WEAVE: The Current Fave o' Stirrups
This is the next installment in our ongoing series of getting to know the powers-that-be here at Halos Heaven, we present you with interviews of the bloggers and site monitors and top contributors who make this place so enjoyable.
Today we meet up with the legendary autodidact, STIRRUPS, a man who joined the site as a poster the very same day of the johnsamo execution (for you history buffs). We added him to the front page a few months back for his years of dedication and also for his level-headed demeanor in times of crisis (a time of crisis on a blog is like when there is a typo in a headline, but it feels like the end of the world and we need leaders here to make the tough decisions). So, Heeeeere's Stirrups:
WHO WAS THE FIRST ANGELS PLAYER YOU DECIDED WAS "YOUR GUY" ?
Rich Reichardt. Major League Baseball's very first "Bonus Baby". A baseball rock star to OC Little League youth. Our very own Sir Lancelot. A magnificent champion. A hero who could not fail (but who did). Whereas the rest of Southern California was lapping at the feet of Koufax/Wills/Drysdale/Davis/Roseboro/Lefebvre/Parker/et al, I had Reichardt. As I have written on HH before, my father's bank helped finance stadium construction and I had access to the 1st 3 rows of seats behind the home dugout, for about 80% of all games back then. Over time, the players surely recognized the same gaggle of small boys - brothers, all - cheering them on whenever they were just outside the dugout. And Reichardt would smile and wave to me a lot. Yeah, that made him "my guy". Not any of yours, by the way. Mine. And my hero could play. Not well enough to rock the world, as it turned out, but well enough to rock the stadium. That guy could cover serious ground in center field. He generated the same excitement then that Bourjos generates today. And, besides, when you are 10, sitting deep down inside Anaheim Stadium, there is no world beyond the fences anyway. My guy in my stadium was more than enough for me to make my Hall Of Fame.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CURRENT ANGEL AND WHY?
Jered Weaver. I get the sense that he has matured beyond the early emotional kid who let difficulties get to him and mess with his head and his performance. Now we have a man who walks up to the mound and pretty much just makes the emotional declaration that the opposition is fucked, that he is going to have his way with them, that there is nothing they are going to be able to do about it, and they are just gonna have to fucking deal with that. I honestly believe that Jered Weaver is the only player on the 2011 edition of the Angels with the guts to refuse failure.
WHICH SIDE OF THE "STATS VS CHEMISTRY" DEBATE ARE YOU ON AND WHY?
If you parked this decision on a meter, my needle would be well on the side of CHEMISTRY. Not pegged anymore, and speedily drifting towards the center over the past couple of years. But I do truly believe that ballplayers are human beings, who are capable of a wide variation in the performance levels, and can impact that variation when properly motivated. Baseball is a long and tedious and oft-boring process. It lacks the compression of football, and lacks the accompanying intensity within each precious moment. So baseball players, IMHO, certainly can and certainly DO wander out of focus and can just as easily engage an even deeper than normal focus. Stats fail to observe this phenomenon, and the numbers are pretty clear on that. But I am not yet convinced that the numbers are correct, here. First, in any event that passes in real time through history but once, it is not possible to go back and create a control. This creates a level of uncertainty in the measurements.
Also, there are a billion influences that are engaged in every event on the field. Metrics take large collections of data and pushes all these influences into the background as noise. I have come to grips with accepting this when measuring results over long extents of time. But, for the very same reason that sabremetricians claim that playoffs are luck (due to the lack of power in small numbers), it MUST be accepted that the events that occur in individual moments or short sequences cannot be explained, or explained away, for that very same reason. Then, I am not satisfied that the holes or gaps in the measurements are being fairly and properly confessed to, or explained. Perhaps for some stat heads, they might not even be recognized. For example, lots of folks want to gut a guy like David Eckstein who happens to have had success in key, critical, moments. The catcalls come back along the lines of "His number in that series are actually lower than he did in the regular season." Or, "What about all those times he failed?" But in a compressed sequence of highly intensive events, such as a playoff series, EVERYBODY has heightened their focus and intensity and concentration in opposition, so why can it not be accepted that a player capable of acheiving at that level might actually BE evidence of overacheivement compared to an otherwise expected outcome of failure?
Another "gap" bugaboo of mine are discussions around strike zones. Nobody wants to confess that the top line and bottom line of the strike zones in those animations and those pitching charts are merely averages, or guesses by people not any more qualified than the umps being scrutinized. They are certainly NOT absolute. They are, actually, a fabrication of the author based on an educated guess and then coded as "normalized". There is no "one" bottom of the strike zone for all players. There is no "top" of the strike zone for all players. Our very own Loek Van Mil versus Reggie Willits should certainly be proof of that. But you won't see any evidence of that on the charts. Further, the "zone" is a three dimensional object, not two. It is possible for a pitched ball with movement to enter that zone at some position beyond the front of the plate, but that is where those computer animations that Fox repeats over and over all stop: right at the front of the plate. And I suffer at all the observers taking away opinions based on data presented in that manner. Well, at least Range Factor is admittedly a poor science.
PICK A SONG FOR THE ANGELS TO REPLACE BUTTERCUP WITH?
"Take Me Out To The Ball Game - Redux". Not so much because I am some purist luddite. But because that is the only song that captures the spirit of being a fan for fan's sake. And it celebrates why we are gathered together at that time in the first place. And it doesn't matter which side we are rooting for. We are in this sport as fans, together, in this place, right then, for baseball.
IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF THE ANGELS SUMMER CONCERT SERIES, NAME THE PERFORMER YOU BREAK THE BANK TO GET.
Rolling Stones. Because I am a purist luddite and you are letting me break the bank.
SAY SOMETHING BALLSY / CONTROVERSIAL FOR US TO REMEMBER YOU BY...
Twenty years from today I am gonna get to park my ancient ass back in those seats behind the home dugout, because this era will have passed, 2.5 million of you all will have moved along to the Southern California Kings, and I will once again be left alone with 6,000 of my closest friends to cheer my Halos on to yet another 4th place finish in the CalSouth Liga of MLB. F'n bandwagoners.