Monday, April 26, 2004

The Bonds era: part 1

WARNING: Today's post contains crocodile pits, Mike Benjamin, and a message from the 1912 New York Giants. It may cause birth defects, heart disease, and cancer sudden and violent recollections of just how bad the '95 Giants really were. Read at your own risk.

Today I was gonna write about Kirk Rueter, but those plans are on hold. Before I started on this entry I went over to check out Steve Shelby's Giants News Diary. There I discovered that Deivi Cruz is being discussed as a call-up to replace the injured Dustin Hermanson, which elicited a loud "Jesus CHRIST!" from me, because Godalmighty, Deivi Cruz is awful. In fact, and I realize this isn't news to anyone, aside from Bonds, Schmidt, and maybe Durham this entire Giants club is Sabean-be-buggered terrible. Has there ever been a worse Giants team in the Barry Bonds era? I doubt it, but let's have a look.

Bonds joined the Giants in 1993, and the '93 Giants won 103 games. (I'd like to take a moment here to roundly damn the Atlanta Braves.) The 103 wins came on the strength of the Giants' pitching as well as outstanding seasons from Bonds, Matt Williams, and Robby Thompson. Mind you, just about everyone, even Royce Clayton, got on base at a pretty good clip except for Darren Lewis--and Lewis stole 46 bases with a 75% success rate, so he wasn't completely worthless. The '93 Giants also featured a pretty strong group of reserves, provided you ignored the stench of Mike Benjamin (.199/.264/.329). And as I mentioned, their pitching was very strong; two of the Giants' starters finished in the top 5 of Cy Young voting, namely John Burkett (22-7, 3.65, so-so peripherals) and Bill Swift (21-8, 2.82, also so-so peripherals). In the 'pen, Rod Beck, Mike Jackson, and Kevin Rogers each pitched roughly 80 very effective innings. The '93 Giants had: very good position players, an outstanding pitching staff, and a productive bench. Please compare this to the current squad.

Moving on swiftly... '94, the strike year. The '94 Giants were a pretty bad team despite stellar production from Bonds and Williams (their respective lines were .312/.426/.647, 37 HR and .267/.319/.607, 43 HR). Those two may have produced like superstars, but no one else did: not a single one of the Giants' other starters had a slugging percentage over .400, and the bench went from good to terrible in the course of just one year (partly due to the miracle of small sample sizes, partly due to players aging badly). In fact, the team's line looked like this: .249/.313(!)/.402. That's some truly crappy offense. The 1912 New York Giants (.286/.352/.395) would like to say "hello," and wish to remind "the boys" of 1994 that the game of base ball is not played by applying mouth-produced suction to some kind of giant cosmic ass.

Anyway, the Giants' pitching staff was fairly average this time around, and the team was 55-60 at the time of the strike. Their Pythagorean record was 58-57, but trust me, this was NOT a .500 team. So yes, the '94 Giants were very bad, but they still edge out the '04 version because 1) there was a legitimate non-Barry bat in the lineup, whereas this year the Giants offense is Barry Bonds and... uh... look! Over there! A rhinocerous! (OK, there's also Ray Durham. Durham's a pretty good hitter, but he's not Super Matt Williams of 1994.); and 2) John Burkett, Bill Swift, and William van Landingham were effective arms, while Mark Portugal was a decent innings-eater. The Giants staff of '04 may only have one or two starters (Schmidt and Williams) with an ERA+ over 100.

The '95 edition of your San Francisco Giants were, for lack of a better word, abysmal. They played a 144-game schedule and finished at 67-77, and believe me, they got lucky. Their Pythagorean record was 61-83, which looks about right; it would put them at around 69-93 in a 162-game season. Let's break 'em down.
The good: Bonds and Williams continued to produce-- though Williams, who was hitting .336/.399/.647 at the time, was injured in the middle of the season. His replacement, the redoubtable Steve Scarsone, hit a more than adequate .266/.333/.476. Also, it was time for NEON DEiON! as Deion Sanders put up a 111 OPS+ after coming over from the Reds in a trade that involved Mark Portugal, Dave Burba, and Darren Lewis. Don't let the door hit you in the ass, guys. Also, first baseman Mark Carreon had a career year, going .301/.343/.490.
The bad: See next section.
The fugly: The pitching, the bench, and the middle infield. Giants pitchers had a 4.86 ERA, good for second-to-worst in the league, and struck out a paltry 801 batters (last in the league) while walking 505 (9th in the 14-team NL) and surrendering a mind-blowing 173 taters, worst in the circuit and it wasn't even close. Only the Rockies even HIT that many homers. The starting pitching was merely very bad, but the bullpen was atrocious. Among relievers with at least 40 IP for the team, Shawn Barton (who on earth is Shawn Barton?) had the lowest ERA-- with 4.26. The eminently forgettable Jose Batista compiled a 6.44 ERA in just over a hundred innings (he had eight starts), while Chris Hook and Dave Burba did their parts, chipping in at 5.50 and 4.98 respectively. Thanks for all the help, boys.

