Monday, August 28, 2006

Anyone But...

After the second straight Red Sox Weekend Debacle, (and it was apparently even worse than a mere sweep:

[I]f you follow baseball, you know what kind of weekend it was. In a nutshell, the Red Sox were as pathetic as pathetic gets. Friday in particular was perhaps the worst major league game I've ever seen - the Red Sox made the kind of errors that one usually only sees in Little League.
Of course, there was the notable instance in July 2004, when after another Sawx collapse in Seattle, Papa Pooh described them as "beer league." This insult seemed to galvanize the club, and we all know what happened next...Ok, not a chance...) I needed a little chicken soup for a baseball fan's soul. The Twinks taking 2 if 3 in Chicago helped some. As did the fact that BabyJesusJoe Mauer was getting MVP props on ESPN radio last night. But really, what I really needed was some good old fashioned Yankee Hate.

Enter ESPN's Jim Caple, and his rather unhinged polemic "The Devil Wears Pinstripes". Yes the jokes are recycled (Steinbrenner is an ass; Billy, Mickey and Whitey were drunks; Joe DiMaggio (referenced primarily as "Mr. Coffee") was a total prick and Jeter sleeps around), but that doesn't stop the from being funny.

Plus it's occassionally nice to be reminded of exactly why the MFY's are so easy to hate. Remember in 2004 when the Devil Rays were late arriving to a game in NYC because of a hurricane. And the Yankees demanded a forfeit victory? Against the Devil Rays. There is also the evil of the YES Network (AKA Yank-Jazeera) including the absolutely egregious homerism of all Yankee announcers.

In the end, not a great book, (it reads like the world's longest Page 2 column, longer even than a "think-piece" by Gregg Easterbrook) but it reminds me that even my Sawx tank, and the Twins battle for the Wild Card, no matter what happens, I'll always have a team to cheer for. Whoever is playing the Yankees.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

All I need is a PB&J sandwich

It's was July 1987 and my family was making the move back to the Twin Cities. I was sitting on the floor off our new kitchen, eating a PB&J sandwich watching the movers and various family members bring in box after box of dishes, towels, clothes, linens and most importantly GI Joe equipment. Not toys, equipment. Honestly, I was not very excited to move from the hallowed halls for Fellows Elementary School in Ames, IA and needed something to get me excited about this new house. That spark, that excitement, that edge of your seat anticipation was provided by some unlikely neighbors. I like to think of them as "Our Squad", most others know them as Puckett, Gietti, Hrbek, Brunansky, Gagne, Viola, Blyleven even Niekro and Reardon. The upcoming run to that Twins first World Series title and subsequent cold, but oh so delightful ticker tape parade (and day off from school) hooked me to this sport.

We are now in the midst of something very similar to that summer of 1987. This new group of Twins has me feeling so optimistic. We are again chasing the Tigers (now mighty again), with the Twins coming off a disappointing start to the season. Our hometown leader's name is Mauer this time around and his out-of-town hitting partner is played by Morneau. Blyleven and Viola are now known as Radke and Santana. Randy Bush and Al Newman look a lot like Punto and Tyner. With the Boston and Chicago pitching staffs falling apart and Boston seemingly cracking underneith the pressure of the mighty Yankees (maybe the Curse took a year off), how sweet it will be.

All I need is a PB& J sandwich, some Doritto's, a glass of milk, a warm Saturday afternoon and Herb's voice calling the shots. It's like 1987 all over again.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ticker Tape

Update to yesterday's post and latest market returns:

JWBJE up 6 and an 1/8th

LLE holding steady and awaiting stockholders report on Friday

Here's hoping Carlos Silva's sinker is the only thing hitting bottom tonight.

Monday, August 14, 2006


The Twinigmatics are more recondite than usual of late, and no doubt enjoying a nice rest (or siesta for the Venezuelans) here on the one day of the last 32 in which the schedule gods have decreed baseball shomer shabbos. Despite some claims to the contrary, those of us at Tuesdays With Torii are NOT in fact, jumping ship or wagon. We feel entitled to our emotional outbursts of a roller coaster nature, yet still exist as fanatical day-traders in the market of hope run by Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire, which has been more bearish than bullish of late. For sale right now, hope futures with good long-term potential like LLE (Liriano Left Elbow), RLRFG (Radke Last Run For Glory), JWBJE (Johan Will Be Johan Eventually) and STELATS (Short Term Emotional Let-down After Tiger's Series). The prospectuses (prospectum? prospecti?) we read tell us not to worry -- the Sox and Sox have issues too. We don't make snap decisions. We don't jerk knees. We keep the faith and rely on long-term returns. Put me down for 10,000 and I'll call you next week to put some more Garza's away for my first-born's college education.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

If You're Not First, You're Last

Syzygy, it's not just for female college ultimate players anymore.

