310ToJoba: April 2010 Archives

Former MLB pitcher Mike Bascik decided to take spice up the Internets tonight. During his career as a pitcher Bascik earned the dubious honor of giving up Barry Bonds record-breaking 756th career homer. Now that he's moved into broadcasting at a sports radio station in Texas, Bascik apparently wants to be just as memorable. The former hurler apparently had some choice thoughts about the San Anotonio / Dallas basketball game that he felt compelled to share with the world on Twitter, a site that advertises itself as providing readers with a way to get "short, timely messages" from the folks you follow and care to read. After this, that's certainly one way of putting it.



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Well... that certainly escalated quickly. Again, it may not be him at all, but umm, holy shit.



(Coke Zero to Yahoo's David Brown for bringing it my attention on Twitter, of all places)

It's been quite the weekend for retrospective pieces on some of the landmark WoW personalities. Yesterday we had Chipper Jones. Today it's the indefatigable homerism of the Los Angeles Dodgers' most dedicated out-of-state fan, Troy from West Virginia. No stranger to the glories that the World Wide Web offers to those courageous enough to post videos of themselves on Youtube, Troy (now with a sweet beard) is back at it again in his latest video, a tribute to the 2010 LA Dodgers.



It's... it's mesmerizing. But perhaps the strangest part of all of this is the fact that Rob, who had pointed out the new video earlier that day, actually saw him at the Nationals game yesterday. Make of that what you will.

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Here's what you may have missed from yesterday's action while vital parts fall from his systems and dissolve in Scottish rain.

Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jayson Werth showed that he doesn't need his beard to be productive at the plate. Dude hit two homers in the game, including the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning to give the Fightins a victory over the Snakes. Raul Ibanez also awoke from a deep slumber to hit his first homer of the year.

Giants 2, Cardinals 0 : Umm, what? This game turned into quite the pitchers' duel as both starters went eight innings. However, SMALL SAMPLE SIZE Zito got the better of last year's Cy Young candidate, scattering three hits and striking out 10 (!) Cardinals enroute to his 3rd victory on the year. Better late than never on that massive contract, I suppose.

Rays 9, Blue Jays 3: Ricky Romero continued the trend of strong pitching from the Jays' rotation while doing his best Brett Cecil impersonation and then some to limit the Rays to two runs in seven innings. The Jays bullpen was also quite happy to continue its own recent trend. Unfortunately for Jays fans this involves a horrible inability to throw strikes and overall gut-wrenching pitching performances. The team from Canada entered the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead only to see the Rays score seven runs in the bottom of the frame. Scott Downs and Casey Janssen took most of the lumps as Kevin Greggggg likely looked on with ironic amusement. Raypril hasn't ended just yet, apparently.

Twins 9, Royals 7: Both of the Twins major long-term commitments showed they were worth the money in this game. Joe Mauer had five hits and Justin Morneau hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh as the Twins overcame a 5-1 deficit against their division rivals to win in twelve innings. It's not all bad for the Royals though, as Jose Guillen continues to swing a steroid-fueled ridiculously hot bat. I'm sure general manager Dayton Moore will find a way to minimize his value on the trade market sooner or later.

White Sox 5, Mariners 3: Apparently yesterday was "AL Central Comeback Day" as the White Sox also got key hits to catalyze their victory over the scuffling Mariners. The Pale Hosiery entered the bottom of the ninth down by a run before benefiting from a game-tying tater off the bat of Paul Konerko. The resurgent Alex Rios then scorned the concept of extra innings and his own decline by hitting a walkoff two-run homer to guarantee victory.

Generic roundup: The Nationals and Dodgers also played extra innings yesterday but the smart folks left the snoozefest early. Either way, the Dodgers won in the thirteenth. Andy Pettitte continues to drink from the Fountain of Youth as the Yankees rolled over the Angels by a score of 7-1. The Tigers won despite Dontrelle Willis having to leave the game early due to being raped by a wallaby illness. Ted Lilly won his season debut with the Cubs in a turn of events that will give manager Lou Pinella further validation in his inexplicable decision to move Carlos Zambrano to the 'pen. Brian Matusz pitched well, but the Red Sox overcame the hapless Orioles in a slugfest that saw both teams hit a combined five homers. Well hey, look at that, the Mets won again.

