Friday, August 12, 2005


Ed Eagle, among others, reports he's back on the mound. What are your expectations for him the rest of this year? And next?

Game 116: Pirates at Astros

Eight pm. Zach Duke and Roy Oswalt. I had a bad dream last night starring Lance Berkman. If I'm Zach, I just bean him and move on. But Zach's smarter than that. It should be fun viewing either way.

I'm also curious to see if McClendon will send out the whole gang of youth for more of that Altoona Curve 2004 good feeling.

New shirts

And other goodies in the Honest Wagner store, many with our world-famous drunkards logo.

Baseball vs. Football

Baseball is a daily soap opera, with new episodes 300 days a year. Football is more of a series of traumatic events. Over the years, I've learned not to pay too much attention to the NFL during the offseason.

Fantasy sports play a role in the way I follow the two sports. Fantasy baseball is something like chess. That is, it's a game in which the luck element can be significantly reduced. Strategy and diligence can carry the day. You need the right rules, of course. It seems to me that keeper leagues should be deep (many teams, large retention lists). Non-keeper leagues should be shallow (with many starting players on waivers).

I played fantasy football for a few years. Then I realized there was too much luck to make it much of a game of strategy. And I see no way to minimize the role of luck. There are too few games and too many traumatic, season-ending injuries. I no longer play it. I prefer to play out the baseball season and keep my football gaming to pick 'em contests.

Fantasy football taught me some things about the difference between the MLB and NFL seasons. First, fantasy football plays like a 16-game fantasy baseball season. The basic unit of play, in both football and baseball, is the game. I once thought of the NFL and MLB seasons as things of similar size. But this isn't the case. There's much more waiting in the NFL season. It takes many months, but not too much happens in the NFL -- compared to baseball. That doesn't mean it's not just as great, mind you; what baseball does with diligence, football does with intensity.

When it comes to being a fan who crafts his expectations for the upcoming season, I've discovered that it's important to remember that every football season suffers, statistically, from the small-sample size effect we'd find in any 16-game baseball season. (Football games are longer than baseball games, so perhaps it's more like a 30-game season. Either way, our ability to predict or anticipate the distribution of statistics is pretty challenged.) There's a lot of randomness in the way the money statistics are distributed in any given year.

Add in the prevalance of traumatic injury, and the football season gives us many more one-year wonders than the baseball season. Not only are we ill-equipped, relative to baseball, to predict the performance or effectiveness of individual players, we are also ill-equipped to evaluate their contribution to their team.

To reduce this to a cliche: football is more the team sport. It takes many years to discern the truly great individuals from the temporarily great individuals.

I wanted to say all that before I begin with my comments on the 2005 Steelers season, which I'll roll out early next week.

Ellis on HBO tonight

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star:

Dock Ellis will be interviewed at 9 tonight by Bob Costas on HBO's "Costas Now." Featured will be rare footage of Ellis' 1970 no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Diego Padres.
In a recent biography of Dock Ellis, we learned that he was using this footage in his drug rehab work. He's apparently quite high, esp. in the postgame interview.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Game 115: Pirates at Rockies

Day game at Coors Field. Josh Fogg and Jeff Francis are the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots.

...welcome Nate McLouth.

The rotation

Dejan Kovacevic reports Fogg will get another turn.

If the Bucs increase their payroll by ten million for 2006, I suggest they spend all of the money on pitching coaches. I doubt the Pirates will be eager to pay Fogg what he'd win in arbitration, even if he turns his season around. And Fogg will be just fine. Some team like the Reds will sign him at a generous rate in February.

