Archive for January, 2014

A Plausible Horror Movie Produced By Major League Baseball

Scene: October 2013

ullman office wide

Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits in his spacious Target Field office with superstar baseball player and shampoo salesman Joe Mauer, team manager and probable garden gnome Ron Gardenhire, and general manager/R. Lee Ermy stand-in Terry Ryan. They are discussing Mauer’s offseason plans.

Pohlad: Mr. Mauer, I don’t suppose they told you anything in Minneapolis about the tragedy we had up at my family’s hunting lodge up here in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota during the winter of 1994 and 1995?

Mauer: I don’t believe they did.

Pohlad: My predecessor in this job, my father, left a man named Shane Mack was the winter caretaker. And he came up here with his wife and his two little girls, who were, I think about 8 or 7. And from what I’ve been told, he seemed like a completely normal outfielder. But at some point during the winter, he must have suffered some kind of a complete mental breakdown. He ran amuck and…uh…killed his family with an ax. Stacked them neatly in one of the rooms in the west wing and then he, he put both barrels of a shot gun in his mouth.

Mauer: Well, that is quite a story, and it certainly explains why nothing has been seen or heard from him since. You can rest assured Mr. Ullman, that’s not going to happen to me.

Pohlad: The winters can be fantastically cruel. And the basic idea is to cope with the very costly damage and depreciation which can occur. Physically, it’s not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is, uh, a tremendous sense of isolation.

Mauer: Well, that just happens to be exactly what I’m looking for. I’m learning to play first base, and five months of peace is just what I want.

Pohlad: That’s good Joe, because for some people, solitude and isolation can, of itself, become a problem.

Cut to February 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

Out the Wazoo: Anals of Great Baseball Writing

This is the time of year – post-World Series, pre-pitchers ‘n catchers, circa happy hour – when baseball writers, gazing into the nullity of topics for which to engage their QWERTY, begin pulling baseball stories out of their respective badonkadonks. It’s also the time of year when baseball players “avoid arbitration.” This is a legal term meaning “evade arbitration.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Some Uncommon Phrases GIF-ustrated by Nate Silver

This week, as part of their Superb Owl coverage, the Colbert Report invited guests from the world of sports to come on and talk about the Big Game. One such guest was Nate Silver, a flag bearer in the world of statistical analysis who has since moved on to create his own nerd empire at His entrance on the show brings us to today’s uncommon phrase GIF-ustrated: The Struggle of the Statistical Movement to Break into the Mainstream Personified by One of its Most Successful Advocates’ Difficulties Breaking Through Some Paper on National Television. Behold:



Pseudometric of the Week: MOIST

I made MOIST this week. It has nothing to do with rain, tears, or panties, but everything to do with sweat. Sweat! It’s the stuff that our skin cries, the stuff that stains our t-shirts and burns our eyes as we run on the treadmill (or actually go running in outside places). MOIST, as it was initially proposed, “measures which teams and players sweat the most.” MOIST as it is now falls woefully short of that goal, which you probably could’ve guessed it would. How am I supposed to really figure out who sweats the most without watching hundreds of games to scout for brow-wipes, pit stains, and groin-adjustments? Answer: I’m not. But I tried something, and the results of that attempt are what follows. I’ll begin by detailing the factors I thought might make MOIST somewhat of something.

Heat Index

What’s the hottest you’ve ever felt? For me it’s every time I look in the mirror. But also the one time when I was ten and ran around outside on a hot, humid Minnesota summer day and then spun around six- or seven-thousand times on a tire swing. I perspired a lot. And then I felt super sick and dehydrated and almost threw up all over the carpet of Crystal Evangelical Free Church. Moving on: a decent measure of heat is Heat Index, whose formula is really long but uses only temperature and relative humidity as inputs. Let’s say that MOIST is measuring the sweatiest person on the sweatiest possible day of the year at their home ballpark. I looked up the average high temperature and humidity for every MLB location and calculated the Heat Index for July 15th, which is the hottest day of the year on average. Domes/roofed parks were assumed to be 70 degrees, 50% humidity, which is probably off a little bit but it takes them off the MOIST leaderboards, as it should. This is the obvious one.
Read the rest of this entry »

Annals of Bromance: Chipper Jones, Rescue Hero

Imagine, if you will, getting stuck for five hours on a jammed, snowbound freeway. Imagine your frustration slowly curdling into panic. Now imagine glancing in your rearview and seeing a lone four-wheeler materialize from the whiteness. Then imagine nestling your face into the broad, camouflaged shoulder of Larry Wayne Jones, as the frigid wind whips past and faces gape from stranded cars. If you can capture that feeling, reader, then you have known an inner peace of which most men can only dream.


