Posted on: April 21, 2012 10:49 am

Fenway is wicked old

Its two weeks or so into the 2012 baseball season.  By the end of the weekend we'll be 10% along the way to playoffs.  Here's how things stand:

The O's and J's insist they'll compete in the toughest division in the majors and they are, so far.  Both riding ok starters, so-so hitting but good on base averages.  Can they hang come August?

The Sox and Rays are struggling as their slugging can't overcome weak bullpens.  Sox starters have yet to gel and the hangover from the end of last year looks to be still hurting the chemistry.  Dusty tells Bobby V that's not the way we do things around here... airing barbs with the media.  Bobby V knows no other way or he's looking to rally teamates around Youk.  Not working so far.

The Yanks starters have been shakey - CC still rounding into form and Kuroda looking great one start, corroding in another.  Nova shines, Hughes can't challenge hitters inside.  Garcia?  bet the over.

But it's the bullpen that shines, giving the Yanks confidence that as long as they slug they can overcome those early runs by sloppy starters.

The little lyric bandbox that is Fenway turned 100 - Fans cheered a tipsy Kevin Millar and the 212 Sox players, but the 25 Yankees in old style uniforms put 5 solo homers into the seats and held the Red Sox to 2 runs to cool an otherwise sunny party.  Sox fans are hoping the pen improves after sending Melancon down to Pawtuket but it's the starters 2 through 5 that may be a bigger worry.

Spring is here, let's play two.   

AL East:     Era Starter-Pen,   OPS

NY Yankees (8-6)  5.40 - 1.71,  835
Baltimore     (8-6)  4.30 - 2.44,  760
Toronto         (7-6)  3.92 - 4.57,  701
Tampa Bay   (7-7)  4.02 - 8.49,  762
Boston         (4-9)  6.09 - 6.13,  762

Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:07 am

Spring Rays shine - Did Yanks bring spf 50?

AL East Status - Week Five
:  Shining Rays, quiet songbirds, and the Yanks tote lumber.

With 32 games played for most clubs, 20% of the season is enough to take stock of who they are so far.  Grades at the one fifth point:

Rays: A
The Rays once again did what Boston wished for - another recovery week plus a day 5-2, now 6 over .500 and sharing 1st.  Pitching is carrying the streak, Whip = 1.18, dropping both the Blue Jays and Orioles.  And Longoria is back.  Good balance of pitching with slugging.  Tampa Bay Rays:  3.23 era / .399 slugging  (20-14)

Yankees:  B
The Yankees looked sluggish dropping 3 of 4 to the Tigers and asleep at the plate. Despite the slumping play of Arod, Cano, and Posada they held onto a share of 1st Sunday with a 12-5 win banging out 16 hits and 5 HRs to cover 4 errors by several players who are still asleep, now in the field.  Slugging still, pitching good enough, could use consistency and better basic averages. New York Yankees:  3.70 / .461  (19-13)

Red Sox:  B-
Back at Fenway but can't build the streak they want.  Although they looked good against LA (their favorite punching bag these days), they lost an 11-0 finale and then gave up 9 to the Twins.  Home cooking is helping but pitching is still inconsistent, pen a question, and bottom half of batting order is still behind in production.  Lots left on base, BA-Risp is 30 points *under* their basic average.  Boston Red Sox:  4.31 / .393  (16-18)

Jays:  C+
Tough competition vs. Rays, is anyone hitting besides Jose Bautista and Adam Lind?  BA-Risp is .234.  Toronto Blue Jays:  3.87 / .393  (15-19)

Orioles:  C
Has the Buck factor faded?  Hitting just .233, pitching hurting of late, ranked 28th in run differential.  BA-Risp is keeping them around ranked 10th, 36 points above their basic average, Baltimore Orioles:  4.78 / .372  (14-19)

What happened to the Cervelli Great Gazoo helmet?   We'll take a grand slam with lighter headgear anytime.  

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:04 pm

Does age & treachery overcome youth & skill?

Does age and treachery always overcome youth and skill?   New York Yankees Bi-polar pitching

Going into the home stretch preparing for opening day, Joe Girardi's most talked about struggle is his starting rotation and the absence of an off-season acquisition to replace Andy Pettitte or take possession of a clear #2, 3 or 4 spot to follow CC Sabathia.  Sure, there are two other starters from last year on staff but they highlight Girardi's bi-polar disorder: Can both youth and experience be blended into a winning combination?

