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“KC At The Bat”

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the KC twenty-five:
They’d barely made the playoffs, and then barely stayed alive.
Against the A’s they came back, then they came back yet again,
And maybe that game turned a team of youngsters into men.

We start with Mike Moustakas, who has never truly shined,
The way that they imagined back when he was first-round signed.
A hacker sent to Omaha with batting average lows,
Now Mike Moustakas hits home runs, each day his legend grows.

Or maybe Eric Hosmer is the one who we should praise,
Up to now he’s kept his owners in a multi-year malaise.
It’s one thing to have potential but one day you must produce,
So perhaps this year’s postseason is what finally sets him loose.

We could run right through the roster, Gordon, Cain, Aoki too,
And of course the crazy bullpen, simply doing what they do,
But in truth we can’t explain it, because this team hardly seemed,
Like a roster built for doing what the other teams all dreamed.

They’re about to run the table– well, at least they’re getting near,
Though their lineup still will never strike the other teams with fear.
But they’re winning– yes, they’re winning– and that’s really all that counts,
And it only makes it thrilling than they win by small amounts.

This could all just be a setup, for an epic, epic fall,
Lose tonight, then keep on losing, yes, they could just lose them all.
But that doesn’t really seem like where this all is heading fast,
When this season’s down to just one team, the Royals could be last.

Jason Vargas takes the baseball, just like Guthrie did before,
And though no one quakes with fear, that just makes this ride even more,
Of a fairy-tale-like ending to a mediocre year,
KC steps up to the plate, and just the heartless cannot cheer.

So I will root for Jason Vargas, much as I can’t understand,
And I’ll root for Mike Moustakas, though his bat is made of sand.
And I’ll even root for Ned Yost, though that’s very very tough,
And I’ll root for Jarrod Dyson, and I’ll hope he’s fast enough.

And I’ll root for ol’ Wade Davis, though I owned him when he stank,
And I’ll root for Billy Butler, though there’s nothing in the tank,
And I’ll root for Sal Perez, though he seems to be quite lost,
And I’ll root for building rosters at a very tiny cost.

And I’ll root for Big Game James, and I’ll root for Holland, too,
And I’ll root for all the rest of them adorned in Royal Blue,
And it’s making quite a story as the Royals are redeemed,
Though now perhaps the story’s better… if for the next four games, they’re creamed.


Oral History of the Citi Field Fences

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In honor of the Mets planning to move the fences in at Citi Field for the second time since the stadium opened in the historic year of 2009, I decided to conduct some interviews for a brief oral history of the stadium’s fences.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: I was pretty happy when Citi Field opened and I was 415 feet from home plate, since I’m scared of the ball. It’s tough to grow up as a fence scared of balls hitting me, but I figured I lucked into the perfect job being so far away, and in a stadium where Mets players would be doing most of the hitting. Luis Castillo was my favorite player back in those days, though who couldn’t help but be a fan of Alex Cora and the 308 plate appearances he got that year, slugging .310? My life was pretty perfect, except for the fact that I lived in Queens, until after the 2011 season, when it seemed like everything was going to change.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: You know, the Mets are one classy organization. Most teams, when building a new stadium, would just send guys like me packing. But the Mets, although they intended to get rid of me, were eventually swayed by the fans and put me in a lovely spot sort of near the subway station. It’s pretty neat over there. I get a lot of mustard thrown on me though. I was pretty psyched to be close to the stadium that first season, before they moved me. And then they moved the fences in, so I was even farther away from the action. Wait, this is about fences, not apples– why are you interviewing me?

LEFT FIELD FENCE: Thirteen feet. They uprooted me so they could move me thirteen feet back in 2011. At least I wasn’t the Right Field fence, which got moved three feet. That’s pretty ridiculous, making a fence give up everything it knows, the dirt at its feet, to move thirty-six inches. Sometimes it’s almost like the team has no idea what it’s doing.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: So, yeah, from 415 feet to 390 feet, after the 2011 season. And I was quaking in my planks. But I should have remembered– it’s the Mets! So, sure, Ike Davis scared me a few times, but a third of the regular lineup in 2012 was Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, and Andres Torres, so, uh, it was still okay to be me. But now they’re saying they’re moving me again?

