Archive for June, 2011

The Growing Legend of Wily Mo

You may have noticed a germinating fondness for Wily Mo Peña in these parts.

I must confess to having been a wee bit of a Wily Mo agnostic when all this first began. After I saw what follows, however, I found myself on the streets of Mesopotamia with eyes aflame and voice aroar: I believe in Wily Mo with more heart-pumping, red-faced certainty than Cotton Mather believed in anything ever!

He spits in his helmet. Believe in that or you shall converted at the point of a sword.

(Genuflection: Awful Announcing)

Juan Pierre and Avon Barksdale: A Shaggy Dog Story

Ever since Bill Simmons finally decided to stop being a dummy and watch The Wire and subsequently became one of those annoying people who doesn’t shut up about The Wire (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of those people at times), I have a newfound sense of self-consciousness whenever I think of making a The Wire reference. On the one hand, it is a fantastic show that deserves to be quoted and discussed ad infinitum. On the other hand, over the years I have noticed that just about all of the things Bill Simmons holds dear tend to produce a metallic taste in my mouth. Now, in some cases, I don’t know whether I disliked the things Simmons likes before he made clear he likes them or if his liking them is a precondition for me disliking them — it is probably some dialectical interaction of the two.

Then, of course, there are the truly perverse lengths to which Jason Whitlock takes his fetishization of the show. With him, things have reached reached the point where someone needs to douse him in cold water and remind him that The Wire is, indeed, a work of fiction (albeit one with a strong social realist aesthetic) and that he is not Stringer Bell.

Making The Wire references used to be the way the city-dwelling, Chomsky-reading intellectual flaunted his cultural literacy. It was a way of signaling one’s membership in a certain “in-crowd”. But now that Bill “Teen Wolf” Simmons has watched the show and has given it his typical “the world began when I was born” Bill Simmons treatment, The Wire references feel as if they have been reduced to the level of mindless Anchorman one-liners. Any-goddamn-one can quote Omar Little out of the blue with no context, that’s no fun. What is fun for me is having a three hour conversation about how the socio-economic forces at work in West Baltimore parallel those that are at work more slowly on the docks, as shown in Season Two. What is fun for me (and kinda disturbing, actually) is reading about a drop in crime in the paper and cynically assuming that the numbers were fudged on orders from the Mayor. What is fun for me is noting that an unnamed city or state politician is “just like Clay Davis” and having people know exactly which politician you are talking about and agree with you. And on the occasion I did drop a stray quote here and there, at least I could do so without having to worry about sounding like Bill Simmons.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Improve the All-Star Game

Tell me what your interests are, who you be with.

Search diligently the internet, your local library’s microfilm collection, et cetera, and you’ll invariably find a glaring omission in the annals of sportswriting, reader — namely, any conversation whatsoever of the All-Star game and how it might be improved.

I mean, it’s kinda weird, right? Because it seems like sportswriters — with a pressing need to provide copy and a dearth of noteworthy events at the All-Star break — it seems like the idea of how to improve this obviously flawed venture would’ve come up at least once. And yet, as I say, there is literally no trace of any relevant commentary on the subject.

So it is, reader, in a move unprecedented in the genre, I submit here for the readership’s consideration ten (10) ideas that would very likely make the All-Star game better.


Vintage Jerseys
Players wear great uniforms from baseball history.

Vintage Mustaches
Players wear great mustaches from baseball history.

Read the rest of this entry »

Co-Opted Political Slogans: These Colors Don’t Run

If you’re at all like me, reader, you find yourself feeling underrepresented in many of the heated political debates this country is always seeming to have.

Health care? Bah! Immigration? Double-bah! The economy? Excuse me while I fall asleep!

It’s almost like baseball nerds don’t even have a voice anymore!

Well, thanks to a combination of Free Time™ and Paint.NET, now we do — as NotGraphs presents Co-Opted Political Slogans.

For our first (and, very likely, last) Co-Opted Political Slogan, we present “These Colors Don’t Run.” Featuring FanGraphs’ trademark beige and green, “These Colors Don’t Run” is a great way to have your voice heard without even opening your mouth!

Perfect for anything from large, rhetoric-filled rallies to totally chill backyard BBQs, “These Colors Don’t Run” lets everyone know that you’ve studied linear weights pretty effing closely, thank you, and you know the break-even point for stolen bases when you see it.

Made from 100% Great Idea, “These Colors Don’t Run” will never shrink, fade, or moan in a really inappropriate way.

So buy “These Colors Don’t Run” now — and let everyone know all your political beliefs instantly!

