Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Moving This

Over to another host. I'll still have to settle on a design. The one I'm using seems a little bland and lacking.

Friday, July 16, 2010

NYT: Roger Federer As A Religious Experience

More of David Foster Wallace on tennis. Here's my favorite part:

Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.

The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.

Fire Wayne Hagin Already!

3) "Oh, I suppose you could do better?" No, I couldn't. I'd be a lousy announcer, for sure. But I don't need to know how to make a movie to know that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is a stinker. I don't need to know how to play guitar to know Loverboy was a lousy band. I don't need to know how to cook a really good burger in order to know when I'm eating a crummy one. (As it happens, I do know how to make a really good burger, but that's another story.) In short, I know an overmatched broadcaster when I hear one, and Hagin fits the bill.

Loverboy was a lousy band? Get Lucky had an awful, unfortunate, cover but it had classics like "Take Me To The Top", "Working For The Weekend", and "When It's Over." Okay, maybe they weren't AC/DC or Led Zep, but they had their moments. I can come to only one conclusion: Paul Lukas hates Canada.

Thanks to Can't Stop the Bleeding for the link.

DanDotLewis Is My Hero


3) Drop the arrogance of specificity. Use ranges when possible.

We’re measuring luck. Luck isn’t exact. So we’ll never be right on the money. You’ll never be able to find a season where a significant number of players have an xBA equal to their actual batting average. That makes us look stupid, when in fact, we’re just being arrogant — by being so exact.

We should use ranges. xBA should be the 50% confidence interval, not the midpoint thereof. More made up numbers: If a guy’s xBA is .285, it’s probably better expressed by saying that it’s between .279 and .291, or whatever. It makes that .290 BA not seem “lucky” (it really isn’t) but tells us that a .274 is really unlucky. In other words, it does the job — without the excruciatingly nerdy exactitude we are (wrongly) associated with.

It’s our job to communicate this stuff. It’s not their job to get smarter (they’re not dumb) or to figure it out themselves (they’re busy) or that they don’t respect us (true, but fixable). The problem is semantic, not logical, and semantic problems can — and indeed, must — be fixed by revising our language. It’s time to stop using BABIP.

Personally, I have thought for years that BABIP should have been called In Play BA. In Play BA flows better and BABIP, frankly, sounds like the name of a robot in some cheesy sci-fi flick. But I'm not the one who names these things.

The Morning News: Paper Tigers

I read this for the Bethlehem Shoals parts. He can be a little esoteric for my tastes, but when I grok him, I dig him.

By the time my friends and I started our sports blog, FreeDarko, I had done a decent amount of music criticism, and was in grad school for American studies. Typing for a few minutes when I had a stray thought about Kobe Bryant didn’t strike me as anything particularly special... Out of college, I wanted to write about music because writing seemed like an act of love or devotion. Criticism was a necessary corollary of art, a way to get at the meaning underneath the visceral experience, or at the meaning of that experience. While I sometimes dismiss my stuff as “music writing about sports,” I wouldn’t balk at the label “sports criticism.”

My all-time favorite piece of sportswriting is Woody Allen’s 1977 essay on New York Knicks guard Earl Monroe, which appeared in Sport. It helps that it’s Woody Allen, but it’s just as important to me that Woody Allen is not a traditional sportswriter, and that his take on Monroe is anything but traditional.

I’m also a huge fan of Tommy Craggs, senior editor at Deadspin. Tommy is a simply phenomenal writer who could also go toe-to-toe with any sports nerd anywhere. His longer stuff is just fantastic; these Slate pieces on the interpretation of Kevin Love, and the myth of Stephen Curry, remind you why “essayist” is a title one has to earn.

I like the phrase "music writing about sports." I tried to do something similar with my series on Maranvillains, but haven't developed that chops that Shoals has yet. Other works mentioned in that roundtable include the "String Theory" essay by David Foster Wallace that I linked earlier and a couple of books by John McPhee. This isn't the first I've heard of McPhee. Shooty recommended his work to me. Unfortunately, when I read A Sense Of Where You Belong, his expanded essay on Bill Bradley's senior year at Princeton, but it didn't grab me. This is probably my fault more than McPhee's.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WSJ: George Steinbrenner, The Yankee Capitalist.