STADIUM ARCHITECT: This was the first time a team had ever approached me asking if it would be possible for the fences to be a negative distance from home plate. Like, could the center field fence be negative 50 feet from home plate, and would that mean that the players might hit a whole bunch of home runs. I sat them down to explain some math to them, but it all went over their heads. “We know math,” they insisted. “An eighteen percent guaranteed return on stock market investments even in a down year means we should invest all of our money and not ask any questions! We know math! Also, lower salaries mean better players, right?”

LEFT FIELD FENCE: They say they’re not moving me this time, but maybe I want to move! Maybe I want to move to a different freaking stadium. Oy.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: My son, the current apple, is getting so fat because he never gets to exercise. He rarely gets to pop out of that hat. He’s totally out of shape. And I think he has worms.

STADIUM ARCHITECT: Hey, any more communities looking for downtown revitalization and don’t want to read the studies showing that a stadium really doesn’t make much difference? Because if you just want the prestige of a sports team without worrying about economic impact, I have some awesome new features I’d love to tell you about….

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: Yes, Elvis Andrus would be a perfect addition to the team, totally. Alcides Escobar, too. What’s Luis Castillo up to these days?


Hopeless Joe’s End-of-Year Fantasy Chat

Q. Danny Salazar — should I protect him?

A. Tough to say. Wouldn’t we all like to be protected by someone? But as we grow up, we realize it’s hard enough to protect yourself, and to expect someone else to shield you from all of life’s traumas and disappointments is, frankly, unrealistic. Danny Salazar had a terrible start to the season, but then rebounded quite nicely. Without your protection. So I think he may be more equipped than we realize to handle the ups and downs. He doesn’t need your protection, my protection, or anyone’s protection. Which makes him lucky, in a lot of ways. I think he’ll be just fine. Unless, of course, he gets Ebola.

Q. Any sleeper catchers for 2015?

A. Looking at a typical catcher’s body type, I think they all have pretty decent potential to be sleepers, permanently. Especially as you reach middle age and start to see people around you suffer the misfortune of illness and death, you quickly recognize that even if you want to ascribe it all to active choices and obvious causes — poor diet, alcohol and drugs, etc. — life doesn’t always work that way. There are accidents, there’s fate, there’s random misfortune. And catchers, despite their major league salaries, are just as likely as any of us to find themselves not waking up one morning. I’d keep my eye particularly on Mike Zunino, though. Especially if he gets Ebola.

Q. Rank these pitchers for 2015: Shields, deGrom, Iwakuma, Cashner

What a strange collection of four pitchers with seemingly little in common, except that they are all good at pitching. I rank them all tied for first, since they all have jobs pitching in the major leagues while the rest of us suffer through our lives only wishing we had such fortune. Unless any of them get Ebola, in which case I would move the others ahead in the ranking.

Q. Will Brian McCann rebound?

A. Can any of us ever really rebound from a down year? The trauma inevitably stays with us, implanting itself on all of our memories. McCann might or might not improve his production in 2015, but I don’t think he will ever be the same, mentally. Or physically, if he comes down with Ebola.

Q. Where do you think Lester is likely to sign?

A. Depends on how many airports start screening for Ebola, because, honestly, I’d be too scared to pass through one of those, accidentally fail the test, and get thrown into close quarters with people who really do have it. That’s the biggest fear, I think. Next to actually being in an airport with someone who has Ebola but isn’t getting tested, I guess. So if he moved to Oakland after the trade, I think he should probably just stay there. Travel is scary. Wow.


Three Ways The Nationals Will Beat The Giants in Game 4 Last Night

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1. Time machine/drugs. We go back to the moment before the game, and spike the Giants’ pre-game Gatorade with antihistamines. Drowsy, they become an easier opponent. The Nats win. The space-time continuum hopefully does not get destroyed.

2. Mind control. Didn’t the Nationals win last night? Of course they did. No one could possibly believe they didn’t. Not even the players themselves. Because the Nationals won. They did. Really.

3. Video editing/protest/mass killings/forfeit. Quick, someone edit the game video to show Buster Posey injecting poison into Matt Williams’s brain. Or something illegal like that. Then the Nationals file a protest, baseball feels pressure to invalidate the game result, then before the game is replayed someone kills all of the Giants, and the Nats win by forfeit.


