Monday, April 26, 2010

Tom Hanks might have said, 'There's no fear in baseball!'

Notes on a baseball game from the notepad beside my score card.

Boston Red Sox 13 @ Toronto Blue Jays 12
Monday April 26, 2010, 7:10 PM EDT
Rogers Centre - Toronto On
15 C - 59 F Wind, south 10 km/h

The Dome had better be open. Grrr... This is game 1 of 3, all are evening games.

  1. M. Scutaro, SS
  2. D. Pedroia, 2B
  3. K. Youkilis, 1B
  4. M. Lowell, DH
  5. J. Drew, RF
  6. J. Varitek, C
  7. A. Beltre, 3B
  8. B. Hall, LF
  9. D. McDonald, CF
SP Josh Beckett (1-0)

  1. F. Lewis, LF
  2. A. Hill, 2B
  3. A. Lind, DH
  4. V. Wells, CF
  5. L. Overbay, 1B
  6. A. Gonzalez, SS
  7. J. Bautista, 3B
  8. J. Buck, C
  9. T. Snider, RF
SP Dana Eveland (2-0)

Note 1

On a base hit to right in the 1st Scutaro scores the games first run, and Youkilis who is right behind him, is called out at the plate. Snider in right comes up with a perfect throw -- but Youkilis was safe.
Umpires usually stand about where they stand on a pitch, a little to one side or the other, when calling a play at the plate.
I've seen some umps stand of to one side more -- you can't stand on the 1st base side with the ball coming in from right, but you can stand on the dugout side and get a much better view of the plate and the catcher glove coming across from the catch, if the ball is missed it likely won't be right at the catcher, so your not blocking the pitcher backing up the play over by the dug out.
I'm not a certified umpire -- why do umps stand where they do?.

Note 2

With two out in the second John Buck hit a scorcher to the wall past right fielder J. D. Drew who didn't seem read it right at all. The ball seemed to get out there REALLY fast.
Is the ball juiced again this year - after a couple of years not - now that all the players are off the steroids?

Note 3

Lots of Boston fans here by the sounds of it - as usual.
Eveland has loaded the bases again now in the 3rd. Double, single, walk - no outs.
4. Lowell, FO 8
5. Drew, Ks
6. Varitek BH 8 2 RBI
7. Beltre 2BH 9 2 RBI
Travis Snider was there but didn't touch it. I think he dove when, as Rogers colour commentator Pat Tabler said he should have kept running, the way he hit the wall, shoulder, neck, head - if he'd just run he would have hit the wall with less chance of injury. He doesn't know the field yet - he'll get better.

Note 4

Lewis hits a ball to left and makes it all the way to 3rd, man that guys got five gears - between 2nd and 3rd he turns it on and holy cow can he move!
With 2 outs now Fred Lewis our favorite Fred on the Blue Jays comes back to the plate the tenth batter of the inning, another triple perhaps Fred?
K looking??? Come on ump! Your ruining my dreams. :)

Note 5

Pedroia hits the ball back to Eveland who digs it out of his glove but still has time... But Gonzalez who thought he might have to field the ball behind Eveland b-lines to second and cuts off the throw to Hill! He has a brain attack, probably confused Eveland who just lobbed the ball into the area instead of a strong throw and easy tag for Aron Hill.
These guys haven't played together much, they need more innings together.

Note 6

Crooked numbers.
Wells hits a Bullet to Youkilis for an out. Almost a double play as Hill was way off the bag at second - but so was Scutaro - who wasn't in time at the bag for the ball, which skips out into right field. Hill doesn't know where the ball is and left fielder Hall has it in quickly. An ill-advised throw by Youkilis imho.
E7 on a fly ball by Gonzalez. Way up waaaaaaay up plates Hill and Lind. Hall should have had it - but the scorer calls it a triple.

Note 7

Is Shawn Camp the pitcher he looks like he is? Here's a great test of the theory in this high scoring duck shoot.
9. McDonald 6-3
1. Scutaro 6-3
2. Pedroia 0-2 pitch: BH grounder to 8
Youkilis's lower back on the left side is killing him, saw it on a check swing 2-2, and earlier when he scored on his second plate attempt. Petroia steals second on the check swing
3. Youkilis BH7 scores Pedroia from 2nd with 2 outs. 9-8.
Cito comes out to talk to the battery
4. Lowell F8
Conclusion: Hmmm. Need more data.

