Monthly archives: March 2004
So Will invited me, Ken, to join this blog, and I asked Will what he expected from me, and Will said "Write whatever you want Ken" and I thought "OK, simple enough, I can do that." But then Will introduced me. It started off nice:
"He’s full of heart (sure) and humbug (definitely), intelligence (perhaps) and vinegar."Vinegar? I'm full of vinegar? Now I'm confused. What does that mean? If Will is expecting vinegar out of me, I'd better go do some research and find a definition:
Vinegar can be made from any fruit, or from any material containing sugar. [It is produced by] fermentation of natural sugars to alcohol and then secondary fermentation to vinegar.Apparently, Will expects me to take something sweet, like baseball, and make it rot--twice.
My role here isn't discourse; it's decomposition.
So now I'm feeling a little déjà vu.
Ten years ago, I was working for a struggling database company called Ingres when Computer Associates bought us out. CA planned to lay off most of the company. The other database companies started recruiting Ingres employees like mad. Sybase hired an airplane to circle our building with a recruiting banner. Oracle held a special day just for us, and Larry Ellison himself showed up to encourage us to join his team.
Ellison was so charismatic that if he had produced a contract right then and there for me to sign I would have signed it, no questions asked. (Charisma wears off; I later declined an Oracle offer.)
Although I was dazzled by Ellison's charm, I can only remember one thing he said. When asked what he thought about CA, Ellison paused, then said, "Well, every ecosystem needs its scavengers."
An odd thing to say, really, considering that Oracle itself was scavenging for new employees out of the remains of CA's kill. But heck, Oracle is a fabulously successful company. CA eats pond scum, and you are what you eat, but they're also a fabulously successful company. Decomposition is good business.
Businesses are born, they merge, and they die. Blogs are born, they merge, and they die. If the baseball blog ecosystem needs a scavenger to feed off the rot, to pick upon the bones of last week's news, I am happy to serve it. Being recruited, being wanted, being needed, whether for software or for blogging, is a wonderful feeling, even if I may not deserve it.
So thank you, Mr. Carroll, for the seat
And Mike Crudale.
I Gotta Do Something About This Title
New Pat McGee album rules and the Prince concert to open his tour got four stars in USA Today ...
... but enough of that. I don't tease with news for weeks or months and I'd really rather not tease at all, but I did want all my ducks in a row before making this announcement.
When I started doing this weblog, it was a lark. It's still not "serious," but I do take it seriously. I talk some baseball, some tangential stuff, and my day. There's the occasional politics, some meta-musings on the place of the internet in baseball writing (which I think in some small way helped shape the A-B family), and the irregular analysis piece like my recent VORP piece which got shockingly little attention.
Basically, the idea of this blog was that it would be like the bar across the street from my real job at BP. I'd come over, sit down at a stool next to you, and we'd talk. I'd been haranguing TFD to do a blog, so I gave him a stool here too and the guy just stuck around. Not that I minded and I don't think you do either.
Get another stool. There's always room for another voice here at WCW. I'm happy and proud to announce the addition of Ken Arneson to the team. Many of you know Ken's work at "Barry Zito Forever" and in various other places. He's full of heart and humbug, intelligence and vinegar. I hope you'll welcome him and think you'll like reading his stuff as much as I do.
Yeah, I have enough ego to keep calling this the "Will Carroll Weblog," but think of it like The Sopranos - Tony may get the most lines, but it's the others that often do the best work. Thanks for being part of the family.
Notes During Game 1, Pt 2
When Harold says "so and so is a big guy," there's really no context. Harold's shorter than me, but most baseball players are pretty normal looking. There are some guys who are massive, but none of them are the freakish looking NFL or NBA types. The most muscular player I've ever seen in person was Gabe Kapler a couple years back. He was chiseled and would have set Alex Ciepley aflutter for years, but he's not so big that he didn't look human. You could go to any gym or actually, any nightclub and find someone as buff. Lots of players look more like a guy you'd see on a bar stool than they'd like to admit.
Sheffield checks a liner for a double? Damn, how much bat speed does he generate?
This is the first time I've seen Victor Zambrano pitch. Like most, I don't catch too many Rays games. He reminds me of A.J. Burnett, in good ways. His pitches have a lot of life and he's wild in the zone. With this defense and the turf, he could be a good sleeper unless you're looking for wins.
Damn fine play by Julio Lugo. That's what I mean.
Lugo's one of a couple players I hoped would fall to me in the late rounds of a draft. Both he and Ray Castro went before it got back around to me. I miscalculated and took a flyer on A.J. Burnett because of the league's odd keeper rules. I have eight credible starters, so I'm hoping I can trade for a decent SS.
Damn, Cruz killed that one. 420 on a line.
Mussina's mechanics are a mess. Just in his legs, he's showing about three different deliveries.
Are you fucking kidding me? Chuck Lamar just got a two year extension?! Okay, I'm now convinced he has pictures of someone and a goat. I really, really want to hear Tampa ownership convince me there's any objective reason for keeping him.
Getting work in? Ummm, this one counts, Harold. This is the reverse of what a pitch count should do. Mussina's fatigued, has no command, no confidence, and his mechanics are flawed. It won't get near the notice of Little's Folly, but leaving him ... double down the line ... in was a mistake. I'm not sure it was just one batter too long; it might have been more than that.
As bad as Mussina looked, Quantrill looked good. Here's a thought ... if there's one place to try the tandem starter system in the bigs, might it be Colorado? Get eight guys like Quantrill and see if the balls all beat into the turf helps keep it in the park. Aaargh ... Colorado's more a logic puzzle than a ballclub.
Lance Carter had two TJs? Huh.
Alex is still adjusting to third. Gene Monahan gets some screen time. Oops, yeah, it was Quantrill's fault. He's coming out, but not limping badly. I rewound and didn't see the right knee buckle.
Now the wheels are falling off. Huff looks like he's seeing the ball.
TFD just blew up the cell and tried to bum out my day with bad Prior mojo. His elbow's healthy, but again, the Cubs are being crazy cautious. He's back in Chicago with team doctors and has already seen Lew Yocum. Mike Kiley has the details.
Gone. Tino's got to like doing that. Guess the Yanks aren't going to win all 162 this year like some expected. I'd tell you what I wrote down in the Predicatron, but I hate getting Yankee hate mail.
Know what I didn't miss in the offseason? Thunderstix. Haven't those been banned yet?
A-Rod's coming up and Eminem's "Without Me" is playing. I'm not sure if that's random or what it might mean. Unlikely theme songs for $200, Alex.
Baldelli SMASHED into that wall. I was told that he's not the diving, Jim Edmonds-type player, but I might have to check that.
Good point ... what lead is safe with the lineup the Yanks have?
This game is crisp. We're at about 2:40 going to what will likely be the last half-inning. Commercial breaks seem a bit shorter. Oh wait, Danny Baez is out there, so that whole 'crisp game' might be out the window.
Was that Reggie Jackson in uniform, sitting next to A-Rod? No ... who is that? Maybe.
Nasty splitter. I like this pause-slomo that showcases the grip. See - at 1-2 he didnt get quite on top of it and Wilson was able to foul it off. Everyone's behind Baez's heater. If that curve was more than a show-me, I'd move him to the rotation.
Coining a term ... if there's a closer and a set-up man, I'm going to try to make the term "bridge reliever" stick for the guy who's supposed to take the 6th or 7th inning. Last year, Brad Lidge was a bridge reliever for the Astros.
The Red Sox are now a half game up on the Yankees ... see you tomorrow, drive safely, and remember to tip your waitress.
Notes During Game 1, Pt 1
ESPN is obviously taking the NHK feed, which gives us both some interesting angles and an announcing team that's interesting. None seem very comfortable, especially Peter. Having done radio now -- and still hoping to do some play by play - it's a lot tougher than it looks. For a guy that does radio each week, I'm lucky I'm a writer.
The Big Egg has what looks like hockey glass and netting all the way up the lines. I'm not sure exactly why, but I like it. Ravech just said that ushers blow whistles to warn people of foul balls. Weird.
Have I mentioned how much Tivo changes the way you watch a game? I'm about five minutes behind right now, but I'm missing all the commercials. This is going to come in real handy when the election ads start.
There's no radar reading in the scorebox today. Zambrano appears to be in the 92-94 range. Mussina's doing something new - or at least something I haven't noticed. He's almost raising off his toe as he delivers the ball.
The ads on the arms and batting helmets are a bit odd at first, but fade out. I'm on record as saying that it really doesn't bother me. If someone wants to go all-out Japanese and name their team, for instance, the Tribune Cubs, I wouldn't really mind that either.
Doesn't seem to be a lot of chanting and singing, but it could be just the mic situation. America isn't a chanting country, but it can be pretty cool in small doses.
Same ol' "I Live For This" ads we saw late last season. It's been six months - they can't come up with one new one? Maybe they're saving them for Opening Day.
Super slo-mo on Mussina's knuckle-curve ... it's just a bad knuckler. He's not doing anything with his wrist, he's not setting an angle. It's hanging too, so not sure if it's what he normally does. Mussina looks uncomfortable. Immediately, they cut to a shot of Torre and Stottlemyre talking and looking concerned.
Is there any point to the deep bow that Mussina does from the stretch?
Torre looks more and more like he should be a character on The Sopranos. He could put the kibosh on Johnny Sack in no time. He'd probably be related to Silvio somehow.
Ok, now that one was the knuckle-curve. I'm a bit confused by the previous pitch I saw now, because it was a prototype knuckler - two fingers digging in and almost no spin.
"Good grief!" Peter busts out with Charlie Brown's old line as Toby Hall stupidly runs on Posada. You know, if you told me Charlie Brown would grow up to be Peter Gammons, I wouldn't be that surprised.
