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View Full Version : The Moron Column Count '02: Flubs 2, Sox 0


cheeses_h_rice
03-04-2002, 09:14 AM
Seeing the Moron write about Kerry Wood today, just a day or two after his Sham-ME lovefest, reminded me again of the snow job he did on the Sox last year. Personally, I don't think the Moron has a shred of "journalistic integrity," so I figured I'd try to determine if the idiot will let his personal animus toward David Wells "kerry" over to the 2002 season. One objective measure of this is who he writes about.

So far, it's Flubbies 2, Sox 0. Should be interesting to see how this turns out.

No knock on Wood's valor

March 4, 2002

BY JAY MARIOTTI SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST










SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--The arm could be worth $100 million in a couple of years. If it were mine, I'd pamper it, baby it, try to finesse my way toward the jackpot. When a pitcher is only 35 months removed from traumatic elbow surgery and a ligament is held together by a graft from his forearm, caution would seem a wiser priority than the flashing digits on a radar gun.

But that's the difference between Kerry Wood and the civilized world. He wants it known this spring that he has purged all fear from his head and intends, as always, to throw the baseball as hard as he damn well pleases. Ignoring cries to be more subtle and crafty, he refuses to alter his fireballing approach for purposes of prolonging his career and preserving a whopper payday.

He will live as a power pitcher. He will die as a power pitcher.

''I plan on pitching until this thing doesn't work anymore. But I'm not going to go out there and change my style of pitching so I can pitch longer,'' Wood said Sunday, shaking his 20K-gold right arm for effect. ''I'm not going to start hitting corners and throwing 85 [mph] so I can save my arm. I'm going to go out and do what I know how: throwing hard and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.''

Already, I can hear the frantic debate. Is Wood fearless or reckless? Daring or foolish? A man or a maniac? His health, after all, is the question on which all hopes hang for a kingdom revving its annual part-religion, part-sickness crusade. Some fans will wave their ''We Got Wood'' signs and encourage him to ramble on. Others will gulp and wonder if he'll make it to July without another disabled-list visit.

Let them talk, Wood says. He's convinced his arm stopped being a legitimate issue last season, even though he missed five weeks in August and early September--the beginning of the Cubbie swoon-- with right shoulder tendinitis. ''It was frightening at first. I'd never had any problem with my shoulder,'' he said. ''But I didn't come back with any doubts. When you have doubts, you're going to have doubts when you get the ball in your hand.''

And how does the arm feel now? ''Great. Better than ever,'' he said after needing only 12 pitches to retire the San Francisco Giants over two innings. ''I don't worry about my arm anymore. I just worry about mechanics and getting a feel for a game. The way I've looked at it, the doctor did his job and I did my job in rehabbing.''

So, why can't we completely buy into Wood's good health the way he does? Maybe because he keeps having nagging periods that inject doubt into the equation--not only among media and fans, but even extending to a friend like ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe, the former Cubs ace who suggested last September that Wood's career was cloudy. Turns out Sutcliffe misread a phone chat with Wood, yet the episode is typical of the lingering mystery. Will it ever end? Wood doubts it, realizing fans aren't as willing as he is to believe in medical advancements like Tommy John surgery. For that matter, neither are the Cubs, who once again gave him a one-year contract instead of the multi-year deal normally awarded a young pitcher of his performance level.

''It's amazing what they can do these days,'' Wood said of the arm doctors. ''But when I did my contract, I knew that if they offered me a long-term deal, I'd have to wonder what they were thinking. I haven't had a healthy season yet, so I would have done the same thing they did. Surgery is surgery and guys come back all the time, but I have to stay healthy.''

