Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grit: Not Just for Short, Mediocre Ballplayers

On current no. 1 Jelena Jankovic from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website in the run up to their year championships Link:

If tennis players can be heroes, Jankovic rides into Doha like a character in the John Wayne western, True Grit.

100th Post

Woohoo! Forced milestone!

In honor of this event: something entirely unrelated to anything we do here!!!

Wow! That's good soup!

Everyone at AtH should add one unrelated piece of media that reflects their souls to this post!

edit: From Goose(you may want to turn the volume down)-

edit: From Rook (I think we all have a little bit of Doug in us)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you thought Sal Paolantonio was an objective, soft-spoken, classy guy. . .

. . . you were wrong.

Wow. Even with the things that are right this is so wrong.

Mike Smith Sucks for Not Reffing Better

Tony Kornheiser likes to be angry. He likes to blame people for doing stupid things, often that aren't stupid. And he likes to be adamant about it.

He also likes to be wrong (apparently).

On PTI today, he decided to RIP Mike Smith and blame him for this:

I'm not quoting because it's just not necessary, but as the replay of the show will be in about 40 minutes or so, you can tune in and watch it yourself. With a loud, condescending tone, he decided to say Mike Smith's by-the-book strategy to use his time outs so he could get the ball back with 2:22 left in the game and a chance to win was stupid. Why? Because he didn't save a time out so that he could challenge the play on the field if the refs made a bad call. Which they did.

What? So. . . the coach should not use his time outs as best he can because the refs might make a mistake? They can't play normal strategy because someone else might screw up? We're going to blame a coach for doing everything right because the officials don't (and the NFL rules are ridiculous for the situation)?

I'm seen Kornheiser be wrong, and I've seen him be angrily misguided. This is bad, even for him, though.

Live Blog Game 5 World Series Rays-Phillies Part Deux

My Favorite Martin

Ned Colletti will probably be forever-praised for bringing Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles and "reviving" the Dodger fan base. It will, in many people's minds, make up for or perhaps overshadow the numerous idiotic moves he's made throughout his tenure as GM (Pierre, Schmidt, Jones, etc.). However, I would hope that all those naysayers would soon return if the implication from the following article came to fruition.

Martin wearing out welcome in L.A.?

Twenty-nine GM's throughout all of baseball are hoping the answer is "yes."

An OBP of .385 for a catcher is awfully hard to come by, not to mention the fact that he has exceptional speed and can play a decent third base from time to time. So I'm not really sure what this could be addressing. Maybe he's wearing out his welcome in a "Manny being Manny" kind of way. Perhaps he's wearing out his welcome in that he's become a clubhouse cancer or something to that extent. It certainly can't be because of his production on the field.

The Dodgers were disappointed by the regression of catcher Russell Martin, who in the words of one Dodgers-connected person was "just another catcher'' this year.


Out of the 24 catchers this year with at least 350 plate appearances, Russell Martin had the third highest OBP, trailing only Joe Mauer and Chris Iannetta (who caught in 49 fewer games than Martin). He had the eighth highest OPS, which isn't great, but still better than two thirds of the catchers in baseball. And from those same twenty-four, he had the most walks and stolen bases as well.

The Mariners, Phillies, Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Mets, Blue Jays, Tigers and many other teams are in dire need of what this "Dodgers-connected person" describes to be "just another catcher."
By the way,

Tony Romo is just another quarterback.

Steve Nash is just another point guard.

Adrian Peterson is just another running back.

Tim Duncan is just another center.

The Office is just another tv show.

All are of equal absurdity.

Only a year ago Martin was an excellent two-way player who won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger and appeared on the verge of superstardom.

2007 OBP- .374
2008 OBP- .385

2007 OPS+ 113
2008 OPS+ 106

2007 RC- 95
2008 RC- 88

2007 EQA- .296
2008 EQA- .288

2007 WARP1- 8.3
2008 WARP1- 7.2

So yes, Martin digressed a little bit, but enough to become "just another catcher"? No way in hell. And for what it's worth, out of every catcher in the world this past season, Martin had the third best WARP1 (0.1 points behind Brian McCann).

Martin's digression was more than likely due to the heavy workload he's undergone since coming up to the majors. Since May 5th of the 2006 season, the Dodgers have played 457 regular season games. Of those 457, Martin has caught in 411 of them (90%). His first half/second half splits obviously indicate that he wears down as the season goes on. So, an easy way to fix the enormous, drastic, incredibly steep "regression" problem? GIVE HIM A GODDAMN DAY OFF ONCE IN A WHILE! Catching the most innings in baseball over the last two years may play a slight factor into his dip in production. Just some food for thought, Colletti.

Although, I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to trade Martin if you had a catcher waiting in the minors who OPS'd 1.000 at Single A this year. Too bad you traded that catcher for two months of Casey Blake.

The New York Post reported that the Dodgers might even consider trading him.

Epstein, Beane, all intelligent GM's: Cheer in unison.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Opening Night

Celtics/Cavs, Lakers/Blazers

Awesome. I'm disappointed that there's no World Series game tonight, but I think these games will do an exceptional job of holding me over.

