Sunday, May 31, 2009

Johnny Damon

Some nuggets about Johnny Damon.

- Even if he played the remaining 113 games left in the Yankees schedule - he would still be five games short of the number of regular season games played during his 4 years in Boston. That's really a tribute to his reliability. He never played fewer than 145 games in his time in Boston and has never played less than 141 games in the 13 full seasons since he became a regular player in the lineup.

- Damon has already hit 7 more home runs for the Yankees than he hit during his time in Boston. He has 10 this season. The New Yankee Stadium seems tailor made for him.

- Damon currently has 2,326 hits which places him 127th on the All-Time list. If Damon was to play 3 or more season after 2009 - it is not outside the realm of possibility that he could crack 3,000 hits for his career. If he was to do that - would he be considered a Hall of Fame player? He'd probably have to play until he was 40 in order to get there - so its probably a moot point. It is interesting to note that if he stays healthy that he'll probably finish the season with more career hits than either Mickey Mantle or Carlton Fisk.
The David Ortiz Solution

If I were the Red Sox - I'd solve to problem with David Ortiz in a very simple manner. I'd start have him practice his bunting.

Like the sage Wee Willie Keeler is famous for saying, "Hit them where they ain't." Whenever a team went into a shift on Ortiz - I'd have him drag a bunt down the 3rd base line. If the other team wants to give up the 3rd base line by shifting the third baseman over to short - take advantage of it. After a few infield singles - teams would stop using the shift on Ortiz and suddenly Ortiz would start to have his pulled line drives fall in for hits. Both his batting average and his confidence would rise and suddenly some balls would start leaving the yard too.

This strategy also has the benefit that it couldn't hurt. Even if Ortiz just practiced drag bunting during pregame batting practice - the other team might notice and thus be more reluctant to use the shift during the game.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I'm amazed that some people still debate whether Ichiro Suzuki is a Hall of Fame Player or not. Ichiro has been in the league for 8 years and each year he's been an All-Star and won a Gold Glove. He's also had over 200 hits in each of his seasons and won 2 batting titles. This year Ichiro is batting .342 and shows no sign of slowing down. To top it off - when you see him play in person he's simply mesmerizing. I've seen him play a few times and you can't take your eyes off him... Bobby Abreu's batting average dropped 65 points in May. He hit just .221 for the month (not including today's game). I just don't seem to like Bobby Abreu... Speaking of Bobby Abreu - of the minor leaguers that Philly got back as part of the Cory Lidle/Abreu trade - only Matt Smith made an impact. Too bad for the Phillies that the impact was to have an 11.25 ERA in 9 games back in 2007. That trade between the Phillies and Yankees will go down in history as a textbook salary dump trade... I'm not a fan of collusion but I'd be willing to set aside my scruples for a minute to get the MLB owners to agree to block the Washington Nationals from drafting San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Scott Boras is going to have a field day with the mess that is the Nationals front office and the money Strasburg will get will unbalance the pay scale an unprecedented amount. Then again - this could be the perfect storm that leads to a rookie pay scale... In Nick Carfardo's notes column today - he asks, "How about Omar Vizquel as a fill-in shortstop for the Red Sox until Jed Lowrie comes back?" I love that idea but there are two problems - Jed Lowrie is almost back and why would the Rangers give up the versatile Vizquel?
The Longest Game

The Texas Longhorns and the BC Eagles played the longest game in college history yesterday with a game that Texas won 3-2 in 25 innings. Think about that - 25 innings!

I felt sad reading the article though because nobody will remember BC's role in this game. This is not their Tin Cup moment - that moment belongs to the Longhorns. Think about it. The longest professional game in history occurred at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI with the Pawtucket Red Sox winning a 33 inning marathon. I couldn't tell you who lost the game without looking it up though. (And yes - I looked it up and it was the Rochester Red Wings.) Years from now people will be looking it up to see who the Longhorns beat in the 25-inning game.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

From Coco Crisp's Twitter account I learned that he likes to play World of Warcraft and that he has a pet Chihuahua. I'll never be able to look at Coco Crisp the same... The World Series of Poker is off and running. Just a reminder but the best place (in terms of writing, humor and updates) to follow the WSOP is at The Tao of Poker... Speaking of poker - when I first read this story I was disgusted. After a minute I was amused thinking about the irony of socialism on a small scale running smack dab into police state tactics (or in this case State Police tactics). A charity poker game run by a cooperative with proceeds from the event to feed the poor raided by the state police because the Sisters didn't have the proper papers - yup. Look out South Berwick Strawberry Festival Committee - you're next!... All week I've been meaning to write a review of Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself. I read the book over two days and could not put it down. Excellent history and insight into a period of baseball history which has largely gone overlooked. I recommend the book heartily...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Player Comparison

If you just looked at Jacoby Ellsbury's .307 batting average and his 21 stolen bases (not to mention his recent 22-game hitting streak) - you may think he was having a great season. However, comparing him to the person he replaced - Coco Crisp - may dampen that enthusiasm (numbers don't include yesterday's games).

