Archive for July, 2013

Metaphors You May No Longer Use in a Baseball Broadcast

Come with me, won’t you? Come back with me to the early moments of the radio broadcast of Game 5 of the 1948 World Series between the Braves and the Indians …

There was a time — Gentleman Mel Allen’s time, for instance — when you could indulge in the metaphors that you have just heard, even go on at some length within the captive embrace of the metaphors that you have just heard. But our timepieces say that time has passed.

There are things you may no longer do, like smoke in the operating room or slap the children of strangers or get pregnant in an above-ground pool.

You also may not make the metaphors that you have just heard, at least while anyone is listening.

Continuing Bat-Flip Coverage for America: Leonys Martin

Martin HR 2

No less an authority than Wikipedia, a free and electronic encyclopedia of some renown, informs us that an existential crisis might result from any of the following conditions:

• The sense of being alone and isolated in the world;
• A new-found grasp or appreciation of one’s mortality;
• Believing that one’s life has no purpose or external meaning;
• Searching for the meaning of life;
• Awareness of one’s freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom; and
• An extremely pleasurable or hurtful experience that leaves one seeking meaning.

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Andrelton Simmons and the Case of the Walk-Off Triple

On Monday night, Andrelton Simmons beat the Rockies with a walk-off triple.

One inquiring Twitter user wanted to know, How’s that happen?

My immediate thought was that a walk-off triple would have a lot to do with base-out state, and by how many runs a team was trailing. In the case of Simmons’s triple, there were no outs with a runner, Dan Uggla, on first. If Uggla, who’s not a particularly fast runner, had been thrown out at the plate (there was a relay throw to home, but it wasn’t close: Uggla scored standing up), Simmons would have wanted to be in the best position possible for the next hitter to drive him in. Simmons was aware of that, maybe, and he was also aware that any throw would have to go to the plate, and he’s fast enough to take advantage of that and scoot along to third base. Taking that extra base didn’t matter in the end — the very nature of the walk-off triple is such that taking that final base never matters — but Simmons was showing the kind of awareness and hustle that’s a pleasure to see, even for fans who don’t obsess over things like hustling.

But. We still might want to know how common the walk-off triple is, and whether the context of Simmons’s game winner was typical for WOT.

Using the always amazing and often life-ruining Event Finder at Baseball-Reference, I easily generated the following, presumably comprehensive list of 141 instances since 1945 in which a game has ended on a triple:

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Ken Harrelson on the Banking Industry

The New York Times had a lovely piece yesterday on Ken Harrelson, White Sox broadcaster and sabermetric denier.  We at NotGraphs caught up with him yesterday evening, while he was putting on a pair of lead boots just in case gravity were to suddenly disappear, to get his thoughts on the banking industry:

The banking industry?  I remember when you could just go into a bank, ask for money, and they wouldn’t worry about all that crazy stuff, like checking your balance, or adding and subtracting.  You didn’t give people money because of how much they had in their accounts — you gave them money because you could see what kind of people they were, and whether they looked like people who would have money.  Too many good bankers have lost their jobs because they weren’t able to calculate interest rates, or determine whether a number was above or below zero.  Good bankers, who’d spent their career giving money to people, getting penalized just because all of sudden they were expected to know the difference between a number and a letter, or how to count.  Counting is nonsense — one of the biggest jokes I’ve ever seen.  A good banking man can look at a pile of money and know exactly how much is in there, or at least be close enough that the details don’t matter.  If you start distilling banking into dollars and cents, you’re making a huge mistake.  The numbers are ruining banking, I’m telling you.  Ruining it.  Now excuse me while I go push on the wall for a few minutes — it takes every one of us to make sure the Earth keeps on spinning, so I’m just trying to do my part.

Thanks, Ken.  Here’s to 38 more years of broadcasting, since you can’t trust those doctors to tell you how long a person’s lifespan is. You’ll be broadcasting — and making almost as much sense as you do now — for decades after those silly numbers on the heart rate monitor say you’re no longer breathing!