Baseball, Football, Basketball. It's a shame that these three sports are played at the same time for only one week a year.

Brief ATH on ATH note

Can someone let me know who won the World Series 150 years ago? (re: Reali)

Henry Aaron Rolls in His Grave (WITHOUT EVEN DYING FIRST!)

The MLB announcement of the Hank Aaron Award includes a very blatant lie:

The Hank Aaron Award officially recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in the American and National Leagues.

This is not just a blatant lie, it's a vicious lie. I know because this man won it. And he was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the best offensive performer in the National League.

The other winner was none other than Euclis, the Greek God of Walks himself. I have trouble seeing him ahead of Milton Bradley in terms of quality, or Grady Sizemore in terms of quantity, or Alex Rodriguez in terms of both, but he was third in wOBA, so whatever. Weird, but it's fine.

Ramirez, though, was 19th in EqA and 20th in EqR. THAT is the best offensive player in the NL?

Want to limit it just to hitting and not offense, as the award claims? Fine, he 15th in wOBA, 15th in Runs Created, 20th in GPA, and his numbers like a 128 OPS+, 7.2 RC/27, .581 OWP and 2.4 Batting Wins don't even register on the Baseball Reference leader board.

Look, that's a good season, but it's not even top 10, let alone anywhere near the best. Especially when Albert Pujols was worth two Kevin Youkilises (yes, that includes defense, get over it). Pujols was worth, like, fifty more runs than Ramirez. His Baseball Reference page looks like something out of a video game.

How does this sort of crap happen?
Fans cast 230,000 votes at, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, in this, the sixth consecutive year that fans have had a voice in selecting the award winners in this fashion.


But still, according to Baseball Almanac, the fans are only 30% of the ballot. So where does the rest come from? Wikipedia?
Fan's votes accounted for 30% of the points, with broadcaster's and analyst's votes accounting for the other 70%.

So there you go. The brilliant minds of fans and announcers deciding who is about the 15th or so best hitter in the league and giving him an award named after one of the greatest, classiest and most significant players in baseball history.

This bothers me to a large degree because, if this award was treated with any sort of dignity and seriousness, it would be a great answer to the idiotic "the pitchers have their own award so the MVP should just be for hitters!!!" brigade.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Live Blog Game 5 World Series Rays-Phillies

For all of tens of fans not in Philly or Tampa Bay watching this game:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Live Blog Game 4 World Series Rays-Phillies

Once you're finished at the NFL Live Blog, come and chat here:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week Eight NFL Live Blog

We'll see if this isn't a grueling way to live blog.

Live Blog Game 3 World Series Rays-Phillies

Come on and chat:

The colors, Zeke! The colors!

I changed the background to gray. The stark white wasn't doing it for me. I'm not sure the gray is, either, but there's something drab about the white.

Yay? Nay? Back to white? Something else?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jim Rome Just Discovered the Rays

I'm not sure why I would ever watch Jim Rome is Burning, but I did today. I'm not sure why. Anyway, Rome had this to say about the Rays.

The Rays are who we thought they were,

Nice. A joke that hasn't gotten old, but incorrect in this case if you keep reading.
not the guys who were trying to knock over the monster in Fenway.

No, Jim. That's exactly who they were. They were the team who finished fourth in the American League in home runs hit. In a pitchers' park. Doesn't that sound like a team that hits a lot of home runs?

They hit almost as many home runs as the Texas Rangers. I don't think anyone is confusing the Rangers with a small ball team.
That's not where these guys live, they were built to do it with pitching, speed and defense,

And power and patient hitting.
and it was all on Game 2 of the World Series.

But not the power.
They don't wait for someone to pop a three runner, they play small ball, not long ball.

They were fourth in home runs and 13th in batting average. So a relatively large number of their hits left the park (in a pitchers' park) and they had a relatively low number of other hits. They were, however, sixth in on base percentage. Does this or does it not paint a picture of a patient team that scores a lot of rums on homeruns? Sort've like an Earl Weaver team.

Guess what team was LAST in the league in sacrifice hits. That's right: the Rays. If the fact that they scored three runs on outs last night is an idication of small ball, every team is small ball! Including patient, power-hitting teams like the Rays.

Beyond all that, the Rays are a renowned progressive front office and anyone who follows sports FOR A LIVING should be aware of this. As in: not a team that embraces small ball.

The Rays have a lot of talents, they can win even when they're not hitting home runs because they have speed and a great defense and pitching. That doesn't make them a small ball team.

The fact that a major member of the sports media is so unfamiliar with a team playing in the World Series that he makes things up that are flat-out and obviously wrong should be an embarassment.

Relevant Video is Relevant

If having a progressive, sabermetrically-inclined front office isn't enough for you to want to root for the Rays, then maybe building an entire fan experience around the fact that you want to be able to play this video at games is.

More Cowbell - The most popular videos are here

How is that not awesome?

And yes, I made this post just because I felt like posting that clip. But I would like to think I tied it in nicely.

P.S. Any of you notice that videos weirds out posts? Things like comments don't show up. Oh well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Live Blog World Series Game 2 Phillies-Rays

Welcome to Game 2 of the World Series. Brett Myers and James Shields are the pitchers. More "goodness" from Joe and Tim.