As for the bench, it was truly horrific. My eyes actually started to bleed when I realized that J.R. Phillips, John Patterson, and the aforementioned Mike Benjamin combined for a line of .206/.263/.310 IN 691 PLATE APPEARANCES. That's Ruthian production, folks, though by "Ruthian" I mean the sort of production you'd expect from Babe Ruth's moldering corpse, circa 1995. Backup catcher Jeff Reed wasn't any help either, following up his dismal 1994 (.175/.254/.233) with only a slight improvement: .265/.376/.283 in 134 PA. The OBP is gaudy, but even so, that's only an 81 OPS+. All told, Reed, Phillips, Patterson, and Benjamin hit a combined .215/.281/.306 over 825 PA. I may never complain about this year's bench again.

OK, I probably will complain about this year's bench again, but I'll be a lot more respectful about it. I'll bear in mind that no matter how awful the Giants' bench is, it can't possibly be any worse than the 1995 bench. Yaagh, my mouth tastes funny just from TALKING about that bench. It was ickyful and full of icky, so it was.

Also, 1995 showed us an unpleasant truth: Robby Thompson was done. Washed up. He hit just .223, and Royce Clayton was his usual low-average, low-OBP, low-power self. The middle of the Giants' infield was a sort of hellish preview of a Neifi-Ransom keystone combo. Please stay healthy, Mr. Durham. Please, please, please stay healthy.

I'm not sure the 2004 Giants will be better than the '95 version. This year's team could lose 93 games, but 85-88 seems more likely. It sems the '95 Giants were worse than the current model, but I'm having fun doing this. I think I'll turn this into a series of entries-- a year-by-year history of the Bonds era.

Next up: MIRACULOUS DAYS: The years when Shawn Estes didn't suck. Yes, both of 'em.

P.S.: Whatever happened to William van Landingham anyway? Did he get injured? I mean, he was above average as a 23- and 24-year-old, then overnight he turned into Captain Crappy, Suckiness Avenger in his age-24 and 25 seasons, and then he was entirely out of baseball. What gives?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Pride of Edina and the Toast of Champaign

Hey, nuts to you. Matt Herges is from Champaign, IL, and if I have one sacred duty as an aspiring hack writer, it's to come up with asinine and irritating nicknames for players, preferably involving puns of some sort. So neener. (The pride of Edina, incidentally, would be Jim Brower, who hails from that fine Minnesota town.)

Anyway, today I get to write about bullpen usage-- specifically, the workloads placed on Herges and Brower so far. I'm sure Felipe won't lean on them this much for the rest of the year, but both pitchers have missed missed exactly four games so far. Herges has thrown 161 pitches and Brower's thrown 120, both in just 15 days. That's not a happy workload for relievers, and it also hints that Felipe views Brower as his go-to middle reliever. While I think Brower's above average-- I predict an '04 ERA+ in the neighborhood of 105-110, a bold prediction made possible by his '01, '02, and '03 ERA+s of 109, 98, and 108 respectively-- he really isn't the sort of guy you want as your best middle reliever.

When Nen returns to the closer's role, the 'pen will be much stronger-- either Herges or Felix Rodriguez will take over as the #1 middle-relief option with the other one being the setup guy. But that's in the long term. In the short term, I think Brower and Herges might need a little rest, so here's hoping the Giants blow out the Pads for the rest of the series.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Peculiar Case of Kent Mercker

Pardon the long delay between updates; school gets in the way of pleasure all too often. Now, then: out of idle curiosity, I was looking up Barry's splits against Greg Maddux--to do this, I looked up his stats against the Cubs pitching staff-- when I noticed a strange thing in his line against Kent Mercker. Go on, have a look at it. Notice what's strange?

