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An Email Chat with "Haul P. Suling."
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An Email Chat with "Haul P. Suling"
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
June 25, 2009

Every now and then I get emails regarding a piece I wrote a while back entitled "the Bagwell Conspiracy," in which I mockingly accused Jeff Bagwell of having introduced the baseball world to steroids. Usually these emails fall into two categories - baseball fans who see this as evidence of what they have long suspected, or Astros fans who demand evidence. Needless to say, neither side tends to get the joke and the emails are usually pretty boring. But every now and then, we get a doozy. The following is a real email exchange that took place earlier this month between the baseballevolution.com staff and a Houston Astros fan who shall remain anonymous, but whose name rhymes with "Haul P. Suling." And whose initials are the same as "Haul P. Suling" only in a different order. And whose Facebook page can be found here.

Haul P. Suling (re: Bagwell Conspiracy):

THIS IS LUDICROUS

I KNOW BAGWELL PERSONALLY

WHERE'S YOUR EVIDENCE

Asher:

First of all, stop shouting.

Second of all, it was satirical, and says so at the bottom of the article. Maybe you are reading an older version. See here: http://baseballevolution.com/asher/bagwellconspiracy.html

Third of all, who cares if you know Bagwell personally? What if you knew Jose Canseco personally?

Thanks for reading.

Haul (re: Craig Biggio Award?):

You're a fucking asshole

Asher

Wahh. Wahh. My son is four months old and behaves like more of an adult than you do.

Come on Haul, two curse words out of four total words? Do better.

Were your feelings hurt because I dared to say something bad about Craig Biggio. Aw.

Now, get your thumb out, stick it in your mouth, and suck on it until you feel better and are ready to talk about baseball.

Thanks for reading!

Haul:

Do you know these guys personally or spent any time in Houston

Biggs and Bags have been instrumental in our local Select Baseball Team and have spent allot of time with me, my coaches and my players

If you want to "talk baseball" bring it on

Never made it to the "Bigs", but played Division 1 baseball and have been coaching for over (15) years, so baseball is something I know a bit about

Don't disrespect these guys to make yourself feel big

You don't know them at all

Asher:

Two factors least likely to be taken into consideration when discussing the merits of a given player - whether the person I am talking to coaches baseball, and whether the player I am talking about is a nice guy.

Two other factors not likely to be taken into consideration - whether I know the player personally or have spent any time in the town he played in.

Since I don't know them as well as you do, I will not be able to refer to them by their nicknames like you did, and will be forced to call them Bagwell and Biggio.

As far as you know, I have made two assertions regarding Bagwell and Biggio. First, that Bagwell was the ultimate Kingpin of all steroids, which you now know was a joke, and Second, that Biggio played a season too long and hurt the Astros his last season there.

Now, Haul, in what way do you suppose anything you've said in our communications so far in any way informs the debate on either of those issues?

By the way, in your fifteen years coaching players in your local Select League Baseball team, do you encourage your players to lash out at strangers with profanity laced emails?

Just asking.

Asher:

By the way, in case you have any misgivings whatsoever about my opinions of Mr. Bagwell and Mr. Biggio, see the link here:

http://baseballevolution.com/200asher2006.html

Notice I have Bagwell as the 35rd best player of all time, and Biggio 75th.

Asher (upon receiving no response to previous emails):

I guess I didn't really expect you to argue that Biggio didn't hurt the Astros in 2007.

I did, however, assume you would own your brutish behavior and apologize. Guess not.

Haul:

LET IT GO

Asher:

Let it go? You didn't even say anything. Let it go? I'm not sure that is an appropriate response.

Let it go is what you say when someone continually harps on something. You called me out on something and got shut down and didn't say another word. Let it go?

My my.

Okay, I'll let it go. Way to put me in my place.

Karl (to Asher):

First, you had another child? I had no idea. Congratulations!

Now, I've been thinking a lot concerning your assertion that Biggio hurt the Astros by playing the final year that he did. Because of how poorly Bij (I've spent considerable time in H-town) played, I would readily embrace that thought if only there was a reasonable alternative. I was never sold on Burke or Bruntlett (neither of which outperformed Bij) and there didn't seem to be much in the way of future 2B talent in their farm system; it wasn't like he was standing in the way of another player's development. Could the club have gone outside the organization for a free agent 2B? Sure. I don't remember who was on the market the off-season prior to his final year with the team, but I'm pretty certain there were no Utleys or even Canos waiting to be scooped up. So, the next best thing would be to bring in another veteran to hold the position until a more permanent, younger talent presented himself. Except that wouldn't be any different than what Biggio was doing with one exception: Craig Biggio was a draw who put asses in seats. For this reason, I conclude that his presence in 2007 should have been a benefit to this franchise in that the owner's wallet got fatter, which may have helped lead him to the decision to go out and spend more on players right before and after Biggio's departure (Lee and later Tejada come to mind). Biggio certainly had no control over Mister Ed being given the reigns to the club and the lunacy that has followed.

I agree that Biggio sucked in 2007, especially when compared to the rest of his career (odd seeing a guy's numbers deteriorate over time in this era, huh?), but the alternative was replacing him with someone else who sucked, but no one in Houston would have made a special trip to the ballpark to see.