Live Graph

- Hmm, I think I've seen this before.

- Good to see Mark Grace get the "overuse 'must-win'" memo.

- Nice rendition by Los Lonely Boys on the anthem

- Hey, it's Dallas Green. I remember when he was the manager for the Mets. My grandfather (RIP) used to talk so much crap about him, lol.

- Diving into a pool with Christie Brinkley = WIN!

- And Joe calls out Timmy for his Captain Obviousness. :)

- Jonny "Zangief" Gomes with the microphone. Neat.

- Pretty nice play by Longoria. Fine scoop by Pena. Should be interesting to see if Longoria can limit some of the sketchy throws he's had since he came back from his wrist injury.

- "1 of top 5 curves" in the game. Not that I'm disagreeing with it but says who?

- Rays drive in two with consecutive RBI groundouts. 2-0 Rays. Howard prevents Crawford reaching on a hard hit groundball.

- Why does Bob Melvin sound like Boomhauer from "King of the Hill" in those ads?

- Bad read by Upton on that ball. It would have been tough to get it on a good read given his position and the speed of the ball off the bat.

- The called third strike looks so bad even if it's just a matter of taking a tough pitch.

- Feliz with a bit of misfortune on the line drive.

- Good positioning from Jimmy...bad attempt at a joke by Timmy

- Um, huh? Did Danley change his mind or am I missing something? Also, where is the side view?

- Another opposite field single for Upton. Good throw from Werth to nail Baldelli. 3-0 TB

- More fail by the Phillies with runners on as well as good pitching from Shields.

- Sorry about that delay. I'm trying to following the IndyCar Series online ( Of course, when you have Gameday and two flash players for timing and scoring and streaming, this can happen.


- Great play by Baldelli on the throw. Werth drifted just a bit too far on a play right in front of him.

- Good job by Myers and Ruiz to exploit that hole of Longoria's.

- Floyd showing off that blazing speed. Still out by a couple of steps.

- Phillies fans, turn away!

- Even though they've gotten 4 runs off of Myers, the Rays haven't exactly stressed him out in this game.

- As far as the issue of African-Americans in baseball, I would think that expanding and revising the draft, in addition to establishing more academies, would help in that regard.

- I know that I mentioned Howard's struggles against lefties this year. Even so, I would not go as far as to warrant a platoon.

- Endurable is a word, huh? Good to know. :) (this is a sincere note if you thought otherwise)

- Another Friedman mention.

- side rant: I just love how mom just says "that's it" for no reason whatsoever. It's like having another Tim or Joe in your household.

- For some reason, that whole exchange sounded like something from "Major League".

- Price is trying to go bullpen ace on these Phils.

- Ruiz again!

- Hmm, that did look like a brush of the jersey. Costs them a baserunner as Rollins pops out.

- Howard grounds out to end this. 1-all as it goes to Philly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Live Blog World Series Game 1 Phillies-Rays


Well, I didn't really go anywhere. I took a break from the live blogs but with the World Series starting, I'll be here to put in my two cents. I, or one of my colleagues, hope to add a more convenient live blog system some time soon if not for the World Series some other day.

I know you are all ready. :D

Live Graph!


- I've been waiting to say this: Beautiful weather under the dome!

- Ooo, montage. I'm a sucker for these "through time" pieces. When you add baseball to it and you just sock it to me right there.

- Again, they may not have predicted a playoff spot, let alone a World Series appearance, but a couple of systems did forsee nearly 90 wins from these Rays. Stop saying as though they were going to win 75.

- Mark Grace was not one of those systems. ;)

- Haha, the return of the Taco Bell promo.

- Mini-rant: you know what I can't stand more than anything? Media types who complain about certain teams being in the championship game/series because they aren't sexy enough or they haven't heard of most of the players or the fact that they won't get good enough ratings. Screw them!

- Hmm, I heard that music before. They played that during the '82 World Series recap montage (don't know what I'm talking about? check out Game 7 of the '82 Series on MLB.TV if you have a subscription)

- *stands up*

- The Backstreet Boys are still around? The hell?

- Is this just my TV or does Joe Buck look kind of...pasty?

- Woot, Michael Jack Schmidt! (and he just killed it by mentioning "Ryan Howard" and "MVP" in the sentence without saying "was in 2006")

- Honestly, I did not know the Simpsons were up to TOH 19.

- Keys to the game : WIN! I think most of the ones FOX have could be summed up like that.

- At least the scouting report is decent. Once again, if anyone at the YES Network is watching, that is how you do a scouting report. SCOUT THE PLAYER!! It isn't that hard.

- New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys. Did we get sent to the '90s?

- Um, huh?

- That is why you don't bunt, Chase! (91.9 mph fastball down the middle, 3.8'' break [distance from top of arc and the chord connecting release point and breaking the strike zone], 16.1'' pFX [distance between location of pitch and same pitch thrown with no spin]) 2-0 Phils

- Kashmir? edit: he said it again!

- Camera is that way, Crawford.

- Phillies fans just about had a heart attack right there.

- I know a certain someone who is shocked that Feliz has taken 5 straight pitches (my comrades would know who ;) ).