That's right, 35 ABs and 0 walks. In fact, his OBP against Mercker is lower than his batting average (sacrifice flies, I believe, are to blame); it's a paltry .250. Mercker's held Bonds to a .679 OPS, as opposed to a more Bondsian .927 against Maddux. The really interesting thing about the lack of walks is that, over the course of his career, Mercker's averaged 4.19 BB/9-- not Nuke LaLoosh territory, but hardly what you'd call pinpoint control.

So what's the deal here? Does Mercker just go right after Bonds and nibble at other guys? Does Bonds just not see the ball out of Mercker's hand? Or is it just one of those fluky, flunky things like Davey Johnson hitting 43 homers in '73? It doesn't really matter, but it did inspire me to look at other pitchers who've handcuffed Bonds, and especially pitchers who haven't walked him very much. I briefly considered turning it into a full-fledged study to see if these pitchers shared any characteristics, but I decided I wouldn't learn anything worthwhile.

Nonetheless, here's a list of active pitchers who've a) had success against Barry in a reasonable sample size (defined as an OPS below .800 in 25 or more PA) and b) not walked him very often. Fear when the following pitchers are on the mound against him:

Kent Mercker (LHP)
John Thomson (RHP) - Thomson's always been a control artist, so the low walks aren't surprising, but Bonds has hit .185 against him in 30ish PA. Not the most enormous sample size, but the .185 made it worthy of mention.
John Franco (LHP) - Franco has given up only 3 walks to Bonds in almost 40 PA, holding him to a .229/.282/.286 line.
Jon Lieber (RHP) - 4 BB in 40 PA. .669 OPS. What is it about Barry and pitchers named John/Jon?
Ismael Valdez (RHP) - Actually walks Barry fairly often, so that he's managed a .344 OBP even though he's hitting only .160 against him. Still, Barry's OPS against Valdez is just .664, so I'm willing to fudge and put him on the list.

Looking over this list, there doesn't seem to be any one profile that says, "Barry Bonds will not hit this pitcher well." The group includes starters and relievers, lefties and righties, control artists and... uh... not-control-artist... pitcher... people... there's no way out of this sentence with my dignity intact, is there? Well, no matter. The answer to why Barry struggles against these particular pitchers is likely to lie in their specific deliveries, or in the case of the starters, his stat lines could be due to some combination of the pitcher having a few great games and Bonds slumping. Getting back to the pitchers, it's possible they also change their normal approach when they're up against Bonds. You'd probably have to ask 'em.

Did this post have a point? Oh yeah. Kent Mercker, Barry Bonds... 35+ PA, 0 walks. That's really friggin' weird.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I'd just like to point out that Neifi Perez is tied for second in the National League in RBI with 4. Admittedly, one of the people he's tied with is Mike Matheny, but hey. Plus, right now he has as many doubles as #25 and an OPS greater than 1. Keep it up, Mr. Perez! I KNOW you can do it! (And yes, that was ironic understatement. I'm not that ginormously idiotic.)

Monday, April 05, 2004

The Season Opener

So there's only one TV on campus that a) is public and b) receives ESPN2. I was using this TV to watch the Giants' season opener, and caught everything up to Felipe taking Estrella out in the seventh. Perhaps because I'm a fool, I decided to take the opportunity for a nature call. When I came back, this kid from my poli sci class-- he's got Eric Gagne-like facial hair, which is how you know he's an agent of Satan--anyway, when I got back this kid had planted himself in front of the TV and had it turned to the pregame show for the UConn-Georgia Tech game. The friggin' pregame-- AAAAAHHHHH!

But of course there's a sort of you-snooze-you-lose code of conduct for that TV, so I peaceably accepted my defeat and came back to my hall to see if anyone who had cable was in. But no, both of the people who've got cable are in a geology class that left campus this afternoon to do field work. What I'm trying to get at here is that I freakin' missed Barry's freakin' home run and an eternal hatred for Mr. Gagne-Beard burns implacably in my heart.

That said, I can follow the game on ESPN's Gamecast-- scant comfort, that-- but I should be calm. Yes. Calm. ... $@#%&! Of all the hideous misfortunes... gah. -- Now, on to observations.

So here's the obvious question: is there anything Barry Bonds can't do? Well, field, run, and throw, nowadays, but you know perfectly well what I mean.

