Archive for Big Idea

Retrofitting Baseball to the Winter Olympics: A Brief Proposal

Now that the Winter Olympics are behind us, and with them those boreal Danish cyborgs, those European blurs, those airborne American ice-o-nauts, those pawns of the alpine graviton, we can steer our Olympian spirit back to that lonely orphan of the Quadrennial Games, baseball. We the people, endowed with the Visa-commercial belief that we can achieve our dreams as long as we set our minds to it and also have parents who will drive us to the rink each morning at 4, can now seek ways to restore the American Pastime to this international event, the Pastime having been abruptly voted out some years ago when a bunch of Commie Pinkos got together with a bunch of wine-sipping art lovers to deny Americans their Gawd-given right to Americanize the rest of the world, and also to dominate it.

Granted, baseball got booted from the Summer Games, not the Winter, but since the Games of Ice ’N Snow are still fresh on our minds, and also since the Summer Games jilted Doubleday’s baby like a lottery winner divorces his wife, let’s work to return our game to Olympia’s embrace by making baseball part of the frozen fortnight, shall we? That’s right, fellow ’Murcans: Let’s make it a winter event!

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Name That Team! Yep, Here’s Your Chance

Vanna For Real

In my brief time here at NotGraphs – a time marked, incidentally, by writer unrest, failed coups d’editeur and overwhelming displays of Cistullian force – I have noticed a pair of salient things, “salient” being an old Latin word for “an old Latin word that slots directly before the American word ‘things.’” One is that humor writing, or, perhaps more accurately, alleged humor writing, is not nearly as fun as it seems, in part because The Paul Reiser Show took most of the good jokes but also because La Garde Cistullian – honestly, that’s what it’s called: The Cistullian Guard – allows us just one bathroom break per 18-hour workday and just three squares of an off-brand Slovenian toilet paper made primarily from corn husks and insect parts.

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Name That Ballpark! Yep, Here’s Your Chance

One thing we all have in common, apart from a deep and abiding desire to see Ben Bernanke wear a funny hat, is that each of us came into being without the benefit of a name, at least until such time that our guardians – or, in the case of Vlad the Impaler, our prophetic marketing executives – supplied us with the “nominal support” we’d eventually need while waiting for our vanilla lattes at Starbucks, because if there’s anything that creates havoc, it’s 26 patrons answering to “Hey, you.” What I’m saying is that somebody slapped a name on you, and unless you’re Vin Diesel – in which case Hi, Mr. Diesel! Love your work! – you still sign that name to birthday cards and death threats, which isn’t particularly smart because if you are anything like me, many of those threats are directed at Vlad the Impaler, who, though very much dead, actually answers to the name “Scooter.”

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Baseball Withdrawal Antidote: Olympic Curling

curling

Curling has been an Olympic sport since 1998. And, especially in last eight years or so, it has become everyone’s favorite Winter game to ironically like, make fun of, or become enthralled in strictly under the auspices of seeming incredibly interesting. You can put even money on a late-night talk show doing a remote somewhere where the host feigns an attempt to learn curling while he mostly dicks around and makes fun of a sport — not game, sport — that has roots as far back as the 16th century. Yes, curling is a little different. Yes, the shouts coming from the skips can seem out of place when juxtaposed next to such a slow-moving and low-contact event. It uses equipment not seen in any other sport. The curlers themselves look like they could work in your law office or butcher shop. That’s because they all work in a law firm or butcher shop or some other office — they all have day jobs. Baseball — the main subject of this Internet blog — is approaching. Pitchers and catchers are reporting. And while the mere fact of that brings excitement, it’s just that. There’s not much substance there. So, in the next few weeks, let me offer an alternative to fix your eyes upon. Let me sell you on curling.

Some of you might not need selling. That’s cool. Keep reading if you’d like. For everyone else, let’s get some things out of the way. Curling and baseball are really nothing alike. I won’t go over every difference because they are many, and they seem fairly obvious. We all know baseball is great. But curling is pretty great, too. It’s seen as mainly a game of strategy, and that isn’t far off. But don’t sell the players short as actual athletes. Surely, many aren’t fit and toned in a way that we may expect, but the throw — coming out of the hack in that smooth, forward motion while carrying a 40-pound stone — is not easy. If those hacky late-night bits serve any purpose, it’s to show just how difficult that motion actually is. It takes years to perfect that delivery. It can escape even the most experienced at times. And sweeping is no breezy task, either. It involves not only moving the broom as fast as you can, but simultaneously applying the most downward pressure possible. It races the heart and perspires the underarms.

But the strategy does play such a big part. The physics of the game allow only a handful of shot types. It’s how they are employed that separates. There are plans and backup plans and backup plans to the backup plans to consider. Opponents must not only be out-played, but out-thought. The basic rules are simple enough, and while it seems that some skips are running on autopilot at times, it only appears that way because they’ve been in that spot a thousand times before. It’s when they stop to think that things get squirrely. Doubts come. Past failures are remembered. It takes a flexible body, a flexible mind, and nerves of steel to compete at a high level at curling.

So, why should you care? Why should the baseball fan even raise an eyebrow? While the motions and actions of the game differ, the aesthetics match a fair bit. It’s slow-moving, in general. There’s periods of inaction followed by bursts of excitement and tension.  Even if you are new to the sport, the high-leverage situations will be easy to spot. It’s leisurely and enthralling. Straight-laced and quirky. Mostly, it’s fascinating.