Image credit: redditor DerpSoHard

Orotund Sentences from Historical Recaps: New York, 1897

Recently, in these pages, the author reproduced for the reader’s consideration a small collection of excerpts from a game recap that appeared originally in the July 1, 1897, edition of the New York Evening World — which recap, one will have noted, features sentences that are both alien and also “like magic” to the modern ear.

This post features three more examples of that engaging prose — in this case, from the July 15, 1897, edition of the Evening World and all concerning a game from the previous day between the New York Giants and Louisville Colonels which took place at the latter club’s Base Ball Grounds.

Regarding the aforementioned contest, one learns that, in the first inning, “Cunny couldn’t find the coal hole cover” — a sentence which almost certainly appeared in more than Victorian-era erotic novel, as well.


Read the rest of this entry »

CONTEST: Greg Maddux Hall of Fame Cap Ideas

Greg Maddux will be entering the Hall of Fame without a logo on his cap, opting not to choose between the Cubs and Braves.

Anyone want to play with Photoshop and offer up some alternatives if Maddux is looking for another option? Send me your work and I’ll post ’em next week and let people vote for the winner.


Briefly Considered: The Very Gruesome Laughter of Ray Liotta

After having recently consumed American film The Wolf of Wall Street — and with a view towards avoiding as long as possible anything resembling self-reflection, with all of its dire consequences — the author and his wife endeavored, even more recently, to revisit select titles from the Martin Scorsese corpus.

Of the films themselves, the author has little to say here. A relief for everyone, that. On a particular point of interest, however, there’s some cause to dwell momentarily, it would appear.

Crucial to this brief meditation is a passing familiarity with the contents of the video embedded below (which contents is full of explicit language, it should be noted).

Read the rest of this entry »

Fun With Shapes: A Fan’s Mental Exercise

It’s that time of year again, time when players of Major League Baseball announce via their Twitter machines, Instagramophones and hacked email accounts that, hey, no foolin’, they’re in the best darn shape of their lives.

Now, I’m no geometer, but it seems to me that apart from, say, “broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted, with forearms resembling the Lord God’s in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and with legs like those exclusive to Secretariat’s wet dreams,” one of the best shapes for a player to assume would be “round,” and by “round” I mean “perfectly round,” or, to put a finer point on it, though not too fine a point because then we’d be talking about the Cartesian coordinates and that would be pretty boring, “spherical,” because in all honesty, it would be funny to see the guy roll down the dugout steps.

Read the rest of this entry »

NotGraphs Top 25 Prospectors List

TheOldProspectorWelcome to NotGraphs’ annual (starting now) ranking of the Top 25 Prospectors in history.

This is an ever-evolving list, as we celebrate the men and women, real and fictional, who defile our cherished Mother Earth, scarring her and removing her mineral wealth in the name of personal gain. We celebrate these great prospectors, of course, because who doesn’t love gold and whatnot, and many of them made a ton of money, which is an accurate representation of their worth as people. These prospectors are ranked based on a combination of the importance of their discovery, the amount of money they died with, their contributions to popular culture, colorful language, and how I’m feeling this morning.

25 – Gabriel Read

Found gold in New Zealand. Who cares?

24 – Father Manuel Lopez

Allegedly found gold in Arizona in 1774, and made the Papago Indians local mine it all for him. Not cool.

23 – Antoin Stander

Discovered gold on Eldorado Creek in Alaska, lost all his money, was a horrible drunk, and had to pay his way out of Alaska by working in a ship’s kitchen.

22 – Edward Hargraves

First to discover gold in Australia, after failing in California.

Read the rest of this entry »