East Coast Bias: Oh What A Difference

Eric: I’ll make a deal. From this point forward I’ll refer to the team from Boston as the “Sawks” and the team from Chicago as the “Sox.” I usually do that anyway, I’ve just slipped lately. As for 190, I agree with you that’s a tougher feat than 73, but the race to 73 will get more press than a race to 190. 190 just isn’t quite as sexy. However, if anyone has a chance to do it, it would be him. And yes, if a Cardinal broke an “unbeatable” record held by a Cub, one of the new great sports arguments would be “What pisses off Cubs fans more: A Cardinal holding a Cub record or the 2005 World Series.”

What A Difference A Week Makes

I wrote that in response to a threat made at my legs by Mr Szulczewski because of my tendency to refer to the “Red Sox” as the “Sox” in this column. Hey, it’s called East Coast Bias for a reason. This led to a comment about Albert Pujols being on pace to knock in 190 RBIs this season thus ruining the lives of Cubs’ fans world-wide (well, moreso). The opening paragraph then seasoned for a week because I didn’t write a column on Memorial Day.

One week later, Albert is out indefinitely with an oblique strain, reminding us how quickly the wheels can come off a bandwagon. Pujols dropped out of the race at 53 games, with 25 homeruns and 65 RBI, on pace to hit 76 homeruns and 198 RBI. Now, just seven days later, we remember why some records stand for so long. In 1930 when Hack Wilson hit 190 RBIs, he played in all 155 games. The season before, he played in 150 games and knocked in 159. Often, people don’t realize just how hard it is to play a full compliment of ballgames (in the National League, anyway. It’s easier when you have the pansy position to fall back on while “resting”) in a single season. Pujols is going to now sit on the sideline for some indefinite amount of time. 15 days at least, likely removing him from any chance to chase Bonds’ or Wilson’s records.

So what does this mean?

Besides giving people in rotisserie leagues a chance, it means the face of the NL Central has gotten a rearrangement over the last 14 days. Suddenly, the 3 game lead the Cards have in the Central doesn’t look quite as intimidating to the Reds. The same 4-game-winning-streak Reds who are walking in to Busch Stadium tonight against a Cardinals team without their top run producer. It means the 8.5 game lead over the Astros might not be as lights out as everyone thought. The Astros just signed a sorely needed new starter who pitched to a career-high 1.87 ERA last season, who will be partially motivated by the silliest contract this side of A-Rod ($18 million for 20 starts? Where do I sign?) Clemens saved himself until July to be ready in October, when he remembered he was 42.

And whoa, can the sports-writers not wait to tell you just how much of a mistake it was. One article I read this week went so far to talk about Roger’s hitting.

Yes, I’m serious.

Look, the guy pitched 1.87 last year. If the Astros gave him any run support (he averaged 3.5 per game), he probably would have won 22 games instead of 13 and a Cy Young. The guy had a career season last year. Will he match last seasons’ performance? Probably not. Is he worth that much? Yes, probably. The Yankees or Red Sox would have happily matched it if they could have offered him the same perks.

Could his body completely break down this season? Absolutely, but saying it was a bad call by the Astros, who are going to likely start him at home as much as possible, thus guaranteeing them sellout crowds, is just insane and a case of the sports writers loving to be the one who calls bad moves, when it’s just not a bad move. People wrote the Astros off last year, and they got to the World Series, never forget that.

I could also make a case for the Cubs, who recently got Kerry Wood and Mark Prior back, but I don’t feel like wasting ink on two guys where the Vegas line is probably a combined 10.5 starts between the two of them for the rest of the season.

What A Difference A Month Makes


Western Conference Champs: The Phoenix Suns.

NBA Finals

The Phoenix Suns vs The Detroit Pistons

This would make fitting NBA final matchup. It’s the two best all around teams in the league. All the guys on the floor are unselfish and do their best to make everyone else better.

But.

The Suns won 52 games (so far) in the Western Conference, the Pistons won 65 games (so far) in the East. Unfortunately, only four of the fifteen teams in the East are going to finish over .500 this season. In the Pistons’ division alone, three teams are set to finish .500 or below. Don’t get me wrong, a 60 win season is impressive no matter who you’re playing against, but the Pistons have had the benefit of a terrible division and an all around terrible conference this season. When they end up playing the Suns with everything on the line, the Suns are just going to have the benefit of playing against tougher competition all season. The finals go to the limit, but the end, Pistons in seven.

– Me April 17th.

Well, two things happened that rendered this prediction useless.

1) Dirk Nowitzky: 7 ft German Animal: In Game Five, Dirk Nowitzki took over a game in ways that a great player takes over a game down the stretch. 50 points and 12 rebounds in the game, with 22 of those points coming in the fourth period. The Mavs were down 77-70 in the third. Dirk then decided he wasn’t keen on the idea of going back to Phoenix facing elimination. Dirk single-handedly scored 10 points in a 10-0 run. Wherever the ball bounced, he was there. Every shot he took went in. When he drove, he got fouled. It was magic to watch.

Following that performance, there was almost no way he was going to allow the team to lose the series, and he didn’t.

2) The Pistons: Whiners: I haven’t seen such media complaining out of a team since… well… the Knicks this season, but that’s beside the point. The Knicks aren’t any good, so you really can’t count them. The Pistons in the post-season really began to fall apart. I’m not sure why it was, but they just didn’t show up. Everyone was complaining and the coach looked overwhelmed. Toss in a little bit of D-Wade acrobatics and the stage was set for the Heat to knock off the best team in the league.

This is why I suck at brackets.

Quick Hits

  • Lastings Milledge, the Mets prospect gem, hit his first homerun as a Major Leaguer this past weekend. After the hit, he gave some hi-fives on his way out to right field. With the press this is getting, you’d think he raped a baby on the field. Let him eat a pitch and can we get on with our lives please. I fully expect to hear Mike and the Mad Dog say “You can’t do that,” fifteen thousand times tomorrow.
  • The baseball draft happened this past weekend. I’m just pointing that out because no one pays attention to it, since it’ll be 10 years before you see drafted guys playing on your team
  • Dirk Nowitzky put up 50 points. FIFTY POINTS!!
  • If the Blue Jays can’t make a serious move in the next two weeks while the Yankees and Red Sox are walking cripples, they may as well give up on the season
  • The clock on Bobby Abreu or Alfonso Soriano going to the Yankees just clicked down to 27 days or 3 losses to the Red Sox… max.
  • That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check me out on the wrestling section on Thursday for a preview of the upcoming One Night Stand. Back here next Monday.

    Thanks for reading.