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WeekEnd HaloLinks: A New Beginning Edition

And now once again it's my conscious condition..........That allows me the strength to break open the doors..........I can see the world goin' on around me..........I can smell the scent of magic in the air..........I can hear the voices behind me..........I can make up my mind between heaven and hell

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I'm getting antsy. I could do a paragraph or two about how antsy I'm a-gettin', but pictures will do. Pictures will do.



On To Angels Baseball...

  • Angels 7, Dodgers Suck. Few things are as annoying as Dodger fans crowing on line all the time, especially in their never-ending need to shoot weak takes at the Halos. And it annoys me because I allow it to. And I allow it to because the Halos just keep kicking their ass, over and over and over again. Even on the practice field. Even on their own turf. Like last night. And that inspires me. Pwning on Dodger ass-wipe fans is one of the glories that come with worshiping the superior LA Angels. If I wasn't already a couple of thousand words into this post today I could have me some real fun. So suck it, Greinke. We dealt with you using our #3. And suck it LAT, what with your "yeah but what have you done for us lately" review immediately following the latest humiliation.

  • Pitching Depth?: This is all just too good to be true. While injuries are piling up everywhere else in baseball (add Kershaw and Darvish to the list), our pitching staff is actually showing signs of strength. Sean Burnett is coming along well, Fernando Salas is getting props, C. J. Wilson is throwing BB's, Hector Santiago just stood toe to toe with Zack Greinke last night, and Mike Scioscia is feeling good enough to start spitting out cliches again. "Right now, we're pitching much better than we did at any time last spring," Scioscia said. "Having pitching like that gives us more confidence when we turn the page." Taking away some of your opportunity to do stupid things with your pitching staff helps we fans turn the page, too, Mike.

  • Predictions: On the list of outsiders, looking in at how things might run through the 2014 season, Joel Sherman of the NYPOST takes a few pops. Mike Trout to win the AL MVP (Trout is winning the PRE-season MVP handily, so we gotta wonder where all these voters go to each October), Tyler Skaggs to be one of the best additions of the off-season. (In non-LAA forecasts, Yasiel Puig is a train wreck and Derek Jeter will be a late-inning defensive liability.)

  • Albert Pujols, un hombre: What? Pujols is not the same guy as he used to be?? Well, holy balls, I think we got to write a huge article revealing that factoid. Surprise the world. "My job is to be in the lineup, to help this organization to win," he said. "I’m gonna do whatever it takes to do that...taking a day off here and there." As for me, I think this is going to be a year of Albert puts up, scribes shut up. And I bank this theory on things such as is found in the closing paragraph: "I don’t get caught up in numbers, man," Pujols said. "I know if I’m healthy, my numbers are going to be there. I don’t have to prove anything. The last couple of years, with one leg, I hit 30 homers and 110 RBI. That’s without taking the month of April or the month of September, that I didn’t hit any homers. I could have easily hit 40 homers (in 2012), if I had a decent month in April or September. Last year, it was just bad luck. I was hitting the same way, going to drive in 100, and probably hit 30 home runs again, and it was just bad luck, which sucks. It’s something — I just want to stay healthy and go out there and play every day and help this organization to win. The numbers, I think, are going to be there at the end."

  • Mascots: Our minor league affiliate, The Arkansas Travelers, have picked up new mascots, "Ace the War Hero Horse" and "Otey the Swamp Possum". They replace "Shelly the Mule". Fans, they ain't happy. "Swamp possum? Really? Why not a toothless meth head since we are stereotyping Arkansas."

