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Old 08-06-2003, 05:31 PM   #1
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Default [Sports Central Newsletter] - #103 - Playing With Football Legends

The Sports Central Newsletter
August 2003 - Issue #103

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "Pete Who?"
- What's New at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Marlins Swim Strongly, Expos Flounder"
- Marquee Matchup: White Sox vs. Royals



Hello folks,

What happens when four of SC's writers play fantasy football with legends? In an all-time fantasy draft, the teams are so good that nobody loses, but that doesn't mean there can't be a winner in the eye of the beholder. If you are a football fan and haven't seen our series yet, there's no better way to get pumped up for the upcoming season. Brad Oremland, Eric Poole, and Kevin Beane have all already posted their HOF fantasy drafts, and the final participant, David Martin, will be posting his this Tuesday. Check out the SC site for more details: https://www.sports-central.org. Don't miss it!

Happy football season,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"Pete Who?"

By Brand Oremland

There's a man Pete Rose doesn't want you to know about. Because if you did, you might not care as much about Rose's absence from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Pete Rose is still a big deal in Major League Baseball. In fact, he may be a bigger deal now than he was during his days as a player or as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose, nicknamed "Charlie Hustle," was given a lifetime ban from the sport after evidence surfaced to indicate that Rose had bet on games -- including Reds games -- during his tenure.

Rose has become a fan-favorite precisely because he is banned from the sport, and thus from the Hall of Fame. In the eyes of many fans, although the ban is justified, the exclusion from Cooperstown is not. Unfortunately, the two are linked.

It is puzzling, though, that Rose's is a cause célèbre, but Joe Jackson's is not.

Jackson, a star for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox in the 1910s, was suspended by the league for his alleged involvement in the rigging of the 1919 World Series. However, while almost everyone believes Rose bet on baseball, there is great disagreement as to whether Jackson was guilty of wrongdoing.

Before getting to the facts of Jackson's case, let's just have a quick look at some numbers to ascertain that both Rose and Jackson did, in fact, accomplish enough to merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame.

Rose is MLB's all-time leader in games, at-bats, and hits. He hit .303 for his career, with 746 doubles, more than anyone but Tris Speaker. His 2,165 runs are fifth all-time. His modest OPS of .782 becomes impressive when multiplied by more than 14,000 at-bats.

Jackson, banned from the game in his prime (he hit .382 in his final season), lacks Rose's staggering quantity of accomplishments, but far surpasses him in quality. Shoeless Joe's career batting-average was .356, third all-time. His OPS of .930 is dazzling in any light, but especially given that he wasn't a power hitter -- Tony Gwynn, for instance, retired with an OPS of .847, and everyone with a higher OPS than Jackson has at least twice as many career homeruns. For comparison's sake, Rose registered an OPS of .930 or higher only once in his 24 seasons.

Jackson also holds a record which will never be equaled: his statistics show that Shoeless Joe had more triples than strikeouts. He is the only player who played the majority of his career after 1913 (when the league started recording strikeouts) to hold this distinction. Jackson played in only 1,332 games -- 2,232 fewer than Rose -- but nonetheless recorded 168 three-baggers. In fact, Jackson was probably the greatest triples-hitter ever, averaging more than one triple per 30 at-bats, the best average in major league history.

Both Rose and Jackson were able fielders, as well. Charlie Hustle won two Gold Gloves with the Reds. Jackson's glove was known as "the place where triples go to die,"and Ty Cobb called him the greatest left-fielder of all-time.

Jackson's case for Cooperstown is a no-brainer, as is Rose's. What makes Jackson's case especially compelling is the substantial evidence that he did not participate in any efforts to throw the World Series, the crime for which he was expelled from the game. Many fans are familiar with Jackson's case from the classic baseball movie "Field of Dreams," but for those who are not, don't expect the numbers to make Jackson look guilty:

During the series, he hit .375 and committed no errors in the field. His 12 hits set a World Series record, and Jackson accounted for 11 of the 20 White Sox runs in the series. He led all players -- on either team -- in batting-average, hits, runs, and homeruns. Jackson hit .353 with runners on-base and .435 when neither team had a lead of more than three runs.

