Cognitive dissonance warning: Agreeing with Lupica

Just days after I lashed out at Mike Lupica, he goes and posts something that I completely support and agree with. Help me, please. What do you take to rid one’s self of cognitive dissonance?

This isn’t about agreeing with everything or anything Miller did, and he is still dead wrong about drug-testing and steroids. This is about the man’s body of work. And because of the remarkable work that he did strengthening his union, because of free agency and the fights to get it and keep it, he changed baseball as much as any figure since Jackie Robinson.

Put it another way: If Marvin Miller doesn’t do what he did with the Major League Baseball Players Association, then you tell me how Steinbrenner does what he did with the Yankees in this so-called Expansion Era?

I didn’t touch on the PED stuff when I stumped for Miller last week because, to me, it’s almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of his candidacy. I mentioned it last year, in passing, however. You could change that narrative in the Lupica quote above to read Miller “is still dead wrong about the Tooth Fairy and the Acai Berry Diet” and it would have the same impact on my viewing of his candidacy. Like Lupica, I agree (boy, is that odd to read) that while Miller has taken stances towards PEDs that I don’t necessarily agree with, his inclusion in the HOF is long overdue.

[As a side note, I can’t help but look at the picture above and marvel how close it looks to Hyman Roth from The Godfather.] Continue reading Cognitive dissonance warning: Agreeing with Lupica

Hey Look, Mike Lupica Wrote Something Stupid

As a general rule, I don’t bother to even read Mike Lupica, much less respond to him. I mean really, what’s the point? The guy is the epitome of the New York tabloid media, a guy who thinks being caustic, contrarian, and running down the local teams makes him a serious commentator. And God knows he isn’t going to change on account of anyone; let alone little old me. Still, his column’s headline today just jumped right up and grabbed me, promising a wealth of glorious stupidity and well compensated trolling, and sure enough, Lupica is as dependable as ever on that front. So, without further ado, I present to you the glorious stylings and keen baseball insights of Mike Lupica: Continue reading Hey Look, Mike Lupica Wrote Something Stupid

Hey Will: Mike Lupica called, and he wants his overwhelming negativity back

Here we are, a month away from the start of the playoffs, and already the “the Yankees aren’t going anywhere in the postseason” articles are coming in. The latest entrant in a long line of Yankee-related schadenfreude comes from New York Magazine‘s Will Leitch, who has channeled his inner Mike Lupica in his most recent piece, “Why the Yankees Won’t Win the World Series.” (h/t Pinstripe Alley). Mr. Leitch, as you probably know, is the founding editor of Deadspin, and who New York apparently feels is an appropriate choice to cover the New York sports beat despite being a St. Continue reading Hey Will: Mike Lupica called, and he wants his overwhelming negativity back

Mike Lupica Writes Something Silly

In an other wise relatively harmless article that was in yesterday’s Daily News, Mike Lupica said something that really got under my skin: Cano covers No. 3 and No. 4 in the order, he covers no-show Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson and Brian Cashman letting Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui just walk out the door. I’m not mad about the Cano praise, but I’m peeved by the comments on Granderson and Cashman. Why is Lupica blaming Granderson for getting hurt? It’s also worth noting that Granderson has been hitting well of late. Including last night, he’s batting .324/.390/.595 with four Continue reading Mike Lupica Writes Something Silly

Mike Lupica Just Can’t Let Go

Just a few days ago, January 29th, our own Moshe Mandel pulled a Fire Joe Morgan on Mike Lupica due to Lupica’s hypocrisy regarding the Yankees and their spending. Well, Lupica threw out another silly piece on Sunday the 31st. The title? “New York Yankees and…Johnny Damon still have time to make a deal.” Before I get into the actual piece, I have some advice for Mr. Lupica: let it go. Seriously, man. Let. It. Go. We get it. You’re not going to be happy with the Yankees no matter what they do. Your act is, frankly, getting tired. When Continue reading Mike Lupica Just Can’t Let Go

