Eternal Questions

| | Comments (50)
lastsupper.jpg


Hey kids, the moon has a face and it smiles on the lake.

  • WHAT can we say that we haven't already said in this month long goodbye? Well, it wouldn't hurt to say thank you again. Readers, collaborators, e'rybody,

  • WHAT will it be like to NOT chronicle a baseball season here for the first time since 2007? I assume it'll be weird for us, and maybe for you but we'll all adjust. And you can be pretty sure we're not gonna be silent, per se. We're all atwitter here. And we'll be popping up on our friends' sites to be sure.

  • GOT a witty bon mot that will metastasize and eventually kill you if you don't get it out? Hurry up and post it. Thought the site will stay up we're turning off comments this week.

  • HOW will your favorite team do this year? We wish em well no matter who they are.

  • SURE there are a million other places to read about baseball, but where will you go for talk about food and pictures of babies dressed like food? To Rob and mine's new website! We're in the formative stages of putting together Eatoff Eat, a new recipe and restaurant review site. It's on Tumblr (and Twitter), so it'll be a little less formal than things have been on WoW, but do stop by sometime to see if we figure it out.

So that's it. Today is Walkoff Walk's 3rd anniversary. It's also the day every insurance man dreams of. Packing up the office and heading home for a long leisurely retirement. I bought an RV. Rob and I wish all of you the very best and we'll see you this summer at the #HEIST. Be well, friends.

Same WoW channel.

brandonphillips.jpg

By this point in human history, dealing with racism should be a pointless exercise. As evolved as we humans have become as a species, racism as we know it should be completely eradicated. But it ain't. It's not even close. Even in a venue as diverse as our national pastime, race still matters and it forces writers like us to bring it up even when it makes us look like liberal schmucks (which, granted, we are...sometimes).

Of all the posts we've done that sparked discussion elsewhere in the baseball blogosphere, few have received as much feedback and attention as the one where we called out writers for associating "lack of hustle" with minority players. Some simple research showed me that, for the most part, white players don't get criticized for their effort:

So, how many white players showed up in the search results? One. That's it, just one. David Wright, and the item was on a silly fantasy news website, hardly a bastion of hard-hitting journalism. This was not a case of cherry-picking results to prove my point; no, I searched long and hard to find exceptions! Twenty-one black or Latino players were called out for "lack of hustle" by a writer and/or manager, versus just one white player. This is not a coincidence.

Are we to believe that David Wright is the only white player in the majors who had problems hustling? Has Adam Dunn never lollygagged? Did Cal Ripken run out every single infield grounder? Doubtful. Yet we never hear of managers or columnists calling out white guys for "lack of hustle".

I stand by my hypothesis. I am not accusing the majority of writers of being racist. But there are deep-seated opinions in the subconscious that can associate certain words or phrases with a player based on his appearance or mannerisms. Also, I'm 100% convinced that some writers and some players are actual card-carrying racists.

But I won't name names lest I get sued for too much #realtalk. Instead, let's look back at some of the racist stuff that fell into the gray area:

Where do we go from here? Well, we're shutting down the blog so you're on your own, dear reader. Either that or you are thrilled that we our shutting our traps for good. But: casual racism is our true enemy. We as twenty-first century baseball fans need not fight the monstrous racial divide that players and fans had to overcome in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These issues we deal with today? Small potatoes.

So I ask you to be on the lookout for beat writers and columnists who stumble into subtle jabs at a dude because of his skin color. It's the seemingly innocent observations that can prolong injustice.

We Got Politics In Your Baseball

| | Comments (6)
Thumbnail image for oldladyvoting.jpg

That little banner at the top of the page was as much as disclaimer as a mission statement. When we started Rob and I weren't the super tight bros we are now, but we knew enough about each others' internetting to realize that we'd probably wander off into the writing wilderness from time to time. The Human Condition Clause gave us the free reign to do that and most everyone seemed to be fine with it. To our surprise, this even included when we started spewing our lefty politics. Which we did quite a bit.

There's a political undercurrent to so many things we wrote, but the first time we decided to get explicit about things, I took on Dick Cheney, the easiest of targets. Sure there was a little backlash from one livid commenter, but this was early enough in the site's history to be filed under "thinning the herd." Was probably best for the little guy. He would have popped a vein in his head with all the other shots we took at him and his boss.

