View From The Bleachers

October 5, 2012

Morning News: Bah Humbug

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 5:00 am

Well, the off-season is upon us. Raise your hand if you’re as apathetic about this team as I am. Wait, put your hands down, that’s too many to count. In case you were wondering, we missed the recap for the final game of the season. I was scheduled to write that and had the perfect headline for it: “Cubs Walk Off Into the Off-Season”. It was perfect. The only problem? I didn’t watch the game and didn’t want to pretend that I did. Instead, let’s just put the season behind us and move on. After all, it’s gonna get better. I promise.

Top Stories

The Season in an Emotional Nutshell – When opening day arrived, as is the case every year, something inside of me said that maybe this team could finish .500 and, given the weak division, compete for a playoff spot. I went into it telling myself that no matter what happened, I would enjoy the year and watch the rebuilding take place, looking for positives in development and not at win loss record. April, May, June all passed and my plan was going swimmingly. I watched Chris Volstad and looked for positives. I had fun dreaming of a Tony Campana / Katie Cernek wedding in which I’d potentially be invited to. Then came July, the month that would be the first major step in rebuilding for the future with the assets we had in the present. Needless to say, the trade deadline was a bit of a tease and left me a little hot and bothered with no outlet for it. It was at that point, my interest in the season took a detour. I quit watching full games in the month of August and can honestly say that I didn’t watch a full inning of live baseball in the month of September. That said, I’m ready to go. I’m ready for the off-season and for the rebuilding. Let’s get to it.

The Triple Crown – I’m torn on how to feel about this triple crown stuff. I think it’s really cool that Miguel Cabrera is the first player to do it in my lifetime, but find myself asking what does it really mean? When you look at it, we’re applauding leading the lead in a stat that doesn’t really measure accurately how good a hitter is as well as other metrics do as well as a stat that is entirely contingent on other people being on base ahead of you. The only stat of the three that mean anything to me is the home run. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for an epic Norm vs. Jedi XVII battle. I don’t care that much about it. I just want to know how to feel about this.

Adam Greenberg – This one, like the triple crown debate, has been running through my head for a few days now. In case you just crawled out from under your rock, Greenberg was granted an at bat by the Marlins on Tuesday to give him the Major League at bat that was “stolen” from him when he was hit in the head his only time up to the plate. What’s the point? I think it’s stupid. He earned his shot when he was given it. He got hit in the head and it ended his career. It sucks, but that’s how life goes sometime. What does a token at bat really do? If anything, it cheapens it a little and I would say shame on Greenberg for accepting or even wanting it. Did striking out against R.A. Dickey suddenly quench a thirst that was haunting him? Does he now say to himself “Alright, now I’m good. Now I can forget what might have been.” Heck no, and if it does make him feel that way, he’s an idiot. Life happens and it doesn’t always make sense. It’s not supposed to. People go through hard times in life. Maybe I’m old school, but stuff like this cheapens the game and I’m glad the Cubs chose not to participate. I wish Adam all the best in life, but I’m sorry, this wasn’t for me.

Joe’s iPod Song of the Day

Keeping with the grumpy old cermudgen theme I seem to have brought to the headlines, we’ll spin a downcast Johnny Cash to get you pumped for the rest of the day. Bah Humbug everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • TheWholeDamnShow

    I have to disagree with you Joe on Greenburg and I think Jim Rome said it best.

    “And you might be wondering why it was the Marlins who signed Adam Greenberg to a one day’er and not the team he came up with, the Cubs. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on record as saying they weren’t interested: “Adam made the big leagues based on merit in 2005. While it is unfortunate that he got hit in his first at-bat, he is in the baseball encyclopedia as a major leaguer and he should be incredibly proud of that. We wish him the best, but there are no plans to add him to the roster now or in the future.” 

    You have to love a team that’s 37 games out of first preaching about the game’s “merit” as they stink their way to a 100 loss season.Hey Jed, did you see that scene last night in Miami? While your fans are selling your tickets online for 19 cents, Greenberg had the fans in South Florida all fired for the moment. And while he was doing that, you were getting shut out for the second night in a row by Houston, so save this nonsense about merit. As if bringing this guy in for a single at-bat would be making a mockery of the game. You mean the very thing you’ve been doing for the last 7 months. Get off your high horse, Jed.”What was it going to hurt the Cubs? It could of been a nice high point to the season for a club that was pretty embarrassing. 