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Quite the falloff from last Saturday's games which had a lot of impressive names taking the hill and ended up with Ubaldo Jiminez throwing a no-hitter. But we've just gotta keep on keepin' on.

Scuffling Teams And A Surprise: The Dodgers aren't exactly off to a rousing start in 2010, a set of circumstances further compounded by the recently creampuffed Manny Ramirez. They send Clayton Kershaw to the bump to take on the Nationals. Elsewhere the Padres, leaders in the NL West turn to Wade The White to "duel" against Cincinnati and Johnny Cueto. And then your early tilts are rounded out by a Braves/Mets matchup at 1:10PM.

FOX-y Lady: Only two games to pick from for the National broadcast today at 4:10PM. Joel Pineiro shut down the Yankees in a start earlier in the year and looks to do so again. Meanwhile, Joba Chamberlain, fresh off blowing last night's game will be spending the day away from the ballpark to highjack a Red Bull truck. In the other game, the M's and White Sox go head-to-head in a matchup that pits Doug Fister against former Seattle-ite and current drunken gadabout Freddy Garcia. Overwrought story lines: engage!

"When I was born, the world was a far simple place. It was all just cops and robbers.": The Marlins play a double-header against the Rockies today with the first game starting at 5:05PM. Brett Cecil scorned the notion of "Raypril" yesterday and Ricky Romero looks to follow suit. The OrioLOLes already proved to be good for whatever ailed Jon Lester. They still only have two wins on the season; Brian Matusz owns both of them and he's taking the hill today. Joe Mauer is going to take a break from being awesome to lead the Twins against Luke Hochevar and the Royals. Dontrelle Willis looks to avenge the Rangers dramatic victory in yesterday's game. He will probably fail. And in the late game at 9:05PM, Wainwright and the Red Birds take on SMALL SAMPLE SIZE Zito.

Full listing of games.

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That's right folks. On this date, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy two, a favorite of this site, the ever-awesome Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones was born in DeLand, Florida. Allegedly his first reported action was outing the Mexican cleaning lady at the hospital as an illegal immigrant. All in attendance agreed it was most adorable.

In 1990, OL CHIP reached the age of legal majority in the United States on the same day that the Hubble Telescope was launched. Coincidence? Hardly. NASA knew it had to get up there quickly with an adult Chipper now in the game. That same year, young Larry was selected first overall by the Atlanta Braves. From there, the rest, they say, is history.

Chipper is now a virile 38 years old, and he's off to a good start in 2010. Many adjectives could be used to describe the fellow. "MVP," "World Champion," "teacher of men," and "not-so-closet racist" immediately come to mind. When all is said and done, will "Hall Of Famer" be on that list?

Thanks to matt_t (naturally) for pointing out Chipper's day of birth.

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Yesterday may or may not have been one of the craziest days in baseball history. At the very least it can claim that title so far for the year 2010. Here's what you have missed while thinking that this could last us all a lifetime.

Rockies 4, Braves 0: Ubaldo Jiminez throws the first no-hitter in Rockies history and he took the AJ Burnett path to get their by walking 6 guys in nine innings on 129 pitches... but it still counts! Ubaldo was still throwing absolute gas in the late innings, hitting 98mph on the gun even in the ninth. More like Ubald-no-no, amirite?!

Mets 2, Cardinals 1: It's hard to believe something could actually trump a no-hitter, but this game certainly tried its darndest. It took twenty innings to decide the winner of what started out as a regular season baseball game and ended up becoming a test of endurance and a competition between two teams to see who could try to lose faster so that everybody could go home. Luckily for the Mets Tony LaRussa is the worst manager in baseball. The Cardinals had the bases loaded with a chance to win the game, three times (in the 10th, 12th, and 14th), but each time we were denied delicious shrimp. MOTHER$#&!@*. In the 12th and 14th, LaRussa left the pitcher in to bat with the bases loaded. Oh, and by the way the pitcher was hitting in the cleanup spot after what I can only imagine was a double switch that pulled Matt Holliday out of the lineup. The Cardinals used two position players to pitch with one of them, Joe Mather, taking the loss. Mike Pelfrey earned his first career save. Isn't the NL just adorable?

