The Prodigal Catcher

Javy Lopez rejoins Braves | ajc.com

It remains to be seen if he has anything left, but I’m not convinced that he’s running on empty. Javy, the best catcher in Atlanta history, hit .278/.322/.458 as recently as 2005, and I’d take that from a backup catcher. Obviously, it was two years ago, and he’s 37 now, and he missed all of last season because nobody would give him a job… but it’s Javy Lopez! Come on!

Javy’s most-similar hitters are an odd bunch.

1. Jorge Posada (904)
2. Miguel Tejada (899)
3. Joe Gordon (890)
4. Roy Campanella (887) *
5. Walker Cooper (886)
6. Rich Aurilia (882)
7. Adrian Beltre (878)
8. Jermaine Dye (872)
9. Terry Steinbach (870)
10. Aramis Ramirez (866)

Corky Abe Miller and Brayan Pena were also invited to spring training, and probably they and Clint Sammons all rank ahead of Javy. Jean Boscan was also invited, presumably just as a guy to catch all the extra pitchers.

Non-catcher NRIs include Joe Borchard (the worst player in Major League Baseball), Jorge Campillo (I have no idea) and Javier Guzman (terrible minor league shortstop who couldn’t get above AA in the Pirates organization).

139 thoughts on “The Prodigal Catcher”

  1. At least we know one thing. Javy wasn’t dumb enough to get his ‘roids from Mets or Yankees trainers.

  2. The sad thing is that if Javy makes the team out of camp, there will be some delusional fans that will think he should be playing instead of Brian, because he’s Javy and he was really good once upon a time.

  3. …there will be some delusional fans that will think he should be playing instead of Brian, because he’s Javy and he was really good once upon a time.

    Do you really think think is true? I know there are a lot of stupid/uninformed baseball fans out there, but isn’t McCann good enough to keep even those sorts from believing that? I could see a problem if we had some league-average schmo back there, with fans foolishly wanting the well-below-league-average Javy to take his place…but I think McCann’s pretty popular and widely understood to be very, very good.

  4. Stu,

    Have you not seen some of the email questions Peanut has responded to? One such email asked if the Braves would sign Marcus Giles after the Padres released him, so he could take over at 2b. Kelly Johnson just had a top 5 season for second basemen, and someone was asking if the Braves were going to replace him with a below average player, because he once “good” when he was with the Braves. His new mailbag, has someone asking incredulously(I don’t think that’s right) why the Braves let Willie Harris go. Yeah don’t give these people too much credit.

  5. Justin,

    You’re probably right about me giving the average fan too much credit, but I do think the fact that McCann has made a couple of All-Star teams and signed a big contract with the club last offseason puts him in a slightly different category, at least fan-perspective wise, than KJ.

  6. At 6: Peanut also points out in his new mailbag that he’s inundated with the question of why the Braves let Harris go. Weird.

  7. One such email asked if the Braves would sign Marcus Giles after the Padres released him, so he could take over at 2b. Kelly Johnson just had a top 5 season for second basemen, and someone was asking if the Braves were going to replace him with a below average player, because he once “good” when he was with the Braves. His new mailbag, has someone asking incredulously(I don’t think that’s right) why the Braves let Willie Harris go. Yeah don’t give these people too much credit.

    Must be the same people from the AJC vent who keep saying the Braves will be better once Chipper Jones is gone.

  8. Javi used to be one of my favorites. I was sorry to see him go after his last huge year with the Braves. Of course now I wonder how much of his production was ‘roids driven. I’ll certainly take Lopez over Todd Pratt or Corky Miller. The weird thing is that Lopez is more of an offensive catcher like McCann where usually the Braves try to get some light hitting, strong defensive catcher as backup.

  9. The Braves waited until after the Mitchell report, to make sure his name wasn’t on the list, before signing Lopez.

  10. I don’t think this will work out. Javy is well past his prime……. He probably shouldn’t even be the backup.

  11. I like that they seemingly got an offense-only backup catcher. I never saw the point (besides being the Maddox caddy) of Charlie O’Brien, Paul Bako, Fernando Lunar, Henry Blanco, and all the other no-hit catchers that we kept bringing in. If anything, an offensive catcher can be a pinch hitter if need be. I hope Javy makes the team and can hit a little. It gives you another bat off the bench, at least.

  12. i bet javy makes the team. bobby’s love for veteran leadership and the fact that javy has caught 3 of the starters are huge pluses in javy’s corner.

  13. At least the Braves didn’t make Javy a guaranteed offer like they did Mondesi. We all know how well that one worked out.

  14. why would someone be upset about this move? I would rather see Javy over Damian Miller or any other FA catcher. If McCann goes down, we’re screwed anyway.

  15. yes, i almost rethought my post and put 2 and a half, but that would have just been pure silliness. well, he’s caught at least 2 and those 2 for many years.

