Thursday Theriots for 1/31/13 – Why it’s fun to root for mediocre teams

Fewer links and more commentary today.

I definitely suggest checking out all the chats at Fangraphs. But the one from Jeff Sullivan is always the highlight of the week. He’s extremely witty and makes funny responses out of standard questions. For example:

Question: “is it just me or is gio gonzalez’s dad the worst at excuses”

Answer: “he’s probably not the *worst*, but that’s just from the probabilistic perspective”

Classic, just classic.

But there’s a couple lines from the end of the chat that really stand out, as a fan of a team that has been bad for about fifteen years:

fans of bad teams still care because it’s the bad that makes the good. if I were just getting into baseball, and if I had to pick a team to like, I’d pick a bad team over a good team. I want to feel like I earned the success, if and when it ever comes…also, it isn’t just about winning. it’s about the whole experience and the distractions and the coming and going discussion topics that carry us through month after month. baseball is just a thing that goes on and bad teams don’t provide any less material than good teams

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It doesn’t matter if your team is bad or good, you still follow them. It can be frustrating year after year after year, but you don’t give up the hope that next year could be the year it all comes together (like last year for the Orioles). I still get excited when my guys do well and sulk when they hid a bad skid. It’s like we’re in this secret club and those who aren’t in it just don’t get what’s going on.

Back to the links…

I always enjoy skimming the minor league transactions at Baseball America. This time of year, there’s a lot of names you’ll recognize on there. Looks like Charlie Haeger’s getting another shot with the Red Sox.

Why is there still Spring Training in Florida? Because of contracts and politics. Arizona makes so much more sense given the location of all the camps. This article talks about trying to possibly lure another team east, but I don’t see the payoff.

I admit it, I have a thing for rookies in fantasy (football and baseball). I think most of these guys are already gone in one of my leagues where you’re allowed to keep guys their whole careers.

One final thought…I love Craig Calcaterra’s smack down of stupidity in most things he writes. His article on ARod and the idea that he might walk away from his big contract is no different.


Essential Twitter Follows

In my day job, I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter (@ppi_translation). It’s mostly related to translation and manufacturing, but I manage to follow quite a few baseball-related accounts too. I do follow quite a few more on my personal account (@langloogy).

If you’re interested in baseball and trying to get into Twitter, here is who I suggest you start following:

Keith Law, ESPN @keithlaw – Who else? I don’t follow every word he says or anything. Let’s move on…

Old Hoss Radbourn @OldHossRadbourn – This is how I would write if I could be constantly sarcastic and demeaning of stupidity

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs @dcameronfg – About the most insightful writer around

Jonah Keri, Grantland @jonahkeri – Read his books, then follow his other writing

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports @craigcalcaterra – Knows how to push people’s buttons

Larry Granillo, Wezen-Ball @wezen_ball – Always insightful

Buster Olney, ESPN @Buster_ESPN – Knows a lot about the game, appeals to a wide audience

Dan Szymborski, Fangraphs @DSzymborski – Great for his ZiPS projection system

Jordan Bastian, @MLBastian – For great coverage of the Indians

Baseball America @BaseballAmerica – Too many writers to name who you should also follow

Rob Neyer @RobNeyer – One of the all-time great baseball writers

Joe Posnanski @JPosnanski – Always spot-on with everything he writes

Jon Heyman, CBS @JonHeymanCBS – Great for scoops on stories, rumors

MLB Trade Rumors @MLBTradeRumors – Talking about rumors…

Dirk Hayhurt @TheGarfoose – Pitcher and writer, Kent State grad

Akron Aeros @AkronAeros – Local team, they have an pretty active account

I have to skip over a few dozen other names, but this should serve as a pretty good start for anyone wanting to get into the baseball side of Twitter. Enjoy!

Thursday Theriots for 1/24/13

As I do every Thursday, here’s a rundown of interesting links and stories I’ve found all throughout the internet.