Note 8

Atchison two fly outs then Fred hits a ball down off the plate that goes waaaaaaaay up. 3rd baseman Beltre has no play -- plate hit?
Seems like the hitting clinic is over, for both teams. It's quiet... too quiet...
Wells G5-UA. Beltre tags Lind who is running on the hit ball with two out. But Lind doesn't force a throw, he just stands there. Beltre waits for him to do something and then tags him.
A real baseball player would have made them throw the ball by scampering back to second, especially in a tie game, late.
Perhaps nobody wants to rile up the other team as it seems the gale of hits and runs has abated. It seemed like Lind did the right thing even through by the book, he did not.

Note 9

Apparently MLB is investigating broken bats - there are too many. They want to make baseball safe. I hate the 'safe' advertising meme. It's hero branding, except the hero you buy is war. The fear is in your head - not in baseball. Tom Hanks might have said, 'There's no fear in baseball!'

Note 10

Apparently Lind's move just showed fear -- the batting storm is back!
One run is in, on two base hits and the 9th hitter McDonald's whacks a double scoring one.
Scutaro hits an infield single. Scutaro is 3 for 4 with a walk.
Pedroia's double down the left field line scores McDonald and as Buck bobbles the ball on a one-hopper from left Scutaro scoots around him and dives for the plate, 13-9.

Note 11

Scott Downs: three up, three Down(s)... Including a Scutaro, K looking!

Note 12

Wells hits a bullet back to the feet of Boston pitcher Okajima - a kick save and a beauty - but the rebound kicks high in the air and Pedrioa has no play. Runners on 1st and 2nd
Overbay hit to centre scores Lind. Wells to third.
Pat Tabler points out Wells takes third because he knows the centre fielder McDonald is going to make sure the tieing run stays at first so he's throwing to second. Nice base running.
Bautista, sac fly to right gets Wells home.
Run scored is the result of the heads up base running by Wells. 13-12.

Note 13

Jonathan Papelbon. Nuff said.

9. T. Snider, Ks
1. F. Lewis, 6-3
2. A. Hill, FO9

Thanks to ESPN 'Box Score' for the box score image and reference data.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

David Price: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 114/81

Notes on a baseball game from the notepad beside my score card.

Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays.
Sunday April 25 2010, 1:42 PM EDT
Game 3, the rubber match.

Boston Red Sox rendezvous with the Jays at Rogers Centre tomorrow night!

Toronto Blue Jays

  1. M McCoy LF
  2. A Hill 2B
  3. A Lind DH
  4. V Wells CF
  5. J Bautista RF
  6. A Gonzalez SS
  7. R Ruiz 1B
  8. J Molina C
  9. J McDonald 3B
RP Brandon Morrow (1-1)

Tampa Bay Rays

  1. R Brignac SS
  2. C Crawford LF
  3. B Zobrist RF
  4. E Longoria 3B
  5. C Pena 1B
  6. B Upton CF
  7. P Burrell DH
  8. J Jaso C
  9. S Rodriguez 2B
SP David Price (2-1)

Note 1

Vernon Wells strikes out to lead off the 2nd. On strike 2 swinging, he yells out, for all of us in the afternoon TV audience to hear, "F*CK!".
I've been noticing that rage in him, even now this year when he's batting really well. It can't be good for any part of his game -- or his body. It releases testosterone when you don't need it - which is poison to your muscles.
As soon as I find myself doing that I remind myself it's poison, stop it, take a deep breath and focus on the job I'm doing. After practicing that routine for a while I've become un-addicted to it -- and it doesn't rear it's ugly head much anymore.

Note 2

Molina gets sawed off by Price in the 3rd. Price had to get out of the way of a spinning splintered head of a broken bat -- and he had to be quick -- once he's out of the blocks he runs over the first to get the ball, jogging out his instant reaction off the 3rd base side of the mound - where the bat went by.
Boy it's a pleasure watching these Rays play. They're all great athletes and when they move it has a poetic quality about it.
These days everyone's talking about drafting by physical quality - rather than drafting a short stop, or picking a fielder - is this more of the bandwagoning you see so often in baseball organizations? If a team wins with slobs for example (like the Phillies in 1993), a bunch of other teams with no real brain trust start buying un-fit 'character' guys.
They say it's 'The Show'. I believe it.

