Archive for December, 2013

Raising a Cup of Kindness


Because now is an agreed-upon time to do such things, and because there is very little baseball to discuss as we hang new calendars, this seems like a good time to thank all of you fair NotGraphs readers for your continued support.

Nearly anyone can create a web site these days, making jokes and poems and heartfelt observations to an absent audience. It takes a community of writers and readers to make something like this possible. It’s a place for jabs and hastily-crafted Photoshops, yes, but it’s so much more. It’s a place for Hopeless Joe, for Dubuque’s and Baumann’s ventures into the sports ephemera, and dumb reviews about dumb TV shows that are kind of about baseball. It’s a place for philosophy and prose — parody and pontification. It’s a place that allows Dayn Perry to post what seems like annotated opium dreams, but what are actually perfectly-crafted imagination exercises that are so well done I get mad every time I read one, because I know I’ll never be at that level.

But our fine writers are just part of the story. There’s a popular Internet chunk of groupthink that advises people to not read the comments of basically any web page. And certainly, on a CNN or an SB Nation or certainly a Yahoo! News, these sections are best left avoided. They are often full of vitriol and ignorance and self-hate pointed outward. The NotGraphs comments are, in comparison, a delight. It’s a gentle mix of back patting and attempted one-upping, but it’s done in a way that’s neither brown-nosing nor disingenuous. There’s also a shared experience of “getting it,” of messages that hit their mark and massage the part of our brains that don’t get massaged that much — especially when dealing with sports.  It’s obvious that the content here is reaching its intended audience, and that the audience is happy to find what they’ve stumbled across.

NotGraphs was my first “real” writing gig. I’ve found my way onto other avenues, both on the mother site and on upcoming ventures, but I will never forget my roots, to use an already-overused phrase. I plan to write for NotGraphs for as long as they’ll have me, and I hope you continue to come back to participate in our truly-unique section of the World’s Wide Web. Here’s to goofiness and thoughtfulness and the way our site tends to blur the lines between. Here’s to a happy 2014 for all of us.

NotGraphs Forever.

2013 Golden GIFs: People’s Choice & Final Vote

It’s time to close the book on the year, but before you get all auld lang on me, the cinephiles among us have some very important unfinished business. In two earlier posts, which you can revisit by following this hyperlink and this one, we unrolled the preliminary lists of nominees for the 2013 Golden GIF Awards. They were preliminary because we were confident that readers would pick up the slack and come up with some outstanding nominees of their own. In this final post, we present those additional nominees — the People’s Choice List — and add them to our final ballot.

Added by People’s Choice to the BEST GIF – MUSICAL OR COMEDY category:

Beer Catch



Pop-Up Down





Anonymous, Longo 3D


Drew Sheppard, Miggy Covers the Plate



Jose Fernandez


Koji Uehara



Cliff Lee



Jose Fernandez



Hector Gimenez


John Buck


Psycho Jays Fan



Korean Rhythmic Gymnast



Choi Jun-Seok’s Foul Ball



Yoenis Cespedes


Please vote below:


polls & surveys

survey service

feedback surveys

survey hosting



feedback surveys

web surveys

online survey

Some of the Best Baseball Writing of 2013

After I did a post like this last year, I told myself I would use the “Like” feature in Instapaper to flag my favorite baseball reads of the year to make this post easier next time. I often forgot to do this, but did flag twelve pieces I thought were awesome enough for me to remember I was going to have a system for keeping track of this stuff. Here they are, and please do share your favorite reads of the year in the comments! (It is clear from my list that I think Bryan Curtis is doing some really great work over at Grantland.)

Postscript: Earl Weaver
The New Yorker / January 21, 2013 / Roger Angell

The All-Stars of David (about Israel’s World Baseball Classic team)
Details / March 2013 / Charles Bethea

Lying Around with Brandon McCarthy (terrific profile of McCarthy)
Buzzfeed / March 29, 2013 / Michael J. Mooney

Don’t Mess With Texas (the booing of Josh Hamilton)
Grantland / April 8, 2013 / Bryan Curtis

He is Not a Prospect (profile of minor leaguer Mike Cervenak)
Grantland / June 27, 2013 / Bryan Curtis

Saber Rattler (profile of forgotten sabermetrician Mike Gimbel)
Grantland / August 2, 2013 / Hua Hsu

Matt Harvey, Young Gun in the Big City
Men’s Journal / August 2013 / David Amsden

#YOSTED (the Royals and Ned Yost)
Rany on the Royals / September 10, 2013 / Rany Jazayerli

A Complete Ranking of ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ Films (okay, this one’s only partially baseball)
Vulture / October 1, 2013 / Pete Beatty

Rocked (oral history of the 1989 World Series)
Grantland / October 23, 2013 / Bryan Curtis and Patricia Lee

World Series 2013: This is it – An oral history of the Red Sox’ season so far
Over The Monster / October 23, 2013 / Bryan Joiner

Why I Quit Major League Baseball
The New Yorker / October 30, 2013 / Adrian Cardenas

Hopeless Joe’s Hall of Fame Ballot

Okay, first of all, no one gets instantly dismissed. Too many of these voters writing about their stupid ballots start by automatically eliminating folks like Mike Timlin or Jacque Jones. No, they don’t have the gaudy statistics of someone like Greg Maddux or Jeff Bagwell, but that doesn’t mean they’re less worthy of the Hall of Fame. People have robbed me of awards and distinctions all my life just because I don’t have the qualifications. That doesn’t make me less deserving. And it hurts my feelings. How do we know if Hideo Nomo is one rejection away from jumping off the Yokohama Landmark Tower? My ballot will not be what drives someone to his ultimate doom, I promise you.

Except maybe Jack Morris, because what the heck did he ever do to get so many people talking about him? He was a good pitcher, fine, but he looks really mean, with that crazy mustache, and people who look mean shouldn’t win accolades. Nice, friendly people should win accolades. Which is why Jack Morris is not on my ballot and Sean Casey is. Everyone loves Sean Casey. People like Sean Casey should be in the Hall of Fame.

You know, it’s fun to look at the ballot and realize how flawed most baseball players are as human beings. Armando Benitez was arresting for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend. Paul Lo Duca had a gambling problem. Richie Sexson: DUI charges. Eric Gagne used HGH. Jeff Kent has had dozens of articles written about what a terrible personality he has, plus he was a contestant on “Survivor,” which means there’s something seriously messed up in his head. Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, all steroid-related issues there. Tim Raines, costly cocaine habit. Curt Schilling cost the state of Rhode Island millions of dollars. Jeff Bagwell seems to be involved in some crazy story about a hand surgeon, a divorce, and rehab.

How many does that leave? Two? Three?

Craig Biggio: driving while intoxicated.

Mike Piazza: played a gangster on stage in a Miami ballet, which definitely sounds all messed up.

Larry Walker: Canadian.

Kenny Rogers doctored baseballs.

Moises Alou urinated on his hands.

Luis Gonzalez, Ray Durham, Hideo Nomo, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, and Mike Timlin all come close but ultimately I decided there is probably some Google evidence out there that would lead me to eliminate them, if only I searched the right keywords.

All of which leads me to my ballot:

Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Lee Smith, Don Mattingly, and Sean Casey.

There are worse, aren’t there?

Let’s Open a Pack of Baseball Cards In Our Gnome Pajamas

Assuming, as our market research suggests, that you are a card-carrying member of the bourgeois, you most likely spent at least some of your time during the holiday season tasting the fruits of capitalism. The pinnacle of such a lifestyle is that faint glint of reflection that arises as you surround yourself with your new physical possessions, struggling to appreciate how much happier they make you in the few moments before you adapt to your new standard of living. Eggnog is optional during this process, but pleasant.

