November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Vin Scully!

Vincent Edward Scully celebrates his 83rd birthday today. He has been the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for 61 seasons -- the longest of any broadcaster with a single club in professional sports history.On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax took a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs into the top of the ninth inning. Los Angeles led 1-0, but the Dodgers had only one hit.

This is Scully's call of the ninth inning:
Three times in his sensational career has Sandy Koufax walked out to the mound to pitch a fateful ninth where he turned in a no-hitter. But tonight, September 9th, 1965, he made the toughest walk of his career, I'm sure, because through eight innings he has pitched a perfect game. He has struck out eleven, has retired 24 consecutive batters.

And the first man he will look at is catcher Chris Krug -- big right-hand hitter -- flied to second, grounded to short. Dick Tracewski is now at second base; and Koufax ready -- and delivers: curveball for a strike -- 0-and-1 the count to Chris Krug.

Out on deck to pinch-hit is one of the men we mentioned earlier as a "possible": Joey Amalfitano. Here's the strike one pitch to Krug: fastball, swung on and missed, strike 2.

And you can almost taste the pressure now. Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill. Krug must feel it too as he backs out, heaves a sigh, took off his helmet, put it back on and steps back up to the plate.

Tracewski is over to his right to fill up the middle. Kennedy is deep to guard the line. The strike two pitch on the way: fastball, outside, ball 1. Krug started to go after it and held up, and Torborg held the ball high in the air trying to convince Vargo but Eddie said "No, sir."

One-and-2 the count to Chris Krug. It is 9:41 p.m. on September the 9th. The 1-2 pitch on the way: curveball, tapped foul off to the left of the plate. The Dodgers defensively in this spine-tingling moment: Sandy Koufax and Jeff Torborg -- the boys who will try and stop anything hit their way: Wes Parker, Dick Tracewski, Maury Wills and John Kennedy -- the outfield of Lou Johnson, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly.

And there's 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies: 29,139 paid. Koufax into his windup and the 1-2 pitch: fastball, fouled back out of play.

In the Dodger dugout Al Ferrara gets up and walks down near the runway, and it begins to get tough to be a teammate and sit in the dugout and have to watch.

Sandy back of the rubber now, toes it. All the boys in the bullpen straining to get a better look as they look through the wire fence in left field. One-and-2 the count to Chris Krug. Koufax, feet together, now to his windup and the 1-2 pitch: fastball outside, ball 2. [crowd boos]

A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts. The pitch was outside. Torborg tried to pull it over the plate but Vargo, an experienced umpire, wouldn't go for it. Two-and-2 the count to Chris Krug. Sandy reading signs, into his windup, 2-2 pitch: fastball, got him swingin'! Sandy Koufax has struck out 12. He is two outs away from a perfect game.

Here is Joe Amalfitano to pinch-hit for Don Kessinger. Amalfitano is from Southern California, from San Pedro. He was an original bonus boy with the Giants. Joey's been around, and as we mentioned earlier, he has helped to beat the Dodgers twice, and on deck is Harvey Kuenn.

Kennedy is tight to the bag at third. The fastball, a strike. 0-and-1 with one out in the ninth inning, 1-0, Dodgers.

Sandy reading, into his windup and the strike 1 pitch: curveball, tapped foul, 0-and-2. And Amalfitano walks away and shakes himself a little bit, and swings the bat. And Koufax with a new ball, takes a hitch at his belt and walks behind the mound. I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world. Sandy, fussing, looks in to get his sign, 0-and-2 to Amalfitano -- the strike 2 pitch to Joe: fastball, swung on and missed, strike 3!

He is one out away from the promised land, and Harvey Kuenn is comin' up. So Harvey Kuenn is batting for Bob Hendley. The time on the scoreboard is 9:44. The date, September the 9th, 1965, and Koufax working on veteran Harvey Kuenn.

Sandy into his windup and the pitch, a fastball for a strike! He has struck out, by the way, five consecutive batters, and that's gone unnoticed.

Sandy ready and the strike 1 pitch: very high, and he lost his hat. He really forced that one. That's only the second time tonight where I have had the feeling that Sandy threw instead of pitched, trying to get that little extra, and that time he tried so hard his hat fell off -- he took an extremely long stride to the plate -- and Torborg had to go up to get it. One-and-1 to Harvey Kuenn. Now he's ready: fastball, high, ball 2.

You can't blame a man for pushing just a little bit now. Sandy backs off, mops his forehead, runs his left index finger along his forehead, dries it off on his left pants leg. All the while Kuenn just waiting.

Now Sandy looks in. Into his windup and the 2-1 pitch to Kuenn: swung on and missed, strike 2! It is 9:46 p.m. Two-and-2 to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away.

Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch: Swung on and missed, a perfect game! [38 seconds of cheering]

On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the city of the angels, Los Angeles, California, and a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he caps it: on his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game.

And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flurry. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that "K" stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.

I remember reading this more than 20 years ago (in The Baseball Reader, edited by Charles Einstein) and being dumbfounded that this was Scully simply speaking as the inning progressed and not something he wrote down.
Cubs    - 000 000 000 - 0  0  1
Dodgers - 000 010 00x - 1 1 0
Poor Bob Hendley: 8-3-1-1-3 -- he allowed only two baserunners and the run was unearned.