You can find the TV schedule online, and you should be able to stream a lot of it. Matt Sussman of Baseball Prospectus published some great primers to the competition. The fine folks at The Classical were nice enough to run a piece of mine that originally ran in their magazine, about the non-polished tournaments that happen all over our country.  If you watch, you’ll figure out the rules quickly. There will almost certainly be an explanation before many of the early events. Cheer for the USA, if that’s your thing. The men are a long shot, but the ladies have a fairly decent chance at a medal. And many US players come from here in Minnesota. Cheer for the cute women or men. There are some of each. Cheer for the Norwegians and their famous goofy pants. But just give it a shot. It may surprise you. If not, you can at least be the most interesting person at the party by having observed more than five minutes of it. Curling is everybody’s favorite sport that they don’t actually watch. You can buck the trend, fair NotGraphs reader.


Happ Yuself a Berry Liddi Crispmas

crispmas

From all of us here at Team NotGraphs, a very happy holiday to you and yours. Be excellent to each other.


Gavin Floyd? More Like GavYAWN FloYAWNd!

  • Gavin Floyd’s 2006 Honda Civic still gets 32 MPG, thanks to a rigorous schedule of oil changes and a good dose of fuel additives.
  • Gavin Floyd’s favorite meal is boiled chicken breast with white rice and a little bit of parmesan cheese. If he’s feeling randy, he’ll add some onions.
  • Gavin Floyd’s favorite song is that one by Kelly Clarkson. No, the other one. I dunno, sing it.
  • Gavin Floyd has water delivered to his home. He finds city water too spicy.
  • Gavin Floyd’s favorite color is clear.
  • The ratio of cigarettes smoked by a 14-year-old Gavin Floyd to confessions of smoking by Gavin Floyd to his priest is precisely 1:23.
  • Gavin Floyd clicks Like for every post he sees on Facebook, so as to not make anyone feel left out.
  • Gavin Floyd’s favorite restaurant is the Applebee’s at the airport.
  • Gavin Floyd’s favorite Star Wars movie is Episode I.
  • Gavin Floyd has seen every episode of NCIS at least twice.

Your High Friend: “What If D-backs Acquired Dumbo Instead?”

Dumbo
Imagine if an animated elephant played baseball, is more or less the essence of your friend’s point.

The record — which, in this case, has been carefully prepared by great Italian-American sporting writer Nick Piecoro — the record shows that the Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired today Los Angeles Angels corner-type Mark Trumbo in a three-team deal also involving the Chicago White Sox.

What your totally high friend wants to know, however, is what if — instead of acquiring Mark Trumbo — what if Arizona accidentally acquired cartoon elephant Dumbo instead? Because, according to your friend, “that’d be hil-larious.”

“Hilarious, indeed,” is what you’re forced to also say, at this sad, sad juncture of the human comedy.


Hey, Remember Matt Harvey?

sadharvey

You may have forgotten about Matt Harvey. I did for a spell. Perhaps the title of this post struck a dower dour chord in your heart. Writing it certainly did.

This off-season, there will be a fair amount of wheelings and/or dealings. Some players will sign big contracts, some will sign small ones. Others will get traded. And we will expel a lot of time and energy contemplating on what these happenings mean for those players and their respective teams.

But let us save a little time, and perhaps a little more energy contemplating on Matt Harvey. For with every day that passes, he grows stronger. He grows stronger and more eager and one step closer to doing shit like this again:

harveyshep

Heal fast, Matt Harvey. We will continue to remember you.


Head of Rob Ford Lazily Placed on Body of Eddie Gaedel

I recently Photoshopped the head of Toronto mayor Rob Ford — who’s better known in proper circles as “Melvin Nosotros Good Times” — onto the body of famed baseball halfling Eddie Gaedel. I surveyed my work and thought it stupid.

But then David G. Temple, the handsome Muay Thai expert with wind-swept hair and a far-off look in his eye, posted some Photoshoppage of a pizza on top of Tropicana Field. Upon viewing Mr. Temple’s contributions, I thought, “My dumb work has been sanctioned.”

Here, then, is Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s head sloppily placed on Eddie Gaedel’s body:

Melvin Nosotros Good Times

At this point, the reader will note that, unlike Mr. Temple and his post, I can scarcely be bothered to construct a false meta-narrative around my lousy photo. For I am Dayn Perry, practitioner of lassitude.

In the interest of redemption, though, I leave you with one of the sky-scraping tweets of our century — one that carries with it the whiff of our baseball …

#Hero #NeverForget


Resolved: The 2014 Baseball Season Began on October 31st

NYD

Baseball fans generally understand what is meant in referring to the “2013 season,” for example, or the “2014 season.” When do these seasons actually begin, though?

Below are points both for and against the resolution that the 2014 season began yesterday, October 31st. The points have been arranged in the style of the Team Policy Debate in which the author once participated with a Russian kid named Simon in ninth grade.

First Affirmative Constructive
The 2014 season did begin on October 31st, i.e. the day after the conclusion of the 2013 World Series. The point of any season, ultimately, is to identify a champion. When said champion has been decided, that season can be considered complete. When the season is considered complete, the following one (i.e. season) necessarily begins the next day. The 2013 World Series concluded on the evening of October 30th, with the Boston Red Sox being identified as the champion. Therefore, the 2014 season began the following day, October 31st.

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