As native Southern Californian, this unusual phenomenon whereby the skies leak moist stuff down upon the vast expanse of suburbs is normally quite odd, and disturbing. But not this weekend! It's been so long that this has become quite the exciting news hit and makes for such a social buzz. At least, of course, until those areas which have been burned barren ooze their muddy way right through some people's front doors...
- Baseball! Today marks the opening game of Spring Training for our Angels, officially launching their 2014 campaign. Game time is set for 12:05 PST with Jered Weaver on the mound. Fans around Planet Earth can follow along here, at a minimum.
- Mike Trout is Happy: With this temp contract, those of us who have been nervous about Trout's outlook for tenure as a Halo, well, we can all pretend this means something great: "... I’m happy for it. It makes you feel good about the organization." Trout is also feeling pretty good about moving back to center field. "Trout said during the 'Baseball Tonight' interview that he feels comfortable in center field and is happy to be starting the season there now that Peter Bourjos has been traded."
- Joe Blanton: Are you one who has been fearful all Winter that Blanton might end up with a baseball in his hand, standing alone on a pitchers mound, and smack in the middle of a real Major League baseball game, one that counts, while wearing an LAA uniform? Well, here is some promising news: "One of [the] starters – likely veteran right-hander Joe Blanton – won’t make the opening day rotation. But that doesn’t mean Blanton is a lock to be a long reliever. Angels manager Mike Scioscia indicated Thursday the team might not have the luxury of keeping a long reliever on its 25-man roster." Not even a fall back position might be held open for Blanton to fall back onto.
- Broadcast Biz: Oh? Just because TWC cannot yet strong-arm the DirectTV's and AT&T Uverse's of the world into carrying Dodgers game, that does not mean that Fox Sports will fill those still empty hours with actual baseball as to be played by the superior franchise from Anaheim. This is because, per Steve Simpson, Sr. VP and GM of FSW/Prime ticket: "We continue to make decisions based on what's good for the [Angels] and the [Angels'] fans, not as a reaction to what others are doing." So, like, gee Steve, thanks a million for thinking of us fans!
- WTF?: Somebody help me out here. At what time, ever, was TJ Simers a "friend" with anybody, much less a friend with "cold-blooded carpet-bagging L.A.-wannabe bully Angry Arte" Moreno?? No, actually, this is more Simers just baiting Moreno into becoming a showpiece so Simers can raise money for his own favorite charity. Simers is actually trying to publicly press Arte into being civic-minded, the same Arte who has run his own charitable institution since 1997.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Stuff On the Internet:
This one comes to us from stuck in Romania. You wanna be a baseball stud? Wanna make a million dollars and be coveted by fanboys worldwide? Well, then, be the man. Be Mike Trout.
This Date In Baseball History: 1966 - Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax refuse to report to camp, holding out for a combined $1,000,000 over three seasons to be split between them (~$167,000 per season each)...........1986 - Joaquín Andújar, Dale Berra, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Dave Parker, and Lonnie Smith (called the 'Cocaine Seven') are suspended by MLB for one full season due to their "prolonged pattern of drug use’, AND acting as dealers to other players. The bans will be lifted when they agree to donate 10% of their salary to local drug-related community services, submit to random testing, and do 100 hours of community service themselves..........2000 - Darryl Strawberry, now with the New York Yankees, is suspended for one year due to cocaine use. Now that Bud Selig is Commissioner, Strawberry gets no offer for any time reduction. He will not play pro ball again.
Great Moments in Baseball Statistical History
(My primary source for this series is the excellent book The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz author, Thomas Dunne Books Publisher.)
Imagine that it is 1951 and you work for a chewing gum company. Not Wrigley or Beech's or some such monster, so you are playing catchup in the Marketplace already, on a low-margin commodity product. And your primary market is kids.So your boss comes to you one day and gives you the job of figuring out how to improve sales. Your boss imposes upon you the plan to add baseball playing cards to the gum packs. Baseball playing cards. To date baseball playing cards have been the province of tobacco companies (totally NOT kid friendly), and one other minor gum company that is not exactly succeeding with this idea already. But you now have to find a way to make a tobacco-associated idea work in a market where it hasn't worked yet. Fun.
But if your name is Sy Berger, you will remember one important thing. When you were just a lad you loved baseball, and you loved to track and calculate batting stats yourself, long-hand, to get regular daily stats updates that were not then (when Berger was still a youth) being published in the daily newspapers. You had a passion for that information and those simple stats were treasured gold. What if, when you were a kid, you could get all those stats compiled for you for each player with their card???
