Archive for October, 2012

Four Kinds of ALCS Loneliness

You went to the ALCS. You were not lost because you were not sought.

Inside your rented hovel, located on Tuberculosis Avenue, there is room to die but not room to live. It is but half the size of a better man’s wardrobe, were such a better man not to have a wardrobe at all.

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Report: Blue Jays Mascot Ace Joins Red Sox

TORONTO — Another day, another Blue Jay headed to the Red Sox, as the exodus from Toronto to Boston continues. Ace, the Blue Jays’ mascot since 2000, will wear a Red Sox uniform next season, and dance atop the dugout at famed Fenway Park, joining what’s now a list of former Blue Jays personnel headed to its divisional rival: manager John Farrell, first-base coach Torey Lovullo (now Boston’s bench coach), and third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who’s agreed to the same position with Boston.

“Like Butter and Torey, my contract was up, too,” explained Ace. “In this economy, I can’t be sitting around waiting for the Blue Jays to call. I’ve got a kid to feed. I know the front office is busy, Alex [Anthopoulos] is looking for a new manager, but this was a business and professional decision, and one that made the most sense for me.”

Ace, the longest-serving member on the Toronto staff, spent 12 years with the Blue Jays, and is regarded as one of the best mascots in the game. According to our sources, he’s signed a three-year deal with the Red Sox, worth $3.5 million.

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Image: Kris Medlen Is Smallest, Youngest Teletubby

It is possible that we, the Baseballing Public, will one day tire of seeing the practitioners of our favorite sport — will tire of seeing them engaged in various states of cosplay.

Today, right now, is likely not that moment in our collective lives.

Pictured here, courtesy his own Twitter feed, is diminutive Braves right-hander Kris Medlen dressed for All Hallows’ Evening as the diminutive Po — “the smallest and youngest of the Teletubbies,” according to popular e-resource Wikipedia.

You have challenged the Internet not to bore you, reader. The Internet has responded!

Brought to the author’s attention by other popular e-resource, Steve Simonsen.


Angel Pagan Provides Free Tacos

If you like heavily-processed meat AND saving money, then yesterday was your day, fair NotGraphs readers. During this year’s World Series, the restaurant chain Taco Bell, as a part of its Steal a Base, Wreck a Toilet Steal a Taco campaign, offered a free Doritos Locos Taco to any fan as long as a player stole a base during the series. Thanks to Angel Pagan’s heroics in Game 2, fans were treated to the opportunity to snag a free Mexican falafel. And Taco Bell stayed true to their word. However, Angel Pagan did not just give free tacos to all with his base-stealing, he did it with some straight-up sorcerer’s conjuration and shit. Observe:

 

And the people subsequently rejoiced.

 

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, Angel Pagan, Taco Bell, and America.


People Also Search For… (Part I)

I just noticed that if you search for someone Google recognizes, it tells you who else similar searchers are also searching for. Most of my initial attempts to find something post-worthy in this feature were predictable and boring. And then:

And then, even better:

You are invited to try and beat that, but I don’t think you can.

Note: for purposes of making the image fit, I photoshopped some boring entries out of the first row. Goodbye, Johnny Grubb, Marty Castillo, and Barbaro Garbey.


Tweet: Dallas Braden Understands Supply, Demand

True fact: over half of the active writers at NotGraphs were hired on the strength of this exact pitch.


Ecstatic Truth Prospect Analysis: A Brief Introduction

For the right-thinking baseball enthusiast — as opposed to the dour and glum, Patrick Dubuque kind — the great charm of the game is in what the author has called The Art of the Possible. While the past and present confine us to the mundanity of fact, the future allows us to contemplate the possibility of what-might-be — hyphenated just like that, as if it were translated directly from an important European philosopher. “Facci sognare!” (“Make us dream!”) the fans of certain Italian football clubs demand. “Facci sognare” perhaps certain readers, also, ask (more quietly than Italian people) of the game of baseball.

