I, Claudia’s: Opening Day Edition

On What Is This Thing

Last September, when I was only about a half or three-quarters as big a deal as I am now, I wrote a piece for Hardball Times called “I, Claudia’s.” Claudia’s, for the 99.5% of readers who have no way of knowing, is a sports bar near where I live in Portland, Ore. (Furthermore, I, Cladius is a novel/BBC TV series about the Roman Emperor Claudius). I go there (i.e. Claudia’s) to watch baseball with some frequency, on account of (a) I don’t have much in the way of TVs, and (b) they have, like, 700 of them.

So, like I’m saying, I got the revolutionary idea last September to combine my baseball watching with my baseball writing. (Shocking, no?) I’m quoting myself when I say:

While previously I’ve only ever gone to Claudia’s in my capacity as amateur layabout, I got to figuring during one of my recent sojourns: on account of I’m being paid all this money by Hardball Times anyway, wouldn’t it be sporting of me to jot down some of my observations about the games I was watching?

Sure, was my answer to myself.

Essentially my idea for the piece was to write something like Craig Calcaterra’s “And That Happened” except less complete, less informative, less factual, and less funny. On the plus side, it’d be a tiny bit shorter*.

*Seriously, I have no idea how he does it. I mean, I get that there’re things like the Extra Innings package and the internet and everything, but Calcaterra is a machine. If I have one complaint about “And That Happened,” it’s that it forces me to imagine him doing all that work. That’s not the sort of thing I’d wish upon anyone — let alone il mio paesano.

On account of (a) there was a real-live baseball game last night, (b) I watched said game at Claudia’s, (c) we’ve been discussing the art of game reporting of late in these very electronic pages, and (d) there’s no time like the present, I figured I might dust off the project I’d started last summer and submit to the readership what I consider to be a first step towards a competent game report.

In short, that’s what is this thing.

On Chan Ho Park

Chan Ho Park posted the lowest WPA of any player in last night’s contest (-.316). He was also responsible for conceding the largest single WPA swing of the game (.309) on Dustin Pedroia‘s game-tying two-run homer with one out in the seventh — this after not allowing even one home run in relief all last season (merci buckets, Jeff Sullivan).

In short, the results weren’t so hot.

Having said that, I think Park actually put together one of the more memorable — if not absolutely best — pitching sequences of the night. Just after giving up a seventh-inning single to Marco Scutaro — and right before giving up the aforementioned dongpiece to Little Dustin Pedroia — Park started speed merchant Jacoby Ellsbury off with a low and inside pitch that resists description. While MLB GameDay classified said pitch as a four-seam fastball, I’m suspicious. Park’s four-seamer was around 90-92 mph on the night with about 7-9 inches of arm-side run and 10-12 inches of “rise” (relative to a ball thrown with no spin, that is). This pitch, at which Ellsbury swung and missed pretty badly, was 87.5 mph with an inch of glove-side movement and about 10 inches of rise.

Was it a slider, maybe? That’s a question I asked myself, certainly, and it’s a possibility, except the average rise of Park’s slider on the night was 5.58 inches, while this particular pitch demonstrated similar rise to Park’s fastball.

Whatever the exact classification, it was an excellent pitch, generating the only whiff of the 22 pitches that Park threw on the night.

Ellsbury fouled off the next pitch, a high fastball at about 93 mph, and then came the strikeout pitch. While GameDay classifies the third pitch (a fastball at 92 mph) as having only 8.77 inches of arm-side run — hardly exceptional relative to Park’s other fastballs — it was this movement, combined with the placement just on the inside corner, that caused Ellsbury to take the pitch for strike three.

All in all, it was the ideal sequence for Park: he induced swings on two pitches out of the zone (the whiff and then the foul), and then got the K on a deftly placed, and adequately moving, fastball.

Tweets of the Game

In addition to many competent live chats that occurred during last night’s game, the Twitters were absolutely abuzz with enthusiastic baseball nerds. On account of I’m a Twitter novice and have subscribed neither as far, nor as wide, as some of my fellow baseball nerd friends, it’s possible that the scope of my reading is too narrow.

In any case, here are five choice comments from the Twitterverse during last night’s game:

From devil_fingers (on the occasion of Marco Scutaro fielding a ball cleanly): Um, actually it’s exactly average. BOOYAH! RT @EricSeidman: Scutaro’s UZR is off the charts.

From devil_fingers (on the occasion of Matt Klaassen looking the mirror): I wish. RT @EricSeidman: @devil_fingers Your face is exactly average.

From TylerKepner (on the occasion of Scott Schoenweis relieving Josh Beckett): I love how Scott Schoeneweis has played for seven teams across 12 seasons and never worn any number besides 60.

From zvsanders (on the occasion of the Yankee left fielder not throwing the ball away): Gardner didn’t fail that time! #progress

From jonahkeri (on the occasion of Kevin Youkilis, a Jewish person, dominating the game): And on Easter, a Member of the Tribe shall lead them.

We hoped you liked reading I, Claudia’s: Opening Day Edition by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Not sure if anyone listened to the radio call (I was on the road). But the announcers were both comfortable enough to both use advanced statistics and uncomfortable enough to make jokes that we’ve heard 1000 times!

“Why do we even play the games? Let’s just figure out who wins on a computer!” HaHA.



Yeah, and this classic from Buck Martinez (I think)
“There’s a statistic published by Baseball Prospectus, or maybe Baseball Solutions, called Ultimate Zone Rating. According to that, the Red Sox are 85 runs better this year than last year in fielding. If 9 runs are worth one game, that means they’re 9 wins better than they were last year.” …pause… “If you believe that statistic”

No, I don’t know where he got his math, or why he thinks the conversion from runs to wins is 9 (but everything in baseball involves nine, right? Or three, or sometimes four…)