Archive for October, 2004

Interview with Adam Conn

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with the founder of a very controversial, yet interesting website. Adam Conn, founder and lead writer for ContractBud.com took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about Baseball, Bud Selig, and Sports in general. This is the first of what will be a vast number of interviews this off-season. Stay tuned throughout the off-season for exciting interviews, free agent rumors, predictions, and perhaps a random work of fiction from Dave Beyer. In the meantime, enjoy the interview and make sure you check out Contract Bud, it’s a must read.

Joe: Adam, since most people do not know who you are, why not take this chance to first, tell me a little about yourself.

Adam: I grew up all over the midwest, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin — the heart of the Big Ten, and at the time, bad baseball, football, and basketball at the professional level. So while I picked specific teams to root for, like the Cubs, Packers, and Penguins, all of them pretty much lived at the bottom. I learned to become a fan of the sports themselves instead. Like most kids, I played baseball, but moved on to soccer and wrestling as my main sports.

Joe: So with that being said, do you find yourself rooting for any team in particular in Major League Baseball?

Adam: Well, I’m still loyal to the Cubs, but in that way that true Cubs fans are loyal — I get confused when they actually are winning. I avoid wearing my Cubs paraphernalia when they are winning so it doesn’t appear that I’m a bandwagon fan. Having lived in Boston for 10 years, I continue to follow them; living in Minneapolis now, I follow the Twins as well. I did like the Yankees for a while in the 70s, but after August 2, 1979, I couldn’t root for them any more.

Joe: What are your thoughts on this year in Major League Baseball, as we have a chance to look back?

Adam: I was very pleased with how the playoffs turned out — with the exception of the Angels and Braves not even attempting to play in the postseason, but who is going to remember that at all. I was probably the only person outside of St. Louis that thought the Cardinals were the best team in the National League. I think it showed the cracks in the Moneyball system as well, which not too many people have discussed right yet. I was pleased to see the potential in Detroit and Cleveland, and to see Tampa show some signs of life, and to see Texas rebound after Alex “The Curse” Rodriguez was exiled; that was great.

Joe: It’s interesting you mention Moneyball, as I just recently finished reading it for the first time. What are your thoughts on the book?

Adam: It’s a system doomed to collapse based on it’s success and Beane’s ego about it. Beane prides himself on finding oddballs like Hatteburg, and cheap pickups and weirdos in the draft. But his thinking might make him make more mistakes — find someone who resembles Hatteburg on paper, but in reality won’t produce. I’m also doubtful of his system to find pitching. I think Theo Epstein’s approach may work. Find those Moneyball oddities, but also spend big money on the right people. Getting away on the cheap won’t get you as far.

Joe: Do you feel people too much faith in OBP and Bill Jamesian philosophies, or are they valid?

Adam: I think there’s a way to find a good compromise between the numbers guys and talent. I personally fill my fantasy team each year with the guys who draw the walks, score the runs. I tend to stay away from those who strikeout twice as often as they hit a ball. I tend to root for the guys who play a multifaceted game. Carlos Beltran for example. Speed, defense, power, average, etc.

Joe: Speaking of Carlos Beltran, where do you see him next year? Why?

Adam: As a Cubs fan, I’d love him in the friendly confines, and I don’t rule it out. The Yankees, of course, will do everything they can to get him. I know the Astros have to consider keeping him. He was everything to them this post-season. LA is a a possibility, and perhaps the Angels. He’s the number one free agent on the market, and he’ll have to go to a big market team.

Joe: Prediction?

Adam: He’ll be a very rich man.

Joe: So, no team prediction?

Adam: It really rests with Scott Boras. Boras would love to get him on the Yankees, but keep in mind Bernie Williams is his client too. With the Yankees looking to dump Kevin Brown, and having already dumped Travis Lee, he might have some problems. The Yankees are the obvious front-runners, but I think if Boras wants to improve his own reputation, he’d consider a team like the Cubs as his primary spot. That way, he could take credit if they break their World Series drought.

Joe: Ok, let’s switch gears a little. I recently discovered your site. One of the first things a visitor notices when they log on is the name. Tell me about the story behind it.

Adam: After November 6, 2001, I said “Instead of contracting baseball, we should contract Bud Selig instead.” After musing about making a one-issue website, I decided to make ContractBud.com a general sports editorial website, dedicated to the improvement of all sports. We really aren’t about what’s good for roto baseball or fantasy football, nor are we a shill for any one team. It’s also not a bloggy “gee this sucks” site; we try to make recommendations for improving the situations.

Joe: Many people believe Bud Selig is a huge reason why baseball has experienced the recovery from the strike. Why do you want to see him removed from office?

