30 January 2006

It's Been a Long Time...

...since I posted. My bad. Straight up laziness, dog.

So, to start off- of course I spent my weekend (well, Saturday AM/ afternoon anyway) in front of the computer rocking multiple Virtual Waiting Rooms just to get tickets to, at most, two games. I had 25 windows open, and after 3 1/2 hours, one popped me in, and away I went.

My first choice was for the end-of-June Mets series, any one of the games. I went there first and realized pretty quick- I wasn't exactly the only one with that idea. So, my backup was the Phillies series a week earlier. I got two Right Field Box seats there for the Friday, June 23rd game.

Next, I went to track down a game for Erin and I- bleacher seats- for sometime in July/ August. For some reason Erin gets a kick out of seeing the A's (well, if by "some reason" I mean "Barry Zito")- she's seen them play the Red Sox three times already. So, we got two bleachers for the Friday, July 14th game.

Then, since I could only buy two tickets per account, I had to close my open ticket window and sit through more VWR bullshit to get another game for Erin and I, and 4 seats for Erin and her friends to do a "Ladies Do Fenway." The porno version will be out next year.

I got Erin and I more bleachers for Friday, August 11th against Baltimore, and the Estrogen Fearsome Foursome are rocking Upper Bleacher ducats for the Saturday, September 2nd game against Toronto.

A hellish experience to say the least. Oy vey.

  1. Fri., June 23- vs. PHI (Sec. B92A Row D Seats 5/6)

  2. Fri., July 14th- vs. OAK (Sec. L35 Row 17 Seats 5/6)

  3. Fri., August 11th- vs. BAL(Sec. L36A Row 2 Seats 6/7)

Hopefully, when the Yankee tickets go on sale, and extra tickets get dumped- this list will expand a little. I'm not anticipating all the games I went to last year- but three isn't enough for me. I also plan on hitting as many of the Mets/ Brewers games as I can at Shea, and Mike and I are looking to see a Dodgers game in LA when he moves out there. So more on that later.

So the Coco Crisp trade is officially official. I still don't like it, and am made more unhappy about it considering the entire package. The trade shakes down like this:


Coco Crisp, CF
Josh Bard, C
David Riske, RP


Andy Marte, 3B
Kelly Shoppach, C
Guillermo Mota, RP

Before I even go into it, one thing should be said- at the point the trade was made, the Red Sox needed a CF, and rather badly. They'd backed themselves into a corner by not striking on certain deals while the Johnny Damon process was ongoing, losing all their leverage. Anyone looking at the situation closely would agree that the primary focus was to find a very good CF offensively and defensively and to look for an "acceptable" SS option for the short term.

So in that sense, while this was a bad trade, it was one it seemed they needed to bite the bullet on, given their options. This doesn't excuse the poorness of the deal, but it does explain it, at least.

Interesting to note as well that Marte was the trading chip in two such deals- Atlanta overreacting to the loss of Rafael Furcal and telling themselves they didn't like Marte's attitude and that Chipper was blocking him (at 34) anyway.

At the very least, however, we were able to trade for a young, cost controlled player that plays a premium defensive position and, according to the front office acquiring him (there's always talk of newly developed, sophisticated defensive metrics floating around the Boston FO) can do it rather ably.

I've already stated in past posts why I think Marte is more valuable than Crisp going forward. Given the rest of the deal, however, it would seem that Shapiro felt the opposite. This would explain, I assume, why we gave up our number one and number 8 prospects for Crisp and a 28 year old career underachiever to fill Shoppach's roster spot. Mota-for-Riske is a wash of two guys their respective teams likely wanted to pass off on someone else, for varying reasons. I do think this puts to rest the idea that Mota's "injury" is bad enough to have stopped a trade, and that Cleveland was simply negotiating.

Riske is interesting, and I think I like getting him because of our current depth in the bullpen. If he was being counted on as a first-choice setup man, then there may be room for concern. But in a bullpen with Mike Timlin, Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez and Jonathan Papelbon all setting up Keith Foulke- Riske doesn't have to be the go to guy, and so anything near league average for ~73 IP will be extremely valuable.

Riske has the reputation for not being able to "handle the pressure" late in games- he previously spit the bit as a closer earlier in his Indians career. That fallacy aside, Riske was in a bullpen in Cleveland that was flat-out dominant in 2005. Of all relievers with at least 30 IP last year for the Indians, only one- Jason Davis and his 40.1 IP- had an ERA+ under 100. Riske was at least fourth on the depth chart in that bullpen, behind Wickman, Betancourt and Howry. If one counts Rhodes on performance and not role alone, Riske was fifth. This is why his leverage metrics are extraordinarily low.

However, his numbers were great. An ERA+ of 132, a WHIP under 1 and 72.2 IP. That being said, it was a very different season for Riske.


From 2003 to 2004, Riske maintained his K rate, but he had a jump in BBs and was a little unlucky on his BABIP. As a result, his ERA jumped by a run and a half from 2.28 to 3.72. Still very good, but a noted swelling. He was still able to succeed by suppressing contact- his K rates kept the ball out of play.

