Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Like the Team in Los Angeles, Ken Rosenthal Is a Bum

I've mentioned I'm a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan (possibly every time I write about baseball), which is why I HATE the Dodgers.

But they are good. And they're gonna be really good if they can keep those young players together. I shudder at the thought of watching the Gents face off against Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, and Jonathan Broxton (although Broxton worries me the least) for the next 10 years.

Forget Manny Ramirez.

They're on the honeymoon right now, but Manny is just like Elizabeth Taylor: he's planning the next wedding the minute this party ends. He's a dog and, once a dog, always a dog. Let's see how he fairs for a whole year in the abyss that is leftfield at Chavez Ravine. Let's see how that affects his delicate ego. I predict he won't even be around by the time the Giants have a legit shot at LA in two years.

Back to my point. The Dodgers are bums, but they are good.

Ken Rosenthal is not.

Although I probably write more than my share, I don't look for hatchet-piece openings. These men and women might be perfectly decent people whose greatest sins are brown-nosing, not knowing the sport they cover, kicking over anthills, etc. In the grand scheme of things, these are not criminal offenses so I feel a little guilty attacking their work.

That said, Rosenthal and hacks like him are living many people's dream - they make a nice living by covering sports.

Look at this site. We are all on here doing what they do for fun.

Sure, a lot of us are probably here because it might lead to a job just like Rosenthal's and that factors in the decision. But I work nine-to-five and write in addition to that just because I like it. I doubt I'm alone.

I can promise you a site set up for accounting or maximizing factory efficiencies just for kicks wouldn't have thousands of members.

Consequently, I don't think it's too much to demand from the Ken Rosenthal's of the world that they write well, know the sports they're covering, provide sound analysis, throw in the occasional ray of insight, and either stay objective or acknowledge their biases. Otherwise, why the hell do they get the dream job while everyone on here is left to toil in anonymity and hope for lightning in a bottle?

And that's a question I have yet to find an adequate answer for with regards to Ken Rosenthal. So I will proceed to rake him over the coals.

In his latest article about the Dodgers-Phillies series, he makes a total mess of the beanball war that erupted. His entire premise is that the Bums have grown up as a result of what happened.

He begins by implying that the Phillies were throwing at LA and the team was angry at Billingsley for not retaliating. He specifically mentions Manny Ramirez as being angrier than those in LA had ever seen him because Brett Myers threw behind his head with impunity.

Rosenthal then shifts his focus to Russell Martin.

He indicates that LA's been displeased with the catcher for a while now due to his lack of enthusiasm for retaliation (same goes for Billingsley apparently). This despite the fact that Myers brushed him back in game two. Additionally, Rosenthal points out that Jamie Moyer hit Martin in the first inning of game three and Clay Condrey knocking him down later in the same game.

Rosenthal sets up the situation to show that the Phils are using intimidation to establish ownership over the Dodgers. And they are intimidating the Bums by throwing at them. He even says that LA rolled over after Myers threw behind Manny.

That is the very direct and reasonable conclusion to draw from Ken's words.

But then he blows the whole thing up with one line: "[t]his is about throwing inside to keep hitters from diving across the plate to reach balls outside."

He tries to simultaneously show insight (by mentioning something that even a casual fan already knows) while distancing himself from the controversy he is desperately trying to start.

First, is that really the profound growth the Bums have shown? The one Ken opened up with as the premise for the article?

A willingness to pitch inside?

You're telling me they got all the way to the National League Championship Series having never established the inside corner?

Impressive if it were true, but it's not. I watched the Bums a lot this year since they play the Giants frequently. They pitched inside. They just didn't hit or throw at anyone.

Second, do you think Manny is angrier than they've ever seen because Billingsley isn't establishing the inner half of the plate? Do you think that's the "message" Manny was upset about not sending?

This is a guy who quit on his last team. A team that paid him almost $20 mil, allowed him to act like a total nightmare (which for some reason is his preference), and was a perennial contender for the championship. And he quit on them because...?