No, this time it was stars aligning -- stars in the form of emergent white dwarf Justin Morneau and super giant Joel Zamaya throwing pure stellar wind and black hole gravity bending curveballs from which not even Pedro Serrano post-"F@#* you Jobu" could escape. A nice post over at Gleeman on the significance of Morneau's performance thus far and potential place in Twins history. Killebrew was the Tyco Brahe of astronomical Twins power hitting and Justin is following very copernicilliously in his footsteps so far.

Speaking of black holes -- er, sucking rather -- this happened last night too. Apparently (I don't want to hear about) Papelbon is not so supernova-like after all. If the Royals getting our backs isn't evidence of some bizarre cosmic machinery, what is?

Even the star-fillled, over-hyped, Ursa Major of baseball is helping out the cause now.

Will we finally get to see some big flaming gas balls from Matt Garza this weekend? Smith will get another start on Saturday, so I'll put the over/under on Garza's appearance at about the 3rd inning.

A whole post full of astronomical metaphors and I didn't once mention Randy Moss's full moon. Aren't you proud of me?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Elbow Juice

Is that the Twins playoff chances I see in that hearse?
Star Tribune today.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Statheadz, Bitches

Since I haven't thanked the Twins for Big Papi yet this week, allow me to do so in a roundabout fashion by bashing this post bashing Papi's clutchness. Now, I'm on board with you if you are going to argue that conventional baseball statistics don't prove the existence of some form of "clutch hitting" ability.

The problem is, when you write your anti-Ortiz screed, you probably don't want to run directly contrary to many of the points made in the book advertised at the top of your page. Especially when you are trying to make stathead arguments...

For example, Sussman makes the standard "lineup protection" argument:

Also, if the pitcher opts not to pitch to Ortiz, he'll have to answer to the next batter, Manny Ramirez, another extremely dangerous hitter. The timid closer has to pick his poison, and usually he chooses Ortiz over Manny plus a baserunner. Meanwhile, Pujols' backup hitter is Scott Rolen, another great .300 batter. But who instills more fear: Rolen or Ramirez?

If you swapped Pujols' and Ortiz's red uniforms, the clutch moments would be the same.
I'm not doubting the Great Pujols, but first of all that's an asinine counterfactual. Secondly, "Baseball Between the Numbers" specifically debunks the lineup protection canard. From two directions - first it notes that there are almost no situations when it makes statistical sense (and not just 'max runs sense,' but Herm Edwardsian 'win the game' sense) to "pitch around" somebody that occur in an actual game. And those situations which do occur all involve 2001-2004 Barry Bonds. Secondly, there are no demonstrable "protection effects" - hitters do not perform better with a better hitter hitting behind them - or at least there is no demonstrable effect of that nature.

And then there is the confusion of "what is clutch?"
And while Ortiz gets singled out as the greatest clutch hitter, Manny Ramirez is 16-for-44 (.364) with RISP and two out. The Mets' David Wright bats .368 (21-for-57) in those same situations. The Rangers' Hank Blalock is a stunning .400 (24-for-60) with more RBI than any of the aforementioned clutch hitters in those situations, but Blalock simply isn't a home run hitter.

And isn't it odd that clutch hitters seem to be synonymous with "hitting a walk-off home run?" Clutch should come in many forms. Blalock is living proof.
As far as it goes, RISP/2 out is a nice enough stat but A) small sample size, B) it counts runner on second with 2 down in the top of the first in a scoreless game the same as 2nd and 3rd, down one, in the bottom of the ninth. These are so obviously different that a metric which treats them equally is borderline useless.

Much better, I might suggest, is measuring performance as a change in the expected winning percentage before and after an at-bat. In a portion chapter from "BBTN" excerpted which was not reprinted by ESPN, it specifically discusses how Ortiz out-performed a generic hitter (with his raw stats) by, if I remember correctly, more than 7 wins. To put it another way, all other things being equal, if Papi distributed his very same performance in an average way, the Sawx would have been 7 games worse last year, missed the playoffs and not gotten swept by fat-ass Bobby Jenks.