The commercials for the Women's NCAA Tourney are pretty cool, but I'm still not going to watch.
When I had cancer, when I finally got my hope back, I started telling myself that if I could just make it to Opening Day, I'd be okay. Turns out that was true, but there was a lot of medicine to it. Anyway, as I sit here, I can see the sun is just starting to come up. It's not the "real" Opening Day, but it's still nice to see the sun and another season of baseball starting.
Remember those hideous "Future" uniforms from a few years back? I'll bet that 100 years from now, Yankees unis will probably look exactly like they do now. Maybe some different materials, but the pinstripes are just the definition of classic.
Did the Bowflex ad just say "core?" I think it actually said "sexy core." Yikes, it's mainstream.
Hmm, why isn't this game on ESPN rather than ESPN2? Is the Never Ending Sportscenter that important? I'm not sure if the penetration is much different these days, but imagine the NFL Thursday night kickoff game being on the Deuce.
Lou didn't get the memo about sacrifice bunts.
Pretty nice play by A-Rod. Looks like one of those patented Jeter leaps.
Mussina's really struggling. None of his pitches look comfortable and he's yet to find an arm slot where he can live. He just crossed up Posada to boot. 60 pitches through 4 2/3. Huff crushed the ball, but right at Sheffield. Mussina's lucky to get out of that inning.
Does anyone really buy these books that this moron Lesko advertises everywhere? He's getting more and more obnoxious. Probably the same people buying that 20 year old Tom Emanski video.
Wow, I didn't recognize Goose Gossage. I almost hate seeing players when they're still "young" enough to recognize, but when they're old enough to make me feel old.
Quick break for some Peet's Major Dickason ... then Part 2.
If everyone's going to keep dissing my musical taste, I'm going to TV for a while ... but I will come back and we'll have an Iron Chef: iPod contest soon enough!
Two new shows are worth your time and Tivo space: TFD's already touted Deadwood, but I was a bit behind. I still haven't seen the second hour, but I can't wait to do so. Well written, interesting characters in a setting we really haven't seen before. No one really treats this as a dusty period piece and it reminds me somewhat of Eastwood's masterpiece, Unforgiven.
Another show not getting as much notice, but as good, is Touching Evil. Sure, USA is better known for crap, but this show is interesting in a way I haven't seen. The lead is a brain-damaged cop with no rules and just enough quirks to make you keep watching. He's a blood brother of Vincent D'Onofrio's Augsberger affected detective on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but infinitely more likeable. His quote from this week's show that sticks with me: "With me, I like you means just that. I like you, I like coffee, I like thai food, I like baseball, I like scratching my sack when no one's looking." The lead is a dead ringer for Perfect Tommy, my favorite character from one of my favorite movies.
Check 'em out ...
Big announcement coming to this space later today. Blogging is a good way to pass the time while waiting for the first pitch.
Fun With Excel
I've been playing around with a couple things while I'm teaching myself Excel. I think this entry will be something like the Letterman segment "Is This Anything?" If you haven't seen it, you're missing some fun stuff. It's not "Will It Float?" but it does also have the Grinder Girl.
As I'm sure you've all read Doug Pappas' amazing work on Marginal Wins per Dollar Spent, I've wondered how to break it down to a player level. This is still an expirement, but the economists and that statheads can really dig into this one and tell me where I'm wrong and (hopefully) where I'm onto something.
So, here's the chart, courtesy of labelmate Jon Weisman:
SALARY (data from Dugout Dollars)
I've used the Cubs for mere familiarity and of course, when in doubt, use the Cubs. As I've said, I'm not sure that this "analysis" means much of anything, but I do think there's some interesting things to be learned here. First, there may be a top level where no matter the VORP, there's simply no way to "earn" a salary. It looks to be somewhere south of $10m, but I haven't done the math. There's also some interesting stuff at the bottom and I think playing with the low end of the spectrum might also bring some knowledge up. I think we might find that a replacement level player might not even be worth the minimum salary.
Also, there's lots of factors that we can't add in here. Some players put butts in seats, as Pete calls it, and others have something of a sentimental value. I'd also be curious to see how the Y3-6 players look as this gets broken out to more teams ... or, if it gets broken out to more teams. The biggest problem is the DIV/0 issue, one I'm not sure at all how to deal with.
So, there's my first math wizardry. Don't expect much from someone who's only in his second year at the baseball version of Hogwarts, but hold me to a high standard as well.
Go Buy It!
Cool people saying cool things about STP.
Cruz and then some
I'm pretty perturbed over the Cruz trade. Not because I think the Cubs should have kept him, but because they didn't trade him optimally. They could have used him at the trade deadline last season. They could have moved him over the off-season for more than Pratt and Lewis. Heck, I'm reasonably sure they could have moved him yesterday for more than they got.
