Archive for September, 2011

GIF: Ranger Fan Is All “Nuh-uh” to Shoppach Homer

In this life it’s important for a man to know on which side his bread is buttered. The gentleman you see in the footage above is pretty aware that his bread is buttered on the Ranger side of things — which is why said gentleman takes it upon himself to return Kelly Shoppach’s third-inning home run back to the playing field almost as soon as it (i.e. the ball) departed same.

That’s just facts being facts, is what that is.

Merci buckets to JDanger at the FanGraphs Chat for bringing the author’s attention to this GIF.

Carl Crawford’s Experience as Actual Antique Book

We know that Carl Crawford loves antiquarian books. Does classic literature love Carl Crawford back?

The answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.” Regard:

Or perhaps you prefer a more modern printing:

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Wild Card Races: African Savanna Edition

In this space, this writer has, for reasons sufficient unto himself, occasionally likened pennant races to the behavioral phenomena of the animal kingdom. While this practice is borne of laziness, it’s mostly in the service of entertaining you, the muscled reader.

The Action Video Footage that follows, which is — and I don’t use this word lightly — awesome, is of a Darwinist brouhaha in the wilds of Africa. It also, fittingly for our purposes, makes for a tidy metaphorical retelling of recent base-and-ball events.

Your cast of characters:

Lions: The Red Sox and Braves.
Water Buffalo: The Rays and Cardinals.
Crocodiles: The Angels and Giants. Or perhaps just crocodiles.

Please enjoy the following Action Video Footage:

What can future opponents of the Rays and Cardinals learn from this? If you’re going to try to kill a baby water buffalo, then you’d best be quick about it. This is the playoffs, after all.

TLDR: On Learning to Die

Situated in the farthest reaches of Angels Stadium on July 9th, as part of this summer’s SABR fesitivites, a number of things occurred to me: this hot dog, with all this mustard on it, is delicious; this beer, with all this beer in it, is delicious; Mike Trout is secretly asking me to be his friend from right field or, like, a mentor-type person.

One thing that didn’t occur to me is where either of the teams playing — i.e. the Angels and Mariners — where either of them stood in the AL West or Wild Card standings.

The peculiar thing about this is that, a mere two-plus months later, the season was/is over — and, in the case of Seattle, has been over for some time. In the meantime, playoff races have materialized, have dissolved, have re-emerged in unlikely places, and have come to what can only be referred to as a “glorious, pulsating climax.”

Again, all in fewer than three months.

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Never Tell Me The Odds

Every time we leave our homes, we face risks. If you are like me and you frequently bring your toaster into the bathroom in order to toast bagels while in the tub, you also incur significant risks while inside your home. But there is nothing better than a perfectly toasted bagel, so the reward justifies the risk.

Similarly, the convenience of being able to travel long distances in short periods of time justifies the risk associated with using any given mode of transportation. As a matter of fact, many people prefer to not even think of the risks when they, say, get in a car or mount their bike so as not to cause themselves unnecessary anxiety. Some, though, take comfort in the fact that the one-year odds of dying in a plane crash, for instance, are somewhere between 1 in 600,000 and 1 in 2,000,000 depending on the source you use.

So what is my point? On Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals completed Wild Card comebacks for which the joint probability was 1 in 250,000, according to the brilliant actuarial minds over at Beyond the Box Score. We watched the whole thing unfold right before our eyes.

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Spectacles/Mustache/Mutton Chops/No Neck Package Deal: Walt Williams

Walt Williams, man. What can you say? It’s one thing to have played Major League Baseball. It’s another to have played Major League Baseball without a frigging neck.

Respect, Walt Williams.

Chest bump: Old Time Family Baseball. They did incredible work this past season. I urge you to check them out, because I’ve no doubt they’re going to bring the blogging pain during the playoffs.

Mike Nickeas, Access & Analytics Together


In my writeup about BlogsWithBalls 4.0 and the future of blogging, there was some discussion of the role of access in a blogger’s life. It’s complicated.

