Monday, May 31, 2010

Manila Men Can't Jump

Speaking of Snipes....

One of my early posts here was about sports and ethnicity. I was discussing the Irish and baseball 130 years ago. Around that time I talked a bit on this site about my admiration for the hoops blog Free Darko. Here's a post there that I missed on basketball in the Philippines. I'm more than three months late on this one, but I wanted to pass it on. Enjoy.

RIP Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper passed away the other day. Over at Twitter I remarked: "Hopper one of the best links in the Kevin Bacon game last time I checked. RIP" I was more right than I thought. Last time I checked was when I was writing The Astigmatic Eye. He had moved up from #10 to #3 from 2001 to 2005. Turns out he was the Center of the Hollywood Universe at the time of his passing. No one should really care about this stuff, but I do. Rather conservative for a counterculture icon. I cannot say I knew the man, so I don't mourn his passing, but I did think about some of his roles in films like Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider, Cool Hand Luke, and Boiling Point. The last was some dreck that I watched with the Wig during some impromptu Wesley Snipes film festival we had.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Other USC

I started following this blog because Chris at Smart Football kept linking and mentioning it. The fact that the writer's nom de blog is Senator Blutarsky and that he has a cool pic of James Brown and (I believe) Vince Dooley sealed the deal. Anyways, he links to a preview that names the University of South Carolina as a darkhorse candidate for the 2010 national championship. Guess who beat them in a bowl game last year? That's right! UConn.

Appropos Pic

For those who know me from The Factory. I can't figure out how to upload it, so here is the link.

It's serendipity that's it is two years old today.

Better Auteur

Werner Herzog or Whitey Herzog?

Friday Thoughts

1. Saw Robin Hood the other day. Had no idea it was supposed to be a prequel. I'm not a Medieval history buff, so I thought it was an alright way to spend a couple of hours. Also, the end credits and some of the music reminded me of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

2. Ronnie James Dio died earlier this month. He was older than I thought he was. When I went through my heavy metal phase in high school, he was already in his 40s. I've been meaning to write one of my patented articles linking him to everyone under the sun, but haven't come up with anything satisfying. There are websites devoted to Six Degrees of Black Sabbath but many musical links are tenuous at best.

3. I was reading Chris Jaffe last nite and a thought hit me. The real story of the 1980's Mets isn't that The Bad Guys Won. Jeff Pearlman may be an odious fellow, but that book wasn't too bad. However the real story in my mind was the clash of philosophies between Davey Johnson and the skipper of the rival Cardinals: Whitey Herzog. There may be a book in there somewhere. Johnson's Earl Weaver-type offense has become more common in recent years, but Herzog's bullpen philosophy was more modern. That's just one topic to discuss.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My First Baseball Piece

I think that this links to my piece on Mike Morgan. If not, run it through and see if it comes up. I used up a lot of my creative capital on that one and it was a while before I wrote something that I thought approached it in quality. I even ripped myself off once and wrote about George Blanda. I submitted that piece to Football Outsiders, but they rejected it. It was disappointing, but life goes on...

EDIT - I believe Devin McC commented on the Mike Morgan thread.

Why I Write (Part Deux)

TFTIO want to see some of my non-baseball scribblings. For a while I had a blog I called The Astigmatic Eye that was basically a dump of various things from my My Documents folder. The Golfing Bear was Opus 1. That's what got the ball rolling. The formatting is all fouled up for some reason. My apologies. Here's a mini-mystery story. And, last but not least, this is a how I envisioned a WSJ story about a deerslayer if a stoner Joe Friday worked in rural Michigan. I really liked that one.

Two Great Things That Go Great Together

Josh Wilker and Bill Lee. I love 'em both. Saw Lee a couple of times when he rolled through greater Hartford. He was a joy to talk to. As far Josh: I've said it before. He has the best baseball blog out there.

I'll have some more stuff to say later today about writing, God willing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sabersnark at This Week In Milford

I give it to them as Ennui Willie Keeler in comment #3.

Why I Write

The best writer at Fangraphs (Carson Cistulli) has been doing a series called Why We Write. Here's the latest entry. I'm no rock star of the sabersphere, so he's not gonna ask me. But I'll try to answer anyways.

In my high school entrance exam, I tested pretty high across the board and wound up thrown in an English class I wasn't prepared for (it had the pretentious title of Literary Arts.) The experience left a bitter taste in my mouth. I still liked to read, but I gravitated towards non-fiction. I was into baseball as a high-schooler; a friend of mine and I would engage in a primitive form of rosterbaition and propose some interesting trades. Once I got a job, I bought a ton of baseball books. Bats, by Davey Johnson and The White Rat come to mind. As does Weaver On Strategy. Dynasty by Peter Golenbock might have been the first adult baseball book I bought. I seem to recall that. Eventually I stumbled upon Bill James and Pete Palmer.