- Victorino sure wants some of that taco.

- Not a great sequence by Kazmir. Last thing he needed was the bases loaded with Rollins up. If they steal, so what?

- The arm of Bossman Junior strikes!

- MLB Network, FTW!

- Before I was enlightened to the fact that making a huge deal about small sample sizes is a fool's errand, I got googlyeyed with Willy Aybar's cup of coffee for the Dodgers. Though he hasn't come close to matching that, he seems to be a pretty solid player.

- Stop denying us free tacos!!

- The mother of all holes, ladies and gentelmen.

- In the bottom of the third in the 3rd inning, FOX has mentioned Sternberg and Friedman more often than TBS did their entire postseason broadcast schedule.

- Bases loaded for teh Bossman. GIDP again for teh Bossman.

- A low forehand lob from Feliz. Oops, wrong sport. 0_o

- 3-nil Phils on the groundout. *smacks self again*

- I wish those were box seats so I can make an apropos joke there. ;)

- "You reach it with your arms and not your legs." Quoi?

- That was awful even by your standards, Tim. "Ray-naissance man"?

- Famous instance of people getting out of the way on a timeout: '93 World Series Game 6 when time was called and Rickey, Darren Daulton, and the ump all got out of the way as if Mitch Williams were about to throw a grenade.

- So it has nothing to do with Myers but there's a dropoff between Hamels and the rest of the staff? That does kind of imply an indictment on Myers, et al.

- FREE TACOS!!!! probably not going to get any but I just like saying "taco".

- Aki in the gap. 3-2 Phils

- LOOK AT HIM GLIDE!! Sorry. *blush*

- Clank by Howard followed by redemption on the throw to pick off Pena.

- Looks as though Longoria has legitimate beef (according to Pitch F/X). I'll have to re-check to see if Welke has been calling that pitch all night.

- Lefties make Howard cringe. :/ Interesting that his platoon split has gotten more lopsided over time. (edit: since he played a full season in '06: Howard v. Lefties)

- Bowl cut alert!

- Heh, a slider and a curve from Balfour that inning. Sometimes, it seems to slip under the radar whenever he throws one.

- Sick stuff from Madson. Upton had a decent pitch to drive on 0-1 but nearly screwed himself into the ground.

- Time for TEH LOOGY!!

- Lidge vs. TB's 3-4-5 hitters. Should be fun to watch. :D

- Lidge ownership. Phillies lead the series 1-0. Join us for Game 2.

What I Do When I'm Bored


One of Woody Paige's reasons as to why the Rays will win the series against the Phillies:

"The American League has won eighteen of twenty-two of the last (World) series. Eighteen and twenty-two, I think it makes a difference."

Fact: The National League has won 8 out of the last 22 World Series.

Fact: The NL winning 8 out of the last 22 is not equivalent to the AL winning 18 out of the last 22.

Fact: Woody Paige makes up shit every day on Around the Horn.

Fact: It is idiotic to take any "statistic" Woody Paige spits out as fact.

Fact: Even if it were true that the AL had won 18 out of the last 22, it would not make a difference on the outcome of this seven game series.

Fact: The 1985 Kansas City Royals do not affect the 2008 Phillies.

Short-Sighted Quote of the Week

Jim Caple:
I pick the Rays to sweep because the American League is that much superior to the National League, which once again got smoked in interleague play and the All-Star Game. It's like the majors versus AAA.

Let's break this up real quick:

I pick the Rays to sweep because the American League is that much superior to the National League

An entire league should not reflect or represent the talent level of one team.

which once again got smoked in interleague play

In 2006 the Cardinals embarrassed the Tigers in five games. Guess what the record in interleague play was? The Americal League had 158 WINS TO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE'S 98. That's the biggest disparity between leagues since interleague play began. The AL was also superior in 2001, the Diamondbacks won. The NL was superior in 1999, the Yankees won. Weird...

and the All-Star Game

How the hell did the NL get "smoked" in the All-Star game? It JUST ended. It was that close. Seriously, didn't it last like 36 innings? I don't understand how you can possess any degree of sanity and say the National League got smoked in the All-Star game this year.

It's like the majors versus AAA

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels, and Brad Lidge make up the most unbelievably awesome AAA team of all time. Who's on the MLB roster? Mays? Jesus?

I've never really read any of Caple's stuff, but now I'm inclined to go back and read every article he's ever written in hopes of finding more terrific nonsense like this.

Rays in six.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slightly Random Plug

A Roylas' blog!

The reason is to help put a stop to the use of another silly baseball term that bothers me all the time: "ace." What is an "ace?" Who is the "ace of the staff?" Is it merely the best pitcher on the staff? In that case, doesn't every team have an ace? Can you have five aces?

How about when someone is a "solid number three." What's that mean? How good is a number three? How often does someone know what he's talking about when he says, "he's a good back-of-the-rotation starter, but not better?" I'll bet it's never, that's what I'll bet!

Sorry, I worked with a habanero pepper when I was making dinner tonight and just rubbed it in my eye. That smarts.

But back to aces. I don't think we have to stop saying "ace." I think we need to define what "ace" or "number three" or "back of the rotation starter" means.

