"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: tim marchman

True Enough

Over at SI.com, Tim Marchman looks at where the Giants rank among the surprise champions of the wild card era:

The baseball commentariat didn’t like the San Francisco Giants’ odds going into this year. Nor did it like them going into the stretch run, as they were behind the similar, but seemingly more talented, San Diego Padres in the NL West. Nor did it like them much going into the Division Series, the Championship Series or the World Series. Which surely makes the wins all the sweeter, and the triumph all the more deserved.

Just how much of a surprise is the Giants’ first championship since moving to San Francisco? Putting a number on this isn’t actually as hard as one might think. There are three factors that make a team a surprise, or none at all: The actual strength of the team, its star power and its position going into the stretch run. A fundamentally mediocre team with few stars and a low payroll that enters the late season in a tight race will, if it wins the Series, stun everyone. A terrific team with lots of pricey veterans that leads the race all year will not.

Rare Air

He’s no Mo, as our man William pointed out, but Tim Marchman thinks that Trevor Hoffman still deserves our admiration:

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that Hoffman has never, with the exception of his glorious 1998, really been a great pitcher. This has less to do with closers being inherently overrated than with how good he’s been. The average, competent closer will have an ERA of somewhere between 2.50 and 3.00; Hoffman’s career ERA is 2.87. He’s had better years and a few lesser ones, but he’s mainly spent two decades being pretty good.

Being pretty good for that long is difficult, maybe more to some ways than being great. A truly great player will adapt as he ages because he does several things well and can get better at some even as he gets worse at others. A player who does one thing well — and that describes the vast majority of even good major leaguers, who can maybe field a bit or hit a home run now and then or throw a nice fastball — has almost no margin for error.

Hoffman has always been such a player. He had some significant virtues such as composure and the ability to pitch an inning every third day without hurting himself, but basically he owed his success to one thing: a change-up. In his prime it was just hideous, and then as he lost a bit to age he figured out how to keep it working well enough to do his job, solidly and well, for long enough that he’ll almost certainly make the Hall of Fame.

Whoa, No

Over at SI.com, Tim Marchman asks if the Tampa Bay Rays are unusually prone to being no-hit?

Tampa Bay’s hitters are good, but they have a flaw: They are, essentially, a take-and-rake lineup. The team rates fifth in the American League in on-base percentage, but fourth from the bottom in batting average. They lead the league in both walks and strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances, and are fourth-worst in both groundball-to-flyball ratio and line drive percentage. Basically they draw walks, hit for extra bases and otherwise beat the ball into he ground, which is essentially what you would be looking for in a team especially liable to being dominated on a given afternoon.

Additionally, their home park is possibly the worst in baseball for the base hit. Tropicana Field has reduced base hits by about 11 percent compared to an average park this year; the Rays and their opponents have hit .256 away from Tampa Bay this year, but just .238 at the Trop. The only worse park for the base hit in the majors has been the Oakland Coliseum.

Stocking Stuffers

I love writing about rooting for the Yankees. That ain’t hard to tell, is it? But yo, one of the most satisfying aspects of hosting this blog is having a community of readers who stop by, time and time again. I can’t tell you how rewarding that is for me. Some of you make yourselves known in the comments section, while others prefer to just read along, keeping your thoughts private. I value both kinds of readers, of course.

Anyhow, I was thinking how I could best say thanks, while offering some small token of my appreciation at the same time. I’ve been absolutely swamped with my 9-5 of late, so the interview I recently conducted will have to wait until early next year (so much transrcibing, so little time). Instead, I contacted a couple of writers and asked if they would be willing to submit a guest article to help celebrate another fine baseball year. Lucky for me–and now you–a bunch of ‘em said yes. So over the next week or so, I’m gunna post articles from some of my favorite Internet writers, who I’m also fortunate enough to call friends.

The first piece is by Tim Marchman, who writes for The New York Sun and The New Partisan. Hope you enjoy. Heppy holidaze guys. Thanks for helping make Bronx Banter a lively place to get together and shoot the baseball breeze.

Flawed Heroes: Then and Now

By Tim Marchman

You have to take all the recent talk about the death of the baseball hero in a fair perspective.

There are, apparently, hundreds of sportswriterís sons tearing down Jason Giambi posters from their walls and pronouncing the disgraced slugger a cheat and a fraud. Giambi is both, and deserves in some measure the scorn of his young fans; but I doubt that these children will suffer too greatly from their disillusioning. They may even end up the better for it.

I grew up in Queens following the Davey Johnson Mets, probably the sleaziest team in living memory. Because it was Queens and because the Mets were so great and the Yankees so consistently second-best both in their division and in the city, to be a Yankee fan was usually a matter both of family inheritance and inborn contrarianism, and thus something fiercely clung to, like a threatened faith.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver