Ok, sign me up as un-American, I suppose. I'm not going to get all jacked up about Budweiser's attempts to make MLB's Opening Day some kind of National Holiday. Hallmark has made a pretty big deal out of a few days of the year already, so I can't fault Bud for trying. But, let's be honest, even if it did happen and governments and banks and some businesses took the day off (not so far-fetched, what with how happy folks in New England get over something called "Columbus Day"), all that wouldn't stop MLB from putting up half their games at night anyway. After all, they will want viewers for all those Budweiser commercials.
- HaloTV: Fox Sports West has announced that they will broadcast 150 of the regular season games, with the other 12 being left for national broadcasters. Of those 12, Fox Saturday baseball has picked up 3, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball has picked up 4. And anything else is slated to be figured out after the All-Star Break. But, bottom line, consider ourselves lucky to be fans of a contender, because it's all baseball, nearly every day!
- Joe Blanton, God of Mound: You knew this was going to happen. The next item down in the same link above is a review of Blanton's outing against the Rangers. The word "brilliant" is used. And the explanation for the "brilliance" is laid at the feet of Mike Butcher. ' Working from the third-base side, which pitching coach Mike Butcher has been working with him on this week, gives Blanton "a chance to create angles both to lefties and righties, especially with his fastball to be able to get it cross-corner and down, or in, to a lefty," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Also with his breaking ball, whether it's getting it under a lefty's swing or he's trying to create more angle to a righty. He created good angles. They had some good hitters there, and he looked good." '
Moves: It's official. The Angels released Mark Mulder. Mulder is now an ex-almost Angel. It just seems so freaky. Hang in there Mark! Come back next year and you will still be younger than Brett Tomko! Meanwhlie, C.J. Cron, Taylor Lindsey, Robert Carson, Anderson De La Rosa, and Shawn O'Malley were sent off to the minors.
- Farm Hands: So here is my question - if Tyler Skaggs starts the season down at AAA, does this mean that the FanGraphs Minor League System Impact Rankings has to move the Angels' farm system up from dead last, to next to dead last?
Halos, Oddly: Bovada has released their pre-season odds for prop bets. Mike Trout is favored at 5/1 to win the AL MVP, with Albert Pujols at 12/1 and Josh Hamilton 50/1. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are 15/1 to win the AL CYA. Pujols is 20/1 to lead MLB in home runs (tied with Mark Trumbo, FWIW), and Trout is 33/1. Some interesting additional prop bets would be .345 is the over/under line for highest batting average, 21 is the over/under on pitching wins, and the odds of there being 4 or more no-hitters is 2/1. By the way, the Angels win projection is 86.5, tied for 9th best in MLB.
- Chris Iannetta: Iannetta is opening a youth baseball camp of his own, aligned with ProCamps. It will be held at Villa Park High School on June 23rd. It's open to kids at all levels, of grade school age between 1st and 8th grade. Cost is $79.
- Readiness, Part 2: Here is an update on my tracking on how the projected starting lineup of Halo hitters are comparing to the rest of MLB in getting reps at the plate. Again, no opinions yet. Just reporting.
|Player||AB||Rank Among All MLB During ST (to date)||Rank Last Week|
|Chris Iannetta - C||15||tied for 537th||tied for 469th|
|Albert Pujols - 1B||25||tied for 128th||tied for 319th|
|Howie Kendrick - 2B||23||tied for 205th||tied for 319th|
|David Freese - 3B||20||tied for 349th||tied for 319th|
|Erick Aybar - SS||21||tied for 296th||tied for 319th|
|Josh Hamilton - LF||0||(still dead last)||(dead last)|
|Mike Trout - CF||27||tied for 87th||tied for 244th|
|Kole Calhoun - RF||29||tied for 58th||tied for 85th|
|Raul Ibanez - DH||24||tied for 167th||tied for 319th|
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Last week we brought you an automatic pancake making machine. For breakfast this week, believe it or not, we top that: A waffle iron that punches out computer keyboard shaped waffles!