  16. i forgot to ask something: who will emerge as the emergency 3rd catcher since pete is a new nat? does infante fit the bill?

  17. Javy can potentially still have something left. Miller, Sammons, Fasano, all these guys are absolutely guaranteed to suck. Javy, even at 37, has “upside.”

  18. I believe that Diaz once caught some because the Royals were trying to turn him into one. So he could be the emergency catcher.

  19. Feh. I guess he might hit a little, so he’s worth a shot.

    And who are they kidding with the competition thing? If he doesn’t completely suck in the spring, he’ll make the team. He’s a veteran, the Braves hate Pena, and don’t seem to think Sammons is ready.

  20. Don’t get me wrong. I’d just as soon as have Javy if he can hit .250 or so with some power than the Abe Millers of the world. The veteran defensive catcher thing confused me anyway. Why put another automatic out in the lineup every 5 days? I guess that there is calling a game and such. but still

  21. Only problem with having a backup catcher with a good bat is that Bobby won’t pinch-hit with him unless he absolutely has to. We should all know that

  22. I have a suspicion that Javy’s going to hit .120 and retire the next time we need a minor-league manager (like when Phillip Wellman blows another gasket in Mississippi). But that’s just me.

    Pena’s in a bad spot- he’s never going to be McCann, and while he’s useful, he doesn’t have the experience Cox loves in a backup catcher. He should be the spare change in a trade one of these days.

    Sammons definitely isn’t ready. 243/ 304/ 328 in Mississippi is not a sign of upcoming greatness in a 24-year-old catcher. It’s a sign of someone with delusions of adequacy.

  23. prodigal javy — did he waste away all of his money?

    i don’t thik javy’s the answer. but i guess a spring training invite doesn’t hurt, right?

  24. Right. Every year there’s a story about guys like Javy who get spring training invites after a year or two out of the game. Pitchers have a chance to pull it off and make a team, but I can’t remember the last position player to do it. I’m sure there’s somebody, but I give Javy a 5-10% chance, if that. He’ll get to check out as a Brave, though, which is cool.

  25. The SEC leads the Big Ten with a 63-45-2 all-time record.

    In the past 5 years the Big Ten leads in head-to-head match-ups 8-7.

    The bowl games this year:
    LSU vs Ohio State — Championship Game
    Tennessee vs Wisconsin — Outback Bowl
    Florida vs Michigan — Capital One Bowl

    SEC will probably win all 3 and lead 10-8 for the past half decade.

    Since 1997 the record is 17-16 in favor of SEC

    From 1988 to 1998 the SEC was 20-13 against the Big Ten (Penn State joined in 1990 and actually went 5-1 over that span against the SEC so it could have been more lopsided. Arkansas and USC joined the SEC in 1991 and went 0-1 during that span)

  26. I agree w/ the sentiment that it’s a nice story to bring Javy back, but that he will likely hit .120 and be cut by May.

  27. Since 1990: SEC leads 30-25

    Big10 Teams vs SEC (bowl rcd in parentheses)

    Michigan: 6-2 (5-2)
    Ohio State: 0-6 (0-6)
    Wisconsin: 2-3 (2-3)
    Penn State: 6-2 (6-2)
    Michigan State: 1-1 (1-1)
    Purdue: 0-2 (0-2)
    Illinois: 0-1 (0-1)
    Iowa: 2-1 (2-1)
    Minnesota: 2-0 (2-0)
    Indiana 6-11 (0-1) *6-10 vs Kentucky*
    Northwestern: 0-1 (0-1)

    If you take out the Indiana/Kentucky series the record over the past 17 years is 20-19 in favor of the SEC.

    SEC vs Big Ten

    Alabama: 2-2 (2-2)
    Arkansas: 0-3 (0-3)
    Auburn: 3-3 (3-3)
    Florida: 3-3 (3-3)
    Georgia: 5-0 (5-0)
    Kentucky 10-7 (0-1)
    LSU: 2-1 (2-1)
    Miss: 0-1 (0-1)
    USC: 2-0 (2-0)
    Tenn: 3-2 (3-2)
    Vandy: 0-1 (0-0)

    Take of this what you will. Only UGA has a dominant record vs the Big Ten. That combined with OSU’s anemic record vs the SEC gives you most of the difference between them since 1990 (arbitrarily chosen date)

  28. If we let Thorman go, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pena as a b/u 1b and 2nd catcher. This would allow Javy to be used mostly as a PH and a 3rd catcher. Honestly though, I don’t expect that Lopez will make the team.

  29. From 1980 to 1990 the SEC went 20-9-1 against the Big Ten (including Arkansas USC and Penn State even though they weren’t members) Kentucky was 5-3 against Indiana.

    from 1990-2000 the SEC was 18-12 against the Big Ten with Kentucky going 7-5 against Indiana during that time.

