Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

57 Comments

Angels 5, Rangers 4: Howie Kendrick with two homers, including the walkoff in the 11th. Kendrick after the game:

“It’s a great feeling to know that you can leave the other team on the field”

I hope someone brings the Rangers some food overnight. Maybe go back to their hotel, get guys a change of clothes or something.

Cardinals 2, Nationals 0: Adam Wainwright threw eight and a third scoreless innings striking out nine, and improved to 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA on the season. The Nats have lost eight of 11.

Pirates 2, Phillies 0: Jeff Locke and four relievers combine to shut out the Phillies. Michael Young kept his hitting streak alive — it’s now at four games — but an otherwise forgettable offensive night.

Twins 4, Marlins 3; Marlins 8, Twins 5: Oswaldo Arcia hit a massive homer in the first game. Right before he did it. Bert Blyleven speculated on-air as to whether Ron Gardenhire would have him bunt. Methinks that with that guy’s power that, no, Gardenhire is not gonna have him bunt. The Marlins take the nightcap with 16 hits. Which is probably their month’s supply of hits. Royals lead the division by a game with the Twins right on their tail. This is kinda fun while it’s lasting.

Athletics 13, Red Sox 0: Rain-shortened game or mercy rule invoked? NO MAN CAN SAY. Everyone will talk about how putrid Alfredo Aceves was — and after the game he had the nerve to ask why his teammates didn’t hit — but how about seven, three-hit shutout innings from Bartolo Colon?

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: It’s kinda early in the morning so my critical thinking skills aren’t totally sharp yet today, but when I see this in the game story:

It was the 100th consecutive game the Orioles have won when leading after seven innings

My b.s. detector starts to go off. Not because it’s not true — it is, in fact, a fact — but because it sounds too superficially impressive a feat for a team that, while good last year, hasn’t been dominant or anything. Someone can check it and tell me I’m wrong, but this smells like “a triple short of the cycle!” Meaning: a fact which sounds kind of impressive but which actually describes something which happens quite a lot.

Yankees 4, Rays 3: Ichiro had a two-run, RBI single in the ninth and, though he did not get the win, I think it’s fair to say that Phil Hughes out-dueled David Price. Has a lower ERA on the season than Price does too, if you care about such things (5.14 vs. 5.52).

Braves 4, Rockies 3; Braves 10, Rockies 2 : Atlanta takes the first chilly one thanks to homers from Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla. They take the second one thanks to homers from Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Juan Francisco. It’s almost like this team hits a lot of homers or something.

Cubs 4, Reds 2: Carlos Marmol blew the save but got the win. He now leads the Cubs in wins. That’s fun. I’m sure no one else on the team thinks that’s fun but him, but it is fun.

Dodgers 7, Mets 2: Two homers for Mark Ellis. Clayton Kershaw was no great shakes, but after Jon Niese left in the third with a leg contusion, it was too much to ask for five Mets relievers to hold on.

Brewers 6, Padres 3: Nine in a row. Clayton Richard was a disaster in the first two innings and after that it was academic.

Astros 3, Mariners 2: Astros and Marlins win on the same day. Bet that doesn’t happen a lot this summer. Sadly, what proved to be the winning run came at the expense of Justin Maxwell’s broken hand on a HBP in the third.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4: J.J. Putz blew a two-run lead in the ninth — and a four-run lead overall — but the Dbacks gritted this one out and won in 11, thanks to some heads-up base running by Didi Gregorius. He took second base on what should have only been a single after Andres Torres lollygaged his way to the ball, then scored the tying run on a wild pitch.  And if you think I’m beating this grit thing into the ground, well, I’ll stop when Diamondbacks players stop saying stuff like this after the game:

“That’s the spirit of this team,” [Brad] Ziegler said. “We’d prefer to jump out to a big lead early and kind of coast to the victory, but when that doesn’t happen, we know we have a lot of guys on this team that are going to fight to the last out.”