All this is a rather long-winded way of saying that "BBTN" is a darn fine book - certainly a better presentation of the Baseball Prospectus approach than was the rather scattershot "Mind Game" - I've only covered a tiny bit of the content, which concern everything from Derek Jeter's overrated fielding (his nickname should be "PastADiving" since so many grounders are hit well...), Alex Rodriguez being overpayed (by a bunch, it turns out - though he came close to showing a profit for the Yankees last season) or whether a new stadium is 'worth it' for the public (answer? Hide your checkbooks, kids - a thunderous "no.")

All in all, a fine demonstration into just how far SABREmatics have come in breaking down the inner workings 0f the game of baseball.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

We Got Trouble, Right Here In River City...

...with a capital 'T', and that rhymes with 'D', and that stands for....Disabled List?

Radke's shoulder, Liriano's forearm, Gardy's tummy, and Lohse's brain (oh right). What the *bleep* is going on here? Some numbers:

21-2 : Twins record the previous two homestands
19-2: Combined score of the first two home games in August

Stop sucking.

Trouble in Denmark? Is relief no longer spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S, but G-A-R-Z-A? It sure as hell can't be spelled Mike Smith, even against KC. How will our heroes escape this nefarious situation?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bert, The Hawk, Yount and McGuire

I know this is supposed to be a blog of our beloved Twins, but there are so many articles right now about Hall of Fame voting and whether or not the 2007 class will/should include McGuire. Rob Neyer of recently sent out a survey to a bunch of sports writers about this subject and commented on the results. I find the most interesting piece to be the comments left by those who returned the survey. Some good points (see Hoynes & Nightengale comments) and some bad points ("if not for the HR's, he wouldn't be HOF callaber" & "if you're not good enough for 1st ballot, why are you good enough for the 5th?"). Here's Smitty's take on it all:

HOF voting is like whether Courtney Olson or Anna Siebert is more attractive or whether a freshman should start at quarterback, popularity and politics. Whether or not McGuire took juice is not a good enough reason to keep him from consideration. If we assume he took steriods, we should also assume pitchers took steroids. Isn't that fair? Therefore doesn't that level the "playing field"? Why aren't more people questioning why 35 plus year old pitchers are dominating (Clemens), wearing blood socks (Schilling) and still way better then average (Mussina, Johnson and Rivera)?

One comment in particular made me call BS, "he was only an HR guy". Sure, that is what he was more known for, but let's look at some other all-time greats. Robin Yount is in the Hall. His numbers ant that spectacular. 250 HR, 1400 RBI, .285 BA but he has the hits. He was only a hit guy, only hit over .300 6 times in 20 seasons. Pete Rose was only a hit & run guy. Career average .285 (that would be higher if he didn't hold on for so long), he only stole 198 bases in 24 seasons, and hit 198 HR. Let's look at some similar players, McCovey and Killabrew. McCovey (22 seasons - .270, 521 HR, 1555 RBI, 1345 BB, 1229 runs) & Killabrew (22 seasons - .256, 573 HR, 1584 RBI, 1559 BB, 1283 runs) stats are very similar to McGuire's (16 seasons - .263, 583 HR, 1414 RBI, 1317 BB, 1167 runs).

To sound like the great Gammons: Look, my issue is not IF he should be in the hall, it's the rationale behind it. I don't think it's fair to punish McGurie for all the false comings of baseball, the owners and his peers. If so many players took steroids, including pitchers mind you, why not compare him to the rest of the players in his era? He surely was one of the more feared hitters in his day, was really a good fielder (over .990 for most of his career) and deserves serious thought. Neyer points out that there is no uniform opinion on the rules during this time and that fault belongs to baseball, the owners and The Players Association's. They should shoulder as much if not more blame for this mockery of the game.

To the person(s) who comment that "if not a 1st ballot, then never" I say do your homework and formulate your own opinions then players like Bert and Dawson so they won't be left off the HOF for so long. All they did was produce, produce HOF numbers and do it through out their career with class. If Yount, Gary Carter, Ryan Sandberg, Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton deserve to be in the Hall, the writers need to stop with the popular vote, do the homework and see these too need to be in the Hall. Oh, Anna and Courtney are equally as hot, I voted for Courtney. She plays volleyball.