Author Archive

Come on, game, stay tied!

apos If this 2-2 game stays tied, uh, forever, then this blog never has to die. So let’s keep it going.

In the meantime, I just read (okay, skimmed) a weird article about looking for America’s best restroom, and it got me wondering which stadiums have the best and worst of ’em. So, in true NotGraphs spirit, if you’d like to spend any of the final couple hours of this baseball season thinking about bathrooms, go for it.

In more seriousness, gosh, I’ll really miss writing here, and will miss the chance to better get to know my fellow contributors through their posts, and commenters through their comments. Thanks, Carson. It’s been fun.


OPEN THREAD: What I Learned About Baseball By Reading NotGraphs

apos I’ll start.

I learned that uniforms are more interesting than I realized, that mustaches come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, that Craig Robinson can draw pretty much anything, that the intersection of poetry and baseball is larger than just Casey at the Bat, that many of us have such interesting, tortured, melancholic relationships with the game and with writing about the game, that baseball players can be inserted into lots of different things and that lots of different things can be inserted into baseball players, that baseball players don’t often tweet things worth posting about, but that sometimes they do, and that compelling baseball writing can be pretty much all over the map, with or without graphs or even facts.


Joe Maddon Turns Down Offer to Lead NotGraphs Coverage for Remainder of Blog’s Existence

apos Obviously, the first thing we did here at NotGraphs after hearing the news about Joe Maddon opting out of his contract with the Rays was reach out to him and see if he was interested in a new, lucrative, long-term opportunity. Would he be interested in leading NotGraphs coverage in a lifetime contract to cover the remainder of the blog’s existence?

He would not be.

It is our loss.

(But Hopeless Joe is relieved. He likes being the only Joe.)


Hopeless Joe’s Final NotGraphs Post

apos

This isn’t how I figured I’d go out.

Nope, I figured the crushing responsibilities of adult life would simply overcome me one day, and I’d perish while sitting in the front of the computer and suddenly remembering I’d forgotten to pay my estimated taxes, or I was three years overdue for a dental cleaning, or I’d never canceled that auto-billed subscription to the Anti-Depressant of the Month Club (October was chocolate-covered Paxil).

For me to have outlasted this website, well, it’s almost unbelievable. (And super-frustrating to the bank that sold me that variable life annuity a few years ago under the assumption that there’s no way I’d make it this long. Suck it, Farmer John’s Savings & Loan! Betting on my death is no way to run a lending institution!)

Baseball has been part of almost all of the highs and lows of my life. It was there when I proposed to my girlfriend up on the big scoreboard, and it was there when she shook her head and told me she preferred to be alone rather than spend our lives together. It was there when I caught that home run ball, and it was there when the force of catching that home run ball carried me over the railing and into the visitor’s bullpen. And it was there, on the hospital television set, when I tried to wake up from the emergency surgery but was frozen in my own body. And it was there, on the gravedigger’s radio, when I was buried alive. And it was there, under second base, when I finally dug my way out, clawing a tunnel from the cemetery over to downtown Boston and up into Fenway Park, before, as my head emerged from the dirt, I was spiked by Dustin Pedroia and ended up back in the hospital once more.

It was there for me this past August, when I renounced my years of Royals fandom, admitting to the world that I finally understood that they would never again make it to a World Series, at least not in my lifetime.

And it was there for me this past Yom Kippur, when I broke the fast with a Shake Shack hot dog at Citi Field, that I found in a dumpster, left over from the season’s last homestand. Okay, that was a mistake. I shouldn’t have eaten that.

Even without NotGraphs, baseball will continue. I assume. I mean, maybe it won’t. Maybe the powers that be will realize that the game can’t survive without folks like me writing about it. But probably not. And so, I’m sure, even without NotGraphs, baseball will continue to be there for the ups and downs of my life, like the up of when the elevator takes me to my meeting with Not Just a Bit Outside, and the down of when the elevator doesn’t come to retrieve me and I tumble down the shaft.

Indeed, together, we have tumbled down shafts, and flipped our bats every which way. We will continue to do so. And although we may or may not all succumb to Ebola, we will eventually succumb to something, and in that moment of succumbunce, we will look to baseball to help guide us home. I think that’s probably an appropriately Hopeless thought to end on, don’t you? Have a particularly hopeless end of the World Series, fine readers. A particularly hopeless end.

