Archive for May, 2014

GIF: Oscar Taveras Not Uncertain About First Home Run

OT 1

Doubt in one’s own capacities is among the most very human of qualities. It represents zero of the traits, however, exhibited by Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras in the footage embedded here of that same player recording his first hit and home run simultaneously against the San Franciscans.

Poem: Rube Waddell Is Dying

Rube Waddell Is Dying

Rube Waddell Is Dying

He pitched as though he were throwing fallen apples at a knothole.
Then again, he threw fallen apples at a knothole
As though he were throwing fallen apples at a knothole.
For there is no mystery in the literal, no apology.
Which is why they called him an idiot,
Which is what he was.

And yet … “a sanitorium in San Antonio.”
At least there is melody in that,
And in melody, there is sometimes mercy.

You could fit his desires in a pillbox —
Trinkets that shone and crude origami
Made from his paychecks.
That should makes these moments
Simpler and less freighted.
With the blood wrung from his lips,
And his lungs as fat as an archdiocese.

We take him to be wreathed in unknowing,
And for us, the living, the full of mind,
Nothing quakes us like a man
Who doesn’t grasp that he should be afraid.

Perhaps, though, the hushed features
Belie the knowing.
Maybe he is a beast who wanders off to find
A dark and final thicket. This is
What passes for a wish.

Or perhaps his only regret is that
He can’t rise from this bed and
Drop the ball once more,
Let it roll dumbly and elegiacally off the mound,
Swivel his head toward the road
And hurtle through the outfield and over the fence
After the passing fire engine,
His cap fluttering behind him like a wasp,
Which is the other thing he liked to chase.

His bones shall make a fine mill whistle.

The Physical Obstacles for Men in Baseball


Yesterday our own Bradley Woodrum posted an article at The Hardball Times titled “The Physical Obstacle for Women in Baseball.” If you haven’t read it, you should, if only because I get $5 for each referral, plus a Woodrum Tote Bag for every 10. But here’s the larger point: I hereby submit that Woodrum’s piece is totally sexist! Why? Because it completely ignores the physical obstacles we men have faced in our pursuit of baseball greatness.

What follows is a partial list:

Adam: You know what the gospel says, right? – that he visited the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? But what the apocrypha says that he also visited the Tree of Knowledge of the Strike Zone. (One Old Testament observer put it this way: “He really knoweth the strike zone.”) That knowledge was put to the test one day when Eve, though tiring, continued to fire the ol’ apple just off the edge of the plate. Pitch after pitch, Adam refused to swing. He’d heard the adage – that you can’t walk your way out of Eden – but still he wouldn’t take the bat off his shoulder. Eventually his hit tool atrophied, and he was ashamed. Later, his plan to become a defensive specialist ended when he took a one-hopper to the fig leaf.
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The Objectively Most Glorious Pitches of the Week

Recently, the author introduced a nearly reasonable methodology for identifying the most glorious baseball pitches over any given interval of games. What follows is that same methodology applied to every relevant pitch since last Friday. Click here for more information on the definition of break. Click here for previous editions of the same exercise.


Pitcher: Justin Masterson, RHP, Cleveland (Profile)
Batter: Tyler Flowers   Date: Tuesday, May 27th
Velocity: 92.9 mph   Break: 9.6 in.


Masterson FA Flowers

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A GIF and a Tune: Kevin Pillar as Superman

This (walk-off) slide to the plate was, in a word, super.


Listen (majestic movie version):

Listen (hip-hop version):

Scouting Fiddy


Multiplatinum recording artist, serviceable thespian, nightclub habitué, collector of bullet wounds, zealous pursuer of wealth at great bodily risk, connoisseur of sex, eschewer of lovemaking, and life coach Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson engaged this week in combat with The Internet, and it may be fairly said that he came out victorious. Now that Mr. Jackson has one big-league pitch to his credit, taking his place alongside Mariah Carey and William Howard Taft, his scouting report is perhaps already overdue.

Pitch #1: Based on limited video evidence, perhaps best described as a no-seam fastball. Excellent armside sinking and tailing action. Relies heavily on movement as velocity tops out in mid-30s. Uses it as a chase pitch down and out of the zone to righties.