Bored with school, I joined the Army, where they sent me to foreign language school. When people think of their college days, that was my equivalent. Afterwards, I did go to college for a year but it didn't take hold. I wound up getting a job as a security guard (like Bill James!)

One day, I was sitting in the maternity ward of the hospital I was assigned to. We were supposed to carry a notebook with us at all times. Bored, I started writing down a story based on some hi-jinks I participated in at the Defense Language Institute. I think I lifted the first sentence or two from a Faulkner short story I once read. The story sat in that notebook for a few years. I eventually got a laptop from work and I started transcribing the story in to Word over the course of an evening or two and emailed it to some friends. The response was positive.

One friend who was an English teacher said the story was as good as some stuff that he read in the New Yorker. He also asked for permission to show it to his students. For all I know, it is on the syllabus in some California high school. But it never got published. I sent it out to the New Yorker, but it got rejected. I still have the letter somewhere. And I caught the bug. I started trying to write short mystery stories that usually petered out after about four pages.

In the spring of 2001 I joined SABR. I think what triggered it was an article in the Hartford Courant about Bill Ryczek. He's a fellow Nutmegger who writes on sports history. I also decided to adapt the Kevin Bacon game to baseball and did a presentation on it at a regional SABR meeting. Jim Furtado was in attendance, asked me to write it up for Baseball Primer (as The Factory was called at the time) and the rest is history. Since then, I've written a few articles for others sites, blogged intermittently and have written a few biographies for SABR.

None of that long introductory explains why I write does it? I suppose one of the main reasons is the egorush I get seeing my name in print and hearing my work discussed at the virtual watercoolers of the sabersphere. But I do want to write a book at some point. It's been a long journey; on and off for ten years, but I believe that I am getting closer. Since I started Designated Sitter, the best pieces IMO have been about the roundabout connections between ballplayers and others. Last week, I started to branch out a little bit and believe this may be the key. Maybe I can broaden my audience a bit. But even if I don't write a book, I am enjoying writing this blog. I sometimes envy folks like Craig Calcaterra and the back and forth they have with their readership, but I am slowly accepting the fact that it takes time to build that audience and Shysterball wasn't built in one day. And I have been getting some feedback lately.

Thanks guys and gals. You don't have to read me, but you do.

BDD: Baer: Analyzing The Internets Impact On Sabermetrics


I appreciate the fact that Baer is one of the few younger guns of sabermetric writing that hangs out at BTF, so I'll let his anti-Catholic bigotry slide. But I think he overstates some saberist conclusions. For instance pitchers control over the batting overage on balls put in play against them (commonly referred to as BABIP.) Ever since Voros McCracken came up with his Defense Independent Pitching Stats, iconoclasts have shouted "no control!" But Mike Emeigh has said that this isn't necessarily the case and Pitch f/x analysts are discovering new things.

Over at The Factory, one of the better commenters (fra paolo) called this article smug buncombe. I bookmarked that thread so that I can catch up with it when I can.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Home-Run Record You Don't Want

This is what I've been talking about.

Did you know that Moyer's first start was against Steve Carlton? When Carlton was a rookie, he once appeared in the same game as Warren Spahn. Also in the article, we get to know what wezenball does during the day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Shortstop

Opening Day was this weekend for me.

It turns out that Hi And Lois may be from Connecticut after all.

I made a throwaway reference to Skunk Baxter on Thursday. It turns out that he is quite the polymath. There aren't too many other missile defense experts who play guitar like him.

I've continued watching Mad Men. This time I went right to the first several episodes. Not only is it a period piece, it also has retro production values. The camera shots are nice and long and steady. Too, there isn't incessant background music. AFAICT, the only music outside of incidental music, comes at the beginning and end of the episodes.

In the meantime, I will continue searching for stories like the two from last week in my spare time, but it will be hard to come up with ones that I like better than those two.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sterling, Cooper, McMann, & Tate

About six weeks ago, I came across a video store that was going out of business. Scarfed up Season Two of Mad Men for $8. Better late than never, I suppose.

One disappointment. I kept waiting for Betty Draper to get out of some domestic mess by wiggling her nose. If that happens, it happens in one of the other seasons. Too, Mark Moses plays "Duck" Phillips. I didn't realize it, but he was also the LT in Oliver Stone's Platoon. I see the physical resemblance (and it makes me feel old), but the voice sounded a little different to me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Must See Thursday

I don't know if NBC still uses that slogan. They did back in the days of Cheers and Seinfeld. And they still have a pretty strong Thursday comedy lineup: Community, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and The Office (although I hear that's in the Ken Griffey phase of its career.)