    From 2000-2007 the SEC is 14-12 vs the Big Ten. Kentucky is 4-2 against Indiana over that span.

  30. So, Dix, the bottomline is that the SEC is the better conference; this isn’t news to most of us ;-)

  31. Yea, since 1980 the SEC is 19 games better than the Big Ten. (and 18 games better all time) I was just trying to see how close it was. 14-12 since the start of the decade is pretty even I’d say. In fact, without the UK/IU game they are 10-10.

    During that span Kentucky is 16-10 against Indiana. Without that (which no one is talking about when they compare the SEC to the Big Ten) the SEC is 13 games better. That’s a lot over 27 years.

    1980 is about where the SEC began to pull away. Prior to that they are approximately .500 against each other.

  32. Also notable is how infrequently they play each other in regular season games. Only once, Michigan against Vandy in 2006, did they have an interconference game that wasn’t a bowl or IU/UK.

  33. 1980 was a great year, wasn’t it? At least for us Dawg fans considering that was our national title year and the start of the Herschel era.

    I was only 5 at the time so my appreciation for it came later.

  34. Since 2000:

    SEC vs ACC: 29-18 (7-3)
    B10 vs ACC: 12-7 (2-3)

    SEC vs Big 12: 11-11 (9-5)
    B10 vs Big 12: 15-16 (5-9)

    SEC vs Pac 10: 6-8 (0-0)
    B10 vs Pac 10: 16-23 (3-8)

    SEC vs Big East: 6-14 (1-5)
    B10 vs Big East: 12-8 (1-0)

  35. no Javy isnt the answer, but we are talking about the freakin backup catcher…who cares, its not that important of a position

    he’s a cheap vet. and thats what we wanted right?

  36. If you take out the Indiana/Kentucky series the record over the past 17 years is 20-19 in favor of the SEC.

    Man, the Big Ten sucks.

  37. Yes, Rob, I’m 32 – your basic math skills are impressive ;-)

    I turn 33 next month. A Sugar Bowl win would be a nice, little early birthday present for me.

  38. I just don’t think non-championship bowl games are even worth considering in comparing conferences. How many teams even care if they win those? Bowl games are just an excuse for fans and players to vacation/party and for schools to make some money.

  39. Stu,
    All that may be true, but I like the bowl-game comparison because it’s not random regular-season games (no Michigan/Vandy or Indiana/Kentucky); instead, it’s the upper tier of one league vs. the upper tier of another. It’s up to you to get up for the game.

    Alex,
    In the fall of 1980, I was a senior in high school who knew he was going to UGA the following year. It was a pretty exciting football season.

    A memory from that year:
    The Florida game. Near the end, when it looked like the game was over in Florida’s favor, I took a small B&W TV into the bathroom & took a hot bath, bitterly disappointed. (I’d played a HS football game the night before & was pretty bruised up.)

    When the Lindsay Scott miracle play happened, I was so excited that I popped out of the bath, threw on a towel & ran onto my front porch before I realized just how insane I was. I was thrilled that nobody saw me, but before I had another thought the phone began ringing. People were losing their minds.

    In all my years of watching sports, the only play that gave me that kind of flipout exhilaration was Francisco Cabrera in the 92 NLCS. I almost ran right through a glass door that time.

  40. Just saw Vina on espn trying to explain why his name was on the report. riiiiiight.
    Didn’t sound very credible to me, but I think I’m being a harsher judge than most around here.

    I guess everyone is going to come out say something to the effect of “yeah, I took HGH and I’m sorry — but I never took steroids!”.

  41. Finally, our backup catcher has arrived! Actually, I think that bringing back Javy is great–it doesn’t cost anything and he should be able to make a solid contribution….Nice to have Javy back in a Braves uniform…I count myself among those here who hated to see him leave….

  42. Javy’s done. It’s a typical sentimental thing the Braves tend to do from time to time. Then again, as said before, an invitation to spring training won’t hurt.

  43. So now we’re desperately signing roiders to be backup catchers. At least we won’t have to deal with Orr AND Harris this year so it’s a net win right now I think.

  44. More BCS absurdity:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/12/17/bcs/index.html

    Apparently, after OU won the Big 12 Championship and thus was placed in the Fiesta Bowl, AD Joe Castiglione called the Fiesta Bowl and asked if it would find some way to set OU up to play the highest ranked team available once the BCS standings were announced.

    The BCS has a rule that a conference winner can get out of its tie-in if it would have played in the same bowl two years in a row. So once Va. Tech was announced as the number 4 team in the BCS the Big 12, the ACC, the Fiesta and the Orange all agreed to let OU and Va. Tech play in the Orange Bowl.