  • http://davemoresi.webs.com/ CubbieDude

    re: Adam Greenberg – It would seem that the Cubs could have done something for the guy over the past 7 years.  Maybe they did.  Just a “Thanks” and a pat on the butt are not enough in my book.  But since Adam got hit in the head in 2005 , Jed’s not the first in the Cubs organization to “Walk On By”.

    I’m not impressed with “The Triple Crown” per se.  As you point out, Joe, the criteria are not as stupendous as they might have seemed a few decades ago.  But I applaud Mr. Cabrera for having a great year (by any measurement standards).

    I haven’t watched an entire Cubs game in months, certainly not since they traded away their pitching staff.  My dad, however, watched every minute of every game.  I feel bad for him.

  • Noah_I

    I don’t think question in regards to Adam Greenberg should be a question of merit or not.  Was it a nice thing for the Marlins to do?  Sure.  Was it something any team, including the Cubs, should have been near required to do?  No.  Despite it being a nice thing for the Marlins to do, was it pretty gimmicky?  Yes.  But it really doesn’t bother me one way or the other.  If made the Marlins happy and made Adam Greenberg happy, I don’t think it actually effects anyone else negatively, so I’m fine with it.  But I also would have been fine with no team agreeing to do this.

    Regarding the triple crown, even as a stathead I readily admit it’s an impressive achievement, and you do have to be a great hitter to achieve it.  But, as everyone else stated, the RBI portion is a byproduct of who is hitting in front of you.  Cabrera getting the RBI crown was at least significantly influenced by Austin Jackson raising his OBP 60 points over the 2011 campaign.  I think what the real statement regarding the Triple Crown should be is that it’s an impressive achievement and Cabrera is a great hitter, but winning the Triple Crown does not necessarily equal winning the MVP.  Mike Trout was the best all around player in the AL (and indeed all of baseball) this year, not Miguel Cabrera.

    The only time I might have watched a full Cubs game over the last couple months of the season would be if I was also doing in the evenings or over the weekend from home.

  • BLPCTB

    I barely watched any Cubs games this year. I do have the last game on dvr though.

  • Dusty_Baylor

    The Award is for the Most Valuable Player….not the best all around player.  Cabrera’s team is in the playoffs, Trout’s isn’t.    If Trout had played the month of April, who knows?
    I get the devaluation of RBI’s, but it’s not like a player automatically gets an RBI when runners are on base.  He still had to drive those runners in right?  It’s not like Cabrera was a 90 RBI a year guy…..who suddenly had 139 this year.  He had 126 RBI 2 years ago, and has had 100+ RBI’s for 9 straight seasons.  I have no problem at all with Cabrera getting the MVP.

  • Doc Raker

    Adam Greenberg = Eddie Gadell, a Veckian promotion to put butts in the seats, why not the game is entertainment after all. Is Greenberg still in baseball?
    *
    Game 162 was exciting, Len got excited and raised his voice with LaHair’s walk off hit. LaHair went 2-4 with a HR and a walk off hit, I will always root for LaHair and hope he sticks somewhere, I think he can make adjustments to be a quality big league hitter or a superstar in Japan.
    *
    How could of anyone really believed this team could be a .500 team with a rebuild on the way? That’s like believing Barry knows what he is doing.

  • Joe Aiello

    My guess is that medical bills were taken care of and he was paid his salary since the contracts are gauranteed in baseball. Outside of that, what is realled owed to him? It sucks that it happened, but life happens.

  • Joe Aiello

    What can I say? I’m a bit of an optimist, despite the tone of my post.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    You know who else had one at-bat?  Eddy Gaedel.  At least that publicity stunt was overt.  

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I should have read past the first comment…we champs think alike. Drinks on Raker.  

  • Eddie Von White

    Cubs season – exactly what I expected. I chuckled a little when we (VFTB -ers) were playing the “what ifs” game – “If we play .500 ball the last eight games we’ll finish under 100 losses.” We haven’t played .500 ball all season, why would we the last eight games? (Notice the free use of the word “we” – like we’re part of the team).

    Adam Greenberg – I agree with Joe for the most part – doesn’t prove a thing.

    Triple crown – Gives the sports channels something to carry on about. 

    Johnny Cash – that’s the worse song he ever did – so depressing.