One side is illustrated by the sweet bird of youth: energy, promise and green.  Phil Hughes (24) has shown unhittable stuff but inconsistent success despite poise beyond his years.  Experience, potential but disappointing headcase is the other side.  A.J. Burnett (34) was horrible last year though his talent is pointed to as the evidence of potential, unfulfilled in so many painful outings last year.  While Burnett may bounce back, he's the more risky of the two because like a golfer who's game disintegrates after a lame shot, AJ's inner voice strangles his presumed ability and control as his anger replaces his guile producing the league lead in hitting
batters.  Both of them have to find their stride for the Yanks to compete in an improved AL East this year.

The two most likely additions tip the scales toward the long-of-tooth side:  Both Bartolo Colon (37) and Freddy Garcia (34) have pitched surprisingly well this spring, with an ERA/Avg against (through less than 9 innings) of  3.00/.250 for the weighty Colon along with 12 K's and 0.00/1.25 for the sly Garcia.  The sample is too small so let's see what happens after going through a lineup more than once but it's likely one of these two will start at the end of the rotation and hopefully benefit from the strong offense and bullpen.  A trade down the road for another established starter is still very probable since the cornucopia of catching talent can attract clubs like the KC Royals.  Does experience trump youth and desire?

On the other end of the spectrum is Ivan Nova (24) and following at a later date could be one of the much touted "B's", Dellin Betances (22) and Manuel Banuelos (19).  Nova went 1-2 in limited use last year, posting a so-so 4.50/.268 in 42 innings but 0.00/.188 in 5 innings this spring.  Nova will head north even if he isn't nicknamed "Super".  To a manager he's a risk, but for fans there's a thrill in following a rookie with a strong upside who might emerge as a phenom.  The Stephen Strasburg effect was electric (while it lasted) even understanding the realistic odds are extremely long. That's why the 6' 8" Betances is very appealing for a look and the Ron Guidry-like Banuelos would electrify fans though he needs more triple-A time.

I'd rather watch the youngsters with all the mistakes and letdowns for the rare excitement of a wondrous game.  Like finding a treasure at a flea market, I can hope despite the odds every time.  Safer decisions will prevail for now as the old guys cover the back end pitching until either the "B's" are ready or age takes its toll.  Is there a chance time runs backwards and Colon becomes this season's Ponce de Leon stumbling into a fountain of youth?  Hoard the antioxidants and put pomegranate juice in the water cooler.  Antiques Roadshow is a fine balance - amazing discoveries get found among well-used pitchers with a chip or two.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 10, 2010 9:02 am

Signs the apocalypse is near

7 Years of bad luck?  Who broke the mirror?  MLB teams are officially nuts!

Proof that the end is near:  Reports today are that Boof Bonzer, the worst pitcher with the best name in the game, has signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets.  Yup, the Mets.  Au jus for everyone, medium rare.  ...and 2)  The Boston Red Sox are talking with Carlos Beltran  (of the very same Mets).  Ouch!  Sox fans, I'm passing along a warning here - keep your ten-foot pole handy, this guy has rings where folks have been touching him with that pole.  Besides, you cannot have a Beltre + Beltran at the same time - it's forbidden by the announcers contract.  But I did hear Damon was kissing up some about returning.  Johnny I hardly knew ya.  Jing Jing Jing.

Yet again...  further proof that the end is near:  examples...

1)  Jason Werth gets 7 years @ huge $, ...the Nationals?  the guy isn't a home run hitter, nor huge RBI guy.  Easy way to avoid any playoff games.  Is this Jason & the Golden Fleece?
2)  Carl Crawfish gets 7 years , 142 million.  huh?  I'm all for the Sox finding good OF'ers, makes the season a good fight, but this ends the old saw about Evil Empire, etc, ok?  Remember, eX-Rays are dangerous, hence the lead apron.  Madame Curie, recall?
3)  Cliff Lee gets (will get) 7 years .  Talk about extending unemployment benefits!  What happens during those last 2-3 years when he turns into Boof Bonzer?

Wasn't it the great plagues that also came in 7 year packages?    Seems to me this is a sign...  7 deadly sins, 7 dwarfs, 7 seas, 7 hills of Rome, 7 wonders of the world, 7 palms in a cubit, The original diameter in inches of the 45rpm format record,  Maximum number of VHF broadcast channels available in any TV market in the United States of America; (channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13), 7 Samuri, 7 year itch, 7 cities of gold, 7 = a neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity and... of course, the 7th inning stretch.   Yes, it's a sign.