The charge against Jackson, then, is that he accepted money to throw the game; whether he actually tried to apparently is immaterial. Even this accusation can be refuted, but that's a job for another day. Interested parties are referred to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame at http://www.blackbetsy.com. The site is partisan toward Jackson, but does state his side of the case comprehensively. I also recommend "Field of Dreams" for more casual fans.

My interest, though, is that the movement to reinstate Rose is so popular, while Jackson's cause, though carried by a few devoted loyalists, is scarcely ever mentioned. Rose, of course, is in-your-face with his own case. He is understandably upset that no bust has been prepared for him at Cooperstown, and he's recognized publicity as a way to drive his cause. Jackson, who has been dead for more than 50 years, generates considerably less promotion for himself.

So the next time Rose comes up, see if you can't spare a thought for Shoeless Joe Jackson, the best baseball player banned from the Hall of Fame.


Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)



A look back at the new articles from the week of 07/28/03 - 08/03/03:


COLUMN: Amico Report: Raptors on the run
By Sam Amico

Go inside the NBA with guru Sam Amico in the latest Amico Report.



COLUMN: The Jester's Quart: Horsing around
By Greg Wyshynski

SC's Greg Wyshynski lands the interview everyone's been waiting for: Seabiscuit's great, great, great grandson tells all! That, plus why conservative talk radio has Kobe's back, Anna K. and Penthouse Magazine, A-Rod wants out, and the deleted scenes from "This Is SportsCenter" ... in the Jester's Quart.



NFL: Sports Central all-time draft, pt. 3
By Kevin Beane

SC's Kevin Beane may have felt like a boy amongst men drafting against SC's Brad Oremland, Eric Poole, and David Martin, but he at least tried to fake a guru's sense of football. Heck, until round 12, he almost got away with it. In the end, though, he at least came away with a pretty good quarterback and a Deacon.



GOLF: Changing clubs
By Vincent Musco

Two weeks before the final major of the season, Tiger Woods has made a major equipment change. Why would he abandon a Nike for a Titleist in the middle of the season? Is the pressure of not being this season's clear number one player getting to him, or is there another reason?



MLB: Boston geared up for the playoffs
By Eric Maus

With a revamped bullpen, historic offense, and enough starting pitching, the Boston Red Sox will make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. SC's Eric Maus explains how Boston's once disastrous bullpen has been solidified, why the starting pitching is sufficient, and why their potent offense is the key to success.



NFL: Sports Central all-time draft, pt. 2
By Eric Poole

Picking an all-time NFL team is a little bit like walking through an art gallery -- "I don't know much about 1940s-era offensive linemen, but I know what I like." It's a subjective exercise that often says more about the person doing the picking than it does about the players picked. But in any event, here's one amateur football historian's view.



COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Year of the Devil: Pac-10 preview
By Kevin Beane

If we can expect anything from the Pac-10, it's the unexpected. Eight teams have either won the Pac-10 title or earned a BCS berth in the last 10 years. This year? Arizona State will take it, writes SC's Kevin Beane, with Oregon State close behind.



NFL: Sports Central all-time team, pt. 1
By Brad Oremland

What happens when four of SC's writers play fantasy football with legends? In an all-time fantasy draft, the teams are so good that nobody loses, but that doesn't mean there can't be a winner in the eye of the beholder. Up first, let's take a look at Brad Oremland's all-time team, with others' appearing over the next week.



NBA: Spurs still the team to beat
By Bill Ingram

Most of the national media will be busy talking about the all-star team being assembled in Los Angeles, but the most significant Laker may be the one who left. The champion Spurs have made some moves of their own, and will still be the team to beat in 2003-04, says SC's Bill Ingram.




"Marlins Swim Strongly While Expos Left to Flounder"

By Mike Round

Is there anyone left who doesn't think that baseball's wildcard system is a good idea? How tedious the season could have been, with half the divisional races decided by the All-Star break. Over in the National League, there are at least eight teams who could still claim the best-loser pass into the postseason, and two of them are teams that Bud Selig had (allegedly) on his to-obliterate list.