Note 3

3 CS by Molina. Molina jumps out of the catchers box, one step throw, not a bullet either but it's beating them every time. It's like Tony Batista playing third after 2001.
Rays running game may take a break from now on this afternoon. We shall see.

Note 4

Buck Martinez and Rance Mulliniks are talking about drafting athletes... Buck brings up the scouting staff the Rays have tht they needed to do what the Rays have done. Two dimensional players, three dimensional players, it's comes down to building a team, like the Phillies also did in the early 90's.

Note 5

4 CS by Molina. Carl Crawford now twice today. Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow has walked four so far -- catcher Jose Molina has thrown all four out. Quite a battery ;).
One more walk, 5 total so far -- they didn't run -- and Morrow: R Brignac grounded out, C Crawford caught stealing, E Longoria struck out.
Zip - Zip end of 4.

Note 5

Morrow walks the lead off man in the 5th. Upton follows with the Rays first hit of the game.
Jays playing in with runners on 2nd and 3rd no body out in this pitchers duel.
Catcher John Jaso hit a scorcher to Aron Hill's left -- it's under him before he can land on a dive, 2 runs score 0-2.
Rogers production crew didn't get the play. The camera behind the batter didn't react soon enough -- and they show a re-play of that angle, which we saw the first time didn't catch the play. A tower cam showing the whole infield would have -- but I guess they had it on the third base half of the infield to catch the scoring play.

Note 6

1,2,3 in the 6th for the Jays; 11 straight for Price.

Note 7

Morrow get the first two batters before Longoria gets a single to press the Rays momentum in the 6th. Morrow gets Pena swinging. Morrow's hanging in there, but I feel the bull pen coming -- which hasn't been such a great lately -- not like we've become used to here in Toronto with one of the best bull pens in baseball for the last 6 years.

Note 8

Jays get a hit! Jays get a hit! (3rd hit of the day). Bautista breaks Price's streak of 12 outs in a row with a lead off base hit. Price is so used to having the bases empty that he balks the runner to second - but Bautista progresses no further.

Note 9

Pitcher Shawn Camp - my hero for this month - is in to take over in the 7th.

Morrow: 6 IP, 3 H, 2R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 8 K, 108/62 (pitches/strikes). Nice line!

P Burrell hit by pitch with one out -- Burrell doesn't have a running game... J Jaso singled to right moving Burrell into scoring position so J Bartlett pinch runs. Did not run on first pitch... then Jay's work a double play 5, 4, 3 to get out of the inning.

Note 10

Rays do a sweet 5, 4, 3 of their own on McDonald after a lead off hit by catcher Molina. McCoy pops out.

Note 11

Jason Frasor pitching
Crawford's on again with an infield single with one out -- the Jays are throwing over...
Molina took a hard foul off his glove-hand bicep in the Brignac at bat, will that effect his mechanics in throwing? Is Frasor's time to the plate slower that Morrow?
Crawford walks to second on a Zobrist walk.
Longoria hit up the middle plates Crawford. 0-3.
Pena doubles to the right field corner plates one more, 0-4.
Runners 3rd and 2nd. Infield in.
Upton strikes out. 2 out.
J Bartlett in on the pinch run now hits for Burrell. Double to the gap in right centre plates 2. 0-6.
Merkin Valdez in to pitch, walks his first batter.
FC 6-4.

Note 12

Yuk the only good pitching out of that pen lately has been Shawn Camp.

Note 13

Price going for the complete game.
2. A Hill - 1-3
3. A Lind - K
4. V Wells - 4-3

David Price; 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 114/81


Saturday, April 17, 2010

On capturing a baseball game with a camera, and the injustice of usual scoring

Notes on a baseball game from the notepad beside my score card.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Toronto Blue Jays, Game 2

RP Joe Saunders for LAA - SP Brian Tallet for TOR.

Rogers Centre, 1:07 PM, Saturday April 17th. 2010

Attendance: 17,187

Line ups

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  1. E Aybar SS
  2. H Kendrick 2B
  3. T Hunter CF
  4. H Matsui DH
  5. K Morales 1B
  6. J Rivera LF
  7. M Napoli C
  8. B Wood 3B
  9. R Willits RF

Toronto Blue Jays

  1. M McCoy 2B
  2. A Gonzalez SS
  3. A Lind LF
  4. V Wells CF
  5. L Overbay 1B
  6. J Bautista RF
  7. R Ruiz DH
  8. J Molina C
  9. J McDonald 3B

Note 1

Rogers television production director and camera crew (accidentally) recorded the Jays defence configuration on a play in the 3rd:

Tori Hunter hits a fair ball skipping down the left field line to the foul corner; while left fielder Adam Lind is retrieving the ball - short stop Alex Gonzales goes out into shallow left as the cut off man for the throw - John McDonald goes to the short stop position between the ball, Gonzales, and the 2nd base bag, as deep cut off - first baseman Lyle Overbay follows the batter-runner from 1st and covers 2nd.

Although close ups on the beautiful players makes them look like superhuman gods -- and sells stuff -- once in a while a less difficult wide shot tells so much more of the story. It also shows kids watching that their coach is cool - because that's the play they learned too.

Note 2

Brandon Wood gets an error as John McDonald's stealing third on the pitch. The ball is struck and shoots down the third base line, Wood is there -- but he's betwixt and between with his foot work, he's thinking he can make the catch, tag McDonald on the way by and throw to first for the double play. It's a good idea, in rec ball I would have done the same thing (at about a quarter of the speed). Instead of doing any of that he ends up flat footed, kind of in a catcher's crouch, fielding the ball not in front of it, but with his glove across his body to his right -- the ball skips high over his glove and down the line into left field. McDonald scores, the batter-runner is safe at second.

Note 3

On the very next play Alex Gonzales hits the ball right at Wood again, (how rude, Wood was still thinking about his foot work on the previous play!). Wood gathers the ball into the middle of his body after it skips off the heal of his glove on a funny hop, he finds the handle (his foot work is all messed up) and throws to first -- it's skips in the dirt but it's on line, it's there, any first baseman will tell you it should have been caught, but first baseman Kendry Morales appears to step into the throw before he knows where it's going - and, as he tries to adjust, he simply falls on his bum! The throw heads out to right field - Gonzales to second. It's scored E-5 throwing but I'd say it should have been E-3.

Note 4

So wood gets two errors on two plays in a row. (It seems to gets easier to call an error after the first time you call one.) Sportsnet's play-by-play announcer Buck Martinez argued at the time of the first error, that the ball didn't touch Woods glove, so therefore no error -- while that's a rule of thumb that official scorers generally use -- in the opinion of this 3rd baseman it's a bad rule of thumb when applied it to hot shots on the corners, especially third - the ball is going too fast, the reaction time is extremely short - besides a shot back at the pitcher it's the quickest situation in the game.

Buck also added that there was a lot going on in that situation - it's not a situation you can practice for. It comes down to baseball smarts, that 6th tool I talked about yesterday - you either have it or you don't. Of coarse any given player may not 'have it' on any given day. I agree with Buck the first error on Brandon Wood was a tough error to call. The second one was just plain wrong.

That is all.

Thanks to 'ESPN Box Score' for the stats and the image of the games box score.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Weaver out pitches Marcum and the Jays fall short

Angels 7 @ Toronto 5 Game 1

Rance Mullinix in for Pat Tabler as Rogers Sportsnet changes it up a bit, giving the television audience a different look in this the second series at Rogers Centre.

I'm doing another 'Notes' post here tonight: all the news you need to know what happened - without really knowing much about what happened at all. These are my notes on a pad next to my score card.

Note 1

Hitting in the nine spot, John McDonald comes to the plate in the 6th with one out. He gets behind on a fastball down the middle. Then an off speed pitch slicing low and way inside leaves him swinging at air.

He must be thinking --- dam I shouldn't have swung at that --- head in the game! I'm down 0-2 -- the next pitch is going to be a waste pitch. Wait, Weaver's shaking off Mathis --- Weaver must want to throw strike three -- thinks he's pretty hot, jerk! --- pay attention, who's winning this argument? 4 shake offs... . -- It's a ball away 1-2.

Now after the tet-a-tet McDonald knows the out pitch is coming - he looking for something in, and in the strike zone. And there it is! A fast ball mistake - right down the middle! John MacDonald serves a base hit into left. Jered Weaver had given up one other hit in this game - a home run by Vernon Wells in the 2nd.

