Daily Notes, Featuring a Discussion of Happiness

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. A Brief Discussion Of Happiness
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

A Brief Discussion of Happiness
Given that we find ourselves in the tranquil moments between Dan Straily’s fine debut yesterday and Matt Harvey’s future deeds, this is an excellent moment to pause and reflect on our appreciation of the game of baseball. If one is available, I suggest grabbing a croissant or Danish as you begin to contemplate today’s arsenal of baseball activities.

To that end, and with the welfare of our thoughtful and intrepid readership in mind, I’ll paraphrase a few thoughts by Bertrand Russell, as compiled in his 1930 book “The Conquest of Happiness”. Although Russell himself did not follow the game, he supported it in a philosophical sense, including it in the “impersonal interests” which, by distracting us from the crucial and stressful elements of work, marriage and parenthood, provide an invaluable source of happiness. He relates the following mysterious anecdote:

Or consider again the passionate joy of the baseball fan: he turns to his newspaper with avidity, and the radio affords him the keenest thrills. I remember meeting for the first time one of the leading literary men of America, a man whom I had supposed from his books to be filled with melancholy. But it so happened that at that moment the most crucial baseball results were coming through on the radio; he forgot me, literature, and all the other sorrows of our sublunary life, and yelled with joy as his favourites achieved victory. Ever since this incident I have been able to read his books without feeling depressed by the misfortunes of his characters.

The identity of this fan is lost to history, though the names of Eliot (a miserable Red Sox fan) and Hemingway (a content Yankees fan) have been suggested.

More than escape, however, Russell prizes baseball (in theory) for its ability to create “a friendly interest in persons and things.” Specifically, baseball creates a bond of fellowship that connects us to the fan and faceless internet commenter beside us. It allows us to exist alongside others, to feel a sense of community, while maintaining our own individuality.

In summary, the purpose of this unsolicited commentary is to suggest that despite the fact that no GIF file may be created from today’s events, and that for the most part the contending teams are all facing lesser opponents that they are expected to defeat, we can still derive some happiness from today’s games, meaningless as they may appear. Please go and do so.

Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)

Seattle at New York | 13:05 ET
Felix Hernandez, who has crept into the American League Cy Young race by doing the same exact things he has been doing for four years, faces off against the equally consistent Hiroki Kuroda. At stake in this game is the fate of at least one annoying internet talking point. Will it be “Ichiro is a cancer because the Mariners have suddenly started winning and the Yankees are now terrible”? Or will we have the last of “Don’t look now, but Seattle is only 7.5 games out of the Wild Card”? Time will tell, as is its wont.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati | 19:10 ET
This game has Playoff Implications, or at least slightly greater playoff implications than other games, so it is of course important if you care about results, particularly such things as success. It is also an excellent opportunity to watch Andrew McCutchen, whose performance can provide happiness regardless of outcome.

Cleveland at Detroit | 19:05 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
Forget the shambling corpse that is Ubaldo Jimenez, and forget momentarily the fact that he’s coughing up more HR/9 playing at Progressive Field than he ever did at Coors. Try even to ignore the fact that Doug Fister is somehow Doug Fister, despite all indications that he should be Paul Maholm. Instead, focus on the fact that today, as every day, you can enjoy a game of baseball, performed ably by paid professionals, free of charge with minimal interference by advertisers. Imagine the poem Walt Whitman would have written given the opportunity you might otherwise have taken for granted.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Rather than calculate the NERD score of each pitcher and each game in the traditional way, i.e. through the use of math, I present today’s games not in relation to each other but in relation to a shadowy world in which there is no baseball. Furthermore, Russell’s advocation of finding happiness from as many sources as possible leads us to the conclusion that beyond being able to appreciate the game itself, we should strive to find it in the toil of Chris Volstad every bit as much as the changeup of one Matt Harvey.

Away SP Tm. Game Tm. SP Home Time
Felix Hernandez SEA 10 10 10 10 10 NYY Hiroki Kuroda 13:05
Ricky Romero TOR 10 10 10 10 10 OAK A.J. Griffin 16:05
Scott Feldman TEX 10 10 10 10 10 KC Will Smith 17:10
Joe Saunders ARI 10 10 10 10 10 PHI Roy Halladay 19:05
Mark Buehrle MIA 10 10 10 10 10 WSH Jordan Zimmerman 19:05
Ubaldo Jimenez CLE 10 10 10 10 10 DET Doug Fister 19:05
Lucas Harrell HOU 10 9 10 10 10 ATL Paul Maholm 19:10
Ervin Santana LAA 10 10 10 10 10 CWS Gavin Floyd 19:10
James McDonald PIT 10 10 10 10 10 CIN Mike Leake 19:10
Wei-Yin Chen BAL 10 10 10 10 10 TB Jeremy Hellickson 19:10
Cole De Vries MIN 10 10 10 10 10 BOS Clay Buchholz 19:10
Mark Rogers MIL 10 10 10 10 10 STL Adam Wainwright 19:15
Madison Bumgarner SF 10 10 10 10 10 COL Jeff Francis 20:10
Jeremy Hefner NYM 10 10 10 10 10 SD Edinson Volquez 20:35
Chris Volstad CHC 10 10 10 10 10 LAD Clayton Kershaw 21:10

To learn more about pitcher and team NERD scores, ask Carson when he gets back.


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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

20 Responses to “Daily Notes, Featuring a Discussion of Happiness”

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  1. Tim says:


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  2. Greg says:

    Survey from 2 million people showed that #happiness follows a U-shaped curve. It starts high, trends downward, and then climbs back up.” got this tweet yesterday.