Ellsbury - .307 BA/ .338 OBP/ .377 SLG/ .715 OPS/ 81 OPS+
Crisp - .233 BA/ .344 OBP/ .399 SLG/ .743 OPS/ 97 OPS+

Some other numbers:

Ellsbury - 1 HR/ 21 SB/ 6 CS/ 10 BB/ 19 SO/ 75 TB
Crisp - 3 HR/ 11 SB/ 2 CS/ 27 BB/ 19 SO/ 65 TB

I think you'd have to call this a draw or maybe even a slight advantage to Coco. Of course when you factor in that Ellsbury is just 25 and makes a fraction of what the 29-year old Crisp makes plus the trade of Crisp netted the Red Sox Ramon Ramirez and his 0.74 ERA - Ellsbury clearly becomes the better value.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Andy Glazer

Pauly has a good post up about a good cause - nominating poker writer Andy Glazer for the Poker Hall of Fame.

If you have a minute please go here and nominate Andy.

Andy was THE poker writer and his untimely death caused him to just miss the poker boom and the chance to be appreciated by a much wider audience. Andy was to poker writing what Chip Reese was to high stakes cash games. It has been almost 5 years since Andy's death. Five years is the waiting period for the baseball Hall of Fame. Five years is long enough for Andy Glazer to wait to be inducted posthumously into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Player Comparison

Let's compare two sluggers and how they did in the season where they were 31-years old:

Player A - 44 HR/ 105 RBI/ .295 BA/ .417 OBP/ .580 SLG/ .997 OPS
Player B - 35 HR/ 117 RBI/ .332 BA/ .445 OBP/ .621 SLG/ 1.066 OPS

Here's how the players compared when they were 32-years old:

Player A - 24 HR/ 77 RBI/ .226 BA/ .313 OBP/ .421 SLG/ .734 OPS
Player B - 23 HR/ 89 RBI/ .264 BA/ .369 OBP/ .507 SLG/ .877 OPS

It should be noted that Player A was a full-time player who may have been worn down some by playing the field every day. Player B is a full-time DH. When they hit their age 33-years old season?

Player A - .228 BA / .306 OBP / .361 SLG / .667 OPS
Player B - .197 BA / .305 OBP / .306 SLG / .611 OPS

Player A is Dale Murphy while Player B is David Ortiz. Dale Murphy was an Atlanta icon but he ended up traded for flotsam and jetsam the year after his age 33 season when it was clear that he was no longer the player he once was. Will Boston icon David Ortiz suffer a similar fate?
Eric Gagne

Perhaps the worst single move by Theo Epstein was to trade for Eric Gagne. Be that as it may - Gagne is supposedly trying a comeback of sorts by playing for the Québec Capitales of the Can-Am League - as a starter!

The Capitales will be in Worcester to play the Tornadoes from June 19th to the 21st. I'll probably head over to Fitton Field to watch one of those games.

This was too good not to borrow from Neate's site.

Movies Filmed in Boston

The Boston Globe has a list of 10 memorable movies filmed in Boston but the list is awful. How can you have a list of memorable films made in Boston and leave off The Thomas Crown Affair (the original with Steve McQueen), The Paper Chase (OK so mostly filmed in Cambridge but close enough) and the cult favorite Boondock Saints?

I had those three movies in my Top 5 Movies Filmed in Massachusetts - never mind just Boston.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Death of the .400 Hitter

Joe Posnanski today writes about Whether we'll ever see another .400 hitter. He writes:
BUT ... could it just come down to the fact that batters strike out a whole lot more than they did in the .400-hitting days? I do realize that all of the above reasons would contribute to more strikeouts, but I am still wondering here: Is that what it comes down to?
Joe makes a very interesting argument about cutting down strikeout rates below 8% and how that would affect batting averages. I think he misses two very important points though:

1. Players aren't trying to strikeout. Sure you don't have players "choking up on the bat" with two strikes like in the old days but still players aren't going up to the plate trying to strike out. They would cut down on their strikeout rates if they could.

2. Pitchers are trying to strike batters out more. You no longer have starting pitchers trying to get the ball in play to save something for the later innings. Today you have specialized relievers and fire-balling closers. Not to take anything away from Ted Williams but he never had to face a Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley or Jonathan Papelbon.