Athletics 4, Orioles 2: While the Astros might be getting a lot of attention for their early-season struggles, it's important to note that the lowly Orioles still only have one win on the season in what can only be described as an attempt to make the Blue Jays feel better about themselves by securing a veritable stranglehold on last place in the AL East. The A's secured a walkoff victory on Ryan Sweeney's two-run single in the ninth. Wayward O's closer Mike Gonzalez was nowhere near the scene of the crime, so it fell on Jim Johnson to blow the game.

Rays 3, Red Sox 1: The Rays had a busy day yesterday because they had to finish their Friday contest against the Red Sox, which was suspended due to rain. Pat Burrell clubbed a two-run homer in the 12th inning to give the Rays a victory. Then the team from Tampa held off a Red Sox rally to win the second game of the double-header 6-5. The Rays are now tied with the Yankees atop the East. Bill Simmons renunciation of sabermetrics and Theo's "defense first" offseason plan will hit the internetz in 3...2...

Giants 9, Dodgers 0: Tim Lincecum's early-season dominance cannot be stopped. The lithe righty did it all in his six innings of work, striking out seven and driving in three runs to support his own cause. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was battered around by a Giants lineup that once again forgot it was the anemic Giants' lineup. Look at that, a normal baseball game!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Roy Oswalt threw seven shutout innings and the Astros' bullpened weathered a late Cubs rally to secure the team's second win. There was almost shrimp in the Pittsburgh game, but Garrett Jones saw fit to end the game with his bat to give the Pirates a walkoff win of their own. Break up the Nationals! They shutout the Brewers 8-0 yesterday. The Yankees beat the Rangers as A-Rod hit his first homer of 2010. He picked a good time to do it, as there were two very special people in attendance. The Mariners bested Justin Verlander to win 4-2.

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I know of at least one brave soul who embarked on a most noble quest this morning. Hopefully this Saturday finds the rest of you equally well and only mildly hungover. Let's see what's on the teevee, shall we?

Early Call: Only a few games in the one o'clock timeslot today and just like last week, you should prepare to be wholly underwhelmed. Roy Oswalt's healthy attitude takes the hill against Tom Gorzelanny in an effort to get the Astros only their second win in the 2010 season. Early forecast in Houston calls for a lack of run support and infinite sadness. The Jays are still partying like it's April 2009 and send lefty Brian Tallet (now sans moustache? Sad face.) to the bump to take on the scuffling Angels. Mmmm Pythagorean record justice. And you've got Royals/Twins, Yankees/Rangers, and Brewers/Nationals rounding out your late lunch.

Big Names Abound The Late Afternoon: Tim Lincecum, Johan Santana and Jake "Where Did It All Go Wrong" Peavy are all starting at 4:10PM today, and depending on where you live, you'll get to see one of them on FOX. Guess which one I'm hoping for! Elsewhere Jeremy Guthrie looks to give up less than 3 homers per inning against the AL West leading A's. The latter part of that sentence felt very odd to say.

"You're a funny guy, Sully, I like you...": After a stellar first two starts, Ubaldo Jiminez takes his show on the road to square off against the Braves. Ricky Nolasco and Jamie Moyer (LULZ OLD JOKES) oppose each other in the middle game of what what must sadly be called the Phillies first real challenge of a series in 2010. Tampa Bay and Boston are battling in Boston. Justin Verlander is taking the hill against the Mariners looking to shake off a slow April start and Jerkwheat's shower of tears.

Full listing of games here.

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Just the other day we saw Hank Aaron complaining about the kids on his lawn with their moving pictures and their home run balls. It turns out the Home Run King has quite a bit more on his mind. Namely, Aaron is depressed about the inherent irony of Jackie Robinson Day, which was just celebrated around all of Major League Baseball, because there's not that many African Americans in baseball anymore, you see.

"Every single day, even when I watch the Atlanta Braves, I say to myself, 'It's a shame that they have a coach and a player. That's all,' " said Aaron, referring to Terry Pendleton and Jason Heyward, respectively, as the only African-Americans involved with the former team of baseball's legitimate home run king.

Aaron has a legitimate point, of course, because the numbers don't lie: only 71 African Americans on Opening Day rosters in both leagues this year.

The Aaron quote above comes from this Terence Moore Fanhouse article, which is more than a littler over-the-top as the author spends an equal amount of time pointing out the fact that he's friends with Hank Aaron as he does actually trying to make his point. And his point is that Major League Baseball is run by a bunch of hypocrites who say they're trying to improve African American participation in the game, but doing very little to follow through with substantive action. While it might be easy to dismiss this Moore piece for its melodrama and overwrought rhetorical devices... I found myself agreeing him. Mostly because of facts like this:

They also mention after a sigh that they really are trying to bring African-Americans back to the game with their 21-year-old Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program. On MLB.com, for instance, it boasts that the game has given more than $30 million to the RBI program since its inception.