(Yes, I spoke with other teams and they all said "I could beat that offer." I'm not sure whether Hendry would agree.)
It's a fun time at the end of camps where there are actually some useful parts on the waiver wire. Chris Kahrl will be working hard, as usual, to fill us in, but GM's will be working harder.
Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams have a new book out called "Core Performance." I wish it came out sooner because I talk a lot about core strengthening in STP and this would have helped. (Wonder why Rodale didn't fill me in? Oh.) Still, STP will only be a half-step back and I do point people towards Mark anyway. It's not just for pitchers either. Check it out.
Massive BPR tomorrow. Omar Minaya, Fred McGriff, Dan LeBatard, Allen St. John, and Mitchel Lichtmann. Not a bad interview in the bunch. Worth checking out (espn950.com at 8am EST; team990.com at 10am EST, but only the first hour).
Next week? Michael Lewis and Tracy Ringolsby. Oooh, them there's good radio.
My bracket is hosed. Worst I've ever done. Guess watching a couple hoops games this year might have helped.
Hey Jay, at least I didn't get excited about Gary Cherone!
TFD got a tour of Petco Park. Start writing, D ...
Alex Ciepley joins the A-B family, moving his balls ... err, ball talk over to Cub Reporter. Solid addition and great guy.
I may actually post something with, ummm, numbers and stuff this week.
Bushies are pretty well screwed? "We weren't in the Situation Room!" (Yes, you were.) "Let's declassify stuff for political gain!" (I don't think that will sound like such a good idea when you're out of office.)
Kerry needs to slam Bush now. Slam. Not punch, not jab, but slam. One lesson I've learned is you DO need to kick somebody when they're down.
A Pizza Feed at 5am? Dave, this sounds like another one of your crazy ideas ...
There's always a story about a player that wants to play Winter Ball in his home country, but the team tries to talk him out of it. He plays anyway and the team can only hold it's breath that he doesn't get hurt or wear out his arm.
Over the last couple weeks, I've felt like that guy who comes back and realizes halfway through the spring that he's got dead arm. It's not writer's block, it's just a few too many pitches from my writing arm. I'm dead penned.
So, instead of forcing out blogging, Im focusing on getting through the THR's and turning up the quality there. I hope everyone's enjoyed them. Really, the only complaint I've gotten is that I don't have them all out there so people can use them in drafts. I even heard from one GM who's waiting on his ... and yes, I'm teasing him with it.
Thanks for sticking with TFD and I through a bit of a dry spell. There's no structural damage and I think I can take the ball again soon.
No, not Sosa.
July 7th in Indy. Ok, today's been a pretty good day.
Some actual baseball stuff later tonight. Until then, check out the fellow AB blogs, especially the AB Front Porch.
What's the odds you're ever going to see Bud Selig blogging? Or Frank McCourt? Arte Moreno? Big Stein?
The NBA has one doing it - of course, it's my boy Cubes and another about to start one.
Start typing, Bud. The NBA's outmarketing your sorry ass again.
Man ... is it messed up that I'm really excited that Van Halen is hitting the road this summer? Granted, they're coming nowhere near Indy. I've got a couple weeks to wait before I'm second row for Prince ... yeah, second row.
Who else is out there? Juliana Theory is touring, but not nearer here than Chicago this weekend. Pat McGee Band and Guster play Indy in April and Rick Springfield later this summer. The summer sheds look sucky - Nelson and Styx? Mmmm, no thanks. I'm not even sure if I'll go see Rush.
There are great things about Indy, but live music isn't one of them.
Over at BP, Dayn Perry had a great line about Seattle's bench being as threatening as a promised ass-kicking from Verne Troyer."
Dude, Verne can open up a Texas-sized can of whoop ass. Don't make the same mistake so many have before and underestimate Mini-Me.
This amazing story in Playboy does an amazing job with showing all sides of the Bonds-Conte-THG investigation. It's very, very clear who they were out to get - and didn't. I won't get off on a whole "Why is the IRS involved?" tangent, but someone tell me where the tax angle is in all this. Sure, someone might have had unreported income, but this was an IRS agent driven witchhunt.
(Note: some of the images outside the article might not be work safe)
Will Young reports in on a lecture by John Dowd. Dowd has taken a lot of abuse over the years, but is hardly unbiased. Very good report on this and interesting content. Discuss.
Sometimes things work out. Jim Rushford's getting a long look in Phillies camp this year with the injury to Thome. Let's just say he hit one for Milo.
Alex Checks In
This All-Baseball thing works pretty good sometimes ... call it the buddy system or the Motown of blogging, it's a good thing. Alex Belth is having technical troubles, so his post ends up here:
With spring officially one day away, the snow continues to fall in New York. The streets are too warm for it to stick, but there it is anyway: fat, heavy, wet snowflakes swirling through the sky. It's pretty snow, the kind that sticks to tree branches, but enough already. On my commute to work this morning, it was clear that many New Yorkers have just about had it with this winter. I encountered several grumpy people on my way to the office. I resisted the invitation to get into an argument with a gruff dude who made a comment to me on the platform at 231rst street. He was standing with his son and I wasn't in the mood to get into it, and humiliate the kid. He probably felt embarrassed enough as it was. On the train, I saw a couple of others muttering to themselves angrily.