For me - the argument about the disappearance of the .400 hitter was settled decisively by Stephen Jay Gould in his 1996 book Full House. Among other things, in the book Gould explains the disappearance of the .400 hitter owing to two main reasons:
1. Complex systems improve when the best performers play by the same rules over an extended period of time. As systems improve, they equilibriate and variation decreases.
The game has been pretty stable since Ted Williams last hit .400 and excellence in all areas of the game has improved. Better fielding (player positioning and equipment), pitching (reliever specialization and pitch charting) and batting (better equipment and videos of pitcher tendencies). The .400 hitter has always been at the right tail of the bell curve of batting averages and when looked at statistically - the disappearance of the .400 hitter is seen as basically a measure of an overall improvement in play.
2. As play improves and bell curves march toward the right wall, variation must shrink at the right tail.
Players who hit .400 were on the far right tails of the bell curve. That curve has shrunk as the play has improved - drawing in that "right tail". You don't have guys hitting .430 while the rest of the league is hitting .260. Play has improved so now you have guys hitting .340 while the league is hitting as a whole .270.

Read the book. It is fascinating in its discussion on surviving cancer, how horses beat the evolutionary trends and why we no longer have .400 hitters. Someone should get Joe Posnanski a copy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

David Ortiz

Everyone was so happy for David Ortiz when he hit his first his first home run of the season. Everyone was pulling for him. Everyone was hoping that with that monkey off his back that Ortiz would break out of his slump. Now everybody is asking, "What are we going to do about Ortiz?"

Drop him down in the order? You can't have your number 3 hitter struggling to hit .200. Drop him down to Pawtucket or Portland to let him get his stroke back? But what if he struggles against minor league pitching too? Wouldn't that just crush his confidence? Should the team just face the fact that Ortiz may be done and move on? This last question may be the hardest. Ortiz is owed so much for the success of two World Series Champions. He's our Willie Stargell. You just don't show Willie Stargell the door. Should the Red Sox just keep him where he is and hope he has to at least get better because it would be hard to do any worse?

In all of baseball there are only 14 players who start on a regular basis that have a worse OPS than Ortiz. The names include the usual suspects like middle infielders Alexei Ramirez, Jose Lopez, Kaz Matsui, Ty Wiggington, Orlando Cabrera and Nick Punto; catchers Jason Kendall and Dioner Navarro; plus struggling youngsters BJ Upton, Chris Young, Josh Fields and Garrett Atkins. Then you have the cases of veterans who used to be sluggers like Adrian Beltre and Brian Giles.

These last two names probably have the most similarity to Ortiz. You have Giles who started off as the number 3 hitter for the Padres and who I think is cooked. I also have long held suspicions that Giles may have used performance enhancing drugs. I'd be stupid to think that others don't hold the same suspicions about Ortiz. The Padres at least have dropped Giles down in the batting order but Giles is 38-years old. At that age who really gets surprised when your skills fall off a cliff? Beltre? He's just 30 and the Mariners have moved him around a couple times in the line-up. Beltre also has that one Brady Anderson-like 48 home runs back in 2004.

Whatever the answer is to what to do with Ortiz. I just hope Ortiz realizes that he shouldn't be counting on the Red Sox picking up his 2011 option.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Top 5 - Moments from A Band of Brothers

Yesterday I spent a good amount of time inputting data into a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. It was convenient that the History Channel was showing a Band of Brothers marathon. I had my laptop in front of me and Band of Brothers playing in the background.

Recently I did a Top 5 Moments from A Band of Brothers but today I'd like to revise my choices.

1. Spiers takes command of Easy - the scene of Spiers jumping through the smoke to assume command from Lt. Dike gives me chills every time. The talk with Sgt. Lipton about Tersius is the cherry on top.

2. Liebgott translates the defeated German General's speech to his men. A poignant speech which showed the German soldiers as similar to the men of Easy Company. The humor of Captain Sobel having to salute Major Winters and Captain Nixon's reaction always makes me laugh.

3. Easy Co takes the Eagles Nest. It was nice to see the guys enjoy some well earned R & R (and spoils of war - including a nice cache of booze for Captain Nixon).

4. Easy takes out the German 105s at Brecourt Manor - I've written before that Dick Winters should have been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.

5. After the first raid across the river for prisoners when Captain Winters is ordered to have the men make a second raid but instead disobeys orders and falsifies a report instead of risking the lives of his men.
June 15th

June 15th is the day when MLB teams can trade free agents they signed in the offseason. There is no "sign and trade" in baseball. Instead they have sign and wait period. I have to wonder if Jon Garland may be dangled to teams than need a 4th or 5th starter who can eat innings. Garland signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks for $7.25 million. For that kind of remaining money on the contract - if I were a GM - I think I'd rather take a gamble signing Pedro Martinez.

