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Crash Bag, Vol. 75: The Fetishization of Bacon

Posted By Michael Baumann On October 11, 2013 @ 8:00 am In Crabshurn Urly,Crash Bag,MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Potpourri,Talking about feelings | 10 Comments

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this will be the final Crash Bag. Because we’re going to have to cancel the internet. Thanks to this:

That’s right. “Bacon Moustache” showed up in my timeline, and I’m declaring the internet closed, and by extension, Twitter, Crashburn Alley and the Crash Bag itself. We need to stop the scourge of internet speak and the fetishization of bacon. I think it’s time to add another one of Baumann’s Laws of Social Conduct. Baumann’s Third Law of Social Conduct: If you use the verb forms of “victory” or “failure” as a noun*, or if you engage in the worship of certain foodstuffs (bacon and Sriracha), you will be turned into a college freshman that doesn’t get invited to the cool parties. In 2007. And there you will remain forever, with Matthew Inman mansplaining about why it’s okay not to respect women on the internet.

*Caveat: “Win” is acceptable as a noun if and only if it refers to a discrete unit of victory, e.g., the Phillies are looking for their first win since 2011. We’re grown-ups here. Let’s start talking like it.

@Brandon_Warne: “One year in, is there any clarity as to who is winning/leading the Worley/May for Revere trade?”

Well, the jury’s very much still out on this one, and I’m uneasy about judging trades at any point but the moment the trade is made (so the vagaries of outcome don’t dilute the criticism of process) but I’d say the Phillies. We’re pretty familiar with what Ben Revere did in 2013–a month or so of being cooler than being cool (which is to say, ice cold) before bringing his batting average up over .300 and his OPS up to around league average. Add plus defense and 22 stolen bases in half a season and that’s not elite production, but it’s not bad. When he fouled that ball off his foot, by the way, Revere had put together 28 hits in his last 15 games. As a Phillies fan, I’d say I was satisfied by Revere’s performance, and I absolutely fell in love with his personality and style of play.

And apologies to Brandon (who for the uninitiated, covers the Twins), but the news isn’t so much overwhelmingly good for the Phillies as it is overwhelmingly bad for Minnesota.

The Phillies sold low on Trevor May, who repeated AA at age 23 and turned in an almost identical season to his disappointing 2012. If we’re not there yet, the time will come soon where the Twins would probably be best served just calling May up and throwing him in the deep end of the pool. Minnesota’s already got the makings of a pretty good bullpen.

The problem is that their rotation is just…well, it beggars belief. Worley, who was never really more than the fourth-best pitcher on the Phillies, and a mid-rotation starter at best, was supposed to be the Twins’ best starting pitcher. And he managed to turn in the unfortunate double of being both injured and terrible, and with every day that passed, there was less and less reason for Twins fans to be optimistic, as they trundled toward a 96-loss season with Sam Deduno–that’s right, Sam fucking Deduno–as their best starting pitcher. Every single one of the Twins’ starting pitchers was such a hapless wet thud of a pitch-to-contact cold sore that if you put Kyle Kendrick in that rotation he’d look like Adam Wainwright by comparison.

Two weekends ago, I woke my wife up before dawn and drove her to Minneapolis for the Twins-Indians game, and because it was sunny and relatively warm when we left Madison and freezing cold and rainy by the time we got to Minnesota, we stopped by the pro shop before the game so KTLSW could buy something with sleeves. And I considered picking up a piece of merchandise for myself, so I went over to where the shirseys are kept. And dude, it’s bleak. Mind-bendingly bleak. They’ve started printing Miguel Sano shirts, and you’ve got the Mauer shirts, but Vance Worley‘s shirsey is on sale at Target Field. And he’s not the only Twins pitcher with an ERA over 5 whose merchandise is on sale there. So I’ll put it this way–if Minnesota’s going to put in any claim to having won this trade, one of two things is going to have to happen: 1) Worley goes on like 2013 never happened or 2) Revere goes to jail for tax evasion or something.

One last note: I know Minneapolis isn’t really a tourist destination, but cold and rain and all, I really enjoyed the 12 hours or so I spent poking around downtown. Target Field is the seventh of the 30 current MLB stadia at which I’ve taken in a game, and I’d rank them as follows:

  1. Camden Yards
  2. Target Field
  3. PNC Park
  4. Miller Park
  5. CBP
  6. U.S. Cellular Field
  7. Turner Field

The biggest fraud being perpetrated on the American sporting public right now is that PNC Park is one of the two best ballparks in the country. This is just an immutable truth, but it’s like a shibboleth–question it and everyone thinks you’re nuts, so let’s just all keep on pretending that “being able to look at Pittsburgh” is an important quality in a baseball stadium.

@j0brown31: “what American sport league would work the best with a relegation/promotion system like the EPL and how would you work it”

No sport. NO SPORT. And I wouldn’t work it. Because for promotion/relegation to work you need to accept the truth that whoever’s good at the moment it’s instituted is going to be good forevermore, and the only thing that can change the general running order is a massive infusion of external capital.

Essentially, by instituting promotion and relegation, you have to eliminate farm systems and the draft in order to make minor league teams free to compete for themselves. And sure, you’re “rewarding success” by sending entire losing franchises down into the minor leagues.

Probably the longest, angriest email I’ve ever gotten came after the last time I addressed this topic, so maybe one day I’ll do a comprehensive essay on why promotion and relegation would kill any North American sport it touched. But for now I’ll say this: right now, the overwhelming majority of baseball teams experience success in cycles, and hardly any team goes more than a decade or so without at least thinking it’s competitive. Punish teams that to poorly and eliminate competitive balance measures and you will calcify the power structure of the league. Since the 1996-97 season, Manchester United has never finished lower than third, Arsenal never lower than fourth and Chelsea never lower than sixth. One of those three teams has won the title in every single season except for one, and the only exception required two last-ditch Manchester City goals in stoppage time of the final game of the season.

It’s even worse in Spain–since 1929, which is so far in the past men practically lived alongside dinosaurs, Real Madrid has won 32 titles, Barcelona 22. The other fifty-seven other teams that have competed in La Liga have combined for 28 titles. The last time both Barcelona and Real Madrid finished outside the top three was in 1970.

In short, unless you’re a Yankees fan, you don’t want this.

@jrw522: “over under on how many days it takes for Amaro to add Martinez back to 40-man roster and make us all rip our eyes out?”

As I understand it (and because roster rules in MLB are more complicated than the tax code of 16 of the 27 nations of the European Union, I might be wrong about this) Mini-Mart is a free agent. Totally devoid of connection to the Phillies.

So instead of him coming back on April 15 or so, I’d say it takes at least until June before Ruben Amaro trades for him or signs him and Ryne Sandberg puts him at the top of the order. The man is like shame–he never really goes away.

@Living4Laughs: “worst player on each of the playoff teams?”

We’ve got to have some sort of rules about this, because every team has a terrible sixth relief pitcher or fifth outfielder, and that wouldn’t be much fun. So let’s limit this to significant contributors: position players who are at least platoon starters or pitchers who’d factor significantly in a playoff game if everyone’s healthy.

  • Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez. (Dies laughing)
  • Cincinnati Reds: Probably any of their sundry left fielders or shortstops, but I’m going to say Brandon Phillips here anyway, despite his 1.6 rWAR, because as human beings go, he’s a pestilence. Screw that guy.
  • Atlanta Braves: Okay, so here’s the thing–B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla were both astonishingly bad this season, but they’ve both historically been good, and I think perception of those two has been colored by their paychecks. Actually, I just looked at Uggla’s Baseball Reference page again, and he’s 33 and…yeah, it’s Uggla.
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson. That BABIP’ll sure regress on you, won’t it?
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Here’s a real hoof in the swingers for you–among Tigers pitchers in 2013 (minimum 50 innings), you want to know how many had an ERA of 3.75 or higher? The answer: ZERO. Therefore, we inaugurate Justin Morneau, who put up slightly below-average offensive numbers during his stint in Pittsburgh, but if you’re a first baseman who hits cleanup and puts up a slightly below-average OPS+, your team might be better off without you.
  • Oakland A’s: Really solid top to bottom. The only player who was significantly below replacement level this season was Brett Anderson, but given his track record and injury history, I’m more comfortable calling him unfortunate than bad. Either Nate Freiman, for the reason I just gave for Morneau above, or Seth Smith, for that reason, plus the heartbreaking look of despair and resignation that flashed across his face when he popped up to end their season last night.
  • Boston Red Sox: Among the top 11 Red Sox in plate appearances, 10 had an OPS+ of 110 or better, which 1) is insane and 2) Daww, Will Middlebrooks. Poor bastard. Honorable mention to Ryan Dempster, who is terrible, and petulant and Canadian.
  • Detroit Tigers: The most top-heavy team in the playoffs, but there’s not really a bad player in the rotation or the everyday lineup. Except Don Kelly. Sweet Jesus, he sucks.
  • St. Louis Cardinals: Pete Kozma.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Brandon League. I used to love Brandon League, but DO NOT GIVE RELIEVERS MULTI-YEAR CONTRACTS.

@FelskeFiles: “If u could hire 1 former Phils manager/coach from any era to coach the 2014 Phils, who would it be and what would be their job?”

I’m of the opinion that very few coaches and managers actually move the needle, though given the propensity of members of the late 1980s Athletics to use illegal PEDs, it’s possible Tony La Russa moved a ne…actually, that’s a stupid joke and I’m not going to finish it.

I wouldn’t mind having some of the team’s early managers–Hugh Duffy, Harry Wright, Jack Coombs, Wild Bill Donovan–back as players. In 1910, Coombs threw 353 innings with a 1.30 ERA. That’d be quite useful in 2014. But that’s not the question.

If there’s a pitching guru on the level of Dave Duncan or a strategist on the level of Casey Stengel or Earl Weaver in Phillies’ coaching history, I’m unaware of him. Moreover, great is the temptation to reanimate Ben Chapman and sit him between John Mayberry and Ryan Howard on the bench during games.

But (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) there’s a guy named Terry Francona who managed the Phillies a while back and turned into one of the best managers in the game. I guess I’d have him.

@uublog: “set the line and place your bet on the DeSean Jackson/Darrelle Revis footrace, it’s the new best thing”

Heh. Given that a footrace isn’t really the kind of thing you set a point spread on, only an over/under, we have to set a money line. Now, no matter what happens in this footrace, I think Jackson will be unable to escape from Revis Island on Sunday, though I won’t be watching, because God, it’s the waning moments of the weekend, and why in the world would you watch what’s almost certain to be a dreadful and meaningless football game under those circumstances? If I wanted to watch something sloppy, dreadful and meaningless I’d look in a mirror and consider my own life choices.

Nevertheless, DeSean has challenged Revis to a footrace, and I shall set a line for what I’ve just now arbitrarily decided will be a 60-yard race. I make Jackson out to be a slight favorite, maybe -130. (Bill Simmons doesn’t like that line! And Drew Magary doesn’t like that Bill Simmons doesn’t like that line!) I pulled that line completely out of my ass before I realized that there’s an objective record of how fast Revis and Jackson are in a straight line–their combine 40 times. Revis ran a 4.38 40 in 2007, Jackson a 4.35 the next year. For all intents and purposes, that’s a dead heat–so why make Jackson a favorite? Because Revis is a year removed from a major knee injury. I’ve never torn my ACL, but I can’t imagine you could suffer that injury and be completely back to 100 percent of your previous running ability. Maybe I’m wrong and that makes Revis a good bet. We shall see.

Or not, because they’re never going to actually have this footrace, are they?

So ends the Crash Bag for this week. If you find anything even remotely likable about the four remaining playoff teams, please let me know, because I’ve come up empty.


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