Archive for February, 2011

Chipper Jones Unhappy With Basement Dwellers

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Chipper Jones today, and he wasn’t terribly happy, particularly with some denizens of the lowest floor of houses owned by their mothers.

“I still feel like I have something to offer, and the cynical fan can really kiss my ass. I really don’t care. There’s a bunch of true fans and the people who actually want to take the time to get to know me know who I am. The guy who sits in his mom’s basement and types on his mom’s computer, I couldn’t really care less about.”

Hey, Chipper. I lease the basement I live in, thank you very much.

And given my basement-leasing situation and recent support of Chipper Jones’s continued baseball career, I resent that. But hey, if Chipper needs an imagined enemy to get through his 18th Major League season, I’m perfectly willing to play that role.

(Hat tip to Dustin Parkes at The Score)


Download Second Opinion into iBooks for a Better Life

Mankind has often wondered aloud — or in the form of modern epic poems — where the line is exactly between self-promotion and community service. This post seeks to ride that line as one might a 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird motorcycle — that is, very stylishly and with seemingly no effort.

The reader might be aware that we at FanGraphs recently released our preseason fantasy guide, The Second Opinion. Given its low price-point and white-hot content, the Second Opinion itself is more or less a gift to humanity.

The reader might also be aware that, unlike last year, we neglected (at first!) to provide a PDF version of same. Reader demand, however, has prompted the Dark Overlord not only to provide a PDF download, but to suggest that a more satisfyingly formatted one might be available next year.

On its own a PDF can be slightly unwieldy — good for printing, certainly, and maybe searching, but not necessarily ideal for reading. However, with iBooks, users of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch can import the Second Opinion PDF into a considerably more friendly “reader” format. Search functionality also remains available in this form, too, allowing readers to access all player-specific information (in preparation for — or even during, I suppose — a fantasy draft). Furthermore, links to FanGraphs player pages remain active, in the event that readers require deeper statistical information on a player.

So, uh, “Ta-da!” is what I mean to say about all this. And also maybe “What a country!!!”


Streaming Video with MLB At Bat 11 on an iPod Touch

In the event that you didn’t see, Major League Baseball announced over the weekend (at least, that’s the earliest that I, personally, saw it) that, while they’d be streaming spring-training games on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, they would not be doing so on connected devices (PS3, Roku, Boxee) until opening day.

Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t what one might call a “tragedy” — and is likely something that, like snow in the first week of the season, will be forgotten quickly — but it’s a bit frustrating for this author who (a) purchased a PlayStation 3 almost expressly for the purpose of watching baseball and (b) sometimes needs/enjoys to work on the computer while a game is playing.

In any case, this prompted me to download (for $15) the MLB At Bat app for the iPod Touch — another device I acquired over the winter as part my civic duty to resuscitate the global economy. For those who already subscribe to MLB.TV, there’s no additional cost beyond the app.

I watched parts of yesterday’s Phillies-Yankees and Angels-Dodgers games. Here are some notes on the experience of watching those games on the iPod Touch.

• Make sure, when prompted, to approve location detection. If for whatever reason you don’t approve it, go back to the main screen and go to Settings → General → Location Services, where you’ll be able to change location detection to “Yes.” Otherwise, video won’t work.

• In terms of video quality, I was accessing the internet via my home wi-fi connection (< 3mbps), and the video streaming was very clean about 90-95% of the time. The Dodgers game was choppy for the first couple minutes, which prompted me to go back to the PHI-NYY game. After returning to the LAA-LAD game about 10 minutes later, it was working fine. • I got kicked out of the app back to the main screen maybe a half-a-dozen times. This never happened mid-stream, but generally when I was trying to load video or a new screen. Given that the app loads rather fast, this is only minimally inconvenient; however, I can imagine that for a fan wanting to toggle between games, for example, it could be frustrating. I'd wonder if this would be addressed in a software update. • A slightly unrelated note: if you're watching spring-training baseball games, be prepared to hear the word "berm" with some frequency. Both the YES Network's Michael Kay and (Seattle-based) KIRO's Rick Rizzs used it. It's the grassy area beyond the outfield wall in spring-training ballparks.


The Feast of Bannister the Very Examined

It’s no lie to say that NotGraphs is re-appropriating the Eastern feast-day tradition for its own, mostly nefarious, ends.