[This may also be Jeremy Blachman’s last NotGraphs post, depending on whether the Series extends past this weekend. If it does not, he’d like to say thanks to the readers and commenters for making this a fun place to write, and to Carson for giving him the chance. He will probably write again about baseball, somewhere, at some point, so follow him on Twitter @jeremyblachman for more about that. Or, if the series goes to 6, he’ll see you on Monday. And Tuesday. And maybe Wednesday. If anyone wants to send a final Ask NotGraphs question, now would probably be your chance!]


My NotGraphs World Series Chat Chat With My Wife

apos “What are you doing?”

“Trying to get this chat thing to work on my phone.”

“Remind me what exactly this is…?”

“NotGraphs is doing a World Series chat.”

“Does that mean we have to watch the game?”

“No.”

“Oh, so we can finish The Good Wife?”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine.”

“So then what are you chatting about?”

“I don’t know.”

“And who is reading it?”

“Nobody.”

“Are you getting paid to do this?”

“No.”

“So, wait, tell me again what exactly this is and why you’re doing it.”

“I don’t know. It’s just a thing.”

“Wouldn’t you rather go to sleep? [We were up at 3AM because our son is either teething or has decided to become nocturnal.]”

“Yes.”

“So go to sleep.”

“Okay. I should.”

“You should.”

“And this stupid chat site keeps making it harder for me to scroll through everything anyway.”

“Even better.”

“Do you want me to tell you what happens during the rest of The Good Wife episode since I already read a recap of it online?”

“No. Why did you read about it before we watched it?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to watch the World Series game instead?”

“I thought you didn’t have to watch it.”

“What if I want to watch it?”

“Do you?”

“I don’t know.”

“We should go to sleep.”


Please No Kidney Stone Discussion in the Comments

apos

Merely reading the Baseball Think Factory thread about James Shields passing a kidney stone during the ALCS is making me woozy.

I don’t watch the videos of gruesome injuries that find their way into the stream of baseball news every so often. I know Robin Ventura had a terrible injury years and years ago, Carlos Santana more recently, many more in between and since, but I’ve never watched any of them. Even Curt Schilling’s bloody sock pretty much pushed me to my limit.

***

Makes me think: what is the opposite of injury news? I suppose it’s the “best shape of your life” articles in spring training, but is there more than that? Do we ever hear quotes from players like,

You know, most days my shoulder hurts pretty bad, but today I felt amazing– and, sure enough, I got three hits! My body felt really great. I didn’t even take any Advil before the game like I usually do.

And I’ve rarely seen a video of a player doing a cartwheel just because he’s having an awesome day. Maybe Ozzie Smith?

I hope James Shields has a medical-intervention-free World Series.


A Post That Is Unexpectedly About Sid Fernandez.

apos 570f

The sidebar says that this is my 567th post for NotGraphs. Which means I, on my Monday-Thursday schedule, barring unplanned Series delay, will end at either 570 posts, 571 posts, or 572 posts, depending on when the World Series is over. I mean, obviously the series will only go 4 games, since the Royals are unbeatable, but just in case an official scorer screws up, or the ghost of Ewing Kauffman stops haunting all of the other playoff teams….

I thought I’d check some baseball card numbers from the past to see if I had a preference between the three likely end points.

Read the rest of this entry »


Knot Graphs

apos Before this blog closes up shop completely, I thought it only made sense to finally detail all of the Knots that we’ve been writing about for all of these years.

scouting_knots


“KC At The Bat”

apos The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the KC twenty-five:
They’d barely made the playoffs, and then barely stayed alive.
Against the A’s they came back, then they came back yet again,
And maybe that game turned a team of youngsters into men.

We start with Mike Moustakas, who has never truly shined,
The way that they imagined back when he was first-round signed.
A hacker sent to Omaha with batting average lows,
Now Mike Moustakas hits home runs, each day his legend grows.

Or maybe Eric Hosmer is the one who we should praise,
Up to now he’s kept his owners in a multi-year malaise.
It’s one thing to have potential but one day you must produce,
So perhaps this year’s postseason is what finally sets him loose.

We could run right through the roster, Gordon, Cain, Aoki too,
And of course the crazy bullpen, simply doing what they do,
But in truth we can’t explain it, because this team hardly seemed,
Like a roster built for doing what the other teams all dreamed.

They’re about to run the table– well, at least they’re getting near,
Though their lineup still will never strike the other teams with fear.
But they’re winning– yes, they’re winning– and that’s really all that counts,
And it only makes it thrilling than they win by small amounts.