In 1999, Scully wrote on the Dodgers Website:
There are a lot of times you sit in a hotel room and you can hear the meter ticking. And you begin to think about your own mortality. But I do love the game so much.
That was more than 11 years ago. In 2011, Vin Scully will return for his 62nd year with the Dodgers next spring, calling home games and road games within the NL West.
The game of baseball, I love with all my heart and soul. I found in the deep recesses of my mind that I did not want to sever the relationship. I just love it so much. It's like a very good marriage. I found when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave. My wife understood it, God bless her. She said, "If you love it, do it." So I love it and I'm going to do it.

November 28, 2010

Statheads Will Steal Your Lunch Money

Repeat after me, you little runt! 'Wins are an outdated and ineffectual standard by which to accurately measure a starting pitcher's true contribution to his team and I henceforth promise to be more rigorous in my qualitative assessments and consider DIPS and FIP and WAR and BABIP!' Say it! Say it!!!

Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers wonders if Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young because of "bullying on the Internet".

That's right! Rogers thinks some of his BBWAA cohorts may be a-scared of those guys who spend their days "eating Hot Pockets in their mothers' basements"!

Dept. of YCMTSU*: Rogers said this while chatting with Murray Chass!

* You Can't Make This Shit Up

(Thanks to yfsf.)

Maybe We Can Avoid "Will Sox Score Runs?" Silliness This Winter

When the Red Sox did not retain Jason Bay (.921 OPS, 134 OPS+) last winter, the Boston media freaked out, insisting that the 2010 club would make the 1962 Mets look like the 1939 Yankees. On January 29, 2010, the Herald's Ron Borges stood up and announced that the Boston front office had apparently discovered that "scoring runs is no longer essential to winning games".

Victor Martinez (.844, 122 OPS+) in is Detroit and Adrian Beltre (.919 OPS, 141 OPS+) will likely also not be wearing a Red Sox uniform next spring. But this time, perhaps, the media will not completely embarrass itself. One particular clown can always be counted on to display his ignorance -- unfortunately, he blatantly contradicts himself a few times within several paragraphs (not that he or his editors are overly concerned about consistency or logic) -- but John Tomase of the Herald offers a "realty check":
Somehow, some way, the Red Sox will score runs in 2011. Lots of them. It's what they do.
The Red Sox claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz, 26, off waivers from the Royals. Parraz hit .266/.350/.410/.760 for Omaha (AAA), while playing nearly all of his games in right field. He has not played in the majors.

The Red Sox were outbid by the Twins in a posting for Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a 26-year-old switch-hitter who hit .346 with a .423 OBP for Chiba Lotte last year.

November 27, 2010

Jeter Lowers Demand -- To $22-24 Million Per Year

Although Derek Jeter had the worst season of his career in 2010, and with his best days behind him (because CI turns 37 next summer and that is how the aging process works), he and his agent began contract negotiations at six years and $150 million -- $25 million per year, the second-highest annual salary in the sport's history!

Daily News columnist Bob Raissman rightly labelled that suggestion as "delusional". Now comes word from Jeter's agent, Casey Close, that the 6/150 report was "inaccurate". What Jeter has actually proposed to the Yankees, according to a source, is more like $22-24 million per year for five seasons. Which is far more reasonable.

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving, 1976

An all-too-brief slice of rock and roll perfection.

November 24, 2010

NYY To Jeter: This Is The Meal

While paying for dinner at a diner in Jersey tonight, I saw the Daily News at the cash register!

Mike Lupica, Daily News:
This is the way the Yankees want the conversation about Derek Jeter to go: They have arrived at what they think is a fair contract for Jeter and if he doesn't accept it, he's being greedy and unreasonable and unrealistic and should go test the market. That is what Brian Cashman said Tuesday. What he is really saying to Jeter about the Yankees' offer to him - $45 million for three years - is take it or leave it. ...

Jeter's agent, Casey Close, told me Saturday night that he finds the Yankees' negotiating strategy "baffling." ... [I]n the thin-skinned world of the Yankees, they acted as if Close were Larry Lucchino of the Red Sox calling them the "Evil Empire" all over again.

Victor Signs With Tigers

Victor Martinez is a Tiger, having agreed to a 4/50 deal with Detroit.

Several writers are reporting that the Red Sox offered two possible deals: 3/36 or 4/42. Three years would have alright, I suppose, but four years could easily have turned into Mike Lowell Redux.

Martinez is a possible liability behind the plate right now and the Red Sox have Anthony Rizzo and Lars Anderson in the minors -- and Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez may be free agents at the end of next season.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is recovering from left thumb surgery, is currently a much bigger part of the Red Sox's catching plans for 2011: "It's exciting. But I'm a little stunned."

