Yesterday was good day for baseball. It's rare enough to see a challenge trade (the last one came a year and a half ago), but to also get a no-hitter (and really, near perfect game) is just fantastic. We'll get to those. But first, I want to make sure you've read Tom Verducci's piece on Earl Weaver in this week's Sports Illustrated.
Weaver can still look at a baseball game the way Copernicus studied the heavens, without benefit of telescopic aid, and understand it deeply. He liked to tell his players, "Look, guys, you win games, the manager loses them. And I don't want to lose. So you better win a lot of games."
And, of course, Verducci relays this YouTube classic (not safe for work or the faint of heart).
I saw a perfect game once, live at the stadium. It was the most overwhelming feat of athleticism I've ever witnessed. And even though Jonathan Sanchez was robbed of his perfect game last night by a Juan Uribe blooper, the game had that same electricity. As teammate Tim Lincecum (and no slouch himself) put it,
"It was f$%&ing amazing," Lincecum said. "If you can print that, print it, because that's what it was."
Slotted back in the rotation for one game due to Randy Johnson's injury, with his father flown in to watch his son pitch in the big leagues for the first time, Sanchez put it all on the line. David Pinto was keeping people informed starting in the fifth, and he has the goods on all the pitchers who have had a perfect game spoiled by an error:
Terry Hullholland, Jerry Reuss, Dick Bosman, Bill McCahan, Walter Johnson, Nap Rucker, Christy Matthewson
You can find dates and opponents at the link. Pretty good company, if you ask me.
Church for Francoeur was the challenge trade yesterday, and it's a definite head-scratcher. Staying with David Pinto for a moment, he was at his most outraged:
WHAT THE F#$$%#@%$K?
Oh my, there's a lot of vulgarity today, and for that I apologize.
Nevertheless, the sabermetric consensus is that Omar Minaya is completely insane for making this trade, as Francoeur hasn't had a good offensive season in years. Nevertheless, while it may appear astonishingly stupid, it is unlikely either of these players will have much of an effect on his new team. The Dugout put it (as only they can) like this:
BenjaminFrankWren: Sure! Want to play poker?
OmarGoodness: nah, I never get any aces
OmarGoodness: How about Uno?
BenjaminFrankWren: nah, i never get the wild card
There was one other trade yesterday, as the Mariners shipped SS Yuniesky Betancourt to the Royals for two minor league pitchers. This was even more of a head-scratcher, and it's one of those things that just strikes you as crazier and crazier the more you think about it. The go-to source for information about Royals futility is, of course, Joe Posnanski:
And at the end of the day, I guess, it’s pretty simple to sum up: The Royals are team that cannot field, hit, hit with power, run or walk. They just traded for a player who cannot field, hit, hit with power, run or walk. I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round — I really love to watch them roll.
Don't forget to vote on which trade was a bigger disaster.
We end today's box score with a reminder that while some players are awful, others are merely very overpaid. Via Forbes magazine comes the list of the most overpaid players in baseball. Their top three may be justifiable, but their methodology is a bit bizarre:
To measure this year's most overpaid players at the All-Star break, we compared the major offensive stats--batting average, home runs, runs batted in and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, now a major metric of production) of each player to the league average for starters at his position. Then we did the same with salaries.
There's no proof that the relationship between salary and production ought to be linear. In fact, it seems that at least at the top end, compensation ought to be non-linear. But am I arguing that the players on this list aren't overpaid? Not really: 1. Jeter, 2. T. Hunter, 3. Beltran. But where are Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews, Jr. Both seem more egregious to me than Torii Hunter.