Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Friday. It’s the only day of the week named after a Germanic love goddess and the only day of the week you’re likely to find ten stray thoughts collected and written out for your enjoyment right here on Getting Blanked. However, most importantly, it’s also the title of the greatest movie of my generation. The sequel? Not so much.

And, hey look, White Sox cap:

Express Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Much like I presume that everyone picks up errant poppy seeds the same way (licking your thumb and placing it on top of the scattered seeds), I’m certain that we’ve all posed a similar question to our individual groups of buddies at some point: If you were a baseball player, what would your walk up music be?

The AV Club does a really good job of reviewing some of the music choices for closers from around the league, criticizing Jonathan Papelbon’s choice of the Dropkick Murphy’s I’m Shipping Up To Boston, like so:

It might as well have been performed by Larry Bird with Kevin McHale singing backup. It’s shameless and embarrassing. No one in Texas has ever come into a game to the theme song from Walker Texas Ranger. A city should never define a persona.

It’s impossible to have a perfect song, because you’d need it to be genuine enough to pump up a crowd but ironically detached enough not to look like a douche bag. I think if I had the choice, I’d go with March No. 1 from the Pomp And Circumstance Marches, just to be like the Macho Man.

And because the composer, Sir Edward Elgar set this verse from a Lord de Tabley poem as the piece’s motto:

Like a proud music that draws men on to die
Madly upon the spears in martial ecstasy,
A measure that sets heaven in all their veins
And iron in their hands.
I hear the Nation march
Beneath her ensign as an eagle’s wing;
O’er shield and sheeted targe
The banners of my faith most gaily swing;
Moving to victory with solemn noise,
With worship and with conquest, and the voice of myriads.

If that doesn’t describe a closer, I don’t know what does.

Puck Talk

I used to be a regular listener to the FAN 590 sports radio station in Toronto. Prime Time Sports, the show that airs while many are commuting home, has been hosted by Bob McCown for a long time. Back when I listened to the station more regularly, he was constantly promoting a book that he wrote called The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments. I’m not really a big fan of hockey, and so I would often figuratively tune out whenever he talked about the book, but I came across this article recently and it reminded me of the way in which baseball fans tend to talk about games after they have happened as though there was only one team on the field.

For example, when the New York Yankees lose a game, a fan from New York believes they did so because the Yankees played horribly. However, when New York wins, it’s because the Yankees played great.

Basically, McCown proposes watching a game with all of the goal scoring plays taken out, and then having viewers guess as to who won the game based only on the non-scoring plays.

I wonder how you could cause a neutral viewing of a baseball game. You’d have to show every pitch, but maybe cut the feed out immediately following every moment of contact with the ball. You’d then have to guess at how well the teams were doing based on how hard the ball was being hit and the pitcher’s control. You’d also have to remain ignorant as to runners on base, so no watching pickoff moves. I suppose you’d probably clue in though if the pitcher began dealing from the stretch.

There’s no question that it would be a whole lot easier in hockey.

A Personal Note

When I played competitive baseball in my younger years, I always played in summer leagues that ended long before school started back up again, and yet, when I think about playing baseball, the imagined setting is almost always at this time of year, with mildly cool temperatures and fall colours in the background.

How Are The Angels Good?

For all of the interest in the four game Rays and Red Sox series this weekend, which should go a ways toward deciding the AL Wild Card, we all seem to collectively be forgetting that the American League West is far from settled. Despite below replacement level performances from Jeff Mathis and Vernon Wells, the Los Angeles Angels somehow find themselves only 3.5 games behind the generally accepted as good, Texas Rangers. And if they can keep it within three games before their final series of the regular season, at home against the Rangers, they will have a chance at shoving the defending American League champions aside and entering the playoffs as the representative of the AL West.

As a team, the Angels have a weighted on base average that’s lower than the Baltimore Orioles and right between the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins. Not Good. There’s no question that the starting pitching has been good, with the fifth lowest team ERA among starting rotations in the big leagues, it’s easy to assume that the Angels are finding success on the backs of their pitching.

While Jered Weaver and Dan Haren continue to receive credit for Los Angeles’s proximity to the Rangers in the AL West, xFIP and SIERA actually rank the Angels starters more toward the middle of the pack. A quick look at some of the advanced defensive metrics show that Angels’ regulars are all saving runs and playing above average defense in the field. It’s actually pretty remarkable the impact that defense is having in the AL West.

It’s been easy to criticize GM Tony Reagins and manager Mike Scioscia for some of their more head scratch inducing decisions, but they’ve very quietly assembled a winning team with a formula that few other winning teams are using. Of course, that’s not to suggest that the Angels wouldn’t rather see Mike Napoli on their roster than that of the Texas Rangers.