(snip)

As for the truth, that's a bunt compared to a home run, especially when you contrast what baseball has done collectively during that stretch to build academies in Latin American and other foreign countries. The low-revenue San Diego Padres spent $8 million alone for a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.

At the most basic level, this doesn't exactly make MLB look very good, and it also lends a lot of credence to Torii Hunter's remarks about "impostors," which, to be sure, are still utterly crazy and poorly-worded, but definitely contain a great deal of truth.

Thoughts on the issue, WoWies? I do believe this qualifies as my first writing on the human condition. Huzzah!

At Rob's behest I'm going to continue with some LOLMLB throughout the season. This is not a weekly/scheduled feature by any stretch of the imagination, but if there are a bunch of good images that lend themselves to bold white textual modifications, it's only fair to capitalize on the low-hanging fruit, right? And boy did the first week of the season ever deliver when it comes to being easily-mockable. Commence waste of bandwidth!

Even the best play of the young season isn't immune to my immaturity.

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CHIPPER IS VERY EXCITED!

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It didn't take long into the 2010 campaign for folks to see how full of FAIL the Royals are as a team.

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"And I will always...love you."

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Evan Longoria, the best bargain in baseball, is also an expert at childhood games.

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Is there anything Joe Mauer can't do? What a dreamboat!

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Impede Prince Fielder's path at your own risk.

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Yours in the comments!

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Holy cow did you see Mickelson's two eagles yesterday? FIGJAM! Oh, right, baseball blog. Here's what you missed while you regretted leaving your mind.

Yankees 10, Rays 0: On the backs of three ridiculous defensive plays by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano, CC Sabathia took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before a Kelly Shoppach single broke it up prompting two different WoWies to make the exact same joke within mere hours of each other. The real winner in this game last night? Michael Kay.

Braves 7, Giants 2: As predicted yesterday the Giants lost their first game of the season. Jason Heyward had the best game of his young career, going 3-3 with two walks and hitting his second career homer in the process. The state of Georgia has a lot going for it right now.

Pirates 6, Diamondbacks 3: Color me surprised. The normally feastly Dan Haren was battered around by our new Pirates overlords. Zach Duke was impressive on the mound and the Diamondbacks didn't even get on the board until this absolute moonshot (!!!) by Mark Reynolds in the 7th frame. Duke is now 2-0 on the season so fire up the Cy Young chatter!

Red Sox 8, Royals 3: Boston clubbed five homers in this game including 2 by the reanimated corpse of Jason Varitek. Josh Beckett looked a lot better than in Game 1 of the season; facing the Royals will do that for you, I hear. On the other hand, Zack Greinke was positively not himself, allowing half of Boston's runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. The lowest point for Greinke was surrendering homers to Varitek and Jeremy Hermida on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning. Yeesh.

Marlins 7, Dodgers 6 / Angels 4, Oakland 3: Couple of wild finishes in these two games. The Marlins scored three runs in the ninth to walkoff against the Dodgers, who had to deal with another terrible performance from Vincente Padilla to start the game. Jorge Cantu provided the clinching blow with a sac fly. Meanwhile the other LA team had a better go of it with the newly-acquired Hideki Matsui driving in three runs including the game winner with one out in the ninth.

Elsewhere! It took 14 innings but the Padres beat the Rockies. Ryan Howard is a very good hitter. Dana Eveland showed off the power of his own girlish name in shutting down the Orioles. Jeremy Bonderman looked pretty darn sharp in a Tigers win. The Mets lost to the NationaLOLs. Minnesota squeaked by the White Sox. Homers abounded in a Cubs win over the Reds.

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A lot of my fifth starter friends are making their debuts today. Let's just jump right into it!

Post Lunch Lethargy:The early afternoon games are wholly underwhelming. Carlos Zambrano trots his 54.00 ERA out to the mound against Aaron "BRAINS" Harang. When this is what qualifies as a marquee matchup for the early games, you know something is up. Elsewhere, it's Mitch Talbot/Jeremy Bonderman, Scott Baker/Freddy Garcia and John Lannan/Oliver Perez. Zzzzzz.