But it wasn't all bad. There was some good, community vibes to be had as well. At 168th street, a guy sat down next to me and as I moved over slightly to make room for him we exchanged that quick nod of the head which is a universal sign between men that everything is cool. Or I'm OK, you're OK. It is a subtle gesture but one of the most important bits of communication that men share with one another. It is, if not about about acceptence, then at least a sense of recognition. It also makes you feel good. I remember being in elementary school looking at the older kids, wishing that one day I would be deemed cool enough to be worth a head-nod.
I rarely think twice about it now, but I do it all of the time. It is a reflex for most men, an unconscious act. I'm one of those guys who actually look at people in the eye when I pass them in the street or on the train or in the corridor at work. I find the best way to disarm someone is to look at them in the eye and say "hello" or simply just give a quick head nod. Sometimes people completely ignore me, but more often than not, they reciprocate. My feeling is that in order to feel connected to others in a big, often lonely place like New York, you have to spread the sense of community first before you get it back.
As it turns out, I had two head nod incidents on the train this morning. At one point in the ride, a young kid who couldn't have been older than twelve, was standing in front of me. He was a dead-ringer for the nerdy kid in the Bernie Mac show. His backpack was bigger than he was. I noticed that some money was poking out of the back pocket of his pants, so I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Yo kid, you better put that money away before you attract some unwanted attention." Groggily, he stuffed it deeper into his pants, and then turned to me and gave me the nod. No words, just the nod. What more do you need?
Later, when we reached the affluent stops on the Upper West Side, an attractive couple entered the train and stood not far away. The were both handsome and stylish, but not too pretty. They also looked like they just rolled out of bed. Standing next to a pole, they leaned against each other, speaking closely, occasionally pecking each other with kisses. But this was no egregious case of PDA (public display of affection). It was subtle and intimate. They talked about the coming day, and their plans for the evening. I couldn't really hear what they were saying, but I picked up enough to get a general idea of what was going on.
They kept my attention for a minute, and as I was spying on them, I wondered what their sex life was like. That's about when the guy looked up and caught me staring. It didn't fluster me. I smiled at him respectfully and nodded my head, as if to let him know that I appreciated what we had. A caring relationship. The affection they were showing was appealing. He instinctively understood this--instead of thinking I was leering at his woman--and nodded back.
Sometimes for us men, the nod, or the slap on the ass, says more than our words could ever hope to express.
Just days away ... the first WGN games are this weekend and the NCAA Tourney (minus one of my Final Four picks) can distract us until then. Watching the splitcast of all four games is one of the great things about March.
Someone want to apologize for criticizing my "Chavez signed" post of about a month ago? Didn't think so ...
BPR this week should be solid. Rany Jazayerli on the AL Central, reports from Florida and Arizona, plus in one of the cool interviews I've done, we had the lead producer for EA's MVP Baseball 2004. These games really are getting frighteningly good and they're closer to movies than sports anymore in how they get made. Well worth listening to, I think.
(And yes, they did some us some product!)
2/3 of the way done with THR's.
If I had a Jamba Juice in Indianapolis, I would probably drink much less coffee.
I did the Sportsline "Experts League" draft last week and ended up with a pretty good team. It's roto, so it's skewed, but go check it out over at Sportsline. As ESPN continues to dumb down its content and makes its pages load slowly even over a blazing cable modem, I'm still searching for a sports home page. If it weren't for their Holy Trinity of Gammons, Stark and Neyer, I'd never go.
If the players really want testing and don't trust the owners, I volunteer to become the drug testing czar.
Is it just me or how the heck does MTV call Joss Stone and Jet "hot new music"?
Why aren't the Counting Crows recognized as one of the best and most consistent American bands of the last decade? Is it that 'August and Everything After' was just so damn good that anything else seems like a come down?
Indy Pizza Feed this weekend. Be there or be ... umm, somewhere else. I do still have one slot open in my Indy Scoresheet league. It's a live draft on the 28th, so you'll probably have to be midwest based.
I miss my iBook. It should be back early next week and the good people at Apple assure me that they've fixed the problem for good this time. It says a lot about their customer service skills that I could have three major failures and still recommend the product highly.
Anyone drive a 2004 Accord or a recent vintage Mini?
Want an advantage in your fantasy league? Understand risk. Heck, I think it might be the next arbitrage opportunity in real baseball, like OBP was and defense is.
Alex Belth emails to let everyone know he's experiencing some technical difficulties over at Bronx Banter. He'll be back soon.
Chris Lynch has something of a different take on the whole steroid mess. I think all this looking backwards at drugs is pointless. Focus should be on the future and making sure that from this point forward drug testing is effective.