The Irrational Exuberance of Eric Byrnes

If you’ve ever longed to see Eric Byrnes tear up Harold Reynolds like a parking ticket, then today, God-fearer, is your lucky-best day …

(Form-tackle of thanks: Extra Mustard)

Hot GIF Action: Mission Accomplished

I asked. The internet answered.

Mere hours after my request for a GIF showing the true power of a Wily Mo Pena Forearm Mash, reader Ross (syh) lit up the NotGraphs Tip Line with this gem. I’ll shut up now and let Wily Mo’s right forearm do the talking:

Inside The Baseball Studio With Casey Blake

To define a man, as we know, there are just ten questions that need to be asked. Count them on your fingers or your toes and by the end you will have pierced the souls of even the most hardened, gruff personalities. These ten questions are the Inside The Actor Studio with James Lipton questions, but instead of quizzing Hollywood’s biggest names I turn the focus on professional players. In my first two installments we had rocker extraordinaire and baseball gadfly Bronson Arroyo followed by Tigers’ rookie sensation and upstate NY’er Casper Wells.

Tonight I bring to you Casey Blake. A man who has supported the hipster-approved beard before Brooklyn realized beards cool. A man who — apparently — has so much clout with his teammates that he was able to get Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” played in the locker room after each win in 2010. (Remember when Dodgers used to win?). A man who, impressively took 5 minutes, 13 seconds to answer these 10 questions.

Think about that: averaging 31.3 seconds per answer yet not being verbose by any stretch of the imagination. One thing is clear: Blake is a carefully, concentrated thinker.

1. What is your favorite word?

What kind of question is that? (The actors’ Lipton asks) actually answers? They don’t give real answers, they don’t have enough time. Do you know how many words you use? I guess I could give a fake answer, but I don’t want to. Let me get back to that one.

2. What is our least favorite word?

Least favorite word…probably, like.

3. What turns you on?

Doesn’t have to be necessarily sexual, right? Okay, well, how about my family.

4. What turns you off?

Show boating.

5. What sound do you love?

Duck call. I’m a hunter, I hunt ducks.

6. What sound do you hate?


7. What is your favorite curse word?

Probably the f-word.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

I’d like to maybe try PGA. My handicap is probably around 10.

9. What profession would you not like to do?


10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Well done.

Secrets of Snake Juice Revealed! Part 2

Read now Part 2 of the exciting multi-part series: Secrets of Snake Juice Revealed! (For part one, go here.)

Eliezer turned the car down a narrow mountain pass, one where the trees eased in on the right and shear cliff awaited us on the left. He navigated the treacherous dirt road masterfully while Dr. Supplies produced his cell phone and began showing me pictures.

“Human beings are largely comprised of energy,” he said. “Electrical energy zat can leave residues in zis world.”

He showed me a picture of short, blurry silhouette in an empty room. It looked like a black fur coat hanging on a low coat rack, but somehow out of focus and in focus at the same time. The doctor clicked on the cell phone and showed three more similar photos as the car sped up the side of Cerro Vidoño in a plume of dust and clay.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Mitchell Is Here to Help

I’m not going to suggest that dark forces have overrun the fair city of San Francisco and that the streets are in need of taking back. No, I’m not going to suggest something like that. But in the unlikely event that someone does need to take back the streets, may I humbly suggest that Kevin Mitchell be deputized posthaste?

Google Search Makes White Man Feel Awkward, Racist

For reasons that I don’t really understand myself, last night found the author of this post wondering if it was, in fact, true of certain indigenous Americans that, after reaching a particular age, that they would wander off into the wilderness and die a noble (if, perhaps, somewhat grisly) death — instead, that is, of becoming burdensome to their tribespeople, who were surely dealing with harsh winters, food shortages, and Lord Jeffrey Amherst.

It was curiosity, then — known already for its hostility to felines — that led yours truly to very innocently submit to Google the combination of search terms you see in the image above.

Perhaps owing to the wide-eyed innocence of this gesture, it was rather jarring to be confronted by the results for same search — which, those’re probably best revealed via an Annotated Photo™.


On the list of things I want to do right now “Have a conversation about why the word Indian is or isn’t actually offensive” is very close to the bottom. Let’s assume for the moment, please, that I’m an oversensitive, white liberal American who, if he learned one thing in elementary school, it was to use the word Native American and not the alternative — and how it was in this spirit that I approached my search. It’s obvious now that Google Search and I attended different elementary schools.

Perhaps if the Cleveland Baseball Club hadn’t attempted to market certain hat-type items this would’ve passed without notice by yours truly. But now it’s happened, and I have to go watch consecutive episodes of Rachel Maddow as liberal penance.