Also, ESPN's Gamecast is a frightening thing. I used it to go back to Alou's pitching change and found that Kevin Walker (Kevin who, now?) was relieving Leo Estrella. I knew Estrella, or at least I knew of him, from Out of the Park 5, but who the fug was Kevin Walker? (A waiver claim from the Pads, apparently.) Then, in the ninth, Gamecast told me Torcato was pinch-hitting, which is fine; going off memory, Baseball Prospectus said Torcato might hit an empty .290, which would be outstanding IF he were mainly used as a pinch hitter. But then it mentioned Ransom replacing him as a pinch-runner, and that's when I realized how hideous Sunday games are gonna be this year. Imagine an outfield of Torcato, Mohr, and (when he returns) Hammonds, plus an infield of Snow, Ransom, Neifi, and Fonzie. Ugh. Mr. Alou, please, please, please don't rest everyone on Sundays this year.

With Neifi batting in the 8 slot, I bet Giants pitchers won't lead the league in sacrifice bunts this year. In fact, they may battle it out with Houston (#8 hitter: Brad Ausmus) for the least in the N.L. Of course the #7 hitter enters into it too, and if Grissom bats 7th I predict the staff will finish with at least 15% fewer sacrifice bunts than the team with the next lowest total.

Speaking of Brad Ausmus, he had an RBI single off of Rueter. Dammit, Woody!

And on the subject of "Dammit, Woody!", Rueter loaded the bases in each of the first two innings but escaped largely unscathed. Don't do it again, Woody. I mean it this time. -- Actually, speaking of Rueter and repetition, he walked Bagwell twice, both times seeming to pitch around him. I wonder what his career numbers are against Bagwell. ... oh. Bagwell's put up a career .967 OPS against him. Of course, Bagwell has a career .959 OPS, period, so it's not like that's unusual success.

Wait, holy crap. Jeff Bagwell has a career .959 OPS. I'd say he's a pretty fine ballplayer.

Roy Oswalt's curveball is unspeakably evil. In some societies, tribal shamans would perform elaborate dances in an attempt to exorcise the demons that inhabit it. It just goes "shoop!" right out from under the hitter. Nasty.

Getting back to the Giants: 1 down, 161 to go.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Nothing to see here, folks.

To my shock and dismay, it appears that being a student entails doing actual work from time to time. This means today's entry will be short, some would say mercifully so.

The Giants' attendance record is interesting. The formula of Pac Bell + winning team let the Giants lead the league in attendance for the last three years (they were second in '00), but what happens when #25 hangs 'em up? Based on the Giants' current cast of characters, plus the barren farm system, plus the team's incessant whining about its supposed budget crunch, nothing but desert surrounds us for 30 miles in every direction.

I'm not saying we'll be the Detroit Tigers West, but I'm worried that when Bonds' salary is off the books, Sabean will pick up a bunch of Tucker/Mohr types instead of a superstar. But that's all in the future, which is a secret code phrase meaning "Screw future! Is game on TV. You get out my way now or I shoot you in head with bow and arrow! (The arrow will also be moving quickly.)"

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Pedro Feliz: Wherein my customary pessimism returns as Opening Day looms ever closer.

Please note that I refrained from making a "Feliz Navidad" reference in the title. Yeah, that's right--I didn't go there. How ya like them apples NOW, and do I need more sleep?

I vote yes on option #2, but since class starts in 40 minutes, I think I'll hold off on it. Instead, I'd like to make an observation about Ol' Ironglove: would it really be good if Feliz got a lot of PT? The general consensus in the blogosphere seems to be that Feliz is an offensive upgrade on Neifi and could be useful spelling Snow, not to mention pinch hitting. I agree with all of the above, but just how valuable is Feliz? Or rather, in what does his value consist?

The kneejerk answer is power. Indeed, he slugged .515 last year, but he had 16 HR and only 12 other XBH; can we expect that kind of performance again? In '01 and '02 he slugged .373 and .336, respectively. His career slugging percentage is .412, his career OBP is (heeeep! Deep breaths, deep breaths, do not panic, do not make reflexive Neifi comparisons, it's only OBP) .274, and his K:BB ratio is north of 5-- he's got 26 career walks (26! And three of them were intentional.) in 647 PA. That's right, Feliz has compiled almost a full season's worth of PA with more home runs (25) than unintentional waks. His lack of plate discipline reminds me of Todd Greene, though Feliz's K/BB ratio is actually better than Greene's, which is admittedly damning with very faint praise.

I'm not saying Feliz is worthless; I think the power he showed last year is genuine, given that he hit 33 dingers in Fresno back in 2000. But I also think his true talent level is around .245/.280/.430, which isn't hideous (though it IS Tony Batista Lite with worse discipline), but it doesn't make me want to bend over backwards to get him more ABs.