The concern is, how much can Wood pitch this season? How heavy a burden can he accept without risking more arm problems? Since returning for the 2000 season, he has spent 57 days on the DL with various injuries. By comparison, St. Louis Cardinals star Matt Morris, who had the Tommy John procedure the same week as Wood, was brought along cautiously--he pitched the entire 2000 season out of the bullpen--and enjoyed a sensational 2001 season. Sunday, manager Don Baylor predicted Wood will win 20 games if he starts 35. But last season, he missed six turns and went 12-6 in 28 starts. Is he over the hump?

The answer will determine if the Cubs make the playoffs or shout ''Wait Till Next Year'' for the 95th straight season. Wood balks at the idea of being the make-or-break factor, saying, ''I go once every five days. I've never been a big believer in a pitcher carrying a team. By no means did we fall off [last year] because I went down.'' But if Wood stays off the DL, the Cubs can do major damage. If he's on the DL, they aren't a playoff team.

At least he has gotten over the Oscar Acosta/Mack Newton mess. Rarely a lightning rod for controversy, Wood was the ringleader who sided with Acosta--and bucked Baylor--in the pitching coach-manager feud that erupted late last season and cost Acosta his job. ''It's a new season,'' said Wood, who stays in touch with Acosta, now the Texas Rangers' pitching coach, but respects successor Larry Rothschild.

Why did things blow up when they did? The reality of playoff elimination, Wood said. ''Everyone was pressing a lot. There was the emotion of what was happening [with Baylor and Acosta],'' Wood said. ''I think everyone thought about it more the deeper we got in the hole.''

In his words, Wood spent the offseason having ''my [butt] kicked around.'' Doing the kicking was Sarah Pates, his fiancee of three weeks, who emphasized the urgency of better conditioning. Their wedding is scheduled this November--for now. ''You know women, how they nag all the time,'' he said, grinning. ''But I think everyone can use a kick in the [butt] sometimes.''

Though he's still 24 and not far removed from a Texas upbringing, Wood grasps the pain of Cubbie Nation. ''I probably don't have the same feeling the fans do, but no one wants to win more than we do,'' he said. ''It would be amazing if we did. I'd love to be a part of it. It's going to be a special moment when it happens.''

When it happens? ''Yep. It's going to happen. We've got a pretty solid team this year, and we're definitely going to turn this whole Chicago tradition around.''

A bold guy all the way around, isn't he?

Cheryl
03-04-2002, 10:00 AM
I keep wondering this--why do you guys keep reading this crap? If no one reads it--and if people let the Scum Times know they won't buy the paper because he's in it--he'll go away.

cheeses_h_rice
03-04-2002, 10:19 AM
I don't support the Moron and I don't buy the Sun-Times -- I read it online.

I tried to ignore the idiot last year when it became apparent that he wasn't going to give our team a fair shake. But it was impossible not to tune in just because of the turnaround in fortunes between the Flubs and Sox last year. It was like watching a 30-car pile-up in slow motion, watching him go from the heights of bandwagonism to basically saying "I told you so" when it started to look like those WS champs on the North Side would fail to produce, as usual.

Paying attention to the media's representation of the Sox is a part-time hobby, I guess, and the Moron is no exception for me. As the main columnist in the #2 paper in Chicago, I think that for good or bad, his writings carry weight and influence what outsiders and those not as tuned in as we are think about Chicago's two baseball teams. By objectifying his coverage with my "column count," I hope to shed light on the problem of biased coverage in this city, at least as it pertains to one of the bigger mouths.

Cheryl
03-04-2002, 10:21 AM
That's a rought job, Cheeses. I'm glad I don't have to do it. I just ignore the moron. And I don't buy his paper, and I have let Scum Times management know that.

