PNC Park

Nate Silver ranks baseball’s ballparks. Though he gets a little help.

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Nate Silver tends to do in-depth poll-crunching, but yesterday — as a bit of palate-cleanser —  he just presented the results of Yelp.com polling and ranked the major league ballparks from best to worst, based on average ratings by Yelp users.  The result: PNC Park on top, Rogers Centre on the bottom and, for the most part, results that tend to adhere to conventional wisdom in the middle.

Surprises: how low Dodger Stadium is (25). Yes, I know that it’s now in vogue to hate on the place, but it traditionally rates quite high among fans. Silver notes that the standard deviation on the ratings for Dodger Stadium suggest that it’s a love-hate thing, with traffic probably causing a lot of low ratings. I assume the same is happening for the New York parks, with people unfamiliar with the city in general reacting negatively to crowds and expense and all of that kind of thing. Of course there’s also the possibility that people who hated their experience at any ballpark are more likely to log on to slam it, while happy people don’t bother.

My biggest takeaway from the article, however, is when Silver reminds us that, from time to time, some writer gets his paper/station/website to pay for a 30-ballpark review trip:

Every now and then, some writer is lucky enough to earn a book advance or a freelance contract for visiting every major league stadium and rating them (see 1988’s Dodger Dogs and Fenway Franks or ESPN’s Stadium Tour for some well-executed examples). But most of these efforts are out of date — and of course, they reflect just one fan’s opinion.

Out of date, eh? Which means we need it updated?  Well, I suppose that would require a person who (a) is knowledgeable about baseball and ballparks; (b) loves travel; and (c) has the time on their hands to do such a thing and/or can consider going to baseball games as part of his job description.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have to write an urgent email to my boss.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.