Monday, March 22, 2004

WARNING! Lengthy, mediocre entry ahead. Proceed with caution.

I write for the school paper's opinion page, and I'm also incredibly lazy. This means that instead of me writing an article /and/ an update today, you get to read the article I've just submitted to my editor. Enjoy it or else.

At present, there’s a great hue and cry over the use of steroids in baseball. From the president to the Senate to the press to the fans, Steroid Fever has gripped the nation. OK, maybe it’s not a fever, but it’s at least a mild feeling of unease, in my case accompanied by severe, overwhelming nausea.

Part of my nausea comes from the fact that I’m a Giants fan, which means that if Barry Bonds is using performance-enhancing substances I’ll have to spend the rest of my life explaining that steroid use does not render Bonds’ achievements meaningless. But much of my disgust with Steroidgate comes from the rhetoric being thrown about to the effect that steroid users are destroying the integrity of the game by gaining an unfair chemical advantage over their competitors. There are two problems with that: first, very few articles mention that steroids aren’t the only way players have tried to get an artificial edge. From the ‘60s to the ‘80s, it was fairly common for baseball players to use amphetamines, hoping they’d be more energetic for the game. It probably didn’t work too well, which brings me to my second point: we don’t actually know that steroid use improves a baseball player’s performance.

We don’t know because baseball is a game that’s oriented much more towards agility than strength. Strength is handy, but agility is essential. Steroids increase muscle mass, which leads one to think that steroid users would hit for more power. But power is almost entirely generated by bat speed—that is, how fast the bat is moving at the point of contact. But a player who bulks up too much might find his bat slowing down, which means he’ll hit for less power.

Does steroid use increase a player’s power? I honestly don’t know. I’ve made a close study of the limited statistics available, and I have to admit that I have no idea. For instance, I looked at three players who’ve been accused of using steroids. Assuming they really were on the juice, each of these guys should’ve been an ideal case study: hitters with below-average or, in one case, slightly above-average pop, meaning that a power spike would be easily detected. Of these three players, one performed erratically, one was wildly successful, and one didn’t seem to be affected either way, but suffered a rash of injuries. I’ll give you the details and you can decide for yourself.

Recently the San Francisco Chronicle cited unnamed sources which reported that federal investigators had been told Bonds and five other baseball players had received steroids from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). Bonds is alleged to have received human growth hormone as well, dating back to 2001. The other players named were Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Marvin Benard and Randy Velarde.

Bonds, Giambi, and Sheffield were established power-hitting stars long before they were allegedly supplied with steroids. It’s therefore hard to gauge steroids’ impact on their performances, because there’s a lot of natural year-to-year variation that could mask a sudden increase in power. On the other hand, Santiago, Benard, and Velarde were not power hitters before they allegedly started juicing, so a sudden jump in their power would be much more conspicuous, and—if they really are using steroids—would be strong circumstantial evidence that ’roids really do increase a hitter’s production. But before I get to number-crunching, let me introduce you to the subjects of this mini-study.

Benito Santiago is an incredibly ancient catcher. He turned 39 a couple of weeks ago, which in catcher years is roughly 18,000,000. As for the other two players I mentioned, Randy Velarde once turned an unassisted triple play, which is easily the rarest play in baseball, while Benard’s claim to fame is… well, he… uh… I mean… all right, no one will ever tell their grandkids about seeing Marvin Benard play, but he’s an average player.

Now, let’s assume the Chronicle’s allegations are true. I’m not saying they are, but let’s play make-believe. The question is whether there’s a jump in these three players’ power numbers at any time they had access—fine, alleged access—to steroids from BALCO. For Santiago, that would be 2001, for Benard, 2000. Velarde came to the Bay Area in the middle of 1999.

So what do the statistics say? Well, the stats are unclear. Velarde’s power (and overall performance, for that matter) was very erratic; he probably didn’t benefit, but may have. Benard was pretty much unaffected, and Santiago was mediocre in 2001, then far outperformed any reasonable projections for him in ’02 and ’03. If you want the nitty-gritty of how I calculated that, it’s in the next three paragraphs, but if you’re willing to take my word for it, just skip to the closing sentences.