This Date In Baseball History: 1953 - the city of St. Louis, currently the self-considered capital of baseball, drops it's lawsuit against Bill Veeck and the Browns once it is demonstrated that unless the Browns are allowed to move to Baltimore, they will go bankrupt, due to a lack of interest by the citizenry in baseball..........1954 - After Bobby Thompson suffers a broken ankle the day before, Hank Aaron starts the first game of his illustrious career as a Brave in a Spring Training game. Aaron garners three hits, including a home run, and the Braves immediately offer him a Major League contract..........1993 - The MLB Executive Council bans Marge Schott's St. Bernard from being allowed to run around Riverfront Stadium anymore. Schottzie 02 was making a mess of things..........1995 - The MLBPA declares that they will not end the strike if replacement palyers are used in regular season games that will count. This was the strike wherein Brendan Donnelly played in Spring Training games for the Reds, earning enough enmity from the MLBPA that he has forever been banished from such things as official team photos of the 2002 championship season..........2003 - Although they failed to set a nationwide precedent that we otherwise should have enjoyed up to today, Cablevision did force the YES channel to accept becoming a Premium offering rather than force all subscribers to pay for YES as part of the Basic bundle..........2006 - Washington unveils their plans for a new baseball stadium, the same day that MLB settles a lawsuit over trademark rights to the name "Washington Nationals", already owned and registered by a company in Atlanta that beat MLB to the patent office on the name idea.
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.)
As we reviewed last week, Ethan Allen's revolutionary and realistic All-Star Baseball was a huge hit with young kids across the nation. Stats gathering, long-division, and game play at all hours were di rigueur among young boys everywhere. But something was amiss. As those same boys dove deeper and deeper into the math and the strategy, two problems popped up: the skill contributions of pitchers were completely ignored, and the hardware of the game wore out and the ensuing lack of randomness would erase any resemblance between the stats a player might accumulate through a season of ASB, compared to what that player was actually doing in the real world. This really, really perturbed one particular 11-year old boy named Harold Richman.
Harold wanted more out of his baseball game playing time. He wanted accuracy. He wanted pitching. He wanted strategy. The problem for Harold was that, at only 11 years of age, he didn't have the mathematical training and background to know how to solve the problems. So young Harold just leaned on his inherent math instincts (those which would serve him well throughout his life as an older Harold Richman would end up with an accounting degree). Harold knew enough to try using dice instead of spinners.
And here is where it begins to get amazing. Not even in the 6th grade, Harold had no knowledge concerning the probability of outcomes for two die. But he was determined enough to know that, through the use of brute strength, if he rolled them enough time and documented the outcomes, he could probably figure out those probabilities himself. And so he did. Across more than 5,000 rolls.
With that information, Harold pulled out his 1948 edition of the Sporting News Baseball Register and begin plotting the probabilities against player results. He calculated out outs, walks, singles, doubles, triples, home runs strikeouts, and stolen bases. He learned how to combine his dice probabilities into combinations that would match real time player yields almost precisely. He figured out how to incorporate strength of pitcher being faced. When he had built enough results to make up 4 full teams, he gathered his friends and started playing. For hours. It worked. It needed refinement, but it worked!
Over the next few years Richman kept refining his game and, by the age of 17 (after changing out the dice for custom playing cards) he patented his game. He then put his invention under wraps and went off to college. Upon graduation, not wanting to be dragged into the family business of selling insurance, instead Richman wanted to focus on selling his game. As it happened, a family friend was in the toy business and offered some free consulting, advising Richman of those flaws that would inhibit acceptance and sales. The most important thing was that the use of cards was going to be a problem. So Richman went back to work, and went to work with dice. Eventually, he would realize that the combination of a roll of a single die, against the cards he already had in place, would create an even more true potential outcome between offense and defense. With this realization, Richman redid all his cards and went to market. After an initial sputter, Richman's new baseball board game exploded. In the intervening years Richman's game, which you know as Strat-O-Matic, would sell nearly one million sets.
