Friday, April 18, 2008


My wife is having a slow day at work, so she's come up with a couple of the following...well, sports oddities and/or random bits of trivia...

The following was ganked from Wikipedia...

Kurt Russell is an FAA licensed private pilot holding single/multi-engine and instrument ratings. He is a New England Patriots football fan, attending Super Bowl XLII and sitting in a skybox with Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots team.
I suppose this means we can forgive him Tango & Cash for this.

Coach abuse

The official scoring was a 9-0 loss for Kawamoto Technical High School in Japan, but reality was far different. According to this Reuters report, the Kawamoto coach threw in the towel with one out in the bottom of the second inning with only one out while trailing 66-0.

You read that right. 66-0.

He was worried about the health of his pitcher who had already thrown roughly 250 pitches. His statement - "At that pace the pitcher would have thrown around 500 pitches in four innings. ..There was a danger he could get injured."

Nice to see he was so concerned.

Two things to consider here...

One - why didn't the coach bring in a reliever...particularly if he was so concerned.

Two - the kid gave up 26 runs in the first. In the second he gave up 40, and got only one out. He thinks if he left this kid in that he would only have thrown 500 pitches? Was he relying on the opponents tiring out? Assuming for 250 in only an inning and a third, the kid was actually on a pace to throw 940 pitches over five innings.

And for anyone wondering - that's an ERA of 446.62.

The return of my obscure statistic...

Through the first one-tenth of the Red Sox 2008 season, David "Big Papi" Ortiz has been a virtual black hole in the line-up. He has barely hit, and when he has there has been little to no power.

Last year as Julio Lugo had a season that was a complete statistical anomaly, scoring and driving in a fair number of runs in spite of struggling at the plate through most of the season, I chose to look at batter production from a different angle. My thought, presented in a blog post at the end of last June, went as follows...
In light of Baseball's predilection towards the mathematic, production is gaged often in arcane ways - Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP), On Base Percentage combined with Slugging Percentage (OPS).

I present another way. Something a little less arcane, and maybe a little more accurate in regards to a player's production - Runs Scored and Runs Batted In Per Game, or as I call it; RSBIG. Yes, it does cause for a "production overlap," but it also gives a sense of how much of the scoring the player has been involved in.
While I don't think it's going to reflect well on Big Papi through the end of the Yankees series like it did for Lugo last year, I find it a curious stat and it tells me who manages to cross the plate, or help others cross the plate the most.

All players below have played a minimum of ten games...

1. JD Drew - 1.85
2. M. Ramirez - 1.82
3. K. Youkilis - 1.56
4. S. Casey - 1.00
5. J. Ellsbury - 0.93
6. D. Pedroia - 0.76
7. D. Ortiz - 0.75
8. J. Varitek - 0.63
9. C. Crisp - 0.54
10. J. Lugo - 0.44

Take what you will from this. I just feel it's an interesting way to look at offensive production.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They might draw their paychecks from Indians ownership

But the Red Sox own the Cleveland bullpen right now.

Of the eleven runs that the Sox scored off of Cleveland in the recent two game set, eight came against the Tribe's bullpen and all of them earned in only five-and-two thirds innings.

Life on the reservation is brutal right now - particularly if you're a starting pitcher. Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd, the Indians' starters in the two games against Boston, combined for 12 and-a-third innings pitched, three total runs and one earned run in the two games. By contrast, Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester combined for ten-and-a-third, and six earned in the match-up (of course four-and-a-third and four earned came out of Lester's sub-par start).

Boston's bullpen, on the other hand, racked up seven-and-two-thirds innings with only one earned run.

That translates to a 12.70 ERA for the Cleveland pen, and a 1.17 ERA for the Boston pen.

If this keeps up, it's going to be a very long and frustrating season for the Indians' starting rotation.

Scheduling Conflict...

The NFL released their 2008 schedule.

Dave over at the The Coffin Corner talks a bit about the relative apparent ease of the Patriots' schedule in relation to the rest of the NFL. There is a key term in the second paragraph of his post -

...the Patriots have the easiest schedule based on paper. Their opponents' win percentage in 2007 was .387. The Pats are the only team that have a number below .400. Their 2007 opponents won only 99 games. The Pats are the only team that have a number in that category under 100.
"On paper."

That's a really important term in sports.

"On paper," the Detroit Tigers are supposed to have the best lineup in Major League Baseball this season. Currently the team is batting .250. That's good for 22nd in out of all 30 teams, behind such powerhouses as Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City.

"On paper," the 2001 Rams were a more talented team than the 2001 Patriots. We all know how that ended.

"On paper," the Patriots' 2008 schedule includes only four teams from 2007 that made the playoffs. Remove the Steelers, Colts, Seahawks, and Chargers from that equation and the remaining nine teams that the Patriots face have a combined winning percentage 0f .299. Six of the teams won five games or fewer in 2007.

What does this really mean as to the ease of the Pats' schedule? Absolutely jack.

In 2006, the Cleveland Browns went 4-12. Last season they won ten games. Tampa Bay was 4-12 in '06, then won nine and went to the playoffs last year.

Turn-arounds in the NFL have been fast and hard over the last (roughly) decade. The Patriots themselves jumped from 5-11 in 2000 to 11-5 in 2001. If any one of these teams play their cards right, they can experience similar single season improvement and become contenders.