Note 2

Meanwhile it's the end of the 7th, and it's 7-1. Some sloppy base running has taken some chances away from the Jays as Weaver began to show signs he might be a human being after all.

Note 3

Between innings Weaver has the ground crew fixing up the landing strip on the mound. Next thing that happens is Weaver throws a pitch that Randy Ruiz blasts over the centre field wall, 7-2. That is all --- for Weaver.

Note 4

Bulger replaces Weaver and the Jays can see him, four runs are in and Jason Bulger is OUT-a-here!

Note 5

Scott Downs is tasked to hold it at 2 runs till the Jays can get back to the bats in the ninth - which he does - but for nought.

Thanks to ESPN MLB Box Score for the stats and the image of the games box score.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Notes on a baseball game in April

White Sox 3 Blue Jays 7

When I'm writing an article on a baseball game I score the game and keep notes on the side. Tonight I'm keeping those notes online, right here as the game progresses. It reminds me of Tweeting. TweetBlogging.

It's Jackie Robinson Day today in Major League Baseball. Number 42, the first black player to play in Major League Baseball - the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers. Larry Doby, as the Jays new play-by-play man, Buck Martinez points out, was the first black player to break the colour barrier in the American League - with the Cleavland Indians, a year after Robinson. By many accounts Doby had a rougher time of it because the spot light was on Robinson - not say Robinson didn't have a hellish time but through it all Doby never got the recognition for doing the same things Jackie did - but with out the spot light Jackie Robinson had as the majors cause celeb, that offered some measure of protection for him.

Larry Doby deserves a mention when discussing the momentous day.

Since the White Sox are in town it's only fitting to mention that Doby was the second African-American to manage a Major League club - the Chicago White Sox, in 1978. Frank Robinson managed the Cleveland Indians in 1975.

For the Chicago-ans it's off to to Cleavland tonight. Get-away-night? It's a short haul - out of the Island Airport I expect - and an hour later they're in their hotel rooms downtown mis-take-by-the-lake.

The Jays stay here and welcome the Angels for a 7:07 PM Friday night nine, the first of 3.

The roof is open - the earliest it's been open for a baseball game. The previous record was 2002 when it was open for a game on the 19th of April.

It's the 5 starter for the Jays tonight, the second time through the rotation for Dana Eveland.
1-0, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB 2 K, ERA 0.0

For the Sox it's veteran SP Freddy Garcia
0-1, 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 4 K, ERA 2.57

In the second inning Travis Snider hit a ball deep into the lower seats in right - a security guard helps a fan charging up the stairs to get his souvenir - pointing out the ball behind the last row of empty seats.

In the 6th, Juan Perrier, trying to score from 2nd base rounds 3rd on a l-ong high fly ball for Vernon Wells in deep right centre. Wells makes the good catch after a long run and Pierre has to turn around and scurry back to 2nd so he doesn't get doubled off. Jose Bautista, playing 3rd, notices that Pierre doesn't touch 3rd on his way back around, so when Peierre gets back to 2nd safely the Jays tag him and appeal to the umps. The 3rd base umpire Mike Everitt confirms Bautista's plea and Pierre is ruled out - double play!

I love stuff like that - knowing the rules and seeing the field while it's all happening - that's a sixth tool in a players kit. Colour commentator Pat Tabler said later that he though that it was an important play in the game - that it may have reversed a building momentum for the White Sox. The Sox did not score in the inning.

In the 8th new call up Jeremy Reed (sent down to AAA Las Vegas after the game) who got the start in right tonight, made a nice catch on a Gordon Beckham line-drive fly. Going straight back to the track he made an over the shoulder catch running flat out. That play records the first out of the inning with Juan Pierre on first. Jansen pitching in his second inning, ends the threat by striking out Carlos Quentin and inducing Paul Konerko to ground out FC 6-4.

That was the last base runner of the game as the two equally matched bullpens did their jobs well.

Thanks to ESPN Boxscore for the stats and the boxscore image of tonights game.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blue Jay Heads highlight in loss to White Sox

White Sox 11, Blue Jays 1.

On the first night of the NHL play offs there was a sea of blue at Rogers Centre. At a glance you might have mistaken it for a sell out - but you would have been wrong (10,610).