One great medium for the contemplation of the possible is prospect analysis. Prospect analysis is, essentially, an attempt to sketch roughly the landscape of Baseball Future. That the MVPs of the 2032 season have been born is quite likely. That their precise identities (i.e. the ones of those future MVP winners) are currently known, however, is distinctly unlikely. One objective of prospect analysis is to hold a developing player up to the light of experience and reason and ask, “Is this the future MVP?” And: “Is this him, maybe?”

If there’s a weakness among the otherwise entirely useful body of work produced by the baseball community regarding minor-league players, etc., it’s a preoccupation with “facts” — as opposed, that is, to estimates regarding what pleasures this or that prospect might be capable of eliciting in the mind, say, of a bespectacled and extravagantly educated 32-year-old sitting in his apartment in Madison, Wisconsin.

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AL MVP: It’s Not What You’re Like…

For certain cultural nerds (many of whom troll/write for this very Internet), John Cusack nailed it on the head when, playing Rob Gordon in the 2000 film High Fidelity, he said, “It’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like.

The 2012 AL MVP question might be a tough one (not if you use WAR, of course). Miguel Cabrera, or Mike Trout?

For those of you who grow tired of the statistical debate, or the boring sparring between those who heavily consider the success of an MVP-candidate’s team and those who discount team — or any of the other tired debates, NotGraphs, as ever, presents “stats” of a different variety. Let’s put these two superstars on the same level as the rest of us, and judge them superficially — i.e. as consumers of culture and free Doritos Locos Tacos™.

MIGUEL CABRERA
Favorite Musical Artist: Prince
Last Album Listened To: A Game of Thrones book on CD
Favorite Movie: Cool Hand Luke
Favorite Food: Doritos Locos Tacos™
Favorite TV Show: Cheers
Favorite Cartoon Character: tie between Jigglypuff and Strong Sad
Favorite Actor: Greta Gerwig
Where He Buys His Clothes: Christmas presents from Mom
Hero: George Romero & Mother Theresa
Favorite Author: Malcolm Gladwell

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Counterpoint: Baseball and Collective Meaning

Last Thursday, our Fearless Leader provided rumination on dreaming, or the unfulfilled and limitless potential of the future, as the game’s greatest strength. (If you haven’t read it, please take a moment to go do so; otherwise, my rebuttal won’t make much sense.) I’d like to take this opportunity to present an alternative viewpoint, in defense of the past.

I’ve always struggled with the present tense. We’re often cajoled, by motivational posters and the ghost of Satchel Paige, to live in the moment; but by the time that moment has happened, we’ve received the data, interpreted it and understood it, it’s long since passed. We’re always a fraction of a step behind reality. To cross that already treacherous boundary into the future, and to make predictions, sometimes feels incomprehensible to me. My own inability to dream, to imagine the unformed possibilities beyond the event horizon, probably says a lot about me, or at least my failures as a novelist. It might also say something about my home team, whose future and past are all too often similarly dressed.

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Where Did Billy Beane Eat?

Athletics Nation has an awesome interview with Billy Beane, conducted right after the A’s were eliminated. A couple of highlights:

Bleszinski: What about Brandon Moss?

Beane: David (Forst) signed him as a six-year free agent during the winter. I really give a lot of credit on this one to Farhan (Zaidi –director of baseball operations). Farhan was screaming at us that we have to give this guy a chance. He had played infield as a high school kid even though it wasn’t first base. He at least had a background. Farhan was saying it the first month of the season and then May 1 he sent a long email, which was a “Moss Manifesto”, basically with a lot of statistical analysis saying that we needed to give this guy a chance.

Bleszinski: Were you and Bob [Melvin] already talking about 2013?

Beane: Yeah that and we’re friends. We have interests that we share beyond baseball. I’m going to New York next week to hang out with him. Bob is always really good at selecting restaurants in the village. He picked out a great one last time and I’m sure he’ll pick out a great one this time too.

Any guesses about where Billy and Bob ate?