  • wisconsinjpc

    Joe, I believe you when you promise things will get better. After all, how could they be worse? (Bracing for smiting from the baseball gods now).

    All I can say is that this is going to be the most exciting hot-stove we’ve had in a long while. Jed & Theo have had a whole year to settle in. I’m eager to see what they can do to help build the farm. Good first steps this season (even though the on-field product was putrid), now it’s time for Theo to earn his money.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I strongly doubt Jim Rome ever said anything the best.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I’m pretty sure he knocked around in the minors for a few years once he got over the effects of the concussion. At least part of that time was spent in the Cubs’ system, so it’s not like they left him in the hospital to rot.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    It’s not strictly a Johnny Cash song–it’s his cover of a Nine Inch Nails tune. FWIW.

  • TheWholeDamnShow

    Haha point taken

  • Seymour Butts

    Though it is rumored that I did crawl out from under a rock, I was still aware of Adam Greenberg’s at bat. He actually did have a significant head injury and did not walk properly, let alone play ball for a couple of years. Great for him, but mow we need a new campaign. Let’s get Cubbie Dude’s dad one at bat…. start a signature drive.
    I did catch most of the last game, and Was delighted to see LaHair get the walk off. The game high lights contain enough LaHair to both fill a bikini bottom and delight Raker.
    Triple crown still matters, despite the existence of more advanced metrics.
    And thank you , Joe, for not running a predict the playoffs post. It would be king of like asking a death row prisoner which method of execution he prefers.

  • Jedi

    Are we really only up to battle number XVII?  It feels like more.

    Glad to see more people thought the Adam Greenberg bit was a sham.  Interesting that he didn’t want a single HBP to the head to define him; instead an at-bat that he didn’t earn (and striking out against a knuckler) will define him.  Great tradeoff.  Also, no one mentions that the Cubs would’ve had to dump someone from the 40-man in order to do it…so someone who HAS earned his spot, gets kicked to the curb because of something that happened years ago?  Makes no sense.

    At risk of setting off a firestorm, can’t the Triple Crown mean less than everything and still be incredibly significant.  It’s been 45 years since someone has done it, so we all agree it’s difficult, right?  So at issue is whether it’s significant to lead the league in AVG, HR, and RBIs all in the same year?  The idea that on their own none of those stats is in any way decisive isn’t something I’d dispute – that’s an argument that sabers have been beating like a drum.  But baked into that concept is the notion that those numbers can each be affected by varying degrees of luck or inflation at the cost of other stats.  In other words, leading the league in AVG is less important because it can be lucky (the BABIP argument).  Or that RBIs are too reliant on the previous batters being on base (the love of OBP – the ‘you didn’t build that’ of the MLB).  Or that HRs are emphasized in a way that almost encourages hitters to aim for the fences, instead of simply trying to get on base (the Mark Reynolds argument).  But, if we’re to believe that the Triple Crown borders on insignificant, why bother keeping those stats anymore?  Why bother calculating AVG?  Why bother keeping track of HRs?  Because even if these stats aren’t conclusive on their own, they definitely can be conclusive when considered together and in supplement with other stats as well.  It’s not as if the world is being Pollyannish and Cabrera has an OBP 20 points above his AVG.  Maybe what you’re really expressing Joe is that you’d prefer it not to be a Triple Crown, or a different Triple Crown…trade RBIs for TBs or HRs for ISO or SLG% and of course AVG for OBP…fine, that’s a fair argument.  And I think, more often than not, that’s really at the crux of this…the idea that the Triple Crown tells us who is the best hitter, best power hitter, and best run producer insults people’s intelligence.  But that’s more about how the Triple Crown is advertised – not it’s significance.  Cabrera was the best at putting up those three numbers than anyone this season, and that’s not happened in either league for 45 years.  That HAS to be significant.

    By the way, I still say Trout for MVP.  He’s done things that no one has ever done…and he played less than a full season.  Stark had a decent piece on it http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8450155/mike-trout-buster-posey-rest-2012-award-winners-mlb

    So while someone matched Cabrera’s feat 45 years ago – Trout is literally doing things that no one has ever done.  EVER.  And in 139 games (I dare say with 20 additional games to his credit, no one would even be having this argument – Trout would’ve settled it unassailably.  It’s a borderline consensus as it is).

