Monday, August 20, 2007

Stats Gone Wild

I know a lot of people are really into stats and stuff, especially with baseball, but I was recently checking out and ran across some interesting information. I'm sure none of this is new to some of you.

Hitting and Home Runs
- Placido Polanco and Mark Loretta are currently tied for the 992nd spot on the all time home runs list.
- Current Cubs players on the top 1000 all time list: Jason Kendall (982), Daryl Ward (841), Jacque Jones (364), Aramis Ramirez (246), Cliff Floyd (240), Alfonso Soriano (227), Derrek Lee (220),
- Pete Rose leads all of baseball with 15,861 career plate appearances. His lead is by more than 2,000.
- The active triples leader is Steve Finley with 142. He is 42.
- They may call Adam Dunn "country strong" because of his swing but when it comes to plate discipline he seems to be "country stupid". He holds the #1 and #2 spots for most strikeouts in a season with 195 in 2004 and 194 in 2006.

- Wade Miller, just released by the Cubs, is actually tied for spot 993 on the 1000 all time wins list. He has 62 wins, the same amount as Mariano Rivera.
- Nolan Ryan will be remembered for his wicked fastball. But that same fastball got him in some trouble. Ryan is #1 in wild pitches, with 277 in his career.
- Among active pitchers, the top 10 in career loses are no younger than 40. That makes sense because they have been around for a long time, but it is like looking at a Hall of Fame ballot. Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, Moyer, Wells, Johnson, Trachsel, Wakefield, Schilling, and Smoltz.

- Jim Rice grounded in to 36 double plays in 1984. In 1985 he grounded into 35. Ouch.
- Base stealing is interesting. The all time best base stealer also leads in getting caught. Ricky Henderson is considered the greatest base stealer to play the game with 1,406 stolen bases in his career and 130 in a single season. He also has been caught the most times in a single season with 42 and in his career with 335. That is likely a result of him trying to steal more bases than most players, but I still got a kick out of it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another reason to not like Barry Bonds.

A few days ago it came to my attention that Barry Bonds might not donate all, or any, of his pieces of baseball history. Even with the steroid accusations, any home run balls, bats, jerseys, or other Bonds related memorabilia should probably be at Cooperstown. I think that even if Bonds records don't stand up to the steroid investigations he should still be at the Hall of Fame. Notice I didn't say IN the hall of fame. Pete Rose is AT the Hall of Fame right now. He is part of a display that talks about his betting in baseball. So even if Bonds loses the all-time home run record because he did steroids, which hasn't been proven yet, he should still be there relating to that subject.

On that note, Bonds is still a jerk. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, is a museum. Museums are important cultural institutions that allow people to learn and connect with not only the past, but larger ideas and concepts. This might be my bias as a museum studies minor coming out, but I don't see this as a "Bonds v. MLB" type of argument. There is a much more important party involved in this.

That more important group is the fans, or another way of putting it is the people. The people who really lose from this are the people who someday want to connect with baseball history or teach their kids/grandkids about the rich history of the sport. Some people might say that Bonds isn't doing anything wrong and that he has the right to hold on to his stuff and they would technically be right. I think that Bonds has an obligation to donate the homerun ball and other items, not because Major League Baseball wants it, but because there might be fans that want to see it. After all, what is a player without the fans? Bonds might be hated by a large number of fans, but a large group loves him as well.

Let's say that he does keep everything for himself. Do you think that he is really just going to put it up in a display case at his house? I really wouldn't put it past him to start selling off certain items once he retires. That is part of what is wrong with sports though. The highest bidders are the ones who can afford to see the stuff. No one would ever get to see the baseball that broke the most hallowed record in the sport, because either Bonds or some incredibly wealthy person has it stashed at their house.

Bonds said last week, " Doesn't everybody have the right to decide to do it or not do it?" and the answer is yes, everybody does have the right to decide. But he can't complain about lack of fan or media support when he gives so little regard to anyone but himself. Bonds also said, "I'm not worried about the Hall. I take care of me." but it's not about the hall! It's about Bonds caring (even in the slightest) about the people that keep him employed. Not MLB, not the Giants, but the fans.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"I've Got Three Beers In Two Hands"

Since the death of St. Louis pitcher Josh Hancock, some new information has surfaced. The police released statements and reports saying that Hancock was intoxicated at the time of the fatal automobile accident. Hancock was also involved in a potentially fatal accident only a few days before. Since the release of this information, multiple MLB teams have banned alcohol from their locker rooms.

What was especially shocking to me was that baseball teams even allow alcohol to be served or consumed in their locker rooms. I had no idea this was done, but apparently it is a tradition going back to the early days of the game. There was a time when the press was given alcohol in the locker rooms. As of this writing, the Cardinals, the Yankees, the Pirates, the Mets, the Astros, the Athletics and potentially the Devil Rays, the Blue Jays, and the Red Sox have banned alcohol from their clubhouses (many of the bans do not apply to the visiting team).
I find this to be absolutely ridiculous. I cannot think of many jobs that allow you to drink before or during working hours. Even if a player were sitting on the bench with no chance of being put in the game (he pitched the day before for example), I would still consider that working. Anytime a player is representing the team, the league, or they are in a baseball complex, they should not be allowed to drink (celebrations aside).