The Return of FOX: That's right folks, depending on where you live, McCarver and Buck may be back to assaulting your eardrums and sense of sanity. At 3:10PM (Note: Sweet time!), the lucky kids might be able to pay homage to King Felix as he makes his second start of the season against the Rangers. Or if you live in the Middle East Midwest, the recently extended Yovani Gallardo is trotting to the hill for his second closeup. Most of us though will get the aforementioned Buck and McCarver calling the Yankees/Rays tilt. CC Sabathia is also undertaking start number two on the year while the Rays turn to their fifth starter, Wade Davis. Surely we can all be forgiven for turning to The Masters today, right?

Step Back and Here Comes the Nighttime: Everybody is invited to watch Dan Haren make it look easy against the Pirates. Your matchup of the day is Zack Greinke against Josh Beckett at 7:10PM. Josh Johnson looks to improve after a bad first start. His counterpart, Vincente Padilla is simply looking to be less full of FAIL than last time out. Dana Eveland shows off his girl's name against the Orioles. In your last game of the day Todd Wellemeyer looks to keep the Giants record a perfect 5-0 in a matchup against the Braves and will likely fail. This 10:05PM game has the best chance of us getting to see shrimp based on nothing but my own filthy desires and the fact that these two offenses are full of meh.

Full listing of games and times for your easy reference. Converse among yourselves hither.

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Most of the talk surrounding this game has to do with only one of the two teams: The Braves. On the one hand you have Bobby Cox undertaking the first game of his last official season as manager of the team. On the other hand, the baseball world is positively agog over the arrival of Jason Heyward, the guy that folks are nearly unanimous in picking as their NL Rookie of the Year.

If Heyward doesn't have at least three hits in this game (And he already has a homer! Whee!), look for much wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially from resident Braves fan / Internet extraordinaire / Southern gentleman, matt_t, who I've heard is actually at Turner Field and having quite the time.

Last but not least there's Derek Lowe, who many thought wouldn't even be a Brave come today, yet here he is starting Game Numero Uno. Drama! Brittle egos! Statements!

Oh, and the Cubs hardly did anything this winter and still face the same expectations from a fanbase that will always fall back on the same excuse for the consistent failures of the franchise.

ACCURSED GOATSHEYWARDS
Ryan Theriot, SSMelky Cabrera, LF
Kosuke Fukudome, RFMartin Prado, 2B
Derek Lee, 1BCHIPPER, 3B
Aramis Ramirez, 3BBrian McCann, C
Marlon Byrd, CFTroy Glaus, 1B
Alfonso Soriano, LFYunel Escobar, SS
Mike Fontenot, 2BJason Heyward !!!11!, RF
Geovanny Soto, CNate McClouth, CF
Carlos Zambrano, PDerek Lowe, P

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Here it is, folks, the perfect cap to a day spent avoiding relatives and finding ways to sneak more pieces of candy into your maw. And really, wouldn't it be difficult to find a better way to kickoff the 2010 season than with a Yankees/Red Sox tilt? Oh hai, East Coast bias, I didn't hear you come in. In fairness, the hype surrounding this game has been palpable not only because the matchup involves one of the biggest rivalries in modern sports, but also because it means omgomgomg baseball is back! Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious (almost) summer by a Josh Beckett fastball.1

Despite being two of the best teams in baseball last season, both rosters have been significantly reworked from the previous year. Gone are Jason Bay, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Entering the fray for the first time are John Lackey, Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees also re-added two players all too familiar with the rivalry in Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez. How will these new pieces be deployed in Game 1? To the lineups!


YANKEESRED SOX
Derek Jeter, SSJacoby Ellsbury, LF
Nick Johnson, DHDustin Pedroia, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1BVictor Martinez, C
Alex Rodriguez, 3BKevin Youkilis, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2BDavid Ortiz, DH
Jorge Posada, CAdrian Beltre, 3B
Curtis Granderson, CF JD Drew, RF
Nick Swisher, RF Mike Cameron, CF
Brett Gardner, LFMarco Scutaro, SS

Dmac is coming back to glog it for you (a new post will appear above). Baseball! The rest of the gang will be back tomorrow with the rest of Opening Day Lineupstravaganza.

