Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Random crap while it's on my mind...

- The rarest of the rare is happening this week: a sports story that I don't think has been talked up enough. Now that Wings/Pens is going to a Game 7, it's especially unique for one guy in particular - Marian Hossa. After spurning the Pens to sign with the Wings last offseason for a "better chance to win a cup", we'll find out if he made the right decision Friday night. I'm not sure this situation has EVER happened before, in any sport. Drama that great can't be manufactured.

- Speaking of no coverage, it's been a weird past couple months following the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs - well, in the case of NBA, there's a lot less in terms of "watching" and more "reading about it and watching highlights online". As everyone knows, the NBA is inescapable thanks to its relationship with ESPN. The quality of the on-air product however is as brutal as ever, thanks to the atrocious officiating. I know it's en vogue to bitch about the refs these days, but games are turning into unwatchable dreck. Thirty seconds can't even go by without a stoppage, seemingly. The players come off, somewhat understandably, as clueless as to what to expect. It makes for awful TV.

Meanwhile, the NHL is letting anything and everything go. Although it gets a bit absurd at times, I'd much rather see the refs swallow the whistle and let the players decide who wins, rather than pull the "Everyone in here paid to see ME call penalties!" routine.

For further comparison, the NHL is like one of those underappreciated cult bands - undeniably talented and entertaining but never caught on with the mainstream, puts on a great live show, but are stuck with a total douchebag lead singer (Gary Bettman).

The NBA is closer to Guns N Roses. You can't deny the classics they produced. I loved the Use Your Illusion albums as much as I loved watching Jordan. But man... when the shit hit the fan, it got ugly fast. Neither has recovered and both are struggling for a new identity.

- I'm convinced the Twins would have one of the best lineups in baseball if they even had average players in the 7-8-9 spots. Instead, here's who they've trotted out:

Nick Punto
Delmon Young
Matt Tolbert
Brendan Harris
Carlos Gomez
Alexi Casilla
Brian Buscher

The average OPS+ among those seven guys in 2008 is 95, slightly below average (100). That's really not that bad. Add those numbers to the years Mauer, Morneau and Kubel are having, along with newcomer Joe Crede, and you can build a contender with that lineup.

This year's OPS+ for that group? 57. 57!!! That could be historically bad. Yes we're only one third into the season, blah blah blah, but dear god, even the mighty Rey Ordonez didn't have an OPS+ that low when he played a full season. Jason Tyner's career OPS+ is 70. Yes, the 7-8-9 spots in the lineup would be slightly better if the Twins had three Jason Tyners. Hell, remove Brendan Harris and the average slips to seven points to 50. Ye gods.

Even more distressing: in 2008, that group of seven players combined for 188 extra-base hits. So far in 2009, they have 38. That's on pace for 104 in a full season, or 16 for each player. Ten players have already hit at least 16 home runs this year. 34 players have already hit at least 16 doubles. Even Ozzie Smith throughout his career hit at least 23 extra-base hits every season.

Bill Smith, the bottom of the Twins lineup is P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C. Something needs to be done if this team wants to be taken seriously. Send Delmon and two other prospects to Houston for LaTroy Hawkins (I can't believe I'm saying that) and a middle infielder who can help NOW.