Before a game against the Giants, I talked to the Diamondbacks’ outfielder Adam Eaton about the first pitch and patience. That conversation may have had some unintended consequences.
Eno Sarris: Is it a mindset? Are you waiting for *this* pitch? Or are you waiting for a good pitch?
Adam Eaton: Depends on the situation for sure. In the leadoff spot, you don’t really wait for a pitch. As a leadoff hitter, you’re usually going to see a heater unless you get two strikes. And you want to see a lot of pitches. You almost want to see offspeed to let the guys behind you see those type of pitches. Depends on situations. In the leadoff spot, situation dictates how aggressive you can be, how many pitches you see and how comfortable you can get.
Sarris: You’re right, the numbers say that the first pitch of the game is like 90% fastballs and a lot of times in the zone. How do you balance “I need to see more pitches for my teammates” with “this first pitch is maybe going to be the best pitch I see”?
I set up an interview with Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo to figure out how much of a Mets fan he was. If you know the story of the band’s name, you know that there’s a link to the team. And there are a few other clues that link the band to the hapless Mets. But every fan has a different level of engagement with the sport.
Originally signed by Tampa Bay for $7.6 million out of San Isidro, Dominican Republic, in Season No. 20 of Aaron Gleeman‘s Hardball Dynasty league, Delino Guapo has been both a top prospect and a relative disappointment after failing to even approximate at the major-league level his excellent numbers from the minors. Following mid-season trade to Burlington, however, Guapo was more productive, slashing .283/.311/.421 in 145 at-bats — many of them in Burlington’s pitcher-friendly ballpark — while also going 9-for-12 on stolen-base attempts.
Guapo enters Season No. 26 as Burlington’s starting right fielder. He recently sat down with the author, who is also Guapo’s general manager and manager and human caretaker, in general.
Carson Cistulli: So, you’re a fictional ballplayer?
Delino Guapo: Yes. I’m entirely virtual — basically just an algorithm to which has been ascribed the most cursory of human-type details: a country of origin, aesthetically unpleasant facial hair, a hat with a letter on it.
Eno Sarris: I’m really interested in what people read on the road. That’s… not Narnia! [laughing]
Barry Zito: No. [Not laughing, but maybe smiling] No it’s not. This is my third one, but I haven’t done Narnia yet.
I first met Ace, the Toronto Blue Jays’ beloved mascot, in April, at The Only, a pub on the Danforth in Toronto’s east end, after a Wednesday night game against Tampa Bay, a 12-2 Devil Rays victory. He was wasted when I found him, seated alone at the bar; I’ll never forget it. After I introduced myself as a Blue Jays supporter who’d had a few pints of fine Canadian beer and wanted to say hello, Ace didn’t even look at me. Staring straight ahead, he took another shot of Jameson, and said:
Jesus Christ. I figured nobody would recognize me out here, out fuckin’ east. Can’t a man have a goddamned drink in peace?
It was funny because he was wearing his mascot outfit. He was Ace. He was dressed as a giant blue bird. And, I soon figured out, he needed someone to talk to. We drank until the early morning. That night, a tortured Ace let go of all that was weighing heavily on his feathered shoulders. Off the record, of course. Until now.
I kept in touch with Ace over the course of the season, and today, finally, he’s ready to to share his story. Representing NotGraphs’ award-winning Investigative Reporting Investigation Team, below is my conversation with Ace, who is so much more than a mascot.
Navin: Thanks for doing this, Ace. You know I think you’re very brave.
Ace: Thanks for having me, Nav. You don’t mind if I smoke, do you?
[All quotes are approximate, the recorder was not running for this one.]
Me: Hey Miguel what are you reading.
[Hands me Lost Angel in Spanish]
Me: I have no Spanish — something about an Angel?
We caught up with robot expert, rapper and part-time chicken enthusiast Kool Keith and picked his brain about the robot umpires that are surely on their way to baseball. What follows is a summary of his expertise on the subject, with commentary.
• Voicemail, pagers / These are the things that robots carry
Anything as arcane as pagers is possible in the backwaters of Major League Baseball, although why they would need to carry voicemail is an open question.
It took a while – sources were exhausted, as they say – but the NotGraphs Investigative Reporting Investigation Team has delivered, for your reading pleasure, an exclusive interview with Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, about the international incident that was the signing of 17-year-old Kim Seong-min.
NotGraphs: Mr. Duquette, thanks for your time, and for taking our call. We appreciate it.
Dan Duquette: Who is this? How did you get this number?
NG: Let’s get right down to business: Kim Seong-min. Today, Baltimore Orioles scouts are banned from South Korea. What the hell, man?
DD: Look, it began innocently enough. All I asked for was Korean food for lunch. Some Bulgogi. I love Bulgogi.
NG: Me too. It’s delicious.
DD: I thought it would be good for morale, a company lunch, for the front office. You know, a big spread, we all sit down and break bread together. I passed the information down the ladder, and one of our interns was put in charge. The next thing I know, we’re eating Thai food for lunch, we’ve got a 17-year-old signed out of South Korea, and both the Korean Baseball Organization and the Korean Baseball Association are up my ass. Not to mention Bud Selig. Trust me, we had no intentions for this to blow up the way it did.
Over the weekend, an anonymous — and very disgruntled — employee of the New York Metropolitans took part in New York Magazine’s feature, “A Workplace Confidential.” No punches were pulled. Witness:
It’s really sad to see what the Mets have become: A great franchise, on the biggest stage in sports, is now a laughingstock. Ownership is trying to turn the Mets, a big-market franchise, into a small-market franchise. That’s not just sad, it’s disgusting.
You know what I think when I read about the Mets nowadays? We’ve become the Oakland A’s. We’re the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our fans deserve better than that. You can’t possibly build a dynasty when you’re cutting costs left and right. The only way to turn it around is to sell the team.
Nobody wants to be compared to the A’s. Or the Pirates. Especially not the Pirates. I mean, at least the A’s have Moneyball, a 20-game win streak, the playoffs, and a feature film starring Brad Pitt. The Pirates have nothing save for PNC Park. And Andrew McCutchen. But back to the Mets. It gets worse. Prepare to say goodbye to David Wright:
Reyes and David Wright were the heart of that team. Those were the guys the Mets had to build around. But now that Reyes is in Miami, Wright will be traded by the All-Star break. If they’re going to run this like a small-market team, that’s the way it’s going to unfold. If I’m David Wright, I’d want to be gone.
That’s because it’s going to be a long summer–you’re talking about last place. It’s a tough division all of a sudden. Who do we have that’s going to beat Stephen Strasburg or Cliff Lee? Who’s going to match up against Tim Hudson or Tommy Hanson? We won’t even be able to beat Mark Buehrle. Everyone in the division has at least one big weapon that we don’t have.
And all of a sudden, I’m looking forward to watching Mark Buehrle face the Mets.
Anyway, after spending almost all of Monday morning, afternoon, and night on the phone, exhausting all our sources, the resolute NotGraphs Investigative Reporting Investigation Team has personally informed me that they’ve confirmed the identity of New York Magazine’s anonymous writer: Mr. Met.
When I reached Mr. Met for comment, he initially denied that he’d written the piece: