- he played 1B mostly and at 21, all the work on the rug at Stade Olympique eventually nixed his 1995 campaign. Rueter was pretty bad, Rondell White was too young to start, and guys like White and Heredia, though never great, still hadn't gotten to their plateaus of relative contribution.

    But that said, look at that starting OF- Walker, Alou and Grissom, all 27 and peaking around the same time. Grissom was at his peak defensively in CF (he won the Gold Glove that season) while adding league average production and a lot of speed (36 SBs). Larry Walker, one of the great defensive OFers of his generation, and Moises Alou, a fine OFer in his own right, both had monster years. To wit (in 114 games):


    The Expos, who's manager was Felipe Alou, finished the season with an MLB-best 74-40 record, good for first place in the AL East by 6 games over the Braves, and a consensus that this was the best team in MLB. You hear about Griffey and Matt Williams' quest for 61 HRs thwarted by the strike, as well as the cancellation of the World Series and Tony Gwynn's shot at .400- but this was one that never gets play. This was a great team.

    Leading the pitching staff in the NL (lowest ERA- 3.56) was Jeff Fassero, who at 31 lead the team (among qualifiers) with a 2.99 ERA in 138.2 IP. Next were Ken Hill and, in his first year as a starter, 22 year old Pedro Martinez, who combined to go 27-10 in 46 starts with ERAs of 3.32 and 3.42, respectively. Pedro lead the team with 142 strikeouts, a 1.11 WHIP and 8.82 K/ 9IP.

    Perhaps Montreal's greatest strength was their bullpen. Below are listed all the pitchers in the Expos bullpen with more than 50 IP:


    Meanwhile, though they didn't get much from 1B or 2B (Floyd/ Mike Lansing- arguably my least favorite baseball player of all time), Darrin Fletcher stepped up with some decent power (.435 SLG, 10 HR) and the left side of the infield- SS Wil Cordero and 3B Sean Berry- had great years. Berry was in the smack middle of a three year peak where he had value getting on base and with some power, though not much durability. Cordero posted career highs in BA, OBP and SLG, along with 15 HRs- 3 off his career year set during a complete season.

    Of course, much of the success was set up by GM Dan Duquette's first great trade- and he had a few, to be fair- the one made prior to the season on November 19th, 1993:

    Delino DeShields, 2B/ MI

    Pedro Martinez, SP

    Then, in the June amateur draft, Duquette selected, among others, Javier Vazquez, Geoff Blum and Simon Pond. In the Rule V Draft after that season, Duquette was able to acquire Al Reyes and Tomas Perez as well.

    Just a real shame that team was never able to at least compete in the postseason. After the strike, they were gutted pretty quickly.

  • Larry Walker left for Colorado via Free Agency

  • Miguel Batista was released

  • John Wetteland was traded to NYY for Fernando Seguignol

  • Ken Hill was traded to STL for Kirk Bullinger, Bryan Eversgerd, and Da Rond Stovall

  • Marquis Grissom was traded to ATL for Tony Tarasco, Esteban Yan, and Roberto Kelly

  • post-1995
  • Gabe White was traded to CIN for Jhonny Carvajal

  • Gil Heredia left for TEX via Free Agency

  • Wil Cordero was traded with Bryan Eversgerd for Shayne Bennett, Rheal Cormier, and Ryan McGuire

  • post-1996
  • Kirk Rueter and Tim Scott were traded to SFG for Mark Leiter

  • Jeff Fassero and Alex Pacheco were traded to SEA for Trey Moore, Matt Wagner, and Chris Widger

  • Moises Alou left for FLA via Free Agency

  • Cliff Floyd was traded to FLA for Joe Orsulak and Dustin Hermanson

  • post-1997
  • Pedro Martinez was traded to BOS for Tony Armas, Jr and Carl Pavano

  • IN 1994, Montreal's payroll of $19,098,000 was higher than only the San Diego Padres, and they lead the league with FIVE All Stars (Grissom, Alou, Cordero, Fletcher, and Ken Hill).

    Any votes on what team I should do next?

    Finally, two totally mismatched links for you. First, from McSweeney's- the scouting report for Teen Wolf and the rest of the Beaver's basketball team.

    To begin, you're going to have to resign yourself to the fact that Teen Wolf is probably going to drop at least 50 points. That might seem like a lot, but, unfortunately, it's just the way the ball bounces. As coach, you need to recognize that your job isn't to do the impossible; you're not going to stop Teen Wolf entirely, but you can try to contain him by making him play your team's style of basketball. Discipline and defensive fundamentals help: nose on the ball, feet moving, channeling him into traps—careful with those, though. Soon as Teen Wolf gets two guys on him, he tends to find the open man. He's a heads-up ballplayer with great court sense, so if you're going to bring a trapping zone against Teen Wolf, make sure you have solid weak-side rotation and your defenders are communicating.

    And on a FAR less funny note- this is an absolutely brilliant interview with former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent. Vincent is a lot of things- intelligent, well spoken, loves baseball, but best of all, in this instance- he's really, really candid. For instance, you know, he's not a big Jerry Reinsdorf fan.

    One of the best parts of the interview is the discussion of the early-90's finding of collusion among MLB owners, a fact that NEVER gets discussed anymore, but is a HUUUUGE part of the way baseball is run today. Much of the union/ owners animus stems in large part from this incident, as does, as Vincent points out, the creation of the Florida, Tampa Bay, Colorado and Arizona franchises. To make a long story short, as a result of the ruling, the owners all collectively owed $280 million dollars, and the move to expansion was a means to lighten that financial load, which Vincent explains.

    This was a really great passage when he was asked about Pete Rose's recent admission to his guilt in betting on baseball (remember, Vincent was Deputy Commissioner under Giamatti when the scandal broke, and presided as Commissioner over the ultimate sentence of banishment after the Dowd Report):

    And then, after Bart died, John and I took a lot of abuse from Pete. If you go back and look at all the instances where he claimed he was railroaded and not treated fairly, and his rights were trampled… I mean, Pete Rose was a vicious, and I think somewhat demented person, and I think he still is.

    Great, great interview.

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