In 2005, however, whatever the reason- pitching more to contact, working on his control- his K rates plummet, but so do his BB rates. As a result, batters are making more contact. His ERA drops this year, however, in large part to the fact that he was inordinately lucky on his BABIP- only .219, down ~70 pts from the year before.

If Riske pitches like he did last year, especially moving from the Jake to Fenway, he could have a rough time of it. It's imperative he get his K rates back up- it's what makes him so valuable. He'll be an interesting one to watch this year. I do, however, think he'll be better than Guillermo Mota.

Bard just sucks eggs. I don't even feel like breaking him down. That part of the deal really burns me, because I was relatively high on Shoppach.

So after picking up MVP 2006 on Wednesday, and playing it for a night, I wasn't really impressed. There seemed to be too much going on in Dynasty Mode, the changes didn't seem to me to be advantageous, and there looked to be a bug in the system defensively. I really, really wasn't sold.

But after giving it another shot, I fell head over heels for the game. I really, really love it. It's better than the MVP 03/ 04/ 05 editions for sure.

First, in Dynasty Mode- you pick a school, you start your season, and you begin the recruit process. You earn points to recruit and up their interest, and you monitor you roster in years ahead to identify your roster needs. You're given an allotment of scholarships, and you build your team up. It's actually involved enough to be engrossing, but not so much so that it gets ridiculous. Well done on that front. Apparently if you get good enough, you receive offers to join other programs, or start ones of your own. Haven't done that yet, and with that comes stadium building, which I'm told is much improved from last year's, which sucked nards. Now it's a necklace.

There are two new features to the game as far as the gameplay is concerned- a "Lock and Load" swing system, and a new throwing mode on defense. I didn't really love either, and I'm so used to the originals that I didn't feel like learning a new system. I'm stubborn like that. Thankfully, you can switch between them at will in options. For the hitting mode, you essentially use the right analog stick to push down to start your swing, and up to follow it through. Your contact strength/ quality of contact is determined by the flow of your swing. Kind of like the golf swing engine in Tiger Woods Golf. The hitting system's kind of fun to play around with, like in a HR Derby or whatever.

The throwing system though, was really stupid, to me. It doesn't present an upgrade from the old one- the "X" button with throw meter. In this mode, you use the right analog stick again, and point to your base. Excusing the obvious potentiality for innacuracies with such an option, the throw meter is remarkably unforgiving. Just a clunky overall system. I'm sure they'll improve it in the future.

The gameplay is a lot more solid this time as well. What I initially thought was a defensive bug was simply an improvement in the realism of the defense. You used to be able to wait on a defender receiving a ball in play with your finger holding on the base you wanted him to throw to. You can't do that anymore. Moreover, the quality of the throw and the ability to get a runner out is largely dependent on the type of play required of the fielder to make, which is a huge improvement. In my experience, in MVP 2005, if there was a runner on first and a ground ball to an infielder, the double play was more or less assumed, unless it was an inordinately fast runner. In this version, as in real life, if the ball is too far in the hole at SS, for example, a play at 2B can be really tough to pull off. In fact, on a slow roller to 3B, you notice the throw meter being different than a routine one- you have to speed up the throw, but at greater accuracy risk. It just makes everything more solid.

Plus, the lower quality of play and more level playing field is more fun, to me. As entertaining as it is to pitch as Pedro Martinez, loading him up for 9 innings and riding that out isn't as fun as having a marginal pitcher start a must win, having him gut out 6.2 IP, and working with your bullpen. It's great.

Great, great game so far. Highly recommend it. Don't be turned off by the no-names either. I actually named all my players after TV characters to help me remember who was who. In fact, here's my roster, for the Arizona State Sun Devils:

C- John Locke
1B- Steve Sanders
2B- Tobias Fuhnke
3B- Hank Kingsley
SS- George Costanza
RF- Milhouse Van Houten
CF- GOB Bluth
LF- Paulie Gaultieri
DH- Christopher Moltisanti

SP- BSMemorial
SP- Mr. Eko
SP- Kenny Banya

RP- Dylan McKay
RP- Gareth Keenan
RP- Chris Finch
RP- DB Cooper
RP- Harry S Truman
RP- Ned Flanders

I have a whole stable of names for their eventual replacements. Of course, Steve Sanders is my All American. Like that guy needs the encouragement.

I'm a fucking loser, I know.

Regarding LOST- which is in repeats this week- I really thought that was the worst episode in the two seasons. That still makes it better than nearly every other show on TV, but it also means there's not much to go over. Charlie's going nuts. Apparently, though, in his "living tableau" (shades of Arrested Development), you can see a plane crashing in the background. Weird.

Next episode looks tight, though. Sun gets captured or something.

I called, and in about 5-6 weeks, they'll have more of these, and in my size. I will most fucking DEFINITELY be buying one, and I'm looking into maybe a Pedro DR jersey.

The USA gear sucks, predictably, and though the whole WBC thing kind of scares me on a "Varitek breaks arm diving for pop-up" level, it could be fun if treated like an exhibition.

I see no reason why the DR won't dominate. I live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood, so I'm excited to see the reaction of that community. Should be interesting.

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