Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Fact: Time slows down from its normal pace between the sixteenth and seventeenth hour of every Friday. Tick. Tock.  Tick.  Tock.  Another Fact:  Watching the clock won’t make the weekend start any faster.

You know what will?  Reading the latest Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.  It’s guaranteed to speed up the dead time of your Friday afternoon, or your money back.  This week’s edition is brought to you by the Monster energy drink I just shotgunned.

Internet Asplodes In Moral Indignation

Earlier today, following the earthquake that devastated parts of Japan, an article appeared on Bleacher Report using the tragedy as an excuse to post a list of the ten greatest disasters that affected a sporting event.  I kid you not.  As you might imagine, writers on the internet exhibited much control in their thoughtful and measured responses to the act of poor taste.  Psyche!  Twitter went berserk with criticism, calling for boycotts of sites that link to Bleacher Report, including my own beloved FanGraphs in their protests.  I’m not beyond mocking the terribleness that is Bleacher Report, but I can’t help but feel as though the energy it takes to raise one’s moral indignation against the site could be better spent writing really good and thoughtful pieces about sports, the quality of which would outshine all of the search engine optimization tricks that websites like Bleacher Report can pull.

Naive?  Maybe.  Hopeful?  Certainly.  But Bleacher Report should remind writers that part of their responsibility as someone lucky enough to have their opinion published on a larger scale is to raise the bar a little bit, not through complaining about the content of another site, but by making their own writing superior.

Lecture over.

Wrap Your Head Around It

My biggest hatred this week was reserved for the continuation of the ridiculous straw man argument that because someone is into statistics, or uses statistics to form opinions on baseball, they must hate the randomness or unexpected qualities of America’s pastime.  We use a lot of statistical based analysis in our posts, and I’m sure that our defense of numbers can get tiring at times, but I’d like to make it very clear, once and for all, that I love the role that luck plays in baseball.  It makes it interesting and gripping.  I love that games aren’t decided by a spread sheet.

The only use for said spread sheet is to come up with ideas as to what the most likely occurrence will be in a particular situation.  I’m not a mathematician.  I don’t even consider myself a sabermetrician because I merely piggy back on the formulas and thinking that they come up with.  For me, it’s simply the most reasonable and logical way to think about the sport.

So when weird things happen and Jose Bautista hits 54 home runs and the San Francisco Giants win the World Series, I’m not sitting disappointed at home because it wasn’t the most likely outcome.  It’s great to see, and I celebrate it as much as anyone.

Save The Date

Last week I mentioned the possibility of having a baseball movie night at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto.  Nothing is officially confirmed yet, but we’re aiming for Monday, April 4th as the date for our first screening which will hopefully be Eight Men Out.  As soon as it’s confirmed, I’ll let you guys know.

Thoughts On Thames

Keith Law doesn’t lend too much credence to Eric Thames power numbers in New Hampshire because the park there apparently favours left handed hitters.  So, let’s take a look at his home and away splits last season.

Home: 270 PAs, 15 HRs, .595 SLG.
Away: 309 PAs, 12 HRs, .452 SLG.

There might be something to Law’s claim, especially when you look at the overall SLG numbers, but three less home runs over a relatively similar number of at bats shouldn’t call for completely dismissing Thames’ apparent power.  I’ll reserve judgment until after this season in Las Vegas.  And for the record, I maintain that Spring Training numbers are fairly useless.  I’ve been writing about Thames since October.

Now To Contradict Myself

Having said that about Spring Training numbers, based on the exhibition performance of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon’s blow up today, I keep thinking that if there is one exploitable hole in the Red Sox pursuit of the AL East title, it’s their bullpen.  I know the addition of Bobby Jenks should match well with the dominance that Daniel Bard exhibited from time to time in 2010, but there are a lot of question marks beyond those two.  I wonder if the Red Sox might end up depending on Felix Doubront a lot more than anyone would’ve foreseen.  He could fill in nicely as Diasuke Matsuzaka’s personal swing man.

Sorry Rzepczynski

Kevin Kouzmanoff’s last name is the highest scoring Scrabble word among active MLBers.  He wins on a technicality though, only because you’d have to mark the second “z” in Marc Rzepczynski’s last name as a blank considering that there’s only one “z” tile in the game.

If you don’t believe me, you can try your own permutations here.

Cliff Lee: Great At Pitching, Not So Much At Math

I read today that Cliff Lee didn’t want to sign with the Yankees because he felt as though the team’s core was getting older.  Fine.  New York’s roster does rank in the top half of the league in average age.  The only problem is that the Phillies are number one on that list.

Self Serving 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 start putting more original content on there as we get closer to the season kicking 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 and here and here.

Only In Springtime

The first batter that Tim Wakefield faced in today’s Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins Spring Training tilt was a non roster invitee who laid down a lead off bunt.  The forty-four year old pitcher was less than impressed.  I love those type of things.  For more about baseball’s unwritten rules, check out The Baseball Codes, whose latest post mentions a prank pulled off at the Blue Jays training camp.

For a simple prank we turn to Dunedin, Fla., the spring home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Ricky Romero took some gum, blew a bubble, and stuck it to the cap of rookie Kyle Drabek. As is customary, none of Drabek’s teammates pointed it out, leaving him to bear the shame of the bubble-cap through much of the team’s workout.

See it for yourself in the Toronto Star’s photo essay.