Starting pitcher for Chicago:

J. Danks (W, 1-0) 7 IP 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K 1.38 ERA

Chicago designated hitter Carlos Quentin went 2 for 5 with 6 RBI via a grand slam in the 5th to make it 7-0, and then a 2 run double in the 6th that made it 10-1.

Brandon Morrow, starting for the Jays went 4 innings giving up 7 runs (all earned) on 8 hits and a walk (ERA 12.00).

Blue Jays pitcher RH Shawn Camp came in to start the 8th, and had great movement on his sliding off speed pitch, he threw 8 pitches - one of them was not a strike. Carlos Quentin, Andrew Jones and Mark Kotsay Chicago's 3, 4, 5 hitters went three up and three down. The only inning of it's kind for the Jays in tonights game.

It was a real pleasure listening to Pat Tabler and new play-by-play announcer Buck Martinez - especially tonight - there was a lot of talking to do after the 6th inning. The two are finding their way - I think they fit really well. Both former players are of coarse knowledgeable - but the scholarly Buck Martinez lays in information with every syllable - as well as with what he does not say.

This is going to be a fine year to watch this team, even if the announcers are the only bright spot.

In other news... The Jays have a great series of commercials running - executives in the Blue Jays front office are in tense meetings to come up with new gimmicks to sell tickets - they're Blue Jay Heads with feathers for hands dressed in suits. The one guy says ... Well, you've got see them, they're hilarious.

You can watch this one at: "No bird-brain ideas for Jays ads"


Thanks to ESPN for the stats and the screen shot of their box score.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sometimes after Sox, there are Regrets

I don't have a blog where people actually comment, I guess I haven't been a good host. Google tells me over a hundred people regularly come to read - but only occasionally do I get, 'Interesting blog. Publish/Reject'. I'm busy with many other things so I have never seen a 'live comment'. I have to conclude I'm not much of a raconteur.

As such I don't know what it's like vetting a torrent of comments. Deleting spam and linkbait, shoo-ing away crippled broken beggars at the gates who are bothering guests for spare smiles.

So I was a little out of my element when I came across Allan Wood's Joy of Sox blog, through one of Wood's tantalizing headlines, Giving Ortiz A Chance - Being Reactionary Is The Media's Job.

One of the comments on that post talked about over reacting to early season win/loss records: so, with the Toronto Blue Jays off to a good start (6 - 2) and Boston Red Sox, not so much, I posted this self effacing comment intended to make fun of the bandwagon jumping, hockey fans of winning baseball you come across so much here in Toronto. Fans not of the game but of the tone of their own voices, egoists who vision of the world comes through what the world does for them - every minute of every game they watch - every day they exist.

Not fans of baseball, but fans of themselves watching sport.

The next morning I was delighted to see that my comment had been turned into a blog post by Allan (Redsock). "Blue Jays Fans Giddy With Success". Although the piece picked on a typo (naw, spelling - my spelling sucks) and purposely choose not to read between the lines, I took it in the same sense that my comment intended - making fun of knee jerk reactionaries.
So I left a comment on the new post as a thank you, and a link to the story I'd written about the Red Sox that talked about the use of spectacle in reactionary corporate media (like MLB). It was my first time at "Joy of Sox", I didn't know connecting relevant content was against the rules.

Responded to by Redsock,

I had no intention of responding further, but reading that I think I've been cast into an underclass of sport fans, and even worse, a subcategory of that class, the profiteering sport fan - in with the gamblers and the fraudster search engine optimizers. Everything said wasn't after all, in jest, were not references to the way people often act according to their 'default setting' - that self centred reactionary in us all.

So now, I am not a worthy contributor, not a fellow student of anthropology who's comment enabled a blog post- now I am an affirmation of the darker angles of our nature - the greedy ad-man, the linkbaiter, the phisher or worse, a troll. A symbol now, of our worst fears about the nature of human beings - that paranoid notion that tugs at our faiths through all our lives.

Allan himself points to author David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008) whom I will quote to make clear my point - from Wallace's Commencement speech at Kenyon University (2005):

"...everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. "

(Thank you Allan for the link to David Foster Wallace, I have never heard anyone use the allusion 'hardwired' before - the way I have been using it (Charles Darwin, Social Networking & Punctuated Equilibrium) to describe environmental influences as opposed to genetic ones.)