Some of the defense I've heard for keeping alcohol seems pretty weak. Ex-players and managers have argued that it can be good for team moral to sit around the clubhouse, drink a few beers, and talk baseball. Why does there have to be beer? Why can't guys sit around and just talk baseball? Another argument is that the majority of players are over 21 and alcohol is not illegal. No one is saying that players should not be allowed to drink though; the argument is that it should not be happening during "work". Most jobs do not allow their employees to drink on the job, why should baseball be any different?

I do not think that the solution can come from the team level. The best way to deal with this is for Bud Selig and the League to ban alcohol from the clubhouse. This will put all the teams on the same page and hopefully keep players safer. If players still want to drink, they should go out to a bar or a restaurant. They have as much of a right to drink as the fans that go to the games do. I just don't think there is any reason to keep it in the locker room.

Barry Bonds: As of this writing, Mr. Bonds is 10 homeruns short of breaking the all time home run record set by Hank Aaron. I would like to say that I am not cheering for him and no, it is not because he is black. This has nothing to do with race, I'm just having a hard time believing that he didn't cheat.

Ted Lilly: Some people I know are pretty made at the Cubs because they don't seem to be giving Lilly the run support he needs. Lilly is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and he has only given up 2 homeruns. I think those numbers are just fine. It is still early in the year. He'll get more wins (which are the most overrated of all pitching stats, but that is for another time).

The Brewers: Can the Brew Crew really keep this up? They seem to have the talent and depth but I still have doubts. I do like the idea of having a bus in front of Miller Park where fans can go get prostate exams for free tickets. Sounds like a good way to start a game.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

try and stay with me on this one...

Today was a soccer day. I listened to the ESPN Soccernet podcast this morning and watched the second half of the Manchester United-AC Milan match this afternoon. While getting my soccer fix, I had an interesting idea. Some of you may think this sounds crazy, but I'm going to throw it out there.

In all of the major soccer leagues in Europe, South America, Mexico, and just about every where else, there is this nifty little thing called relegation. Relegation is when the bottom three teams (or two, or one, the number varies) of a league are sent down to the next lowest league, while teams from the lower leauge are promoted to the higher league.

Example: West Ham, Charlton, and Watford are at the bottom of the Premier League in England. If the season ends and they are still on the bottom they will be sent down to the Championship League (there are four leagues in England). Birmingham and Sunderland the number one and two teams in the Champions League and they will be bumped up to the Premier League if they stay on top.

My idea is to institute the relegation system in Major League Baseball. I know it sounds crazy, especially coming from a Cubs fan, but I think it would make the game very entertaining. Think baseball could handle it because of all the teams it is structured similaryly to soccer leagues, with the Majors, AAA, AA, A leagues.

I think it would be really entertaining to see which teams would get bumped up with each new seaon. How cool would it be to see the New York Yankees take on the Kane County Cougars or the Minnesota Twins play the Tri-City Valley Cats? I think that relegation would also give more motivation for MLB teams to get out of their division cellars. Let's face it, some teams are historically bad and relegation could shake things enough to turn them around.

All in all, I like the idea of more competition. The little guys taking on Goliath. I know it will never, ever happen, but it sure is something to consider. If you excuse me, I want to catch the Everett Aquasox-Seattle Mariners game.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm Feeling Like I Shouldn't Have Left You

In the words of MC Chris, "I'm feeling like I shouldn't have left you."

Sorry for the delay in posts. I guess trying to make this a weekly thing was a little unrealistic. Don't hate me, I'm doing my best. A lot has happened since my last post, so let's get going.

Josh Hancock:
Josh Hancock, a bullpen pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, was killed in a car accident early Sunday morning (April 29th). He was 29 years old. It is sad when anyone goes before his or her time. This is the second St. Louis pitcher to die in 5 years. I hope Cardinal's fans are holding up okay.

The NFL Draft:
I hate NFL Draft day more than any other sports related day. I understand all of the discussion and debate leading up to the draft because people want to see their team get the best talent they can. Everybody wants the next hot young player. I even understand the excitement about the first round of the draft. After all, the first round is when all the big names are picked and it usually has the most drama. What I don't understand is why all of the other rounds are televised. Oh my, who are the Seahawks going to choose with the 197th pick of the 2007 draft? Who cares? I feel like broadcasting that much of the draft if a waste of TV. space. I'm sure there are a handful of football fanatics who watch the NFL draft start to finish, but most people don't. There has to be a baseball game they could broadcast or something.

Brady Quinn:
The Cleveland Browns selected Quinn, which was not a surprise. What was a surprise was that they used the 22nd pick to get him. That has to bruise the ol' ego.

Tony La Russa:
I never thought I would say this, but Tony La Russa is a good guy. The St. Louis Dispatch did a parody of poem, which essentially said the Cubs had no chance at winning the World Series. During the next press conference (and after the Cardinals loss to the Cubs 3-5) La Russa denounced the Dispatch and said it was "a cheap shot". Not only that, but he also got in one reporter's face when the reporter said that La Russa was wrong. I think that shows some class. It shows he respects the rivalry and that he understands the difference between a joke and an uncalled for cheap shot. Good man.