And the impact of Strat-O-Matic cannot be understated. From sportscasters to Hollywood celebrities, the number of kids who honed their statistical perspective and love of baseball through Strat-O-Matic and ended up in positions of influence are legion. And during all this game play, these kids learned how to build lineups, how to manage in-game strategy, and how to unravel the intricate details of the game itself. And these skills were not lost. As Schwarz relates, "In a 2002 Baseball America survey of major league teams' front-office executives, half of them said they played Strat-O-Matic or a similar game as a kid."(1)
Schwarz concludes his chapter with an even more provocative observation concerning table-top games such as ASB and Strat-O-Matic: "But Strat-O-Matic, All-Star Baseball, APBA, and the like were not merely child's play. Based on a kid's game, perhaps. Yet the strategic theories and statistical argument they spawned also intrigued grown men, many of whom had far better things to do. Military officers charged with designing flight formations would blow off their command to try figuring out how many runners scored from second base on a single. Veterans of the Manhattan Project, dissatisfied with merely unleashing the awesome power of the atom, zeroed in on the inner forces of baseball strategy. Baseball was attracting legitimate scientists, and the statistics were their microscope."(2)
(1)(2) The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz (2004) Thomas Dunne Books, p. 65.
- Double Plays Now Have Depth: An interesting wrinkle that popped out of the Tuesday Event Of Expanded Replay History, the one where the first call ever was reversed...with the Angels on the losing side of course...is that umpires are going to be calling double plays a bit differently from now on. Essentially, they are going to grant even more leeway to the neighborhood play, but they are going to go pretty apeshit on how the fielder making the pivot is performing the transfer. ' After the game, Scioscia spent about 15 minutes talking with umpires, particularly crew chief Dale Scott, and got word that the ball must be completely out of the glove and in the bare hand before the bobble in order for it to be ruled an out. "The way it was called on [Romine] yesterday has never been called that tight in 40 years of baseball," Scioscia said. "I mean, the ball was clearly closed by his glove when it was coming out to be flipped. That's always been a guideline for a transfer beginning." '
- Numismatics: Ok, you are here. So you are obviously a fan of baseball. Are you a fan of coins and coin collecting too? No? Not even one or two coins from your past dumped in a drawer or chest just for the heck of it? Well, what if the United States Mint decided to combine those things, baseball and coins, and started stamping out official one dollar gold and silver coins that consisted of a glove on one side, a ball on the other, AND WERE FRIKKIN' CURVED INSTEAD OF FLAT????
Baseball Living: The very next thing in baseball stadium concepts turns out to be the construction of actual residential housing as part of the facility, where occupants can just go hang outside on their own back patio and pull in a game. Private restroom, no concession lines, food options customized by you, for you, and no no screwy stuff like figuring out where to park your car a mile away to save the $8 in parking fees! What's not to like?!?
Video Of The Week
(Is there any other word for "precocious"?)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Free Trout Porn..........K-Rod's career, if it was even at all possible, just got a lot more prickly. Which was found to be just about as bad as getting injured by an actual grapefruit, while playing in The Grapefruit League. Which was kind of like this, but with produce...........Cactus isn't the only odd thing attacking baseball players this spring. Becky was mauled by a door..........Ok, this appears to be my personal line in the sand for Minor League Funball. The Fresno Grizzlies will be donning Donatello unis, and Raphael, and Leonardo, and Mikey. No Splinter. Why no Splinter????.........."And the Halo sneaks a base hit up the middle, between player number 81 and player number...uh...81."
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: Rip Current Brewery in San Marcos is hosting their 1 year Anniversary Celebration today and tomorrow............
Saturday: Rip Current Brewery in San Marcos is again hosting their 1 year Anniversary Celebration............Fairfax Pavilion in Fairfax is the site of Fairfax Brewfest 2014..........Fort Bragg is doing their own Fort Bragg Brew Festival. This one comes with whale watching..........Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek is getting a running start on St. Patrick's Day with their own St. Paddy's Day IPL Celebration.
Stay safe, everyone!