Brad Penny is another guy who could be available on June 15th but I'm starting to doubt the Red Sox will dangle him. Penny has had 4 quality starts in a row and is a favorite of owner John Henry. The Red Sox would probably only move Penny if they are 100% on the health of John Smoltz or if he can get a shortstop ready to help this season in return.

Speaking of Brad Penny - today's his 31st birthday.
Brian Giles and the Padres

The cash-strapped Padres really want to trade Jake Peavy to get back some prospects and more importantly shed the rest of Peavy's contract. They would also like to trade Brian Giles and avoid having to pay the rest of Giles $9 million contract for 2009. I have no sympathy for Padres GM Kevin Towers when it comes to Giles. He did not have to exercise Giles 2009 team option. In fact doing so was plain stupid as highlighted by the fact that this is Giles current stat line:
Brian Giles - .170 BA / .269 OBP / .248 SLG / .517 OPS
That's awful. You easily could have gotten a AAAA player to post those types of numbers at a minimum salary. Of course since Giles is a 10/5 guy he'll now veto any trade as well (like he did last year when the Padres tried to trade him to Boston). The Padres have to pray their highest paid employee (Giles actually makes more than Peavy at least for this year) breaks out of what they hope is a slump. Personally - I don't think it is a slump.

The Padres picked up Brian Giles $9 million option for 2009 because they thought that it would be difficult to find a hitter of his caliber for $9 million. Bobby Abreu signed a one-year deal with the Angels for $5 million and is a much better hitter.

I have no sympathy for Kevin Towers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jake Peavy - Buyer Beware

Jake Peavy turned down a trade that would have sent him to the Chicago White Sox. This may have been a good thing - for the White Sox. has a nifty feature called Similar Players. Here are the 10 most similar players to Jake Peavy (according to I added some notes after each name and similarity score:

1. Brandon Webb (983) - is 30-years old and has not thrown a pitch this year because of shoulder problems
2. Josh Beckett (956) - not going to comment on Beckett out of fear of jinxing him
3. John Lackey (945) - age 30-years old and has missed the first month and a half of this season before making his first start recently
4. Doug Rau (944) - only made 11 starts as a 30-year old, then missed the entire next season before trying to comeback. Only made 3 more starts the rest of his career. Out of baseball before he turned 33.
5. Pat Jarvis (937) - only made 29 starts after turning 30-years old. Out of baseball by the time he turned 33.
6. Teddy Higuera (934) - missed the entire 1992 season with shoulder issues. For all intents and purposes - he was washed up by 33-years old.
7. Carlos Zambrano (931) - only 28-years old. Ask any Cubs fan if they fear Zambrano going down with a major injury.
8. Orlando Hernandez (930) - Cuban physical freak.
9. Ben Sheets (930) - needed elbow surgery at age 29 and is not expected to pitch at all this season
10. A.J. Burnett (929) - if a team trading for Peavy hopes he can be as healthy as AJ Burnett - then that's a giant red flag right there.

Peavy is signed through 2012 with a 2013 $22 million club option. If the most similar players are any sort of guide then the team trading for Peavy can expect him to spend some significant time on the DL before his contract is up and probably be out of baseball by the time he turns 33.

Buyer beware.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weird Dream

I awoke this morning to a weird dream. It was perhaps the simplest of dreams I can ever remember - which I guess adds to its weirdness. The dream was just a newspaper with a large, bold headline; DANNY LEAVES FOR DREAM JOB.

What did that mean? Who was Danny and what was his dream job? I awoke to wonder at this. The only thing that made sense to me was that Danny was Danny Ainge. I couldn't really think of any other Danny worthy of such a headline. If that was the case though - what was Danny Ainge's dream job? I just assumed that his present job with the Celtics would be a dream job. What could top that? Commissioner of the PGA? I racked my brain but couldn't come up with anything else.

This bothered me until I was at least half-way into my second cup of coffee.
Dutch Bucks

Great story by Pauly about his just past college poker game.

Those were the days.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interesting Comparison

Here is a list of the worst states when it comes to exploiting the motoring public (compiled by the National Motorists Association). I added a twist by showing which states voted Democrat (bolded) in the last Presidential election versus which voted Republican. Completely non-scientific but I think it is telling that 9 out of 10 of the least friendly states towards motorists are Democratic states. Meanwhile 8 out of 10 of the most friendly states towards motorists are Republican states.

Just a thought but it seems to me there is a parallel between the mindsets of some states in the way they treat motorists and the way they treat taxpayers.