Allen Barra weighs in on Big Stein. I like Barra, even if he seems to have a bias for the Yankees and the Crimson Tide. He is underrated by the blogosphere. For instance, Football Outsiders didn't acknowledge his work with George Ignatin on football stats. At least this was the case last time I checked a couple of years back. I apologize if this has been rectified.

Bill Veeck, the legendary Chicago White Sox owner and showman, who also was no gentleman, saw a kindred spirit in Steinbrenner. "I like George," he once told me for a story I was writing for the Journal. "He breaks all the unwritten rules."

I plan on expanding on this and other thoughts later tonite.

What Mark Read: Harvey Pekar

I'm dimly aware of Harvey Pekar. I probably saw him on Letterman way back when, but I never read him. I probably should rectify this. He seems like he'd be right up my alley. I'm a fan of the graphic novel form. I haven't been into superheros much. I think the peak of my fandom was one some local channel reran the Superman TV series from the 50s. But I have enjoyed such varied works as Maus, The Bogie Man, The Road To Perdition, and A History of Violence. And I occasionally get a kick out of Zippy The Pinhead.

This may be why I'm attracted to the slo-mo trainwreck of Funky Winkerbean. It's basically a graphic novel dripped out day by day like Chinese water torture. I occasionally think of seeking out an artist collaborator. I think some of my work would be a good fit for the graphic novel form. The Tacks Latimer bio sticks out in my mind as an example. There's also the PETCO thread, but I had little to do with that.

It's Called Writing?

Geeze, Louise. I couldn't come up with worse dialogue than this drivel if I tried. Killer shark issues?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSTB: Too Young To Have Met Dave Kingman, Eh?

Was Will Clark really a well known a-hole? I don't recall that, but he was an NL West guy and I'm an AL East guy.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

Can't Stop The Bleeding didn't get that memo and I laughed at their headline. Roger Kahn's book October Men makes the case that his Watergate conviction was a screwjob. I wasn't a big fan of the man, but he deserves a Hall of Fame spot. I'll try to expand on that thought later.

Chris Brown's Library

I always like it when Chris over at Smart Football makes posts like this.

Sports Stats Sites: A Quick Compendium

1. Baseball Reference
2. Retrosheet
3. Fangraphs
4. Baseball Prospectus

1. Basketball Reference
2. College Basketball Reference
3. Basketball Prospectus

1. Pro Football Reference
2. Football Outsiders

1. Hockey Reference
2. Puck Prospectus

I think those are the major non-mediaconglomerate stat sites. Am I missing anything?

AP: Conn. land dug up for items from tribe-settler war

I don't link many stories like this here, but this one caught my eye. Battlefield archaeology is a cool topic.

MYSTIC, Conn. – Artifacts of a battle between a Native American tribe and English settlers, a confrontation that helped shape early American history, have sat for years below manicured lawns and children's swing sets in a Connecticut neighborhood. A project to map the battlefields of the Pequot War is bringing those musket balls, gunflints and arrowheads into the sunlight for the first time in centuries.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Freakonomics: If You Don’t Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

However, do not park it at Jiffy Park. Lord knows what will go on in that car.

Dead Presidents #3

He wasn't a president, but today is the feast day of Alexander Hamilton and his death was more interesting than the death of most of the presidents.

Aawon Buh!

Never Saw Them Play

Every Day Should Be Saturday makes Deadspin look like the Dick Cavett show, but I have them in my Reader. Their latest post admonishes poll voters to get a DVR and watch all the games. This might be more important for voters for individual awards like the Outland Trophy. Football stats might not mean much on the individual level, but when it comes to ranking teams, can't you just use Sagarin Ratings or something similar as a guide? It might not be useful the first couple of weeks, but after enough iterations, you should be able to get a pretty clear picture of how to rank the various teams. BTW, what do D-II and D-III voters do? What about the NAIA?

Will Carroll: Equations

A long, detailed analysis of the (Cliff Lee)deal on Monday probably has some value, but it’s so greatly diminished by the volume of things we’re going to see between now and then makes it near zero. I think the time part of the analysis is shrinking. What used to be 48 hours is now maybe 12. Anything beyond that, no matter how good, isn’t going to matter.

I hate the ever-shrinking news cycle. Remember Urban Meyer's resignation? If that makes me a curmudgeon, then so be it. I don't have a solution to this, so I suppose this makes me part of the problem. I used to like reading the news weekly magazines like Time or Newsweek or US News and World Report, but they seem to have gone downhill. By the way, one thing I like about Sports Illustrated that stands the test of time is their photography. But about the only time I see any of these mags is when I am waiting for a haircut or an oil change. One think I DON'T miss about them is their ink smudging my hands.