  • WhyCubDog

    Geez – bad article – let someone else with a little bit of juice left write the last game summary. How lame. Nice try by Jedi jumping in to save the page. No full games watched in August and none in September – why are you even writing an article? Why do they let you? You are associated with a link from Espn/The Sweetspot –try to represent. Don’t let the Cubs get you down, good heavens man – pull yourself together!

  • BLPCTB

    There are plenty of people who think Barry is doing a fine job, because they believe he is a magical god that can walk on water, turn it into wine, eat bullets, and shit ice cream

  • Noah_I

    But Cabrera’s team is only in the playoffs because Cabrera’s team is in what is at least the worst division in the AL, if not the worst division in baseball.  Trout’s team had a better record, but happened to be in arguably the toughest division in baseball.  So yes, the MVP should be for the best player in baseball.  I don’t think Cabrera should be rewarded for getting to play a huge percentage of his games against the White Sox, Royals, Indians and Twins instead of the Rangers, A’s and Mariners.

    And the difference between 126 RBIs and 139 RBIs is not insignificant.  Cabrera had 10% more RBIs in 2012 than he did in 2010.  While it’s not a huge difference, 10% is not nothing.

    The problem with RBIs is that they can’t independently tell you how good a player is, but can lead you in the wrong direction.  You don’t need to look at RBIs to know that Miguel Cabrera is a great hitter.  His average, OBP, and power numbers all tell you that.  And they’d tell you that Cabrera is a great hitter independently of where he hits in the order.  If Cabrera batted first, he’d have a lot less RBIs.  

    But if you just looked at RBIs, you could think that Hunter Pence had a great year.  He broke 100 RBIs for the first time in his career, after all!   But in fact Pence had the worst year of his MLB career, hitting just .253/.319/.425.  According to FanGraphs, he was worth 3 less wins in 2012 than he was in 2011.  So how were the RBIs so high?  Well, he didn’t spend any portion of the season with the Astros, so that helped.  And he batted 3-5 in the lineup all year.  

    Good stats are either descriptive or predictive of a player’s performance.  The problem with RBIs is that they are really neither.  They don’t accurately describe how well a player hit, even with men on base, because RBIs also involve how many men happened to be on base in front of a hitter.  And they aren’t predictive of how a hitter will do in the future.

  • Jedi

    Thanks for the kind words to me, but you’re way off base about Joe.

    1) Welcome to the site.  I don’t recall seeing you post before.
    2) The Morning News is an off-season favorite (particularly of mine) and frequently has nothing to do with baseball.
    3) If the only people permitted to host a discourse about the Cubs were those that had watched games in the season’s last two months, we’d basically be relegated to players and team personnel as the only people worthy of speaking on such a topic – and I’m not even sure they watched.
    4) I wasn’t operating under the assertion that we had to watch the entirety of every game we recapped.  I frequently miss the live airing, and only later watch the condensed game, or selected portions/innings that were particularly pivotal.  Sometimes, I only listen to the game, and rewatch the important moments just before I post.  It’s possible to communicate what happened without parking yourself on the sofa for 2+ hours and documenting each pitch and swing.  While that can yield some very important insights, it can also lead to child neglect and divorce if done regularly.  I have a day job too, one that I’d like to keep (of course, I also have the benefit of being on the west coast so when a Cubs game finishes at 830PM PST, I can review anything of importance via MLB.com before I post a recap).
    5) Did I say welcome?  This is Joe’s site.  He created it, he graciously allows me to contribute.  You won’t win my favor (or that of most here) by visiting Joe’s house and taking a dump in his living room.  That’s the online equivalent of what’s occurred here.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    That was one shitty analogy.  

  • wisconsinjpc

    Amen. And even though this is a site dedicated to the Cubs, nobody in their right mind would say watching the final episode of a 100-loss dumpster-fire of a season is particularly necessary. Just because ESPN is on the banner doesn’t mean we’re obliged to undergo the last full measure of our team’s torture.

  • Jedi

    ESPN employed an analyst for years who neither analyzed nor watched the game.  If Joe Morgan can do it nationally on TV, we can certainly do it once in a while here in the blogosphere.

  • Timothy Scarbrough

    As someone who was in no way a major league player, it seems to me that the triple crown include statistics that players value more themselves, seeing as it is far more immediately tangible and appreciated than advanced sabermetrics.