    But in their eminent wisdom the rest of the BCS Conference Commissioners vetoed the deal so Va. Tech could play Kansas and OU could play WVU. Thanks, SEC, Pac-10 and Big Ten Commisioners! It’s so pathetic that these old, crusty white folks are ruining what would otherwise be the best sport in the world.

  45. What difference does it make if OU plays Va. Tech or WVU? I don’t really know if the matchups the Commissioners selected is any better or worse than allowing a team to pick who they are going to play – unless of course you are an OU fan and feel you have an outside shot at a split national championship if LSU beats Ohio State.

  46. ububba-

    Great story and good memories; it would have been cool to havde been a teenager around the time of “Run, Lindsay, Run!” to truly have greater appreciation of that special moment for Dawg fans.

  47. I was watching the Florida game in a dorm at UGA in 1980 and it was absolutely silent until “the play.” It was incredible. I didn’t hear the Larry Munson call at the time but when I hear it now, it gives me chills. The funny thing, it was so typical at the time of how the Gators would choke away big games, especially to the Dawgs. Only Florida could have lost that game. There was nothing special about the play; Lindsey Scott caught the ball at about the 30 and just kept running and no one caught him. Amazing! Where were the defensive backs?

    As for Javy, if he has anything left offensively, it makes sense since the Braves typically have guys on the bench that hit like me. If nothing else, he might be a decent DH during interleague play.

  48. Alex R: Are you the contributor Alex on Chop-n-Change who wrote the centerfield platoon – rotation piece? Thatwas an informative, well-written article. Well done.

  49. Coop-

    Different Alex so I can’t accept the kudos for someone else’s work. I know the article and it was a good one.

  50. “Well, I can’t believe it. 92 yards and Lindsay really got in a foot race. I broke my chair. I came right through a chair. A metal steel chair with about a five-inch cushion. I broke it. The booth came apart, well, the stadium fell down. Now they do have to renovate this thing. They’ll have to rebuild it now.”

  51. Coop, Stu, and Alex, thanks for pointing that out, and thanks for the compliment! I hoped they would put it up, but I didn’t know when. I applied for their vacant blogger position — so if you really like it, please feel free to write a comment on the post and tell the Chop & Change people you like it. I really appreciate it!

  52. In 1980 I was three years into the workforce after leaving the Department of Philosophy and Religion and Peabody Hall as a graduate assistant and failed doctoral candidate. 1980 was still a great season, even for us oldtimers.

  53. Ga. Tech fans KILL me. They are hilarious deniers of reality.

    Read some of the AJC Blog comments ripping on this 4-star wide receiver Chris Jackson who appears on the verge of making the smart decision of going to Bama over Georgia Tech:

    http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/shared-blogs/ajc/cfbrecruit/entries/2007/12/17/jackson_rethink.html

    Though this has nothing to do w/ Georgia, these bitter trade school fans still have to take shots at us. Hilariously bitter!

  54. Well, definitely not surprised that a well written piece like that was the handy work of AAR – a far smarter fan than myself. Nice work, my friend!

  55. AAR,

    I plan to lustily disparage you and your writing over at C-N-C in order to keep you from getting the position and, as a result, keep you over here. Just a heads-up.

  56. So, after everyone being upset that Robert’s name appeared in the Mitchell report just b/c somebody said he told them he used steroids once or twice, Robert’s comes out and admits to doing it. I guess not everyone will be so upset anymore.

    Also, with everyone coming out and admitting to using, doesn’t it make Clemens look worse everyday. He should just come out and admit it already. People are much more forgiving (ie. Jason Giambi)

  57. I just spent a weekend in Norman, Oklahoma for a buddy’s wedding, and I can assure you that that name fits another school much better.

    I have no idea how Bob $toop$ convince$ kid$ to go there to play.

  58. Marc,
    On the Lindsay Scott play, the strong safety responsible for covering him, slips & nearly falls just as Scott goes up for the ball. By the time, Lindsay turns there’s nobody there. (In the video, you can see him on the ground as Lindsay flies past him.)

    Two other guys in Florida’s backfield are way on the other side of the field, covering the other WR (Chuck Jones, I think) on a fly pattern. Result: A sprint through 75-yards of green grass.

    An interesting note: When Lindsay Scott finally hits the end zone, he is greeted with a wild hug by a guy in a white shirt. That is the team’s beat reporter for UGA college newspaper, The Red & Black.

    And yes, that play still gives me chills, especially when accompanied by Munson’s call.

    (BTW, Larry’s gonna travel to New Orleans to call the Sugar Bowl.)

  59. I was upset about Roberts’ name being in the report, but not because I thought the evidence wasn’t legit. Who was upset about that, Joshua?

  60. I’d rather have a catcher who can teach McCann how to block balls in the dirt and throw runner out. I am not sure Javy is that guy.