And the guy from this blog did just that. Hooray!

And by this it would seem the Rangers had one solid #2, one solid #3 a couple solid #4s a whole lot of #5s and no ace. Hooray!

And this year the Rays had an ace in Shields and three #2s in their rotation. They sent out a guy barely "bad" enough to be a #3 as their fifth worst pitcher (by xFIP). That guy just won the ALCS MVP. Those guys are also all younger than 27.

Well that's fair.

The Patriots Will Win Tonight Because Two Injured Quarterbacks are Hurt and Another One Sucks

Stuart Scott's reasoning for picking the Patriots tonight on Monday Night Football:

In Matt Cassell's career he has backed up Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Tom Brady. Of those four, he's the only one playing this week, so I'm picking the Patriots.

The janitor at my local McDonalds has been a janitor at three other restaurants in town. Two of those chefs are dead (both in beaver-related incidents, tragic), and one of them is no longer licensed to prepare food due to health violations.

So I'm hiring this janitor to cater my Halloween party.


I was petrified for awhile there (all through Games 5 and 6, actually, and until Aybar's home run in Game 7) that I'd somehow brought a curse upon the Rays with my Latin. You can imagine how relieved I was when I woke up from a cough syrup-induced haze to see smiling Rays faces on the TV.

Because I know you've all been waiting for it (and because now my as-yet-unlatinized additional sentences are even more relevant), here is the translation for:

Longoria iuvenis vim ostendit quem globum lunae capissit ... Artus auriolus Sonnanstinis alba ad thecam nigram designatam torquet.

Young Longoria displays/shows strength which launches the ball to the moon ... The golden arm of Sonnanstine hurls white tablets to the marked out black box.

Yep. That sounds WAY better in Latin. (It's also WAY dirtier.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Steve Phillips Quickie

From Sports Center a moment ago:

"Evan Longoria had the game winning RBI in the All-Star game and that's why [the Rays] have homefield advantage in the World Series."

Exactly none of that is true, Steve Phillips, and if you don't watch it, some angry Rangers fan who has very few things to be happy about in life and thus takes pride in the fact that his team always finds a way to involve a player in the decisive moment of a mid-season exhibition game is going to call you on it.

Did That Just Happen?

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays?* In the World Series?

Congratulations Rays! It's a triumph of sabermetrics over. . .

. . . older sabermetrics!

*That was on purpose, shut up.

But can Brad Pitt hock cars?

One of the first things I thought of with yesterday's exciting announcement that Brad Pitt might play Billy Beane in Moneyball: the Epic Motion Picture Event of the Century was this:

I feel like for those of us hardcore Moneyball fans out there Pitt should reenact this commercial to show us what he can do. How close can he come to this dramatic character?

Now THAT is the best looking and smartest GM in baseball (just ask the Mets' secretary). It's a good thing the Beane Counter isn't playing himself, eh?

P.S. Scroll past this and look at Rook's LVP post. Look at that formatting!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 Least Valuable Players

Each and every year there's a variety of players throughout the MLB that cause you to scratch your head and wonder as to why a big league manager would continue to put their name on the lineup card day in and day out. The 2008 season was certainly no exception. The following is a list of some of the absolute worst seasons that took place this past summer. They're categorized by position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, SP) and each hitter was required to have a minimum of 375 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Andruw Jones does not qualify. These very prestigious awards are only reserved for the ones who continued their (lack of) performance embarrassingly deep into the season.

So, without further adu, YOUR 2008 LVP's!

C-Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners
409 Plate Appearances
112 Games Played
64 OPS+
-19.7 BtRns
-1.9 BtWin
.220 EQA
Apologies to: John Buck, Ramon Hernandez

1B- Ross Gload, Kansas City Royals
418 Plate Apperances
122 Games Played
75 OPS+
3 Homeruns
0.8 WARP1
.236 EQA
Apologies to: Daric Barton, Billy Butler

2B- Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
608 Plate Appearances
145 Games Played
76 OPS+
21 Walks (1 BB per 29 PA)
1.2 WARP1
.236 EQA
Apologies to: Jamey Carrol, Alexi Casilla

3B-Jose Castillo, San Francisco Giants/Houston Astros
455 Plate Appearances
127 Games Played
74 OPS+
-17.0 BtRns
0.9 WARP1
.229 EQA
Apologies to: Bill Hall, Chone Figgins, Jack Hannahan

SS- Khalil Greene, San Diego Padres
423 Plate Appearances
105 Games Played
63 OPS+
-20.7 BtRns
1.1 WARP1
.215 EQA
Apologies to: Jeff Keppinger, Bobby Crosby

OF- Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
514 Plate Appearances
138 Games Played
56 OPS+
-31.5 BtRns
1.8 WARP1
.223 EQA

OF- Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees
453 Plate Appearances
129 Games Played
70 OPS+
-18.6 BtRns
1.7 WARP1
.231 EQA

OF- Corey Patterson, Cincinnati Reds
392 Plate Appearances
135 Games Played
.205/.238/.344 (Holy Shit!)
48 OPS+
-29.9 BtRns
0.8 WARP1
.201 EQA (Holy Shit!!!)
Apologies to: Juan Pierre, Gary Matthews Jr., Emil Brown, David Dellucci, Jeff Francoeur

SP- Livan Hernandez, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies
180.0 Innings
31 Games Started
6.05 ERA
71 ERA+
1.667 WHIP
.895 OPS Against
0.6 WARP1
Apologies to: Nate Robertson, Brandon Backe, Brian Bannister, Barry Zito

Congratulations John Mclaren, Trey Hillman, John Russell, Bruce Bochy, Bud Black, Cecil Cooper, Joe Girardi, and Dusty Baker. Your decisions to give these guys so much playing time not only resulted in the receiving of a fantastic award, but it also resulted in each one of your teams missing the playoffs. See you next year!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Non-Fiction Dialogue re: Moneyball the Motion Picture

So, yes, I'm spending two posts on the same subject, but the awesome Katey Rich at Cinema Blend had this to say while I was talking with Skye about the announcement and working on the other post:

I don't really get how you make a movie based on a non-fiction book that's about statistics, but I guess it can't hurt to get Brad Pitt on board. Variety says that the actor, who's apparently having a busy day today, will possibly star in an adaptation of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, about a baseball team manager who uses a complicated computer system to pick his players.

Maybe this is the kind of thing that sounds thrilling to the people who read box scores and know the RBI of every player on the Red Sox, but the rest of us may be left a little cold. I guess that's where Brad Pitt comes in-- just focus on his nice blue eyes, and let the numbers and figures wash over you. Anyone who's read the book want to enlighten me on why this movie is a good idea?

I felt it would be appropriate and usefull to use this space to write a response and take a more serious look at how a Moneyball movie would work.

Moneyball, the practice (named after the book), is about stats. The book touches on those stats, but it's not what it's about. The sabermetric revolution fueled the A's front office revolution, and thus sabermetricians are strongly drawn to the work, but there are no charts or graphs. There's no break down of how Win Shares are calculated or how to judge a replacement-level player. Hell, there isn't even much time spent on why batting average sucks and why on base percentage is the best invention ever.

Moneyball, the book, is a story. Brad Pitt is going to be playing someone whose early life came easy. Friends, girls and sports were all easy because he was so incredibly gifted. He was so talented the Mets thought higher of him than Darryl Strawberry (for those who aren't aware, Darryl Strawberry owned baseball, it's just that drugs owned him). But, despite all the talent, Billy Beane just couldn't make it in the pros. Completely un-conventionally, he, instead, became a genius front office man, and one who was constantly in the pursuit of players who are nothing like himself.

And that's what the movie would primarily be about: Beane's rise, fall and resurrection as something new. And he's an interesting character. He wants life to be scientific and composed and runs his team the same way, and at the same time he's an emotional wacko liable to do anything at any moment (like throwing a chair through a wall because of a bad draft pick).

On top of the life of Beane and the excellent, half-eccentric/half-composed character Pitt gets to play, you have the team he builds. His ideas for how to build a baseball team spat all over baseball tradition, something people either laughed at or outright reviled; both in and outside of the A's organization. You have the drama of the oft-cited (and over dramatized) scouts vs. stats argument. Mostly, you just have a team doing something that people either hate or don't understand and being successful at it even though everyone says they can't be. You have this team with a fraction of the payroll of the Yankees being better than the Yankees.

And from there, you go to the players. A bunch of misfits that every team thought sucked for some reason or another and wouldn't give a chance, and the A's saw something in them no one else did that made them awesome. It gives you an entire cast of characters; underdogs. Most notably Scott Hatteberg, told his patient approach was killing the team and selfish everywhere he went before he gets to the A's who think he's a godsend and he finally gets to feel like he belongs. Or Chad Bradford, a funny little guy with a weird delivery kept down by the White Sox before the A's unleash his potential as one of the most devestating pitchers in the bigs.

The whole story is full of that. Quirky, interesting, misfit characters who are all better than everyone else thought. Major League with real names and more drama.

You have the team losing its star, the defending MVP (villain?), and everyone calling them dead before they have an even better season without him. And that season comes with the help of a record winning streak after a struggling first half.

And that 20th-consecutive win gives you ultimate drama. In front of a huge crowd, the team blowing an 11-0 lead. Your prime characters are involved, as Bradford falls to pieces before Hatteberg (with someone else's bat) pinch hits and drives in the walk-off home run to win it.

I'm sure it would be "Disney'd" up. Maybe the A's win the World Series. Some people are made out to be better, worse or quirkier than reality for the sake of drama and entertainment, but most of the enjoyment is already there in how things really went down.

Essentially, you have a great baseball story with a compelling central character, quirky side stories, heroes, villains, underdogs and drama. And it's based in the reality of a revolutionary front office that changed sports.

Moneyball makes for a boring video lecture. Moneyball makes for a thrilling baseball movie.

"My shit doesn't work in Hollywood."

On a chilly December day in 2001, I woke up early, hopped in my car and drove to the local theater to see the long awaited adaptation of one of my favorite books: The Lord of the Rings. I remember getting out of the car and seeing a long line of people coming out of the theater, and a bus pulling up and dumping out a group of folks who immediately attached themselves to the end of that line. The atmosphere that day was nuts.

