Dan McQuade: April 2010 Archives

The Keys To AJ Burnett's Jeep

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Regular readers may know that I have a particular affinity (i.e., disdain) for Keys to the Game-style segments at the start of sports broadcasts. They rarely contain any actual "keys" to the game or any actual scouting reports.

So, then, thanks much to Rob for spotting the above report on AJ Burnett last night! An instant classic. It is wonderful that the only actual stat up there is Win-Loss record, one that tells us almost as little about AJ Burnett as a pitcher as the fact he loves yard work.

wow.haskins.jpg When you work at the Baseball Hall of Fame, you must get to see your fair share of celebrities. Baseball is the national pastime, after all, and its Hall of Fame is considered hallowed ground. Sure, Cooperstown, N.Y., isn't near anything1, but it's the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hate everything and I thought that place was amazing.

Apparently not, though, because the Hall of Fame's communications director wrote as if Jesus (or at least
Ivan de Jesus) showed up at the HOF when a visitor from Bayside High showed up:

The man with the Boston Red Sox hat was walking up the Museum's grand staircase alone, wearing that awestruck look of most Hall of Fame visitors. He asked for directions to the new Hank Aaron exhibit, then broke into a smile.

"Thanks! This is great. By the way, I played Mr. Belding on 'Saved by the Bell.' I'm Dennis Haskins."

This is amazing. I can only imagine Dennis Haskins reminds the staff of every museum he visits he played Mr. Belding. Maybe he also brings this up at bars2. Then again, I do hear about him more often than, say, Lisa Turtle3.

There's nothing wrong with getting excited to meet Mr. Belding. I plan on doing it myself in Reading on June 23. But does one have to pen heroic epics about the guy?

Soon, Haskins' time ran short. He stopped in the Museum Store before slipping back out onto Main Street. And with that, he was gone.

I can't tell if this is about Mr. Belding or Brigadoon.

1 Except the Cardiff Giant, on display at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown. Also in town: The dude from 3rd Bass.
2 Maybe? Pfft. You know he brings this up at bars.
3 Lark Voorhies played Wanya's girlfriend in the music video for Boyz II Men's "On Bended Knee." I'm not sure; that might have been her last acting role.

Incidentally, this got me thinking: Who has had the least successful career, post-Saved by the Bell. Then I realized this is easy: The answer's Dustin Diamond. But let's rank them anyway!

  1. Zack (Mark Paul Gosselaar): A major role in NYPD Blue, he was on that TNT judge show that was okay, and honestly Dead Man on Campus had some good jokes. This one is pretty obvious, though the stupid hat I saw a photo of him in while researching this list made me want to put Slater in the top spot out of spite.
  2. Slater (Mario Lopez): Un-fucking-fortunately, he's had a somewhat successful career as a host of crappy entertainment, plus he was runner-up on Dancing with the Stars. Maybe he should be No. 1? He's the host of Extra, though, and you wouldn't put Mark McGrath No. 1 on a list of members of Sugar Ray.
  3. Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen): Several failed TV projects, a largely unsuccessful stint on Beverly Hills 90210 and a lot of terrible plastic surgery (conjecture). Oh, Kelly. What happened?
  4. Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley): Showgirls, and nothing else. Oh, and apparently her face is frozen in this position?
  5. Lisa (Voorhies): Uh, that Boyz II Men video? She was in a couple of sitcoms for an episode or two and a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode. But at least she wasn't...
  6. Screech (Dustin Diamond): Obviously he's had more work than some of the people above, but.. I mean, he went back to Saved by the Bell: The New Class. And his other work: Dustin Diamond Teaches Chess, Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling (he finished fourth; Dennis Rodman won), Celebrity Fit Club, et cetera. Worst of all, he released a sex tape.

I don't know where Mr. Belding fits on this list, nor do I know where to put Stacey Carosi (Leah Remini)! According to her Wikipedia page, Tori (Leanna Creel) is a wedding photographer who got gay married in California in 2008. Neat!

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So... did anybody else notice this in the baseball blogosphere? Oh, probably, but I'm not bothering to check it. Hey, guys, what's up! Check this out: The Florida Marlins' Jorge Cantu, currently rocking a 20-game hitting streak, is part of the Black Hole at at least one Raiders game a year!

"I'm a big Raiders fan, even though they're not that good,'' Cantu said. "But I'm a big, big loyal fan. I sit in the Black Hole [section] every single year to watch them play. I wear my skeleton mask and everything.''

Can you spot Jorge Cantu in the photo above? I just stole it from Wikipedia user BrokenSphere and added that text, so... no, you probably can't.

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This afternoon, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 20-0. They outscored the Pirates 36-1 in the three-game series.

The Pirates have the worst run differential in baseball. But what makes it even better is the Pirates already had the worst run differential in baseball coming into the game. Now they have the worst run differential by 22!