As a person who loves baseball on more levels then I have yet been able to express through my writing, and as a writer working to sustain the enlightenment - these two slags could not stand with-out retort.

I kept my hurt to myself and laid out the history as I saw it. "Joy of Sox" is after all, exactly the kind of blog I would build if I had Allan Woods talent. I wanted in, I wanted to exchange witty repartee, learn the Joy of Sox 'great code', learn to write Allan Woodian sentence structures - just like everyone else! I thought that was the end of it, I didn't want to alienate myself here.

Then, late that night, right after I'd finished a link-back piece: "The Ghost of Babe Ruth whispering in the ears of these many Boston Red Sox's General Managers", a bloggers thank you, no hard feelings - post...

..a nuclear bomb from Jersey landed:

That hurt. Even more so because L-girl (Laura Kaminker) used the voice of Leela. It felt like I just got Futurama 'Fry'ed. :)

(hey, I think I'm getting the hang of this!)

Allan Wood and Laura Kaminker have created a nation with Joy of Sox; it has it's own religion (Red Sox), it's own language (Glossary), a set of laws (Ground Rules) and a unique history (Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox) . Sometimes "core networks" can get a little xenophobic. At times the impulse to reinforce a nations' identity can lead to the demonization of the "other".

From the PEW Internet & American Life Project (2009) "Social Isolation and New Technology"
Part 3: Network Diversity and Community: The Role of the Internet and Mobile Phones


"Core networks provide access to a broad range of social support [2, 12-14]. However, the small number of social ties that make up a core network are also likely to be densely connected and the people to be highly similar – a trend that scholars call “homophily” [18]. Core network members are likely to share many social characteristics, including interests, beliefs, and opinions. This type of network is ideal for access to broad social support and opinion validation, but generally is less than ideal for access to unique information or diversity of opinion "

I think 'We Are the Same' though; I haven't learned the language or laws yet and our religions differ slightly - but our history is the same... I'm just over here a bit.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Ghost of Babe Ruth whispering in the ears of these many Boston Red Sox's General Managers

Las night after finishing my first post of the new season for BaseballBlogs (Baseball too long? Why not fewer Ads?), I was doing the normal syndication stuff - post to Twitter which feeds to Facebook, then to The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) to see if the new feed capture machine published my headline and a snippet, or mistakenly the image html of my new Bi-line thingy (I'm very proud of my new bi-line thingy).

Everything worked fine, the post looked great.

It'd been a long time since I've been to the Bloggers Alliance, so I thought I might as well have a look at all the new Blogs.

Many bloggers publish box scores at the top of each post - which don't look good in the BBA syndication layout. I guess they must get hits with the format - the bots love those juicy keywords like 'final' and 'score', and those team names.

But a few stand out in a good way, they have captivating headlines and interesting writing. One of the smart ones is the blog, "Joy of Sox". I twigged onto a brilliant headline in this provocatively titled blog, Giving Ortiz A Chance - Being Reactionary Is The Media's Job - a story about how the craft of baseball writing may be, by definition, a reactionary pursuit.

Redsock does a nice job of sketching out the lay of the land in (sport) journalism around the current David Ortiz polgrum in Boston. (At the time of the post Ortiz had 1 hit in 11 at bats - at this time he is 2 for 18). The piece lets the Boston media off the hook for leading the mob against Ortiz, because for example, the mob wants to be lead that way - everyone else who leads mobs now-a-days leads them like that... It's post modern, avant-garde. You know, smart.

I disagree, it's not smart - and it's amoral and gutless.

The disruption in all media in the last years created by the revolution in all things communication has created media ghettos where underpaid over worked journalists (like Rupurt Murdock's Fox) have been used to help prove Murdock's rather profitable theory that journalists will work for much less than usual and will sell their souls to write for a living. "After all", goes the mantra of the enslaved, "What can I do? I'm just one writer..." Blah, blah, blah.

The myth corporate mass media conglomerates are trying to make real is not true from this observers point of view. How important are the tabloid rags and the local spectacle crime driven local broadcast television news stations? What future do the paparazzi driven productions that tell the beautiful/ugly soap operas stories of the rich and famous against the evolving ecosphere of social networking tools and the citizen journalism in Web 2.0?

