RIP

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Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee (No. 2)- Pitches and Hoes

Inning 1- Introduction
Now that you are acquainted with the intended purpose of this series of baseball stories, allow me to send a shot across your proverbial bow. It’s about to get basebally up in this piece. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, this baseball trip was a solo affair, a Friday trip to Eugene to see the Oregon Ducks v. UCLA Bruins, allowing the writer more full concentration on baseball and less on having actual palatable fun. Secondly, well, guess where you’ll read the second reason (involves people with arms)?

Inning 2- It’s about Process…Results follow
Items needed for solo drive to PK Park in Eugene, Oregon (From Portland):
1. 2 completely full 80 minute mix CD’s (preferably with at least 1 Yaz song on each)
2. Water
3. Solitude
4. Quiet
5. 1 piece of baseball nerd literature (Baseball Prospectus, Bill James Handbook, Baseball America Prospect Handbook)

You may have noticed that I didn’t say map or anything like that. That’s cuz it’s really easy to get to PK Park (It’s so easy that, although it is fewer miles, I spent the same amount of time in the car as I did on the Corvallis trip). It’s the same route that one takes to get to Autzen Stadium (UO’s football stadium). And there’s signs for that shit everywhere! Here are the directions:
1. Find I-5.
2. Get on it.
3. Drive straight.
4. Get off I-5 when you see signs for UO campus.
5. Follow signs for Autzen Stadium.
6. Press brake until car stops fully.
7. Enjoy baseball!

Inning 3- Ice Cole
“It’s not super complicated – fastball from 93-99, mid-80s slider, rapidly improving change-up. If he throws strikes, he’s unhittable.” Reputable baseball nerd, Dave Cameron.

The quote above describes a man named Gerrit Cole. Gerrit Cole may very well be the first person selected in the 2011 amateur baseball draft in this week. If he isn’t the first, he’ll be a top five pick (Jim Callis of Baseball America has him going 5th to the Royals). There isn’t much to say about Cole that wasn’t written about Cole above by Dave Cameron or elsewhere on the internet. He has been having a little trouble with his performance this season. The struggles have to do mostly with the long ball, 7 dongers in 99 innings in a year of home run suppression in college baseball. The MLB draft begins Monday June 6th and it has been reported that the Pirates will take him number 1 overall, although the early season sheen has started to wear off a bit.

Pitching in crummy weather, Cole seem to struggle a bit getting his footing in the clumpy mound dirt. The velocity and slide piece were undeniable. His fastball was consistently in the mid-90′s, even topping 98 on a scout’s gun in the 8th inning. He only struck out five but only walked one as well and got lots of weak contact. I didn’t see much of the supposedly rapidly improving changeup.  Probably because he didn’t really need it against a righty dominated lineup (Ducks only had one lefty hitter starting).

Inning 4- Surroundings
Sometimes I think that baseball and the state of Oregon just aren’t that good of a match. Temps in the 40’s, rain, wind. Ugh. The Ducks facility was the saving grace for the potential enjoyment of watching baseball in drecky weather. PK Park is well designed for spring weather in the Willamette Valley. The only natural surface on the entirety of the field is the pitcher’s mound. It’s dirt. The infield dirt is brown, painted artificial turf. The infield and outfield “grass” are artificial turf. The dugouts are made from artificial turf (too far?). You get the idea.

FYI: This is also the home park of the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. They start play in late June.

All that brown stuff is field turf.

The other good idea in the construction of PK park is that almost all of the reserved seating section is covered by the roof of the stadium. There is uncovered seating up the lines and the first 5 or 6 rows of “box seats” but otherwise, like all good antiperspirants, spectators are guaranteed dryness.

Just a thought. Next time there’s an opening for the PK Park grounds crew, I’m totally applying. That job would be easy, even for a lazy person like myself.

Inning 5- Friday Night Lights– Scouts Honor edition.
Being that college baseball public relations departments are really stingy with the press credential, I purchased a ticket for the section next to the section where there were many, many baseball scouts in attendance for this Friday night Pac-10 baseball game. Naturally, being a resourceful “young” man, I took advantage of the lenient ushers at PK park and I parked myself in the adjacent section with the scouts and did my best to fit in without a radar gun.