PS - On this note, I liked the All Star Game as a kid, but it's lost it's luster for me. Is this part of getting older, or are we just oversaturated with sports options on TV?

WSJ: A New Way To Keep Score

Another one going out to p.

This Week In Milford: What Is Anyone Still Doing Here?

Milford must have had a ton of snow days because summer vacation is just starting now. I must say that the Occurrence at Funky Winkerbean Bridge is more interesting than this story about an alt-country pitcher who slightly resembles Tim Lincecum, but Batiuk moves as slow as an appellate judge. The writers at Gil Thorp Enterprise pace their stuff marginally quicker. Hopefully, Clambake or Von Haney show up in the annual summer story.

Trivia time: Do you know who the head coach/protagonist in this strip was named after? Once again, I am offering a ham sandwich to the first correct caller.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hartford Mag: Play Ball!

More recent vintage base ball. I play in one of their leagues. If you are in the area, I'll be in a doubleheader topmorrow.

What's Pastime Is Prologue

For p: the SI Vault story on Pete Rose's free agency.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daisuke Matsuzaka: Anti-Maranvillain

I haven't written about the concept of Maranvillains lately, but this Patrick Sullivan article brought to mind the antithesis of Rabbitt and his heirs: Dice-K.

Also, just like so many other Red Sox fans, Daisuke drives me nuts. He works slowly and walks way too many batters. In his final four seasons for the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka averaged 2.3 walks issued per nine innings. For the Red Sox, his 162-game average BB/9 has jumped to 4.3. Combine the walks, his inefficiency and his unreliability from a health standpoint and it’s all just very maddening.

I'm not one who lives and dies with my favorite sports teams, but even I find him maddening. Some day I'll have to come up with a list of these guys. As frustrating as Matsuzaker (/Remdawg) might be, Steve Trachsel is probably worse.

Apartment 3G

Another single strip blog. How long has the current storyline been going on? It seems like forever. Does anyone read these soap strips in a non-ironic fashion?

WSJ: Innovative NFL Coach Favored Air Attack

Don Coryell's offensive-minded approach helped spark a passing revolution in professional football.

Mr. Coryell, who died Thursday at age 85, was the designer of the "Air Coryell" offense for the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. His teams never made it to the Super Bowl—a fact that may have kept Mr. Coryell out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame—but they exemplified a wide-open style of offense that fans loved.

"He helped give the game the entertainment value that it has today," said Kellen Winslow, a Charger tight end who played for Mr. Coryell. "Before that, the NFL was three yards and a cloud of dust."

I like the running game, but I did prefer Air Coryell to Bill Walsh's version of the West Coast Offense. Any pigskin experts here know what his legacy is? Do any teams still throw long as much as the Chargers did?

WSJ: Tennis Becomes A Numbers Game

Tennis sabermetrics. This is a sport I'd like to get into more someday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vintage Vintage Base Ball and The Best Year in Sports

I caught June 17, 1994 last month. It (among other things) inspired me to look up the issue of Sports Illustrated that covered that day. While looking through that issue, I stumbled upon this article about a vintage base ball team that had been playing in Ohio since 1981. I wonder if the baseball strike inspired these guys to get off the couch and play. Why not? The Cosmic Baseball Association was one of the offspring of the strike. I play vintage ball, but only started this year. So I'm a little hazy on the rules, but the ones they play by seem a little off. But they play using older rules than we do.

This morning, or last nite, I started thinking about what was the best year in sports history. It might be 2008. NPR makes that argument and mentions 1960 and 1969. Maybe it's 1969, if you are a New Yawker. What say you? I don't think a year necessarily has to be a calendar year. SI didn't think so, either. They would occasionally print a special issue retrospective in the late winter from around 1977 to 1984. I'm partial to this one because it includes the Miracle On Ice. That might be the biggest sports story in my living memory.

Will Carroll: Comments

I'm ... going to choose to agree to disagree with the famous medhead here. I welcome comments.

Comments, at their heart, are as much about pageviews as they are about the conversation.