The Florida Marlins and the Montreal Expos may be in wildcard contention for now, but Major League Baseball would rather build a 30-foot bronze statue of Pete Rose at Cooperstown than allow Les Expos to play in October.

I, like many other baseball fans, got my first view of Dontrelle Willis on Wednesday night, courtesy of the good people of ESPN2. The "D-Train" has caught the imagination of Southern Floridians like no other baseball player since the halcyon days of 1997. His funky, throwback delivery with the huge leg-kick wouldn't have looked out of place in the 1930s and his rate of pitching is so fast that you wonder if his car is on a meter outside Pro Player Stadium. Willis may be just 21, but he plays like a veteran, though with the intensity of a wide-eyed rookie just enjoying his time in The Show.

The fans love him, as illustrated by the 35,000 or so attendance on Wednesday night. The Marlins average just over 14,000 and would be lucky to draw that on any other midweek evening. But the "D-Train" up against "The Big Unit" is as exciting a matchup baseball has to offer.

But the Marlins are more than one, exciting, rookie pitcher. They are a scrappy, never-say-die team that have found a way to win enough games to drag themselves into playoff contention, despite being marooned in last-place in the NL East early in the season.

In their entire existence, the Marlins have only had one winning season, the 1997 World Series year. The previous owner, Wayne Huizenga, splurged on high-priced veteran talent, filling the roster with players like Gary Sheffield, Moises Alou, Jeff Conine, Devon White, Al Leiter, and Kevin Brown. The tactic worked, then Huizenga broke up the team as fast as he'd built it. The fans haven't been back in force since. Some wonder if they ever will come, even if they build it, it in this case being a new purpose-built stadium. The snowbirds of South Florida have never flocked to baseball and the sustainability of the sport in such a location is unproven.

Head north to French-speaking Quebec and the situation is even more dire, at least on the surface. The Montreal Expos have an average attendance of almost 12,000, despite playing 22 "home" games in baseball-mad Puerto Rico. Selig has long wanted to scrub Montreal as a MLB venue, but can't find a suitable relocation point and buckled under union pressure when he tried to "contract" them.

The Expos are the team no one wants -- Florida owner Jeffrey Loria even managed to swap his Montreal franchise for the warmer climate of Miami with the scandalous acquiescence of Selig, taking with him the entire logistical operation of the Expos right down to the paper clips. Montreal lost their entire coaching staff, minor leagues included, scouts, scouting reports, administration staff, fax machines, computers -- the works.

An entire operation relocated to a divisional-rival at the behest of MLB, who smoothed the whole stinking deal by allowing previous Marlins owner John Henry to purchase the lucrative Red Sox operation. It left a nasty taste in the mouth of many baseball fans, but came as no surprise to those of us who regard Selig's leadership of the sport as corrupt and self-serving in the extreme.

Selig anticipated that the Expos would lay down and die last season, allowing him to do what he wanted with the franchise with the minimum of fuss. He didn't bargain for the imagination of GM Omar Minaya and the coaching intensity of baseball legend Frank Robinson. Not only did Minaya manage to pick up Cliff Floyd and Bartolo Colon to aid Robinson in his (unsuccessful) run at last year's playoffs, he held on to the teams Grade A young talent, like Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Vidro, Brad Wilkerson, Orlando Cabrera, Tomo Ohka, Tony Armas, Jr,. and Javier Vazquez. All that without taking on any payroll, as mandated by Selig.

The unlikely 2002 playoff run had repercussions for Montreal. Selig finally woke up to just how good Minaya and Robinson are, and scandalously ordered further cuts to the payroll for 2003, despite the strength of the team dictating that by holding on to their 2002 roster and adding some depth, particularly in the 'pen, this was a contender in the making.

