I, Claudia’s: Some idle thoughts from an idle fellow

About once or twice a week during the baseball season, I spend more time than is decent at Claudia’s in Portland, watching more baseball than is decent while drinking more beers than is decent.

Because you’re a sports fan, you’ve very probably been to a bar like Claudia’s. Here’s what it has in it: beer, like 15 TVs, and a bunch of dudes. Also, they serve pizza (and are proud of the fact if the “We Serve Pizza” sign in the corner is any indication).

During the baseball season—or at least that portion of the baseball season during which the Rose City isn’t entirely under the influence of basketsball—baseball is on every TV. Of particular interest is the area just above the bar itself, where five HD TVs are lined up end-to-end, each tuned to a different, incredibly live game.

It’s a kinda amazing way to watch baseball.

While previously I’ve only ever gone to Claudia’s in my capacity as amateur layabout, I got to figuring during one of my recent sojourns: on account of I’m being paid all this money by Hardball Times anyway, wouldn’t it be sporting of me to jot down some of my observations about the games I was watching?

Sure, was my answer to myself.

Of course, I didn’t mean right away. I was already in medias res for the night. But I resolved that next time I was around I’d get out the old steno pad and record some observations.

Well, last night (Thursday) was next time. Here’s how it went.

First off, let me tell you the times I was there: ca 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm PDT.

Next, here are the games I saw. Besides the teams in question, I’m also including the inning I began watching (Beg), and then the average (aLI) and peak (pkLI) Leverage Index. If you’re not familiar with Leverage Index, you can read about it on the internet. Basically, the higher the Leverage Index, the more critical the situation. A higher aLI suggests a more exciting game. All numbers are from the unparalleled FanGraphs Scoreboard.

Away	Home	Beg	aLI	pkLI	
BOS	KCR 	T3	0.59	4.57	
DET	CLE	T6	1.11	3.62	
LAD 	WSN 	B5	1.42	3.49
PHI	MIL	B3	0.60	2.87
SDP 	COL 	B7	1.34	4.86

I have nothing interesting to say about that except for an interesting thing is how the pkLIs for the BOS/KCR game and SDP/COL game happened at almost the exact same time, if I’m remembering correctly. Or if not the pkLIs, then at least the second-highest. Such a thing created serious problems for the author, believe you me.

Also, I can vouch for the fact that the PHI/MIL game wasn’t any great shakes. Plus, what that doesn’t say is how Jeff Suppan started for Milwaukee. Boring!

Now, some idle thoughts:

  • Perhaps it’s because I was excited for the new episode of The Office last night, but I got the impression—watching David DeJesus bat—I got the impression that DeJesus is basically the Jim Halpert of the Kansas City Royals. I mean, I don’t know what DeJesus is actually like as a guy, but on a team full of Miguel Olivos and Jose Guillens and Mike Jacobses and Yuni Betancourtses, DeJesus is an oasis of sanity. Not a genius, necessarily, but he takes the occasional pitch and doesn’t strike out all the time. I was half-expecting him to look directly at the camera, a la Halpert, and make an expression like, “Can you believe what I have to deal with?”
  • Speaking of Kansas City and failure, Clay Buchholz struck out Mike Jacobs three times. I saw the latter two of those, and they were both on almost the exact same pitch: 83 mph change-ups low and (maybe) outside. Jacobs did exactly the same thing to both of them: flailed miserably. I’m glad I don’t have kids, because how would I explain that to them?
  • Watching a San Diego game is as good a way an any to see a player you’ve never heard of before. Case in point: Ryan Webb and Adam Russell. Webb actually seems to have some chops, sporting a 4.40 tRA through 23.0 innings this year with a GB rate of 58.9%. The latter seems to be on the high end for him, though. Adam Russell was part of the Peavy trade. He’s huge (6-foot-8, 255 lbs) and boasts a career GB rate of 52.8% in the minors.
  • Shin-Soo Choo is legitimately awesome! He’s currently at 4.7 WAR, good for 25th among qualified players. And he’s 14th in wRC with 109.8. That puts him right between Ryan Howard and Jason Bay. Another thing about Shin-Soo Choo: he hit a two-run home run off Fernando Rodney with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning—this after the previous pitch (a 98 mph fastball) had very nearly assassinated him in the head. Alas, the two runs weren’t enough, as Cleveland lost 6-5. You rally-killer, Choo!
  • Justin Maxwell entered the Nationals game versus Los Angeles a defensive replacement in center field. Maxwell is a physical specimen, listed at 6-foot-5, 245 lbs in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He’s got legitimate 20-20 potential (posting 27 home runs and 35 stolen bases across two minor league levels in 2007). And not just that, but he’s displayed something like plate discipline, posting a 31/28 BB/K in 146 Double-A at-bats last year at Harrisburg. Thing is, Maxwell just can’t stay healthy. If he does put it together, he could be an interesting player.
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