Indians vs. White Sox: POSTPONED: April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing  Memory and desire, stirring  Dull roots with spring rain.

Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: For the seven lakes, and by no man these verses. Rain; empty river; a voyage. Fire from frozen cloud, heavy rain in the twilight. Under the cabin roof was one lantern. The reeds are heavy; bent; and the bamboos speak as if weeping.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 1.47.18 PM
1 Comment

It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
Leave a comment

Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

Braves Spring baseball
10 Comments

Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.

Did Tony La Russa screw Jim Edmonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy?

2011 World Series Game 4 -Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals
Getty Images
20 Comments

Yes, that’s a somewhat provocative question. But it’s still an interesting question, the relevancy of and merits of which we’ll get to in a second. I pose it mostly so I can tell you about some neat research a friend of mine is doing and which should make Hall of Fame discussions and the general discussion of baseball history a lot of fun in the coming years. Bear with me for a moment.

There has long been a war between metrics and narrative. The folks who say that so-and-so was great because of the arc of his story and his career and those who say so-and-so was not so great or whatshisface was way, way better because of the numbers. Those views are often pitted as irreconcilable opposites. But what if they weren’t? What if there was some data which explained why some players become narrative darlings and others don’t? Some explanation for why, say, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame while Dwight Evans isn’t despite having better numbers? An explanation, that isn’t about voters being dumb or merely playing favorites all willy-nilly? What if there was some actual quantitative reason why favorites get played in the first place?

That’s the thesis of the work of Brandon Isleib. He has just finished writing a very interesting book. It’s not yet published, but I have had the chance to read it. It sets forth the fascinating proposition that we can quantify narrative. That we can divine actual numerical values which help explain a player’s fame and public profile. Values which aren’t based on some complicated or counterintuitive formula, but which are rooted in the very thing all baseball fans see every day: games. Wins and losses. The daily standings. Values which reveal that, no, Hall of Fame voters who made odd choices in the view of the analytics crowd weren’t necessarily stupid or petty. They were merely reacting to forces and dynamics in the game which pushed them in certain ways and not others.

“But wait!” you interject. “Jim Rice and Dwight Evans played on the same dang team! How does Brandon distinguish that?” I won’t give away all the details of it but it makes sense if you break down how the Red Sox did in certain years and how that corresponded with Rice’s and Evans’ best years. There were competitive narratives in play in 1975, 1978 or 1986 that weren’t in play in 1981 or 1987. From those competitive narratives come player narratives which are pretty understandable. When you weight it all based on how competitive a team was on a day-to-day basis based on how far out of first place they were, etc., a picture starts to come together which explains why “fame” works the way it does.

From this, you start to realize why certain players, no matter how good, never got much Hall of Fame consideration. And why others’ consideration seemed disproportionate compared to their actual performance. All of which, again, is based on numbers, not on the sort of bomb-throwing media criticism in which jerks like me have come to engage.

Like I said, the book won’t be out for a bit — Brandon just finished it — but in the meantime he has a website where he has been and, increasingly will be, talking about his quantification of narrative stuff, writing short articles posing some of the questions his book and his research addresses.

Today’s entry — which is what my headline is based on — isn’t really numbers-based. It’s more talking about the broader phenomenon Brandon’s work gets at in terms of trying to figure out which players are credited for their performance and which are not so credited and why. Specifically, it talks about how Tony La Russa, more than most managers, gets the credit for his success and his players probably get somewhat less than they deserve. In this way La Russa is kind of viewed as a football coach figure and his players are, I dunno, system quarterbacks. It’s something that is unfair, I think, to guys like Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen and will, eventually, likely be unfair to players like Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday.

It’s fascinating stuff which gets to the heart of player reputation and how history comes together. It reminds us that, in the end, the reporters and the analysts who argue about all of these things are secondary players, even if we make the most noise. It’s the figures in the game — the players and the managers — who shape it all. The rest of us are just observers and scribes.