1 Now if that asshat drops a curveball in for a first pitch strike I will have even more reason to hate him.

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That rumbling you felt earlier may or may not have been the earth spinning off its axis with the news that Bill Simmons, a noted anti-sabermetrics guy who had actually placed an embargo on writing about baseball for three years because he felt that advanced stats had made everything too complicated, has "seen the light." It's an Easter miracle! Or we can just chalk this up to the general euphoria surrounding the arrival of the baseball season!1!!1!

Anyway, in the interest of full-disclosure, I will say the following thing: this is the first thing I've read by Bill Simmons since at least the year 2007. It's nothing personal, I was just never all that into his work, mostly because of the fact that he so often writes about the NBA, the professional league I care the least about. In fact, the only reason I heard about this most recent article is because some friends asked me if I had read it. Based on the way they were talking, it seemed they were of the opinion that this was some watershed moment for the sports world. Fine, I took the bait and decided to check it out.

And I... I can't believe I'm saying this: Bill Simmons gets it. Mostly. The general motive behind Simmons "conversion" is nicely summed up by the following 'graph:

Little did I know, the ball was rolling for me. I spent March reading and surfing sabermetrics for mostly selfish reasons ("I want this column to be better," "I want an edge for fantasy purposes," "I'm bored"), but also because the advanced formulas weren't nearly as intimidating as I had expected. Full disclosure: I, um ... I-I kinda like them. I even understand why stat junkies take it so personally whenever a mainstream guy spouts out an uninformed baseball opinion. It's too easy to be informed these days (Ed.: Emphasis mine, naturally). Takes a lot less time than you might think.

What's even better is that Simmons preceded this entire paragraph by talking about how researching advanced statistics allowed for him develop an even greater appreciation for the greatness of one of his favorite players (Freddie Lynn). You mean the Sports Guy finally grasped the fact that sabermetric nerds like me aren't trying to make the game an emotionless realm of numbers? That we care about the game as much as any other fan and are simply looking to gain a better appreciation for what true greatness is in the modern context? GTFO!

Simmons then targets his layperson audience and attempts to teach them some advanced stats they ought to know. It's a nice gesture, and I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is where Simmons, having emerged from the tomb on the third day, trips over his own sandal and falls flat on his face. I won't go into each of the seven he lists in depth, and I urge you to read the article linked above if you haven't already done so. However, I will go so far as to point out my main gripe with Simmons' list: it's filled with far too many things that come off like backhanded compliments and it is also full of navel gazing on the part of the auteur. Case in point: Simmons trying to explain OPS+. He makes it way too complicated, and then gets up in arms at OPS+ for being way too complicated. Fuck the heck?

Love the concept, don't love the execution. Right now, everything plays off the number 100. If you have a 100 OPS-plus, you're average. From there, your OPS-plus increases by two points for every percentage point you're better than everyone else that season. When Albert Pujols led the National League in 2009 with a 188 OPS-plus, that meant he was 44 percent better than average (100 + 88 / 2) before correcting for park factors. That's already too complicated for someone like my father. He's out right there. If your stat is complicated AND hard to relate to, that's a deadly combo.

(snip)

Door No. 1: Albert Pujols led the NL with a 188 OPS-plus in 2009.

Door No. 2: Albert Pujols' OPS-plus was 44 percent better than that of the average 2009 National Leaguer (first in the NL).

We lose my dad with Door No. 1. We keep him with Door No. 2.

That brings up something I first mentioned at last month's Sloan Conference: In my opinion, the biggest challenge for sabermetricians (not just in baseball, but in every sport) is making their numbers more accessable to all types of sports fans.

Oh goodness, Bill. On the one hand, I appreciate his efforts to attain a better grasp on the stats as a whole; he consistently tries to find out how they're calculated. Good on him. On the other hand, perhaps Simmons is getting a little too overzealous and missing the point. If you know an OPS+ of 100 is average, and you tell someone who knows that information that Albert Pujols led the league with a 188 OPS+, said person will undoubtedly draw the following conclusion: Albert Pujols is really friggin' good at baseball. Simply knowing that 188 is greater than 100 (and significantly so) conveys this information. Behind Simmons' "Door Number Two" is just further clarification of this detail. Again, it's admirable that he wants to go all the way with his newfound obsession, but he comes off as being condescending and too in depth when there's no need to be.