  61. I usually don’t go to Chop-n-Change, but I did today. Nice work, AAR.

    Like much of the country at large, I’m suffering from scandal fatigue & that now applies to baseball & The Mitchell Report.

    However, it’s not so much the myriad of official allegations that bug me—they were expected. Instead, it’s the tired, predictable responses from the players.

    I’ll say this & leave it alone: I don’t believe their replies. I don’t believe Andy Pettitte. I don’t believe Fernando Vina. I don’t believe anyone.

    Why? Because they had their opportunities to talk with Mitchell & they chose not to. They obviously waited until the report became public so that they could craft their most-plausible “defense,” something that some people will find excusable.

    Call me a cynic. I’ll cop to it. But don’t try to make a jerk out of me.

  62. Here is my Javy Lopez story.

    In 2003 I was sitting in a bar with a buddy. He was talking about how he thought Javy would have a monster season (at the time Javy was hitting like .213 with 4 dingers.) I told him he was crazy. He replied “I bet he hits 40 out this year!” I said, “No way!” It seemed to be impossible, he had only hit 30 like once and that was a fluke. I took his bet, then he added “How about for everyone over 40 he hits that is $5 more, same for the under.” It seemed like a sure fire lock. I shook his hand and I swear to God, the next pitch Javy hit the longest home run of his carrer and went on a summer long rampage.

    I think Javy owes me some money.

  63. Looks like there’s a fire underneath the smoke after all, re: FSU bowl suspensions:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3159534

    As many as 20 Florida State football players will be suspended from playing against Kentucky in the Dec. 31 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, as well as the first three games of the 2008 season, for their roles in an alleged cheating scandal involving an Internet-based course, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning.

  64. Cary,

    That is interesting, if not surprising news. It seems like it is not a bowl season without a FSU scandal.

  65. Stu –

    It wasn’t necessarily anyone on here, but alot of sports writers were saying it. And I can see where they are coming from because they really couldn’t get away with those types of accusations just on the heresay of another player. Anyways, I’m with you guys – I’m tired of all these predictable responses from the players. I used HGH, but not steroids (I guess b/c HGH isn’t cheating in their minds). Blah, Blah, Blah. Nobody wants to hear that crap.

  66. Yeah, I actually just read where Angelos came out complaining about Roberts’ inclusion. I’d missed that.

    ububba,

    Does the fact that Roberts came out and confessed after having been essentially given a sympathy shield as a result of Angelos’ comments do anything to persuade you that his story is believable? I’m guessing not, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  67. Stu,
    I turned my brain off on the subject after Pettitte & Vina. I’m not familiar with the Roberts situation. Sorry. I’ll check it out at some point today.

  68. My problem with the report is that it did not distinguish between regular users and occasional or experimental users. I think that makes a big difference. I know it’s easy to conclude that the players’ statements are self-serving but I think it’s quite likely that there was a significant variation in how players used this stuff. It’s easy to say this was illegal, they shouldn’t have done it, but I think it’s hard to judge unless you have been in their shoes. I don’t have much sympathy for guys that used steroids (and there does seem to be a difference between steroids and HGH)simply to get a competitive advantage over a long term, but I think it would difficult to avoid the temptation to short-cut the recovery cycle for an injury. As for why the players wouldn’t cooperate, I don’t think anyone really wants to be considered a stool pigeon. I don’t have a particular problem with the report but I also think it’s probably more complicated than simply this guy did this and this guy did that.

  69. It’s easy to say this was illegal, they shouldn’t have done it, but I think it’s hard to judge unless you have been in their shoes.

    Couldn’t disagree more. Murder’s wrong, right? Do you need to get in the shoes of the murderer to come to that conclusion? Now, if you don’t believe using PEDs is wrong, that’s a different issue, but if you do take as a given that one should not use them, I don’t see the difficulty in calling these guys out for their bad decisions.

  70. Stu,

    That’s sort of silly. This isn’t murder. I’m not saying they were right to take the stuff but how do you know you would have done any different if you were in their position?

    And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be called out. All I’m saying is that not all the situations were the same and it’s not fair to equate someone using PED once or twice with someone using it regularly on a long-term basis. Assuming, arguendo, that Roberts and Pettite weren’t lying, I don’t see how what they did is the same as what Canseco or Bonds did. Unless you think that smoking a joint once or twice is the same thing as being a regular cocaine addict.

  71. I don’t like to compare bowl game records either because they are kind of pointless for most teams and are usually played after several weeks off. They are also usually played in good weather locations which may benefit teams that don’t have to be built to play in sleet and snow (just sayin’)

    A better way to compare conferences may be to compare their records against all other conferences. The SEC looks like it wins against non Big Ten Conferences more than the Big Ten wins against non SEC conferences. Although, Notre Dame was not in the calculations I did and the Big Ten plays a lot of games against them each year.