I am not going to get enough pageviews for it to make a monetary difference. I do desire some feedback and appreciate the comments I do get. Craig Calcaterra once said words to the effect that blogging is a collaborative art form. I'm not sure if that's the case, but I look at this place like it's a sandbox. These posts are mainly rough drafts and I'd like to polish some of them up into something better. I've crystallized a few of these thoughts already, but sometimes a different set of eyes can see things more clearly than mine. If you feel more comfortable emailing, I'm cool with that, too. I didn't realize it, but I didn't have my address on the front page. It is jon 31768 at gmail dot com. Snail mail would be welcome if I had a publisher you could send stuff c/o.


Will is also in a different situation than I am, so I can see his aversion to comments. He writes at BPro which is widely read. Widely read sites to get a lot of idiot comments. I haven't had any of those here. No birthers or truthers have made their digital mark here at Designated Sitter. Even the spammers haven't found me.

Wages of Win Journal: Joe Johnson and the Past Century of the Disconnect Between the Words and Deeds of Sports Owners

I'm not posting this because I have a Joe Johnson fetish. The postscript caught my eye.

P.S. Do you like the shorter posts? This was a topic discussed during the panel on sports and blogging at the Western Economic Association. Justin Wolfers says the posts at Freakonomics are supposed to be 400 words or shorter. I responded that I struggled with the 800 word limit at Huffington Post. Although this is true, I am going to start trying to make whatever point I am trying to make (as if I am always trying to make a point) a bit quicker. And one last note… I am now back in Cedar City. So all the stuff I promised to post might appear soon.

I'm firmly in the camp that short is beautiful when it comes to writing; especially on the web. I sometimes have moments of self-doubt about this; especially when I see popular writers like Bill Simmons or Aaron Gleeman write epic-length articles. But I do believe that style works better in print than online. How many of you read this during stolen moments at work? I bet it's the majority of you. And I don't think that multi-tasking is really conducive to retaining info from longer thinkpieces.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Cowbell

Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult are coming to Enfield, CT next Saturday nite. I won't be around for this show, but I've seen both bands over the years. Foghat played Finnegan's in San Angelo, TX my last nite at Goodfellow AFB. One of my brothers and I went to Toad's Place in New Haven on the spur of the moment to see BOC. This was in the 90s and they had some dedicated fans. They sang along to stuff off a new album that maybe 400 people owned. This was well after the band's salad days. Anyways, when I think Jurassic Rock, "Slow Ride" is one of the first tunes that comes to my mind.

A Couple of Hanna-Barbera All-Star Teams

I got the idea for these from this post a couple of weeks back.


P Don Drydock
C Carlton Fish
1B Gill Hodges
2B Frankie Fish
3B Ken Calimari
SS Luis Aquaricio
LF Willie Starfish
CF Curt Flood
RF Tim Salmon


P Sandy Koufax
C Elstone Howard
1B Stony Perez
2B Ryne Sandstone
3B Brooks Rockinson
SS Cal Ripap
LF Rock Raines (Tom Tango will be pleased)
CF Mickey Mantle
RF Stony Gwynn

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dead Presidents #2

Thomas Jefferson is on the $2 bill. A certain gangster-owned legitimate business near me likes to hand them out as change for some reason. Jefferson was no fan of doctors. He would gaze upwards for a buzzard whenever he saw three physicians together. He especially distrusted the practice of bleeding and purging.

He had urinary problems in his last months, possibly from an enlarged prostate. But what most likely killed him dehydration resulting from amoebic dysentery.

Jefferson became comatose on July 2, 1826. On the third he awakened and asked his doctor, Robley Dunglison, "Is it the fourth?" He died 50 minutes into the next day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, a few hours before his onetime rival John Adams.

Jefferson was buried at Monticello. Monticello still stands today thanks to Uriah P. Levy, a Jewish Naval officer who admired Jefferson's contributions to religious liberty and who believed that Monticello should be preserved as a monument.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cardboard Gods: Gil Flores

Outstanding entry by Josh.

Is Funky Winkerbean The New M*A*S*H?

TV Tropes discusses the Cerebus Syndrome where a lighthearted piece of art morphs (some would say jumps the shark) into serious drama. Who knows. Maybe Act III is more analogous to Trapper John M.D. of AfterM*A*SH.

I actually like the current car crash storyline, but it's moving like Quaaludes-laced molasses. I don't think Funky has given up the ghost. Masky McDeath hasn't shown up yet.

