Dustin Parkes

Recent Posts

It’s doubtful that the Mayans actually believed that December 21st marked the end of days. It’s far more likely that the author of a particular Maya codex believed that a calendar going two thousand years into the future was sufficient, and ceased using the software program that printed out his or her calendar. Nonetheless, the idea of an apocalypse got me thinking, and I found that I was far more comfortable with the idea of dying along with the masses than I was with meeting death alone.

Prior to this, I had always assumed that my fear of death was some sort of fear of the unknown. That’s not really the case though. I feel fairly confident in my beliefs that with death comes personal nothingness. So, why am I so apprehensive about my own death, but far less so if it’s with the rest of the human population? I think it’s ultimately a fear of missing out. I don’t want to not see my girlfriend smile, miss out on my mom hugging me or not be able to get that link emailed to me with the super cute puppies all hanging out in a basket with their kitten buddies.

As sad as it sounds, I also don’t want to miss out on baseball. I love it. I love watching it. I love playing it. And I love talking or writing about it. If it’s being able to partake in these small moments that make life worth living, then it’s not a stretch to suggest that it’s the small moments that also make being a baseball fan worthwhile. Here are my favorite ten moments from the 2012 season, that I would have hated to miss.

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After much speculation and negotiation, the Toronto Blue Jays have acquired R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets as part of a seven-player trade that sends the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner to Toronto along with catcher Josh Thole and Minor League catcher Mike Nickeas in exchange for highly touted catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the system’s top pitching prospect in Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck and outfield prospect Wilmer Becerra.

Only in a world where fantasy baseball trades, video game franchise modes and prospect rankings are given more credence than they’re due could this trade be viewed in a negative light. It’s a good deal for both teams. The swap shores up a New York Mets organization that hopes to build around a young pitching rotation with the proven talent of the recently locked up David Wright. Meanwhile the Toronto Blue Jays further establish their newly found status as the best team in the American League East – at a time when the rest of the division appears wobbled by age and inconsistency – by acquiring a pitcher whose $5 million salary in 2013 likely makes him the greatest value-add possible for a rotation.

Dickey’s contributions go beyond the benefits of exceptional talent at a below-market price. He’s a unique player, a unique person, who offers a multitude of qualities underneath his jersey. He isn’t easily encompassed or grasped. However, here for your enjoyment and edification is an attempt to do just that: The Getting Blanked A-Z Guide To R.A. Dickey.

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For many, the idea that our lives are nothing more than a series of random events occurring outside the control of ourselves or some celestial being is either far too much or not nearly enough to consider. It’s a frightening thing to go against what one is naturally inclined to do. After all, we’ve evolved into beings with brains that fabricate significance, and we instinctively attach this quality to different experiences as a method of producing meaning without much regard for accuracy.

In baseball, this practice is undertaken so frequently that fans of the sport have developed a counter argument against misplaced significance consisting of only three words: “Small sample size.” The term conveys that an opinion about a baseball player’s ability is giving too much credence to what could be the randomization found in a small amount of occurrences. For example, if a batter faces a pitcher four times and gets four hits, it doesn’t mean that he’s great against that particular pitcher. There were only four instances from which to draw a conclusion, and several other random factors could account for success or failure.

Randomization is an important concept in baseball, not just because of the camouflage it presents to analytics and evaluation, but also because it’s played such an enormous role in one of the sport’s most fascinating figures: Josh Hamilton.

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Pat Hickey is a hockey columnist for the Montreal Gazette. So, of course he has a vote in the National Baseball Hall of Fame inductions. And of course he takes that vote very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he informs his readers in the very first paragraph of his latest piece, that:

If you’re doing it right, it should take three to four hours to fill out a ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While this might lead one to question the efficiency of Mr. Hickey’s judgment, he quickly offers his readers an explanation for the lengthy process. It seems as though some practical joker has been sending false ballots to Hickey that must be far more complicated than the genuine articles that are sent to the more than 580 writers who decide such things.

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We’re all weirdoes. Truly, we are. If the collective intents of our nature were described to any of us without reference points we’d eagerly dismiss ourselves as being ridiculous nitwits. This is perhaps best seen in our eagerness to categorically judge the actions of others into being either positive or negative, with little regard given to the complications and unconsidered dynamics that destroy the unsophisticated dichotomies that we build for ourselves for the sake of simplification.

In sports, this occurs most often in “analyzing” trades and transactions. Trading Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard for James Shields and Wade Davis is good for the Tampa Bay Rays and bad for the Kansas City Royals. I don’t disagree with such a notion, but mine is an opinion that comes with a caveat: It’s based in a vacuum context on my own limitations of understanding.

I’m not familiar with the job security of Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, other than knowing that his current contract runs through 2014. I don’t know about the pressure that ownership has placed on him to succeed right now, and I’m unaware of what other alternatives he had. It could very well be that the factors that I can’t consider were the most informing for the decision. Perhaps, all things considered, it’s a win-win situation.

Unfortunately, our minds aren’t considerate, they judge. One party is good, and so the other must be bad. As soon as we find the benefits, we lazily dismiss the other option as being a consequence. Staying within the world of baseball, we find this phenomenon occurring once again with the terms of Zack Greinke’s recently signed free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

For many, Friday represents the end of a long work week that’s filled with heavy doses of drudging, sludging and other words that don’t actually exist but rhyme with “udging” and connote menial and tedious tasks that are ultimately distasteful. It’s my hope that at the end of such misery, at that moment in time that only occurs on a Friday afternoon when it’s too far away from closing time to leave work early, but too late in the day to start anything new, you’ll join us here to read some random observations about baseball and contribute your own thoughts on the subjects that are broached.

So, without further ado, I present this week’s Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday:

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As the Winter Meetings concluded in Nashville this afternoon with reminders of the farmer’s daughters who were found among the haystacks of previous Rule Five drafts, baseball fans shed a collective tear for the end of  the 2012 incarnation of the annual conference. I’m not sure how we’ll ever manage to follow our Twitter feeds again without constant complaints about the layout of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

Somehow, we’ll have to manage. But until we figure out how to keep the magic of the last few days in our hearts for just a little bit longer, here is a recap of everything that happened at the 2012 Winter Meetings.

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