Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Confounidng Art of a 20-Inning Loss

A no hitter, no matter how "sloppy" is one of the most beautiful things in sports. I love seeing the joy of the pitchers and his teammates after the historic achievement. That said, it is a little disappointing when a 20-inning, dead whale of a game drifts ashore and the Coast Guard managers decide the best way to deal with it is stick a half a ton of TNT into the bloated carcass and blow it into pieces on top of the 1968 Lincolns.
Like a lot of epic art, there is a lot to like about this game and even more to throw 74 m.p.h tomatoes at. This game was that long running joke that was funny at first (Jaime Garcia had his own no-no after five) then annoying, (ok, it's the 8th, lets string together some runs), then dumbfounding (Holliday removed and the pitcher's spot "protecting" Pujols in the 11th), then kind of funny again (Felipe Lopez and Joe Mather: the new Todd Stottlemyre and Donovan Osborne), and finally somewhere between exhaustion and apathy (Lohse is in left field, Mather is IBB the bases loaded).
First, let me say that any sabermetricians that Gladwellian try to prove that protection in a line-up doesn't work can go shove it up their ass. LaRussa stuck with the back-up catcher on the bench until the 16th because he represented the "last bullet." That's fine if you have some hard and fast rules that you always follow. I'm okay with that. But one of those rules must be "NEVER EVER LET A PITCHER HIT BEHIND PUJOLS."
Despite what others  might think, LaRussa isn't a bad manager. You don't win as many games as he has by shear sheer luck (Maybe by shear sheer cash, and a league that favors do-nothing managers, but not by shearsheer luck). But LaRussa needs an editor. He is Charlie Kaufman. He is capable of brilliant work, if he has somewhat rigid guidelines. But when he gets free reign, occasionally long, drawn out  monstrosities like a 20-inning, no run game or Synecdoche, New York come to ill-advised fruition.
But how disappointed can you be in this game? The players and managers for the most part, were in awe of it. See the audio quotes posted by BJ Rains. Sure, each team wanted the win, but it's one game (actually more than two games that count as one). They'll be ready for the next day's game, which is conveniently against the Mets.

**Edit** I have removed some dumb comments I made about a fellow blogger. They were unnecessary and after some thought and manual labor, I came to my senses. Indeed, I, of all people, should not accuse others of being a reactionary (and yes I see the irony snake eating itself here and I am a snake's ass). So I apologize to 310toJoba, who was only expressing his opinion as freely as I enjoy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

MLB and Music Mashup

Let's take a quick look around the league for "hot" stories on this young season. (That first sentence is for unintended googling purposes.) In no particular order, here's what's struck my fancy:
  • Vernon Wells is raking. Four dingers in seven games and OPSing at a 1.450 clip. He hasn't been found to be gloating, either, according to the new Tater Trot Tracker. Good for him.
  • Despite Wells' paternity claim, Pujols IS your daddy.
  • The Seattle Mariners don't look like a team that will live up to their pre-season hype. Balky Cliff Lee and heavy leaning on Chone Figgins makes for a middling team at best.
  • Los Gigantes de San Francisco es mas bueno (or something, my apologies). This team has been pitching well (which isn't entirely unexpected when you have a couple Cy Young winners and the boyish good talent of Matt Cain), but they have also been hitting well beyond their pay grade. This includes a 5 for 5 outing from octogenarian Edgar Renteria. Let me tell you: if you have the summer sniffles, go play an Astro in a game of Minesweeper. It'll cure what ails ya.
  • Carlos Zambrano's ERA was at 54 even for a little less than a week. He got it down to a pitiful 11.88. LOLCubs
  • I drafted Jason Heyward in both (yeah, only two. I'm a bum.) fantasy leagues this year. Dude is feast or famine at the plate, but I don't think I'll be begging for scraps too often this year.
  • The Yankees and the Red Soxzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Musically, some fantastic albums have been released in the past few months. I endorse all these albums to one degree or another.
Each of these is compelling in its own magic way. If you're looking for something jangly, go for that new MBD. Some straight up tight punk rock, go for The Riot Before or The Flatliners. If you like your punk a little less formal, try RVIVR or The Holy Mess (both donation based releases). Glossary is for the alt-country fans. For a great write-up on the Titus Andronicus album, check out my pal Kris's take at 10 Listens.

(Image via here)

Monday, April 5, 2010

I no longer care what anyone eats ever.

That's pretty much how I feel after the previously announced contest. I just started the thing on a whim, but then it got a little pub from my friends at Walkoff Walk, On The DL Podcast, Big League Stew, The Star (oooh international intrigue!), and Deadspin. In the end 18 Twitterers documented more than 180 tweets from baseball writers. The highest scoring tweet was found by Rob Iracane of Walkoff Walk and was courtesy of Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times with an admirably shameless display of In-N-Out love. Take note other beats: you may like In-N-Out, but you will never touch Baker's passion for the west coast chain.
So who won the contest? It was Mike Meech of the Phillies blog The Fightins. Meech won through shear volume of RTs. Whether it was a legitimate food tweet or whether it was utter crap, Meech threw it my way. After I weeded out the reaches and the blogger entries he tried to sneak through, Meech still earned a very impressive 279 points. The next in line was nathaniel_g, who started very strong, but couldn't keep up with Meech's seemingly endless supply of hungry baseball writer quips. If you would like to see all the results, or see how I scored every food tweet, go here.
I know what you're asking: what have we learned through this experience? First, the line between blogger and beat writer or columnist is razor thin if existent at all. I didn't include tweets from the guys at the the Yahoo! blog Big League Stew, because of their blog status, even though it's the bloggers' full time jobs. I didn't include tweets from Jonah Keri even though he has some new paper credentials under his belt. I did include tweets from former newspaper writers that lost their jobs due to the crumbling of the newspaper industry, like ctrent. It's hard and futile to make the distinction.
I also learned that most of the beat writers that "participated" in this contest accepted the good-natured ribbing (mmmmm . . . ribs) as it was intended. Guys like Evan Grant and Matthew Leach kept the contest fun and sometimes made the scoring difficult. There was only one instance where, I suspect, a writer deleted his tweet after it was RT'd.
Thank you to everyone that participated and/or promoted the contest. I didn't do this contest as some ploy to get readers or followers on Twitter (as could be concluded from my minimal promotion of it, especially the last few weeks), but that was one of the happy results. A special thanks to Iracane from WoW for all the advice and enthusiasm for the project.
Since the contest finally ended, it means the baseball season has begun. The Yankees lost their first game and the Cardinals won. The season is already shaping up well.