Mike Trout has never faced the New York Mets. New York fans have seen him mostly via Yankee games and the occasional, accidental, highlight reels on red-eye ESPN broadcasts. And there were those successful at-bats against R.A. Dickey and Matt Harvey in the last two ASGs. So here come the Mets to Anaheim, and with them a contingent of New York media. It would be a great time for Trout to , uh, un-slump.
The last time the Halos played the Mets was in 2011, but that was limited to three games at Citi Field in New York. The Mets were here for a three game series in June of 2008: the 16th, 17th and 18th. Willie Randolph was Mets manager back then, but only for the first game. Randolph was fired immediately after their opening game of the series, a Monday night victory 9-6.
And to show you how old you are getting, our starting lineup for the Tuesday game was Chone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, Garret Anderson, Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Casey Kotchman, Howie Kendrick, Gary Matthews Jr., and Jeff Mathis. John Lackey started and Scot Shields finished. The Angels won 6-1 as Jeff Mathis clocked a home run off Johan Santana. And Bartolo Colon, who is coming back to Anaheim this weekend as a Met, had already left Anaheim after the 2007 season and was playing in Boston that year.
And, for us REALLY old farts, Damion Easley played in that game. It was Easley's final season in MLB, after starting his career in Anaheim as a California Angel 16 years earlier. Easley's first manager was Buck Rodgers, some of his pitching teammates were Burt Blyleven, Jim Abbott and Chuck Finley, and a fellow rookie was Tim Salmon.
- Albert Pujols: I was bouncing around BBR this week, and went to look at some Pujols splits, when I ran across this choice little coincidence of an ad on his page, which could be construed as a man choking. No. this was NOT photoshopped.
- Pitching Velocity: Here is a surprise. Fangraphs puts up an article concerning changes in velocity for starting pitchers, and two Halos are named. But neither of them are Jered Weaver! On the positive side, the two pitchers who top the list of pitchers throwing harder so far this season are, in order, Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards. Skaggs is up an average of 2.9mph and Richards is up 1.3mph. As the author notes, it appears that rumors concerning Skaggs' velocity recovery are true. On the negative side, Weaver doesn't break into the bottom five. The big surprise there is Justin Masterson, who trails all MLB starters thus far with a -3.3mph over his 2013 speed. He is actually down in Weaver territory now at 88.3mph.
- Velocity, Part 2: While on the subject, let's look at closers. (Yeah, I know. It's early and small numbers and all that. But for the very reason it is so early, we all gotta make stuff up still.) Yahoo posts a Rotoworld article showing the same kinds of drops for closers. The worst, embarrassingly, is our old nemesis, Fernando Rodney at -3.1mph. Which is, apparently, still more than fast enough to stump our offense. That part is fun enough. But what is MORE fun are the links within that article. Go exploring and you end up here. Back in 2010 Mike Fast at HBT documents how "Starting pitchers improve by about one run allowed per nine innings for every gain of 4 mph, and relief pitchers improve by about one run per nine innings for every gain of 2.5 mph." Or, for starting pitchers, it's about 1/5 to 1/4 of a run per 9 innings, per mph of velocity, in a near straight line correlation. We also learn that it takes a pitcher about 3 appearances (not just the two in the books) before they hit their seasonal velocity, although that velocity will go up by as much as 1mph to a July peak. Cool stuff to know.
- Ernesto Frieri: Frieri has decided, in 2014, to start being a pitcher instead of a hurler, and use a larger repertoire. " 'I have to show the hitter it’s not just the fastball anymore,' Frieri said. 'I have a secondary pitch that I can throw in any count. I threw the changeup too. Now I can throw the slider or changeup when they’re looking for the fastball.' " Kind of makes me wonder what Mike Butcher has been doing these past couple of years.
- Shuck, No Jive: J.B. Shuck returns for at least a couple of months to fill Ham(fractured)bone's slot, and is coming with a Positive Mental Atitude. Our erstwhile Rookie Of The Year vote-getter had a very nice run these past couple of weeks in PCL play. One has to wonder what happens in two months if Shuck keeps up his hot streak?
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Stuff On the Internet:
This week's installment comes to us courtesy of eyespy, always on the lookout for cool things to share. LAA Posters, Pennants, Photos and videos galore.
This Date In Baseball History: Sure, a bunch of other stuff may have happened on this day, too, but they don't matter to us! Only two things do:..........1961 - The Los Angeles Angels defeat the Baltimore Orioles 7 - 2 in their very first game in franchise history as Ted Kluszewski hits two home runs and Eli Grba pitches a complete game..........1990 - Mark Langston and Mike Witt combine for a 1-0 ho-hitter against the Mariners.
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.)
Ok, followers, by this time we have now entered the Computer Age of baseball statistical love and adoration. Gone soon will be the days of pencils, erasers, slide rules, and ledger books. There shall be no turning back. The first order of business is to finally - FINALLY!! - clean up the hand-written and hand-computated records, once and for all. Because, despite all the great efforts and exhaustive care put forth by many of the zealots listed in earlier episodes, by the 1960's only Elias Sports Bureau was truly reliable and even they didn't have good information for the period from about 1870 up to about 1930. Computational errors were still everywhere. Individual player results often failed to tally up and match the team totals. Player rosters were still out of whack. Published information was still skewed by ownership marketing spin. That sort of stuff.
And, by the early 1960's, all the ingredients to get things right were finally in place. We had a young computer information company looking for new and profitable ways to exploit its new-fangled computer power. We had a gaggle of stat-savvy minds (many that were young and without established careers), looking to devote more of their passion to the sport of baseball. We had a new Baseball Hall of Fame Official Historian (having replaced Ernie Langdon) who may have cared little for stats, but who was obsessed beyond rational belief in getting historic rosters 100% accurate and chasing every last lead to document the personal facts of every player. And we had a major book publisher with an editor in possession of the vision that there was a world out there thirsting for the bible of baseball stats and facts.
