Archive for Open Letter

Stupid Response: One Player Reacts to Greinke’s Remark


Editor’s note: Dodgers starter Zack Greinke, whom many consider a deeply analytical player, told the Los Angeles Times last week that unintelligent players enjoy a distinct advantage over their more intelligent counterparts.

“Baseball is a sport where being stupid and keeping things really simple a lot of times is the right way to do things,” he said. “There are very few guys that are capable of processing a lot of information and applying it and still being good at it. I don’t want to name names, but there were guys I played with that were so stupid that they’re really good, because their mind never gets in the way.”

What follows is one player’s response, delivered to the NotGraphs penthouse office (Waikiki Division) via carrier pigeon after earlier, emailed attempts failed, due to the fact that the player “could not find a public email booth.”

So I read Greinke’s thing about playing with stupid players or whatever. Well, OK, I didn’t read it myself. I had somebody read it to me. It’s not like I can read and watch TV at the same time. That’s like walking and buying gum at the same time. Which is impossible because, if you buy gum, you have to stop at the register so that the register person can count out the money and then hand you back the five quarters and the 20 dollar bill.
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Uncle Cletus Goes to a Ballgame


Today I received the following letter from my Uncle Cletus.

Well, me and the missus finally went to our first professional baseball game last night and boy let me tell you what, it’s no wonder them boys don’t have to sell possum meat to Roy Bob at the Kountry Kitchen. They can play themselves some ball! How much do you think they make? I bet it is upward of 40 dollars.

Say, speakin of money, Kountry Kitchen’s got 2-for-1 garden burgers.

Anyhoo, as you know, Mama and I have always listened to games on our transistor radio, the one the bank done give us for payin back the outhouse loan on time, but no, we never seen a game till last night. Now that was a miracle in itself, due to us gettin pulled over on the way to the park. You don’t ever think a raggedy old truck is gonna get pulled over, especially when a team of mules is tuggin it, but pulled over is what we done got! Course it was our fault. Last week on the way to church we shot that stop sign down with pair of double-barrels, mostly for shits and giggles but also cause we needed the metal on account of the hole in the side of the house. Frankly we didn’t mind the breeze so much as the neighbor watchin us poop.
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An Open Letter to the Shirtless Man


Note: Not the actual shirtless man in question.

I saw you, shirtless man.

I saw you in the stands, a few rows behind the dugout while a professional athlete pitched. I saw you and I shuddered. I saw you and I giggled. I saw you and I pressed rewind, and on your meaty physique I paused the TV image.

I wondered: What possessed you, shirtless man? What possessed you to remove your garment – the lone barrier between your torso and the rest of the civilized world – during a nationally televised game at Camden Yards? Had your man boobs felt confined – perhaps pent-up or even claustrophobic, as if prisoners of our prudish times – by the shirt that you had selected just hours before your display? Had your “huddled masses” yearned to breathe free, to break the weave of oppression and wobble unfettered near our nation’s Eastern shore? Did you crave the libertarian bliss of defying decorum – of rejecting convention – in proximity to our nation’s capital, or merely enjoy the idea of a stranger gazing downward, into the mysterious recesses of your butt crack, and wondering if you had ever enjoyed the ministrations of a Parisian bidet?
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A Plea to Carlos Quentin


Dearest Carlos Quentin,

Watch the above GIF. That looks like it hurts. I’m no doctor, and I did go to public school, but I would reckon that doesn’t feel good. I can tell by that face you made there. This has happened to you a lot, Carlos Quentin. One hundred and fifteen times, to be exact.

That total isn’t the most. Craig Biggio got plunked 170 more times than you did. But Biggio had a career HBP rate of 2.2%. Your rate is 4.1%. There’s something to be said about your penchant for getting plunked, but I don’t know what that something is. I’ll keep looking. In the meantime, here are some random facts about you getting hit by pitches.

In 2012, you played only 86 games, and still led the league in HBP with 17.

You have more career HBP than:

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An Open Letter from John Ruskin to Baseball


Celebrate yourself and sing yourself, O baseball automatons. Bathe in your empty praise, your victories. Conform through your universal applause.

For as you and your ilk seek to perfect the game with your numbers and deeds, to “win”, you are in reality sucking the marrow from its bones and withering its husk like some sort of desiccated meat-plant, some hideous affront to nature. This is your doing, you titans; baseball’s carnelian plant-blood drips from your hands.