I can only imagine there will be the same uproar (if not more!) now that Variety is announcing the film adaptation of another favorite book of mine: Moneyball, by Michael Lewis.

Alright, truthfully, a Moneyball movie isn't exactly going to get E! in a tizzy or inspire an entire spin-off forum at the message boards of Cinema Blend, but for a segment of the population (myself and four felow bloggers included) seeing a film adaptation would be entertaining. In a geeky kind of way.

And to play the revolutionary waste of talent that is Billy Beane? Why, none other than the man you see pictured above: Brad Pitt (apparently chearing at a Yankees game, the very team that made the game so unfair, thus forcing Beane to find an art to win it). I can just picture Louis de Pointe du Lac suddenly standing up and hurling a chair through a wall now. Oh, it will be glorious. And as Skye points out, while a movie about Moneyball might not get a lot of buzz, Brad Pitt would, and it might get the masses to think a little bit harder about the failures of traditionalism.

Adapting the screenplay is Steve Zaillian, who you've probably never heard of but has, to his credit, the excellent Gangs of New York, which you liked a lot more than you think you did (I'm serious, go watch it again as proof). This is important to me because, if you couldn't guess from the last sentence, that's a major movie in the world of Grif.

For those of you who have never read Moneyball, you should get right on that. It's arguably the single most impactful sports book in history, and certainly in recent memory, as it engages readers in the story of Billy Beane's quest to exploit the insanity of baseball people to build a winning team cheap, largely relying on the devil's work also known as "statistics." It has changed the way many fans and front offices -- not just in baseball -- have looked at games. If you're not a fan of stats it's still a great insight in to how front offices operate. And even if you're not a sports fan, it's still a fantastic story of the lives of several misfit individuals and the brilliant business practices that changed them.

TL;DR: Detective David Mills quits after finding his wife's head in a box and ends up looking at really obvious things that other people think are evil in order to make the Yankees look stupid.

Sounds like a winner.

How to Win Arguments and Influence Stat Boys

Let me present to you today's winner on Around the Horn (the other ATH): Tim Cowlishaw. He won, in part, thanks to getting points for this statement:

There was never any indication from his agent that he would have played for a reasonable amount of money. It's not like you could have gone out and signed him for a million dollars. He wanted a ton of money.

And if you keep un on your sports news, you know what's wrong with this. First, there's the fact that a team couldn't know how much Bonds wanted to play for without first making him an offer.

Second, there's the fact that, you know, what Cowlishaw said was flat-out wrong.

Bonds is willing to play for the MLB minimum. . .

Well, that seems to stand in stark contrast to what Cowlishaw just said. And this was no small sports story. And Cowlishaw's job is to follow sports stories. So, somehow, this escaped both he and Tony Reali.

So how do you put up the best argument in a sports debate? Simple! Don't have a clue what you're talking about, allow raging bias to get in the way of reason, and make sure the judge of the debate doesn't know what you're talking about, either.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pitchers Only Throw Strikes to Manny Ramirez

Does anybody ever wonder how Tim McCarver's brain works? What must go on in that never-ending pool of knowledge from which he draws first rate analysis each and every broadcast? Last night during the Dodgers/Phillies game he gave us an example of why he is one of two men that have the privilege of commentating the World Series year in and year out. He had this tidbit to say about Manny Ramirez, whom he apparently just can't talk about enough lately.

"Manny (Ramirez) chases pitches outside of the strike zone. And by that I mean, pitchers won’t throw pitches out of the stirke zone. It’s a different approach."

Wow.. You lost me, Timmy.

Since 1999, Manny Ramirez has finished in the top ten in walks seven times, including leading all of baseball with 124 free passes this past season. He has a career .411 On-Base Percentage. Now, do either of these facts lead you to believe that pitchers WON'T THROW PITCHES OUT OF THE STRIKE ZONE TO MANNY RAMIREZ???

And since when does Manny chase pitches out of the zone? Last I checked, he was a pretty damn disciplined hitter, hardly ever chasing anything off the plate. You'll find this quality in players who walk a lot, Tim. They tend to not chase pitches out of the strike zone.

I'm gonna stop pretending that even you comprehend what you are saying.

Tonight's Project

This excellent blog post from Beyond the Boxscore got me thinking tonight. It is actually pretty offensive how much time the media is spending crediting the Rays' turnaround to a ****ing manager instead of the man who rebuilt the team, Andrew Friedman. I'm not sure if it's an aversion to what is, essentially, "new-fangled" Moneyball stuff, and they don't want to admit it's working, or if it's because they see a baseball guy and think that must be the reason they're winning, or if it's because it's a better story, or if they just really are that clueless. But tonight I'll be watching the game and the pre-game and the post-game, and I'll keep track of how many times they credit Joe Maddon and how many times they credit Andrew Friedman.

And any other nonsense they spout.

UPDATE: I wrote an entire commentary on how TBS chose to suck off Chuck Lamar for a good 15 minutes without once mentioning Friedman, but the internet screwed me.

I will be voting for whichever presidential candidate promises to make the internet more like a big truck.

