Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The SF Gigantes won the World Series last night, which is a big win for sports-critical-meta-FJM-impersonation blogs.

So hear ye, national bad sportswriters, which one of you will heed the call and submit awful knee-jerk, badly/un-researched nonsense about small sample sizes, grittiness and team chemistry? Which one of you is brave enough to test the fires of bad column writing?


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cliff Lee Rent-An-Ace Tour has played its last 2010 gig. When we next see Lee, there's a good chance he'll be the lead singer for the New York Yankees.

Sabathia will be on drums. Granderson plays bass -- not because he's black!! The guitarist is Jeter, who refused to move over to synth when A-Rod came on, but no one really blamed him.

If so, the memories of his 17-week Texas Rangers career will be a conflicted one. So good and yet, so 0-2.

He went "so" 0-2 in the World Series. As opposed to Matt Cain, who only sort of went 1-0, and Julio Borbon, who undecidedly went 1/2.

Also, Cliff Lee gave up 4 runs in 4 2/3 in Game 1, which is bad, but last night he actually pitched really well, going six shutout innings before giving up a couple singles and then the big mistake to Renteria. But still, really, you're going to say that a 7 IP, 6/0 K/BB, 6 H performance is going to really haunt him? And not, you know, the offense that managed 12 runs in 5 games? This is Cliff Lee's fault now?

Lee started this World Series against the San Francisco Giants with a loss and ended it with one. As prop bets go, you would have gotten Bengie Molina-sized odds on the chances of Lee taking the L train twice in six nights.

No, the Rangers started the World Series with a loss and ended it with one. If Darren O'Day, relieving Lee, didn't give up a home run to the first batter he faced -- I mean, Texas actually managed seven runs that game. Kinsler, Guerrero, Murphy, Hamilton (!), Cruz... all of those guys hit .200 or LOWER. Lee "took the L," but he didn't lose those games (he sure didn't help in Game 1, granted). But how is this his fault!?!?

He wasn't the best pitcher in this Series. That was San Fran's Tim Lincecum. He wasn't the second best (the Giants' Matt Cain). Or third best (SF's Madison Bumgarner). I'm not even sure he was fourth best (Texas Colby Lewis?).


On June 21, 1984, Dennis Eckersley pitched 6 1/3 innings for Chicago against Pittsburgh, giving up 9 hits, 7 earned runs, striking out 2 and walking three. IT HAUNTED HIM FOREVER.

Instead, he was on the wrong end of half the wins the Giants needed to close out this Series on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Not only did he give up the deciding three-run dinger to Edgar Renteria with two out in the top of the seventh, but he was out-dueled by a guy who arrived at the stadium wearing a bow tie. It was like getting beat by George Will.

He was so bad, he gave up runs! And the other pitcher wore a bowtie!!! What a fucking loser!!!

I don't even need to say this, but this is retarded, to say that Lincecum's looks have anything to do with the fact that, you know, he's one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball today. Because nobody thinks that looks correlate to talent any more, right?

I mean, this might be the greatest QB in NFL history.

Actually, Lincecum had electric stuff. The Dallas-area power grid could have run off it for weeks. Lee was good (seven innings, six hits, six strikeouts, those three earned runs), but Lincecum was, well, freakishly good.

"Cliff Lee went 0-2. He played bad! Except when he played good but Lincecum was better. Why am I writing this? I don't know! I can't feel my face! Help the Wojo!!!"

"It was a classic pitchers' duel -- down to that home run," Lee said. "Nobody in this room is more disappointed than I am."

Lee spoke in measured, even tones, but his eyes said otherwise. They were red and borderline misty. Anybody who thinks these losses didn't leave more than a flesh wound doesn't know Lee.

This is just complete nonsense now. Of course Cliff Lee is disappointed, because his team just lost the World Series. But to pin all the blame on him is just really misguided, just because he threw what you're about to admit was one mistake pitch.

"If I could go back in time and make a different pitch, I would," Lee said. "But you can't do that."

It was a cutter, by the way. A cutter that didn't cut. It found the fat part of the plate, then the fat part of Renteria's bat and then the left-field seats.

Why he didn't go ahead and walk Renteria with the count at 2-0 is a question that will make the sports-talk rounds. With runners on second and third and first base open, Lee could have pitched around Renteria and taken his chances against the little-used Aaron Rowand.

At the end of the day, Cliff Lee is a pretty good pitcher that will continue to pitch well and make lots of money and not really be haunted by one mistake pitch, especially in a World Series where the real story was how his team's offense got dominated. Cool. Now let's make fun of Wojo.