NotGraphs Video Scouting: Marcus Semien, IF, Chicago AL

White Sox infield prospect Marcus Semien has been one of the minor leagues’ most impressive hitters in July, recording walk and strikeout rates of 23.1% and 9.4%, respectively, and seven home runs in 117 plate appearances while also slashing .356/.504/.700 (.347 BABIP) and stealing five bases on six attempts — all as a 22-year-old in Double-A.

The video embedded here features footage of Semien from a recent Southern League game paired with audio from comedian John Mulaney’s most recent special, New in Town. It should be noted that this particular game is unusual in that it’s one of the few of late in which Semien has failed to homer — as he did, it appears, tonight (Tuesday).

Some Common Phrases GIF-ustrated: Hustle

This common phrase, which has been GIF-ustrated, comes via Astros rookie shortstop Jonathan Villar, who has now stolen six bases in his first eight games.


(Deep, personal fact: This may have caused me to shout certain expletives while watching my beloved Astros on TV)

Regarding Conversion Rates in Appleton, Wisconsin


Long ago, but not so long ago, you were a man. The Man.

You owned jewels and gold and belts made of both. You were champion of two realms. You cultivated victories with leveraged buyouts, but also with your bare God-damned hands. You would use either in any situation. You personified the largest amount of money our stupid brains could imagine.

Look at your right hand. You slapped Hulk Hogan with that hand once. You balled it up and shoved it into Jimmy Snuka’s solar plexus. You put the Macho Man to sleep with it. Look at that hand. Find the biggest callus. It’s the one you earned by gripping countless folding chairs. Your hand is Wisconsin. That callus is Appleton. That’s where you are. You may find yourself in another part of the world.

What was once 5th Avenue and Wall Street is now Lake Winnebago and the Fox River Mall. Old Navy is probably having a sale, but not on sport coats with dollar signs. Maybe try Men’s Wearhouse? Virgil and limousines are now airport shuttles and some guy named Dan. This road smells like cows. Dan smells like Old Golds. These people are salt of the earth people. This is America’s heartland. Heartland is an old Gaelic word meaning “armpit.”

But all is not lost, for you are about to observe baseball. It may be Single-A baseball for a team with a terrible farm system, but, you know. The grass is still green, the balls are still white. The fans are also quite white, but never mind. You’re still a big deal in Appleton, so you’ll be treated like royalty. Like a king. The King of Appleton. Wisconsin. So enjoy your Large Domestic Beer and Build-Your-Own-Sandwich. This is how kings feast amongst the field corn.


Dayn Perry’s Winners Is Not the Loser

At present, yours truly has become somewhat addicted to the foremost social cataloging site for books, Goodreads. As such, I have spent a chunk of time cataloging a fairly comprehensive list of books that I recall reading. When I sorted said list by “avg rating,” there was only one book I expected to find at the very bottom — Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (And It’s Not The Way You Think), by NotGraphs’ very own Dayn Perry. When Carson introduces Dayn on their various podcasts, he often lists one of Dayn’s books as being “less than serviceable,” and this is the book to which he refers.

But, hark! There is one book that I have graced with my time and my eyeballs that is even less serviceable, according to the Goodreads community:


Henceforth, let it be known that Winners is not the loser, but merely a loser.

Anthony Weiner Tweets Photos About Baseball

That last one is very confusing, I know.

GIF by Request: A.J. Griffin Throws a Curve to Adam Lind

Griffin CU

It’s not uncommon in this world — is, in fact, celebrated at some length by the god of the Old Testament in the book of Nahum, probably, or Habakkuk — for the star-crossed lover, separated by some combination of fate and legal injunction from the object of his affections, to pull himself up off the bar stool, place a call via pay phone to the local AM station, and dedicate Foreigner’s 1984 power ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is” to the only woman who ever mattered to him for 20 minutes last Saturday out near the municipal lake.

It was in much the same spirit, one imagines, that internet lover Michael Spitznagel stumbled to his keyboard tonight, booted up his Twitter computer, and requested that the present author utilize one of his few skills to the end of sharing A.J. Griffin’s curveball with the world — such that, after witnessing said curveball, the world would have a better idea than Mick Jones et al. what, precisely, love is.

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