Manny Ramirez's Career Postseason OPS: .937

Clearly he is the best postseason player EVAR!!!!

What, he really steps it up from his regular season line of 1.004. He's just asleep at the wheel all season. Then come October: BAM!

He takes up up a notch!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Epic Picture is Epic

I had to share this fantastic artistic depiction of myself done by a fellow baseball fan annoyed by my asking he at least list on base percentage.

Isn't that spectacular.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The pinnacle of geekdom

Longoria iuvenis vim ostendit quem globum lunae capissit ... Artus auriolus Sonnanstinis alba ad thecam nigram designatam torquet.

Props if you can translate and correct my Latin. Oh, and if you can point out the sexual innuendos, for there are two. EDIT actually the whole second sentence is one big innuendo. Oops.

Translation will be posted ... at some point. For now, I will retire my prose composition skillz and kill all thoughts of somehow transforming those floating sentences into ... verse.


[Who else has someone composing Latin prose about baseball?]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Can Make the Joke Because I Can

I don't know how to feel about this article by Mark Kriegel from It starts out well:
The Division Series between the Angels and the Red Sox ended, appropriately enough, with Jason Bay, who had toiled in obscurity as a Pirate, scoring on a base hit by Jed Lowrie, a rookie who'd been called up after only 40 games in Triple-A.

These men were strangers to playoff baseball. But then, so what?

The time has come to expose the great ruse of October: postseason experience.

Who needs it?
He's right. To automatically assume that experience is needed for success in the playoffs is plain lazy analysis. This isn't to say that there is nothing to having been there before but relying on the absence of playoff experience as reason for failure is non-analysis. If that were enough to be an analyst, then hire us at ATH. We'll collect paychecks for spouting cliches. We'd hate it but hey times are tough!

To get back to Mr. Kriegel's piece, it then takes a familiar turn:
No one can. Being there before hasn't helped A-Rod. I don't care what the sabermetric geeks do with their calculators; the heroically clutch athlete — the one who elevates his game under pressure — is the foundation of all sportswriting. Therefore, I'm bound to insist that players who distinguish themselves in October are born, not made. That's the difference between an Alfonso Soriano and a B.J. Upton, who homered twice Monday afternoon, between a Francisco Rodriguez — whose record 62 regular-season saves didn't stop him from taking a loss in Game 2 of the ALDS, and a Jonathan Papelbon, whose career postseason ERA remains 0.00.
1) An A-Rod crack. How original!
2) A crack on sabermetricians. Again, very original.
3) While I can agree to some extent that how one handles pressure may have some affect on postseason performance, the examples he uses are a bit odd. Soriano's overall playoff numbers are pretty abysmal (.213/.263/.299, 7 XBH, 53 K, 9 BB) but had two walkoff hits in '01 as well as what looked to be the series-winning home run in Game 7 of the '01 World Series. Francisco Rodriguez had an amazing run in the '02 postseason (28 K, 15 baserunners in 18.2 IP). Did they suddenly become unclutch? Who is to say that Upton won't have a 1-20 series? Who is to say Jonathan Papelbon won't have two games like Calvin Schiraldi had in '86?

My contention with the whole clutch denotation for players is that a reputation can gloss over examples when they do the opposite.

But what do I know? I just play around with my calculator all day.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Congratulations are in Order

Here at ATH, we have a policy of being as objective as possible. We do have our teams and we think we should be open about those teams, but the personal rooting should be left to others we think.

So, since Rook can't do it, let me do it for him. Congratulations on getting to see your team do something against the odds that I've never yet had the chance to enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What rule states a pitcher has to award a batter a free base?

I'm not aware of this rule, but Harold Reynolds and Dan Orsillo keep stating that Scott Kazmir had no choice but to bean Orlando Cabrera to start the game.

Now, I'm pretty sure this is just stupid old guy baseball crap, but I have trouble believing it. Is there a rule I'm missing?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tim Kurkijan Loves Hockey

ESPN game one preview on the Dodgers/Cubs series, with Tim Kurkijan.
Host: Chicago's going with Ryan Dempster, why is he the right choice?

Tim Kurkijan: He is the perfect choice for a lot of reasons. He's a free-spirited guy, he's a hockey player, he skates with NHL hockey teams in the off-season, he's got a different look on life than most people I know, and he lives about four blocks from Wrigley Field. He walks to the ballpark every day, and on the way home he stops and talks to people. They all know his root, they all know who he is. If there's a cookout going, he might even stop in and have a hamburger. But most importantly, he's a good pitcher.

How to gain Tim Kurkijan's approval to start game one of the NLDS:

1. Be a free-spirited guy.
2. Play hockey.
3. Skate with NHL hockey teams in the off-season.
4. Have a different look on life than most people Tim Kurkijan knows.
5. Live close to Wrigley Field.
6. Walk to Wrigley Field.
7. Talk to people when you're walking.
8. Eat hamburgers at cookouts while you're walking.
9. Be a good pitcher.

Personally, I think Dempster is a good choice to start game one because of his 152 Adjusted ERA, his .642 OPP OPS, and his 57.5 VORP. But that's just me, Kurkijan's reasons are good too.