So Colon and his $6 million a year salary headed for Chicago and no one came in. Despite the restrictions and a hideous injury-list, the Expos were still in the playoff picture on deadline day. Any normal team would have been free to add to their roster, as the Marlins did with Ugueth Urbina, and push for the postseason. But MLB is intent of strangling the life out of the Expos, on the dubious pretext that baseball can't survive in Montreal.

Anyone who remembers pre-1994 and the strike that nearly killed the game can recall huge crowds and a raucous atmosphere at Olympic Stadium. The Expos had a roster to-die-for and a manager in Felipe Alou who was one of the best in the game. Montreal was top of the NL East and a serious World Series contender. The rest is history and the days of three million a year crowds in Montreal seem as distant as leather football helmets. But, unlike Florida, Montreal has a history of supporting a contending team with healthy crowds. Florida is in contention now, yet can only draw 14,000.

I hope the Marlins have a good end to the season. They have some great pitching, aside from Willis and the injured A.J. Burnett, with Brad Penny (9-8, 4.28), Mark Redman (9-4, 2.89), and Josh Beckett (5-4, 3.24) headlining a great young rotation. Closer Braden Looper has 21 saves courtesy of a mean tailing-fastball. They play old-fashioned NL ball, with Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre getting on-base for the slugging Mike Lowell and I-Rod.

But I'd rather the Expos make the postseason, although it's unlikely. MLB, and Comrade Selig in particular, has tried to bully this team into submission for the last two years. Like all good Brits, I'm pulling for the underdog. Even if they speak French.


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)


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By Steve Goldstein

Kansas City Royals (59-50) at Chicago White Sox (58-53)

Tuesday, August 5th, 8:05 PM EDT; U.S. Cellular Field; Chicago, IL

The Royals have been baseball's most pleasant surprise all season long, and they're still hoping to land in the playoffs. But last week's sweep at the hands of the White Sox is still fresh in their minds, and they have to achieve some measure of revenge.

The Royals stayed true to their penny-pinching ways at the recent trading deadline, adding a bit of bullpen help. But they did decide to hold on to budding superstar Carlos Beltran, a target of trade talks due to the anticipation of a huge raise for him in the near future. Since returning to the lineup from injury, Beltran has been outstanding, joining Raul Ibanez in providing some muscle for the Royals. Shortstop Angel Berroa and first baseman Ken Harvey also have the potential to be offensive stars.

The young pitching has been competitive for Kansas City. Runelvys Hernandez and Jeremy Affeldt are beginning to live up to their high level of potential. Closer Mike MacDougal had a terrible offseason, after being hit with a flying bat in the dugout last season. But MacDougal has risen to the challenge, saving almost 25 games for the Royals. Still, the most incredible development has been the return of Jose Lima to the big leagues. Lima was left for dead after the Tigers cut him; he ended up in the Northern League playing for Newark. The Royals needed a starting pitcher and found Lima. Since then, he's gone 7-0 with an ERA barely above 2.00. (Ed's note: Unfortunately, he's now on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain.)

The White Sox made some significant acquisitions leading up to the trading deadline, picking up outfielder Carl Everett, infielder Roberto Alomar, and lefty Scott Schoeneweis. Everett and Alomar started slowly with the Sox, but have steadily gotten better. Alomar's batting-average recently climbed over .300 with the Sox. And Chicago's impressive lineup has come alive all of a sudden. Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, and Paul Konerko all frighten pitchers when they're hot.

The top three in the White Sox rotation are Esteban Loaiza, Bartolo Colon, and Mark Buehrle. Loaiza, like Lima for the Royals, came out of nowhere to become Chicago's ace. Now the expected stars, Colon and Buehrle, are doing what was expected of them. The only concern for the White Sox is the bullpen. Billy Koch, an offseason acquisition from Oakland, has saved only 11 games. He's backed up by the often-injured Tom Gordon and young lefty Damaso Marte. Though Gordon and Marte can get outs, neither should be a closer.


Offense -- White Sox
Defense -- Royals
Rotation -- White Sox
Bullpen -- Royals


The White Sox will win two of three against the Royals.


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue is set to come out on 09/07/03.)

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