You Won’t Believe What You Get If You Click To Read This Post

An essay. You get a long essay about the nature of being a baseball fan, children, and the mixed emotions I have about fostering in my son not necessarily a love of baseball (because I don’t really have mixed emotions about that) but, more precisely, a love of spending time thinking about baseball, to the exclusion of the universe of other things a kid can spend his hours thinking about. Not that it’s really within my control, but still. (And that’s too long a title, so instead you get the nonsense clickbait title that I went with.)

Read the rest of this entry »


New Footage of Billy Butler’s Stolen Base

Some found footage from behind the scenes…


10 Bold Predictions, visited

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Everyone over at RotoGraphs seems to be revisiting their 10 bold predictions. I thought I’d make some new ones instead. 10 bold predictions I didn’t make, but could have. And, in retrospect, should have. Because all predictions should be made in retrospect.

1. The Royals will make the postseason.

Clearly that should have been bold prediction #1. 1/1.

2. Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley will finish the year as top-5 MVP candidates but the Indians will not make the postseason.

I didn’t keep Michael Brantley in my AL-only Scoresheet league. I am no longer a member of my AL-only Scoresheet league. I am a very poor Scoresheet player when it comes to deciding which outfielders to keep. Jacoby Ellsbury, before his big year? No. Austin Jackson, after his rookie season? No. BJ Upton? Yes, yes, yes. My track record was really terrible. Hopefully the new owners can win some championships, especially since they have Nick Franklin, current and future star.

3. Jacob deGrom will be a name that I will know by the end of the season.

And it’s easier to spell than Syndergaard, so no complaints here.

4. Speaking of the Mets, they’ll finish in 2nd place in the NL East.

Talk about a prediction that would have sounded bold but turns out not to be bold at all, not when 6 games separate 2nd and last, and they were 17 games behind the leader.

5. The Rangers will finish with a worse record than the Astros.

That was just a terrible, terrible season. And they went 13-3 over their last 16 just to get to 67 wins!

6. Justin Morneau will lead the NL in batting average.

I *did* keep Morneau (as a crossover) in my AL-only Scoresheet league! And flipped him for Marcus Stroman in May, when my team was already a pile of garbage. So I’m not the most terrible owner possible, I promise.

7. Jonathan Lucroy: Monster.

Did anyone project this?

8. Garrett Richards: Monster.

I did read something somewhere pre-season about Garrett Richards having a potential breakout season… but I ignored it.

9. Tim Bogar will be managing the Rangers by the end of the season.

Not that Tim Bogar was an unexpected candidate for interim manager, but that would have been a mighty bold prediction. I remember when Tim Bogar was a Mets prospect. I can probably list a hundred Mets prospects from the ’80s and ’90s without really pausing to think. In retrospect, there were probably better things to be paying attention to as a kid than who was in the Mets’ minor league system. Tom Edens, Craig Shipley, Darren Reed, Jose Oquendo, Al Pedrique, Kevin Baez, Terry Blocker, Herm Winningham, Mike Fitzgerald, Floyd Youmans, Terry Leach, Tim Leary, Josias Manzanillo, Julio Machado, Don Schulze, John Mitchell, David West, Kevin Tapani, Rick Aguilera, (a different) Jose Bautista, Kelvin Torve, Kelvin Chapman, (a different) Brian Giles, Dave Telgheder, Eric Hillman. Okay, I’ll stop now. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. Brent Gaff. Dave Rajsich. Ronn Reynolds. Ron Gardenhire (!)

10. The Royals will make the postseason.

Extra bold. Deserves to be listed twice. (Also, I ran out of steam at 9.)


Congrats to the A’s, from someone who DVR’d last night’s game and forgot to set it to add extra recording time

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Wow, what a game. I mean, I assume the end played out pretty straightforwardly — my DVR cut out at the 3 and a half hour mark, A’s up 7-6, 2 on, 2 out in the top of the 9th. So I guess they either extended their lead, or it was a one-run nail-biter there. I haven’t had a chance to check yet. Fortunately I only missed those last 4 outs. I hate when the DVR cuts out even earlier than that. Totally thought the game was done when the Royals were up 3-2, especially with that bullpen. But then: Brandon Moss, MVP! And Ned Yost, huge disaster there with Ventura — worst decision of the entire game, I don’t even know how you can make a worse decision especially given how it played out. Obviously A’s up 7-3 the Royals had basically no shot. And, yeah, they made it close, but the A’s hold on for the victory. Nice job.