Adam: Saying Selig is the reason baseball has recovered is like saying Philip Morris is behind the great reduction of smoking in this country. Selig lead the strike in 1994 — he cancelled the World Series. That killed the Expos, who had to disband perhaps the best team we would have ever seen win the post-expansion World Series. He got fortunate that the McGwire-Sosa HR derby and Cal Ripken saved the game. In 2001, after September 11th, what brought this country back together was baseball, not through any effort of Selig. I more credit Disney/ESPN/ABC with saving baseball than Selig. And after all that, he stuck another dagger into the baseball world by announcing contraction plans immediately after one of the best WS ever.

Joe: Selig has been responsible for a number of changes in baseball, such as the new division format, the wild card, interleague play, and home field advantage for the world series for the All Star winner. What are your thoughts on these? Have they in fact made baseball better?

Adam: I think interleague play has cheapened both the All-Star game and the World Series. Plain and simple. The new division format was well overdue, but still poorly executed. The Brewers shouldn’t have been moved to the NL Central, and I think it could have been set up more along geographical lines. I do like the unbalanced schedule. I would have shortened the regular season back to 154 to accommodate the wild card. That would produce more pennant races, and a better traditional ending for the season. We had the potential for this season to end on October 31! Would you want to see it potentially SNOW during the World Series? The home field advantage from the All-Star game wasn’t his idea; I think that was proposed eons ago. It’s not a big issue, unless there is a tie…

Joe: So if you had to replace Selig, who would you replace him with?

Adam: Sol Gittleman. He’s a member of SABR, former minor league infielder, former provost of Tufts University, a heck of a consensus builder. He’s an impressive man both in his knowledge and true love of baseball, his understanding of political divisions between ownership and the players, and his understanding that baseball is a business first and foremost, a sport second, but overall, the passion of the American people.

Joe: One name that was mentioned a while back was NBC commentator, Bob Costas. What are your thoughts on him as a potential replacement?

Adam: I do like Costas as a potential commissioner, but I think he’d run into big problems. He tends to be a little sarcastic, and coy, and would wind up pissing one of the owners off right away. I think baseball needs someone more intellectual, less known; another Bart Giamatti — but with a better health outlook.

Joe: With no change in the commissioner in sight, let’s shift our focus to changes in baseball. One of the articles on your site addresses the question of what changes baseball needs to make. What is the most important change you would like to see take place and Why?

Adam: There are tremendous issues going forward, and baseball will need someone with that strength and resolve — putting a “celebrity” commish in place will only diminish from the seriousness of the position. There are a ton of changes that we’ve address since the site went live. What would be the most important? Getting the next Collective Bargaining Agreement in place by the end of the 2005 season, rather than waiting to do it during the 2006 season. Without that, any changes are meaningless long term. We have the potential for baseball to “hockey” out right now. The free agent market this winter will test how strong both sides are. If it winds up being a fairly quiet and calm off season, we should be fine. But with the potential for Sosa to be traded, and the Yankees to eviscerate their pitching staff, we could see a lot of screwy things going on.

Joe: Ok, let’s move on to your website. Why should people read it? What does it have to offer?

Adam: We offer opportunities for the readers to think beyond the base of fan loyalty and knee jerk reaction. We hope to provoke thoughts and discussions that are bigger than single games and single plays. We investigate elements that are out of the common area. There’s more to discuss than the DH rule or who is exactly who’s daddy. We try to bring that to folks in as many sports as possible. (And we are always looking for new writers!) If you are a fan of sports, we’re the website for you.

Joe: If someone is interested in writing for your site, what do they need to do?

Adam: They would need to contact me at Founder@ContractBud.com. I generally ask interested folks for a couple sample editorials as well as a short list of ideas for potential articles.

Joe: If you could spend the rest of your life on an island and the only thing you had to read was 1 website and 1 columnist, what would they be?

Adam: Hmmmm.. that’s a tough one. Other than mine, I’d say something like The Spitter or maybe Baseball Library. For a columnist… I’d say Herb Caen

Joe: Finally, I always like to get some book recommendations. So, what are your top 3 sports/baseball books?

Adam: Conduct of the Game by John Hough. Ball Four by Jim Bouton, and The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.: J. Henry Waugh Prop. by Robert Coover.

Joe: Adam, thank you so much for your time. Keep up the good work with the site.

Adam: No Problem.

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Steve Stone’s resignation

Friday, October 29th, 2004

Chicagosports.com has submitted his resignation. I quote from them:

Dear Cubs fans:

Since I put on a Cubs uniform in 1974, I’ve seen lots of Cubs history. There has been heartache and joy, agony and ecstasy, not to mention 21 managers and 10 general managers.

Through all of these years and more than a few broadcast partners, I have always felt a strong connection to the greatest, most loyal fans in baseball, Cubs fans.