November 23, 2010

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton of the Rangers was named American League MVP. He was the top choice on 22 of 28 BBWAA ballots.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera received five first-place votes and finished second overall. Robinson Cano of the Yankees was third and Toronto's Jose Bautista, who received one first-place vote (Shi Davidi of the Canadian Press, maybe the same guy that voted Cito MoY), finished fourth.
          1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  Pts
Hamilton 22 4 2 358
Cabrera 5 11 10 1 1 262
Cano 12 12 1 3 229
Bautista 1 4 8 5 1 6 1 2 165
Konerko 4 7 6 5 2 1 2 130
Longoria 2 3 6 5 5 1 1 100
Crawford 1 6 3 2 3 4 2 98
Mauer 2 1 3 6 2 3 4 1 97
Beltre 1 1 3 4 9 6 83
Young 1 2 4 2 1 3 44
Guerrero 2 1 4 3 22
Soriano 1 1 1 1 3 21
Sabathia 2 3 1 13
Choo 1 1 2 9
Rodriguez 1 1 1 8
Hernandez 1 6
Suzuki 3 3
Thome 2 2
Soria 1 1
Teixeira 1 1
Cliff Corcoran, SI:
I'm probably the only non-Tigers fan alive who still thinks Cabrera should win this award ... I favor Cabrera's full-season of consistent mashing over Hamilton's white-hot half-season of multi-faceted brilliance, but again, I'm probably alone on this one.
Nope. Here is my AL MVP BBA ballot:
 1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees
4. Paul Konerko, White Sox
5. Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland
6. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
7. Evan Longoria, Rays
8. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
9. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
10. David Ortiz, Red Sox
And the overall BBA votes:
Josh Hamilton, Rangers  (16)  261
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (4) 188
Robinson Cano, Yankees 158
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (1) 146
Adrian Beltre, Red Sox 107
Evan Longoria, Rays (1) 102
Paul Konerko, White Sox 65
Carl Crawford, Rays 56
Joe Mauer, Twins 50
Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland 44
Other Red Sox: Buchholz (18th), Lester (20th), Youkilis (24th), and Ortiz (26th). ... Since Ortiz finished with 1 point, I know that I was the only voter to list him on a ballot.

NL MVP: Joey Votto

Cincinnati's Joey Votto* received 31 of a possible 32 first-place votes and was named the National League Most Valuable Player.

* - Canadian.
           1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  Pts
Votto 31 1 443
Pujols 1 21 8 1 1 279
CGonzalez 7 13 5 4 2 1 240
AGonzalez 1 3 15 8 2 1 197
Tulowitski 2 1 7 8 4 2 2 132
Halladay 1 3 4 3 5 2 5 3 130
Huff 3 2 2 3 1 4 4 70
Werth 3 3 1 3 2 2 52
Prado 1 1 4 4 5 2 51
Howard 1 1 1 2 2 1 50
Posey 1 1 1 1 2 4 1 40
Holliday 1 4 1 4 32
Wilson 1 2 2 1 2 28
Rolen 1 1 3 3 2 26
Braun 1 2 1 1 1 19
Zimmerman 2 1 2 18
Ruiz 1 1 1 16
Uggla 1 1 1 12
Wainwright 1 2 1 12
Heyward 2 1 1 11
McCann 1 1 1 9
Dunn 1 1 9
Jiminez 1 7
Wright 1 3
Hart 1 2
Johnson 1 2
Bell 1 1
Here are the results of the BBA (first place votes in parenthesis):
Joey Votto, Reds         (16)  252
Albert Pujols, Cardinals ( 3) 197
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies ( 1) 118
Roy Halladay, Phillies ( 1) 101
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres 98
Troy Tulowitski, Rockies 98
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 93
Matt Holliday, Cardinals 84
Aubrey Huff, Giants 32
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 17

November 22, 2010

Border Radio

We are driving to New Jersey today and will spend the Thanksgiving Week with Laura's family. Tala is coming with us. She will be mildly sedated in the car, but she may still bark for 10 straight hours.

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our first detention by the Department of Homeland Security. I fully expect us to be detained this morning -- which will be the fifth time in the last 12 months (for those of you scoring at home: November 23, 2009, April 12, 2010, June 4, 2010, and July 26, 2010). If there was truly any issue, it would have been resolved during our two-hour detention last November. This is simple harassment.

In late September, I applied to DHS's Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP!), which helps people "seek redress for adverse screening experiences ... [or] situations where travellers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed."

The current status of my inquiry? DHS "has not yet received the required identification documents" and is "not able to process your application without this information". Mail from Canada to the US can be slow, but I don't think it should take two months for a letter or an email to reach its intended destination.

By the way, the post title makes little sense, but it gives me the opportunity to post some Blasters (with Billy Zoom!!!):


And for Thursday: The Last Waltz (I wrote this last year)

November 21, 2010

Yankees Set To Offer Jeter 3/45

The Yankees will reportedly offer free agent Derek Jeter a three-year contract worth $45 million, less than the 3/60 possibility the Post's Joel Sherman mentioned last week. The Daily News stated that "it is believed Jeter wants a five- to six-year deal somewhere in the range of $20 million a year."

Jeter, who will turn 37 next June, made $21 million in 2010, and had the worst season of his career. Yet CI apparently wants to play another seven years (he would be 43 years old at the end of the 2017 season) and trainer Jason Riley believes that is "very realistic ... The desire to be the greatest can never be turned down by Father Time."

Really? Could The Mighty Jeter be the one man in human history who can stave off the aging process? His calm eyes may have once stopped a tsunami from destroying a tropical island, but I remain skeptical. Keith Olbermann blogs about coaches trying to get a stubborn Jeter to change his approach as he gets older. His 2010 stats
were not a statistical anomaly. They were the expected outcome of a lifetime of swings and stats and the ravages of time.

That was the point one of the umpteen coaches and advisors who worked with Jeter during the season tried to get through to him. ... Age, not laziness on the weight machine, adds that half-second to your swing. Age, not sloth, turns those little flares over the heads of the second baseman and shortstop into smothered balls skittering into their gloves. Age, Mr. Jeter, comes for us all.
One person in the Yankees front office says the team should play hardball: "Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it. Wait him out and he'll wind up taking it. Where's he gonna go, Cincinnati?"

November 19, 2010

New York Dolls - 1974

Two clips of the New York Dolls playing at Club 82 in the East Village on April 17, 1974.