Lee could have pitched around super duper power hitter Edgar Renteria, but he had the CARAAAAZZYYYY thought that maybe since Renteria hit, like, 7 home runs this year, he wasn't really a power threat, and that Cliff Lee is an objectively better baseball player than Renteria and could have gotten him out.

But instead Wojo suggests that he gives Renteria the base to face Aaron Rowand ... why? This is the stupidest thing ever written by anybody. And by "this," I mean this blog post, by me, right now.

"I don't really want to load the bases right there," Lee said.

Wojo then went back and erased the previous paragraph, realizing how fucking stupid it would have been to intentionally walk Edgar Renteria.

So he threw the cutter and Renteria hit the dinger that gave the Giants their first world championship since 1954.

Rowand flew out to right to end the inning.

Hey Wojo, what type of vision does hindsight have?

Edgar Renteria has been intentionally walked 14 times in the past 7 seasons.

That's how it goes. Without Lee, the Rangers probably wouldn't have defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series or perhaps the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. He was the rotation's rock.

I like when columns just disprove their own points.

But now the Rangers have to beat the Yankees again. They outflanked the Yankees in the July 9 trade that brought Lee to Texas. They outscored and outpitched them in the ALCS. Can they out-money-whip them?

Can they out-cost-effectiveness-analysis them? Stay tuned for THE MOST EXCITING OFFSEASON EVER.

Lee, 32, became a free agent as the Giants were dousing each other with bubbly. This weekend he can begin entertaining offers from all teams.

"This is the first time I've been a free agent," he said. "I'm going to see what that's all about. … I know I enjoyed it here. I'm not ruling out the possibility of coming back, but I've got to play things out and see how it goes. I know this was a great group of guys, a lot of fun and I would love to be a part of it next year, but like I say, there's so many things that can happen, you never know."

At one point, this column was about how Lee's 0-2 record in the World Series is going to haunt him in the offseason, or something, but now it's just Gene Wojciechowski's Tangent Land.

Lee's priority list isn't all that unusual for high-profile free agents:

• The traditional "What's best for my family" was mentioned first.

• Playing for a winning team was next.

• Being the team's "lead singer"

• Money

• Oh whoops, number one should have been money

He didn't have to say anything about money. It's a given Lee is going to command something in the range of $20 million per season for five or six years. And nobody in the Rangers' clubhouse will blame him if he goes elsewhere to get it.

I made myself laugh because I wrote that last thing before I read this paragraph. But hey Wojo, "What's best for my family" means money.

"I think any guy here would tell you, 'God bless him, go get what you can,"' Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "At the same time, it comes down to what you're comfortable with, what's enough money. … It depends how bad, obviously, New York wants him and how bad they have to have him. And you can see how bad we want him here."

What is this column about any more? I'm bored. There's a few random graphs thrown in there that I'm not going to bother to reprint, so let's skip ahead a bit:

Let's face it: the Yankees are baseball's Death Star. Their checkbook blots out the sun. They can offer Lee the most dollars and the most contract years. Most free agents are powerless against The Force. (Hal Steinbrenner: "Cliff, I am your faaaather.")

I always thought of Hal as more Sith Lord than Vader. Pablo Sandoval is Jabba the Hut, of course. Eckstein is obviously Yoda.

"Whenever there's an attractive player, the Yankees are part of the equation," Greenberg said. "So that's just part of the reality of the industry."

And the team band needs a new lead singer.

Lee is a Cy Young winner, a three-time All-Star and a left-hander. Good things to have on a roster. But he's also 32. If you're the Rangers, do you want to commit at least $100 million and five years to a starting pitcher in his early 30s?

If you're Gene Wojciechowski, do you really want to commit 1,000 words to whatever this has been?

If it's me, I say no. And not just no to Lee, but no to any pitcher with a similar birth certificate. Love the guy -- just not for that money and those years.

This column is titled "Cliff Lee's unhappy ending in Texas."

The Rangers are his fourth team in two years. He can stay and become Lotto rich and beloved. Or he can go to the Yankees and become Lotto rich squared and maybe beloved. He'd join a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte (who is a decent bet to re-up for a one-year deal) and A.J. Burnett.

"I really don't know what's going to happen or where I'm going to be," Lee said. "I want to be on a winning team. I want to be on a team, if not this team, like this team. The most fun I've had playing the game [was] with these guys. It's been a good ride. I've enjoyed every single second of it."

Breaking news: Cliff Lee would like to play for a team.

Every second of it, except the ending.

Ironic, because the most enjoyable thing about this column is that it's over.

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