Not like we didn't know Jim Palmer was ignorant before.
A chat buddy, Chris Snethen, is starting up a Diamondbacks blog. Chris gets to blog for a living, so this is one to watch.
I'm curious why some teams have loads of bloggers and why some have literally none. I can understand why the Yanks and Cubs have a billion and Seattle's techcentrist nature makes that one make sense ... but why do the World Champ Marlins have NONE? (And yes, Erik, I'm looking at you.) Moreover, why isn't some enterprising front office recruiting someone to blog their team?
Light on blogging because my iBook is making it's second trip to Apple. I was one of the unlucky ones that got a bad batch of logic board. Frustrating that it happens, so I'm hoping they'll let me upgrade. It makes for interesting conversations:
I Love Free Speech
This British ad speaks for itself.
When a culture can turn Howard Stern into a hero of freedom, man, you know we've gone too far.
(Via Oliver Willis)
Back In The Day
I don't know how long these 'abstinence pledges' have been around, but it's interesting to see that they aren't working. In high school, we called those sorts of things "a challenge."
Go Crazy, Folks
Via Atrios, a great list of eating material ...
I'm noticing something around the 'sphere and it dovetails nicely with some things I've been saying for a while. Politically, I'm an odd mix of free-market libertarian, far-left liberal on social issues, and I'm all over the spectrum on issues from terrorism to foreign policy. In baseball, I'm a moderate.
However, across spectrums and formats, bloggers are starting to burn out. There's always been a pretty high churn rate with blogs, I'd imagine, as people realize that it's either a lot of work, they don't have as much to say as they thought, or they can't capture enough feedback to feed them.
Capture feedback? Why not eyeballs, Will? We're past that paradigm, but most still cling to it. I honestly don't care how many people read my site, but it is important to me that the right people read it. People will read this as ego, but with a couple other blogs, WCW has found itself as something of a hub for other sites. My position with BP also allows me to hold more influence that I normally would, though I've made a pretty clear diffferentiation.
More than once, people have written saying that a quick email I sent them kept them excited and made them write more. I know David Pinto is credited as a sire for many baseball blogs (or is blamed the right term?) This is all good, but as blogging makes a shift from hobby to vocation, what happens?
There's a BIG differentiation in this shift. Net based baseball writing is taken seriously by everyone except MLB, which clings to an outdated model (except for their own site ...). I think the next step for the vocation is the IBWA, something I've been working on in fits and starts with others in the 'sphere. Standards, ethics, and collective negotiation with MLB will be a big step.
It's the individual shift that's more interesting to me; the vocational shift is inevitable. At some point, a blogger has to make some decision that they're taking their blog seriously. It's a commitment to time, quality, and many other factors. Some make this shift unconsciously and some do it from the very start. Some try to make this shift, but either don't have the talent or the technique.
But what's the next step? There's probably a thousand baseball blogs out there. There are probably a hundred that, to me, are consistently at a level that I'd call "high quality" and could concievably make that shift up to vocational. There are ... well, look over yonder. The one's on my blogroll are the one's I check daily. Granted, you may love one I don't like. I'm probably never going to read one about the Devil Rays regularly, no matter how well it's written.
So, the question remains - what's the next step? I think the answer is - what's in it for me? Not me, Will Carroll, but the question is one every blogger must answer. What's in it? Is the feedback enough? Do you want to be the next Peter Gammons or Tom Verducci or Tracy Ringolsby? Do you want to figure out how to make this pay or leave that day job behind?
We're losing too many good bloggers and as readers, we must support them. What I'm not sure is how to make a vocational shift and a new paradigm work together. That's why we have comments here. What do YOU think?
(Jesse Taylor, this one's for you.)
We Are The Knights Who Say ...
One of the benefits of being around All-Baseball is the "behind the scenes" talk. Imagine a bunch of guys at a bar or coffeehouse talking. You know the type - I just hope I'm not the obnoxious one that bugs everyone else in the place. The difference is that all the A-B guys are smart and passionate.
Over at the A-B Home Page, we're beginning a series of roundtable discussions about the various divisions and capping it with our picks. TFD holds up our end of the discussion, since I was pretty much absent for the roundtables due to work on STP. Well worth your time to check out.
Keep your eye on the A-B home page as well. There's going to be lots of interesting stuff in that space.
Last call to get your teams ready over at the A-B league @ Yahoo. It usually takes about 24 hours before they kick in the list draft, so you should have time if you're some kind of damn slacker and haven't done your list. ;)
John Henry Williams
There will be no "Hub Bids Kid Adieu" for the Kid's son. In fact, it could be said that he will be little missed. Around the 'net, people are doing everything but celebrating his passing, making jokes, and hoping for some sort of karmic justice.
