Archive for December, 2010

To The SIVault: Jeff Bagwell

If you’re like me, you’ve read more about Jeff Bagwell over the past two weeks than you have in your life. Naturally, this is another Bagwell piece. I may or may not have dreamt about Bagwell last night. (I did.)

It’s that time of year: The Hall of Fame Debates. And much like holidays spent with the family, it isn’t a lot of fun anymore, and alcohol helps. Alcohol always helps.

Jeff Bagwell. “BagPipes.” Worthy of Cooperstown? We’re about to find out. As his résumé was thoroughly debated over the past fortnight, I thought it would be useful to take a trip down memory lane. To July 19, 1999, the summer of one of Bagwell’s finest seasons, when Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, admittedly one of my favourite writers, wrote about the One Of A Kind slugger. To the SIVault …

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A Legitimately Great Day in the Genre of Sportswriting

Not all, but certainly many, NotGraph posts begin within the tangled gnarl that is this author’s Google Reader account. It’s from the links and posts I find here that I’m able to shamelessly re-package and/or lightly mock the hard work of others.

Whether owing to my own personal shortcomings in constructing the Ideal Feed — either that, or merely to the nature of Really Simple Syndication* — there’s typically a lot of noise relative to signal: duplicate posts, hysterical name-calling, and about a half-dozen reports of pitbull maulings from Chicago’s 670 The Score

*Really Simple Syndication is neither really simple, nor syndication: discuss.

“Typically,” I say. For whatever reason, however, this morning has revealed what I feel comfortable calling a “panoply” of accomplished writing — upon which panoply I’ve commented in the list below.

Please note, my bespectacled reader, that this is more than a mere compilation of links. This is a vessel to the future of the genre.

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What Can YOU Offer a Major-League Lineup?

I got to thinking: how much damage could I do to a major-league offense? I don’t mean some idealized version of my “wildest dreams” self. I mean me as I exist within the disappointing constraints of reality. Thanks to the way-cool lineup analysis tool over at Baseball Musings, I can take a stab at this.

The operating assumption … I didn’t play baseball past the ninth grade. I had a pretty good line-drive stroke, but because there was no loft to my swing I didn’t have a lot of power. I drew a lot of walks (never mind that this was mostly because I was scared of the ball and preferred to stand in the demilitarized fringe of the batter’s box with lumber on shoulder) and could run the bases well enough. Take those modest skills and throw in the fact that I soon turn 39 and put me up against major-league pitching, and you have a hitter that challenges the boundaries of incompetence. How bad? I don’t really know, but I’m assuming at the plate I’d be half as good as the worst hitting pitcher in baseball. Last season, that was Hiroki Kuroda who “hit” .036/.070/.036. So I’ll give me a batting line of .018/.035/.018. That’s something like one seeing-eye Texas League-er or instance of charitable score-keeping per month. Let the free-agent bidding commence!

On that point … Even in the universe of the hypothetical I can’t fathom playing a defensive position. Doing so at anything above the rec-softball level would yield an outcome too horrible to contemplate. I am a DH. Also, I live in Chicago and don’t feel like relocating, so I’ll be DHing for the White Sox and necessarily taking Adam Dunn’s job. I’ll be sure to run hard out of the box so people like me.

Anyhow, here’s what happens … I took those Bill James projections of ours and plugged them into the lineup tool. The Sox’s lineup plus me at DH, using the worst possible batting order (an arrangement that always entails my batting leadoff), scores … 3.54 runs per game. That’s not good!

And at what cost? Give Dunn his job back and escort me — bloodied and shamed — off the premises, and the Sox, using the best possible lineup, score … 5.26 runs per game. The difference? Over the course of a full season, the Dunn lineup would outscore the Perry lineup by, oh, roughly 280 runs.

Conclusion: I suck!


Old News: Original Hall of Fame Announcement

Below these words — and craftily procured from an unnamed library database — is the announcement of the first Hall of Fame ballot, courtesy of the December 24, 1935 edition of the New York Times.