1) New Jersey (D)
2) Ohio (D)
3) Maryland (D)

4) Louisiana (R)
5) New York (D)
6) Illinois (D)
7) Delaware (D)
8) Virginia(D)
9) Washington (D)
10) Massachusetts (D)
11) Colorado (D)
12) Oregon (D)

13) Tennessee (R)
14) California (D)
15) Michigan (D)
16) Vermont (D)
17) Maine (D)
18) Florida (D)
19) Pennsylvania (D)
20) North Carolina (D)

21) Alabama (R)
22) Rhode Island (D)
23) West Virginia (R)
24) New Hampshire (D)
25) Arizona (R)
26) New Mexico (D)
27) Missouri (R)
28) Texas (R)
29) Oklahoma (R)
30) Nevada (D)
31) Georgia (R)
32) Connecticut (D)
33) South Carolina (R)
34) Iowa (D)
35) Hawaii (D)

36) Arkansas (R)
37) Alaska (R)
38) Kansas (R)
39) Mississippi (R)
40) Wisconsin (D)
41) Utah (R)
42) South Dakota (R)
43) Indiana (D)
44) Minnesota (D)

45) North Dakota (R)
46) Kentucky (R)
47) Nebraska (R)
48) Montana (R)
49) Idaho (R)
50) Wyoming (R)

HT Instapundit
Replacing Delgado

Jon Heyman took a look at some of the options for the Mets in replacing Carlos Delgado. Heyman mentioned moving Daniel Murphy to 1st and this is the move the Mets have announced they will be making. However, Heyman neglected to take the next step and suggest who would then be taking up the slack for the Mets in the outfield. Sure you can get away with a Gary Sheffield, Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church outfield but my suggestion is to bring up prospect Fernando Martinez from Buffalo to be the 4th outfielder and more importantly to platoon with the almost at the bottom of the hill Sheffield. You could have Martinez playing against righties and Sheffield against lefties. Sheffield is hitting just .159 against righties this season and last year he hit just .220. Why not give the kid a shot before trying to make a move outside the organization? At the very least Martinez would be a defensive upgrade. The Mets are just 1 game back.

So let it be written - so let it be done.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Larry King's Racetrack Story

I love this story from Larry King.

Betting his last dollar on a horse. Great story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

John Smoltz is scheduled to make his first rehab start of the year on Thursday at Sing;e-A Augusta. I have to think that if Smoltz re-signed with the Braves that he would have felt compelled to have been back to the big team by now. Red Sox fans are in no rush. We want Smoltz for September and October... Today was Kyle Eastwood's 41st birthday. Two quick thoughts about that - wow - Clint has a kid who is 41? You sometimes forget how old Clint is. Second - it must have been tough growing up with everyone picturing your dad as the epitome of manliness for his generation. It looks like Kyle Eastwood is pretty well adjusted though (of course I really have no idea though)... Interesting Red Sox tidbit from Jim Dawson,
"Casey Kelly (Sarasota HS), the #1 pick by Boston in last year’s draft, is 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA at Single-A Greenville. Kelly, the son of ex-MLBer Pat Kelly, will be allowed to play SS after he reaches 100 innings pitched. Brother Chris is pitching in the TB minors."
The Red Sox Casey Kelly is not to be confused with the Angels' prospect who never made it past Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2000... I think it is safe to say that Raul Ibanez has done a good job replacing Pat Burrell's bat in the Phillie line-up. Ibanez is leading all of baseball with a 1.132 OPS. He also has 13 HR on the season (which is 13 more than David Ortiz). It should be noted that Ibanez' OPS is more than 300 points over his career average - so you fantasy baseball players may want to trade Ibanez now before he drops back to earth...
Very Cool

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Some good stuff.

- Nice article on Chauncey Billups by Tom Friend. Billups is a good guy and I'm glad he's finally getting some respect.

- Heh Heh - My Life is Average. The natural response to FML.

- Assassination as a national policy? I'm not sure if I buy the argument that using predator drones qualifies as assassination.
Wall Street II?

A sequel to Wall Street to star Michael Douglas and be directed by Oliver Stone? This is either someone's idea of a joke or a really bad idea.

Seeing that IMDB doesn't have anything about this on Oliver Stone's page - I'm guessing that it's just a really bad rumor. While I'm at it - let me just say that Oliver Stone is the most over-rated big-name director of my lifetime.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Just 15 days until the first event of the 2009 World Series of Poker.

The first event is the Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em Tournament on May 27th.

The $50,000 buy-in World Championship H.O.R.S.E. is about a month later on the 26th of June.