In Math:
7 is the only dimension, besides the familiar 3, in which a vector cross product can be defined .
There are seven fundamental types of catastrophes .
Seven is the sum of any two opposite sides on a standard six-sided die
Seven is the lowest number which cannot be represented as the sum of the squares of three integers

Forget 2012, these contracts *are* revelations, 4 horsemen of the apocalypse + 3 wise men this month... and bingo: 7

Posted on: September 22, 2010 10:19 am

Stoking the self-esteem engine on hallowed ground

Oh and speaking of Steinbrenner, anyone notice how substantially bigger his monument was than the likes of Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, etc....

The overall impact is like a big screen TV in an art gallery or museum  -  self-demeaning.  If the size had been similar to the rest, it would have *included* him with the others.  Instead, the size sets him apart as if acknowledging the difference.  His listed contributions could have told the story better than the out-of-place ostentatiousness.  Smaller would have been bigger.  And how does the citation "...he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity" fit with being able to see the plaque from space?   Stoking the self-esteem engine even on hallowed ground. So the size reveals a unintended truth - like a mating display of plumage - and it undermines the misguided attempt to trump.  In the end it makes him smaller, and all the others there larger. 

Posted on: September 16, 2010 11:21 am

Umps rule Jeter hit by pitch - on the intangibles

Umps rule Derek Jeter hit by pitch - on the intangibles

( ... Put's the Tang in intangibles, don't it? )

In yet another example of both Jeter magic and pr0n power, Chad Qualls hit Derek squarely on his intangibles last night. The plunk put the Yankee Captain in front of Granderson's 2 run homer, providing a brief lead over the deviless Rays .  As the ball rebounded into fair territory for an easy play at first, Jeter shook off the metaphysical sting while casting the now famliar Jedi-like mind fix over the umps with a subtle wince. After a brief conference, the umps sent Jeter to first although they were the only ones in the stadium (or the national audience) overcome by the short-range spell.

Although the replay showed the ball hitting the bat knob, an unnamed player confirmed that the knob is, in fact, part of Jeter.  "Kevin Long has always preached that we should become one with the bat...  an extension of our body.  No one embodies that better than Derek."  Reached for comment, Minka Kelly confirmed the amazing shapeshifting phenomenon - "I was nervous at first, but now I'm used to it and enjoy the novelty.  It comes in handy."  Former teammate Chuck Knoblauch couldn't be reached for confirmation.

While the initial headhunting was jointly engineered by santa-blade, chjohn, blakfrancis and bobby-age-10 to inflict season-ending damage, Jeter brushed off the bruise thanks to his ever-present intangible aura.  "Age and treachery will always overcome one track minds," he quipped.  Undeterred (Unjetered?), the persistant posters refocused their dogma on Dan Johnson , who promptly hit his second 2 run homer to retake the lead and erase the intangible edge Jeter had provided.  "I wasn't sure I should Dare Wreck the moment," Johnson admitted,  "... in a tangible way."  Rays manager Joe Maddon called Jeter's knob job a heady play:  "If our guys did it, I would have applauded that, too.  It's a great performance on his part."  Kudos from the opposing dugout - priceless.

Posted on: May 29, 2010 8:29 pm

The NewAge Vampires of Gloating

[ This idea occurred to me from a thread (by Under Your Skin, a long-timer) titled 'Remember when...".  I noticed that many replies weren't about fond memories but rather digs at rivals about when they were better or didn't fail (but haha, now they do).  Black humor? Maybe.  A trend?  Certainly.  And therefore worth a comment. ]


Remember when...

Posters enjoyed talking about the talent on their teams  and the good wins and the clutch hits, instead of revelling in the losses of *other* teams , goading opponents about their failures, and wallowing in the disappointment of others - shadenfreude .  Sucking up the real feelings of others (even sadness) to compensate for an emptiness they themselves can't deal with and must deny.   Living off the 2nd hand misery as if it were life-giving, instead of dead.  The newage vampires of gloating - unbecoming and so very temporary, unsustaining and empty.

I miss the cheering a great catch, hit or performance by an opponent - by *baseball fans*, very unlike the vampires of gloating.  Remember when fans felt great when the team beat a tough rival and that feeling of accomplishment, pride and achievement came from knowing the rival was very good... instead of the classless trend of spouting that your rival s*cks?  So if that's true, you're beating a worthless bag of bums - again, empty gloating vampires .