  72. Marc,

    I’m not equating it to murder; rather, I’m drawing an analogy between two situations where there is a fairly evident, at least to me, right (not murdering & not taking PEDs) and wrong (murdering & taking PEDs).

    I’m not saying they were right to take the stuff but how do you know you would have done any different if you were in their position?

    I don’t know what I would have done, but I would hope that my ability to objectively call it right or wrong—that is, to judge—would be unimpaired by my subjective decision to act.

    And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be called out. All I’m saying is that not all the situations were the same and it’s not fair to equate someone using PED once or twice with someone using it regularly on a long-term basis. Assuming, arguendo, that Roberts and Pettite weren’t lying, I don’t see how what they did is the same as what Canseco or Bonds did.

    I agree with all of this. You said it was hard to judge what they’ve done unless you’re in their shoes, though, and that’s a very different statement.

    Unless you think that smoking a joint once or twice is the same thing as being a regular cocaine addict.

    Hello, straw man! This has nothing to do with anything I said.

  73. It’s actually quite different, unless you believe that the severity of a crime affects how objectively right or wrong the crime itself is, which doesn’t really make any sense. Punishments, levels of outrage, and consequences may differ, but whether something is right or wrong shouldn’t depend on how right or wrong it is.

  74. Dix,
    You’re serious?

    You don’t take into account games played on neutral fields in good weather conditions when both coaches have ample time to prepare?

  75. “I’d rather have a catcher who can teach McCann how to block balls in the dirt and throw runner out. I am not sure Javy is that guy.”

    isnt that what coaches are for? no offense, but he’s a major league catcher and should already know how to do that

  76. Boras takes another hit…

    Variety is reporting that Alex Rodriguez has dropped Scott Boras to sign with Guy Oseary. A-Rod is Oseary’s first athlete; he’s worked with celebrities ranging from Madonna to David Blaine. (Hat tip to Mark Feinsand on this one).

    Good for A-Rod

  77. I gotta say.

    If I was one of these fringe guys trying to earn a job, pre-testing, I guarantee you that I would use steroids and/or HGH.

    Like it or not, right and wrong is relative. Right is ME making $400,000 in the bigs instead of $35,000 in AAA.

    Because I’m convinced that if I don’t use, and I’m the LAST fringe guy on the totem pole, 7 out of the first 10 guys who beat me were using.

    Post-testing. That’s another story.

    Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite… that’s another story, too.

    And yes I do think using steroids is cheating.

  78. Ububba,

    I’m dead serious. Some teams have 4 weeks off prior to bowl games, others have 2 weeks off. None of the players on either team are in their normal practice/play routine. None of the games actually mean anything to anyone unless it’s one of the BCS games, and even then they’re essentially meaningless if they’re not the title game.

    A neutral site is a relative term as well. When USC plays in the Rose Bowl, which it does every year, is that a neutral site? Not really. Most bowl games are played in destination spots where it’s sunny and dry. Anyone in a Big Ten city will tell you that between the months of September and April there are about 7 dry sunny days, and none of them are warm. Big Ten teams practicing for a Florida bowl game against a team from the south, or practicing for the Rose Bowl against USC definitely have no advantage. I can’t say the same thing about USC or the SEC teams. It was 70 degrees in Atlanta last week. It has been snowing up north for months.

  79. Dix,
    If you’re serious about that and you’re going to use good weather as a mitigating factor as to why bowl games shouldn’t be taken seriously, then (as Garry Marshall famously said in the film, “Lost in America,”) we’re done talking.

  80. Bowl games shouldn’t be taken seriously because they mean nothing, and because they aren’t taken seriously. I’m as big a fan for my team as anyone, and I honestly don’t give a damn if they win their bowl game ever. I also know and have known many players on that team who admitted that they checked out after the semester ended and that they only cared about the bowl game because it was a free trip someplace sunny and warm.

    Previous comments on weather etc. were directed towards your neutral site comments. I seriously think that many of the sites are far from neutral. An in-door practice facility is completely irrelevant. Big Ten teams, apart from Minnesota, don’t play games in domes. That means they typically have teams and gameplans geared towards slogging it out in the crappiest conditions, because they know they will be playing in those conditions. I don’t think most other conferences have to take that into consideration.

  81. Assuming Javy has anything left, why not keep Javy and Pena on the roster so that you can use either one of them to pinch hit, and Pena can be a utility guy if they really think he can play positions besdies catcher? Who would get bumped off if we kept 3 catchers?

  82. Does anyone remember, when Javy was here, if there was any thought about grooming him to be a coach? I certainly remember that with both Terry Pendleton and Julio Franco, when we brought them back for their farewell tours. How’s his baseball IQ?