Organizations represented in the Scout Section
4 scouts- Pittsburgh Pirates (owners of first overall pick in 2011 MLB draft)
1 scout- St. Louis Cardinals
1 scout- Chicago Cubs
Lots of scouts- Not wearing team gear.

UCLA’s Gerrit Cole wasn’t the only highly regarded pitcher on the mound this night. Tyler Anderson, the Ducks’ best pitcher was hurling as well. This is what makes Friday cool in college baseball. Starting pitchers only pitch once a week and they pitch the same day every week. In this way, fans and scouts know when the best often most interesting pitchers will be on the mound. Anyway, back to Anderson.

Considered a mid to late first round prospect, Tyler Anderson is a lefty with a considerable repertoire of pitchers. A fastball around 90 MPH that he can sink and cut, a kinda Zitoesque high seventies curvepiece, a nice change which has some arm side run, and a quicker slurve. Considered polished and easily signable as a pro, he’s been projected to go as high as from 15-20 in the draft this week. He definitely doesn’t have the upside that Cole has, but it can be more fun at times to watch a guy with less stuff pitch when he can command his pitches better and still be really effective. Per college splits here are some of his numbers for the 2011 season:

ERA= 2.17
FIP= 3.13
INNINGS= 107
HITS= 73
HR allowed= 2
BB= 35
K= 114
BABIP= .287

BABIP- Batting average on balls in play

On this night he was shaky. He walked a bunch of Bruins, hit one too. Only one batter hit the ball hard against him.

Inning 6- TINSTAAPP
“Pitchers are like delicate flowers, 6’3” 230 pound delicate flowers” Disreputable baseball nerd, Dan Woytek

When one plugs the acronym TINSTAAPP into the Acronym Delineator 3000 one gets a result of:
There
Is
No
Such
Thing
As
A
Pitching
Prospect

TINSTAAPP is a concept that gets thrown around in baseball nerd circles because of the fickle nature of pitching. It’s something to think about as the MLB draft begins today. Pitchers get hurt. They need surgery. They get anxiety disorders because of the pressure. They never develop secondary pitches that get opposite handed batters out. Because of these concerns and more, position players are considered better bets as draft picks. Also, there are lots of ways to get the job (getting outs) done as a pitcher and relievers often even have it easier, needing to master only one or two pitches to have a great career (see Mariano Rivera).

With this preface I give you Scott McGough:

The third pitcher I was interested and viewing because of my purchase and perusal of Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook, Scott McGough ranked as the 47th college prospect in the aforementioned publication.  He came into relieve Tyler Anderson and did kind of a poor job.  He has some pretty cool pitches though.  One of them led to this conversation I had with a scout from the Cubs.  After noticing that McGough was featuring two pitches with the same velocity (93-94 MPH) but much different movement, I turned to a Cubs scout next to me:

Me:  Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

Cubs scout (looking perturbed): Sure

Me:  McGough is throwing two  fastballs there, huh?

Scout: Yeah, a two seamer and a four seamer.

Me (trying to sound scouty): The two seamer’s the one with all the arm side run right?

Scout: Yeah.

Me: Thanks.

McGough also features a nice looking slide piece and is not a giant (6’1”, 185), for a pitcher which makes him more likeable.  He’ll be drafted this week, but as a college reliever, he might be there to stay professionally.

Inning 7- Stretch: This is happening in Portland. It’s awesome. And no, it’s not like kickball.

HOLEY BALLS

COLUMBIA COWLITZ WIFFLEBALL ASSOCIATION

Inning 8- Game Recap
This game, as a competitive venture, was no great shakes. The weather kinda blew, affecting hitting and defense. No home runs. Cool pitchers as mentioned previously. Honestly, I was so focused on the starting pitching I hardly noticed other things going on during the game. This is an experience that I’m relatively ok with when I go to a baseball game solo. I don’t really have to react that much to the play going on and I can focus my mercurial attention span on particular players. For this reason, and the reason: the game was not all that exciting, this recap is written as such.

Other reasons for unexciting recaps:
1. Not having a rooting interest
2. This game was a long time ago and the writer:

  • is bad with deadlines.
  • was only taking notes on the pitchers, really.
  • would probably just steal some stuff from this recap.