Chisox353014
03-04-2002, 02:19 PM
It would be interesting to see how the count was across the entire Chicago media, not just the Moron's column. But that is a pretty large project to undertake. For your count, I think that a rating system should be included, because the content is important too. Remember how many columns he wrote about Wells last year, but all of them were slam jobs? Keeping in mind that not only does he write about the Flubs more, but tends to write much more positive stuff about them too, I would propose the following scoring system:
5=Extremely positive (i.e. the Sammy column)
4=positive (the Wood column which was fawning but at least had a question about whether he'll stay healthy)
3=equal parts positive and negative (doubt we'll see any of these)
2=negative
1=extremely negative (i.e. most of his D. Wells columns from last year)

So, by this rating system the score would be
Flubs-2, Sox-0
Flubs avg. rating-4.5, Sox avg. rating-N/A
Something tells me that by the end of this season we'll have statistical proof that at least one Chicago columnist is biased against us.

cheeses_h_rice
03-04-2002, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by Chisox353014
It would be interesting to see how the count was across the entire Chicago media, not just the Moron's column. But that is a pretty large project to undertake. For your count, I think that a rating system should be included, because the content is important too. Remember how many columns he wrote about Wells last year, but all of them were slam jobs? Keeping in mind that not only does he write about the Flubs more, but tends to write much more positive stuff about them too, I would propose the following scoring system:
5=Extremely positive (i.e. the Sammy column)
4=positive (the Wood column which was fawning but at least had a question about whether he'll stay healthy)
3=equal parts positive and negative (doubt we'll see any of these)
2=negative
1=extremely negative (i.e. most of his D. Wells columns from last year)

So, by this rating system the score would be
Flubs-2, Sox-0
Flubs avg. rating-4.5, Sox avg. rating-N/A
Something tells me that by the end of this season we'll have statistical proof that at least one Chicago columnist is biased against us.

That's actually a pretty good system, because he actually did spend time on the Sox last year, it's just that almost all of it was incredibly negative.

Oh, and you forgot one more rating for his Flubbie columns:

-5 = Jumping off the bandwagon and saying "I told you so!"

foulkesfan11
03-05-2002, 08:40 AM
The Moron, is as his name says, "A Moron". I don't give his articles the time of day. It just gets me aggravated. I just come to WhiteSox Interactive to get all the news! You guys are great!

cheeses_h_rice
03-07-2002, 10:31 AM
For the sake of posterity, I am going to post the text of the Moron's columns, since the links stop working after a few weeks...

This was column #1

Sit back, relax and enjoy

March 3, 2002

BY JAY MARIOTTI SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST








MESA, Ariz.--You call those arms? In a ripped, sleeveless shirt, they look more like telephone poles, stretch limousines, Scud missiles, slabs of beef in a meat locker. As if he needed more upper-body bulk, Sammy Sosa now strikes a vague resemblance to a Bulgarian weightlifter.

Or, closer to the point, a man who might hit 75 home runs this season.

"I have a lot of potential to do it,'' he concedes without much persuasion. ''I'm not going to say that I will do it, but anything is possible.''

I know what the masses are thinking. Ho hum, Sosa might break the single-season record. Yawn, he's creeping onto the radar screen of Henry Aaron's all-time record. The power blitz has had such a cheapening effect the last several seasons that baseball fans have grown indifferent and numb to the constant raising of the bar. When the homer record stands for 37 seasons, then is broken twice in four seasons, the roars and gasps of yesteryear turn to more sedate applause.

That said, don't ever make the mistake of taking Sam I Am for granted. You'll miss the best show in baseball and, regardless of funny balls and cozy new parks, the most prolific barrage of power-hitting in the history of the game. If reaching 60 is so easy, why is Sosa the only player to do it three times? If everyone is crushing the long ball these days, why isn't everyone challenging 70 every season?

True, the home run has been robbed of a certain drop-dead sex appeal. But numbers are still numbers. And be thankful Sosa is amassing them at Wrigley Field and not at Yankee Stadium, where he would be the right fielder and cleanup hitter --with Alfonso Soriano replacing him in the Sheffield Avenue corner--if George Steinbrenner's people hadn't rejected the deal two summers ago. After all the Sosa-bashing that season by Cubs boss Andy MacPhail and various message-carriers at the Tribune Co. broadsheet, it was comical to see Dandy Andy and his sheep come around last season to praise Sosa. That was the least they could do after one of the most astonishing offensive seasons in history: 64 home runs, 160 RBI, a .328 batting average, a .737 slugging percentage, a .437 on-base percentage, 146 runs scored and 116 walks. The Cubs did their typical fade, but not by fault of Sosa, who hit .385 with 24 homers and 55 RBI in the final 48 games. Particularly stunning was how he produced such magnificence without many baserunners in front of him or, for much of the season, serious hitters to protect him.