Asher:

Thanks man - Alexander Wrigley Chancey was born on February 5th.

You've made the "Biggio put fans in the seats" argument with me before, and I see your point though I disagree with it.

There have been lots of players in the course of recent baseball history who put fans in the seats without batting leadoff everyday for their teams - Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn come to mind.

And even if the Astros sold out every game because of Biggio, it doesn't mean he didn't hurt the team. As we have learned from the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, we can no longer equate money with success. If the money is spent in such a way that the team becomes successful, okay. But the fact that the Astros made lots of money off of Biggio does not mean that he helped the team because, in fact, that money did not help the team.

Now, I see a couple of different scenarios in which it could be argued that Biggio helped the team despite being kind of terrible. The first is the David Robinson Paradigm. Since the 1989-1990 seasons, the San Antonio Spurs have finished worse than first or second in the division exactly once - the year Robinson missed all but six games in the 1996-1997 season due to injury. That was, of course, the year the Spurs finished 20-62, went on to get the first pick in the NBA draft, picked Tim Duncan, and became one of the great NBA franchises of all time. If Biggio's sucking would have had the same impact on the Astros that Robinson's injury did, and resulted in the Astros picking a can't miss prospect with their resulting high draft pick, then Biggio would have helped the team. The Astros picked Jason Castro with the tenth overall pick in the 2008 draft, and he is hitting quite well in the minors, so maybe there is something to that.

The other scenario would have been one in which Biggio hurts the Astros for one season, and for that one season the Astros become trade deadline sellers instead of buyers and end up with a future star that they wouldn't have obtained if they had been in the pennant race. In 2007 deadline deals, the Astros traded Morgan Ensberg for nothing and Dan Wheeler for Ty Wigginton. Wigginton was shockingly decent in 2008 (despite a ridiculous 1.080/.697 home/road OPS split), so maybe there is something to that.

Yes, there were probably not better second base options than Biggio in 2007. But there were better leadoff options - Biggio had 438 plate appearances in the leadoff position that year and had a .294 OBP in those plate appearances. I would be willing to bet that the number of teams that have finished above .500 with 438 plate appearances of .294 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot could be counted on one hand.

Craig Biggio is probably a sweety-pie (never having met him I can only guess), and I am sure fans came out in droves to watch him chase 3,000 hits in 2007 (seventh in the NL in attendance despite tied for 11th in wins), but I don't really see a long-ranging positive impact from having Biggio that season compared with the short-term negative impact of having Biggio that season. We'll have to wait on Castro to see for sure, I guess.

Keith:

Castro's success so far is mostly a mirage of Lancaster's home ballpark. Their team is called the Jethawks partly because of a ridiculous jetstream that propells balls to the outfield. Lancaster's minor league park factors are higher than Colorodo Springs' are, and Colorado Springs is at a higher altitude than Denver is. Castro may be a good defender and could still develop into a real good hitter, but Matt Wieters he ain't.

Haul:

Leave me alone and quit including me in this conversation!!!

Karl:

Request denied.

Anybody else think this guy is a douchebag?

Haul:

I HAVE REPORTED ALL OF YOU TO THE FTC FOR FAILURE TO HONOR REMOVAL REQUEST

Karl:

The federal trade commission? Seriously? You randomly email a guy that he's "a fucking asshole" and then whine when the resulting baseball conversation breaks out (bring it on, you said)? Well I don't work for this site nor anyone associated with it and I am the only person to have denied your request. I doubt that the FTC will bother to press charges for removal request violations against a private citizen. Maybe you can send your good friends, Bij and Bags, over to kick my ass instead of prosecuting. Or you could just stop being a doucher.

Asher:

You know, generally speaking, I assume the best in people. I assume that when someone emails me they are coming from a position of reasonableness, intelligence, and good humor. Unfortunately, Haul comes from none of those positions, but rather from the position of brutishness, simple-mindedness, and unreasonableness.

Typical Texan, if you ask me. No offense Karl.

Haul, you are a nerfherder in the first degree. You will now be removed from this email conversation.

And by the way, Haul, the requirement that an email provider honor removal requests comes in the context of email solicitors. Since you initiated this conversation, and we haven't solicited you, there is no violation to speak of.

Indeed, since we weren't marketing to you or soliciting you, contacting the FTC will be about as effective as contacting the ATF, FBI, or SEC to report this conversation.

I may not have played Division 1 baseball, but even I know that much.

Haul:

Thanks jerk

Asher:

Haul, we want to honor your request (and thank you, by the way, for toning down the language), but I do have a favor to ask.

We from time to time publish emails from readers and, well, the more outrageous, the more entertaining. Obviously your's will be a classic. Generally speaking, we would publish them anonymously, but in this case we'd like to use your name, with your permission of course.

You see, if we could claim that we know you, what with you knowing Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, it would make us bona fide baseball experts. Obviously not as expert as someone like you, who knows them personally and is on nickname basis with them like you are (they call you Sulu, don't they? That's awesome!) but it would really be awesome to be able to claim that we know someone who knows Biggio and Bagwell.

So, if we could use your name, it would really help us out. Waddya say?

Thanks a ton!





Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at asher@baseballevolution.com.

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