Because he's such a team player?

Such a team player that nothing sets him off worse than a pitcher who doesn't protect the inside of the plate? Because doing so helps the team win? Right, and I've got some lovely oceanfront property for you in the middle of Arizona.

Third, Rosenthal says Myers threw behind Manny. He says Myers brushed Martin back. He says Moyer hit Martin. He says Condrey knocked Martin down. Along the way, he even throws in Matt Cain hitting Manny in the head TWO MONTHS AGO.

Nowhere does he imply they are just pitching inside to establish that side of the plate, that these batters all crowed or dive. Instead, he specifically chooses words that imply intention behind the beanballs and close pitches.

And that's perhaps my biggest problem with Rosenthal.

Forget that he doesn't know baseball more than you or I. That he doesn't write well or provide insight except to regurgitate what someone who really understands the game has told him. That he is biased and lazy when it comes to ideas for stories - really, he wants a Boston/LA Word Series? I'm shocked.

My biggest problem is that he stirs up controversy and then tries to play the innocent lamb.

He writes the entire article emphasizing the incidents that would lead someone to believe the two teams hate each other and are showing it using a baseball. Then, he backpeddals with some holier-than-thou line like "[t]hat's what Ramirez wanted from his own pitcher [to establish the inside]. That's the way the sport is intended to be played."

As if the whole time he was congratulating the Bums for pitching inside instead of retaliating for what he wants you to believe were intentional beanballs.

If that's the case, why not tell the whole story? The whole story provides a much stronger support for such an argument.

For instance, he doesn't mention that Myers went to great lengths to indicate the pitch slipped out of his hand. One, if you look at the trajectory of the ball, that's a reasonable claim. Two, if you're throwing behind a guy to send a message, you don't go to great lenghts to show everyone it slipped. That kind of defeats the purpose.

That's what you say after the game to avoid a fine.

He doesn't mention that he gave an in-game report LAST NIGHT trying to stir up this idea that Philly is throwing at LA. And that the Fox broadcast team spent the rest of the night talking about it (how convenient).

He doesn't mention that Russell Martin basically dives across the plate. Some of those balls that brushed him back might have actually crossed the black.

He doesn't mention that Hiroki Kuroda started off the game by throwing a high and tight pitch to Chase Utley.

He doesn't mention that Jamie Moyer throws softer than my mom. That he's not gonna throw at anybody because it's just a free base. That you can't send a message without a bruise.

He doesn't mention that the ball Moyer hit Martin with was a breaking ball. NOBODY throws at anyone with a breaking ball. They are too hard to control that finely.

He doesn't mention that the pitch that hit Martin was on a 1-2 count in the first inning with runners on first and second. And no one out. And a run already in. And Nomar Garciaparra on deck with a .400+ average against Moyer. In the playoffs.

That's a freakin' odd time to be throwing at some. Especially with a curve ball or slider.

He doesn't mention that the ball Cain hit Manny with almost crossed the plate (as anyone who saw the replay last night can see). Or that the only reason it hit Ramirez in the head was because Manny ducked into it (again, look at the replay).

All of the above show the truth.

Both teams are trying to establish the inside corner. Since the modern batter stands on the plate or dives across it, that results in brushbacks and hit batsmen. Nobody is throwing at anyone (until Shane Victorino's AB).

And that's what's so perverse.

Rosenthal hides his incendiary "analysis" behind a veneer of truth.

He explicitly states the truth, the plain vanilla 411 - that both teams were trying to establish the inside corner. But the entire article implies that the two teams are throwing at each other and that Philly (or maybe Matt Cain) started it. He even throws in the fights between Tampa Bay, Boston, and New York to really drive the point home.

I'm sure that's what Manny and some LA fans think. And it will sure generate some noise. Only problem is that it's total crap. And if you're gonna try to start a tempest in a teapot, you should at least have the fortitude to do so up front.

I don't know Ken Rosenthal. Never met the man.

So I don't know if he's a snake and a coward.

But he sure writes like one.

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