The computer company was Information Concepts, Inc. (ICI). The gaggle of young minds would be led by Dave Neff, and include Jordan Deutsch (who would drive the player research), John Tattersall (who would have a private archive of vital data), Neil Armann (who would build the computer database). Lee Allen was now the HoF Historian. And Bob Markel was the editor responsible for it all. He worked for Macmillan Publishing Company.
The result of all this effort, all these dozens of researchers scouring the country looking through micro-fiche, all this data cleanup and data engineering, all this aggregation of new information, all this corporate jockeying to go to market, was the August 28, 1969 publication of the first edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia. Before the Internet took over, this WAS baseball-reference.com all the way up until it's final printing in 1996. This publication had as profound effect on baseball research and lore, even deep into the minds of the non-statistically inclined, much the same way that BBR and Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs have today.
All of which makes for a great story, but it turns out that is not my point this week. My REAL point is the postscript to all of this. The effort to track down, document, discuss, cross-check, filter, and prove the real history of baseball on the way to the publication of The Baseball Encyclopedia was lengthy enough, and social enough, that it created a small community of baseball history fanatics who had become friends and associates. One of this team, Bob Davids, was inspired to organize the group before it all dispersed back into the wilds of sports America. In 1971 he reached out to a few dozen like-minded people (many from the research effort just described) and gathered in Cooperstown. There they would agree to draw up a constitution and form an Historical Society dedicated to baseball research. You know all about this Society. You call it SABR.
- Note To Arte: When you build your new ballpark, know how to use player input as research to instruct your field architectural team. Mark Trumbo is Enjoying His New Home Park. Apparently, Trumbo sets his plate approach based on where he expects to be playing most of his games. Makes sense. And, we find, the stadium in Anaheim is a particularly cruel place for right handed power hitters. "And if you think Anaheim’s a warm place, you have to go to the park at night. 'These beach parks don’t play as warm at night,' Trumbo said. The average temperature in Anaheim for evening games was 73.2 degrees last year. In Phoenix, it’s T-shirt weather at night: 86.7 degrees, the hottest in the bigs. That difference alone means almost six feet of difference in batted-ball distance. In the end, it might be how Trumbo feels about his power to right field that matters most to his production this year. 'In Anaheim, it’s not as favorable to the opposite field side,' he said. That quirk made him subconsciously pull the ball more often. He knew he had to 'actually nuke the ball to get it out to right field,' and he got 'tired of making outs.' Now he’s at a park that will play more fair, and Trumbo’s trying to go to right-center or dead-center more often."
- Long In The Tooth: The SF Giants officially bade one last farewell to Candlestick Park. Now, this is pretty silly, of course, because "...2014 marks the 15th season for [the Giants] at AT&T Park". But now that the 49'ers aren't playing there anymore either, it truly is time to turn off the lights. But all this to remind us that Angel Stadium is the 4th oldest baseball stadium in MLB. And, if you know how to look for it, really does show.
- Gamer Letdown: For those of you who carry around some idiotic notion that there has been a better video game experience for playing baseball other than the incredibly sophisticated Mattel Intellivision, well, you might have been rather curious about the release of RBI Baseball '14. I regret to inform you that this review finds the result rather disappointing. "When modern gamers play The Show, they aren't saying, 'It's an okay game, I guess, but I wish it were a little more unrealistic. I'd love it if the second baseman and right fielder moved like synchronized swimmers, and I couldn't control either of them individually.' That's not why people fire up an emulator and play the original Nintendo games. And it's not just knee-jerk nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia that still makes the original R.B.I. great. It's a familiar fun that we're looking for -- an instantly identifiable, consistent, and familiar fun."
Video Of The Week
( Bo Knows "The Throw". Because we just don't have Trout Highlights this week.)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Ignore some of the commentary. This did not happen in the bottom of the 9th. Nor did Tino Martinez have anything to do with it. And Steve Balboni was not on that KC team that year. Foggy memories by the narrators. It actually happened in the bottom of the 10th inning off the bat of Scott Bradley.
( And Bo Knows "The Wall".)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Headlines like this are, unto themselves, a sad commentary on the human condition. Like, really, we have to "get ready"?............The SF Giants HaveSomeFun Troopers are more awesome than Arte's, which is why we cannot have nice things..........Chris Iannetta, too cool to wear his team patch?..........It ain't summer yet, but it's never too early to learn how a wiffle ball works............The Red Sox were gettin' smoked last night by Yankees' starter Michael Pineda. Pineda actually had a no-hitter going for a good while. So we have to have somebody freaking out about cheating...........Baseball rules. I no longer understand any of it, either...........baby steps as we continue to conquer the sporting world. The Old Time Family Baseball blog gets sucked up and into MLB Cut4...........Before we get to beer, here is The Beer Typo of the Century.
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: Coarsegold, just outside Yosemite, is the site of the annual Ragtime and Vintage Music Festival.
Saturday: The Bay Area Craft Beer Festival is running at Waterfront Park in Martinez, CA...........Westlake Village, a much more familiar locale certainly, is the place for EPIC Tasting at Wades Wines. More Ragtime and Vintage Music Festival.
Sunday: More Ragtime and Vintage Music Festival.
BEER BONUS #1: From the Hardball Times, an historical perspective on beer and baseball. A Universal Pastime Meets the National Pastime.
BEER BONUS #2: A totally cool., ultra-sexy, Beer Calculator.
Stay safe, everyone!