This could all just be a setup, for an epic, epic fall,
Lose tonight, then keep on losing, yes, they could just lose them all.
But that doesn’t really seem like where this all is heading fast,
When this season’s down to just one team, the Royals could be last.

Jason Vargas takes the baseball, just like Guthrie did before,
And though no one quakes with fear, that just makes this ride even more,
Of a fairy-tale-like ending to a mediocre year,
KC steps up to the plate, and just the heartless cannot cheer.

So I will root for Jason Vargas, much as I can’t understand,
And I’ll root for Mike Moustakas, though his bat is made of sand.
And I’ll even root for Ned Yost, though that’s very very tough,
And I’ll root for Jarrod Dyson, and I’ll hope he’s fast enough.

And I’ll root for ol’ Wade Davis, though I owned him when he stank,
And I’ll root for Billy Butler, though there’s nothing in the tank,
And I’ll root for Sal Perez, though he seems to be quite lost,
And I’ll root for building rosters at a very tiny cost.

And I’ll root for Big Game James, and I’ll root for Holland, too,
And I’ll root for all the rest of them adorned in Royal Blue,
And it’s making quite a story as the Royals are redeemed,
Though now perhaps the story’s better… if for the next four games, they’re creamed.


Oral History of the Citi Field Fences

apos

citifield-0f6f240745bc3238

In honor of the Mets planning to move the fences in at Citi Field for the second time since the stadium opened in the historic year of 2009, I decided to conduct some interviews for a brief oral history of the stadium’s fences.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: I was pretty happy when Citi Field opened and I was 415 feet from home plate, since I’m scared of the ball. It’s tough to grow up as a fence scared of balls hitting me, but I figured I lucked into the perfect job being so far away, and in a stadium where Mets players would be doing most of the hitting. Luis Castillo was my favorite player back in those days, though who couldn’t help but be a fan of Alex Cora and the 308 plate appearances he got that year, slugging .310? My life was pretty perfect, except for the fact that I lived in Queens, until after the 2011 season, when it seemed like everything was going to change.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: You know, the Mets are one classy organization. Most teams, when building a new stadium, would just send guys like me packing. But the Mets, although they intended to get rid of me, were eventually swayed by the fans and put me in a lovely spot sort of near the subway station. It’s pretty neat over there. I get a lot of mustard thrown on me though. I was pretty psyched to be close to the stadium that first season, before they moved me. And then they moved the fences in, so I was even farther away from the action. Wait, this is about fences, not apples– why are you interviewing me?

LEFT FIELD FENCE: Thirteen feet. They uprooted me so they could move me thirteen feet back in 2011. At least I wasn’t the Right Field fence, which got moved three feet. That’s pretty ridiculous, making a fence give up everything it knows, the dirt at its feet, to move thirty-six inches. Sometimes it’s almost like the team has no idea what it’s doing.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: So, yeah, from 415 feet to 390 feet, after the 2011 season. And I was quaking in my planks. But I should have remembered– it’s the Mets! So, sure, Ike Davis scared me a few times, but a third of the regular lineup in 2012 was Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, and Andres Torres, so, uh, it was still okay to be me. But now they’re saying they’re moving me again?

STADIUM ARCHITECT: This was the first time a team had ever approached me asking if it would be possible for the fences to be a negative distance from home plate. Like, could the center field fence be negative 50 feet from home plate, and would that mean that the players might hit a whole bunch of home runs. I sat them down to explain some math to them, but it all went over their heads. “We know math,” they insisted. “An eighteen percent guaranteed return on stock market investments even in a down year means we should invest all of our money and not ask any questions! We know math! Also, lower salaries mean better players, right?”

LEFT FIELD FENCE: They say they’re not moving me this time, but maybe I want to move! Maybe I want to move to a different freaking stadium. Oy.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: My son, the current apple, is getting so fat because he never gets to exercise. He rarely gets to pop out of that hat. He’s totally out of shape. And I think he has worms.

STADIUM ARCHITECT: Hey, any more communities looking for downtown revitalization and don’t want to read the studies showing that a stadium really doesn’t make much difference? Because if you just want the prestige of a sports team without worrying about economic impact, I have some awesome new features I’d love to tell you about….

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: Yes, Elvis Andrus would be a perfect addition to the team, totally. Alcides Escobar, too. What’s Luis Castillo up to these days?