In retrospect, we talked about those two a bit too much back in the day and it comes off as kinda petty. Especially because we had little substance to the posts other than snark. This isn't a retraction, just a wish that we'd made something a little chewier. Lord knows there was enough material. See, I just did it again.

We poked some fun at the new guy when he took over too.

Later in life, I outlined my disillusionment with party politics and my annoyance at its interruption of my baseball playoffs. Note that I attack the New York Times, Conservative WoWies. Note also that I'm not calling for the separation of politics and sport, just bemoaning their televised overlap.

When we supported the Diamondbacks boycott it spurred a lot of good comments that included some measured opposition and I think we're still pretty proud of taking some sort of stance there.

In a 2008 New Yorker article about the Bejing Olympics, Anthony Lane said "The attempt to keep politics out of sport, which is as futile as trying to keep the sweat out of sex, began to falter once more." I love that quote and feel that anyone that has ever given us flack for the former doesn't have much experience with the latter. It's about passion, Biff. This site, and any site with comments which is to say every single one, gives you the forum to disagree and we were glad if you did. Just as long as you weren't raising the neutered cry to "keep em separated." So thanks for indudging us. I know you liked it better when we made up stuff about Graeme Lloyd or posted pictures of a guy getting slapped in the head, but we just couldn't help ourselves sometimes. Civic outrage and disillusionment were a part of our human condition, and you can't say we didn't warn you.

A Plea: Go For the Walkoff Walk

| | Comments (5)

cap.2011.01.27.16.png I don't remember much about the game. It was 1995. The Phillies were going through another sub-.500 season, despite being "defending National League Champions" thanks to the 1994 strike. They were almost 20 games out of first.

But I do remember how they won this random game in September against the Reds. In the bottom of the 13th, with the bases loaded, Xavier Hernandez walked in Mark Whiten1. I don't so much remember the play as I do Phillies announcer Chris Wheeler: "Way to keep that bat on the shoulders, Whit'!"

My dad and I laughed. Yeah, good play Mark, way to work the walkoff walk2. How naïve we were. Chris Wheeler was right, though he didn't know why. I don't think any players (besides OLE CHIP) read this site, but if anyone stumbles across this site in the future, I beg of you: Go for the walkoff walk. It might not be as pretty as a walkoff homer, but it's probably a better strategy.

Let me explain: I just finished Scorecasting, by economist Tobias Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim. As you can probably guess from the authors, it's essentially Freakonomics for sports3.

One of the strongest parts of the book explores what drives home field advantage. Essentially, and in surprisingly convincing fashion, the authors conclude that referee bias drives home field advantage. In baseball, for example, umpires call more strikes for home team pitchers and more balls for away team pitchers4.

A whole chapter opens with a long discussion of the Cubs' walkoff walk against the Brewers on July 3, 2009. As PITCH f/x shows, the pitch that Jake Fox worked his winning walkoff walk on was a strike5.

Moskowitz and Wertheim also say that umpires are more likely to give this home field call advantage when there are big crowds6, ones that are ostensibly louder. And what time is a crowd louder than in a tie game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th?

I think you know where I'm going with this. Any baseball players coming across this post next week or in 2025 or when the Athletics move to the moon, I offer this piece of advice: In that situation, don't be Paul Bako. Don't go for the bloop single. You're going to get the calls on close pitches. Keep that bat on the shoulders when they come. Chances are you'll work a walkoff walk and be a hero. And you won't even have to do anything7! It will be the best paycheck you'll ever earn.

There. Now can't nobody say this site never offered professional baseball players any advice.

1 According to Baseball-Reference, the first pitch of that at-bat was a foul bunt by Hard Hittin' Whitten. With two outs!

2 I don't even think "walkoff home run" was in vogue at this time, so I probably just called it a "game-ending base on balls" or maybe said "That muckle showed a little ginger!"

3 Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics, is actually quoted on the cover: "The closest thing to Freakonomics I've seen since the original." This is quite high praise, I guess, as Scorecasting is apparently is more like the original than SuperFreakonomics.

4 "Homeboys" and "Awayboys," in Rock 'n' Jock parlance.