  83. I always got the impression that Javy was not the best in the mental department. Maddux, who I do consider to be pretty cerebral, wouldn’t let him catch games he pitched. I always assumed that to be because he didn’t call a good game in Maddux’s opinion.

  84. I don’t think that was quite it. Maddux liked to be in control, and Javy was less likely than the backup catcher to do exactly what Greg wanted. Glavine’s pretty cerebral too, and I only recall one blowup between them.

    It has come to my attention that this blog is currently advertising aluminum bats. I regret this.

  85. I could have called Glavine’s games.

    Changeup Outside (ad nauseum)
    Fastball Inside (against average hitter with 0-2 count)
    Fastball Outside (whenever you’ve thrown 9 Changeups Outside in a row)

    Even Zombie Javy could call that

  86. “It has come to my attention that this blog is currently advertising aluminum bats. I regret this.”
    (I don’t know how to do italics).
    Reason #12,509 I love this blog…

  87. Good weather in football games favors the stronger team. If that is a reason to discount bowl games, then I can’t agree with that logic either.

  88. @113

    What you just said doesn’t sound like logic to me.

    What would make sense is if you had said “good weather in football games favors the team that is stronger in good weather”

  89. That article is poorly written. Mac is mean for pointing it out. Larry Bigbie sucks. So do the Ball State cardinals.

  90. Dix,

    If the location of the game REALLY mattered, thn yes, the Big 10 would never ever win a Bowl game because they are always going to be far away from the cold north homes.

    No, with anywhere from 3-6 weeks off (and Big Ten teams actually have more time off because they don’t play a championship game or ANY game in the final week of the college football season), that pretty much neitralizes any complaints about travel, hostile environments, etc.

    If a Big Ten team plays an SEC team in something like the Capital One Bowl (in Florida), sure, it’s always going to be a shorter trip for the SEC team. However, if that was a game played 1 week after regular season games, I would say that offered the SEc an added advantage.

    The fact remains, the tickets are split in half between the 2 schools (and supposedly, if Big 10 football is as relevant as SEC football, then supposedly like our teams your teams should have thousands of rabid fans that travel anywhere) and since there is so much time off, by the time you get to that game in Tampa or Orlando, said Big Ten team and said SEC team will have had the samr amount of time off.

    Look, last year Penn State beat Tennessee in one of those Florida bowls, but it was clearly a closer trip for the Vols. With that much time off for both teams, that should be neutralized. And again, equal amount of tickets are distributed between Penn State & Tennessee.

    The main point is, in general, the SEC is a faster, more athletic conference; this was most evident by the absolute beatdown Florida gave Ohio State in the Nat’l Title game.

  91. Alex,

    I don’t deny that the SEC is a faster more athletic conference. Never have, and I agree that it is the better conference. I just don’t agree that it is inherently so. The game you point out is nothing more than a single isolated occurrence that does not go very far to prove long standing SEC superiority. Michigan beat Florida, in Florida, in 2003.

    I feel you kind of supported my point. The Big Ten wins those games despite disadvantages because they are not as far behind the SEC in terms of talent as some people think.

    Also, in regards to the SEC being the faster, more athletic conference. Faster and more athletic are being used synonymously there I think. I would argue that the SEC is faster because it has the luxury of being faster. Playing football on frozen grass and in snow does not lend itself to airing it out vertically and cutting and juking all over the place. If you build such a team in the Big Ten you’ll be sorry.

    I’m just saying that I think if SEC teams took the trip up to places like Michigan, Wisconsin, etc in late December and early January, that a lot of that speed advantage will be nullified and the Big Ten game would yield better results.

  92. Stu,

    I don’t see how you can really divorce the seriousness of an offense from whether it is right or not. There are degrees of wrongness. Jaywalking is wrong and murder is wrong, but I am not going to condemn someone for jaywalking b/c it’s just not THAT wrong. But even accepting what you say, context is important, even for serious crimes like murder. For example, the law recognizes a difference between murders committed in a moment of passion (ie, walking in on your spouse with someone else) and premeditated murder. Similarly, I can say that shoplifting is wrong but if someone is out of work and their family is hungry, you can at least understand why they did it even if you don’t condone it. And you can recognize the difference between someone shoplifting to feed their family and shoplifiting because they just don’t feel like paying.

  93. You talk about ‘frozen grass’ but faster athletes run better in any kind of condition than slower athletes.

    The south producers faster athletes. It’s why a school that is normally ranked near the bottom of the SEC, Vanderbilt (which admittedly has been a pretty solid team the last 4 years) can go up to Ann Arbor and almost beat the supposedly top notch Michigan Wolverines.

  94. Also, December and January in Big 10 country are not football months — the conference plays its last games in November. SEC teams are perfectly capable of winning in those conditions.

  95. Marc,

    I’m not talking about condemning anyone. I’m talking about judging their actions to be wrong. I don’t doubt that players are under a lot of pressure to use PEDs, and I understand that’s difficult, but that doesn’t make the decision to take them any less objectively wrong, IMO.