The craft of journalism is on the verge of exploding in a Renaissance of conscientious hard working responsible craftspeople driven by excellence rather than fleeting fame. You can't quite see it yet, but its coming. There are a billion writers in their own journalism schools blogging around the world today.

As for the Boston medias campaigns against current/former stars - I think I've seen this before (Roger Clements,and others). When ever Boston ownership wants to dump salary they demonize the superstar through their agents in the Boston Media - and then they trade him away because he dosen't want to play in Boston any more (for some reason).

What is it about general managers in Boston? Perhaps it's because Boston is the centre of the universe of baseball writing that they don't think they can handle the wrath of Boston Red Sox fans. This is insane of coarse, because it results in lower value for the player. Could it be that the ghost of Babe Ruth whispering in the ears of these many Boston General Managers drives them insane?

The other day Ortiz hit the roof in a press conference and in an expletive filled diatribe, hammered home the final nails in the shipping box that's going to deliver him elsewhere sometime soon.

Hopefully that's Toronto.

Stats link:


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baseball too long? Why not fewer Ads?

Josh Alper's piece, (04 /08/2010) in MLB Fanhouse entitled, "Umpire Joe West Wants Sox and Yanks to Think of the Children" has lead to a lot of discussion this week about the length of ball games. Again.

For the kids sake, so they don't watch MLB spectacle baseball - with it's unachievable super human stars, marketed to sell stuff we don't need, that reinforce a national addiction to consumption - I'd rather watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play at Christie Pits than bathe in this twisted meme.

But the way MLB is pushing their corporate agenda though this Joe West story offers a unique opportunity for me to point out a few things about what I think makes for a great baseball experience - and what does not.

  • A better baseball experience for me and the kids is one where the tension builds as players and managers do everything they can the best their opponents.
  • Better baseball (better than gawking at towering home runs), is baseball with base stealing - that forces throw overs.
  • Better baseball includes the inside game - like bunting and moving the runner over - that forces the catcher to adjust the defence.
  • A better baseball experience would include more afternoon games on weekends so I can take the kids.
  • Better baseball is longer at bats, where the struggle between pitcher and batter goes on and on - pitches are fouled off and counts go full.
  • Better baseball would include revenue sharing so all the teams in major leagues could afford the players that fit the game they think they can win with.

A better baseball experience isn't baseball with more room for commercials - so the kids can get to bed on time with their regular dose of hair spray and deodorant commercials.

The reason New York/Boston Baseball games are longer than all others is because the teams play baseball the way baseball is supposed to be played. The Yankee's are not only the "Bronx Bombers" (in that they hit a lot of home runs), but they are also the best hitters in baseball as a team. The Boston Red Sox's, because they're in the same division have to 'play the whole game' as well just like the New Yorkers - in order that they might beat them once in a while.

Check out the numbers for New York and Boston last year. In the chart below both teams were one, two in the American League in team Base on Balls, team Batting Average, team On Base Percentage and total Runs Scored. These are batter stats, they say these teams are great hitting teams.

From "2009 American League Standard Batting". Over all team batting stats for the American League - 2009; BB is indicated: first place to last in team base on balls earned Note how all the other categories I mentioned also have the two teams in the top two.
(click on the image to see larger version)

So, apparently Mr. Selig, ego-centric, overpaid, greedy, self centred, professional baseball players don't make games too long for Madison Avenue - great baseball makes games too long for Madison Avenue.

My solution... Why not less commercial time?

I can hear ringing across the internet baseball world, "What?!! You dare to question the corporate arrangements of MLB and their sponsors?!! What, are you a commie or something?!"

Well, not exactly, but that's not important right now.

If you reduce the length of commercials on MLB broadcasts the price of those fewer commercials will go up. If there is more time for baseball the way it's supposed to be played, the quality of the product will get better - and more kids will play the game - which will make the game better still over time.

Other ways to look at it:
  • If you want to reduce revenue disparity between teams, making the pie smaller does that.
  • Decreasing revenues with eventually lower player salaries in the free labour market, and, ticket prices will also not rise at the same rate.

Good baseball is a win, win, win proposition! :)

It's kind of an Adam Smith supply and demand thingy - only with a human, artsy factors - like the community of baseball playing - mixed in.

Oh, and this vision also means no DH, there's no DH in baseball - only in the marketing of it.
(showing my true colours now)