    • Readiness, Part 4: Still keeping tabs...just a few more chances.
    Player AB to Date

    Current Rank Among All MLB Players

    (tied for)

    1 Week Ago

    (tied for)

    2 Weeks Ago

    (tied for)

    3 Weeks Ago

    (tied for)

    Chris Iannetta - C 34 411th 471 537 469
    Albert Pujols - 1B 50 116th 111 128 319
    Howie Kendrick - 2B 51 97th 111 205 319
    David Freese - 3B 47 168th 222 349 319
    Erick Aybar - SS 47 168th 191 296 319
    Josh Hamilton - LAf 27 500th 767 (dead last) (dead last)
    Mike Trout - CF 54 67th 64 87 244
    Kole Calhoun - RF 64 7th 14 58 85
    Raul Ibanez - DH 50 116th 222 167 319

    Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Stuff On the Internet:

    This one comes to us via eyespy, who spied out a sweet package for any new Halo dads out there.


    This Date In Baseball History: 1970 - Bowie Kuhn returns the All-Star selection process for starting position players back to fan voting..........1977 - Rangers Manager Frank Lucchesi benches Lenny Randle. Randle responds by jumping Lucchesi, fracturing Lucchesi's cheekbone..........1985 - Sports Illustrated publishes the George Plimpton story Sidd Finch, 168mph throwing prospect, for their April 1 edition. And people buy it. Not just the edition, but the whole story...........2003 - MLB trims back the "God Bless America" epic ongoing throughout baseball since 9/11, by limiting the 7th-inning tribute to home openers, Sunday games, and holiday games..........2003 - Cablevision pulls out of a deal with YES network just 3 days prior to Opening Day, in a battle over contract terms modified in the hand-written notes previously agreed upon.........2008 - Nationals Manager Manny Acta chooses to receive the Official First Pitch from President Obama, instead of the traditional starting catcher, because that catcher - Paul Lo Duca - had recently been identified in The Mitchell Report. Lo Duca should have signed with the Red Sox...


    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.)

    Earnshaw Cook

    Earnshaw Cook makes for a rather interesting episode. By now, we have had real scientists engaging in the analysis of baseball using real statistical methodologies. I should point out that my statement last week about George Lindsey being the inflection point where baseball and real science finally meet is slightly over-extended. There certainly were other data scientists who had also conducted studies, and even earlier than Lindsey, but their published works were lost to extreme obscurity. Lindsey took the first serious step of impact. Earnshaw Cook would follow Lindsey and blow things up. Completely.

    Cook begins in our story as a Princeton graduate and metallurgy engineer who would consult on the Manhattan Project. He thereby came to the realm of baseball with decent math cred, although there is some evidence that he was an elitist asshat. It is rumored that Cook got his start trying to argue the relative ineffectiveness of the sacrifice bunt with a fellow academician. But, clearly a Ty Cobb fan of some sort, Cook began his major studies and conclusions in an effort to prove Cobb the most complete hitter in history. Unsurprisingly, this Cook did. In his retirement zeal, Cook ended up with quite a bit of information and opinion, working on a baseball stats book of his own. Now at this moment in time we need to make a special request of Miss Serendipity. Cook was doing some math tutoring on the side. A good friend of his student was the little brother of a newly-minted writer for an important sports magazine, who needed an article idea. Thus, in 1964, did Frank DeFord end up composing an astonishing feature article in Sports Illustrated, which ended up being titled "Baseball Is Played All Wrong". Provactive? Yes, indeedy.

    Cook’s information was chock-full of notions that have long since been proven to be absurd (even blasted at the time by the likes of Lindsey himself), but some of his statements do hold true still today. (All of his ideas, right and wrong,are far too much for here. But I do recommend Google for further reading on Cook’s research. At a minimum, you can read the complete excerpt re Cook, from Schwarz, here.) Today’s sabremetricians don’t take Cook’s math too seriously and it is also acknowledged that Cook’s writing and presentation style seemed hell-bent to turn off the lay audience as well. But the significance of the arrival of Cook via Sports Illustrated cannot be over-stated. Long before the internet, when even major national newspapers were predominantly read only regionally, publications such as SI were important information sharing tools throughout all sports. So, through SI, Cook and his ideas and the very notion of math slammed deep into baseball – into dugouts and front offices and editor’s desks everywhere. Right or wrong, Cook forced players and coaches and managers and analysts and owners to think. All across America.