5 Yes, I'm aware of the calibration errors that possibly (probably?) make PITCH f/x unreliable, especially since that pitch was particularly close. Eh. I still buy Moskowitz's and Wertheim's conclusions -- I guess I believe all the PITCH f/x data errors average out, though I don't necessarily know that's true or even possible -- about umpires. The book's out next week, I'm sure some blogger will write with over-the-top anger about it if they used any data incorrectly.

6 Ha, the Cubs always have big crowds! This makes their futility even more hilarious.

7 Okay, except foul off clear strikes that you can't do anything with, as Jake Fox did.

bonilla2009.jpgIt is hard to believe Kris, Rob, and I set ourselves up for certain failure by creating the BONILLA system two full years ago. Not only is that the amount of time it felt like we invested in writing it but two years is the collective amount of time it took off the end of our lives. Unfortunately for Kris, he's now running a deficit in that department. RIP CATSHIRT.

Early in 2009, the internet was lousy with freely accessible projections systems, providing hope to some (like Bill James Juiced Up Gonzo Projections) and reality (the other, more depressing systems) to the rest. Having a difficult enough time with linear thought let alone linear weights, we three dummies opted to throw our hat in the ring with the "Based On Nothing Important, Let's Look at Age."

The result is a series of occasionally funny lines of borderline nonsense which actually turned out pretty well. We refrained from reaching for the cheapest and most obvious joke at least 30% of the time, not bad for jokes written in bulk. We tackled the players based on the year in which they were born.

Kris kicked it off with 1985 babies and Rob followed with old dogs from 1973. Kris took 1980 and I did 1979. Just like that night in Nha Trang.

The behemoth that was players born in 1977 went to Mr. Iracane while Kris had the honor of examining those born in 1978, the birth year of kings. Rob's work on players born in 1976 opened a window into his own mortality while Kris and I ganged up the 1983 births, not unlike a much darker night in Da Nang.

Finally, Rob broke the spirit of the youth while Kris wrapped it the whole fruitless exercise by paying homage to the 40-plus oldies.

All in all, a pretty fun way to kill time during the long wait for spring training that is January . Take a stroll through the BONILLA archives and hit us back with your favorites. Or don't waste significant chunks of your workday a second time. Your choice.

Truth be told, we did not invent "This Tweet In Baseball". We only innovated it. In the same way that a new product can always be made by slapping a beer bottle opener on an already existing product, we took the concept of collating tweets from famous people from the good folks at Eater.com and slapped a beer bottle opener on the side. Oh, and we presented the tweets of baseball players, beat writers, and general gadabouts like Tommy Lasorda.

And technically, none of the editors at Walkoff Walk even came up with the idea of porting Eater's feature to the arena of baseball. That credit goes to top commenter NJPANick, so thanks Nick!

"This Tweet" turned out to be more popular than I expected. Popular Phillies blogger Mike "Meech" Meechiano was perhaps the biggest fan of "This Tweet"; I could always count on a RT from the proprietor of The Fightins1. But what should have been a weekly feature turned into a monthly special and now I'm here to give it a proper burial. Nobody can ever, ever do a weekly rundown of baseball player tweets anywhere in the blogosphere. Ever again.

Enough with the legal mumbo-jumbo. On with the listicle of my favorite 140-charactered nonsense from the past year of "This Tweet in Baseball"!

At the top of the list of things we wanted to highlight were baseball players possibly talking about Internet porn. Thanks, Jason Grilli.


Perhaps the most featured baseball player was Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan, whose proselytizing and in-your-face spirituality came off cheap and downright silly on Twitter. Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Tweet about it and we'll make fun of you.



Also great: players oversharing about their various illnesses and bouts of barfing or the Hershey squirts, especially when they picked it up from their kids:


Or from food poisoning, allegedly:


Remember the day Ozzie Guillen joined Twitter? It was like Christmas and New Years Eve and Opening Day, all mashed up into one. God, he is the best.


Our other favorite manager on Twitter is noted ginzo Tommy Lasorda, He might not compose his own Tweets but following him is worth it just for the awkward photos.


Jim Bowden was, is, and forever will be a total dope. He's also a total bore who feels the need to tweet about Hollywood and celebrities like a common hausfrau.