Mike Lupica's Failure In Logic Regarding The Budget

I had promised a few readers an article on the PECOTA projections this morning, but will push that until next week because SG over at RLYW has suggested that their math is a bit off, and Colin Wyers has responded that they are looking into it. I will wait until there is more news on that before I discuss it. Anyhow, Mike Lupica wrote a column this morning so ridiculously devoid of logic that it needed to be addressed. I am going to go at it FJM-style, addressing the most egregious suggestions made by the once-great writer whose opinions have, Continue reading Mike Lupica's Failure In Logic Regarding The Budget

Lupica: Criticism but no solution

Sometimes Mike Lupica sure can be maddening, eh? Like today, as he gives the “Girardi better be right or else” treatment, criticizing the decision to start Andy Pettitte on short rest…but offering no alternative. Why? Because no sane manager would start a MLB vagabond like Chad Gaudin on A MONTH’S rest over Andy Pettitte.

Joe Girardi knows the deal as well as he knows his way out to the mound. He’s right about using only three starters in the postseason if the Yankees win, tonight or tomorrow night. He’s right if Andy Pettitte does the job in Game 6 on three days’ rest that A.J. Burnett didn’t do Monday night. Or he’s right if this thing plays all the way out and CC Sabathia carries everybody across the finish line. Girardi just better be right about three days’ rest for these guys after being up three games to one.

Seriously Mike, that’s a worthless bit of writing today. I can almost hear your screaming if Girardi announced that he was starting Chad Gaudin over Andy Pettitte or even AJ Burnett in Game 5. The team paid these guys to be horses and they’re doing their job. Talk about the ultimate “you better be right or else”…

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Continue reading Lupica: Criticism but no solution

Daily News layoffs could affect how sports fans get their information

The New York Daily News was one of my go-to news sources for several years when it came to reading about the Yankees. I would check the game recap, read quotes, consider columnists’ concerns and opinions. It would provide fodder for my conversations whether we were praising and downplaying the article in question.

Now with the likes of Mike Lupica, Teri Thompson and others from Daily News gone, I wonder how that is going to affect coverage of the Yankees. The day-to-day stuff will be there, but it’s the peripheral articles and columns that are going to change. Continue reading Daily News layoffs could affect how sports fans get their information

A Look to the Past for CC’s Future: Do Starters with “CC-Like” Declines Recover?

It’s about time to stop defending guys with, “it’s too early to conclude….” Bad performance for almost a month is worrisome – especially if the badness just continues from prior years. I already wrote that about Carlos Beltran, so now it’s CC Sabathia’s turn. The problem it isn’t his four 2015 starts; it’s his almost 300 IP of an 80 ERA+ (4.97 ERA) spanning 2013-15.

This is one of those times you can predict baseball: falling as far and as fast as CC is uncommon, but not unprecedented; he isn’t the first once-talented 30something to suffer a substantial, sudden decline – which I confirmed by searching the Baseball Reference “Play Index” tool for pitchers with a decline like CC’s. I generated a list of all 30something starters, in the past 50 years, with a career ERA+ of over 95 (i.e., average-ish or better) who, after at least six full seasons (i.e., a track record of success), suddenly had an ERA+ under 85 (in at least 150 IP).

There were 28, all in the past 35 years – so a decline like CC’s happens to about one guy a year. I then looked at how each of the 28 did after his sudden decline. CC’s 119 career ERA+ is the best of the group, but that’s misleading, because that stat doesn’t include all of his ongoing decline phase. Within the group, several had a mid 114-124 ERA+ before their last few years (e.g., Blyleven, Lackey, Drabek, Tewksbury). So CC is in the upper quartile of this group, but no outlier – which is to say this really is a “CC-like” group: average to strong longtime starters who declined suddenly and dramatically in their 30s.

So, how does it look for CC, based on what came after the prior 28 CC-like declines? Well, is “bleak” somewhere in between “hopeless” and “optimistic”?