So consider the magic numbers that might await him with the addition of Moises Alou, along with the full-season presence of Fred McGriff. If doubts lurk about who will reach base ahead of him--Is Bobby Hill ready? Is Bill Mueller healthy?--there's no question he'll see more pitches to blast into orbit. Which might explain why the reigning single-season homer king corralled Sosa the other day at HoHoKam Park and planted a curious seed.

''I want you to break my record,'' San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds said.

''No, no,'' Sosa said, laughing playfully.

''I want you to hit 70,'' Bonds said.

''Let me go out with my own plan,'' Sosa said, this time more seriously.

Afterward, Sosa didn't know what to think about Bonds' gesture. Was he sincere? Or was he trying an early psychological ploy? ''He gave me his blessing,'' Sosa said. ''But I don't like to say I'm going to do that. It took 37 years for Mark [McGwire] and myself to break 61. Three years later, Barry hits 73. Maybe somebody will break his record, too. I don't know who's going to be the man this year. Make a pick.''

My pick is Sosa. Armed with a contract extension, Bonds won't have the urgency to one-up his masterpiece of last season. Going on 38, he's also due for an injury that should take him out of contention. Some might say the same about Sosa, who mildly twisted his ankle in his Cactus League debut Thursday. But something is sacred about his Energizer Bunny ability to avoid serious injuries and keep ticking and ticking, slugging and slugging. He has missed only 11 games in the last five seasons. Clearly, if anyone breaks the record, the smart money is on Sosa.

"Never say never with him,'' said manager Don Baylor, whose nonstop criticism of Sosa melted into professional reverence last season.

All of which feeds into the newest twist on Sosa: He enters the season as the leading ambassador for baseball, with his fun nature and likability helping to fill the void left by the retirements of Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and McGwire. In a USA Today survey that featured Sosa, Bonds, Derek Jeter, Curt Schilling and Alex Rodriguez, Sosa received the most votes in response to this question: Which baseball players do you believe are the heroes of the game today? His popularity quotient never has been higher, often coated by Teflon.

One reason: He knows how to control his audience, always saying the right things. Despite the hype about busting Bonds' record, Sosa is smart enough to emphasize a team-first mind-set. ''We have a chance for the first time in my career with the Cubs to have a great team,'' he said. ''To tell you the truth, it's not the home-run race I want to win as much as I want to win in the playoffs.''

Yet that won't stop the Sammy Sosa Bashers of America from finding fault. Surely, the massive size of his arms will launch another round of whispers from a group that views him as a test-tube creation and general phony. To this day, Sosa says he never has used androstenedione (as Mc-Gwire did) or any other steroid on a regular basis, claiming he has tried nothing worse than "one or two creatine shakes.'' But as long as commissioner Bud Selig refuses to address the steroids issue or tries to implement testing in a collective-bargaining agreement, a cloud will hover over Sosa, Bonds and others.

The other issue hounding Sosa is his age. Though he looked every bit of 20 when the White Sox promoted him to the big leagues in 1989, the raging age-fudging scandal involving Dominican-born players--''The Danny Almonte domino effect,'' Baylor calls it--has cast questions about Sosa. Are you really 33, Sammy? ''Hey, fellas, I know my real age because it wouldn't be in the computer,'' he said last week.

Whether he's 33, 36 or 56, Sosa hits the ball like he's 23. Instead of doubting him and dogging him, how about sitting back and enjoying him?