The $10,000 Texas Hold-em Main Event will be start on July 3rd. Once again there will be a couple month break with the Final Table starting on November 7th.
Heh Heh

"Peter Angelos' Twitter Page" - with great nuggets like this:
Relieved that none of our players tested positive for performance drugs.Thrilled that two tested positive for exposure to asbestos.
I can actually picture Peter Angelos saying that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

When Manny Ramirez comes back from his suspension - I hope he hears the "cheater, cheater, hormone eater" chant every time he comes to bat. That chant is the best... Did you know that Tris Speaker actually had more triples in his career (222) than strikeouts (220)?.... Two blondes walk into a bank - you think one of them would have seen it... Today the Boston Globe's Nick Carfardo had this throw-away line, "Evan Longoria is turning into Mike Schmidt before our eyes." Umm - no. After his first 145 games (at age 23) - Schmidt had just 19 HR and a sub .200 batting average. After 152 games into his career - the 23-year old Longoria already has 38 HR (basically double Schmidt's output) while hitting at a .292 clip. Longoria is actually off to a much better start of career than Schmidt... Did you know that no player has ever reached 3,000 hits during his tenure with the Yankees? Gerhig, Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio, or Mattingly never reached 3,000 for the Pinstripes. Derek Jeter is at 2569 for the Yankees but will his contract situation keep him from 3,000?... Johnny Damon hit his 9th HR of the season today for the Yankees. As I've mentioned before - it is very important for the Yankees to re-sign Damon. The fact that 7 of the 9 HR have been hit in the new Yankee Stadium underlines how important he can be to that club in that park... The Boston Trifecta - YES!!!!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Shart Demons

The other night Tim Wakefield won his 182nd game. That puts him in a tie for 153rd all-time on the wins list. Wakefield is tied with Ed Reulbach and Allie Reynolds.

Something on Allie Reynolds' Wikipedia page struck my fancy:
At the age of sixteen Reynolds achieved a degree of regional notoriety when he and fellow high school teammate Odassus McCutcheon began a local tradition of burning household furniture to ward off what local Creek Indians referred to as "shart demons". Reynolds would later incorporate the ritual into his pre-game mound preparations.
Shart demons? That's too funny.

Too bad Allie Reynolds didn't pass on the secrets of warding off shart demons to George Brett. It sounds like he gets attacked by shart demons at least a couple of times a year.
Tantalus and Tantalize

Tantalus was a Greek god who was welcomed to Zeus' table on Olympus. However, he stole ambrosia and nectar and revealed secrets of the gods to mortals. His punishment is the origin of our word "tantalize". From Wikipedia:
Tantalus's punishment, now proverbial for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word "tantalizing"[10]), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone, like that of Sisyphus.
Last night I was tantalized by a Boston trifecta only to be served a bitter pill by the Celtics and Bruins.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bottom of the Ninth

I just received a copy of Michael Shapiro's book Bottom of the Ninth and the timing couldn't be better. I'm just finishing Shelby Foote's first volume of his Civil War narrative and I need to get away from the A-Rod's and Manny's of modern baseball back to what on the surface was a simpler time.

I'm sure that things were complicated back in the late 50's in baseball but in comparison to steroids and $2,500 seats at Yankee Stadium - I'm sure the story Shapiro puts forth will be a welcome respite back into baseball history.

By the way - Shelby Foote is a master storyteller and the first volume of his Civil War ranks as perhaps the best book of history I have ever read. I'll be sure to read the other two volumes but I need a bit of a break. Bottom of the Ninth may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Boston Trifecta

The Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox are all playing tonight. I feel good about all three teams and so will be doing a Boston Trifecta.
Celtics (Boston) +5 -110
Red Sox (Boston) -105
Bruins (Boston) -120
A $100 bet will net $585. Wish me luck.

Lots of gnashing of teeth regarding Manny Ramirez's suspension for steroids (please I know it was technically for a masking agent but he was doing steroids). Lots of suggestions about what is to be done to fix the situation in baseball. Let me add my suggestion to the list.

My suggestion is this - Manny Ramirez is suspended for 50 games but the team gets to fill his roster spot with another player. My suggestion is to take away the roster spot of the suspended player for the duration of the suspension. So under my plan the Dodgers would only be able to field 24 players instead of 25 for the duration of Manny's suspension. This would make teams less likely to sign steroid-linked players in the first place (or at least dampen what it would cost to sign them).

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Say It Ain't So Manny

Manny Ramirez is reported to have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

A 50 game suspension is supposedly to be be announced today.

Wow - just wow.
Elderly Man Falls for Scam

A desperate elderly man wanting to believe in a get get rich quick scheme, falls for the scheme and suddenly finds himself both stripped of all his hard earned equity from 29 years on the job and the object of derision from his co-workers who find it amusing that a person who prides himself on being so smart could be made to look so stupid.

An old man duped by a Nigerian email scam? No - Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Good look at the situation Specter now finds himself in. The get rich scheme is Specter switching parties to avoid his tough Republican primary challenge while getting the full support of the White House and Senate leadership but still retaining his Senate seniority. Oops - sorry! There really isn't $10 million in a Nigerian bank account and now you've lost your 29 years worth of seniority Senator Specter. Respected public servant one moment - punchline the next.