Bannister the Very Examined

Life: The son of former major-leaguer Floyd, Brian Bannister is, in many ways, unlike his father. While the elder Bannister was a first-overall pick blessed with considerable natural talents, the younger has taken a far more deliberate approach to his game — in fact, becoming known for his interest in such sabermetric concepts as defense-independent pitching and Pitchf/x analysis. Despite his analytical efforts, Brian Bannister’s major-league resume has remained unexceptional, prompting him to take a contract from the Yomiuri Giants in January of 2011.

Spiritual Exercise: Socrates states famously in Plato’s Apologia that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Does this sentiment apply to Bannister’s approach to pitching? Is it perhaps the case that Bannister’s examinations have hindered his performance — something akin to the concept of “paralysis by analysis”?

A Prayer for Bannister the Very Examined

Brian Bannister!
I always wonder
but still haven’t figured out
which user name is yours
at popular website
Royals Review.
My first guess is
you’re the guy
whose profile image
is GM Dayton Moore
skeet-shooting
all these Sade CDs
for some reason
but you could also be
the one whose image
is Zack Greinke
organizing a picket line
outside his own actual house.

If I could choose
an image for you,
it’d be this painting
I once saw at a gallery
of a calculator
pushing its own buttons.
As to why said image
is fitting, one could
certainly venture
any number of explanations
though this might
be an instance
where a mystery is best
left unexamined.


The Feast of Grover Called Peter

Today, we pay homage to Grover Cleveland Alexander — and perform a spiritual exercise in his honor.

Grover Called Peter

Life: Grover Cleveland Alexander — known as “Pete” for reasons that remain mysterious — pitched for 20 years in the majors, spending time with the Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis of the National League. Six times in his first seven seasons Alexander led the league in innings pitches — and is, in fact, 10th all-time with 5190.0 IP. Despite a number of health problems — including (but not limited to) alcoholism, epilepsy, and combat-related stress — Alexander still managed to pitch 2672 IP with a 130 ERA+ after returning from World War I.

Spiritual Exercise: While the modern mind will instinctively characterize Alexander’s relationship with alcohol as a “drinking problem,” he (i.e. Alexander) proved to be durable and effective in ways that few pitchers have ever exhibited. Ask yourself, “What else do I view with a modern bias?” and “What else do I fail to consider in the context of its time?” If you have an extra moment, also consider what sounds more delcious this moment, beer or wine.

Prayer of Grover Called Peter

Grover Cleveland Alexander!
You’re famous for being
the first pitcher ever
to appear in a painting
by tiny Frenchman
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec,
whose work “Le Lanceur”
depicts you drinking gin
and discussing the invention
of the prank phone call
with a table of amused
and bearded intellectuals.

Critics debate to this day
whether it’s French or English
you’re speaking; however,
there’s little disagreement
on the number of pants
you appear to be wearing —
a quantity one might
best characterize
as “none whatsoever.”


An Overzealous Review of The Extra 2%: Chapter 3

Albert Lyu and Carson Cistulli are overzealously reviewing colleague Jonah Keri’s forthcoming book, The Extra 2%. Feel free to read parts one and two and three of the series that’s sweeping — if not the nation — then at least behind the TV where a lot of dust builds up.

In what follows, our intrepid duo attempts to understand the giant and real-life brain teaser otherwise known as original Devil Ray GM Chuck LaMar’s player personnel decisions. Neither Messrs. Cistulli nor Lyu — nor FanGraphs, generally — are responsible for injuries to the human spirit as a result of this discussion.

***

Cistulli: Hey, Albert, pay attention and stop doing terrible things to that dog. The sound you hear is the people demanding that we continue our sprawling and genre-defining review of Jonah Keri’s book.

Read the rest of this entry »


Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About “Mr. Baseball”

Remember the Tom Selleck baseball vehicle stunningly titled Mr. Baseball? In said tale, a boorish American ballplayer goes to ply his trade in Japan and eventually gets a massage in a tub. As Hollywood and the Bill of Rights teach us, every Japanese person is quiet, workaday, self-serious, and hopelessly yoked to tradition. So you can imagine the clash of cultures that ensues. I don’t exaggerate when I use words and phrases like “madcap” and “hazardous to the funny bones.”