My love for the city of Chicago and the people who came to beautiful Wrigley Field has been a constant. Over three million of you Cubs fans came to the ball park in 2004 and the TV ratings showed you watched the Cubs broadcasts in staggering numbers.

Unfortunately, the 2004 season did not end as we had hoped. It was devastating for all of us who invested our hearts, our time and in many cases our lives, in the hopes and dreams of the Cubs winning a world championship.

I am sure you have read many things about this past season and my involvement in one or two controversies. However, you have never heard my story or my perspective of the events that have brought us to this point in time.

As has always been my personal policy, it is not my intention to divulge the content of private conversations I’ve had with others. Likewise, I do not want to be forced into sharing my side of the story.

I came to Chicago on the high road with my credibility and integrity. Thirty years later, I choose to leave the same way.

The phrase I used that angered certain people was “I regret nothing.” Well folks, I was wrong about that and want to set the record straight. I regret I won’t be calling another Cubs game on WGN-TV for the greatest fans in baseball…the fans of the Chicago Cubs.

It’s been a great ride. I will never forget you. Most importantly, I thank you all for every minute of happiness, you, the fans have given me.

Best regards,

Steve Stone

Cub Broadcast Booth
That makes me sad, but it’s not unexpected. The grief he took for shooting straight would be hard to take for anyone with even a shred of integrity. He wasn’t perfect, but he was better than most, and I liked his style. The voice of the announcer provides continuity from season to season. Just as the logo and uniforms should be changed sparingly to provide visual consistency to a sport where the roster can turn over 90 % in five years, announcers’ voices provide aural consistency. He’s been here a long time and has become a part of Cubs broadcasts.
With the ousting of Chip “Crap” Caray, the Cubs now have an opportunity to start anew with a twosome whose voices and personalities can stamp Cubs broadcasts as watchable even if they’re 67-95 the year before, as Chip’s grandpa and Stoney did for so many years. Part of that is giving the announcers freedom to be themselves, which we discovered that the increasingly cranky Mr. Stone did NOT have. Here’s hoping they have the long term in mind and not the bottom line. If they open the purse strings for professionals instead of giving the job to blowhards like Joe Carter, and they let them be themselves, Stone’s resignation can allow the Cubs to usher in a fresh new team which will be around for many years. If they go cheap and hire puppets, you may as well hand Cubs broadcasts over to Fox, ‘cuz that’s how bad it could be.

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Red Sox win!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

At this moment I’d like to admit that although I HATE the Cardinals and wish punks like Matt Morris would slip on a banana and fall into a pool of pirhanas, Cardinals fans are generally decent people who don’t act like jerks at every opportunity. That takes a lot for me to admit.
schadenfreude
So here’s a cry of schadenfreude for Cards players and a nod of respect to Cards fans. Just as catholics would say we were born with original sin, your major fault (from my eyes) is that you were born with Cardinal sin. Tough luck on the series, but at least you have your dignity.

Teams that have worse fans than the Cards:
Philadelphia Phillies
New York Yankees
Houston Astros
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Dodgers
Milwaukee Brewers
Boston Red Sox
San Francisco Giants
Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (both of them. Jerks!)

Good luck to most Cards fans in your personal lives, and I wish you nothing but misery in regard to your favorite team. Nothing personal; I hope you can understand.

P.S. Let’s give Dusty Baker control of the Royals, Tony LaRussa the Devil Rays, Joe Torre the Brewers, and Bobby Cox the Tigers and see how good these “geniuses” really are!

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Slate states, “Schilling Shameless!”

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

Slate.com published a pretty entertaining article about Schilling…check it out.

Isn’t it awesome that the guy who became famous for having blood on his sock plays for the Red Sox? That’s the kind of neat perfection that Dave Winfield missed by hitting a seagull with a ball at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto instead of a Blue Jay. Or if Tony Gwynn became a Catholic missionary working in Guatemala. Sometimes things just work out the way they should.

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Sweet!

Monday, October 25th, 2004

Red Sox beat Yankees. Yay!
Cardinals beat Astros. Boo!
50 % of the teams I despise most in major league baseball made the World Series. Thanks to the Sox, who are somewhere in the middle, for reducing that percentage. As for the Astros, letting LaRussa beat them is just another crime on their rap sheet. The ‘stros mystifying run at season’s end can now be attributed simply to relief at being free from a manager they no longer believed in and not Garner’s suddenly no-longer-dormant genius. He was, and still is, little more than a dingleberry clinging to a hair on the fatty rump of baseball, and all it took was some two-ply lotion-infused St. Louis Charmin to wipe him off.

As for the World Series, let Kurt and the idiots play scissors to St. Louis’s paper, and maybe the Cubs can come back as Rock next year.

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Where is the strike when you need it?

