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Hockey and baseball II.

Saturday 12/2/23

The Northeastern men's hockey team--which was something like 1-7 this year in Hockey East--knocked off the #1-in-the-nation BC Eagles last night in Chestnut Hill. BC has had this number one ranking twice now and promptly gone out and lost--first to a decent team in Maine and now this subpar Huskies squad. BC can score; not really sure how well they can defend, though. Hockey East is a league where if you don't show up you'll lose to whomever you're playing.

Seeing discussions about who should make the hockey Hall of Fame class next year. To me the number one player who isn't in who should be in is Vladimir Krutov.

Here's a stat: Wayne Gretzky had more 4-point or more games in his career (217) than he had games with no points (203). It had to feel like a major accomplishment during Gretzky's 1980s heyday if you held him scoreless.

Bruins beat a bad San Jose team the other night. I was curious who they'd have in goal. Swayman was angry after being pulled in the previous game. You can see things getting a little shaky. The coach having less confidence in his players, the players having less confidence in their coach. Tiffs, words. I understand why Swayman was annoyed but I also understand why Montgomery pulled him. Team needed a spark, Swayman let in a bad short side goal, another poor angle shot gave him trouble after.

I'm the only person who thinks this way, but I wouldn't want Shohei Ohtani on my baseball team as this mega free agent. There's all that money, which hamstrings you elsewhere. The pitching thing--you can practically cross that off. I don't think there was much value in his pitching--didn't really add up for me--and he won't be pitching this year, and I could see this getting phased out or just dropped. He's not a versatile enough offensive player. He hits home runs. He doesn't hit doubles, he isn't a big average guy, and for all of the home runs he hits, he doesn't drive in that many runs.

I know, modern analytics (and shrill analytics people) will tell me wins don't matter for a pitcher--which is a crazy statement on the face of it because wins always matter for everyone in sports given that winning is the point--and you can't control who is out there to be knocked in when you come up to bat, but I just think this guy is more twenty-first century social media novelty and narrative than he is value as a baseball player.

I'm not saying he's not very good. But he's not this above-everyone-else type of guy. He's talked about the way he is because this is an age where no one knows anything and they repeat--and believe, after a fashion--what they predominantly see Tweeted. People are simple and they think simply. "He pitches and hits! He's the best ever because no one else pitches and hits!" Plus, you'd like him to be a little younger. He won't be a franchise's salvation, which is how people view him. He'll be a home run bat.

I could be wrong. Maybe he'll join some contender and win the MVP and the Cy Young award in 2025 and go 2-0 in the World Series with 3 home runs and then close out Game 7 with a two-inning save. I think the reality is going to be pretty far off from that kind of thing, though.

Ohtani has a bit of what I call Bo Jackson-syndrome surrounding him. Jackson wasn't sensational in either of his sports--that is, what he was as a player in both didn't add up to that much value-wise. He was a novelty guy. The sports version of someone shaking their keys in front of a baby's face and the baby being mesmerized. If Twitter existed in Jackson's time he'd be hyped endlessly but because of some run that looked like a three yard loss that he turned into a nine-yard gain. No one would point out that this guy never rushed for as many yards in a season as Randall Cunningham, a quarterback, did.

But you know what? If someone wanted to bet me whether Ohtani--who has 171 home runs entering his age twenty-nine season--will end up with more career home runs than Carlton Fisk, a catcher, who had 376, I honestly wouldn't know what side to take.

Here's another cool stat that I discovered last night in my researches: Ty Cobb won his only Triple Crown in 1909. He did so with 9 home runs. All 9 were of the inside-the-park variety.

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