I doubt that Mickey Mantle thought Ted Williams s*cked.. much less ever took any joy in his hitless days.  Much less ever teased a rival on his failure.

Don't misunderstand - as a Yanks fan, I root for my team and feel great when they beat, say.. the RedSox.  But jumping on a Sox tread to "neener-neener.. you blow"  after a loss isn't the same.  It's ugly.  And I don't believe respect here is earned by gleeful threads on others misery.  Is self-esteem so fragile that the only way a poster can feel "better" is by demeaning another?  Again, don't misunderstand - I get "trash talk"... smack down, bravado, even put downs.  Yup, when called out, I'll defend and even dissect a poster spouting off.  But slapping a knucklehead is way, way different than jumping on the disappointed fans leaving a game thread, heads down and feeling low (we all have been there) and taunting, gloating or provoking a rival.  Most good people grew out of that after they developed a conscience and any sense of empathy.  Or not, as the case may be.

You don't have to look far for examples of the newage vampires (and by the way, more a guy thing, much less among women... capacity to feel empathy and better self-esteem?)   Read the thread titles and initial replies.  I'm curious about what others think on this - post examples, reaction or whatever.    I strongly believe it's at the heart of enjoying this board - both ways, strangely enough.  Our bipolar love-hate reason to be here?

Posted on: November 15, 2009 7:43 pm


Today's entry is about bare facts:  simple stats or findings about the way the world is.  Trivia, perhaps, but we all like to challenge our friends or ourselves to see how we score.  But bare facts are more complex than just Jeopardy - they can rewrite our minds without asking and trigger a laugh we never see coming.

First, a stray fact can be intriguing on its face.  Consider an example:
- Estimated number of women killed as witches in Tanzania each year?   Yipes, there are still people pointing medieval fingers?  Salem lives?  Where *is* Tanzania, anyway?  Killed, huh?  Wow, let's see, maybe 17... 18.  I didn't realize they had perfected the witchometer... and such strict sentencing.  You'd have thought keeping a few might help during dry spells. 

Second, the answer can contradict what we suppose:
- 500 killed a year   [HelpAge International (London)]   Almost 10 a WEEK??  Has Harry Potter spawned a new wave of suspicion and intolerance?  Is Hogwarts in Tanzania?  Sometimes the answers take us into uncharted territory.  What if they contradict our comfortable view and force us to revise our thinking?  [ nervous laughter here ].

Third, two stray facts taken together can change the whole idea.  For example:
- Maximum number of miles that Ford's most fuel-efficient 2003 car can drive on a gallon of gas:  36.   Hummm.  - Maximum number its 1912 Model T could:  35.   One small step for a man, one giant nanometer for mankind!   Instant perspective not just about the world but also about our world view. 

Many bare facts make us laugh...  when they become surprising little exclamation points that derail our train of thought by taking a sudden left turn.  Usually when we don't expect it.  A speed bump we never saw coming.  And then we backtrack, re-read them, and laugh at ourselves when we realize our view of the world was incomplete.  Aha!  Caught off guard by a stray idea.  Sprouting seeds of funny.  Examples that humor is the truth taking you by surprise.

Dept. of One Adam 12, See the arMANi Suit:
- Cost to produce a one hour episode of the TV show "Miami Vice":  $2.7 million
- Annual budget for the entire Miami metro Vice squad (in the same year):  $2.3 million

The very best source I know is The Harper's Index, a monthly page of revealing research findings that always uncovers hilarious contradictions, keeps me from taking things too seriously, and jolts my funny bone.  My collected best follow (1987 - 2006), with comments I just couldn't resist.