  • Doc Raker

    Barry is going after the moron vote, Obamorons a plenty.

  • Joe Aiello

    This one is my bad, Jed. I sent out a memo the other day to the staff of VFTB and I must have forgotten to include you on it. It read:

    “Effective 10/1/2012

    This is now WhyCubDog’s world and we’re just living in it.”

    In all seriousness, I like to think I am in the majority when I said I didn’t watch. The attendance numbers seem to back me up. I guess next time we’ll just be silent completely….but thanks for reading. =)

  • dusty baylor

    I understand that RBI’s are affected by who gets on base ahead of you.
    I have never said to look only at RBI’s.  But again, I don’t think you discount them entirely.  Cabrera is a beast, and if he wins the MVP, I’m fine with that.

  • Seymour Butts

    Agree…it was more like taking a dump in his cornflakes than the living room, because, who hasn’t actually done that.

  • Doc Raker

    For those of you who have access to XM or mlb audio the Braves radio broadcasters are very good, in particular Don Sutton. Much better than the Cardinals Mike Shannan in my opinion. There is a good wild card game going on right now, elimination game atmosphere.

  • Jedi

    Took over on the 1st, griping about his predecessor on the 5th.  Sounds like our President.

  • Jedi

    Two years in a row the Braves will be eliminated on the season’s final day by the Cards.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    This guy.  Some college buddies and I did upper deck a vista in Montego Bay (and figuratively, the nation as a whole) on our way out, in retaliation for getting burglarized.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Good point.  

  • Buddy

    That infield fly rule call sure didn’t help the Braves chances.

  • Jedi

    So-called one-game wild card playoffs, another rousing Bud Selig success.  Despite 6 fewer wins, the Cards get in and will likely advance to the playoffs over a 94 win Braves team.  Despite sporting the SEVENTH best record in their league, the Tigers get in.  There were more teams within their division that had a worse record, than in the other 2 AL divisions combined.

    Ostensibly they added the first wild card to avoid penalizing second place teams with great records.  Pretty sure if I was a Braves fan, I’d feel penalized today.  Then they added the second wild 1) make winning your division more valuable, and 2) make more room for the ‘better’ teams.  Meanwhile, Detroit has arguably the best setup of any team in the ‘playoffs’ – though they also boast the worst record (that’s a sizeable reward for winning a terrible division).  As for getting better teams in?  I think you might find the Rays a bit appalled at the idea that the Tigers are a better team.

    They need to stop making changes reactively to some perceived injustice.  Like deciding HFA at the All-Star Game.

  • BLPCTB

    How are the Braves being penalized? In the NL, the 5 best records qualified for the playoffs.

  • BLPCTB

    Yup. Like my mom. And all the sons and daughters voting for a brother. And Snoop Dogg, who posted on facebook his list of reasons why he’s voting for Barry

  • Seymour Butts

    By the infield fly rule. As Packer fans, we should commiserate.

  • http://davemoresi.webs.com/ CubbieDude

    Thanks for the sentiment.  Can you take an official MLB at-bat in a wheelchair?

  • Doc Raker

    Are you in a wheelchair Cubbiedude?

  • Doc Raker

    Cant anyone kill the wicked witches of the NL Central. Poor Texas, I guess that is what they get for picking up Cubs at the deadline. Dempster had a ERA in the low 1’s verse teams under .500 and an ERA above 9 verse teams above .500. I wouldn’t pay Dempster anything over the minimum for 2013.

  • http://davemoresi.webs.com/ CubbieDude

    Only occasionally, Doc.  But my dad is, full time.

  • Doug S.

    Kind of surprised to read that some of you were not watching the games lately. Even though I bitch about the Cubs I’ll still watch them every chance I get.

  • BLPCTB

    I didn’t have any chances. No wgn in Florida.

  • Buddy

     Same here Doug. Watching any baseball game is great.

  • Doc Raker

    Orange whip? Orange whip? Five orange whips waitress!

  • Eddie Von White

     Ditto

  • Doc Raker

    Buck Martinez is doing the A’s Detroit game, he is a very good color analysts. Buck knows baseball and gives a great perspective into the game, and he has great hair. Not as good as the Capn’s hair but better hair than Seymour for sure. 

  • Seymour Butts

    gee, that hurt…watch your back at recess.

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