Offseason Notes, The Highly Anticipated Debut Of

You are walking down the red carpet of life right now, America.

A Note on the “Notes”
I can’t say for sure how it’s happened — I’m guessing my heroic jawline has played no small part in it — but I, Carson Cistulli, am currently the sort of person who gets paid to write about sports. All in all, it’s not that unique a thing. Walk over any hill and down into any dale and you’ll find a community paper with a local sportswriter. Indeed, some papers employ two or five or more of them. (The Boston Globe, ever the picture of journalistic innovation, goes so far as to give a bit of space everyday to a spoilt, curly haired child.) Furthermore, that glistening series of tubes known as the internet has its fair share of content in re sport.

However ubiquitous sportwriters are, I spend almost all of my time actively excited to be one of them. But there’s a thing I’ve observed about many of them — these sportswriters, that is — and which, as Shakespeare would say, “totally bums me out.” Namely, they don’t seem to enjoy themselves too much. This idea — i.e. the general unhappiness of the sporting journalist — is one of the central themes of Will Leitch’s God Save the Fan. Nor is it difficult to find evidence of. Like, look at this article to which Tom Tango recently linked about golf’s computer rankings. Its author, David Lariviere — who I’m sure is a fine person — is quite upset about them. And look at all the attention Kevin Garnett’s comments about Charlie Villanueva have received from the press. How is that designed to celebrate the magic of human potential?

Even when they’re not angry per se, many sportswriters are unnaturally beholden to “current events” and “facts,” are in a rush to construct “strong opinions” or “takes.” In short, they (i.e. the sportswriters) appear bent on making their jobs appear as difficult and unpleasant as everyone else’s.

It’s a worldview — this tendency towards “duty,” I mean — constructed originally by people wearing buckle hats and exemplified by Yeats in his poem “Adam’s Curse.” For it’s in said poem that we find these lines:

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, “A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.”

I remember discussing those lines as an undergraduate, and remember, too, the instructor saying, “Yeats is right: if you want to be a great poet, you have to work real hard.” I remember, at the time, feeling rather dismayed by that notion, and am resolute in my opinion now that such an idea is ridiculous — is, in fact, dangerous.

Writing is not as hard as scrubbing a kitchen or breaking stones, regardless of the weather. I, personally, have tried manual labor, have had summer jobs that involved cleaning up all manner of organic waste, and have thoroughly detested them.

Of course, that’s not the case for everyone. I’ve certainly met people — people who I’m almost positive have not experienced any sort of serious brain trauma — who say they like physical labor. That’s fine. The point is that, in order not to die, most people must work. In most cases, these same people would prefer not to work — or, at least, to work less.

But for the sportswriter, it’s different. He is, essentially, a correspondent, reporting back to everyone from the front lines of joy. Or he should be. And anything less than that should be considered failure.

When I think of the Platonic Sportswriter I like to imagine him in a cherry- or mahogany-paneled room, drinking expensive ports, and surrounded by busts of Great Men. I want him to be a master of leisure, this Sportswriter, totally at the whim of his curiosity. And I want all of this to be evident in his prose.

In any case, that’s what these Notes are intended to be: a (mostly) daily report on all the ways we might enjoy the offseason. As you read them, imagine that I have a glass of port in my hand.

And also that I’m wearing an eye patch, too. Just for fun.

SCOUT Batting Leaderboard
Yesterday, I introduced a method by which we might use winter-league samples in a responsible way. As I said then — and am willing to repeat ad infinitum — the resulting metric, SCOUT, is not intended to replace the valuable contributions of scouting. Rather, it’s designed to look at metrics which become reliable more quickly than slash stats.

Here are the current batting leaders in the Arizona Fall Leagues, per SCOUT:

SCOUT Pitching Leaderboard
Using the same method as for batters, I’ve also devised a SCOUT for pitchers. One thing about that: while strikeouts becomes reliable pretty quickly (150 batters faced), walks don’t so much (550 BFs). I’ve included the latter for now, however.

Here are the current pitching leaders in the Arizona Fall Leagues, per SCOUT:

Bryce Harper Watch
Bryce Harper was dormant yesterday.

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

27 Responses to “Offseason Notes, The Highly Anticipated Debut Of”

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  1. Max says:

    This article was about you, or more appropriately, what a pompous asshole you are. I’m sure wherever you are getting paid to write about baseball they actually would prefer you, well, write about baseball. Instead, you spout off about whatever tangent is bouncing around your head. And you must be getting paid by the word, otherwise this article would have been about 3 sentences. Pure Drivel.