Chevy Chase is in Community. He's had a varied career. He was a municipality in Maryland at one point. He played drums in an early version of Steely Dan. Steely Dan were named after a dildo in William S. Burrough's Naked Lunch and were a very idiosyncratic group. Later on Michael McDonald sang backup for them. McDonald went on to join the Doobie Brothers. The Doobies were one of those groups like Fleetwood Mac who reinvented themselves so radically, that their later output sounds totally different from their earlier stuff. This would all be germane if Skunk Baxter was making a guest appearance on Parks and Rec. But, as far as I can tell, he isn't.

Chase became a movie star, appearing in such flicks as Caddyshack (a highpoint of Western Civilization), Fletch, and the Vacation series. But he got his big break on Saturday Night Live. You can make a chain of castmembers from 1975 to the present day. One such chain goes like this: Chase was a castmember with John Belushi who worked with Brian Doyle-Murray, who worked with Mary Gross, who worked with Jon Lovitz, who worked with Chris Farley, who worked with Colin Quinn, who worked with Tina Fey. Gross is really helpful here because she was on the show from '81 to '85 when there was mondo turnover.

Fey, of course is on 30 Rock. So is Alec Baldwin. Baldwin was in the atrocious Pearl Harbor movie directed by Michael Bay. In it he portrayed Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Doolittle's best known for his daring raid on Tokyo in 1942 where he led long range bombers over the capital of Japan from the USS Hornet. Doolittle was assisted by an admiral named Miles Browning in planning and executing the raid. Aircraft carriers were in their infancy back then and Browning was a pioneer in developing strategy and tactics for them. He also had a daughter who's son got into show business. That boy's name was Chevy Chase.

This is for Devin McC, by the way.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Speaking of Mark S.

Mark touches on Bloom County. To me, the 80s were the golden age of comic strips with Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Far Side. I think I still have a collection or two of this strip lying around.

A Quick One

Gary Cooper portrayed Lou Gehrig. Lou Gehrig played with Dixie Walker. Dixie Walker played with Duke Snider. Duke Snider played with Gaylord Perry. Gaylord Perry played with Rafael Ramirez. Rafael Ramirez played with two Gary Coopers. Both were cup of coffee players; one Brave and one Astro. The Brave had one assist, two steals, and no hits. He never started a game and was mainly used as a defensive sub or pinch runner. But he did go 0-2.

Thanks to STATLG for turning me on to that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Mark Read

That's one of the blogs in my Reader. I know Mark from The Factory. Our tastes don't always match, but we both like James Ellroy. Mark's a pretty voracious reader. Check his site out if you get a chance.

Eat A Peach

Ty Cobb and Ted Williams were friends until they had a spat over Rogers Hornsby and The Georgia Peach kicked The Splendid Splinter out of his hotel room. They don’t have nicknames in “The X Y” format anymore. I think the most recent notable one was The Mad Hungarian (Al Hrabosky), but I digress. Williams thought that Hornsby was a better hitter than Cobb. He may’ve had a point. There’s one book out there by a Dr. Schell that adjusts for all sorts of things (playing era, ballpark, et cetera) that lists Hornsby as the #3 hitter of all time.

Cobb ended his career with the Philadelphia A’s. He played with Lefty Grove and Jimmy Foxx. That pair of Hall of Famers were sold to the Red Sox by Connie Mack and they were still on the team when Williams made his debut. But I like to look at more circuitous connections between ballplayers.

Cobb was a Tiger first and foremost. He played with second baseman Charlie Gehringer who was on the team when pitcher Virgil Trucks played for Detroit. Trucks was on the 1945 world champs. He came from a musical family. His nephew Butch Trucks played for the Allman Brothers Band. His great nephew Derek is currently with the group.

I’ve sometimes thought of The Allmans as Apollo and Lynyrd Skynyrd as Dionysius but I could be wrong. My thinking was that the Allmans are sort of the thinking man’s Southern group, what with their diverse influences. They strike me as jazzy wheras Skynyrd is pure straight ahead rock and roll. The Brothers, of course are Duane and Gregg. Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident almost 40 years ago. Gregg met an arguably worse fate. He married Cher.

Cher was a singer at the time, but she moved on to acting in the 80s. One of the films she appeared in was Witches of Eastwick. Susan Sarandon also appeared in this one. She was also in Bull Durham, but we’re not going there today. Eastwick was adapted from a work by John Updike. Who’s Updike? Updike may be best known for his Rabbit tetralogy, but around here Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu may sound more familiar. That was his essay on the last game and home run of Ted Williams.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Are the Flagstons Nutmeggers?

Witness today's Hi and Lois. In fact, that looks like Burnside Ice LLC on Tolland Street in East Hartford.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Stuff

I discuss Jamie Moyer and whether or not he should be enshrined in Cooperstown with Howard Megdal over at The Perpetual Post.