As the reader can see, this was a bit of an exciting notion at the time — and free of the armchair philologizing that comes with many contemporary discussions of the Hall and candidacy for same (i.e. “It’s the hall of fame, therefore it makes sense to pick the most famous players”).

Below are the five players ultimately selected. One weird thing is how much talk there is of an “immortal ten” when, in fact, only five players were selected.

Name		Votes	% of Ballots
Ty Cobb		222	98.2
Babe Ruth	215	95.1
Honus Wagner	215	95.1
Chri. Mathewson	205	90.7
Walter Johnson	189	87.6

Now here’s the article:


Quoting Twitter in Journalism: Life as Art?

Bobby Jenks and Ozzie Guillen are no longer co-workers, and Bobby Jenks sure isn’t broken up about it. On joining the Red Sox, Jenks said that he is “looking forward to playing for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen.”

Although one could hardly be surprised that a Guillen would swiftly and forcefully respond to Jenks’s comments, I don’t think too many people expected that it would be Ozzie’s son Oney with the comebacks. On his twitter feed, Oney railed against Jenks, calling into question his manliness, pointing out his weight problem, and even claiming that Jenks is a “yellow beard dipper.”

That’s all very interesting and exciting, but this story is not what I’m interested in. No, I was more intrigued by the way this story was reported. In the story linked above from ESPN, Oney’s twitter feed is quoted. Like many younger people, Oney doesn’t always use proper grammar or spelling or punctuation or whatever other convention of English you can think of in his tweets. As a result, we have the following fascinating paragraph appearing in print on a national sports site:

Oney Guillen called Jenks an ungrateful “punk” in a series of Twitter posts. In one, he wrote that Jenks should “be a man and tell the manager or the coaching staff how u feel or the organization when u were with the sox not when u leave.” In another, he wrote that Jenks “cried in the managers office bc u have problems now u go and talk bad about the sox after they protected u for 7 years ungrateful.”

It’s not like there was really anything for the reporter to do about those tweets, unless you want everything to read with bracketed corrections every other word. I, for one, find it beautiful in its current form. The paragraph is a stunning merger of the formal and the casual; of the impassive and the emotional; of the edited and the unfiltered. Only here do we see the opposing styles of the convention of the journalistic world and the uncaring typings of the young American communicator laid out in such stark contrast. Indeed, this is life as art.


Help Make Wisconsinites a Bit Portlier!

Let Gorman Thomas judge you.

Having lived in Wisconsin now for about five months I can attest to the fact that, while the regional fare isn’t exactly what you’d call “heart healthy” or “good for you in any way,” it provides quite a lot in the way of “taste sensations.”

Now you, bespectacled reader, can participate in the joyous culinary tradition of this Midwestern Wonderland!

Regard:

Provided the image just above these words — and the webpage from which said image has been shamelessly stolen — provided those things aren’t lying, the Milwaukee Brewers are offering the opportunity to submit a new concession item ahead of the 2011 season.

Another, slightly different webpage has these details:

There’s a limit of one entry per person, and the club is looking for equal parts creativity and practicality. The items should be suitable for preparation and serving in the ballpark environment. Representatives from Miller Park’s concessionaire, Sportservice, will initially review all received entries and narrow the list to 10 selections for a panel to consider.

That group that includes Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, executive vice president of business operations Rick Schlesinger, former outfielder Gorman Thomas, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel food writers Nancy Stohs and Jan Uebelherr, executives and chefs from Sportservice and representatives from Milwaukee restaurants Carnevor and Dream Dance.

The panel will select four finalists on Jan. 26, and then it’s up to the fans. Voting will continue through Feb. 3, and samples from the four finalists will be available for sampling at the Jan. 30 “Brewers On Deck” event at the Frontier Airlines Center.

Though NotGraphs is unable to substantiate the rumors, there’s talk that one of the prizes is a long, soulful conversation about xFIP with new Brewer Zack Greinke.