    Cook published his data as "Percentage Baseball", still available today. You probably have heard of it. DeFord himself wrote a follow-up 8 years later and Cook’s perspective was still dominant. Earnshaw had opened a door. Sure, he opened it with a sledgehammer and did as much damage as he was an enabler, but he opened the door sufficiently to prevent it from ever being closed again. Baseball was now going to begin the process of infusing math into the sport, and enabling the idea of more rigorous analysis towards cause and effect. Cook passed away in 1987, but his slide rule remains in the permanent collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame.


    • Instant Replay: Question. What do these guys do if there are multiple reviews to be done at the same time?..........By the way, I find this to be pretty smart. "It has been fascinating to see how different clubs have approached the new system. For instance, the Orioles hired a former umpire to give manager Buck Showalter what he hopes will be a more dispassionate decision."............Oh, and in that same link, elsewhere, there is this nugget. Fox, meet hen house: "In 2,431 games last season, big league umpires missed 377 calls, according to a review done by Major League Baseball. Take a moment to wrap your mind around those numbers. Wait, it gets better. There were a mere 27 games when umpires missed at least two calls. Three misses? That happened three times. So, yes, umpires do miss calls. One every 6.4 games. That's not perfection, but it reflects an extremely high level of proficiency."..........Yeah. Right. We are led to believe that MLB themselves rarely found their own MLB umpires to be incorrect. Methinks they started their study by intentionally filtering out the obvious...........By the way, am I the only one who feels a little uncomfortable that outcomes of the action right in front of the fans is now going to be influenced by authoritative judgments that will happen in some foreign place, by people unaccountable to the people present? To me, psychologically, that’s a huge shift.

    • Mega Contracts: Well, lookee here. The Albert Pujols contract no longer ranks as the most astounding. Miguel Cabrera got himself a shiny new deal from the Tigers, one that ends up in the neighborhood of 12 years and $352 million dollars of exposure. "The new Cabrera deal is said to be for $248 million guaranteed over eight years, according to people familiar with the talks, making it a record $292-million, 10-year commitment including the two years he had to go on his previous deal. There are also $30-million vesting options for years 11 and 12, and if those are reached Cabrera would make the full $352 million. The options are base on achievements/awards during the term." This can NOT make other GM's very happy. In particular at this moment, one Arte Moreno. Not to mention Max Scherzer's agent.

    • New MLBPA Director: No offense to Mr. Clark, but shouldn't the guy who sits across the table from all the best lawyers and accountants affordable to the combined assets of all the billionaire owners of Major League baseball be somebody who has spent his life studying labor law, or business finance, or something?...........I seriously doubt that Marvin Miller or Donald Fehr would roll for more persecution of their constituency.

    Video Of The Week

    (90 seconds with Mike Trout, courtesy of BODYARMOR.)

    (Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)


    Rex Hudler, getting out-Hudlered..........If this is true, it really would be ridiculous. And a sign that Arte is losing his battle for hearts and minds...........Bryce Harper is already in mid-season form..........MLB changed the rules to curb walk-up music abuse. We shoulda known that the most vocal drama queen complainers would be one of the Red Sox........Just for fun, here at the tail end of ST baseball is returning to Montreal...........We really don't need to watch the Angels squash the Rangers back into irrelevance in order to make the Texas fans suffer. They are hell-bent on doing themselves in regardless.


    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: All weekend long, should you be near Eureka, you might indulge in the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival..........At The Abbey, on Fifth Ave in San Diego, seek out Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Festival beer & food event.

    Saturday: Draughts in Thousand Oaks is holding yet another Firestone Tap Takeover...........More Redwood Coast Jazz Festival.........

    Sunday: The last of the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival..........

    BEER BONUS: This idea could go a long, long way...Meanwhile, where did this one go?

    BEER BONUS #2: This is a woman who has her priorities very, very straight!

    Stay safe, everyone!