Archive for the 'Links' Category

6-4-3: A Scorekeeping Week Link Roundup

If there is a more comprehensive baseball scorekeeping site than The Baseball Scorecard, it would be an impressively comprehensive baseball scorekeeping site.

The Art of Manliness offers its own tutorial on scorekeeping. I enjoyed the emphasis on creating your own style, but I would’ve included more about how to score the way Hemingway did.

Keeping score makes Rob Neyer happy, and that makes us happy.

At the bottom of this Keith Olbermann post about Bryce Harper and Spring Training, there’s a lovely picture of a pin-neat scorecard.

The Joy of Keeping Score by Paul Dickson.

Roger Angell with a sentence on scoring Roy Halladay’s historic playoff no-hitter:

“Even from a distance, at home again in your squalid living-room loge, you felt something special this time about the flow of pitches, balls and (mostly) strikes, the inexorably approaching twenty-seventh man retired, and, if you happened to be keeping score, the pleasingly staggered, vertically accumulating triads of outs.”

Bethany Heck, who we interviewed, wrote a post about her project over at NotGraphs.

MLB has a little Baseball Basics page on keeping score, and I have to say that the method is a little bizarre.

image via Flickr user Tom Lee

More Not Here

I was interviewed about P&P by Phil Bencomo for The Baseball Chronicle podcast. We talk about the origins of this blog, the American Sports Blogging Experience,  the past/future of the whole writing and sports writing thing, and more. As the singer of one of my once-favorite bands said “if you ain’t got roots, you ain’t got shit.”

Phil asked smart questions, and if you’re into that sort of thing it’s worth a listen:

The Baseball Chronicle Podcast

Thanks Phil, for having me on.

The Ten Commandments

In my day job as managing editor of Jew-ish.com, I had the pleasure of speaking with Bethlehem Shoals of the awesome FreeDarko about hoops, Judaism, and Seattle.  Check it out.

Also, I may post some more about FreeDarko soon. They are a big influence on P&P and once upon a time we joked (joked!) about calling this blog FreeGarko. The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History is tremendous.

The Talk of the Town

Some brief notes of congratulations:

1. Friend of P&P (and occasional contributor) Reeves Wiedeman has published his first article, a Talk of the Town piece in The New Yorker: Far From Haiti.

2. Another friend, Josh Cohen, has launched an online interview project meant to capture the joy and spirit of another sport (also a far more effective method for commuting than baseball is) cycling: The Bicycle Story.

3. Yet another friend, Drew Fairservice of the recently redesigned Blue Jays blog Ghostrunner on First has joined up with Rob Neyer as part of the Sweet Spot Network. Obviously well-deserved. Congrats.

An Ear for Human Tendency: Pointing Out A Great Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball Column

via flickr user rogerchoover (click-through)

There’s something a little grating about the fantasy baseball posts and trade/contract rumors that look to 2011, even in the thick of the 2010 season. It suggests a level of obsessiveness that’s a little uncomfortable for me, like people who plan their next vacation while they are still on their current vacation.

That said, I’ve found an exception to the rule: this Yahoo! fantasy baseball article, 10 Questions: 10 for ’11, by Chris Ryan. On the surface, this would seem to be your typical fantasy post about booms and busts and draft picks and what-have-you, which is well and good, that’s why I was reading it to begin with.

But I started to enjoy this column on a slightly different level, as I started to get its logic. The questions in question are basically, “Who is next year’s X,” in which X is the player that embodies one of the 10 fantasy baseball phenomena.

Here is an example:

Who is next year’s … post-hype pitcher who causes owners to exclaim “damn, I can’t believe I forgot about that guy” when said pitcher lives up to his billing in Year 2.

2009 Version: Clayton Kershaw
2010 Version: David Price
2011 Version: Brian Matusz

There is some explanation as well, but what really got me interested was the identification of these phenomena, and how on point they are. “Yes!” I found myself saying when I saw David Price’s name on this list. His hype was enormous, then he had a “mediocre” year as like a 21-year-old so everybody forgot about him, and now he’s the stud we all expected. The space of a year wiped our brains of his potential, which he–and deep-down baseball people, too–obviously didn’t lose sight of.

It’s a simple idea, but Chris Ryan has rendered it perfectly in these questions. He’s used his eye for pattern to shed some light on our common experience as baseball fans and fantasy baseball players, the way that Chuck Klosterman so often does in his work on music and popular culture.

