Twitter went a little haywire last night, just as there were nine or ten ballgames in progress. The fact that it absolutely drove me and a bunch of other people nuts was kind of surprising to me. I’ve been on Twitter less than two years. Surely I can enjoy an evening of baseball without hearing what a few hundred other people are saying about it in real time, right?
Well, sure I can. I survived last night. But it wasn’t easy, and it brought home just how integrated Twitter, blogs, real-time box scores and all of that are to my baseball watching and writing life. And, as more people plug in, it will become a part of their lives too.
Jason Fry has a great post up about that today, and about how sports lend themselves so comfortably and fully to social media and the Internet in general. In making his argument, he touches somewhat on a lot of the things I’ve been saying for a few months now about how the next-day story of a game and the weekly or semi-weekly column explaining What’s Goin On In Sports is becoming obsolete. Indeed, Jason notes that that stuff is increasingly unnecessary and probably inorganic to the nature of sports to begin with:
Sports is news, but most of it isn’t news the way a plane crash or a scientific discovery is news. I know the Mets are playing the Marlins tonight and one of the two teams will win, even though I have no idea which team it will be. Previously, accounts of games generally emerged only when all was said and done: We got a game story or a highlights package. But this isn’t how we watch sports – we do that in real time, constructing narratives as we go. Each twist and turn is good or bad, and we like to guess at how things will turn out, note potential turning points, and gloat, celebrate, commiserate or argue along the way. Twitter is a perfect fit for this: Now, beat writers can note significant plays, provide historical context, analyze decisions and so on long before their gamers are filed, and fans can talk to them and to each other as the game winds its way to a conclusion.
There’s much more to it, so click through. And if you’re interested in these topics, bookmark Jason’s page. He has gold like this quite frequently.
The claim of “East Coast Bias” is often hurled as an accusation of smug superiority, and it’s often met with denial, but it’s a thing. It’s not the exact thing the west coast people think it is — it’s not hate, it’s just a function of time zones and TV ratings — but there are certainly factors that cause stuff that happens in California to get shorter shrift than that which happens back east, where most of the national media people are.
One thing getting short shrift this year: the performance of Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, which one has to imagine would be getting all kinds of press if he played back east.
Wait, we don’t have to imagine that at all. Because Olson is doing basically the exact same thing Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez did last year, and Sanchez got tons of headlines for it while I’m guessing most baseball fans who either (a) live outside of the Bay Area; or (b) aren’t big fantasy players, attuned to all of the latest callups, haven’t heard Olson’s name much if at all . Their respective lines:
- Sanchez 2016: 53 games, .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 168 OPS+
- Olson 2017: 54 games, .267/.360/.663, 22 HR 168 OPS+
Sanchez’s rate stats were better but Olson is doing it in tougher parks for hitters. Obviously Sanchez is catching and Olson playing the corner, but a dude coming out of the minors to put up these kinds of numbers in the final two months of the season is rare. That it’s happening again, in almost the same way, is quite the thing.
Part of the reason for the discrepancy in press is that Sanchez was making a strong argument for the Rookie of the Year Award despite playing less than half the season whereas Olson has no shot given what Aaron Judge has done this year. But I’m guessing more of it is simply a function of Olson’s games starting at 10:30 or so back east and most of us not seeing what he does unless we look at the box scores the next day.
Still, Olson, the A’s first round pick from 2012, is not someone to sleep on. And, given that he hit 23 homers in 79 minor league games this year — the last guy to hit 20 in both the bigs and minors in the same year was Giancarlo Stanton — he’s not a fluke. Indeed, he’s one of the few rays of sunshine for the Oakland Athletics. And someone to whom us folks back east should pay a bit more attention.
Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:
Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.
With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.
The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.
You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.