June 18, 2013
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Monday, February 16, 2009
Two fun things, actually, both found via Brew Crew Ball:
1. Oil Can Boyd wants a tryout. With all of the dudes gone to pitch in the WBC, Florida and Arizona vacationers are getting rooked as it is, so why not give Oil Can a look? It'll be fun.
2. K-Rod is experimenting with red contact lenses. They will look insanely cool and intimidating when he locks down a save. They will look laugh-out-loud funny when he blows one. As with Boyd, though, sure, give it a whirl. The world has been a drag lately. Let's have some fun.
Tony Massrotti talks to Jason Varitek about the possibility of ditching the switch and hitting only right-handed:
"Oh my goodness. Hell, no," Varitek said this morning at the Red Sox' spring training complex. "Have you ever all of a sudden tried to hit right-on-right when you haven't done it in 15 years? . . . I've heard that offered a few different times whether [it was suggested] in the media or whatever, but it's ludicrous."
Yeah, having him bat righty against righthanders is probably a bad move. A much better one -- also probably not discussed, at least in Varitek's presence -- is to treat him as a backup catcher/pinch hitter in which he only faces lefties.
But even that's probably dumb. Though in recent years he has certainly tended to hit lefties better, last year was probably his most pronounced split. In some previous years he actually hit slightly better against righties, even doing so for several straight seasons when he was younger.
My guess is that what ails Jason Varitek is the sort of thing that can only be fixed with either severely limiting his playing time or via the purchase of a time machine, not by futzing with his switch hitting.
(Thanks to Zach Sanders for the heads up)
Many are speculating in the comments to the Marlins post this morning about where the Marlins might move if Miami falls through. The discussion thus far has focused on Las Vegas, as it often does when new potential Major League cities are mentioned.
For what it's worth, I've often been dubious of Las Vegas as a big league city. Unlike football and boxing, baseball is not driven by big events. There are 10 times as many home games. Season ticket sales matter, and that's all about attracting the locals who will come on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, not the folks who drive up from L.A. on the weekend. Moreover, you have to ask yourself who would put up the money for a stadium? Not the hotels or gaming companies, brother. Why would they build a place designed to draw upwards of 30-40,000 potential customers away from their casino floors 81 nights a year? The only way they'd even consider it is if you could put slots in the place, and while MLB has gotten more lenient with respect to gambling ties in baseball (e.g. lots of ballparks accept casino advertising now), I really can't see the masters of the game allowing ballparks to turn into gaming parlors.
Another factor: a disproportionate number of Las Vegas' working population works nights. The blackjack dealers, the restaurant workers, etc. Sure, many of the potential fans would be tourists, but if you're going to make a case for Vegas, you're going to have to make it on the size of the media market, and a big part of that population simply isn't going to be at home to watch the broadcasts, let alone make it the ballpark.
I'm not saying Las Vegas is a non-starter, but given its unique demographics and economy, there are some major practical hurdles to consider. The solution: I say someone convince Paul Allen to build a stadium in Portland and call it a day.
Miguel Tejada should have gone to law school:
A recently released report from DOJ's Inspector General found that Acting Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman gave false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee (both in his oral testimony and in written supplemental testimony) regarding his partisan misuse of his office and his violations of the Civil Service Reform Act.
Baseball players and ordinary citizens lie. Lawyers and politicians make misstatements of fact which they later regret. Totally different things, you understand.
(Thanks to Ron Rollins for the heads up)
This photo was put up because A.J. Burnett is holding his junk, and man, ain't that a hoot? However, am I crazy or does CC Sabathia look like he dropped some weight this offseason? I realize that the blue-with-white panels on the practice jersey may be creating an artificial slimming effect, but he does seem relatively svelte here, no?
Baltimore Sun baseball writer Peter Schmuck has often been something of a polarizing figure among statheads and blogger-types, but I have usually enjoyed his work and, for some reason, give him a pass when I wouldn't give other writers one for the same content. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's because his self-deprecating shtick seems more genuinely self-deprecating than that of other guys who do it. Maybe it's because I like Baltimore a lot and the juju of the place works to his benefit in my psyche. Hard to say, but I kind of like the guy.
Today Russ Smith of Splice Today interviews Schmuck about spring training, the Orioles, and the prospect of the first $10 light beer in baseball stadium history.
First it was baseball with Moneyball, and then football with The Blind Side. Now Michael Lewis focuses his attention on the undervalued in the world of basketball:
The virus that infected professional baseball in the 1990s, the use of statistics to find new and better ways to value players and strategies, has found its way into every major sport. Not just basketball and football, but also soccer and cricket and rugby and, for all I know, snooker and darts — each one now supports a subculture of smart people who view it not just as a game to be played but as a problem to be solved. Outcomes that seem, after the fact, all but inevitable — of course LeBron James hit that buzzer beater, of course the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl — are instead treated as a set of probabilities, even after the fact. The games are games of odds. Like professional card counters, the modern thinkers want to play the odds as efficiently as they can; but of course to play the odds efficiently they must first know the odds. Hence the new statistics, and the quest to acquire new data, and the intense interest in measuring the impact of every little thing a player does on his team’s chances of winning. In its spirit of inquiry, this subculture inside professional basketball is no different from the subculture inside baseball or football or darts. The difference in basketball is that it happens to be the sport that is most like life.
This article focuses on the Rockets' Shane Battier. Unlike Billy Beane and the A's, however, Battier's masters are wisely a little more cagey about what it is about him they value:
He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways . . .
One wonders if the A's would still be exploiting some of the old inefficiencies if Billy Beane had been similarly circumspect back in 2002.
(thanks to reader Bigcatasroma and a few others who sent me the link)
Though they didn't win a lot of games that season, 1987 was an interesting year to be a Braves fan. A trade involving John Smoltz gave us something to talk about, a shaky Tom Glavine took the hill a handful of times, and an aging but still famous Ken Griffey patrolled left field. In other words, it was exactly like 2009 is shaping up to be.
Hopefully Chuck Tanner will manage to deploy these strategic assets wisely. If not, hey, at least Skip, Pete, and Billy Sample will keep us entertained on the Superstation.
Kill me now.
After all of that buildup last week, the Miami-Dade County Commission punted on Friday:
The Florida Marlins encountered another curveball Friday in their bid for a new ballpark.
How on Earth is someone allowed to be absent for a vote with as much public interest as this one? I can't help but wonder if it was all orchestrated somehow. Like they either want to kill or pass the deal quietly somehow, the former via the adjournment tack mentioned in the above quote or the latter via a series of delays designed to dissipate the heat somehow.
But hey, I get to rant about all of this again prior to March 12th, which is nice.
UPDATE: I'm told that the missing Commissioner was out on maternity leave. Since kids > ballparks, I guess that's acceptable. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be off fielding hate mail from every mother on the planet for the remainder of the day.
They really don't like the Yankees in New England:
The Lowell Spinners (short season; NY-Penn League) announced the continuation of a popular program: eliminating the New York Yankees in youth baseball programs throughout New England.
I can't believe that this isn't being done in reverse to the Red Sox someplace else.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)