For what is perfection, in truth, but a misunderstanding of the ends of art? Perfect art is not art. It is the child labor of a creosote-encrusted factory. It is a paper-backed, ten-cent Horatio Alger novel. It is paint-by-numbers. It is a man doing pushups, and it is other people counting those pushups, and then the man no longer doing pushups. That is what winning is.

When one stands in awe of a gothic cathedral, a punishing and uncompromising bestial groan of man, one is not struck by any sense of perfection. Such a state of culmination, of relaxation, is paramount to death itself. What is alive and vibrant is dynamic: it is not a love of knowledge, but a love of change. The power of the gothic nature is its disquietude, its insatiability, its everlasting thirst. Art is never satisfied.

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Are You There, Ben Bernanke? It’s Me, Matt.

Swartz Thought 2Dear Ben Bernanke,

As an economist and sabermetrician, my life was changed recently by the following passage from the Wall Street Journal concerning your reading habits:

“Blogs have become a pretty important source of intellectual exchange,” the Fed chief said, noting that the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Atlanta both maintain active blogs. But is that how he spends his time browsing online?

“I follow a lot of baseball blogs myself, actually,” he said.

So Ben — do you mind if I call you Ben? — you like sabermetrics and economic policy. I like sabermetrics and economic policy. I know who you are, and it seems like you might just know who I am. And also, we should be BFFs. Just imagine it.

“Oh, hey Matt, what you are up to today?”
“Not much. I’m working on a new piece about why first basemen get paid so much. What about you?”
“Oh, I’m just pulling the strings of the world economy.”
“I hope you don’t mean pushing on a string.”
“Bahaha. Okay, let’s go catch a game and I’ll tell you all about the fight over Quantitative Easing.”

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In Defense of Me Talking About My Fantasy Team

I have been in the same head-to-head, sixteen-team fantasy league for eleven years now. Over that span keepers have come and gone, rules have changed, franchises have arrived and folded. My original four keepers were Ray Durham, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Barry Bonds. My first season, I drafted both Richard Hidalgo and Daryle Ward. My best draft pick that year was Odalis Perez in the 17th round.

These are interesting things, right? They are not interesting. As soon as you read the word “fantasy” in the title, your brain had already sent orders to your eyes to glaze. It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves to talk about their fantasy team and everyone hates to listen to people talk about their fantasy team. It’s one of life’s bitterest ironies, ranking just below Malthus’ theory that increased food production leads to starvation.

I once had a friend in college with whom I would discuss baseball. He was in a deep dynasty league, where teams were made and destroyed in AA. He described his latest trades in earnest, and I enjoyed listening to his superior expertise. The moment I would mention my own team, however, his smile would sag at the corners, the kindness leaving his eyes. He would make that face, and then quickly, he’d excuse himself from the conversation. I caught on fairly quickly, but it still struck me as unfair. We were talking about baseball: something that Billy Crystal had once promised would form an instant bond between all males! Something was wrong.

Fantasy sports are the culmination of what the existentialists first warned us of: a future rich in comfort, where everyone is utterly disconnected from each other. Our own happiness has become meaningless to those around us. As we craft our little life stories through the careful, calculated observation of baseball players, they’re stories that no one else particularly wants to read. We match our wits against the elements, an increasingly faceless online presence. We play the stock market. It’s rarely about the money; it’s rarely even about the bragging rights. I’d be surprised if the majority of players remember who won their league last season. Instead, it’s about the ability to predict the outside world, a world that no longer has anything to do with us. We’re made to feel ashamed for our pride, to lock it away.

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A Very Brief Message for Max Scherzer in re Tonight

To the Very Talented and Enigmatic Max Scherzer, Detroit Pitcher:

With regard to your start tonight against Boston — with regard to all your future starts, really — allow me to note, Mr. Scherzer, that you needn’t cross the Pennine or Graian hills, or traverse the Candavian waste, or face the Syrtes, or Scylla, or Charybdis in order to fully realize your innate excellence; the journey for which Nature has equipped you is safe and pleasant. She has given you such gifts that you may, if you do not prove false to them, rise level with God.

With All Due Reverence,
Carson Cistulli

CJ Wilson Is a Pranking Fool

Somehow this one slipped between the cracks — C.J. Wilson pranked Mike Napoli… by putting the catcher’s phone number on twitter. He wasn’t particularly contrite about it afterwards either:

Perhaps “Nap Nap Weiner” will take an item off of this list of suggested revenge pranks?

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A Baseball Letter