If we lose Fogg and add Snell, we are left with Oliver Perez, Kip Wells, Ian Snell, and probably Ryan Vogelsong as the pool competing for spots after Zach Duke, Dave Williams, and probably Mark Redman. That's four pitchers with great stuff and lousy guile. And we'll need at least two of those guys to pitch well and separate the crafty lefties. I can't say I expect any of those four to come through for us in 2006. Since Ollie only had one great year (2004) and Kip had two great years (2002 and 2003), I wonder if it isn't fair to start with the premise that Ollie is half the pitcher that Kip is. I didn't think Ollie would be such a disappointment in 2005, and I didn't think Kip would post back-to-back poor years. Right now, I don't see much reason for optimism about the 2006 rotation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Game 114: Pirates at Rockies

9:05 PM EST. Mark Redman goes fists-of-fury on Aaron Cook. Look for the lowly Helton-less Rockies, conditioned losers, to lay down and whine, conceding another huge Pirates' victory.

Kevin McClatchy

I don't have a problem with this guy. He's talking sense as far as I'm concerned.

When it comes to assigning blame for 13 consecutive losing seasons, I blame the players. It's their fault. With notable exceptions, they have underperformed year after year. But they have been young. Young enough to let the opportunities of a lifetime slip from their grasp, fall to the ground, and break into a dozen worthless pieces.

Some of the players get it. Others don't. I'd say, most of them don't. A player inclined to blame anyone but himself has greater temptation to do this if he plays for the Pirates. It is hard to distinguish yourself at this level of play, and most players fail. And it's easier to fail when you have so many ready excuses.

The ownership and front office have not done everything right. They definitely share in the blame. Maybe 15% of all this failure can be attributed to their incompetence and inexperience. The rest of the blame goes on the shoulders of the players who came here and failed.

One other thing. My hunch: there will be no major-league baseball in 2007.

Promising Jon Nunnally

The part of this week's Q & A that jumps out at me is the news that the Pirates promised AAA playing time to a journeyman, and that this promise was cited as a reason for sending Sadler to AA instead of AAA. Can this be true? Both halves of this tidbit are striking.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Game 113: Pirates at Rockies

9:05 PM EST at Coors. Dave Williams throws his junk while Jose Acevedo serves up taters in the battle of the basements. Jason Bay is 5-for-10 with a jack vs. Jose.

To date, Jason Bay has a .296/.388/.552 line. All hail our best player, Jason Bay!

Rockies swept Monday's doubleheader so are due for a huge loss tonight.


New DK notebook reports:

"The Pirates are considering a September callup for starter Bryan Bullington, the first overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft. In his past seven starts for Class AAA Indianapolis, he is 4-1 with a 1.93 earned run average, 41 strikeouts and nine walks in 42 innings."

BB seems to have traded in the clown car for a ticket to the show. All hail the new improved Bryan Bullington!

Raffy on Roids

Who do you respect most to least: Mark McGwire for juicing but refusing to admit it, Rafael Palmeiro for lying his ass off, or Jose Canseco for telling all and making a buck out of the whole tragedy?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Monday off

Bucs have Monday off to lick their wounds and prepare for the Rockies in Coors on Tuesday. Duffy will rehydrate his tight hammy and Kip will rest his cracked fingernail.

Gonzo's two-inning simulated game went well today. He's set to start his rehab assignment on Tuesday.

Sunday's DK notebook features Tike coming to terms with being a bench player. "I can start in the majors. I proved that last year. Anybody can see that," said Tike. In other news:

-Gerut's knee is still tender, but he's expected to start soon.

-Restovich feels the love: "I feel like they want me to be part of the team. I really do, and that's nice."

-In AA Altoona, elbow tendonitis is shutting down RHP relief prospect Josh Sharpless for the year.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Game 112: Dodgers at Pirates

1:35 PM EST. Jeff Weaver-Kip Wells donnybrook. Sensational win last night. Great to see all the young guys come together and spill some whoop-ass on the Dodgers. All hail Chris Duffy for hitting .388 and Zach Duke for tying Whitney Glazer's 1921 record of starting his career with the Bucs 5-0.

Friday's DK notebook reports that the Pirates are leaning towards bringing back Mesa to close in 2006. His 2006 team option is 4 million, but apparently that can be negotiated down. I hope way way down. Longtime readers of HW know that I'm a big fan of the Bucs' fifth all-time saves leader, but, WOW - no way in hell can we afford to pay him anywhere near 4 million next year, even if the payroll is raised to 50 million.