Here’s another one, ’cause they’re fun:

Who is next year’s … can’t miss youngster who disappoints on a season-altering scale?

2009 Version: Chris Davis
2010 Version: Gordon Beckham
2011 Version: Starlin Castro

This one’s also perfect because I totally disagree with him, mostly because Starlin is on my fantasy team. I drafted Gordon Beckham this year, and experienced the season-altering disappointment. Ryan’s in my head!

Anyhow, I just thought I’d point out what I consider a fantastic example of how a little insight, some research, a good ear for human tendency and a laptop can change the world.

Today

Despite the best efforts of the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays, I believe it’s safe to say that today, July 14, is the most boring sporting day of 2010. With that in mind, PnP recommends focusing your attention elsewhere.

Suggestions:

Tagg You’re It: A Conversation With Carson Cistulli

Somehow I ended up in a conversation with Carson Cistulli about home-run trot injuries, biblical misfortune, schlemiels, and schlemazels.

You can find it on Fangraphs.com.

And enjoy a brief excerpt here:

Carson: Eric, I know some things about you that the reader probably doesn’t — namely, that (a) until yesterday, the first baseman on your fantasy baseball team was Luke Scott, that (b) Scott is no longer your first baseman because he injured himself during a home trot last night, and that (c) the only reason you had Luke Scott in the first place was as a replacement for Kendry Morales, who also hurt himself after hitting a home run.

So, my hard-hitting question is: what the H, dude?

Eric: You could say I have the luck of Job, or maybe of Tagg Bozied. If not that, then perhaps I am the one causing these injuries. Perhaps there is something haunted about my team — Chase Utley went down this week, too.

Carson: I want to address the possibility of your superpowers momentarily, but first let’s discuss Tagg Bozied. Bozied, in the event that the reader isn’t familiar, is the outfielder who, in 2004, after hitting a walk-off grand slam to beat the Tacoma Rainiers, ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee while landing on home plate. In other words, it was a pretty similar injury to Morales’s. The difference is that Bozied was only — what? — 23 or 24 at the time, was raking in Triple-A, and has never made it to the majors despite still being around.

Do you think that’s the worst case scenario for a prospect? And also: what is it that’s so — I don’t know — tragic-seeming about Bozied’s case?

Eric: I don’t know if it’s the worst, but it has to be close. Bozied will always have the benefit of wondering what could have been. That has to be slightly better than never getting hurt, but also never being good enough. Or maybe it’s not better — maybe knowing you had the ability to play in the majors but were denied the opportunity by chance, or Fortuna, or whatever causes these things to happen is more painful.

Again, click here for the rest.

Weekend Reading: World Domination Edition

200 in Roman Numerals is CC

This is our 200th post.  So before we get to the  Weekend Reading portion, Ted and I wanted to try something new: namely request feedback. This is both general and specific request. Generally, feel free tell us some things about the blog. How is it doing? What do you like/dislike?

Specifically, we want you to suggest topics for the podcast. We are always looking for relevant and interesting topics. If there is anything you’d like us to discuss, please post it into the comments section of any post, or shoot us an email at tips(at)pitchersandpoets(dot)com.  Also, after listening to said podcasts, you are always free to tell us how dumb/smart/funny/lame we are by comment or email.

An example of this would be this (very minor spoiler alert): In yesterday’s Podcast 6: Jackie Robinson Day I bemoaned the Red Sox taking so long to integrate their team. I was, however, unable to recall the name of their first African-American player, Pumpsie Green. That’s the kind of thing we rely on you folks for: knowledge.

Onward with the links…

  • The Rogue’s Baseball Index has never been in higher gear. This week, we brought you The Official Sponsor, Old Milwaukee, and The Fantasy Paradox.
  • At least one person is reading: Larry Granillo of the idiosyncratic Wezen-Ball brings us the complete history of Old Milwaukee (“the title bestowed upon the eldest active member of the Milwaukee Brewer roster”).
  • Meanwhile, Ted is exploring his new found Mariner fandom. Every Day Ichiro is as flashy as a thousand  Japanese Paparazzi cameras at Safeco Field, and far more contemplative.
  • It’s not baseball, but it’s still a blog. I’ve joined a few friends in exploring HBO and David Simon’s  new series TremeWhat About Treme?
  • MLB Network take’s the words “Filler Content” to new, trance-inducing heights (Walkoff Walk).