Brett Cecil’s Fingers

Toronto Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil will miss tonight’s start after cutting his finger cleaning a blender. This is strangely, one of my biggest fears. I actually have a recurring nightmare where I’m cleaning a food processor and suddenly realize that it’s still plugged in and then it turns on. It’s horrifying.

In Defense Of Eric Hinske

While Keith Law was talking about his conversion into brotherhood of the scout, as brought to us by Andrew Stoeten over at DJF, he told the story of J.P. Ricciardi laughing off a scouting report that listed Eric Hinske as nothing more than an organizational player. Believe me, I’m not one to unduly praise Eric Hinske, or J.P. Ricciardi for that matter, but Hinske has been and continues to be a whole lot more than a mere org player.

In addition to a couple of really good seasons, including his first which won him the Rookie of the Year award, Hinske has become a valuable bench option in Atlanta that continues to hit right handed pitching fairly well. I mean, he’s got almost 13 wins above replacement for his career. If that’s your organizational filler, I think you’re doing pretty well.

There had to have been a better example of Ricciardi’s arrogance to find than this one incident.


Speaking of Law, the whole issue over the history of his opinions on scouting stemmed from his negative review of the Moneyball movie and the “how dare he have an opinion that I don’t share” mentality among so many people. As a fan of the book and of pretty much anything touched by Aaron Sorkin, I’ve been looking forward to this flick for a while.

However, I had a feeling that this kind of thing was going to happen. In fact, I likened the recreation of the Moneyball world for the purposes of a movie to what it must be like for directors to adapt fantasy novels for the big screen. You have to separate books from film adaptions. As soon as you can do this, you’ll find that you enjoy movies a whole lot more.

Yeah, it’s different from what you’ve read. But that in itself isn’t a criticism.

I’m looking forward to not only seeing it, but also hearing everyone else’s opinions. Feel free to share in the comments if you catch it over the weekend. I’ll be checking in and might have a review or something on Monday.

Ol’ Snappy The Turtle Goes Off Again

The Globe and Mail’s Jeff Blair has a rather negative article about the Toronto Blue Jays in today’s newspaper. It’s the sort of stuff you’d kind of expect from a typical all sports columnist who has an oversimplified view of the team’s makeup, which is why it’s a rather disappointing read from Blair, who for the most part, provides sound evidence and reasoning for his opinions.

While the whole article rests on the completely fabricated notion that fans were expecting more from the team this year than they’ve delivered, ignoring all of the additions to the roster that place the team in good stead to move forward, I want to pick on one thing specifically.

Blair mentions that Brandon Morrow’s strand rate is second worst among qualified starters in the American League as though it should be a cause for concern. This really isn’t much better than Rogers Sportsnet’s Scott Carson writing about his use of BABIP for deciding on how good a pitcher is. A pitcher’s strand rate is something that’s typically beyond his control. Most starters put up a LOB rate of 70%-72%, and anything lower than that typically means that their other standard numbers, like ERA, are inflated.

While Morrow’s ability to pitch from the stretch has recently been questioned by a FanGraphs article, I’ve been unconvinced that runners on base are affecting him to the degree that was suggested. Getting hit around with runners on usually indicates little more than bad luck, and I think that the similarities in Morrow’s strikeout rate, walk rate and HR rate with the bases empty, runners on and RISP suggest that he isn’t pitching all that differently in those situations. The sequence of good contact against him has just been killing him.

Lesson of the day: Don’t quote LOB% as a measurement of the success or failings of a pitcher.

Shameless Self Promotion

As always, you can check out our facebook page by clicking here, and if you’re into it, try “liking” us to get updates on new videos and funny pictures in your facebook news feed, as well as the occasional link back to the blog. Staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter so that we can make snarky comments together during baseball games and learn all of my keen insights into such things as the worst place on your face to get a prepimple.

Also feel free to subscribe to our iTunes feed which will bring all the audio goodness of our podcasts and live streams and other things featuring our ugly mugs to your computer free of charge.

Would You Rather?

28 year old Adam Lind or 28 year old Edwin Encarnacion?

Over the last three years:

Adam Lind: .266 AVG, .320 OBP, .478 SLG, .798 OPS

Edwin Encarnacion: .253 AVG, .322 OBP, .455 SLG, .777 OPS

Over the last two years:

Adam Lind: .244 AVG, .291 OBP, .430 SLG, .721 OPS

Edwin Encarnacion: .264 AVG, .323 OBP, .472 SLG, .795 OPS