At the risk of severely damaging what little credibility I have as a nerd in the online baseball community I'm going to say the following: I have no idea how some of these statistics are calculated. UZR and WAR (two other stats on Simmons list)? Not a clue. I've never even seen the formula for UZR. But I know what the numbers "mean" and I'm happy to leave it at that. Looking at a leaderboard on Fangraphs and seeing Death To Flying Things crushing the competition in UZR is good enough for my purposes. Would I be better served knowing the ins and outs of the UZR formula? I'm not so sure I would.

There are much smarter people out there who organize the data, and we should be happy to reap the benefits without all the work. In other words, despite what Simmons thinks, the numbers are already plenty accessible for the casual wanna-be nerd simply because of the vast number of sites that offer them at any given time for free. A simple definition (with appropriate frames of reference, like 100 being average for OPS+) often suffices for a lot of these metrics.

Does this most recent column give Simmons any weight in the sabermetric community? A look at some of his subsequent writings to see how he does, will be necessary. Hopefully we're not looking at just another case of an ESPN-er trying something new and ultimately missing the point because Simmons does have a very big audience and the chance to expand the average fan's cognizance of the baseball world. So, yeah, welcome aboard, Bill, I suppose. Everybody on? Good, great, grand, wonderful. No yelling on the bus!

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Teams breaking camp is as sure a sign as any that the baseball season is starting. Huzzah! We made it! That was a close one, but we got through it just the same. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back and grab your jerseys/shirseys, you've earned it.

One last bit of housekeeping that most teams partake of before leaving their Spring Training homes is the fabled "Fifth Starter Announcement." To be sure, I'm fully in agreement with the rest of the WoW crew when they say that the "Fifth Starter Competition" is just a media creation bent on trying to make you care about an otherwise meaningless decision. But hey, backs of the rotation are people too, and it's still the end of Spring Training (!!!!) so we're allowed to celebrate anything and everything related the national pastime as Game 1 draws ever closer. So without further ado, here are the "winners." Adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly. Actually don't.

The National League
New York Mets - Oliver Perez lolololol
Atlanta Braves - Kenshin Kawakami (????)
Philadelphia Phillies - Kyle Kendrick
Florida Marlins - Nate Robertson
Washington Nationals - Scott Olsen or Garrett Mock
The American League
New York Yankees - Phil Hughes
Boston Red Sox - Clay Buchholz
Tampa Bay Rays - Wade Davis
Toronto Blue Jays - Dana Eveland
Baltimore Orioles - David Hernandez

Chicago Cubs - Tom Gorzelanny
St Louis Cardinals - Jamie Garcia
Houston Astros - Felipe Paulino
Milwaukee Brewers - Manny Parra or Chris Narveson
Cincinnati Reds - Mike Leake
Pittsburgh Pirates - Daniel McCutchen

Chicago White Sox - Freddy Garcia
Kansas City Royals - Kyle Davies
Detroit Tigers - Dontrelle Willis
Minnesota Twins - Francisco Liriano
Cleveland Indians - David Huff

San Francisco Giants - Todd Wellemeyer
Los Angeles Dodgers - Charlie Haeger
Arizona Diamondbacks - Kris Benson
Colorado Rockies - Jason Hammel
San Diego Padres - Mat(t) Latos

LA Angels - Joel Pineiro (????)
Seattle Mariners - Ian Snell (????)
Texas Rangers - Matt Harrison
Oakland A's - Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill


Well, um, look at all of that. That's a ton of inexperience and more than enough thoroughly underwhelming career performances to go around. Even the Pirates would hesitate to bring some of these guys on board their roster. Just kidding, the Pirates have no shame in such matters. A few of the decisions have yet to be made so I simply listed the candidates if known, or used the ever-trusty multiple question marks. There's also the chance I got one of the above wrong as I was scouring the Internet and Tweetscape looking for reputable sources. Feel free to correct me in the comments as needed, or, you can just let me wallow in personal shame at the fact I spent time looking up teams' fifth starters. The joke is most definitely on me.

To me the most interesting names are all located in one division: the AL Central. Liriano, Willis, and Garcia were all darn good pitchers in days of yore, well above the normal ability level of the typical fifth starter. If these guys (and it's far more likely with the first two based on age alone) can rekindle some 2005 or 2006 magic, their team's rotations will be verrrrry interesting. Also, how sad is it that Mike Leake doesn't even have a B-R page?