Justin Upton has finally been traded. We’ve only been expecting this for the last year or so. Badly handled by the Diamondbacks front office. I was expecting that they would have received more upside in terms of prospects from the Braves. Martin Prado is a solid player, but he’s getting expensive and only has one year left on his contract. Keith Law loves the deal for the Braves, which has generally been what I’ve read on Twitter.

Baseball America has released its preseason Top 25. I really love thinking that baseball is right around the corner. The biggest news though? They have the Wolfpack ranked #8 in the nation. It’s been forty years since they’ve been to the CWS, despite being in super regionals numerous times. Can’t wait to see Trea Turner and Carlos Rodon light it up.

I like Shaun Marcum as rotation filler for the Mets. But I don’t know why they’d be willing to give up the 11th overall pick for Michael Bourn, as has been reported.

Buster Olney has an interesting idea in his Top 10’s. But I’m disappointed that he didn’t take a more rigorous approach. So what if the 1931 Yankees scored more runs than anyone? They played in a high-scoring era. Why not start with a stat like fWAR (yes, I’m a bit enamored with it) that is context-independent?

Yes, baseball is played in Europe. Not at a very high level, but there’s some talent there. I love Carson Cistulli’s regressed stats, such as these for the Dutch league. I would love to see more investment by MLB in Europe, as there’s so much potential.

If you’ve read my bio, you know that my day job is in the language industry. That’s why I love this interview by Nataly Kelly (who just co-wrote a seminal work on translation) with Kenji Nimura, who has served as an interpreter in MLB for a number of years. Talk about combining my interests…

And with that, I leave you until next time.

RIP Earl Weaver and Stan Musial

Just wanted to pass along a quick note to say goodbye to two of the greatest ever involved in the game.

Growing up as an O’s fan, Earl Weaver was always viewed as a legend. The Orioles have, honestly, never been the same since he left. He was a pioneer, someone who would fit in in today’s baseball world. Get on base, hit home runs, don’t let the little things overshadow how you effectively score and prevent runs.

I don’t have any personal connection with Stan Musial. He was by any measure one of the best players to ever play the game, maybe even a top 10 guy (9th in fWAR among hitters). I can see on Fangraphs that he put up a ridiculous 139.4 career fWAR with a crazy 11.5 in 1948. I imagine that’s one of the top ten seasons we’ve ever seen.

It’s wonderful to think what these men accomplished. I think any of us would be happy to have that kind of impact in our own lives.

Thursday Theriots

Welcome to another scraptastic link-a-thon! Named after one of the scrappiest players ever to play the game.

  • I find the Jaso/Morse trade to be really interesting, though my thoughts can easily be summed up by Keith Law and Jeff Sullivan. Basically, I have no idea what it does for the Mariners while providing a solid return for the A’s and Nats. And since this is Langerhans’ Loogy, don’t forget about this little line of history:

June 28, 2009: Traded by the Washington Nationals to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Morse.

  • I love the idea of the World Baseball Classic. Try to bring together the best players from the best countries for a big old tournament. Unfortunately, there’s no good time of year to do it. So it’s relegated to Spring Training, when guys are supposed to spend a month golfing, not, you know, actually playing a lot of baseball. So we end up with rosters like this, that could be oh so much better.
  • I have to think that $5 million is a small some to pay for someone like Mike Napoli. Surprised he got so little. Then again, maybe he’ll be injured half the year.
  • On the upside, the O’s signed Buck Showalter to an extension. On the downside, they did the same for Dan Duquette.
  • I can’t remember who wrote it, but earlier today someone (Craig Calcaterra perhaps?) noted that this is the time of year when all you hear about is guys avoiding arbitration. And it’s true. Just look at MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Speaking of arbitration, if you haven’t already, go and buy Lords of the Realm. In short, the owners screwed over the players for many years before the players got any kind of fair treatment.
  • This will not be the first time I tell you that I hate the Marlins’ new park. But I do. Especially that silly sculpture.

I could post a hundred more of these, but those thoughts can wait for another day…

Memorable Games – July 30, 2006

Note: This is the first in a series of posts I’m planning on memorable games I’ve attended over the years.