Previous RDMs: Twins (May 2009), Phillies (July 2009).

rays-full-zip-hoodie.jpg I think we can all agree that baseball would be better if managers didn't wear uniforms1 and all dressed like Connie Mack.

Major League Baseball doesn't allow managers to wear three-piece suits anymore, and now it won't even let them wear hoodies! Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon can no longer wear the pullover hoodie he usually wears on cold days.

Was he aping too much of Bill Belichick's style? No, Maddon explains: It's all about MLB not understanding the youth of today.

"All I know is that it's a comfortable piece of clothing, I think it's attractive, if you're looking for younger fan, I think those are the people that really are attracted to something like that, too. Listen, I will state my case because I think I can, but I will follow the rules, too."

Maddon added that when he first wore the hoodie. the quality wasn't so hot. "The quality has been raised, it's more of a shiny kind of material now that I know presents well," he told the AP. "I've seen them on TV, it presents really well."

Yes, major league baseball will allow players2 to wear batting helmets that look like they've been used to clean up bong resin3 on off days, but they won't let managers wear hoodies on TV that present really well. We all know that MLB just hates the kiddies and their hoodies and their hippity-hop. Fight the power, Joe!

1 I doubt we can all agree on this. But I already wrote my first sentence, and found that photo of Connie Mack, and I'm not going back to change it. But coaches and managers wearing uniforms: Stupid. I will not relent on this. Except player-managers, of course.
2 Such as Jorge Posada, the future Hall of Famer who just went out to the mound five times as I was writing this footnote.
3 Happy 4/20, everyone!

wow.liveglog.arod.jpg Today, Alex Rodriguez gets his World Series championship ring.

A-Rod has been one of the best players in the game for a while now. But after signing that $252 million deal with Texas in 2001, he became a hated man. Mainly because of the money? Definitely.

Of course, there's a lot to dislike about A-Rod. Steroids (or at least being dumb enough to get caught), I guess, and he's a Yankee. But he's been pretty reviled for a three-time MVP and a guy who apparently wears Lucky Brand instead of Ed Hardy (see photo). And as recently as a year ago people were saying the Yankees needed a guy more like Scott Brosius than Rodriguez. Stupid people, of course, but people nonetheless.

So: Today, A-Rod gets his World Series ring, something a lot of people said he'd never get, and maybe he can throw a pie in the face of all the Yankee fans who've hated him since he joined the team. It would be nice to say.

That being said, this day is going to suck. I hate the Yankees, I'm in a bad mood and I am short on sleep. Come hate with me on a special CoverItLive live game chat (sorry, Kris!) after the jump.

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Remember when Scott Boras and Pat Sajak were visible during an Angels playoff game last year? Now noted former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara sat directly behind home plate at the Astros-Phillies game last night. The second-most hated president with the name of Bush is actually visible during every pitch.

Today's Afternoon Games

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There's a ton of afternoon baseball today! Do your part to lower America's productivity and watch them today instead of working.

Cardinals at Reds, 12:35 p.m. Brad Penny makes his first start for St. Louis, while the Reds counter with Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is totally going to hit a homer today. Shit. Would you believe a double?

Dodgers at Pirates, 12:35 p.m. The Pirates are 2-0! The Pirates are 2-0! The last time the Pirates were 2-0, the economy sucked and George W. Bush was president. Okay, so that was only 2007, so let's not print playoff tickets just yet. Ronny Cedeno had a walkoff single last night with the bases loaded. Clearly, he hates this website.

Blue Jays at Rangers, 2:05 p.m. Oh, look, famous Twitter user str8edgeracer is pitching for the Rangers today. Toronto counters with Ricky Romero, who will be pitching drunk.

Tigers at Royals, 2:10 p.m. Dontrelle Willis (look how fat he looks in his headshot!) makes his first start of the season against Brian Barrister, constant subject of Joe Posnanski blog posts. Expect a 15-13 game.

Mariners at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. The Athletics also had a walkoff win last night, when Kurt Suzuki doubled home Kevin Kouzmanoff from first. If the bases had been loaded, Suzuki probably would have taken the four balls, unlike that jerk Cedeno.

Phillies at Nationals, 4:35 p.m. Ryan Howard, currently on pace for 162 home runs, and the Phils send noted barista Kyle Kendrick to the mound against Craig Stammen. The Phillies lead the league in run differential two games into the season, but they have played the Nationals twice.

One thing I learned while watching a bunch of baseball games over the past two days is some people in this fine country don't yet have Xfinity! They're stuck with boring old Comcast.

Xfinity, for those of you who have not yet been xfinitized, is simply Comcast's new brand name for its phone, TV and internet services. (Yes, it's a particularly hilarious name.)

