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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Monday, August 29, 2005

Ootstanding Sports Analysis, A Douchebag, And A Nine-Toed Inmate

Do you think there's a parallel universe out there in which hockey is the most popular sport, and people think football is boring/confusing/foreign? A dimension in which bombastic commentators yell at each other on TV about the top five fantasy left wingers? Where someone like Stephen A. Smith goes on rants like, "The Devils are not of this world. They manage the cap well. They have 18 guys who are willing to play the trap. They are completely ego-free. Oh, and last I checked ... they still have Martin Brodeur. Quite frankly, that's all you need."

He could even be called Stephen "Eh" Smith.

***

I love this comment that was posted in response to my indignant rant about David Bell. I don't think Jerry from the Great Northeast will be reading any more posts here, but if he is, I'd like him to know a few things.

First of all, I wrote that post the day before Bell's cousin died in Iraq. I am very sorry for his family's loss. I was at the game the next day, when there was a moment of silence observed in his memory. And after the moment of silence, I didn't even boo Bell that day out of respect, even though he went 1-4 with a strikeout and two foul pop outs.

Secondly, I think you missed the point of the post. I have no problem with David Bell as a person. He might very well be a nice guy. I'm just fed up with the fact that Ed Wade himself would probably hit righties better.

Finally, don't you realize I'm a human being and you shouldn't be throwing around the word "douchebag?"

***

So, with a serious lack of summer TV to watch and the new arrival of TiVo in my apartment, I decided to give FOX's new series Prison Break a shot. Well, after watching the two-hour premiere tonight, I think I'll be watching this show. Here's three reasons why:

1. Keeping with the tradition of 24, Prison Break is a FOX drama with an actor from the movie Major League. Here, it's Chelcie Ross, the guy who played aging spitballer Eddie Harris, and who uttered the immortal line, "You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?" Ironically, he plays a bishop in Prison Break. Or, he played a bishop. His character was offed in the pilot. But still, it's a good omen to have a Major Leaguer on the roster.

2. One of the characters on the show is a lawyer on the outside who's a friend of the guy on the inside. She's played by Robin Tunney, whom I had to look up. Her name sounded familiar - she was in Empire Records (the girl who shaved her head) and Encino Man (don't remember her in that). One guess why I looked her up. I hope her character continues to play a major role. A smart, beautiful lawyer? How could I resist?

(Well, I think she's smart. The bad guys on the show already took a dig at her, saying that they should be able to handle someone who graduated from the middle of her class at Baylor Law.)

3. At the very end of the first episode (if you haven't seen it and you plan to, stop reading here), the show's hero is being pressed for info by a prison gang led by an incarcerated mobster. He doesn't crack, but get this - they cut off his toe! Yeah, that's right. We have something in common. So I have to continue watching - the hero and I have a very unlikely bond.

Aside from these three insignificant reasons to watch, I was very entertained. You kind of have to chuck plausibility right off the bat, but once you do that, it's interesting to see which way things will turn. I mean, you figure that they will bust out eventually, but will it happen in the season finale? Halfway through? You could have half a season just following the guys around as they try to prove the convicted killer's innocence while avoiding the police and the Secret Service. Anyway, I've already set the TiVo to record it whenever it comes on. It should sustain me until 24 returns in January.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

10 Things I Hate About David Bell

1. David Bell is where rallies go to die. A case study from the Phillies game last night. Bell was 0-4. A summary of his at-bats:
2nd - Hit into a 3-6-1 double play following a leadoff single.
5th - Popped foul to third.
7th - Grounded out to short with two outs and the go-ahead run on third.
9th - Struck out swinging with the bases loaded and the tying run on third.
Total: Four times up, five outs, no balls hit out of the infield, five runners left on.
Then again, Bell sometimes prolongs rallies. Here's what he said about the ground ball single past third that drove in the Cubs' only two runs tonight: "I like to think I make that play most of the time." Great, David. I like to think I can speak four languages and bench 250.

2. David Bell couldn't hit a righty if the righty placed the ball gently on a batting tee. There are 41 third basemen in Major League Baseball with at least 100 plate appearances against righties this season. Guess who, out of 41 (at least 11 of whom are not starting for their teams), is last in batting average against right-handed pitchers? Yep, David Bell, batting an anemic .202. It's only because he checks in at 190 pounds that he avoids hitting below his weight in this category. In fact, there are 190 players in all of baseball with at least 225 plate appearances against righties, and none have a worse average than Bell's .202.