Jose Canseco, once shockingly hilarious with his unmatchable display of dumbness, has become a parody of himself lately. Doesn't mean his spewings are any less entertaining in retrospect:


Alright, fans of "This Tweet": hit the bricks.

1It needs to be said: Walkoff Walk, like hot pretzels and the TV sitcom "Amen", was especially popular in Philadelphia. We thank the good people of that fine city for their support over the years.

Cat Stairs Says Goodbye

| | Comments (10)

cat.stairs.small.jpg

Click to enlarge

Today, Cat Stairs, Official Mascot of Walkoff Walk, says goodbye. Yeah, this is just a poorly-done collage of cat photos. It's pretty adorable. Deal.

Thanks to Matt Stairs, of course, for being Walker's nickname's namesake and for hitting a home run that puts a huge goofy smile on my face every time I watch it. Thanks to Caitlin for two kitten photos above and Sarah for most of the rest. And an extra special thanks to that same Sarah for letting me use her cat as a mascot for this site despite that being quite strange, when you think about it. But, aww, little Cat Stairs, so cute!

chipperfish.jpg

WHO DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING

BY LAWRENCE "LARRY" CHIPPER JONES

SO I GUESS THIS BLOG IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS AND I HATE TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO BUT IF YOU DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING THEN YOU'RE BLINDER THAN A SQUIRREL STORING HIS FEAST IN A WOLFS MOUTH. I MEAN THIS WEBPAGE HAS HAD A LONG RUN SPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT THE DUDES WHO RUN IT ARE PRETTY SUSPECT I MEAN ONE DUDE IS ITALIAN AND THE OTHER GUY IS GREEK WHICH WOULD BE A GOOD COMBO FOR A SITE ABOUT ROASTING WHOLE FISH BUT WHEN YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT THE GRAND GAME YOU NEED TRUE BLUE DUDES WHO ARE DYED IN THE WOOL.

SO I THINK MAYBE I COULD HELP MAYBE I COULD BE THE TENTPOLE THAT SHELTERS THIS MESSAGE BOARD FROM THE STORM SO I TALKED TO SOME OF MY FAMOUS BALLGAME PALS AND ASKED THEM ABOUT THIS SERVER AND WOULDNT YOU KNOW IT NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM READS THIS MESS I GUESS YOU FIGURED THAT I GUESS THATS WHY YOURE SHUTTIN DOWN THE DOG AND HORSE ACT THAT YOU ARE RUNNING. SO YOU SHOULD BE PRETTY HONORED THAT A REAL AMERICAN HERO LIKE L-C-J- WOULD COME AROUND AND OFFER YOU ADVICE.

IM NOT SURE WHAT THE ROAD HOLDS IN ITS GRASP FOR YOU FELLAS I CANT IMAGINE THAT THE HORIZONS ARE BRIGHT I MEAN IF YOU CANT HACK IT HERE YOU CANT MAKE IT ANYWHERE LIKE NEW YORK NEW YORK. BUT I SHOULDNT BE TOO HARD ON YOU I MEAN YOUVE GOT A PRETTY BIG STABLE OF OTHER NANCIES WHO HAVE ALL KINDS OF TIME ON THEIR HANDS TO MAKE PUNS AND BAKE CHOCOLATY SPECIALTIES AND TAKE PICTURES OF THEIR OFFSPRING. SO MAYBE YOU AND THIS REBEL APPLIANCE CREW SHOULD TEAM UP AND DO LIKE A TRAVELING SIDESHOW WHERE YOU CAN GET OTHER DUDES IN TIGHT JEANS TO SHELL OUT SOME BUCKAROOS AND HEAR YOU MAKE LITERACY JOKES. OR MAYBE YOU SHOULD START A NEW GEOCITIES PAGE ABOUT BALLGAME STATS AND CALL IT 'MAN I WISH WE COULD MASH LIKE CHIP HERE ARE SOME NUMBERS OF GUYS WHO TRY.' THATS PRETTY MUCH THE GIST OF THE SPORTS WEB WORLD ANYWAY.

