Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

It’s the end of another work week, and as you stare out the window and try to waste away those last few hours before the weekend truly begins, check out the latest edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday and think of it as the appetizer to your weekend’s meal.

Unwritten Rules

There’s a really interesting read from Baseball Prospectus today in which Coco Crisp explains his actions during the Red Sox and Rays brawl in 2008.  It all stemmed from an incident in which Jason Bartlett put his knee down to block second base and Crisp ended up jamming his thumb, sliding head first.  The unwritten rule is that you don’t put your knee down to block the bag, like a catcher might do to block the plate.  This “rule” makes a whole lot more sense than some of the other no nos we’ve heard about like walking over the pitcher’s mound when the opposing team is on defense.  If the knee goes down, middle infielders would be opening themselves up to being treated like a catcher who risks being Pete Rosed at the plate every time they’re in position to tag a runner out.  As exciting as physical contact is from time to time, baseball fans aren’t hockey fans.  We don’t need blood to make our sport interesting.

Spring Training Bumps And Bruises

How fast were baseball fans to get on Rich Harden and Brandon Webb’s case for suffering minor injuries so early into camp?  I think we’d all do well to remember that bumps and bruises are probably during Spring Training are far from uncommon.  While things have changed a little bit in more recent years, the entire purpose of Spring Training is to prepare your body for the grind of the regular season.  It’s not hard to understand why players suffer minor injuries at this time of year.

Prediction: More Patience Required

Someone on Twitter asked me if it was appropriate that according to Vegas, the Orioles have better odds of winning the World Series than the Blue Jays.  It forced me to come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be that surprising to see Toronto fall to last place in the AL East this year.  I don’t see the Orioles doing much, and I think that the Jays pitching staff is in a very good position to carry this team, but it can only carry the lineup so far.  A large part of last season’s success at the plate was based on the team’s swing for the fences approach.

At first, I wondered to what degree the tempering of that approach from a new manager will affect the players who found success with their power last year.  But a lot of those players aren’t around any more, and both Lind and Hill seemed to struggle under that tutelage.  That would seem to bode well, but their were so many career power years last season on this team, that I just can’t see the new players coming close to repeating in terms of run production whether it’s through power or not.

The pitching will hopefully lessen the runs that the lineup needs to create, but I don’t see how it’s going to be enough.

Uniformity In Baseball

This isn’t really a new thought, but the more I think about it, the more absurd it seems to have so little uniformity in baseball, for both schedule and rules.  With the introduction of the Wild Card, teams are not just competing against only the teams in their division, they’re competing against everyone in their league.  The weighted schedule gives an obvious advantage to teams in lesser divisions in more ways than the obvious.  I think it would be interesting to measure how well teams do in the series immediately following a series against a team like the Yankees or Red Sox that takes a lot of pitches.  Theoretically, the bullpens of teams that have to throw a lot of pitches would suffer from being over worked in the next series.  However, imbalanced schedules aren’t all that uncommon in North American professional sports, what is very uncommon is the pitcher vs. designated hitter debate.  I get all the reasons for inclusion and exclusion, but can you imagine if the NFC played with an extra player compared to the AFC?

Intangibles On The Radio

I was surprised to hear Jeff Blair talking about intangibles on his radio show this morning, suggesting that Adam Lind’s approach at the plate would benefit from him playing first base this season.  If a player becomes a regular designated hitter, he should probably be an above average hitter, because the position is the easiest to replace in all of baseball.  One would assume that in becoming an above average hitter, the mental side of their game would be sound enough.  That’s why I have a hard time blindly believing that any player named as a full-time DH would end up taking worse at bats as a DH than he would at any other position.  I’d be very interested to see a study that confirms or says otherwise, but I’m not sure exactly how you’d do that properly, considering that the majority of DHs assume the position because they’re in their declining years and can’t play their original position at the same level.  A straight up comparison between their numbers as a position player and their numbers as a designated hitter wouldn’t necessarily work.

Intelligence On The Radio

On the same program, Blair had analyst Alan Ashby on to discuss the Blue Jays.  I really hope that Toronto fans appreciate what Ashby does in the radio broadcast booth and in his talking head spots.  Ashby is able to think through the questions being asked of him with lightning speed and provide intelligent answers that never seem stuffy or over analyzed.  He’s as comfortable answering questions about numbers as he is about anecdotes and is unafraid to criticize a player or the organization.  Judging by other members of the baseball media, these are rare qualities, and Blue Jays fans should be thankful for every game he calls.

Expect The Unexpected

I’m about halfway through The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst, ahead of our next Getting Booked: The Getting Blanked Baseball Book Club meeting on March 7th, and it’s nothing like what I expected.  Hayhurst, whose jokes on Twitter and in his blog are usually dripping with irony and full of wink winks, has written one of the most genuine and honest accounts I’ve ever read.  I’m trying to avoid using a douchey word like “refreshing” but reading such honest accounts of his family life and the immediacy of these events was really thoughtful and intense.  It’s not the baseball book I was expecting, and so I’m really looking to hearing all of your thoughts on the book.

Self Promotion

As always, you can get the latest Getting Blanked stories to pop up in your Facebook news feed by clicking here, and “liking” our Facebook page. We’ll even have some original content in there once the season kicks off. And staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter here, and follow the other Getting Blanked contributors here and here.  As the season draws near, we’re going to be adding a few new writers to the site who are really going to ramp up our coverage in some very cool ways, so keep an eye out for new names in the coming weeks.

Twitter Play By Play

Does anyone really need to know what happens in every at bat of intra-squad games in real time?  I don’t know what type of life you lead if you do, but the next time someone wags their finger in my direction at the amount of time I spend thinking about baseball, I’m pointing at you to make myself look moderate.  I’m not sure when this phenomenon started, but for someone who keeps their Tweet Deck opened all day, Twitter play by plays of games that mean even less than exhibition matches in March, do little for me but waste my time.  In fact, they’re somewhat harmful because I’ve quickly learned to avoid the tweets of those calling the game with their thumbs, so when something notable actually does happen, I’ll probably miss it.  Thankfully, it will probably be retweeted by seven other people I follow, so it’s not a massive concern.

Richard Griffin: Top Notch

In the early days of DJF, my comrade Andrew Stoeten and I would pick apart Richard Griffin on an almost daily basis, often crossing the line between fun and slander.  Even today, we’ll still be critical of his writing and opinions, but Griffin constantly proves to be a great sport about it all, and I’m sure we both appreciate the lack of lawsuits he probably could’ve filed not weighing us down financially more than we already are.

During today’s chat on The Toronto Star’s website, Griffin was asked about his Twitter avatar, which can be seen here.  This is how he responded.

Yeah. I was trying to get younger on Opening Day 2010 and set up a twitter account in Texas. I needed help so Jordan Bastian formerly of MLB.com (a young guy) set it up for me. He asked me what photo I should use and Drunk Jays Fans website have always used the derelict in the rocker whenever they referred to anything I had written to poke fun at it. My kids always got a kick out of it, so I decided that would be my photo.

You can say whatever you want about his opinions on baseball, but as a person, Griffin is, as Jonny Gomes would say, top notch.  And for the record, the first round of drinks are on me anytime.