The next one of you that wants to make the joke, I'll invite you to head to the closest cancer ward. See what happens as acute myelogenous leukemia eats away someone's body and try to look them in the eyes. I seldom if ever discuss my cancer, but this mean-spirited attack on someone - deserving or not - denigrates everyone who is fighting this disease.
When they tell you that you have cancer, doctors stop looking you in the eye. People don't know how to deal with you. I had a neighbor that noted I was losing weight and I had to break the news to him - you can imagine how he felt. I don't know how Williams dealt with his disease, but I hope he wasn't alone and that he didn't suffer.
I may not agree with what John Henry decided to do with his father, but really, this is something you would not wish on anyone. Let him rest in peace, wherever that may be.
Dumb and Smart
Watching the Angels-Mariners game on ESPN ... and yes, spring training looks great in HD, even just the upconverted version.
Dumb - "Garrett Anderson is the best hitter on this team." - David Justice
Smart - "I look at it as an investment, not a cost." - Arte Moreno, on signing Vlad.
Matt Thornton showed some heat. His mechanics look pretty solid.
Even with Justice, Rick Sutcliffe is so much better in a three man booth. His pairing with Shulman and Gwynn a couple years back was amazing.
If I ever write the opposite of STP, I'll use Francisco Rodriguez as the model. Living proof of Law's Rule.
Erstad seems about as excited about playing first base as Shawn Green does.
I want to see Bobby Jenks' motion. I don't believe the 103 myth, but he does throw really hard.
Kerry - Brokaw?
Now this is an interesting idea. Valid? I don't know. Viable? I don't know. What I do know is that I like this kind of out of the box thinking in the Kerry campaign.
I was sure that Evan Bayh (D-IN) was going to be the Veep, but he missed in the vetting.
(Whoa ... Vlad just cranked one from ankle height. He looks fat - can't tell if it's the brace.)
My tasks on STP are almost complete. Let me tell ya ... when you think of deadlines, in books, it's not the same. You turn stuff in, you think everything's done, but there's little things. A chart fix here, a text tweak there. Once I turn in the blurbs - and it's an odd experience asking people to say something nice about you - the book will be out of my hands and in yours in just over a month.
There's something to writing that eats at you. Even when you're done, you always want to go back and change something. You see an error, something you could have said better, a plot point that doesn't quite get there -- so you change it. In the era of computers, it's very easy to constantly tweak. I imagine doing that with a typewriter would be harder ... but I'll bet Fitzgerald tweaked.
It's like being pregnant must be. There's something growing inside you and it wants to spring forth. Yet for most, it just sits there. I know for the "lost years" - my five or six year period between leaving Jim White's writing program and picking up the pen again for my unfinished novel - that I felt it.
Publishing on the web and two BP books with my name on it aren't quite the same. Amazing feelings, but STP is entirely mine. Even though there are barely any "original" ideas in the book, the way the information is presented is completely different than anything available. The throbbing in my wrist proves that it's mine.
I'm lucky. The luckiest boy in the world, I often say. Many of the struggles that writers have, I don't. I'm just breathing easy.
Over at Daily Kos , another great liberal blog, Kos himself started the idea of "Baseball Day." I think it's a great idea but one I hope doesn't get official recognition. I guess football would try to steal it, but since they're on Sunday, screw it.
As baseball fans, it is our "national holiday" and I'll be wearing my Prior jersey proudly, even if Kerry is pitching.
Not really. A-B will be down for server stuff over the weekend. Enjoy your time and we'll be back Monday.
It's funny almost.
I write something long and thoughtful --- or at least long --- and I tend to get almost no reaction. Does that mean I said it so well that there's nothing to be added or discussed? Hmmm, let me use that illusion.
Write something about ... let's see ... I blame Dick Cheney for the downfall of the Orioles! ... and watch the comments roll! :)
Ok, here's my new band of the moment: The Juliana Theory. I heard some stuff from them a couple years back because they wrote a song about a college I was at briefly. Just struck me as serendipitous. Good, pretty basic emo. Then on their second album, there was an extended piece called "You Always Say Goodnight" that was stunning. Not a GREAT song, but it showed the range most bands of that genre lack. Third album's a bit overproduced (typical Jerry Harrison) but still very powerful and there's continued growth. Even in today's musical climate, I think they're poised to breakout with their next album.
Usually, I don't get a chance to read columns that interest me before the email hits. Yesterday was no exception and this time, there was more of it than usual. What's different about this one is the perception, both implied and explicit.
In Rob Neyer's latest column , he asks a lot of questions about Geoff Jenkins and Ken Griffey Jr. Both of these players are among the most "injury prone" in the game and Rob does a great job - as usual - of breaking these down and showing why the signings of each have not or are not likely to work out for their franchises. Contrary to most emailers, I didn't think this was aimed at my work; I think Rob was aiming more at Jim Bowden and Doug Melvin.
Rob then asks a medhead version of "the naive question." Why does this happen? What are the possible explanations? He comes up with:
There are three "explanations" for injury problems like those suffered by Griffey and Jenkins.