The best measure of a hitter’s power is a metric called Isolated Power (ISO), which subtracts a player’s batting average from his slugging percentage. The effect of that subtraction is, essentially, to remove a player’s singles from the picture so that ISO represents how hard the ball’s being hit. The higher the ISO, the more a player can be thought of as a slugger; an average ISO is around .150.

The excellent, advanced, and informative Baseball-Reference.com provides a calculation of how an exactly league-average player would perform in a given player’s home ballpark (because parks affect production—it’s much easier to hit home runs in Denver than in San Francisco, for example). This process is called park adjustment, for obvious reasons; because park adjustment filters out the noise of park effects, it’s extremely handy.

Using Baseball Reference’s pages for Velarde, Santiago, and Benard, I calculated the difference between their ISOs and the park-adjusted average ISOs over the entire course of their careers, then looked at the years when they were suspected of steroid use to see if the trends were any different. (In other words, I checked to see if they were producing more power relative to the league when they were supposedly on steroids. I did that because the league’s overall level of offense is a variable that should be controlled for if possible.) I summarized the results above, but feel free to check my work. I’m hardly a statistical savant.

Until there’s better evidence about steroids’ effect on power hitting, let’s hear no more about steroid-using sluggers having a chemical edge on the competition. It’s by no means clear that they do.

Yes, that was the worst study ever. No, I didn't use Ken Caminiti or Jose Canseco, nor did I mention sample size. But cut me some slack, 'cause speaking of size, that article comes in at 1,075 words and the standard is 500. It kinda built momentum. Meh, Rob Neyer I ain't.

Friday, March 19, 2004

De everberis magnis amandis oratio, OR, "I like big homers and I cannot lie."


No, really. I mean, oooooooh and also, aaaaahhh. Or perhaps I mean, "Damn." Yeah, let's go with that one. Daaaamn. See, I was at the Giants' game today, which means I got to see Barry's 2 AB/2HR performance live and in color. Wow. It turns out he's a pretty good hitter after all. Both of the homers will probably be on Sportscenter tonight, but I'll sum them up anyway: they both went to more or less the same spot in right field, and they both travelled far. Very far.

Also, Jerome Williams had a weird line today-- he walked one and K'd six in four and a third, but also gave up eight hits, several for extra bases. In fact, both Ramon Santiago and Quinton McCracken doubled against him. Santiago hit Williams with authority every time he faced 'im. When Ramon Santiago turns into Babe Ruth against you, you're officially having a terrible outing.

I got nothin' else to say, unless you want to hear about how Arizonans have cacti on their lawns in place of trees. Giant, thorny, phallic cacti. No wonder Arizona girls are so... oh, never mind.

EDIT: A slight hiccup with Blogger may cause you to see an aborted post below, one that reveals my shameful secret: I don't speak Latin. I do speak sham Latin, however, which is good enough for me. ... WHICH REMINDS ME! After the game today, I saw this 12-year-old kid on the sidewalk (he might've been 13) hawking balls with a sign that said, "Batting practice ball: $7. Major League baseball: $10." Major League base-- what does that even MEAN?! But on the plus side, it's always fun to see a youngster at work on his first primitive scam. And yeah, yeah, yeah, it might not have been a scam, but c'mon, you know it was.

UPDATE TO THE EDIT TO THE UPDATE: The author of Across the Seams has informed me that batting practice balls do, in fact, have "practice" written on them, while game-used balls don't. Maybe it wasn't a scam after all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

This post is a long-winded way of sayin' I got nothing.
I have an idea for the best advertisement ever: “These prices are so low we'll have to eat our young to survive! We might even have to eat YOUR children! And when you factor in the savings on college, it's a deal you just can't beat!"

The Anaheim Angels could stand to learn a thing or two from that. Their ad went like this: “If you’re in the Anaheim, California area this summer, we hope you’ll pay a visit to…” (two-second pause, as if the P.A. announcer was trying to remember the stadium’s new name) “Angels Stadium to watch the…” (another pause, but this time he was trying to remember what team played in Angels Stadium) “Anaheim Angels play.” Yikes-a-rama.

Assuming I have any readers (a dubious assumption), some of you are wondering why I’m jabbering about the Angels when the Giants played the Brewers today. As a concession to my father, who grew up a White Sox fan, today we saw the ChiSox and the Angels instead of the Giants and the Brew Crew. Obviously that means I don’t have much to say that’s of interest to a Giants fan. What a pity.
Stupid-lousy Angels. What you do to Giants bullpen! You die, Rally Monkey, die of stab wounds in the eye!

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