And this is precisely what Sy Berger did. Fortunately for the history timeline of statistics, Berger was an accountant by education and math whiz all his life. When doing his research for information to be printed on the back of his cards, he found that much of the available information did not agree (as we know was the case from earlier installments). So he recalculated all the stats himself. By hand, of course. Berger nailed it. The cards exploded on the marketplace and Topps, his employer, would dominate the market for decades.
Schwarz goes on to relate an interesting anecdotal impact that Sy Berger and his idea has on the greater society(1). Once kids had their hands on player stats, doing math to study the stats suddenly became a hot thing to do and master. For many, it was how kids learned to do math. One such youngster, Peter Hoffman, admits to this. Hoffman would grow up to become partner at Deloitte & Touche.
(1) The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz (2004) Thomas Dunne Books, p. 60
- When Do You Pull Your Starter? Is it an art, or a science? Let's assume that you are an MIT Sloan graduate. In that case, you can read all about the science here. Or cut right to the conclusion and read the part where the authors proclaim "The results suggest that using our model might have led to better decisions than those typically made by major league managers." On the other hand, for the real life readers of HH, those of us who flunked out of Sloan, there is this summation: managers don't believe in science, and managers get it wrong.
- Speaking of which... Ron Washington has popped off already. Bunting is bad. Wash loves bunting. he bunts more than anybody, reality be damned. And he is gonna keep right on bunting like frickin' crazy. 'Cuz he can. My favorite line in this article comes at the very end. "Baseball seriously might be the last place in the world where information is looked upon with a scoff instead of a rightful embrace."
- The Mind Goes Numb: I dunno. Sometimes I trip across something so absurd that I figure it can only be some person trolling the entire Internet. But then, sometimes even more rare, I consider the source and realize that I am reading something from a long-time major member of the MSM and come to the conclusion that this person is really being truthful, despite how stupid his words are. Such is the case of Mr. Frank Deford, who has decided that baseball is boring unless people are actively running the bases, and that too many
notesstrikeouts are the culprit, and that the solution to make the game faster and more lively is...take a deep breath here folks...shrink the dimensions of home plate. Let's set aside the obvious about missing the entire point of strategic tension inherent in each moment (activity or not) in a close game. Let's also forget all that well-established tradition honed by years of practice at all levels of the game in order for players to master their craft. No, let's just take the first thing that pops to mind: a smaller damned home plate will lead to more walks, more pitches, and a slower game, precisely the opposite of what Deford was aiming for. methinks this guy has also watched himself some 4000 games. He's quite the expert now, yes?
Video Of The Week
(The physics behind the flight of a baseball)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
International crisis averted. Greinke's boo boo keeping him home..........ESPN, still pissed that Mike Trout plays in the wrong time zone..........Vin Scully, once a baller...........Ghostbusters turns 30, Harold Ramis passes, and the Toledo Mudhens unveil new uniforms this season..........Carl Crawford, professional baseball player (perhaps more than a little rusty)...........Being on a team that makes the playoffs is worth a bWAR of 3.3 in MVP voting among the MSM...........It's going to be pretty hard to find a bigger jerk this season than Doug Franz, who just locked up Asshat Writer of the Season one game into Spring Training..........Another writer realizes his dream, joins actual staff of a Major League Baseball team. Alas, the writer is yet another member of Baseball Prospectus, and not BBWAA. Gee, I wonder why. Hey Red Sox, you won yourself yet another World Series. Now go pay for your own damned parking...........Stats mavens getting religion, learning to forget about "regression" and, instead, just go ahead and predict overall awesomeness of Mike Trout.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Friday: Unclearnie below was gracious enough to help a dude out and catch the fact that I missed the Sacramento Beer Week, which kicked off yesterday and continues on through March 9.
Saturday: 5th Annual Brewbies Festival at Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside, a charity fund raiser for breast cancer awareness..........And in Orange, Valiant Brewing Company celebrates their 1st anniversary...........Dana Point Festival of the Whales takes place in, duh, Dana Point. And beer shall be served in The Spirit Garden...........Unlcearnie's Sacramento Beer Week continues.
Sunday: Dana Point Festival of the Whales takes place again today. Again, beer shall be served in The Spirit Garden............Unlcearnie's Sacramento Beer Week continues.
BEER BONUS: Steelgolf has shared that last Christmas he received from his wife a gift for the person who has everything: membership in The Rare Beer Club. Their mission statement is "To bring you the best craft beers that the world has to offer." Their offerings are two, four or six 750ml bottles every month, being chosen for Best Hand Selected Rare Beers, Limited-Release Beers, Specially Aged Beers, Extreme Beers, New Brewers and Countries to the beer scene, and beer selections you can age yourself. You can join the club for your own enjoyment or, as in the case of steelgolf, give/receive the package as a gift. And, as a recipient, you always have control over the products shipped. Pretty sweet setup, and something to go on my personal wish list!
Stay safe, everyone!