(In all seriousness, why is DVR technology unable to know when live events end? There are so many things the technology is able to do. This doesn’t seem that hard. Some sort of signal from the cable company when something is over? I feel like this is going to be something my son, turning one next week, will not understand when he’s a little older and someone has solved this issue. “Dad, you mean the recording would just stop in the middle — even if it was a playoff game?” “Yes, son. We had to manually override the default settings — and even then, we could never know for sure how much extra time to add. After all, a baseball game could go on forever.” “Like game 3 of the 2018 World Series, which is still going on now, three months later, in the 14,361st inning?” “Yes, exactly. I hope the Brewers win this one. I’m getting tired of watching it now that it’s December.” “The Brewers? Dad, you’re so lame. Obviously the Portland Female-Players are going to win. They have the best short-center-fielder in the whole league!” “But they were Wild Card Seven! No team that was Wild Card Seven has ever won it all.” “Dad, Wild Card Seven is the best Wild Card. Don’t you know anything? Commissioner Jeter said so.” “Commissioner Jeter. It still sounds so funny to me. I remember when he was a shortstop on the Yankees, just a few short years ago.” “Derek Jeter played shortstop? That’s crazy, Dad. And who were the Yankees?” “Oh, just a team in New York.” “New York? Before the floods?” “Yeah, before the floods. We used to live there, you know?” “No way.” “Yep. Before we moved here, to Neptune, we lived in New York. And the DVR didn’t know when things were over.” “The past sounds crazy, Dad. Pass me a food capsule so I can insert it into my rectum for maximum nutrition.” “Sure, son. Here you go. Have two, since you skipped breakfast this morning.”)


Baseball’s Biggest Star

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Nate Silver with a whopper of a mistake here.

Josh Willingham is only 35, and hasn’t officially retired.

The media, can’t trust ’em.

P.S. I know the article is about Bobby Abreu, I’m not an idiot.

P.P.S. Bobby Abreu is awesome and there should be more articles about how awesome he is.

P.P.P.S. Does Bobby Abreu give out gift baskets, or is that just shortstops on the Yankees whose names I’m forgetting?


Hopeless Joe Previews The Wild Card Games

A’s
vs. Royals

Giants
vs. Pirates

Ending with two teams who may as well not have even made the postseason at all, and whose dreams of World Series victory were able to last about as long as my average session on the toilet (not enough fiber). I don’t like this new wild card setup and I doubt I ever will. Teams spend all season fighting for a spot and then it all comes down to one game. At least a best-of-three series leaves some room to say it isn’t all luck. A short series is going to be some amount of luck no matter what, but one game can turn on anything, really. An errant gust of wind, a fan interfering with the play, the sun (always an enemy, no matter the context), a momentary mental lapse where for no particular reason your heart starts to race, you feel dizzy and faint, you can’t catch your breath, and you realize you’re out of all six of your anti-anxiety medications, only exacerbating the problem. An entire season should not come down to a one-game sudden death playoff. Just like an entire doctorate should not depend on one silly dissertation and whether or not you ever finished it. Oy.

So… A’s vs. Royals. Part of me wants to see the A’s lose because it would be a perfect capper to their ridiculous August-September collapse. But I think that’s outweighed by the idea that Royals fans have waited 29 years for the postseason and might now have that slip away after two days to enjoy it. I think that’s probably the better story. Go A’s.

And… Giants vs. Pirates. Hard to want the Pirates to win after Clint Hurdle wasted Gerrit Cole on yesterday’s game. Hard to want the Giants to win because calling a team the Giants makes us non-giant humans feel extra-small and insignificant. So it’s a toss-up, but since I think Pittsburgh deserves something good to happen there for the first time since the invention of steel, I’ll go with the Pirates.

And now it’s time to wiggle the antenna just right so I can pick up TBS over the air tomorrow.