And apparently Cole Hamels is shilling for Xfinity now in an ad filmed in some sort of all-white baseball abyss. Hamels is already in fine form this season. Last year, he would only have hit one of those plates.

wow.polanco.gianthead.jpg Things went pretty well on Opening Day for the Phillies on Monday. They won 11-1, Roy Halladay went 7 innings and struck out 9, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer and even Rule 5 pick David Herndon closed out the game with a scoreless inning in his first major league appearance. Jayson Stark wrote about Halladay, of course, but he also wrote about off-season acquisition Placido Polanco.

Polanco (right, head made even more monstrous for my own amusement) had a pretty good first day, too; he went 3-for-5 with 6 RBI and a run scored. His grand slam in the top of the 7th inning made it 11-1. But get this: Polanco had a negative WPA for the game. (Fangraphs has him at -.027, while Baseball-Reference has him at -.029.)

So how'd this happen? First, a quick primer: WPA, which became kind of trendy last season, stands for Win Probability Added. You know those fancy live win expectancy graphs on Fangraphs? Well, each play adds or subtracts from a team's chances (in percentage) of winning a game. So each player gets either a positive or negative WPA after each plate appearance. Add up all those plays for one player, and you get a guy's WPA for a game. (WPA is one of the simplest advanced stats, I think, unless I completely screwed this up. In which case it's the most complicated!)

Polanco's WPA was negative on Monday because he didn't do much when the game was close. He flied out to foul territory in right field in the first and grounded out with a runner on in the third. By the time he came to the plate in the fourth, the Phillies were up 4-1 and were already almost at 90 percent likely to win the game. When he capped the Phillies' five-run fourth with a sacrifice fly, Polanco actually recorded negative WPA for the play. When he hit his slam in the 7th, the Phils were already 99 percent likely to win.

Does this mean Polanco's day was worthless for the Phils? Of course not. Not that the Nationals were going to come back anyway, but a 10-run lead certainly made it more likely that Roy Halladay would get the rest of the day off after seven innings. And getting 6 RBI in the first game with a new club has to do wonders for Polanco's confidence (+1.029 Confidence Added!).

But I do think looking at WPA can teach us a lot about how strange this game is. With one swing, Ryan Howard accumulated more WPA than Polanco could get all game, even though the Phillies new third baseman hit a slam later in this one. What can we take from this? Situations matter. Luck matters. And sometimes 6 RBI might not be as impressive as 2 RBI, in a way.

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It has been 151 days since Shane Victorino grounded to second and ended the 2009 baseball season. Tonight, major league baseball returns! Loyal Walkoff Walk reader/lousy Braves fan Matt T. bugged me yesterday about liveglogging tonight's Yankees-Red Sox tilt. Since I'm a sadist, I decided to liveblog the inevitable five-hour snoozefest the two most popular teams in baseball always put on. I also made the above graphic in celebration of baseball's return.

But we all know the real question: How long will it take for someone to say something hilarious on Baseball Tonight this season? Guess what: Not one minute into the first episode, Bobby Valentine compared the start of baseball season with: Easter! As in, they're both "the start of something new."

And, of course, there's the other question: How long until Baseball Tonight has hilariously weird guests? About fifteen minutes into the show!

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Yes, that's Dr. Dre, Lebron James and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine. They were all shilling Dre's new headphone line. This whole episode of BBTN has been a big shill, with Karl Ravech saying the one thing Red Sox fans love to do is "log on to ESPNBoston.com."

After the jump, let's quit complaining and get into our first regular season baseball action of the year. Game starts at 8:05 p.m.

jimmy.parkway.jpg Meech of The Fightins (in the finals of The Phield!) alerted all of us to a great promotion taking place on April 13: Jimmy Rollins is attempting to break the world record for longest batted ball.

There are no equipment restrictions for this Guinness World Record, so J-Roll will probably be using one of those Mongo bats.

Baseball All-Star and World Series champion Jimmy Rollins will be knocking baseballs over Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Red Bull Ball Park Cranks on Tuesday, April 13th. Clear your lunch hour because we're not just talking home runs here...Rollins is aiming beyond the typical stadium distance and looking to hit a massive 550-foot bomb -- or the distance of almost two football fields.

Not stopping there, Rollins will also attempt to break the current Guinness World Record for 'Longest Batted Ball', which currently stands at 576 feet. The record is for the greatest distance one individual can hit a batted baseball in a legal manner with no restriction on equipment.

One may remember one ex-Phillies player, Bobby Abreu, possibly wrecking his swing in the 2005 Home Run Derby. Could this happen to J-Roll in this contest? Of course not: Rollins (career OPS+ 97) doesn't really have a swing to wreck.

This contest is sponsored by Red Bull. Coincidentally, another former member of the Phillies, Pat Burrell, is sponsored by Red Bull and vodka.