Access to players can harm a writer’s ability to be coldly analytical. How does one dismiss a hot start as a BABIP-driven streak and then hang out with the player in the dugout later? Or knock a contract as too generous and then congratulate the player on signing it? Or point out that a trade brought too little back and then meet the new players in the clubhouse? Access can create a bit of a pickle, especially for the snarky blogger.

But access, combined with analytics, can also be very exciting.

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The Face of a Walk-Off

Two Saturdays ago, I was at the new Buffalo Wild Wings in Madison. They have all these new big screen TVs, and on one of them, the Milwaukee Brewers were playing. Ryan Braun comes up to the plate in the sixth inning with two runners on. I tapped one of my friends at the shoulder, pointed at the TV, and said “Hey, he’s gonna hit a homer.”

Ryan Braun proceeded to a hit a homer.

Am I a genius? Yes. But not because of that. My claim was completely full of shit. But the overzealous home run prediction is a large part of my personal baseball watching experience. Prince Fielder up in an important situation? Home run. George Kottaras up in any situation? Home run. More often than not, I’m wrong, but I am rewarded with just enough confirmation bias and hindsight bias to keep on going.

In the bottom of the eighth inning of Wednesday’s thriller at The Trop, Evan Longoria stepped up to the plate in an utterly crucial situation. The comeback was beginning, as the thinnest part of the Yankee bullpen started to give way. After the Yanks basically handed the Rays three runs, Tampa was just a swing away from making it a one-run game with Longoria coming up.

I predicted a home run.

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One Night Only: The Elusive Mustache

Super Pavario 1UPs the Royals on the strength of the Elusive Mustache.

Something was different when Carl Pavano entered the Twins clubhouse yesterday. You guessed it. The bodacious fork duster that garnered Pavano notoriety during the 2010 season had returned for a one night tour in the Twins’ season finale. That mustache, along with Pavano, was tasked with keeping the Twins from the dreaded “100-loss” stigma that goes with, well, losing about 61.7 percent of the games you play in a given season.*

Pavano did just that — out-dueling Klaasen-crush Sweet Chen Music — in tossing a complete-game shutout which provided a great send-off for retiring radio broadcaster John Gordon, who had the thrill of calling a walk-off win his final game as a simulcast for the last few innings.

Pavano mustache-waxed poetic after the game, offering the following gems:

“It was actually an accident. I meant to go with handlebars. On this side, I had a ski accident five or six years ago where I hit a tree. So, it really doesn’t grow good over here. Like, really terrible. So, I ended up growing a mustache because I didn’t want to go totally bare. It’s kind of funny how it worked out right there. It was the first mustache I had all year. I tried everything else. I don’t even know what to say. Everyone wants to point to the ‘stache. I’m not that superstitious, but I was trying to have a little fun. We definitely had a some fun tonight winning the ballgame. So, whatever you gotta do. Maybe it will be back in spring training, I don’t know. The elusive mustache…”


“‎Not that I’m happy about losing 99, but it’s a lot better than a fuckin’ hundred, to be honest with you.”

Clearly, if the Twins want to contend in 2012, they may want to add a facial hair incentive in Pavano’s contract.

*Only applies to modern-day, 162 game scheduling.

Hot GIF: Reynolds, Plesac Reduced to Scurrying

No, you were not the only one stripped of everything but the most primitive urges by last night’s impossible events. In point of fact, even two seasoned MLB Network hosts, accustomed to Live Action Television and its treacherous proclivities, were left in mute awe, unable to do anything more than scamper and flop about like addled sand crabs. Click and witness:

The final absurdity — the Evan Longoria scream-off homer — proved too much for the fraying social contracts that weakened into gossamer over the course of the evening. But once Mr. Longoria ferried us from the realm of the “merely” unthinkable into a state of affairs nameless in all but the most atavistic of hunter-gatherer grunts (it is known as “oook tob noot blargh Kurt Stillwell blomph!”), the constructs and assumptions about us were reduced to embers. Messrs. Reynolds and Plesac did what any of us would do when faced with such an everything nothingness: they scurried. And then they murdered.

And now, thanks to regeneration through violence, they are ready for postseason. Are you?