I'm reminded of some lines from the song Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits:
When you can fall for chains of silver - you can fall for chains of gold
You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold
You promised me everything - you promised me thick and thin
Now you just says "Oh Romeo - yeah you know I used to have a scene with him"
Emphasis added. Even though the song I'm reminded of is Romeo and Juliet - Arlen Specter's situation is definitely playing out more like King Lear.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Globe Deal

A deal has been reached between the New York Times Co. and the Boston Globe's largest union.
The Boston Globe's largest union reached a tentative deal with the New York Times Co. shortly after 3 a.m. this morning, agreeing to a substantial pay cut, unpaid furloughs, and modifications to the lifetime job guarantee provisions that protect almost 200 employees in the Boston Newspaper Guild, according to sources familiar with the deal.

With the agreement, the guild, representing more than 600 editorial, advertising, and business office employees, became the last of the newspaper's major unions to agree to concessions with the Times Co.
Emphasis added. Does this mean that almost one-third of the guild employees had lifetime job guarantees? Yikes! The article goes on to say that the lifetime guarantees "was widely considered a roadblock to any potential sale of New England's largest newspaper." Taking the Globe out of the hands of the New York Times Co. can only be viewed as a good thing.

I also got a kick from this nugget - as part of the negotiations the union offered a "lengthening of the workweek from 37.5 to 40 hours". Are you kidding me? My empathy with the Globe workers is almost nil.
A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez

Have you ever seen a movie trailer for a movie that looked really good because of the trailer only to see the movie and realize that you already saw all the good parts in the trailer and that the rest of the movie sucked? That's the vibe I get for Selena Roberts book A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez.

Gordon Edes read the book so that I don't have to and he posted a rather amusing review of it. I was 100% on the quiz - so I think I can pass when it comes to either buying the book or even reading it if it came to me as a gift. However, if you are inclined to buy the book or give the book as a gift - hook a brother up and buy it from the link below.

A couple of random thoughts regarding the book:

1: Selena Roberts used anonymous sources to break the story that A-Rod was a steroids user in the first place - so I give her a break when it comes to the criticism that she relies too much on un-named sources. I would be disappointed to learn that most of the 65 or so sources claimed in the book were Hooters waitresses though.

B: Is anyone surprised that Kevin Brown was named as a performance enhancer cheat?

III: The part about tipping pitches I just don't buy. A-Rod isn't smart enough to pull it off; he'd need accomplices from other teams (and how would that stay quiet?) and heck - everyone knows what some pitchers like Mariano Rivera are going to throw anyway and people still can't hit the pitch.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Throw Joba's Momma from the Train

Joba Chamberlain's mom was arrested for selling meth to an undercover cop. In my mind I immediately pictured Anne Ramsey from Billy Crystal's Throw Momma from the Train.

Stigma Seats

Interesting thought - is there a stigma now associated with the premium seating at the new stadiums in New York? The idea was raised in a column in the Washington Times:
"I have no empirical evidence to support this, but there may be a stigma attached [to premium seats]," [Maury] Brown said. "You realize there's a bunch of people looking around. You're flaunting it to an extent. Not that long ago, box seats didn't seem unreasonable. Now the haves and the have-nots have become extremely evident. A bleacher seat is $10, and in most of these new ballparks, you're cordoned off - you can't get past the 300 level. There's a clear caste system - part of it is by design, and part of it is how things are being priced. But I can't imagine people aren't saying, 'Look at that guy down there. What's he doing [to make so much money]?' "
I agree. The "rich guy" in the rich guy's seats will be the object of scorn as much as the guy at Yankee Stadium wearing a pink Red Sox hat. I guarantee you that incidents will rise to the point that extra security will be needed for people with seats inside what some New York writers are calling "the moat".

Monday, May 04, 2009

Silence of the Lambs - The Musical

Just awesome. NSFW language.

HT Jezebel
Why Text Messages are Limited to 160 Characters

Interesting article explaining why text messages are limited to 160 characters.
Initially, Hillebrand's team could fit only 128 characters into that space, but that didn't seem like nearly enough. With a little tweaking and a decision to cut down the set of possible letters, numbers and symbols that the system could represent, they squeezed out room for another 32 characters.

Still, his committee wondered, would the 160-character maximum be enough space to prove a useful form of communication? Having zero market research, they based their initial assumptions on two "convincing arguments," Hillebrand said.

For one, they found that postcards often contained fewer than 150 characters.