I can’t remember half the games I’ve gone to. And the moments I do remember, I’d have a hard time locating the exact game. But there are a number that stand out. My first Memorable Moment is one of those occasions where I simply didn’t expect what happened given the time period.

The game:

Date: July 30, 2006

Location: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Final score: Orioles 8, White Sox 7

The Orioles were mired near the bottom of the AL East, in the midst of yet another losing season. The White Sox were streaking along, 20 games above 500. I was about a month into a new job in Arlington, VA, and decided to make the trip up to Baltimore and spend some time hanging out with my sister. And in my family, if you can go to a baseball game as part of any trip, you do it.

So we found ourselves sitting along the third base line, probably 20 rows up. Or in the upper deck, I can’t really remember those details. Heck, the only thing I really remember is the 8th and 9th innings. The O’s had been up 6-4 headed into the 8th, before Jermaine Dye hit a 3 run bomb off of Todd Williams. Talk about turning a sweet day into sour in a hurry.

Heading into the bottom of the 9th, I remember blabbering to my sister about this Bobby Jenks fellow. Young guy who had just been to his first All Star game. Unhittable at times. I was convinced there was no way we could get even a hit off of him. I just kept talking about how good he was, though my sister remained optimistic. For me, it was about to be 1-2-3 and time to go home with the L hanging around our necks the rest of the day.

But then the unthinkable happened. Jenks imploded. After an out by Melvin Mora took the White Sox’s win expectancy up to 88%, there wasn’t a single out recorded. Miggy Tejada hit by pitch. Gibbons single, Tejada to third. Conine single to drive in Tejada, Tatis (PR for Gibbons) to third. Intentional walk to Corey Patterson to load the bases. Seriously, Corey Patterson. And the game winner, a single up the middle by Javy Lopez. This was his next-to-last game as an Oriole, in his last season.

The pure emotion that flows out of your body at that moment when you go from losing a game to winning it is incredible. It has to be one of the reasons so many of us follow sports, baseball in particular. You shout, you high five, you dance around. Nothing’s quite like it. And that day, that game, provided such an opportunity to exult in us beating them.

Do you have any memorable games you’ve been to over the years? I’d love to hear from you…

Thoughts on the Hall of Fame

It’s that time of year again. Time to talk about the Hall of Fame. Who should get in and why. What problems we’d fix. I simply want to pass on a few thoughts for now. Let’s make this a question and answer session for the fun of it.

  • Who would I enshrine?

Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Martinez, McGwire, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Trammell.

  • Who comes close but misses the cut?

Lofton, Murphy, Sosa, Walker. I’m completely on the fence about Sosa, whose peak just wasn’t long enough.

  • What about steroids?

I couldn’t care less. We have no idea how prevalent they were. We don’t know who took them and for how long. We don’t know their exact impact. Steroids can’t make you hit a ball better, though they do help you recover from injury faster. And there’s quite a bit of evidence that the balls themselves were juiced, among other issues.

  • What about Jack Morris?

He had a 105 ERA+, meaning that he was only 5% better than league average, for his career. That’s not good.

  • Are you a small hall guy or a big hall guy?

Neither really. It should be whatever size necessary given the standards we set.

  • Would you change voting?

But of course. I’d consider going as far as removing the BBWAA from the process. But if we can’t, I’d grant immediate voting rights to new members. I’d review members who are no longer qualified to vote (i.e. haven’t covered the game in years). I’d also have a process in place to evaluate the votes of each member. Anyone caught voting for no one or voting in a distinctly strange manner (i.e. only for Jack Morris) should be removed from all future voting.

  • Are there any non-players you’d like to see elected?

Marvin Miller is by far the most deserving. You really need to take the time to read Lords of the Realm. It’ll open your eyes to how much good Miller did. It would be interesting to consider more GMs. Nearly all managers who are deserving right now are in, though there may be room for a number of outstanding coaches (Leo Mazzone comes to mind).

The Hall of Fame is an extremely divisive issue. There’s a definite line between some who belong and some who don’t. But that gray area is so large that this leads to some very interesting conversations.

What do you think? Who would you put in the Hall? What do you do about the steroid conundrum?