In Praise of: The Brobdingnagian Sports Chair

The holidays compelled me and mine to travel by plane, and traveling by plane always means I drink deeply of SkyMall, the first and last word in consumerist porn. Although SkyMall is always rich with absurdities, nothing I ever find will top what you see above. And what you see above is a miracle called the Brobdingnagian Sports Chair.

The person you see sitting in the Brobdingnagian Sports Chair is, lest you think your eyes deceive, a grown damn man. The chair, you may surmise, is stupidly large. Why? The Skymall write-up says (yes, I actually tore out out the ad and kept it — also to be found in this issue: a robot tarantula and a plastic zombie designed to look like it’s punching its way out of a shallow grave underneath your garden!):

“… The portable chair that elevates your stature at any sporting event … Measuring 5 1/2′ tall, the chair is certain to provide stadium seating at any venue, and its 9′ sq. seat affords ample room for full-body gesticulations … The lofty seat elevates the feet well above the ground, where they’re free to dangle and sway instead of merely floundering in dirt or sand … Step stool not included.”

I have no words. Nonetheless … “full-body gesticulations”? Mostly, I feel sorry for the poor bastards seated behind this guy. And if he’s at a Little League game, then I most assuredly feel sorry for his kid. There’s no surer way to embarrass your spawn than to show up at one of his games with a sprawling throne that looks like it was designed for a minotaur with a glandular disorder.

None of this, however, is to say that the Brobdingnagian Sports Chair isn’t awesome. Because it obviously is.


Ken Griffey Jr. Hates Norm MacDonald

(Hat tip to Deadspin for the video)

The above video comes from comedian Norm MacDonald’s legendary set at the 1998 ESPYs, the last time the ESPYs have been worth watching.

If you haven’t watched that set, do so immediately. Its baseball relevance includes a classic Hideki Irabu joke as well the introduction of Michael Jordan’s baseball nickname, as seen in the picture below.

I wouldn’t want that on my hall of fame plaque either.

Outside of the comedy, the most remarkable part of this video, particularly for baseball fans, is Ken Griffey Jr.’s reaction to MacDonald’s set. First, after Norm makes a Hideki Irabu joke (around 1:05 on the video), the camera pans over to Griffey, who is not pleased at all.

We don’t see Griffey again until the end of the video, right after Norm finishes with a deadly O.J. Simpson joke. Although I’m a bit young to remember everything about the O.J. trial, I do know that it was a bit contentious, particularly along racial lines, so perhaps it’s not shocking to see this reaction out of Junior and those sitting around him after the joke.

In the interest of full disclosure, this post was mainly just an excuse to post the Norm video, with the added bonus of using the name “Señor Crappy” thrown in. But hey, isn’t it kind of crazy to know that Ken Griffey Jr. hates Norm MacDonald?


A Brief Catalog of Hu-Related Puns

News from the internets this morning reveals that shortstop and Dodger kinda-prospect Chin-lung Hu has been traded to the New York Mets in exchange for left-handed starter Michael Antonini.

While the trade itself isn’t a particularly big one, it’s notable for at least one reason — specifically, that the Met-ward bound player has a name that’s basically the punsmith’s equivalent of pornography.

Below are some samples, courtesy of the fabled information superhighway.

From Amazin’ Avenue:

From Mets Today (of the SweetSpot Network):

From LA Dodger Talk:

From The Real Dirty Mets:

From Bleacher Report:


Baseball Team(s) For Sale


Baseball Team For Sale?

You’ve always wanted to get into baseball. You’ve bothered all your friends for years about your ideas for making a team hum. You read all the cutting-edge websites and have theories of your own. You have some money saved up, and your day job is pretty successful, but you’re not willing to start at the bottom of the baseball hierarchy. You won’t bring your resume and hound the execs.

There’s opportunity for you around the next corner. Try jumping into baseball by owning your own minor league baseball team. The Sports Advisory Group, a sub-sector of the W.B. Grimes and Co., a boutique media, sports and entertainment mergers and acquisitions firm, has a classified section you may never have seen before. They list, for your pleasure, the minor- and independent-league teams that are available for purchase.

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