From Trash: The Complete New York Dolls, by Kris Needs and Dick Porter:
This had been one of Manhattan's most glamorous drag venues between the 1940s and late sixties, playing host to a bevy of transvestites and female impersonators. Latterly, 82 had lost some of its sparkle once such establishments could operate openly, but still employed a team of lesbians to man the door and bar. In keeping with the spirit of their surroundings, the Dolls dragged up more thoroughly than usual ... [Guitarist Sylvain Sylvain:] "It was run by this lesbian woman who was gorgeous, called Tommy, and ran it like a brick shithouse. It looked all tropical. The Copacabana goes gay, if you will. The center of it was the actual stage, like a square. Completely around the stage was the bar. We would hang down there. The prostitutes were on Tenth Street and after their work hours they would go down to Club 82 and drink down there. They would have like drag shows and performances ... Tommy never used to want [rock & roll bands] ... But business was bad for them. They needed new fun and excitement again. That's where the New York Dolls came in. ... It came at a time when the Dolls had been on their way up and then on their way down and this was sort of the valley of their career."


Looking for a Kiss, Old Grey Whistle Test (UK), November 1973
(this is how you chew gum with style)

Personalty Crisis

The Dolls split up in 1975, but reformed in 2004; they are still getting it done.

What Didn't Make It Into Infinite Jest

OMG. Xmas came early this year.

Notes and outtakes from David Foster Wallace's epic novel.
1. B.S. 1960 - A First-Person Narrative
2. Footnote 33: Hal Here
3. Footnote 33 Continues
4. Footnote 33 Continues Further
5. Two Additional Characters of 'The Shed'
6. Footnote 76a Continues
7. A Self-Contained Story Cut from 'Infinite Jest'
8. Footnote 81 Continues
9. Footnote 81 Continues Further
10. Footnote 81 Concludes
11. Several Vignettes Cut From 'Jest'
12. Hal's Essay On Pennies Concludes
13. Introduction of Madame Psychosis
14. A Short Essay by Hal on Ducks
15. Hal's Essay On Ducks Concludes
16. The Magazine Critique by Hal
17. Footnote 240 Continues
18. Footnote 240 Concludes
19. A Crossed Out Section of 'Jest'
20. Marlon Bain's Story About Avril Concludes
Also from Newsweek: "From the Mixed-Up Files of David Foster Wallace":
More substantially, the early drafts of Jest reveal Wallace's thinking about the lethal, DVD-like “Entertainment” at the heart of his novel’s plot — a video "cartridge" so diverting that a viewer can stop watching it only when she dies. (In one draft, Wallace considered delivering a copy of "the Entertainment" to the character of Don Gately.) There's also considerably more dialogue among the Canadian terrorists and competing intelligence agencies than Wallace's editor could personally stomach, though a full accounting of this bonus material will be manna to the leagues of Jest admirers.

November 18, 2010

Hernandez Wins AL Cy Young

Hurrah for common sense! Felix Hernandez was named the winner of the 2010 American League Cy Young Award by the BBWAA (1st place votes in parenthesis).
                             1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th   Pts
1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 21 2 3 1 1 167
2. David Price, Rays 4 15 7 1 111
3. CC Sabathia, Yankees 3 10 12 2 1 102
4. Jon Lester, Red Sox 1 9 12 33
5. Jered Weaver, Angels 1 2 6 2 24
6. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 2 5 4 20
7. Cliff Lee, Mariners/ Rangers 1 1 1 6
8. Rafael Soriano, Rays 1 3 5
9. Trevor Cahill, Athletics 1 2 4
10. Joakim Soria, Royals 1 2
11. Francisco Liriano, Twins 1 1
12. Justin Verlander, Tigers 1 1
The BBWAA link above also has who each voter listed as first on their ballot. But what I wanna know is: Who the fuck had Felix 5th?

The corresponding award from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is the Walter Johnson Award:
                            1st votes   Pts
1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 18 137
2. CC Sabathia, Yankees 3 62
3. David Price, Rays 1 57
4. Cliff Lee, Mariners/Rangers 41
5. Jered Weaver, Angels 22
6. Jon Lester, Red Sox 18
7. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 14
8. Francisco Liriano, Twins 13
9. Trevor Cahill, Athletics 5
10. Justin Verlander, Tigers 5
My AL BBA ballot:
1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
2. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
3. David Price, Rays
4. CC Sabathia, Yankees
5. Jered Weaver, Angels
The BBA also presented the Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitcher. The 2010 winners:

American League
                             1st votes   Pts
1. Rafael Soriano, Rays 14 94
2. Joakim Soria, Royals 4 48
3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees 1 23
4. Joaquin Benoit, Rays 3 19
5. Neftali Feliz, Rangers 12
6. Matt Thornton, White Sox 1 9
7. Daniel Bard, Red Sox 1
8. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox 1
National League
                             1st votes   Pts
1. Brian Wilson, Giants 17 104
2. Heath Bell, Padres 2 52
3. Carlos Marmol, Cubs 5 41
4. Billy Wagner, Atlanta 19
5. Arthur Rhodes, Reds 1 5
6. Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers 2
7. Matt Belisle, Rockies 1
8. Jonny Venters, Atlanta 1
My AL BBA ballot:
1. Joaquin Benoit, Rays
2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees
3. Rafael Soriano, Rays

November 17, 2010

Tom Werner Is Not Looking For That Confounded Bridge

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, on WEEI:
I think that we are going to sign, I won't promise, but we're going to sign a significant free agent. We are going to make a trade to improve ourselves. I want to assure everybody that there is no bridge year here this year. [In] 2011, we're committed to win.
Okay. Good. ... Lookin' forward to it.