NAW ANYWAY IM JUST FUNNIN ON YA I MEAN I GUESS THIS PLACE IS OK. I MET THAT CATSHIRT DUDE THE ONE TIME AND EVEN THOUGH HE SMELLED LIKE AMERICAN SPIRIT SMOKES AND APPLESAUCE HE WAS ACTUALLY COOL HE LOANED ME A BLACK FLAG CD AND IT WAS DECENT I MEAN FOR A COMPANY THAT MAKES INSECT FOGS THEYRE HALF DECENT. AND I HAVE A FRIEND (YO KENT MERCKER HOLLER AT ME) WHO FOLLOWS FRUITBAT ON TWITTINGS AND HE SAID HES PRETTY INFORMATIVE SO I GUESS THATS GOOD. ID LIKE TO THINK THAT YOUR OL PAL CHIP HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THAT MATUREMENT IN THE PUBLIC EYE BUT WHO KNOWS MAYBE YOU HEEDED MY WISDOMS MAYBE YOU DIDNT. FARE WELL FELLAS AND ALWAYS REMEMBER TO KEEP ONE EYE ON THE TARGET AND TWO EYES ON YOUR BACK CUZ WHEN YOURE LINING UP A SHOT THERES TWO MORE PEOPLE WHO HAVE YOU IN THEIR SIGHTS.

IN GOD WE TRUST,
CHIPPER

baseballclock.jpg

Sure, we've made a lot of enemy-folk in the past at Walkoff Walk. Some are celebrity-style public figures who we can legally scorn and poke fun at without worry of breaking the law. Others are portly beat writers who fall into a gray area of libel laws that we'd not like to skirt right now. Still others are competing bloggers who already know, deep down in the darkest confines of their humorless soul, that they are awful at writing and even worse at comedy. We need not inform them of what they already know.

In the end, nobody else in the world is to blame for the demise of Walkoff Walk except (a) ourselves and (b) the emergence of microbloggy things like Twitter and Tumblr.

I say ourselves because let's face it: Kris and I would like nothing more than to spend the rest of our lives writing about baseball and making people laugh. But we have other lives and other careers that pay us actual money. We're happy that we've associated ourselves with team members like Drew and Dan who are still keeping the dream alive and busting their asses writing every single day. But Kris and I? You can tell that our commitment to Walkoff Walk ain't what it used to be, and that's okay.

Make no mistake, this here blog started out like a house on fire. We regularly posted six or seven times a day back in 2008, not with thoughtful, long-form pieces but short reblogs of other folks' news reporting cut in with our own original sense of humor. It worked. It worked really well, even though we were ripping off the Deadspin posting model without the alluring salaciousness or enormous audience and ad revenue that came with it. It was Deadspin creator Will Leitch who responded to the news that Kris and I were starting a baseball blog with enthusiasm; unfortunately, he was hoping we would do a "Kissing Suzy Kolber-style take on baseball". Will made our enemies list that very day.

Satire was mostly dead in 2008 and its corpse is still cold today. What do people want in the future? I guess they want tweets. Heck, our favorite people in the whole world, our thirty-or-so devoted commenters, are very well-represented on the Twittersphere and entertain one another all day long. I love it. I love that I somehow earned 1500 followers just from having this dumb blog and a handful of Rob Neyer tweets. I like experiencing live baseball with these friends in a virtual manner.

Time has really taken its toll on our blogging fingers and ideas. Maybe it's just easier to compose 140-character witticisms and press "return" than it is to write a few paragraphs, steal an image from Flickr, and press "publish". That's okay, and it is inevitable: there is only one inspirational poster in the Walkoff Walk break room and it pictures a baby dressed up as a cocktail wiener, seated in front of a Commodore 64 with the accompanying text in block letters: "Blogging's hard, y'all".

It really is, baby cocktail wiener. It really is.

jefffrancoeur.jpg

Is there any first name that inspires more hatred than "Jeff"? I think not! Hit the bricks, Brads and Todds of the world; today, we at Walkoff Walk choose to continue the enemies list by singling out our most hated people with the name "Jeff" or the heterographically-equivalent "Geoff".

Consider yourselves lucky, Jeff Weaver and Jeff Torborg and Geoff Blum and AJC blogger Jeff Schultz. You were simply too invisible to earn a shred of our ire.