May 19, 2013
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
"AutoZone Park is ‘Taj Mahal’ of the minors"
With all due respect to roses by any other name, would we think of the Taj Mahal the same way if it were named something as awful as "AutoZone Park"?
Will it be Randy Johnson? Given that they said that Glavine would be the last one before him and Maddux would be the last one before him and Clemens would be the last one before him, color me dubious, even if there's yet another article claiming that the species is about to become extinct. Yes, there's a bigger gap between Johnson and the next viable candidate than we've typically seen when someone is close to 300, and yes, innings pitched and games started are down compared to historical precedent, but I'm simply not prepared to say I won't see another guy get 300 wins again. Heck, I'm not prepared to say I won't see someone currently active reach 300.
CC Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano ended their age 27 seasons with 117 and 96 wins, respectively. Johnson had 37 wins through his age 27 season. Roy Halladay ended his age 31 season with 131 wins. Johnson had 99. Roy Oswalt finished his age 30 season with 129 wins, Johnson had 81. Johan Santana finished his age 29 season with 109, Johnson had 68. Granted, all of those guys have far more on the innings odometer than the late-starting Johnson did at similar ages -- and granted, Johnson is something of a freak -- so maybe he's not the best example. But Tom Glavine wasn't babied and he's certainly not a freak, and his win totals at the same ages -- 95, 153, 139, 124 -- aren't orders of magnitude off from where the current crop is now.
This isn't to say that Sabathia, Zambrano, Halladay, Oswalt or Santana are a lock to win 300. Heck, they may not even be likely to do so. But it's not impossible to imagine them doing so, even if everyone says so whenever someone hits that particular milestone. It's really more a matter of good luck than anything else, both in terms of their health and in terms of the talent with which their general managers surround them. Glavine had both kinds of luck in spades. Johnson had a little less of each, but still plenty to spare. There's no way for us to predict that for any of the guys I mentioned above, and thus no basis for ruling them out either.
Yesterday I posted a link to an interview in which MLBAM's Bob Bowman waxed happily about MLB.tv's decision to go with Adobe Flash and drop Microsoft's Silverlight. Today the Silverlight people snap back, airing some snark about all of the things you have to go through in order to make Flash actually, you know, work:
Today we saw that MLB went live with a video streaming solution that is built using Adobe Flash and the Swarmcast NexDef browser plug-in for their HD streaming video experience. It is an example of how you can deliver higher quality experiences on the Web. It also highlights how users are willing to accept additional browser plug-ins to get those experiences.
Rowr. Both sides should probably cool it considering that Silverlight screwed up last year's opening day for web users and Flash, apparently, screwed up yesteday:
The Internet, of course, has made that easy, and as a result, MLB.com has become a part of every hardcore fan’s daily life for everything from checking scores to reading blogs, but mostly for watching live games. Every year I fork over a lot of money to see the games I absolutely can’t live without. And every year, MLB.com has done a good job of enhancing that experience.
There will come a time when we wonder how we ever did without baseball streaming live on the Internet. That time, alas, is not today.
It's raining like crazy in San Francisco right now, less than three hours before the Giants and Brewers open their season. If it gets rained out, Henry Schulman says they'll play two tomorrow, because Milwaukee won't make another trip to the Bay this season. That led Schulman to recall the last time the Giants opened with a doubleheader:
The Giants actually played a season-opening doubleheader in Atlanta in 1990. I covered it. Rich Rueschel, who was supposed to pitch the rained-out opener, beat the Braves in the first game of the doubleheader. The Giants then got beat by Pete Smith in the nightcap.
He may have been hyped, and he was still young, but Smith had already pitched 66 games and was beginning his fourth year with the big club in 1990. In fact, he had more games behind him at that point than he had in front of him, at least in an Atlanta Braves uniform. Other fun stuff from that game:
Blessed with a lot of time on my hands and a girlfriend who actually liked baseball (her only redeeming trait), I'm pretty sure I watched more ballgames that spring, summer and fall than anytime before or since. The Braves had something like 144 on TBS that year, and we'd get about 50 Reds games where I was at the time as well. Between those, whatever national games were on, and the playoffs, I easily took in parts of 200 games that year.
Yeah, we're in a different world now.
Things to watch while you wait for Jamie Moyer's "fastball" to cross home plate in tonight's game.