Inning 9- Post-game Food Pick
Have you ever had one of those days where you go so incredibly long in between meals that if you eat anything remotely resembling a meal, you will immediately pass the heck out? That’s how I felt while driving back from Eugene, Oregon. So instead of eating and endangering the entirety of I-5 North, I waited until back in Portland before eating. The name of the place is the Bonfire, and they have falafel (isn’t that what I had last time too?). Its innocuous enough. Nice for outside beers. Mostly, it’s like four steps from my house, so I knew I wouldn’t kill anyone (beside myself) between there and my bed.

Extras: Draft Update

Just a little note:

Gerrit Cole: Number 1 overall selection in MLB draft (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Tyler Anderson: Number 20 overall selection in MLB draft (Colorado Rockies)

Depending on how early he signs, Anderson could be back in the Northwest, pitching for the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League.  He could also be advanced above short-season ball for his first professional destination.

Posted in Baseball, Sport | Comments Off on Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee (No. 2)- Pitches and Hoes

Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee (No. 2)- Pitches and Hoes

Inning 1- Introduction
Now that you are acquainted with the intended purpose of this series of baseball stories, allow me to send a shot across your proverbial bow. It’s about to get basebally up in this piece. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, this baseball trip was a solo affair, a Friday trip to Eugene to see the Oregon Ducks v. UCLA Bruins, allowing the writer more full concentration on baseball and less on having actual palatable fun. Secondly, well, guess where you’ll read the second reason (involves people with arms)?

Inning 2- It’s about Process…Results follow
Items needed for solo drive to PK Park in Eugene, Oregon (From Portland):
1. 2 completely full 80 minute mix CD’s (preferably with at least 1 Yaz song on each)
2. Water
3. Solitude
4. Quiet
5. 1 piece of baseball nerd literature (Baseball Prospectus, Bill James Handbook, Baseball America Prospect Handbook)

You may have noticed that I didn’t say map or anything like that. That’s cuz it’s really easy to get to PK Park (It’s so easy that, although it is fewer miles, I spent the same amount of time in the car as I did on the Corvallis trip). It’s the same route that one takes to get to Autzen Stadium (UO’s football stadium). And there’s signs for that shit everywhere! Here are the directions:
1. Find I-5.
2. Get on it.
3. Drive straight.
4. Get off I-5 when you see signs for UO campus.
5. Follow signs for Autzen Stadium.
6. Press brake until car stops fully.
7. Enjoy baseball!

Inning 3- Ice Cole
“It’s not super complicated – fastball from 93-99, mid-80s slider, rapidly improving change-up. If he throws strikes, he’s unhittable.” Reputable baseball nerd, Dave Cameron.

The quote above describes a man named Gerrit Cole. Gerrit Cole may very well be the first person selected in the 2011 amateur baseball draft in this week. If he isn’t the first, he’ll be a top five pick (Jim Callis of Baseball America has him going 5th to the Royals). There isn’t much to say about Cole that wasn’t written about Cole above by Dave Cameron or elsewhere on the internet. He has been having a little trouble with his performance this season. The struggles have to do mostly with the long ball, 7 dongers in 99 innings in a year of home run suppression in college baseball. The MLB draft begins Monday June 6th and it has been reported that the Pirates will take him number 1 overall, although the early season sheen has started to wear off a bit.

Pitching in crummy weather, Cole seem to struggle a bit getting his footing in the clumpy mound dirt. The velocity and slide piece were undeniable. His fastball was consistently in the mid-90′s, even topping 98 on a scout’s gun in the 8th inning. He only struck out five but only walked one as well and got lots of weak contact. I didn’t see much of the supposedly rapidly improving changeup.  Probably because he didn’t really need it against a righty dominated lineup (Ducks only had one lefty hitter starting).

Inning 4- Surroundings
Sometimes I think that baseball and the state of Oregon just aren’t that good of a match. Temps in the 40’s, rain, wind. Ugh. The Ducks facility was the saving grace for the potential enjoyment of watching baseball in drecky weather. PK Park is well designed for spring weather in the Willamette Valley. The only natural surface on the entirety of the field is the pitcher’s mound. It’s dirt. The infield dirt is brown, painted artificial turf. The infield and outfield “grass” are artificial turf. The dugouts are made from artificial turf (too far?). You get the idea.

FYI: This is also the home park of the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. They start play in late June.

All that brown stuff is field turf.