Delivery: Low leg lift with a low three-quarters arm slot. Stands in the middle of the rubber. Smooth and easily repeatable.

Control: Probably the weakest point of his game. Often struggles to find the plate, or the general vicinity of the plate, or even the correct quadrant toward which to attempt to direct the ball.

Poise: Maintains good humor and above-average flow in the face of severe adversity.

Physical Description: At 6 feet and a reported 205 pounds, the stockily built Jackson lacks a conventional pitcher’s frame. Good muscle definition but vulnerable to massive weight swings.

Projection: Projects best at this point in his career as a limited-use LOOGY against extreme free-swingers. Reputation for wild lifestyle may scare away potential suitors. However, his dramatic life story could make him a valuable veteran presence in the right clubhouse.

Don Mattingly Is Pleased

Don Mattingly is pretty pleased right now. He probably just finished a really difficult sudoku or something, one that he has been working on for days, the page worn thin by multiple erasings.

There was probably, like, this one box that he just kept thinking was a seven — he just knew it was a seven — so he had to rearrange all the other boxes several times to accommodate this certainty. But at times he had to erase the seven, too. For the good of the sudoku, maybe he had to entertain the thought that the box wasn’t a seven, that maybe he was just becoming a crazy old man.

Probably on more than one occasion over the last few days, because he kept trying to solve this sudoku while getting dressed, Don Mattingly put his underwear on backwards. Also, I bet he sat to pee so as to afford himself more time to work on the puzzle. He maybe got eraser scraps in his pubes.

His pencil’s eraser was worn down to the metal. There probably were times in the last few days, in the middle of the night maybe, when Don Mattingly would wake up and think,

If I don’t finish this soon, I will have to get a new pencil. Or maybe a cap eraser. I effing hate those cap erasers: they always crack or fall off the pencil and get lost before you can get any real use out of them. And I hate using up a pencil’s eraser before the pencil is anywhere near used up. I hate that; that’s such a waste. I wish pencil’s came with bigger erasers. Or maybe I just need to get better at sudoku, make fewer mistakes. Maybe I just need to get better at life.

It’s possible Don Mattingly had the humility and mental fortitude to then let go of the stubborn thought about the seven, and that he had resolved himself to focus on another part of the puzzle. Maybe he felt emasculated, giving up on the seven; and, at times, maybe he even came close to giving up on the whole damn thing. We can’t know for sure, but maybe Don Mattingly just had to dig deep and find it within himself to saddle up again. Get off the sad saddle and get back on that sudoku saddle, Donny boy, is what I like to think Don Mattingly thought to himself at one point, which would have been a dark hour for Don Mattingly.

But tonight, as his team hosts the Cincinnati Reds, Don Mattingly finally solved that sucker, and you know what? That one square was a seven! He knew it all along!

I think that is really the only explanation that I am willing to accept for how Don Mattingly can appear so pleased right now.

Picture borrowed from @MLBFanCave’s tweet from Tuesday.

Five Real and Not Fake Baseball Films

Poster art from the forthcoming Le Champ Extérieur.

Periodically, the editors of NotGraphs compile a brief list of baseball-related films expected to appear in theaters at some point in the not very distant future. Below are five real and not fake examples of same.


Working Title: Outside Art
Synopsis: A quiet, shoegazing twenty-something dedicates his lunch hour everyday at an art-supply store to the development and perfection of a knuckleball. After a fortuitous encounter with a scout, he signs a contract, eventually has success in the majors, and also makes love to Marion Cotillard. Stars Michael Cera.

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My Brand New Heatmap

I hope you’ve been enjoying the new heatmaps on the site. Here is mine.


Three Mere Paragraphs Concerning Jim Thorpe’s Whole Life

It was neither the best, nor entirely worst, of times for Jim Thorpe.

A brief inspection of the internet — in particular the Baseball Reference part of it — reveals that today (May 28th) is the birth anniversary of famous and dead Native American athlete Jim Thorpe. A slightly less brief inspection of the internet reveals that Jim Thorpe endured probably both a miserable life and also not the most miserable life.

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