I still cannot figure out why so many fans were put off by the bridge comment. (Unless you turn over all 25 players on your roster, isn't every season a bridge to the next year?) I'm with John Henry: It's a positive thing.

Managers of the Year

Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black were voted Managers of the Year by the BBWAA.

American League
                             1st  2nd  3rd   Pts
1. Ron Gardenhire, Twins 16 8 4 108
2. Ron Washington, Rangers 10 8 7 81
3. Joe Maddon, Rays 1 10 9 44
4. Terry Francona, Red Sox 2 7 15
5. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays 1 5
6. Joe Girardi, Yankees 1 1
Gardenhire finished third in the voting in 2002 and then was named the runner-up in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009. ... Dept. of WTF: Gaston's first place vote was his only appearance on any ballot.

National League
                             1st  2nd  3rd   Pts
1. Bud Black, Padres 16 7 3 104
2. Dusty Baker, Reds 13 12 2 103
3. Bruce Bochy, Giants 1 4 13 30
4. Bobby Cox, Atlanta 1 4 11 28
5. Charlie Manuel, Phillies 1 4 3 20
6. Brad Mills, Astros 1 3
How six voters could completely ignore Black is incomprehensible (though not as insane as thinking Cito was the best AL manager in 2010).

The winners of the BBA's Connie Mack Award were:

American League
                           1st votes  Pts
1. Ron Washington, Rangers 10 74
2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins 7 67
3. Joe Maddon, Rays 4 35
4. Terry Francona, Red Sox 3 20
5. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays 9
6. Buck Showalter, Orioles 9
7. Joe Girardi, Yankees 2
National League
                           1st votes  Pts
1. Bud Black, Padres 9 53
2. Dusty Baker, Reds 7 51
3. Bobby Cox, Atlanta 2 33
4. Bruce Bochy, Giants 3 29
5. Charlie Manuel, Phillies 1 27
6. Brad Mills, Astros 3
7. Mike Quade, Cubs 2
My AL ballot:
1. Terry Francona, Red Sox
2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins
3. Joe Maddon, Rays

November 16, 2010

Most Leadoff HRs Allowed?

Which pitcher has allowed the most leadoff home runs -- meaning the first batter of the game goes deep? He has allowed 19, if that helps.

Halladay Wins NL Cy Young

Roy Halladay was named the unanimous winner of the 2010 National League Cy Young Award (1st place votes in parenthesis).
                             1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th   Pts
1. Roy Halladay, Phillies 32 224
2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 28 3 1 122
3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies 4 19 8 1 90
4. Tim Hudson, Atlanta 3 13 4 39
5. Josh Johnson, Marlins 5 5 9 34
6. Roy Oswalt, Astros/Phillies 1 3 5 14
7. Brian Wilson, Giants 1 5 7
8. Heath Bell, Padres 1 1 4
9. Mat Latos, Padres 1 2 4
10. Brett Myers, Astros 1 2
11. Tim Lincecum, Giants 2 2
12. Bronson Arroyo, Reds 1 1
13. Matt Cain, Giants 1 1
The corresponding award from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is the Walter Johnson Award:
                            1st votes   Pts
1. Roy Halladay, Phillies 19 133
2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 66
3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies 52
4. Josh Johnson, Marlins 43
5. Tim Hudson, Atlanta 16
6. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco 7
7. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles 2
8. Mat Latos, San Diego 2
9. Heath Bell, San Diego 1
10. Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee 1
So far, the BBWAA and BBA are in complete synch.
The Red Sox claimed former Blue Jays pitcher Taylor Buchholz, 29, off waivers.

Buchholz #2 is a a distant cousin of Clay (although for years, it was reported they were not related) -- made 12 relief appearances for the Rockies and Jays last year. In 22 minor league games for Colorado, he had a 5.06 ERA.

As a reliever in 2008, Buchholz appeared in 63 games for the Rockies and had a 2.17 ERA (he was helped by a super low .145 BABIP on ground balls and a .222 overall BABIP). He missed all of 2009 after having Tommy John surgery.

November 15, 2010

Best Rookies Of 2010 (BBWAA & BBA)

The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the 2010 Rookies of the Year today (1st place votes in parenthesis).

American League
                           1st  2nd  3rd   Pts
1. Neftali Feliz, Rangers 20 7 1 122
2. Austin Jackson, Tigers 8 19 1 98
3. Danny Valencia, Twins 1 9 12
4. Wade Davis, Rays 11 11
5. John Jaso, Rays 1 3
6. Brennan Boesch, Tigers 3 3
7. Brian Matusz, Orioles 3 3
National League
                           1st  2nd  3rd   Pts
1. Buster Posey, Giants 20 9 2 129
2. Jason Heyward, Atlanta 9 20 2 107
3. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals 1 1 16 24
4. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins 2 1 5 18
5. Neil Walker, Pirates 1 3
6. Starlin Castro, Cubs 3 3
7. Ike Davis, Mets 2 2
8. Jose Tabata, Pirates 1 1
9. Jonny Venters, Atlanta 1 1
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance, of which I am a member, have similar awards. Results for the BBA's Willie Mays Award:

American League
                           1st votes  Pts
1. Neftali Feliz, Texas 18 102
2. Austin Jackson, Detroit 6 78
3. Danny Valencia, Minnesota 16
4. Brian Matusz, Baltimore 1 12
5. Brennan Boesch, Detroit 11
6. Wade Davis, Tampa Bay 3
7. John Jaso, Tampa Bay 3
National League
                           1st votes  Pts
1. Buster Posey, Giants 15 103
2. Jason Heyward, Atlanta 10 86
3. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals 20
4. Starlin Castro, Cubs 7
5. Ike Davis, Mets 7
6. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins 1 6
7. Tyler Colvin, Cubs 2
8. Mike Stanton, Marlins 2
9. Neil Walker, Pirates 2
My AL ballot:
1. Neftali Felix, Rangers
2. Austin Jackson, Tigers
3. Danny Valencia, Twins
Wow, no differences whatsoever! (In fact, both the BBWAA and BBA voters had Feliz beat Jackson by 24 points!) I doubt that consensus will continue.

Do Leadoff Walks Lead To More Runs?

Tim McCarver, during a playoff game in 2002:
The one thing I would tell a young pitcher is never walk the leadoff man. He always scores; he always scores.
David Smith, the man who started and runs Retrosheet, thought he would check that out (though, obviously, a leadoff batter who walks does not always score). Smith looked at 29 years (1974-2002) worth of data: 61,365 games, 1,101,019 half-innings, more than 4.5 million plate appearances.
     Reached   Scored  Frequency
BB    82,637   33,002    39.9%
1B   183,468   72,841    39.7%
2B    48,364   30,961    64.0&
3B     6,573    5,753    87.5%
HR    27,205   27,205   100.0%
HBP    6,217    2,543    40.9%
E     12,105    5,298    43.8%
A leadoff batter who walks does not score at a significantly higher rate (statistically speaking) than a leadoff hitter who singles.

In August 2006, McCarver said:
There is nothing that opens up big innings any more than a leadoff walk. Leadoff home runs don't do it.* Leadoff singles, maybe. But a leadoff walk. It changes the mindset of a pitcher. Since he walked the first hitter, now all of a sudden he wants to find the fatter part of the plate with the succeeding hitters. And that could make for a big inning.
* - Sorry, Tim.
     Leadoff    0R       1R      2R      3R     4R      5R    6+R
1B   183,468  104,074  35,868  22,726  11,329  5,375  2,415  1,681
BB    82,637   46,794  15,837  10,481   5,167  2,503  1,100    755
The percentages for that chart:
     Leadoff    0R    1R    2R    3R   4R   5R  6+R
1B   183,468   56.7  19.6  12.4  6.1  2.9  1.3  0.9
BB    82,637   56.6  19.2  12.7  6.2  3.0  1.3  0.9
Whether a leadoff batter singles or walks has no correlation with how many runs his team will eventually score in that inning.

Smith, from The Baseball Research Journal 35 (2006):
[A]necdotal observations and gut feelings are just that and have no inherent credibility, no matter what the source. Since we can now check these opinions with evidence, and McCarver definitely has at his disposal the talents of people who can do such checking, then we should expect him and other announcers to get it right.
It is not only McCarver. In May 2008, Blue Jays announcer Rance Mulliniks estimated that a leadoff walk comes around to score 60-65% of the time. But why estimate when the facts are available with a little bit of effort (even as little as asking an assistant to do some research)?

More recently, plen had a similar post at Fangraphs in September. Looking at the data from 1952-2009:
      Leadoff   Scored   Frequency
1B    325,455  122,662     37.69%
BB    150,570   57,189     37.98%
HBP    11,865    4,600     38.77%
E      19,260    7,270     37.74%
Again, leadoff singles and leadoff walks come around to score at the exact same rate, statistically speaking.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star has a lengthy Q&A with Blue Jays manager John Farrell.

November 11, 2010

Posnanski: The Promise

Joe Posnanski is a damn good sportswriter -- he writes constantly and nearly all of it is superb -- but this is quite possibly the best essay of his I have ever read.
[The factory] is day after day after day after day after day of endless work that never gets completed. There is always another truck to unload, another tour of the floor ("Box 'em up!" the boss used to yell), another run to the dye part of the factory, which is poisonous and bleak and dangerous, like something out of a Dickens' novel ...

I make it through the first couple of weeks on adrenaline and exuberance, and make it through the next two on the promise of owning my very first car. But at that point, one month in, I lose all inspiration. I go to work simply because my father kicks the bed every morning, and I know he's waiting downstairs, and I do not know exactly how to quit. ...

I believe that this will not be my life. I suppose this is what keeps me sane. This is not my life. This is only temporary. I do not know what I can do. I have a hard time looking at my life realistically. I'm 18 years old, living in my parents apartment, failing accounting at a city college, and drifting through life without any marketable skills ...


[Darkness On The Edge Of Town] is dim and black and unrelenting, there is no escape. There is not one bar song on the album, not one beach song on the album, not one happy song on the album ... There is not even one hopeful song on the album. And yet, the album is not without hope. The music is the hope. The music soars and it swoops down, and it grinds, and it quiets to near silence. It is the music that insists on that notion, that notion deep inside, that it ain't no sin to be glad your alive, the seminal lyrics from the album, I think, the thing that it's all about in the end.
Years and years ago, if I read someone who wrote beautifully about baseball and rock and roll and whatever all else (Snuggies!), I would be both wildly envious and more than a little annoyed at my own meager abilities. Now I am smart enough to simply be glad that the other guy's stuff exists.

Expanded Playoffs For 2012?

Michael Weiner, the new head of the Players Association, says "a substantial segment" of players are open to adding additional wild card teams, extending the division series to a best-of-seven, and possibly shortening the regular season. The current CBA expires on December 11, 2011.

Commissioner Bud Selig has expressed a desire for two more playoff teams.
Is eight out of 30 enough? Is that fair? And that's the basic question here, at least for me. Two more would give us 10, and 10 out of 30 I still think is a rational mix.
Selig said that while he is a devotee of a shorter season, "you can be assured the clubs do not want a shorter season. No sense misleading each other about all that."

If I was the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of MLB, we would have:
a balanced schedule of 162 games
two divisions in each league
no interleague games
no wild cards
no division series
no DH
Of course, I know that just about everything on the list has 0% chance of happening.

Also re Selig, Deadspin asks:
Is there a better summation of the Bud Selig Era than the fact that the man himself recently declared in a letter, "I really believe that Abner Doubleday is the 'Father of Baseball'"?

November 10, 2010

The Award Season Is Off To A Great Start

The American League Gold Gloves were announced yesterday and the man with the second-worst Fielding Runs stat in all of MLB -- 27th out of 28 qualifiers and DFL in the AL -- has picked up his fifth GG.

Even the New York tabloids are laughing.The schedule of announcements:
Wed 1110 - NL Gold Glove Awards; Silver Slugger Awards
Mon 1115 - Rookies of the Year
Tue 1116 - NL Cy Young
Wed 1117 - Managers of the Year
Thu 1118 - AL Cy Young
Mon 1122 - NL Most Valuable Player
Tue 1123 - AL Most Valuable Player
&: Amalie Benjamin is no longer the Globe's beat writer, though she will remain at the paper. Sadly, she will likely not be replacing CHB.

I don't know if he created it, but ToeKneeArmAss posted this to SoSH:

November 8, 2010

FJM? Done!

"[Joe] Morgan's contract is expiring and he will not be renewed."
Jon Miller's contract is also up, though he may remain as the radio voice of Sunday Night Baseball. Miller and Morgan have been annoying the crap out of baseball fans for 21 (?!?!?) long years. No longer.Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

(Thanks, Ish, for alerting me to this blessed event.)

November 7, 2010

More Evidence Commercials Are The #1 Reason Games Are Longer

About a month ago, David Biderman of Wall Street Journal wondered: How Much Action Is In A Baseball Game?"
...we reviewed a pair of nationally televised nine-inning baseball games from earlier this season, one shown on Fox and the other on ESPN, and used a stopwatch to break them down into their component parts. ...

The result is that during these games, there was a nearly identical amount of action: about 14 minutes. To put that in context, that's about 10.9% of the total broadcast time (excluding commercials). ...

So how do the modern games compare with Game 6 of the 1952 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, the oldest complete-game broadcast that MLB has in its possession? While the amount of action was roughly similar -- about 13 minutes -— we tallied only nine minutes and 44 seconds of commercials. The tally for today's games, 42 minutes and 10 seconds, was more than four times as high.
That 1952 World Series game (Yankees 3, Dodgers 2) was played in 2:56. With the additional commercials -- more than 32 minutes of them -- it would have lasted 3:28.

Forget additional pitching changes and batters stepping out and pitchers dawdling on the mound. Just the added commercials alone would have pushed that 1952 game longer than 13 of the last 16 World Series games.

November 5, 2010

John Henry On Soccer And The Sox

The Globe has some of Stan Grossfeld's Q&A with John Henry and Tom Werner late last month on the flight back to Boston from Liverpool. Some snips:
When do you go from being sentimental to being pragmatic? ... [W]hen you followed your heart, you rewarded Mike Lowell with a multiyear contract ... in hindsight it wasn't a good financial move.

Henry: In hindsight, most long-term free agent deals with players over 30 years of age are not good investments. There's a long history in baseball of teams that do it. It generally costs you more than you'd like in the last year or years of the contract.

So why do them?

Henry: It's part of the price you pay sometimes to win championships.
Last year became known, unfortunately, as the Year of the Bridge --

Henry: Not because of us. When you are a general manager, you say a lot of things and somebody can pick up on one and make it a major issue. [Epstein] said that because we felt that by 2012 we'd have some young talent that's going to be ready. I don't know why that was perceived as a negative. For me it was a positive.
Do you want to reassure Red Sox Nation? There have been grumblings that the product is being diluted.

Henry: How could it be diluted?

You're spending too much time on soccer.

Henry: Yeah, well, I'm not the general manager, the manager, or the CEO of the Red Sox.

November 4, 2010

Sox Pick Up Ortiz Option

The Red Sox have picked up the $12.5 million option on David Ortiz. They also picked up Scott Atchison's option, while declining the options on Bill Hall and Felipe Lopez.

The Tigers have traded minor league shortstop Brent Dlugach to Boston. Dlugach hit .258/.303/.360 for Toledo (AAA) in 2010, quite a drop from his 2009 season at the same level. His three plate appearances for the Tigers in 2009 are his only big league experience.
Sparky Anderson died earlier today. He was 76. There were news reports yesterday that Anderson was in hospice, suffering from dementia.

Google Content Blocker

About Google Content Blocker
What is Google Content Blocker?

Google's mission is to organize the world's advertising for maximum exposure to Web users. Unfortunately, annoying Web content often overwhelms the page, causing many users to become distracted and overlook the ads.

That's where Google Content Blocker comes in. It effectively blocks all Web site content, leaving only the advertisements.