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  2. dan woytek says:

    One undoubted positive about reading the articles penned by Cistulli, I’ve become exceedingly familiar with the word, “Drivel”, the verb form of which I do subconsciously before eating a very delicious sandwich…

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    • Randy says:

      Another definition which is consistent with your comment, childish and idiotic, also in the form of a verb…

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  3. Matt Defalco says:

    Sweet! You used my idea for a “Bryce Harper Watch”!

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  4. Padman Jones says:

    I can’t really be the only one here who counts Cistulli posts as something to get excited about regardless of the topic, can I? Or is it just that only people who don’t enjoy humorous, prosaic baseball writing bother to comment? Cause that’s kind of annoying.

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  5. Bgaw says:

    Loved the link to the “spoilt, curly haired child.” This could have used a Jeff Pearlman reference though… he writes about sports like he’s doing so to avoid castration.

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    • Andy says:

      Pearlman, however grumpy, can actually write.

      I’m more concerned with the Bob Smiziks and Ron Cooks of the world (I’m sure every paper has writers like them, those are just the two I’m familiar with). Not only are they depressing, they all seem to have this proven method of setting up these awful punchlines that I can’t help but believe they think to be the cleverest thing this side of the airplane’s invention.

      ex, here’s a typical Smizik setup/punchline combo:

      The Pirates have lost their last 10 overall, and 12 playing at home. Said Duke, “It’s been tough, and everyone’s frustrated. We’ve just been trying to stay positive, keep the clubhouse upbeat as possible, joke around here or there when we can.”

      Well, Duke, maybe you should lay off the joking until you win a few. The Pirates start winning – Now THAT’s a joke.

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  6. Krog says:

    On the other hand…

    I prefer when you don’t write about baseball. It is far more entertaining. More nonsensical drivel please!

    You have a unique writing style that, when combined with the podcasts, allows me to hear your voice speaking as I read the articles.

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    F ree shipp ing
    (UG G Bo ots for Women)…. 50$
    {Han dbag GUCCI} 40$

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  8. woodman says:

    Cistulli is too good to write about baseball.

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  9. Piccamo says:

    Carson, how does it feel to have True Fans™ like Max above? How many Max-likes do you need before you reach a level of fame rivaling Elvis?

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  10. Adam M says:

    Your comment about Shaughnessy made me laugh for at least 22 seconds. Oh, and the rest of the post was also enjoyable.

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  11. maqman says:

    As a dual US/English national I’m quite sure you are not that familiar with port. An abomination to the tongue, liver and senses, it eludes joy and contentment as much as poverty or terminal constipation. Surcease from life’s travails is better found in a Bud.

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  12. KS says:

    This article calls to mind something a professor said to me in an undergrad writing class, to wit: good science fiction must have both good science and good fiction. Likewise, good sports writing must have both good sports and good writing. It seems to me one reason you enjoy your vocation so much is that you are so good at both. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the vast majority of those who call themselves “sports writers.” While they may know sports, they can’t actually construct a grammatical, intelligible sentence, nevermind reach the heights of writing craftsmanship that you do on a regular basis.

    Perhaps Max is so used to the mangled drivel that passes for sports “writing” these days that he has now confused bad writing with good journalism….

    In any case, keep up the excellent work, Carson.

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  13. Joel says:

    I am new to metrics and typically just read and learn, so I could very easily be missing something here.

    How can for some of the above referenced hitters have a higher average then BABIP? EX: Escobar avg .348 BABIP .339

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    • Two things about that, Joel.

      For one, the version of BABIP I’ve included here doesn’t count hit-by-pitches or sac flies, because that information is omitted from the MiLB leaderboards. So, that’s one thing.

      The other thing is this: because BABIP doesn’t include home runs and batting average does, that’s how a person’s average can be higher than his BABIP.

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  14. dutchbrowncoat says:

    carson cistulli for president in ’12

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  15. CircleChange11 says:

    I heard a movie quote that Stuck with me, “If you’re always in a bad mood, it’s not a mood. It’s your personality.”


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  16. TheMooseOfDeath says:

    This is why I read every single article from you, Carson. Fitting in a stanza from “Adam’s Curse”? I swear my undying allegiance to you.

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  17. Goslaw says:

    Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too fantastic. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a great website.

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