Get all of the projections for the players on your fantasy squad from a projection system (THT's projections, CHONE, Marcel—your choice) in a spreadsheet, calculate the projected totals for your team in each stat category, and then compare your team's results to the other team's results in your league.
Um, Paul? That would entail about 400% of the work that went into me drafting these bozos to begin with. Can't I just stand pat with "I'm happy with my draft" until the wheels fall off, followed by four months of complaining about guys on my team as I watch Sportscenter? Such a strategy has always worked in the past.
And speaking of Moyer, he gave up three runs over six innings to get the no-decision in an 18-inning game against the Astros two days before Jordan Schafer was born. Maybe they'll discuss that prior to facing each other today.
If you're a reader of this blog this kind of thing is not news to you, but it's interesting all the same:
“Computer simulations work pretty well in baseball for two reasons,” said Carl Morris, a professor of statistics at Harvard University who has written several papers that commingled baseball and formal statistical theory. “In general, they allow you to study fairly complicated processes that you can’t really get at with pure mathematics. But also, sports are great for simulations — you can play 10,000 seasons overnight.”
Not that they can't be misleading. For example, back in 1988 I loaded up my Lance Hafner Baseball team (for Commodore 64) with guys like Pedro Guerrero's 1978 season (.625/.625/.875 in 8 PAs) and Cesar Cedeno's 1985 (.434/.463/.750 in 82 PAa). The results were fantastic -- I went 162-0 vs. the 1987 Major League Season, just edging the Blue Jays by 63 games -- but I can't help but think that they my strategic skills were developed all that much. Especially considering that I went in and zeroed out everyone's errors before the season. Everyone on my team anyway.
If he's going to keep up with the blogging, I'm going to have to start considering him competition and have him kicked off my fantasy team (from a press release):
All-Star Detroit Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson has signed with Yahoo! Sports MLB blog “Big League Stew” to be a featured blogger for the 2009 baseball season. The blog will feature Grandson’s insightful look at the life of a professional baseball player, the Detroit Tigers and MLB.
His first post is here.
One wonders why he left ESPN, where he had blogged for the past few years. I can only assume that he got tired of Rob King reminding him to put the cover on his TPS reports and Buster Olney bugging him to contribute to the coffee club.
A couple of months ago I told you about the new web venture from Phil Bencomo, the fellow who used to write Cub Town for the now decommissioned Baseball Toaster. It's called The Baseball Chronicle, which is in the business of publishing themed stories, essays, interviews or reporting about baseball. Well, it's live now, with the first batch of pieces around the theme "hooked." So far, a poem by Ember Nickel and a piece from Micheal Webb explaining the strange hold tabletop baseball games have on him.
We have plenty of statistics and analysis and breakdowns. Some stories are a nice change of pace, so by all means, let's encourage them by checking out The Baseball Chronicle. And how about submitting something? Next month's theme: "The best I ever saw."
Mets 2, Reds 1: Those of you who followed ATH last season will recall that I don't have the Extra Innings package and I don't watch 15 games a night. On a good night I watch parts of two games, on an average night I watch most of one, and some nights I don't get any. This feature is about parsing box scores and game stories and trying to extract a couple of worthwhile observations from the stories they tell rather than tell you something you couldn't figure out if you had seen the game. Indeed, the best part of ATH is when someone who actually saw one of these games makes a comment explaining something I missed. Reader APBA Guy is the master of this for A's games (and it's necessary -- since they usually end the latest, I often give the A's the shortest shrift). Anyway, this game -- which took place while I was toiling at the office -- seemed to have something I missed. Something that can explain how Johan Santana went 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks and only threw 99 pitches, while his counterpart Aaron Harang went 5 innings with only two strikeouts and three walks, yet threw 114. Easily explainable, sure -- the Reds were hacking except when they walked and Harang went deep on most hitters -- but I'm having trouble picturing how that all went down. Of course, the most critical thing that went down was the Reds only scoring one run with runners on second and third with no one out in the sixth, but those things happen when it's 39 degrees and windy and crappy out.
Rangers 9, Indians 1: Cliff Lee's first action since winning the Cy Young award did not go exactly as planned (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Of course, the same thing happened to the 2007 Cy Young award winner in his early action last year and things turned out alright for him. Ultimately, the fact that Lee was facing the stacked Rangers -- the Rangers some lone nut is picking to win the AL West this year -- mitigates this disaster somewhat. Forget it Cliff, it's Arlington.