Which is exactly why strength of schedule based on the previous season means...well...jack.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday morning observations

New game against the Indians...same result

Great win by the Red Sox on Monday night. It was nice to see the Olde Towne Team dig themselves out of a 4-1 hole.

Once again there was some good, bad, and some ugly in the outing.

Jon Lester cruised through the first three innings without giving up a hit, and then struggled in the fourth and fifth innings en route to giving up four runs in four and a third.

David Ortiz continued to struggle at the plate, yet went 2-5. In the process he managed to raise his batting average roughly 30 points to finish the game hitting .104. His hits weren't pretty, but both took advantage of the "Ortiz Shift," poking the ball to left both times. The second hit would have been an out had the Indians played Ortiz straight up rather than with the shift.

With the Red Sox having fought back for the tie in the ninth, Manny Ramirez had a shot best described by the following line from Bull Durham - Man that ball got outta here in a hurry. I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don't you think?

The Ramirez shot came off of already beleaguered Indians closer Joe Borowski who blew his second save of the season last night. Borowksi's season line - 2 saves, 2 blown saves, 2 losses, no wins. Right now the Cleveland closer accounts for 25 percent of the Indians' losses.


Athletes are a superstitious bunch.

When I ran track in high school I wore the same sweats to every meet and had a green bandanna that I would tie around my left ankle during warm-ups. By spring track of my senior year, after three full spring seasons and two winter seasons, I was tying a torn and frayed piece of green cloth around that ankle before warming up.

For me it was less a superstition thing than the creation of a routine that would allow me to focus on the races in front of me. But plenty of players believe they play well because they eat eggs the night before a game, or because they tug on their batting gloves thirteen times between every pitch of an at bat, or because they wear the same underwear every game.

So a construction worker buried a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium.

It bothered Hank Steinbrenner enough that he had the concrete torn up in the effort to find and dispose of the jersey. And they're threatening legal action against the worker.

That's insane on both counts.

Let's face a couple of basic facts regarding this -

The jersey was not visible, nor did it have any impact on the structural integrity of the stadium. As such, what Steinbrenner did was nothing more than optional. I know that if I'm a judge in this case, I'm throwing it out of my court. I would have the same reaction were this the Red Sox victimized in building a new stadium. It's ludicrous and I can't believe that the Yankees' general counsel doesn't realize this.

On that same note - the Yankees have publicly stated that they might pursue criminal charges. A spokesman for a local precinct in the Bronx have publicly stated that they're not really sure that there's anything criminal that the guy did.

I have a hard time figuring it out myself. It doesn't qualify as vandalism as nothing is visible. Maybe misdemeanor criminal mischief which qualifies for a fine and the judge saying, "don't do it again." That's about it.

Shameless self-promotion

While majoring in writing at Emerson College in Boston, I used to make extra money on the side by doing design work. I designed for BosDeli's (Beacon Street) original ownership, and had a regular gig with the gargoyles shop on Newbury (among other gigs). I used to compete in the Boston Comic News' annual cartoonist search.

Since I have kept an off and on side gig designing tattoo flash under the industry pen name Rabbit Skull.

Some of you may have noticed a new banner to the right that reads "MY THREADLESS DESIGNS." Threadless is an on-line t-shirt store, and I have a design right now pending the first round of approval.

Once it passes through their internal process, it goes to a public vote.

I can use as much support as possible. Keep visiting the link below, as my design, should it pass internally, will go to the public vote in the next four to six days.

MisSpelled - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Thanks for your support.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend discoveries

Things I learned this past weekend...

One - It's early yet, but the Yankees pitching looks about how I expected - not much beyond Chien-Ming Wang. Phil Hughes was battered for six earned runs in two innings and Mike Mussina's outing doesn't even qualify as a quality start (defined as six innings completed with no more then three earned runs allowed), completing five and two-thirds while giving up four earned runs.

The irony of the weekend is that the Red Sox turned in two quality starts for the weekend series, but won only one of them - Josh Beckett's start on Saturday night.

Two - The Yankees' issues go far beyond starting pitching.

I know the Sox have more speed on the base paths than they used to, but when has anyone ever heard of the Red Sox stealing six bases? SIX?! Ten, fifteen years ago that would have been the team's total for the first two months of the season, and they did it in one game.

If the Yankees don't shore up the catching, the team could be cooked early.

Three - Boy...the Detroit Tigers are a special sort of bad right now. With the second worst batting average (.235), and the worst ERA (5.94), Detroit has put together a grand total of two wins through the first 12 games. The next worst team, the Washington Nationals, has still managed at least four wins.

Considering no team that has started 0-7 in the history of baseball (the Tigers started 0-7) has even made the post-season, it might just be time to start thinking about next year in Mo-Town.

Four - I'm always trying to introduce my daughter to women's sports and female athletes in an effort to give her healthy female roll models in athletics to look up to. To that end I watched yesterday's broadcast of one of the big gymnastics tournaments.

We had the opportunity to be introduced to Nastia Liukin, a 19-year old Olympic hopeful.

Liukin might be the most impressive gymnast I have seen since Mary-Lou Retton. If she doesn't garner multiple gold in the games in Beijing, I'll be shocked.

Five - I often forget about athletes that aren't involved in what we consider sports. My wife sent me this youtube video of The Great Chinese State Circus. This might be some of the most incredible athletic stunts I've ever seen performed...