Toronto’s Wiffle Ball Stadium

This is probably only of interest to Torontonians, but while living in this city, I’ve spent a lot of time playing wiffle ball and softball in a couple of small secluded diamonds at Bickford Park.  Here’s a picture of what it used to look like in 1913.

Comments (22)

  1. Can’t wait til Thames gets called up.

  2. Nice to see you don’t just throw away Thames cause Keith Law made a superficial judgment about him, unlike your colleague “Stoets Mc Goats”

    A slugging percentage difference of 0.050 over 500 at bats would not be considered statistically meaningfully,

    Thames is a prospect… And worth a serious look… He might not be Colby Rasmus, who according to most Jays boards is already as good as Lou Gehrig, but Thames is more that just another guy in the minors, he has a shot at being a good major leaguer!

  3. Luck? You mean like fluctuations in BABIP? Zing!

    Love the Bickford pic. The side of the bridge over the now-buried creek is, as people probably know, still there on Harbord Street.

  4. If only the Jays didn’t sign Bautista to a long term deal. #InciteRiot

  5. Hey smallcapsteve, go and re-read what I wrote, dumbass.

  6. It’s not a .050 difference. It’s a .150 difference. It’s nothing to sneeze at, but it doesn’t make me dismiss him as a prospect. Last year was his first season hitting for that kind of power. Let’s wait and see until after this year, hopefully at Triple A.

  7. Stoeten, if you like Keith Law so much, why don’t you marry him.

    The vicious Stoeten takedown of Thames:

    “By most indications he’s looked good, and the lack of regard shouldn’t hold him back if he can keep producing on the field. He’ll get the chance to do so playing the full year in Las Vegas.”

    http://www.drunkjaysfans.com/2011/03/stoeten-answers-griffins-mail-bag_10.html

    Whoa. Harsh toke, dude.

  8. but Thames is more that just another guy in the minors, he has a shot at being a good major leaguer

    Not to be a hater but what, other than unfettered hope, makes you think this? Aside from your desire to see it happen, what makes you think he has a shot at being a “good” major leaguer?

    • Not to get all up in Thames’ jock strap, but he did hit 27 HRs in his first year at Double A. He did the best that he possibly could’ve. And while KLaw didn’t exactly give him a ringing endorsement, other publications like BP listed him as a guy to keep an eye on.

  9. It’s not that I don’t like Thames, but is he better than Bautista or Snider? He will be a solid injury replacement, and could eventually be packaged for something useful, but I’m not getting too excited over this player.

  10. Didnt I adress this on my awesome blog sniders web?

  11. I wish all essay assignments were photo essays.

  12. That home/road SLG split is kind of ugly. Wonder what the home/road split on his ISO power is. He put himself on the map with the .238 ISO in AA in 2010, but the .171 ISO in the heavy, muggy air of Florida in 2009 is quite impressive as well. For the record Sickels likes him a lot and BA labeled him an “excellent prospect” in a Novemberish chat.

    That being said a full year at AAA to build off his first full, injury free season in pro ball is probably a good call. I seriously don’t understand the rush to get both him and Lawrie to the big leagues. AA has said repeatedly that he wants to bring players to the show when they’re ready to stay and that he doesn’t want to yo-yo them back and forth between MLB and the minors if he can help it. That sounds like an extremely reasonable policy to me.

  13. @Stoeten, meh the Crawford St. bridge is cooler

  14. And sorry Parkes what makes you so certain that Bautista will regress to a below average major leaguer?
    I don’t expect a repeat of last year but could see some solid production through the contract. Of course I won’t pretend to have a crystal ball, but your cynicism can be quite annoying at times.

  15. “Dave says: ‘And sorry Parkes what makes you so certain that Bautista will regress to a below average major leaguer?’”

    “Dustin says: ‘If Thames becomes a good Major Leaguer, he will almost certainly be better than Bautista in the latter half of his contract.”

    That means (at the earliest) putting Bautista’s age 32, 33 and 34 seasons up against Eric Thames’ age 26, 27, and 28 seasons. I know what horse I’m backing in that race (with the proviso that Thames becomes a good Major Leaguer, as Parkes said), do you?

  16. Regarding the Scrabble game and another technicality, both names also require too many letters that you would be able to use at once, so in the is hypothetical Scrabble game IMO you should be able to use as
    many Z’s as you need

  17. @ Other Dave: I think people reading into Parkes’ comments are far more tiring than his supposed cynicism.

  18. From a proud Bickford Baller, thanks for the great photo. So that photo is looking south, with Grace on the left?

    Wonder if left field smelled like a sewer back in 1913.

  19. Love the pic DP. The city archives are filled with great stuff.

    Someone (could it have been Severance Package?) wrote a nice piece on Thames last week. Apparently he was a very highly regarded prospect who would have gone first round, and then two serious leg injuries basically forced him to lose two years of baseball. So people making the argument that his age suggests he’s just not good enough, or never will be, should take that into account. His all-around game suggests he could be a good fourth outfielder someday. But prospects are prospects. We’re not even sure about Travis Snider yet, and he treated AAA like Godzilla treated Expo.

  20. In case anyone gives a crap, Thames had a higher OPS than Pedro Alvarez and Justin Smoak leading up to the 08 draft.

    He was a first round talent who had a serious injury and, BA and most other organizations are not high on him yet but have him as a guy to “watch” because he has only had such a short injury-free history since missing almost two full seasons.

    On another note, New Hampshire is supposed to be consider a pitcher’s park, as a whole. So what the hell is Keith Law on about?

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