Anyhow, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy consulted on the film, and he recently recalled a thing or two about a thing or two related to said film

  • Bochy and other base-balling consultants made $100 a day. They also enjoyed the catering service.
  • Frank Thomas’s power stroke was not enough to please the fancy-pants director.
  • Frank Thomas, because of his inability to homer to dead center on command, was replaced by a cannon.
  • Doug DeCinces sucks at hitting fungoes.
  • At one point during production, Doug DeCinces hit a ground ball to an unsuspecting Mr. Selleck, and the ball struck Mr. Selleck in the rascal basket. Mr. Selleck was not pleased.
  • Read the rest of this entry »


    The Feast of Santo Santo the Thrice-Lifed

    It’s scientifically impossible to despise this person.

    Described alternately as a “balm for the soul” and “something that only gaywads like,” our feast-day exercise continues with Santo the Thrice-Lifed.

    Santo the Thrice-Lifed

    Life: Despite having posted the eighth-highest WAR among third basemen ever (79.3), Santo has never fared particularly well in Hall of Fame voting. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 18, Santo was forced to have both legs amputated, though he’s remembered as an unequivocally affirmative and generous person. For the last 20 years of his life, he worked as a color commentator for WGN Radio’s coverage of the Chicago Cubs — a post for which he received mixed (read: superbad) reviews.

    Ritual: To celebrate the life of Ron Santo, receive praise for that which you do poorly, and remain unrecognized for that which you do well. Start… now!

    A Prayer for Ron Santo

    There are three Ron Santos in Ron Santo:
    the shockingly underrated third baseman
    the spokesman for human dignity
    and the roundly panned radio voice
    of the very depressing Cubs.

    Three-in-one, one-in-three:
    you are either a modern instance
    of the holy trinity, Ron Santo,
    or a very expensive pocket knife!

    Alternate Prayer

    While the sound of one hand clapping
    remains an unsolved mystery,
    the sound of Ron Santo clapping
    has been documented extensively
    courtesy of the Cubs Radio Network.


    Relegate the Royals?


    One way or another.

    Borrowing from an excellent thinkpiece by Dave Gershman over at Beyond the Boxscore, I thought it might be fun to imagine a more European approach to the Major League Baseball. In the Premiership, and various other soccer leagues around the world, the bottom teams are relegated to the minor leagues, while the best minor leagues teams ascend to the majors. Gives the bottom of the ‘table,’ or standings, a little juice at the end of the season.

    Of course, that would create all sorts of problems with baseball, where the minor league teams are all assigned to major league teams. That sort of relationship would be hard to navigate. For example, Gershman starts by wondering if the Pirates deserve Anthony Rendon – and if they deserve to be in the major leagues at all by extension. But if the Pirates were relegated, they would have been replaced by a minor league team associated with the Royals. Then we’d we be stuck with twice the amount of Royals-based teams in the major leagues – however you feel about the Royals, you probably don’t want that.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    MLB.com At Bat 11 (The App) Is Upon Us


    It’s back.

    Public service announcement: as of yesterday morning, the “MLB.com At Bat 11” app can be had at an app store near you. It costs $14.99, but you “pay” electronically via your computer, so it’s kind of free.

    SUPPORTED DEVICES: iPhone/-Pad/-Pod Touch, Android, Blackberry.

    FUNCTIONALITY: Pitch-by-pitch game data, stats, standings, schedules, and news. Radio broadcasts of many spring training games. Video of certain spring training games, but only on Apple devices.

    WHAT IT DOES IF YOU ALSO BUY A $99 MLB.TV PACKAGE: Lets you watch non-blacked out MLB games on your phone, that’s what. But notable asterisk, courtesy of the Androinica blog: MLB has not yet said which Android devices will support the video streaming, and some may not, so Android users may want to hold off on the whole $115 investment until that info is out. Or just buy an iPhone already. Jk!

    MLB.com At Bat 11 is, after one day, the eighth best-selling paid app in the iTunes App Store, although it’s not clear what the timeframe for those rankings is. Recall that last year, MLB At Bat 10 ended up as the highest-grossing iOS app of the year.

    I like to imagine each of these e-purchases as a single crocus, poking up through the just-thawed earth and bravely baring its velvety petals to the sun. Spring is nearly here.