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

In 1994, I had my baseball season ruined by a strike. It canceled a season that I considered a great season. There were teams like the Expos, who never win, that were actually winning. There were good guys like Tony Gwynn going for a .4oo BA. Sure, the Cubs were not doing well, with a 49-64 record under the great Tom Trebelhorn, but what else is new? All around, it was an enjoyable year. Then, the strike goes and ruins it all. It takes what could have been a great postseason from us.

Enter 2004. The year of the Cubs, right? How can we lose with Wood, Prior, Maddux, Zambrano, Clement, and a solid pen? Well, after injuries, poor OBP, violent sneezes, peeing on hands, and “umpire conspiracies” take their toll, the Cubs are left for dead in the division and the Wild Card race. Now, I have been forced to endure what could be the most painful postseason ever.

Take a look at the teams I hate, in the order of hatred.
1) Boston Red Sox
2) St. Louis Cardinals
3) New York Yankees
4) Houston Astros
5) Chicago White Sox
6) New York Mets

The top 4 teams all made it to the championship series and the top 2 have both advanced to the World Series. Can it get any worse for me? So, again I ask, where is the strike when you need it? Why can’t it wipe out this postseason? Why can’t it ruin the season for Boston and St. Louis like it did for the Expos just 10 years ago? Why? WHY? WHY?

I don’t know that I will watch the World Series much this year. I didn’t watch it last year because I was just too heart broken. This year, it’s due to hate. Maybe I can put a few calls in and get a strike worked arranged in the next day or so. If not, I’ll just utter the famous phrase. “Wait till next year.”

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Baseball update

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Fox has gotten itself into a mess; the Yanks-Sox game, which is 4-3 Yankees in the 8th with nobody out, Sox on 1st and 3rd, and Rivera entering the game, is running over the St. Louis-Houston game.

Both playoff series are, for me, like the presidential race; I, and maybe some other voters, am put in the position of voting for the lesser of two evils. Go Sox! Let the only mostly evil team beat the completely evil team!

UPDATE: Sox tie it. 4-4 going into the bottom of the 9th. Last night’s game was an extra-inning thriller; how many innings will this one go? Who will win? Can the Sox stay alive? Can the Yankees put them away? Who are those mysterious women that Fox keeps showing? Are they just attractive women or wives of the players? When will Fox lose the baseball contract? Will anyone realize that McCarver sucks? When will the questions end?

UPDATE: Answers: 14. Sox. Yes. No. Don’t know. Don’t know. Probably not. Only listeners. When that question was asked.

Very exciting baseball games. I feel lucky to have watched them. Now, though the Sox are still barely hanging on, all they need to do is win two games in Yankee Stadium after being down 3-0. Doubtful, but that would be quite a story. In Houston, Jeff “Foxworthy” Kent hit a 3 run dinger to support Backe & Lidge and put them up 3-2. Carlos Beltran is playing like this is HIS postseason.

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More on Caminiti, plus good news for radio listeners

Friday, October 15th, 2004

ESPN.com is reporting that the preliminary results from the autopsy indicate that Ken Caminiti died of a drug overdose. Thanks to Michael Hurta for pointing out that the autopsy is not yet complete, so it’s not yet certain. Caminiti appeared at one point to be willing to try to get better, but it’s too bad that he didn’t make it. While we’re on the topic of recently deceased public figures, I’d like to tip my hat to Christopher Reeve and Rodney Dangerfield. If only it could have been Kevin Costner and Carrot Top instead.

GOOD NEWS FOR RADIO LISTENERS!
According to Ed Sherman of chicagosports.com (no link included because of their unexplained need for readers to log in) Pat Hughes loves working with Santo and doesn’t want the TV job right now, if offered. That’s great news for WGN listeners via radio or webcast. You can go to Chicagosports.com and read Ed Sherman’s latest column for more. God bless those two. Hearing Pat and Ron doing Cubs games via webcast is one of the good things in my life.

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Stoney yea, trainer nay

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

According to the Sun-Times, Cubs trainer Dave Groeschner and his assistant have been given the boot, or more appropriately, the achilles tendon.

They join diminutive spaz Wendell Kim in the unemployment line. Kim should consider joining Danny Almonte’s old team; he’s little league sized and little league brained.

However, Steve Stone appears to be keeping his job, according to the company that cuts his checks, the Chicago Tribune.

That’s all neutral to good news from my persepective. Though I doubt Groeschner was to blame for all the injuries, Kim was certainly an albatross around the Cubs’ neck, and Stone deserves to keep his job.

And now, Mr. Hendry, on to the business of quietly tampering with Renteria to sign him for next year, trading Sosa, signing Ramirez, and trying to collect more failed veteran middle infielders who can’t hit than Cher has plastic surgeries.

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