One is that the player doesn't take care of himself, and so is prone to injuries (but doesn't have to be).
Another is that the player is naturally injury-prone (and can't do much to change that).
And one more is that the player has just been particularly unlucky (and presumably his bad luck won't last forever).
In the case of the first, this is undeniably true. Some players simply are more likely to be injured due to lack of flexibility, strength, or style of play. They may be overweight, out of shape, or simply unprepared for the activity.
In the case of the second, this is probably true. Some players do seem to tend towards injury, but as we learn more about the patterns and causes of injury, we get better at preventing them. More on this later.
Luck is a poor explanation. It's the last resort. Certainly, there's not an explanation for some injuries. They just happen, but they happen at rates that are predictable in an actuarial sense. No one in their right mind can suggest that Mark Prior might run into Marcus Giles and miss a couple weeks, but we do know that over time, a certain percentage of pitchers will have traumatic injuries.
Injury analysis then becomes something of an actuarial science, reducing baseball to insurance. That's certainly not poetic, but it is a good basis for running both a business and a ballclub. My mother never expected to be hit by a tornado, but unlike the people who lived next to her, she had insurance when it did happen.
In a very real sense, insurance is a big part of baseball, either in terms of laying off the risk of contracts and in roster construction. Failing to use these principles is roughly equivalent to ignoring the best research in baseball statistics. It's certainly possible to win without having a stathead in the front office, but explaining it to the owner might be tougher when your team ends up eliminated in July.
Part of my background that serves me so well is the time I spent working in disability insurance. Insurers have done amazing studies on types of injuries, how long it should take to return, the steps needed to return, and the likelihood of a type of person to have any type of injury. This directly applies to baseball, with slight adjustments. There are distinct player types, known risks, and perhaps more measurement than is possible in most workplaces.
Injury analysis, like Rob says, is never going to be directly predictive. There will be cases - Phil Nevin most famously - where the factors line up so well that it looks predictive, but that's not the end result of the working being done now. Injury analysis, which I am finally beginning to see as a subset of sabermetrics, will be actuarial in nature. Players will fall into distinct pools of risk and, with other factors, will be used to judge the talent of each player by each team.
As we continue to build out the BP Injury Database, we're in territory that I equate to the days before STATS, when Elias kept as much data to itself as possible. Injury analysis is in the intuitve stage - find a manager or beat writer who hasn't used the phrase "if we stay healthy" a couple hundred times already in spring training.
I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on the Internet, but I can see the day when risk of injury will be a known quantity. Perhaps it will be on a PECOTA card or a Topps card, along with other stats that tell us what has happened or will happen. Then, that player, along with the others, will take the field and play the game we love so much. Out there, it seems at least that anything can happen.
This is flat out the best logical breakdown of the steroid issue I've seen. Great job by a label-mate and it should be required reading for the general media.
And those of you that are reading know who I mean ...
Why So Quiet?
Thanks for the emails ... sorry to have been quiet here, but as the season gets going, I have two major products under the BP umbrella, plus a secondary task which has big importance.
I'm rushing through the THR's since I've fallen quite off the pace I need to in order to get them all out in time. Worse, I realize that there's a success effect - people like the THRs and want them all in time for fantasy drafts. It's something I'll note next year when I won't be pushed back by ... oh jeez, who knows? I have no idea what next year might bring!
I'm also working VERY HARD on BPR. Getting things lined up for all the season preview stuff takes a TON of work, but hopefully will pay off. We're also doing another big affiliate push, so as always, check your local listings!
Finally, I handle the customer service at BP and with renewal season - which is going gangbusters - the problems ramp up as thousands of people try to deal with the occasional technical problem. It's taken much more time than I'd budgeted.
But that's why we have TFD around ... except he's jetsetting this week and formulating his take on the steroid story. So, I'll leave you with - how 'bout that James Loney today?
Man, wasn't it good to see the green grass again?
Reports are pretty widely circulating that BALCO provided several athletes with products referred to as "the clear" (THG) and "the cream." The SF Chronicle referred to this as a "testosterone based gel." I've said before that sources had indicated to me that the "cream" was testosterone gel, like prescription AndroGel or one of the OTC brands such as this thing. Yes, you can order this. Yes, it's undetectable by current tests. Studies indicate that it's frighteningly effective.
I'll have a strength training expert on BPR this week, so please - and I know a lot of bloggers and writers read this - let's not jump to uneducated conclusion. Let's take our time and cover this correctly.
So I'll admit I flipped over to see what the "shocking twist" was on Average Joe last night. After selecting the "hunk" instead of the "geek", the woman slips out her big secret to her new love ... she dated Fabio.
Now, dating Fabio might not say much for her taste, I doubt this would hardly be a disqualifying condition for most men. Of course, the doofus on TV freaks out and walks.
We're officially out of twists and reality TV, in that moment, might have jumped the shark. I mean ... Fabio? FABIO?
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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