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  3. filihok says:

    Good call on the ‘Stros

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  4. Jack says:

    Lol Astros.

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  5. Greg says:

    From Websters 1828 Dictionary. Happiness from Happy The agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; the state of being in which his desires are gratified by the enjoyment of pleasure without pain. ; felicity; but happiness usually expresses less than felicity , and felicity less than bliss.

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  6. majnun says:

    Is The Game not allowing anyone else to select a player? I gotsta get my Game on!

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  7. Matt NW says:

    Russell is enjoyable in that he opposed many of civilization’s most obvious inherent ills: fascism, imperialism, war-for-capital-gain, etc.

    However, like most 20th century western thinkers, he is unable to recognize that civilization (living in growing cities: which require fascism, imperialism, conquest for their very existence) is the true pathology that haunts us. So while baseball is a beautiful game, the very nature of the civilized world is an all-out anxiety producing disaster… and using distractions to cope is, unfortunately, all weez got.

    Thumbs down, I know.

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    • True, it’s hard to appreciate the social pressure of the urban environment when you get to live in a mansion among the rolling hills of the British countryside.

      But in his defense, I think that Russell and others had trouble with this concept partially because they had a hard time taking Rousseau seriously. I share this difficulty.

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      • RL says:

        First off, major props to Patrick for the Bertrand Russell shout out. On the very short list of things that would make Fangraphs even better than it already is, “more Bertrand Russell” is near the top.

        Regarding Russell living “in a mansion among the rolling hills of the British countryside,” he actually experienced serious financial difficulties throughout much of his life and was forced to write what he described as “pot-boilers” such as the Conquest of Happiness (a book I thoroughly enjoy) in order to earn money. Furthermore, he spent decades of his life living in the United States, during which he was a professor in Chicago and Los Angeles (but not in New York where he was declared by the New York Supreme Court “morally unfit” to teach). So I think he knew a thing or two about city life.

        Furthermore, he wrote quite a bit about the tensions inherent in living in an organized society and between social cohesion and individual liberty.

        And, Matt, before we start blaming civilization for all our ills, we have to examine what the alternative is like. Deaths by violence in hunter-gatherer societies are incredibly common.


        This hardly makes today’s injustices more tolerable, but it should make us wary of declaring that “civilization is the true pathology that haunts us.”

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      • Mr. Jones says:

        Did you really just use “furthermore” twice in such close proximity? That had to be frowned upon in whatever writing class taught you how to write like that.

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      • BD says:

        @Mr. Jones: Really not that big of a deal.

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      • Matt NW says:

        RL, I think it is a great fallacy that we must “examine the alternatives”, and I’m certainly not talking about hunter-gatherers… surely we don’t know what our alternatives are, and even if we did, critiquing something for what-it-is, regardless of the potential alternatives, is a healthy, and cleaner, exercise.

        And I’ll note “death” by any means, is not my primary concern… rather, an almost complete lack of control and meaningful choices — for the vast majority of us, the debtor class — in a world that seemingly has one singular goal: eradicate everything that humans (and their hilarious institutions) can’t control… or, at least replace a lack of control with the delusion of control.

        I would argue that (despite all the pretense suggesting otherwise) “justice” is of fundamentally no concern to global capital, and global capital clearly calls the shots. To suggest the whims of the public mood, in its various flavors of democracy, seeks justice is a bit of a stretch as well.

        Remember, or rather, consider: a government, its institutions, a corporation, a nation, a group of any size… whatever you want to use as an example — CAN NEVER BE VIRTUOUS. Simply not possible, virtue falls to the individual, and in this weird-ass world, individuals are terribly hamstrung by behavioral rails that are nearly impossible to careen off of.


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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        If I could take all the upvotes I got for my Kate Upton joke last week and give them to RL for his post, I would.

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    • “the very nature of the civilized world is an all-out anxiety producing disaster”

      That’s more an east-coast, Midwest big city thing. The sun belt is full of happy urban dwellers, grateful for temperate climes, mellow peers, nice outdoor activities and watching Mike Trout’s glorious routes, intrepid base stealing and leg-tingling at-battery.

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  8. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Jose Altuve is a 25.

    Also, this was most excellent, and the thought of a shadowy world in which there is no baseball plunged me into a momentary depression.

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  9. Pacoheadley says:

    I would have given the Astros a 7.

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  10. Matt Hunter says:

    I had never read that excerpt by Russell before, but it reminds me of a post I recently wrote in response to the Colorado shooting. Baseball is more than a distraction from the pain and anxiety of the outside world – its results impact the way that we view and deal with those pains and anxieties. And yes, this is shameless self-promotion. So what? http://yanksgoyard.com/2012/07/20/on-a-somber-day-finding-comfort-and-release-in-baseball/

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  11. Jaybo Shaw says:

    Who are you and what did you do with Carson Cistulli? The NotGraphs Special Operations teams does not negotiate with terrorists. Their counter striker will be as ferocious and hasty as it will be ironic. I suggest to free him ASAP.

    Also, we demand that you return him without damaging his thick-framed glasses or cardigan, so that this horror story can end without prophesy being violated. “The hipster baseball writer will be returned without a single torn thread from his sweater.”


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  12. Kevin says:

    And the times for the games are in 24 hour military time because? Lame. Hardly ever used, at least in the US.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Hipster-esque saber culture. FIP used to be cool, now it’s sort of outdated. Now you see “lol FIP” a lot or complaints about people misusing FIP. Normal time? Pfft, child’s play, everyone uses that. I go by military time. Much more practical.

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