As a member of the faux riche, I too am not immune; even as age and responsibility have replaced shiny, unassembled toys with gift cards and unsolicited career advice. So it was fortunate that my dear, sweet mother, in the process of unironically buying me white socks at the local Target, made the impulse purchase of one of those blister packs of old baseball cards near the registers. As sort of a belated Boxing Day, it’s my turn to re-gift my own new-found wealth to you, in the form of vaguely diverting content. Think of it as the trickle-down economics of Christmas.


On the back of Steve’s card, an anonymous source at Topps added the following factoid: “Logged his 1st big league Stolen Base: 9-12-85.” What this person could not have known, though he could perhaps have guessed, is that despite eight more years in the majors, it would also be his last.

Read the rest of this entry »

HAPPINESS WATCH: Munenori Kawasaki Signs with Blue Jays

Merry Kawasaki

Of course it’s not news to those of us who spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day reading RSS feeds about MLB transaction news in a not-so-subtle way to avoid lengthy or even short conversations with loved ones and in-laws, but for those NotGraphs readers without crippling agoraphobia, here is what you need to know: The Great Munenori Kawasaki re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, inking a minor-league deal with a shot at a bench job in the majors.

This is important, obviously, because it means love and hope are still a thing. It also signifies that rock isn’t yet dead, and that dreams do come true. And though he’ll be a Japanese person playing for a Canadian baseball team, his possible return to the majors does indeed confirm the American Dream is alive and well and the bounties of capitalism are rich and sweet.

And with the assurance in our hearts that world peace is not only possible, but frankly expected within our lifetime, we here at the NotGraphs Transaction Analysis team wish all readers a merry new year and the happiest of holiday conclusions.

Happ Yuself a Berry Liddi Crispmas


From all of us here at Team NotGraphs, a very happy holiday to you and yours. Be excellent to each other.

Hot Stove Headlines, Misinterpreted

The headline that was literally interpreted.

As Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors reported yesterday — relaying info from’s Jerry Crasnick — agent Scott Boras has attempted to engage the New York Mets on his clients Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew.

What that statement probably doesn’t mean, but what I have decided to believe is true — because without constant flight of fancy such as this I would become overwhelmed by the number and magnitude of my own failures — is that Boras attempted to become engaged to be married to the Mets while on top of Morales and Drew.

And so it is:

Boras Trying to Engage Mets
It will all be over soon, Stephen.

This has been a Hot Stove Headline, misinterpreted.

Albert Camus’ Argument for Sport Over Art

The soul of every man, as seen through the eyes of Albert Camus.

If even one of his books is an indication, Algerian-born author and thinker Albert Camus was on something more than nodding terms with that insufferable condition known as Reality. This is the sort of person to whom one should be looking for wisdom and utterances which contain wisdom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Baseball Withdrawal Antidote: Vin Scully Singing

Whenever there is a resounding support of a person, place, or thing — an almost universal appreciation — there inevitably comes the backlash. The collection of people who — due to lack of parental love or proper medication, perhaps — find a need to attempt to take something down, to curtail the fire hose of love being applied to said person, place, or thing. They look down and scowl at all the people looking up and smiling. They tamper with the lug nuts on the bandwagon.

I have yet to see that happen to Vin Scully. He gets mentioned a fair deal in this dank corner of the Internet. Certainly, he’s not every single person’s favorite broadcaster — in fact, there may actually be one person on Earth who doesn’t care for him — but he’s managed to avoid the pitfalls that bacon and American Idol and Carson Cistulli could not. People never got sick of him, or his hype. Even people who say they hate Vin Scully don’t hate Vin Scully. They hate themselves.

Vin Scully is famous enough that he could have just walked in to Wrigley Field this day, wheezed some words, and everybody would’ve gone crazy. He pays tribute to Harry Caray in both name and action. He sings — really sings. He modulates his voice to approximate the necessary pitches and he enunciates the words. He gives a flying fuck. This song and what it represents is too important to the game and that ballpark and to him to be half-assed.

It will be a while before we hear Vin Scully again, and soon it will be forever. I can’t help the latter. But perhaps attempting to truncate the former will help us all trudge through the snowbanks of this off-season. Just step in the old foot holes. It will make it easier.

(h/t to Joe_TOC)