Tracers: Keith Hernandez Edition Part Deux

1. Chris Dial says that the score in that game on 6/14/1987 was 7-3. He's right. I forgot to fact-check that. Someone else commented on my blog that the game was inspired by this game. Said it was documented in Jeff Pearlman's book "The Bad Guys Won." I did read that book once when I had the notion to write about the 1986 Red Sox season, but I didn't recall that.

2. Devin McC is of the opinion that Seinfeld isn't part of the Tommy Westphall Universe. I agree. Parts of that universe like Murphy Brown were portrayed as TV shows in the Seinfeldverse. That said, the MLB on that show is slightly different. I haven't gone through the show with a fine-tooth comb, but there was no catcher ever by the name of Genderson. The closest real life one I could find was Rich Gedman. Last I checked, he was managing the Worcester Tornados in the Can-m League and not murdering dry-cleaners.


3. 2nd Spitter to 2nd Shooter: Len Lesser (Uncle Leo) was in Kelly's Heroes with Donald Sutherland who was in JFK (Along with Kevin Bacon, natch.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fangraphs: Corresponding Points (with Drew Fairservice)

Carson Cistulli is at it again. Hi, Carson. (He ego-surfs, so he might see this.) He corresponds with Drew Fairservice whose writing appears at Ghostrunner on First and other points north. I corresponded with him myself a while back. I haven't really touched on Rabbit Maranville and his bastard children lately, but I got the idea from Free Darko. Fairservice is an acolyte of them:

Liberated fandom is something I first saw on Free Darko – the wildly successful and pretentious basketball site of some acclaim. I’ll never fully divorce myself from rooting for laundry but I refuse to shut myself off from Joy dressed as the enemy.

I have nothing but love and respect for Mariano Rivera and couldn’t possibly imagine a world in which Manny and Papi are villains. I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for David Eckstein during his time as a Jay because it just didn’t feel right.

Basically, my bastardized version says listen to your guts. Cast off the shackles of us versus them and embrace greatness in its every form. Appreciate and understand the team in the other dugout because the wins and losses fade over time. It isn’t too far from the “All Joy” concept, just with a wordier name.

I try, but I find it difficult to get pumped up for a non-Red Sox game. Curiosity has led me to check out some of Strasburg's outings, but that's my only extracirricular activity this year. Also, I think I'm more interested in uniqueness or entertainment value than greatness. Well, today is July 1st. I'll make a New Halfyear's resolution to try and watch more teams that don't play in Boston. The way that team's going, they need to call up Trapper John McIntyre.

Esquire: String Theory

I read this David Foster Wallace piece today. Wimbeldon's going on right now, after all. And Wallace seems to have a cult following that I'm trying to understand. (I think that both Bill Simmons and Bethlehem Shoals are fans.) I did like it even though Wallace and I are polar opposites when it comes to writing. I am terse while he was expansive; like a Joe Posnanski or Aaron Gleeman. Too, I tend to keep my digressions within the main body of the text, instead of shunting them off to footnotes. But I am beginning to see some advantages to his method.

Wallace also wrote this article for the New York Times Play magazine. I may tackle it later. I happened to read the Esquire piece in a compilation book. I didn't realize it was online until after reading the piece. Frankly, I find stuff that long much easier to follow in print than online.


The Economist discusses snowclones; those phrases like "X is the new Y" or "It's X's world. We're just living in it." I pretended to read the article.

How accurately can we estimate a hitter’s runs?

The short answer, according to the Hardball Times: Pretty accurately, but not perfectly. I wanted to link to this article by Colin Wyers because I thought it was important. Yet I didn't see much discussion about it when it came out and I hang out online in some of the some places that statheads do. Here's the important part:

Some things to take away from the chart:

Power hitters are far more "inconsistent" than other kinds of hitters. Doubles, triples and home runs by far have the highest standard error.
Walks are very consistent, showing very little standard error compared to other events. Outs are also very consistent. So, all else being equal, players with either very high or very low on-base percentages would tend to have less error in their linear weights estimates.

Colin was writing about hitting. That's the portion of baseball that's easiest to analyze statistically. If there's fuzziness there, what about when it comes to analyzing the rest of the game? None of this should suggest that Duane Kuiper was a better hitter than Barry Bonds or anything like that. But I am curious to hear what others like Tom Tango have to say about this article. Maybe I missed the discussion.