  96. If it’s true that the South produces “faster” athletes, why is that? It really makes no sense unless you assume some genetic difference between the north and the south. It’s like saying that southern women are better looking than northern women. How can that be? If it is true, it can only be because the South emphasizes (1) athletics,and (2)female appearance, more than the north. There is no other reason unless you assume, for some reason, that there is not a normal distribution of athletic talent and (what men consider) feminine attractiveness throughout the United States population. I suppose there could be a correlation between warmer climates and those attributes.

  97. Um, we didn’t almost beat Michigan. Of course, we did cover the spread, so I won $5 from my good friend, Chuck G.

  98. Mac,

    That’s the point I was getting at and it’s an uncomfortable point. Alex was saying the South produces faster athletes. When you say something like that, it inevitably brings up the issue of genetics.

    Stu,

    I understand and agree with what you are saying but I was never trying to say that taking steroids was ok, just that, given the circumstances, it was understandable. But I was saying that you need to make distinctions between different situations. If Pettite took HGH twice, for example, that seems to me to be wrong but of a lesser magnitude than Bonds taking steroids for several years.

  99. The Vandy Michigan game was 27-7. Not close. And Michigan under Carr was notorious for being conservative or that game would have been more lopsided. The only score was on a trick play.

    Also Mac, the bowl games are played in December and January. The weather in September, October, November is the same as in December, January and February, or not enough different to make any difference.

    The south doesn’t have faster athletes, it has faster athletes that play football.

    If we were talking about baseball you’d admit that the Big Ten team’s have a disadvantage early in the season when everyone else is playing games and they can’t start playing at home until April because its still snowing in March.

    In football they still play, but you’re being obtuse if you don’t accept that they have to play a different game because of drastically different conditions, and also that the bowl game conditions are always more similar to southern teams home conditions.

  100. Plus, the SEC has a recruiting advantage. It’s the reason Michigan and Ohio State try and lock in top flight recruits in September – when there is nice Fall weather in Columbus and Ann Arbor.

    If you bring a kid to Athens, Tuscaloosa or Gainesville, you can bring them in September or December, it doesn’t make a huge difference. There’s enough good weather in the south in the cold months to still bring kids for an on campus visit.

    But try bringing a kid to Columbus in January and he could get frostbite. It’s rather unappealing for an 18 yr. old kid. Sure, kids from the Big Ten area grew up rooting for those teams and are unphased by those conditions so it may not carry any extra appeal to go to Georgia or Florida, but outside the wintery Big Ten, if Michigan is say competing with Urban Meyer for a top flight kid from maybe Memphis, who has the recruiting advantage, every time?

    That makes a difference too.

  101. To some extent yes, just like USC has weather related recruiting advantages. But that isn’t really on point with what I’m talking with you about.

    I will continue to bang my head against the wall later on. I’ve gotta go out of office for a while.

  102. Dix,

    But as Stu pointed out, Vandy covered the spread and if you ‘supposedly have one of the 2 best teams in the Big 10 against one of the bottom teams in the SEC on their home field, Michigan should have been able to do to Vandy, say similar to what LSU did in Baton Rouge to Virginia Tech, a top ACC school.

    Yes, 27-7 is a convincing win – but if Michigan was really one of the best 3 teams in the country in 2006, they should have been able to win more convincingly against a supposedly inferior team.

    Plus, I watched some of that game – it was close for quite a while.

  103. Mid-November conditions in the Big 10 area are not that much different from early December conditions in (non-Florida) SEC country. Certainly October conditions are not any worse. My point is that the Big 10 doesn’t play games in December or January, and shuts down two or three weeks before all the other conferences, which argues to me that they recognize that these aren’t football conditions.

  104. Marc,

    That’s fine. I was just arguing with your line about it being hard to judge unless you’re in the players’ shoes. I took that to mean it’s hard to judge whether they should or shouldn’t have taken the drugs—it’s pretty obvious to me that they shoudn’t have.

  105. I realize there’s antoher thread but…

    The Big Ten shuts down 2 weeks early because there is no championship game. If there were a 12th team the season would be extended right up until December.

    And my point is not that the weather up north is always too bad for football. My point is that Big Ten teams must necessarily be built to be capable to play their games in freezing weather and snow because many of their games are played in that weather. The SEC does not have that concern, none of their games will be played in the snow.

  106. No it doesn’t. It shuts down a week before the regular seasons end in the SEC, Big 12, and ACC. The Michigan-OSU game was on November 17; Alabama-Auburn was on November 24. And Pac-10 teams played on December 1.

  107. Mild winters allow children and teenager to sprnd more time outside running. The more time spent running the more speed developed. True no matter wealth level or genetics

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