3. Charlie Manuel has no idea where to put David Bell in the lineup. If he can't take Bell out of the lineup (at least against righties, which would be preferable), Bell should be batting sixth. Bell is batting .297 when he hits sixth or higher in the order, but just .219 when he's seventh or lower. Naturally, he's got almost 40 more at-bats in the bottom third of the lineup. Besides, Manuel has the bats in the order to trot out a lineup that alternates between righty-lefty all the way. To do it, he needs Bell sixth.

4. David Bell is a mediocre hitter with no runners on base (.263 average), but he can't lead off an inning (.254). So his hits with nobody on come with outs, when they end up being less productive (.273). He can't hit with runners on base (.246). He really can't hit with runners in scoring position (.239). And he really, really can't hit with runners in scoring position and two outs (.190). Way to hit when it matters, meat.

5. There are better third basemen on David Bell's own team. Ramon Martinez is batting .269. Tomas Perez is batting .252. Bell's batting .251. He's not helping in the field either - although he's played 87.7 percent of the Phillies' innings at third base this season, he's made 100 percent of the team's errors at that position.

6. Only six third basemen in the majors have made more errors than Bell in the field this season. No, it's not because they've played more often. Seven third basemen with more innings at the position than Bell have made fewer errors. And this is a guy who supposedly is slick with the glove.

7. David Bell is making 4.7 million dollars this season. Of the 20 third basemen in the majors who have qualified for the batting title, none have scored fewer runs this season than Bell. None have driven in fewer runs than Bell. None have stolen fewer bases than Bell (because it's impossible to steal a negative base, you speed demon, you). Only one has fewer homers than Bell. And only three have a worse batting average than Bell. But somehow, 13 are making less money than Bell this season. Seriously, David Bell, you should be giving Terrell Owens some money this season. He deserves it way more than you, and that way he'd shut up and be happy, and you could do something good for this city.

8. David Bell allegedly cashed in on a big season in 2002 with the Giants when he hit the jackpot with his four-year, 17-million dollar free agent contract with the Phillies. How huge was Bell's season? He was in the top ten in exactly one offensive category in the NL that season. He had seven sacrifice flies, ranking fifth in the league. David Bell, ladies and gentlemen - he sure can fly out when it matters (actually, not even true, he only did in 2002). Also, that's the only time Bell has ever finished in the top ten in any statistical category in any season in his entire career. He's also never won any awards of any significance. Sorry, David, that 2002 Willie McCovey Award for being the most inspirational player on the Giants doesn't count. Your competition was Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.

9. Not only are there better third basemen than David Bell on his own team, there are better third basemen than him in his team's minor league system. Chris Coste is manning the hot corner for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He's seventh in the International League in RBI (he's got 30 more than Bell's lame ass). He's 16th in the league in runs (25 more than Bell), and he also has 10 more HR than Bell, four more steals than Bell, and an average 29 points higher than Bell's, not to mention that he pitched a scoreless inning earlier this season. He even struck a guy out. Hell, he could probably strike Bell out. In AA Reading, the Phils have two third basemen (Juan Richardson and Ryan Barthelemy), each with more homers and a better batting average than Bell. Hank Blalock's little bro, Jake, is hitting .280 down in single-A Clearwater. And Michael Costanzo, in short-season A ball Batavia, has four homers - only two fewer than Bell, even though he's played about a third as many games.

10. More than anything, David Bell, I hate you because I know what will happen every time you come to the plate, and it isn't good. Last night I sat in my seat watching you come to bat in the second inning, and I said, great, here comes the double play. Sure enough, you hit into a double play, 3-6-1 - you couldn't even beat it out despite the fact that Derrek Lee had to dive to make the first throw. When you came to bat in the fifth with nobody on, I thought, well, at least he can't hit into a double play. When you batted in the seventh, I knew you wouldn't drive in that runner on third. Guess what - you didn't. And when Chase Utley was up - four batters ahead of you - in the ninth, my dad, sitting next to me, had to agonize me by suggesting that the game might end up resting on your at-bat. "No," I said. "It would be very tough for that situation to happen." After all, there was one out and no runs in yet, and we needed two, so chances were good that we'd either end the inning before your at-bat or we'd win before it happened. Then Ryan Howard came up with one out, the bases loaded, down two, and you on deck. I prayed that Howard would get a hit and drive in two - I feared his taking an RBI walk and you hitting into a game-ending double play. Well, Howard did walk. But you didn't even make contact. You struck out - against a pitcher who had walked the previous four batters. And we lost.

I hate you, David Bell.