Chicago Bulls:
A defending NBA champion has not been swept in the first round of the playoffs since 1957. Of course that stat now changes to "...since April 29th, 2007". The Chicago Bulls pulled off a sweep of the Miami Heat and I could not be happier. I love the Bulls, but it's great that they did this to the Heat. I have never really been a fan of Shaq and I do like Dwayne Wade, but I don't like the rest of the team. The Heat seem to attract a lot of drama and I'm glad to see them go.

Random Notes:
Ted Lilly: 2-2 with an ERA of 2.18. He doesn't always get a lot of fun support, hence the low number of wins, but I'm still on the "Ted Lilly for NL Cy Young" bandwagon.

Torrii Hunter: Hunter was hit in the mouth by a fastball against the Kansas City Royals. The interesting thing is it came the day after it was announced that Hunter broke an MLB rule by giving the Royals four bottles of champaign. I guess they weren't too happy that they had to give it back.

Jimmy Rollins: Lead the NL with 9 homeruns. Huh?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A whole lot of season left.

The first week of baseball is in the books. For most teams, somewhere between 7 and 9 games have been played and everyone still believes they have a shot. After all, who could really tell anything about a team this early in the season? Players get hot (and cold) and it just might take a little while for a team to gel (or fall apart). Here are some thoughts I have had during the first week of the season.

-The Cubs: They go on a 3-3 road trip which is not shabby and recieve excellent pitching from Lilly, Marquis, Hill, and Zambrano (his second time around). Wade Miller almost had me wishing for Mark Prior and the bullpen has been anywhere from lights out to crap. So far, they are 0-2 at Wrigley Field and that stat needs to change now. Given, that 0-2 is against the Astros, a team that has forever and all time given the Cubs a hard time. I don't know if they can make a run or not ( I hope so) but I am jumping on the Ted Lilly for NL Cy Young winner band wagon (even if it is a small wagon).

-The Mets: Will anyone be able to stop these guys? Although they are not currently sitting a top the NL East, they seem to have the most powerful offense by far. Between Jose Reyes constantly getting on base and being a speed threat (he was on base seven times in their last game against the Braves) and the big bats of David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou, and Carlos Beltran, is there a better line up in the NL? They beat the Cardinals 20-2 over three games. So not only did the bats come out but the pitching seems like it should be able to hold up enough to win.

-Young Pitchers: Although they are probably not going to win the Cy Young Award this year, I find almost no greater pleasure in baseball than watching a young pitcher dominate. It might be only for one game or it could be for a stretch. Hell, they could go on to win 15+ games. Whichever it is, I really like to watch them. A few guys have really caught my eye. Here are their stats after a few games.

Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners) RHP- ERA: 0.00, SO:12, W-L:1-0, 2006 SO:176. Not to shabby for a 21 year old.
Rich Hill (Chicago Cubs) LHP- ERA:1.29, SO:6, W-L:1-0. He went 7 innings in his season debut and gave up only one hit.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) RHP- ERA: 1.29, SO:10, W-L:1-0. I know there is a lot of hype around this guy, but if his stuff is half as good as people have said it is, he will be a damn fine pitcher. I can't tell you how much I want to see a gyroball.

-Interesting Fact: Did you know that Jason Schmidt has as many home runs as Ryan Howard? Did you know that Barry Bonds has as many stolen bases as Carl Crawford? The start of the season is so crazy.

Wrap Up:
-Off to a 4-4 start in the less than amazing NL Central, the Pirates will probably not stay at the top of race.
-Cincinattie might be able to.
-Barry Bonds will break the all time HR record. I will die a little inside.
-A.J. Pierzynski wins a game by getting hit by a pitch. He is one of the biggest jerks in baseball...that does everything to help his club win. Can't really argue with that.
-I know that snow has wrecked havoc on some baseball games. After all, it should not be snowing in April. But, this does not mean that global warming is not happening!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hope springs...

"Hope springs eternal..." is a phrase that is constantly used to describe the opening games of the Major League Baseball Season. It has been used for as long as I can remember and you know what? It's perfect.

The most beautiful time in sports is the first day of games in the MLB. The hope that exudes from the stands is truly amazing. Everyone believes that this could be the year that his or her team makes it to the top. Especially in recent years, with seven different teams winning the World Series and a good number of them being wildcard teams. Go to any city and you will get a different World Series prediction. There are people out there right now who think that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a chance to make it to October! Hope and faith like that is so rare in this world. It is a beautiful thing.

I guess I am going to keep this post short because the message is a simple one. Before the other 161 games make us forget what makes baseball so great, just remember the hope and excitement you felt on April 2nd. Before Barry Bonds tarnishes one of the games most hallowed records, before another player is found to be taking steroids, or before we get wrapped up in the stats and drama that come with every season, just reflect on the amazing feeling of innocence and purity that comes with opening day.

To put it the best way I can,

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733