Manny Being Manny

Had an update. Not really relevant anymore. Here’s the original post.

* * * *

First thoughts. Slightly jumbled:

Alex Rodriguez. Rafael Palmeiro. Jason Giambi. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Gary Sheffield. Not one of those guys ever served a day’s suspension for steroid use. Tainted? Sure. But tainted in the shadows, in the off-season, in the clubhouse. Tainted never mattered for them on the field. Now, with Manny, it does.

My first thought, and I think still the overwhelming emotion, is betrayal. I feel betrayed in a way I never have by a ballplayer. As a Dodger fan, my disappointments have been with bad front office maneuvers, poor managerial decisions, underperformance, and all sorts of suspect player behavior. I’ve never felt so let down before.

Ironically, I was writing a post about heroism in baseball as the news broke. Craig Calcaterra had a nice write-up yesterday defending Zach Greinke from early deification. Borrowing from Bill James, he makes convincing and totally intuitive case for patience and sanity. I will now borrow heavily from Calcaterra. Money quote:

Before Greinke’s canonization, Alex Rodriguez was pegged to be the man to restore honor to the game by sanitizing the home run crown. Before A-Rod, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the game’s heroic saviors. I recall an article from the late 80s talking about how Barry Bonds was the perfect antidote to the nastiness that the Strawberry-Gooden Mets unleashed into the public consciousness, and as James noted, Gooden was once thought of a fine young man poised to breathe fresh air into the game himself. I’m sure we could trace that trail back to the deadball era if we wanted to.

Manny Ramirez never, ever, fit into this category. All he ever saved were the playoff chances of his teams. Hero? Ha. I was going to make a point for blemished heroes. I was going to say that baseball needs heroes to lift the game from mere routine and repetition to cultural consequence. Baseball’s figures are a big part of what make the game such a weighty institution etc. etc. Next point would have been that flawed heroes are okay. Mickey Mantle was a drunk, Ted Williams (a real war hero) was a prick, etc. etc. etc. An imperfect game deserves imperfect heroes; to a little kid that stuff doesn’t matter much anymore. Waiting For Berkman had a great post on baseball’s nostalgia for villains in regards to A-Rod’s alleged pitch-tipping.

Anyway, Manny is not a villain. He was excessively imperfect in his pre-steroid suspension incarnation and I suppose that won’t change. He’s already come out with a nice, humble apology that reads to me (and I spend a lot of time reading statements like this from politicians at work) as an implicit admission of guilt:

“Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.

“I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to meand I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I’m sorry about this whole situation.”

He got caught cheating (and it’s cheating now so no technicality defenses about the lack of MLB rules here), and he and the Dodgers will suffer the consequences. It’s a pretty big surprise to me. My friend Ross said, “I didn’t know he even cared that much.” I kind of agree with him. I knew Manny cared about hitting and winning, but baseball never seemed important enough to Manny for him to use performance enhancing drugs. Maybe that’s why this is a lot more disappointing to me than Bonds or Clemens or A-Rod or even the retroactive knowledge that Dodgers like Gagne and Lo Duca were using. Or maybe it’s the idea of Juan Pierre in LF for the next 50 games.

Maybe this is just another chapter in the endless saga of Manny Being Manny. At the very least, I’m not that worried for the Dodgers. If he was out for 50 games with injury, it would be considered a big blow but not insurmountable. I think same thing applies here.

Terribly Late April Fools Post

1. A funny Spanish Corn Flakes commercial from the 1980s with P&P mascot Fernando Valenzuela:

(via Big League Stew by way of Dodger Thoughts)

2. Jonah Keri published a link this morning to George Plimpton’s legendary April Fools story The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch. I read it when I was 12ish in a book of collected baseball writing from Sports Illustrated that my parents gave me. These were the days before internet killed my attention span and fate determined that I would never have a reliable permanent address, so I read every issue of SI all the way through. Anyway, Sidd Finch is all I remember from that book. The story was unbelievable, yet I believed every word of it for at least a couple of years. The story is a pleasure to read, and you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I have The only person trickier and more clever than Geroge Plimpton was his animated Simpsons self:

*Will Alex Rodriguez go down like Julius Caesar? Is Derek Jeter his Brutus? Find out tomorrow as I try and put this A-Rod Tragic Hero thing to rest.