The other good idea in the construction of PK park is that almost all of the reserved seating section is covered by the roof of the stadium. There is uncovered seating up the lines and the first 5 or 6 rows of “box seats” but otherwise, like all good antiperspirants, spectators are guaranteed dryness.

Just a thought. Next time there’s an opening for the PK Park grounds crew, I’m totally applying. That job would be easy, even for a lazy person like myself.

Inning 5- Friday Night Lights– Scouts Honor edition.
Being that college baseball public relations departments are really stingy with the press credential, I purchased a ticket for the section next to the section where there were many, many baseball scouts in attendance for this Friday night Pac-10 baseball game. Naturally, being a resourceful “young” man, I took advantage of the lenient ushers at PK park and I parked myself in the adjacent section with the scouts and did my best to fit in without a radar gun.

Organizations represented in the Scout Section
4 scouts- Pittsburgh Pirates (owners of first overall pick in 2011 MLB draft)
1 scout- St. Louis Cardinals
1 scout- Chicago Cubs
Lots of scouts- Not wearing team gear.

UCLA’s Gerrit Cole wasn’t the only highly regarded pitcher on the mound this night. Tyler Anderson, the Ducks’ best pitcher was hurling as well. This is what makes Friday cool in college baseball. Starting pitchers only pitch once a week and they pitch the same day every week. In this way, fans and scouts know when the best often most interesting pitchers will be on the mound. Anyway, back to Anderson.

Considered a mid to late first round prospect, Tyler Anderson is a lefty with a considerable repertoire of pitchers. A fastball around 90 MPH that he can sink and cut, a kinda Zitoesque high seventies curvepiece, a nice change which has some arm side run, and a quicker slurve. Considered polished and easily signable as a pro, he’s been projected to go as high as from 15-20 in the draft this week. He definitely doesn’t have the upside that Cole has, but it can be more fun at times to watch a guy with less stuff pitch when he can command his pitches better and still be really effective. Per college splits here are some of his numbers for the 2011 season:

ERA= 2.17
FIP= 3.13
INNINGS= 107
HITS= 73
HR allowed= 2
BB= 35
K= 114
BABIP= .287

BABIP- Batting average on balls in play

On this night he was shaky. He walked a bunch of Bruins, hit one too. Only one batter hit the ball hard against him.

Inning 6- TINSTAAPP
“Pitchers are like delicate flowers, 6’3” 230 pound delicate flowers” Disreputable baseball nerd, Dan Woytek

When one plugs the acronym TINSTAAPP into the Acronym Delineator 3000 one gets a result of:
There’s
Is
No
Such
Thing
As
A
Pitching
Prospect

TINSTAAPP is a concept that gets thrown around in baseball nerd circles because of the fickle nature of pitching. It’s something to think about as the MLB draft begins today. Pitchers get hurt. They need surgery. They get anxiety disorders because of the pressure. They never develop secondary pitches that get opposite handed batters out. Because of these concerns and more, position players are considered better bets as draft picks. Also, there are lots of ways to get the job (getting outs) done as a pitcher and relievers often even have it easier, needing to master only one or two pitches to have a great career (see Mariano Rivera).

With this preface I give you Scott McGough:

The third pitcher I was interested and viewing because of my purchase and perusal of Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook, Scott McGough ranked as the 47th college prospect in the aforementioned publication.  He came into relieve Tyler Anderson and did kind of a poor job.  He has some pretty cool pitches though.  One of them led to this conversation I had with a scout from the Cubs.  After noticing that McGough was featuring two pitches with the same velocity (93-94 MPH) but much different movement, I turned to a Cubs scout next to me:

Me:  Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

Cubs scout (looking perturbed): Sure

Me:  McGough is throwing two  fastballs there, huh?

Scout: Yeah, a two seamer and a four seamer.

Me (trying to sound scouty): The two seamer’s the one with all the arm side run right?

Scout: Yeah.

Me: Thanks.

McGough also features a nice looking slide piece and is not a giant (6’1”, 185), for a pitcher which makes him more likeable.  He’ll be drafted this week, but as a college reliever, he might be there to stay professionally.

Inning 7- Stretch: This is happening in Portland. It’s awesome. And no, it’s not like kickball.