Orioles 10, Yankees 5: It's really not fair that a team like the Yankees can just open up the vault and buy a championship by picking up guys like Sabathia (4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 0K) and Teixeira (0-4, 4 LOB).
Pirates 6, Cardinals 4: From the recap: "Cardinals Hall of Famers Stan Musial, 88, and Red Schoendienst, 86, tag-teamed the first pitch. Musial rode a cart to the mound and flipped the ball to Schoendienst, who walked halfway to the plate and made an underhand throw." Given how Jason Motte blew up in the ninth (4 H, 4 ER, BS), I'm guessing La Russa would have preferred Stan and Red to close too.
Marlins 12, Nats 6: I've watched the video of that Emilio Bonifacio inside the park home run a couple of times now, and each time Lastings Milledge looks a tad more pathetic trying to catch up to it. Bad positioning, a bad break, or both? No matter how ugly, however, I'll watch highlights from this game again and again, because it was 90 degrees in Miami and looked it. I may complain about that in July, but from where I'm sitting this morning, it seems just fine to me.
Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 8: IM during the game from Mike McClary of The Daily Fungo (who lives in Arizona): "Webb looks mortal." I'd say: 4 IP, 6 H, 6 ER. As a Tigers' fan, McClary himself probably didn't feel so good, seeing Tony Clark hit two homers nearly a decade after his team made the determination -- which seemed like a pretty sound one at the time, actually -- that he was toast. Felipe Lopez hit two bombs of his own.
Cubs 4, Astros 2: As the season goes on, you'll see me alluding to my Carlos Zambrano man crush every fifth day or so. He works fast, he throws hard, and he hits well. He would have fit right in in the 1960s with guys like Drysdale and Marichal and the rest. He tied the Astros up good until he ran out of gas in the 7th but Sweet Lou sent out half the damn pitching staff to finish things off.
Dodgers 4, Padres 1: James Loney had the big bat last night (3-4, 2 RBI), throwing a moderate kink into the opening stages of the great 2009 Jake Peavy marketing tour.
Blue Jays 12, Tigers 5: Whatever was ailing Verlander last year has carried over into this year, as the Tigers' "ace" gives up eight runs in less than four innings. Roy Halladay wasn't too sharp himself (7 IP, 6 H, 5 ER), but how many times did he lay it all out on the line last year only to get zilch in run support? He's due to be carried, frankly, and Adam Lind did most of the carrying (4-5, HR, 6 RBI).
Mariners 6, Twins 1: On a day of blowouts and glorified batting practice, a gem from King Felix (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER 6K) and a homer from Junior are enough to dispatch the Twins. Meanwhile, my pick of Francisco Liriano for the Cy Young award is stumbling out of the gate (7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER).
Angels 3, A's 0: On a day of blowouts and glorified batting practice, a shorter but still impressive gem from Joe Saunders (6.2 3 H, 0 ER) and a homer from Howie Kendrick are enough to dispatch the A's. Get Oakland: lead runner thrown out on a double steal in the third inning. Is this evidence that Beane pays more attention to soccer than baseball anymore? Because that's the kind of thing that got chairs thrown at people (or something) back in the Moneyball days.
Rays vs. Red Sox: Postponed: Cats and dogs.
Royals vs. White Sox: Postponed: Dogs and cats. Or snow. Or the threat of snow. Heck, according to Posnanski's Facebook status "It ain't that bad in Chicago ... they could have played ball. It won't be any better tomorrow," so who knows? Also, can someone tell me if I'm breaking some kind of ethical rule by posting Posnanski's Facebook status? This seems like a gray area. Of course the guy has like 1,500 friends, so it's not like I'm revealing state secrets here.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Now that we have a full slate of games -- and now that I'm moonlighting for NBC -- the daily schedule is going to change a bit around here. ATH will still be up at or around its usual time. Unlike last year, however, I'm not going to to follow it up immediately with other posts. Rather, those will start coming online mid-to-late morning and into the afternoon. This (a) allows me to get stuff up over at the other gig; while (b) allowing ATH to have a little longer in the prime, first-post real estate that it deserves; and (c) balancing the day out a bit more, which many of my west coast readers have asked. Ultimately, there shouldn't be much of a falloff in volume most days, just a shifting around of posting times.
As always, the email address is to the upper left if you wanna complain about it. I may even listen.