  Real stats, revealing what people really think (or don't, as the case may be). 
  Test your view of reality... and your friends.  [ editor's comments follow each item ]
 % of Americans who believe the accused are guilty until proven innocent:    50%
        - ...You mean,  they're NOT?!!
 % of Americans who cannot name a country "near the Pacific Ocean."           42%
        - ...I can't be pacific, but...
 % of Americans who don't know how long a meter is:                                         66%
        - ...Until the quarter runs out?
 % of Americans who never read books:                                                                45%
        - ...But I read Penthouse for the articles...
 Barbie's measurements, if life size:                                    39-23-33
        - but Ken would be a mezzo soprano
 Chances of a white Christmas in New York:                   1 in 4
      - Global cooling
 Chances that a physician is an imposter:                      1 in 50
      - The tipoff was the whipped cream...
 Chances that an American has appeared on TV:            1 in 4
     - Sure, since America's Most Wanted
 # of Americans who drown in the bathtub each year:         365
        - Expecting a Baywatch babe rescue?
 # of Americans who are struck by lightning each year        350
        - More than are struck by a new thought...
 # of armed robberies in history in Iceland:                         1
         - Yelling "Freeze" doesn't even stop a Yak
 Estimated % of missing children who have been
     abducted by strangers:                                                     1%
         - The rest become brides in Alabama
 Reported cases of people bitten by rats in New York (1985):  311
        - We know because all the rats died
 ...bitten by other people:                                                     1,519
        - Just bigger rats?
 % of Americans who say they spank their children:                          83%
        - Tough love or Quality time?
 % of Americans who say spanking is "seldom, if ever, effective:"      40%
        - Except in Singapore
 % of American parents who say they never read to their children:      40%
        - But they eat green eggs and ham
 ...never help with homework:                                                        27%
        - It's the New Math
 % of married men who say they would marry the same
     woman if they had it to do all over again:                                 80%
        - They all name the same woman: Cindy Crawford
 ...% of married women:                                                               50%
        - The influence of Fabio
 % increase in the # of women in US prisons since 1974:       285%
        - The popularity of conjugal visits
 % of adults who say they were first told the
    facts of life by their mothers:                                           21%
        - No dessert 'till you eat your veggies
 ...told by fathers:                                                                     5%
       - But they show better videos
 % of executive men who are single or divorced:              4%
       - The rest live on fantasies
 ...% of executive women:                                                      52%
       - Better able to make decisions
 Month with the most car accident fatalities:            Aug
        - EMS is on vacation?
 Month with the most births:                                       Aug
        - While driving...
 Proportion of the year's rain in April:                     1/12
       - The flowers just KNOW, that's all
 % of trees in New Hampshire whose leaves turn red in autumn:   13%
       - The rest just look red after a long drive...
 % of baseball players signed to professional contracts
     who never appear in a major-league game:                            90%
       - Besides Bob Uecker?
 Lifespan of a baseball in the major leagues:                            5 pitches
       - Longer than Bob Uecker
 % of car owners who keep gloves in the glove compartment:   0%
       - Gotta keep 'em ready for foul tips
 Average length of intercourse for humans (in minutes):   2
       - Including the smoke?
 ...for chimps:                                                            7 secs
       - They eat the cigarette
 % of the population that has never flown in an airplane:        33%
       - They keep their seatbelts on
 ...never goes to the movies:                                                     39%
       - Cineplex Odious?
 ...has never eaten a bagel:                                                       80%
       - Antisemite bastards!
 % of the world's population that cooks on wood or charcoal:     50%
       - Mesquite or nothing, demanding cooks say
 % of police who fired their guns in the line of duty:             < 1%
      - Though 74% did off-duty...
 Average take in a bank robbery:                                     $3,000
      - Professionals prefer unmarked singles?
 ...by a pickpocket:                                                              $218
      - Donald Trump must walk around a lot!
...by a shoplifter:                                                                   $72
      - That's just at the dollar store?...
 Pounds of plutonium & enriched uranium missing from US inventories:  9,600
      - Employee lunches?
 ...# of pounds needed to make an atomic bomb:                                        11
      - Not counting the PlayDough
 # of Americans who drink Coca-Cola for breakfast:          965,000
      - ( editor's note:  965,001 )
 Average # of parrots smuggled into the US from Mexico each day:  137
    - The hard part is getting them to spit out the cocaine
 % of American men who say they sleep in the nude:                19%
    - I thought you said "with a nude" - Sorry
 ...% of women:                                                                        6%
    - ... you said "sleep 'till noon"? - Sorry
 Bars of soap used by the average French person in a year:             2
    - Hence the perfume
 Proportion of the world's nations that have practiced torture since 1980:   1/3
    - "We'll KEEP practicing until we get it right!"
 % of Americans who eat at McDonald's each day:                7%
    - EIEIO!
   from the Harper's Index Book,  Henry Holt & Co., 1987.
      Lapham, L. H., Pollan, M., Etheridge, E.
   Reassembled by Fast Food for Thought ,
      the Irrational Numbers Division of
   United Illuminations, the aha! company

   StatGuy, editor & chef.                                   BareFacts - 1

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com