(1) Complete Flop – Almost Half (shaded green in the below table): 13 of the 28 remained awful (or left baseball entirely), not logging a season within the next two with an ERA+ even as high as 95.

(2) Underwhelming Recoveries – Almost One-Fifth (shaded yellow): 5 of the 28 bounced back modestly but then had weak, short careers thereafter: (a) they logged a season with an ERA+ of over 95 within 1-2 years of the decline; (b) but the rest of their career of each was poor, failing to total 300 innings with an ERA+ within 10% of their career level.

(3) Successes – Just Over One-Third (shaded red): 10 of the 28 recovered well from their decline year: (a) they logged a season with an ERA+ of over 95 within a year or two; (b) for the rest of their careers after the bad season, they logged at least 300 innings with an ERA+ within 10% of their career level.

Sabathia Comps (PNG)
So The comps are bleak, but not hopeless – but if you ask, questions focused on the theme, “what’s different about CC,” I think it looks all the bleaker.

Isn’t he better than most of the 28? Yes, but that doesn’t seem to help his odds. Of the top quarter of that group (by career ERA+), two were in the “success” group, three in the “underwhelming” group, and two in the “complete flop” group. So the better pitchers don’t have better odds of recovering their lost form; after all, a fall to a sub-85 ERA+ is steeper for a CC, Blyleven, or Lackey than it is for a mediocrity like a Sanderson or Suppan.

Can’t he win with the stuff he has? Maybe, but it’s too common for guys with his current pitch portfolio to get clobbered the exact way CC does: with the long ball, no matter how good their K and BB rates. Per Fangraphs, his fastball has gotten hit hard since 2012, and his best pitch in 2015 has been his changeup, which he’s throwing 23.5% of the time, vastly above his career rate of changeup use (15.5%). Low-velocity changeup specialists may command the zone well, but when a weak fastball catches too much of the plate, or a hitter sees a changeup coming, look out – which is why those folks’ HR rates can be sky-high even as their K/BB rates look impressive.

Isn’t he a savvy veteran who can adjust? Well, maybe he could claim to need time to adjust to velocity loss and knee weakness for 50, 100, or 150 bad innings – but it’s been almost 300 innings of badness, and there’s no sign he’s learned any new tricks, so I think hopes have dimmed or died that he’s learned “to pitch smart and keep hitters off balance,” because “scouts keep [saying] … what a “pitcher” he is[,] that Sabathia knows what he’s doing out there even with diminished stuff.”

And finally, there’s no way to say this politely, but CC got to this point by being kind of stupid and undisciplined: he’s a professional athlete who admits, until nearly age 31, to “eating Cap’n Crunch every day … by the box” – and then, shocking nobody, by age 33, the knee he spent years landing his 300-pound frame on developed “a degenerative condition in the cartilage” that cost him almost two seasons.

It’s no answer to say, “athletes need calories”: the year CC was starting to toy with giving up his whole-Cap’n-box diet, A-Rod was already drawing a mix of admiration and mockery (I won’t even link Lupica here on general principle) for following the sort of high-protein/whole-vegetable diet that everyone already knew was optimal if you don’t identify as a 300-pound man-child with the dietary discipline of my six year-old boy (“Before a game, A-Rod says he always eats the same thing: five slices of turkey, no bread, and half a sweet potato — ‘no oil, no butter, no nothing.’ And for dinner, Rodriguez loads up on fish and vegetables, like steamed spinach or asparagus — again, plain, without oil, butter or salt. And … baked kale chips” — a slightly different snacking option than the Cap’n).

I swear I’ll post somehing optimistic soon; having crapped on Beltran and Sabathia, I promise my new beat isn’t, “hey, here’s the next guy I’ve lost all hope in.” I just think we’ve seen a decline from both that’s not only steep enough, but also prolonged enough, to say that any success the 2015 and 2016 Yankees have will be in spite of, and probably after they give up on, Beltran and Sabathia. Continue reading A Look to the Past for CC’s Future: Do Starters with “CC-Like” Declines Recover?