How does Google Content Blocker work?

After you install Google Content Block, just surf the Web as you normally do. When we find a site that has content, we will block that content so you see only the ads. It all happens automatically, with no effort on your part. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does Google Content Blocker work?

You're probably too dumb to understand the technicalities, but we'll tell you anyway. We install special top-secret proprietary software on your system. When you browser to a Web site, this software examines the document. Ads are displayed, and everything else is hidden.3. What type of Web content is blocked?

How many times do we have to tell you? Everything is blocked except the ads. It's not rocket science. One more time. Repeat after me: If it's an ad, it's not blocked. If it's not an ad, it's blocked. Got that? ...

5. What if I click on a page that has no ads?

A Web site with no ads? What do you think this is, 1991? The chances of that happening are very small. In such a case, we will insert some randomly selected Google AdSense ads so you'll have something to read. ...

(Thanks to John Walkenbach of Tucson, Arizona)

November 2, 2010

Pitching Coach: Curt Young

The Red Sox have named Curt Young as their new pitching coach. Young had spent 27 years in the Oakland organization -- 12 as a player, eight as a minor league coach, and the last seven as pitching coach. He declined a contract for 2011.

WEEI's Alex Speier notes that in Young's seven years as pitching coach, the A's team ERA of 4.03 "ranks as the best in the American League. The Oakland staff also had a 3.58 this year that led the American League".

Theo Epstein:
Curt has a proven track record of success in this job, mixing excellent relationship-building skills with expert knowledge of pitching and how to get hitters out ... We think he will work well with our pitching staff and within the culture of our clubhouse.
Terry Francona said that in September, he and former pitching coach (and current Blue Jays manager) John Farrell -- knowing Farrell would be leaving -- both made a list of internal and external candidates. Young was at the top of both of their lists.

The SoSH thread quotes Craig Breslow, who pitched briefly for the Red Sox in 2006 and was with Young in Oakland in 2009-10:
Curt showed a remarkable ability to adapt and a flexibility to navigate different personalities and abilities. I think that's probably his best attribute. Naturally, players respond differently to different stimuli, and Curt did an exemplary job of finding out how to motivate and reach individuals.
BP Q&A with Young from October 2007.

The 2011 Season Has Begun

The 2010 baseball season ended at 10:30 last night. Which means that the 2011 has now begun.

The rules governing free agency have changed and players no longer have to file. Their status changes automatically after the World Series ends. So catchers Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek are now FAs and the Red Sox have a five-day window of exclusivity.

Boston also has three days to decide on team options for David Ortiz ($12.5 million), Bill Hall ($9.25), and Scott Atchison. Hall's option will not be picked up, but the team may try to sign him at a lower figure.

Adrian Beltre has a $10 million player option, which he clearly will decline.

WEEI's Full Count blog has video of Kevin Youkilis at the University of Cincinnati. He has been working out at third base.
Yesterday, Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg expressed his disgust at the behaviour of Yankees fans during the ALCS (Cliff Lee's wife said the players' wives were taunted, spit at, and had beer thrown at them):
I thought Yankee fans, frankly, were awful. They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I've seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment.
After getting a call from Bud Selig, Greenberg changed his tune: "Earlier today ... I unfairly and inaccurately disparaged fans of the New York Yankees. ... Yankees fans are among the most passionate and supportive in all of baseball."
The only players with game-winning RBIs in two clinching World Series games? Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Edgar Renteria. (Plus he was nice enough to make the final out in 2004.)

November 1, 2010

WS5: Giants 3, Rangers 1

Giants  - 000 000 300 - 3  7  0
Rangers - 000 000 100 - 1 3 1
WS MVP Edgar Renteria hit a three-run home run off Lee with two outs in the seventh and Lincecum (8-3-1-2-10, 101) was dominant.
Tim Lincecum / Cliff Lee

November baseball!

The Giants lead the series 3-1 and can clinch their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season with a victory tonight. Neither starter pitched very well in Game 1, though Lincecum did get into a bit of a groove, retiring 13 of 14 batters at one point.

Edgar Renteria (!) leads the Giants in AVG, OBP and runs scored, while Texas' Mitch Moreland is 5-for-11, with a 1.318 OPS.

Rangers reliever Darren O'Day has pitched in all four games. No other pitcher has worked more than twice.

So far:
Game 1 / Wednesday, October 27

Rangers - 110 002 003 - 7 11 4
Giants - 002 060 03x - 11 14 2

Game 2 / Thursday, October 28

Rangers - 000 000 000 - 0 4 0
Giants - 000 010 07x - 9 8 0

Game 3 / Saturday, October 30

Giants - 000 000 110 - 2 5 1
Rangers - 030 010 00x - 4 8 0

Game 4 / Sunday, October 31

Giants - 002 000 110 - 4 8 1
Rangers - 000 000 000 - 0 3 0
Nearly half of the Giants' runs -- 12 of 26 -- have come in the eighth inning. They have yet to score a run in any of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, or 9th innings. That may be noteworthy, in a Starkian way. (Or not.)

Other WS Games in November:
Game 5, November 1 - Yankees 3, Diamondbacks 2 (12)
Game 6, November 3 - Diamondbacks 15, Yankees 2
Game 7, November 4 - Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2

Game 4, November 1 - Yankees 7, Phillies 4
Game 5, November 2 - Phillies 8, Yankees 6
Game 6, November 4 - Yankees 7, Phillies 3
In this series, a possible Game 7 is scheduled for November 4.