Second, they analyzed a set of messages sent through Telex, a then-prevalent telegraphy network for business professionals. Despite not having a technical limitation, Hillebrand said, Telex transmissions were usually about the same length as postcards.

Just look at your average e-mail today, he noted. Many can be summed up in the subject line, and the rest often contains just a line or two of text asking for a favor or updating about a particular project.
Dinner Time Links

Some good stuff to peruse before watching the Red Sox / Yankees or the first game of the Celtics / Orlando series.

- Heh Heh - best swine flu humor I've seen

- Bill Whittle explains the truth behind the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan for the history challenged folks like Jon Stewart

- Interesting explanation of how liberals and the Community Reinvestment Act were not responsible for the banking subprime meltdown.

- Heh heh - Barack Obama's first 100 days - Facebook style.
The Chrysler Problem

I agree with Mickey Klaus that President Obama may have stepped in it with his forced deal to keep Chrysler afloat. I see this being a big issue in the 2010 and 2012 elections:
If Chrysler fails in the marketplace again two or three years from now, after billions more in government subisidies, won't that reflect badly on Obama and his "economic team"? Will it then appear to have been better to let Chrysler go into an actual, non-prearranged, non-jawboned bankruptcy, in which it would likely have been liquidated or in which the UAW would have had to make far more substantial concessions, like workers in other bankruptcies? The government could have assumed some of the U.A.W.s pension and health care liabilities (which it will probably end up doing, in part, in any case). But Chrysler's demise would have been a real cautionary example that gave the administration leverage in the GM negotiations (which may be what the U.A.W. was really scared of). Chrysler's rapid departure would also have opened up market share for GM--and for Ford, which is not wildly healthy itself.
If one of the foreign brands that has US plants comes out with an ad that basically says "Made in the US without government bailout money" - then that ad will boost sales for that auto maker. You know that Chrysler will have to dip back into the government's pockets a few more times and each time it will drag the Chrysler name further and further down into the mud. And each time Chrysler gets a big check - the Obama administration and the people who support them will look worse and worse.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Of all the major league pitchers who have had 5 starts so far this season - only Jose Contreras (8.31) and Oliver Perez (9.97) have worse ERA's than Brad Penny (7.61)... It's kind of a punch in the gut when you look at's pitching stats page and you see Nick Adenhart still listed as leading the league in ERA... Lance Berkman weights 220 pounds but is hitting just .184. Just saying... Carl Crawford loves playing Boston. The six stolen bases get most of the attention but also impressive is the fact that Crawford raised his batting average 33 points in the weekend series with the Red Sox (from .284 to .317)... As good as Johan Santana has been so far this season - I think that if the season ended today then Chad Billingsley's 5-0 record and 2.21 ERA would be hard to overlook for the NL Cy Young Award...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kentucky Derby Picks

The dad of Eric McErlain (Off Wing Opinion) knows his horses. He was the only person I know who correctly picked Giacomo to win the Derby back in 2005 - a 50-1 shot that paid handsomely. I asked Eric for his dad's picks this year and this is what was sent back:
Dunkirk (to Win)
Friesan Fire
Pioneer of the Nile

Outside shot Musket Man
I know I'll be playing that ticket today when I head to the track.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Red Sox and the AL East

Lyford has a very good analysis of how the Red Sox did in the first month of the season. On David Ortiz:
The Ortiz numbers are chilling. The team is 4th in the AL in runs/game, and its number 3 hitter and DH is hitting .230/.290/.333/.623 with no home runs. The big question is, of course, is this a "slump" or is this a real change in fundamental performance level? Certainly, good hitters can have bad 80 at-bat stretches. But this is an extremely bad stretch, with no strong recent performance to alleviate the concern. I certainly don't think that this represents a real performance level. But it is not inconcievable that the new "real performance level" is mediocre. This is the biggest source of offensive concern, and the biggest room for improvement going forward.
On the pitching:
If you'd known before the month started that Beckett, Matsuzaka and Penny would combine for 11 starts and an ERA of 8.37, would you have thought that 14-8 was feasible? No, 8-14 sounds more likely. It really is an almost miraculous month when looked at that way.
Check out the whole thing. Interesting stuff for anyone who is stats inclined.
Fact That May Interest Only Me

Richard Nixon is the only sitting President to ever attend a running of the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby

Interesting article on Kentucky Derby betting:
As gambling propositions go, horseracing has never been a winner. At the Derby's venue, Churchill Downs, 16% to 17% of all the money wagered goes to the house, the winning owners and tax collectors -- versus 5% at a typical casino roulette table.
The above is a bit misleading because in roulette you have basically the 50/50 propositions like red/black or even/odd plus you in roulette one number doesn't have performance edges over another depending on table conditions.

Derby day betting is perhaps the best day of betting of the whole year.