HOLEY BALLS

COLUMBIA COWLITZ WIFFLEBALL ASSOCIATION

Inning 8- Game Recap
This game, as a competitive venture, was no great shakes. The weather kinda blew, affecting hitting and defense. No home runs. Cool pitchers as mentioned previously. Honestly, I was so focused on the starting pitching I hardly noticed other things going on during the game. This is an experience that I’m relatively ok with when I go to a baseball game solo. I don’t really have to react that much to the play going on and I can focus my mercurial attention span on particular players. For this reason, and the reason: the game was not all that exciting, this recap is written as such.

Other reasons for unexciting recaps:
1. Not having a rooting interest
2. This game was a long time ago and the writer:

  • is bad with deadlines.
  • was only taking notes on the pitchers, really.
  • would probably just steal some stuff from this recap.

Inning 9- Post-game Food Pick
Have you ever had one of those days where you go so incredibly long in between meals that if you eat anything remotely resembling a meal, you will immediately pass the heck out? That’s how I felt while driving back from Eugene, Oregon. So instead of eating and endangering the entirety of I-5 North, I waited until back in Portland before eating. The name of the place is the Bonfire, and they have falafel (isn’t that what I had last time too?). Its innocuous enough. Nice for outside beers. Mostly, it’s like four steps from my house, so I knew I wouldn’t kill anyone (beside myself) between there and my bed.


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Would You Rather…

The following Q&A took place via email when Sportsman writers Thomas King (asker) and Dan Woytek (responder) had nothing better to do. The following is strictly theoretical.

Question: On an average team, would you rather have a guy who gets a single every at bat or a guy who hits a home run every four at bats while striking out the other three?

Answer: It’s about to get nerdy. It would be hard to argue against 125 HR/500 AB, but a guy who never makes an out is actually way more valuable. (It was a surprise to me how much!) This obviously depends on run environment and such.

Average runs per batted ball type 1993-2010
1.398 HR
1.059 3b
0.773 2b
0.471 1b

Linear Weights 1993-2010
-0.294 - Out - Generic Out
-0.296 - K - Strikeout

per 4 ab
Singles guy 1.884 runs!
Donger guy .492 runs!

Those outs are an ouch!

Ed: In the end, the singles hitter is worth nearly 4x as many runs per four at bats, making the seemingly difficult question a no-brainer. Take that, Dave Kingman.

Posted in Baseball, Sport | Comments Off on Would You Rather…

Would You Rather…

The following Q&A took place via email when Sportsman writers Thomas King (asker) and Dan Woytek (responder) had nothing better to do. The following is strictly theoretical.

Question: On an average team, would you rather have a guy who gets a single every at bat or a guy who hits a home run every four at bats while striking out the other three?

Answer: It’s about to get nerdy. It would be hard to argue against 125 HR/500 AB, but a guy who never makes an out is actually way more valuable. (It was a surprise to me how much!) This obviously depends on run environment and such.

Average runs per batted ball type 1993-2010
1.398 HR
1.059 3b
0.773 2b
0.471 1b

Linear Weights 1993-2010
-0.294 - Out - Generic Out
-0.296 - K - Strikeout

per 4 ab
Singles guy 1.884 runs!
Donger guy .492 runs!

Those outs are an ouch!

Ed: In the end, the singles hitter is worth nearly 4x as many runs per four at bats, making the seemingly difficult question a no-brainer. Take that, Dave Kingman.


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Gridiron Dreams

via Portland Monthly.

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Before Rodman

A truly wonderful statistical analysis making a case for Dennis Rodman. One of my favorite lines:

Before Rodman, we should have expected a rebounder of that quality to appear about once every 400 years.

And of course there are a lot of charts and graphs.

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Perfect

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WSJ on Timbers Army vs. “Customers”

“In Seattle they have Republicans,” said Heather Mathews, a graduate student at Lewis and Clark, who imagines Seattle fans spend most of their free time “sailing around in their sailboats.”

The Wall Street Journal compares Timbers and Sounders fans in The Great Hipster Soccer Showdown.

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WSJ on Timbers Army vs. “Customers”

“In Seattle they have Republicans,” said Heather Mathews, a graduate student at Lewis and Clark, who imagines Seattle fans spend most of their free time “sailing around in their sailboats.”

The Wall Street Journal compares Timbers and Sounders fans in The Great Hipster Soccer Showdown.


Posted in Soccer, Sport | Comments Off on WSJ on Timbers Army vs. “Customers”