Monday, July 7, 2014

Dropped Third Strike

(written several weeks ago, published today)

Baseball's "dropped third strike" rule (on any third strike not caught on the fly and held by the catcher, the batter is allowed to advance to first base, unless first base is occupied with less than two out) has played a big part in our family over this last year, especially this last weekend. Our 9 year old son was introduced to the rule last year with a travel team he played with, then this year with his 9-10 yr old "house ball" team (regular league). The 9-10 division has the rule as part of regular play.

Now, on his 10U travel team, the "dropped third strike" is a common occurrence. I don't quite like the term "dropped third strike," as it implies that the catcher drops the ball. The majority of these cases at a young age have a batter swinging and missing at a ball that is in the dirt or somehow out of the reach of the catcher.

This weekend, the Mets visited AT&T park. A 9th inning rally was started on a dropped-third strike, as Angel Pagan started running to first. The Mets catcher picked up the ball and threw wide to first, allowing Pagan to reach base. I used the opportunity to explain to him the importance of making the putout on such a play as it could easily lead to a score.

The next morning, he was catching for his team, and the very first batter reached on a "dropped third" that was a wild pitch. We had just talked about it. Later in the game, however, an exciting play took place. With a runner on third and one out, a batter swung and missed at a ball in the dirt for strike three. The ball bounced in front of the plate by about a foot. The batter started running to first, my son picked up the ball, bluffed the runner back to third and threw to first to get the out. But the runner took off for home immediately. The first baseman picked up on the play and instead of covering first with a stretch, he swept across first base like a shortstop would and fired a bullet home, six inches off the ground in front of the plate and just got the foot of the sliding runner. Double play!

It is amazing how a rule I knew my whole life was suddenly intensified to me overnight. I'll never look at the dropped third strike the same way again.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day 2014

Opening Day is finally here. With all the rain outside it doesn't feel like it. Both the Giants and A's open tonight, barring rainouts. The G-Men open in the desert, while the Athletics are to open at home. The Giants/A's exhibition game on Saturday was rained out, and my 9 year old has had his last three games rained out, tonight's included.

Whatever happens, it is always great to see regular season baseball being played. More importantly, it will be heard on the radio. I watch a lot of baseball on the radio. Welcome back!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MLB: Stop the Regular Season Games Overseas

I have no idea why MLB plays overseas games as part of the regular season with a week left in Spring Training. But I think it should stop.

This year, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played two games in Australia a week ago. They were part of the regular season. Each team came back to the States to finish up Spring Training. Why do these exhibition games count? It makes no sense. That two teams are "ready" for play a week early and have to endure a flight half way around the world and adjust to a new time zone is silly.

I don't have a problem with the exhibition games, as baseball should be looking to expand into new markets elsewhere, but to make these games count is simply not necessary. They take home games away from the two teams that play, games that could be enjoyed by the fans of the teams in their normal ballparks. They take the revenue away as well. These games could easily make as much money overseas if they were simply exhibition and not regular season. They mess up the standings and the flow of the regular season. They are played in the middle of the night our time, and prevent fans from even watching or listening to them.

MLB: Please stop.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We Could Use a Giants/Dodgers NLCS

As I pointed out a couple of posts ago, the Giants and Dodgers have played in five of the last six NLCS. The only problem with this NLCS domination is that they have not played against each other in the NLCS.

The curious thing to me is that I have not heard more fans express their desire for an orange vs. blue showdown. It would be great for baseball and it would be incredible for the long standing rivalry. To prop up my point, I will refer to history.

Some of the greatest memories in baseball history have occurred between ardent rivals. Let's look at the Giants/Dodgers past. In 1951, the greatest rivalry in baseball history produced the greatest pennant race in baseball history. That race ended in a tie on the last day of the season. A three-game playoff was scheduled. The results were the greatest home run in baseball history along with the greatest radio call in all of sports history.

Another great playoff moment came from the other great baseball rivalry, the Yankees and Red Sox. A wild pennant race ended in a tie in 1978, and a one-game playoff was scheduled. Bucky Dent had his name changed in New England. And what about the ALCS in 2003 and 2004? I'm tired of hearing that the Red Sox were the first team to come back from being down 3-0. No. They were down 3.9-0 with Mariano Rivera on the bump about to save a series sweep and came back. And we can't leave out the near-mirror 1962 pennant race between the Giants and Dodgers. A miracle in the last week of the season by the Giants to tie forced another 3-game playoff and a miracle 4-run rally in the 9th inning of game 3 gave the Giants the pennant.

No pair of teams in baseball history have been in more pennant races than the Giants and Dodgers, and no pair of teams in baseball history have had more 1-2 finishes than the Yankees and Red Sox. Note: too many of the Sox/Yanks 1-2 finishes were not close 1-2 finishes so really don't count as pennant races. But my point stands. The two biggest rivalries in history have produced some of the greatest playoffs ever. And this is why I think 2014 would be a great year for a Giants/Dodgers NLCS. Hey, how about an accompanying Yanks/Sox ALCS with the winners playing each other in the World Series?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Memories of 49ers at Candlestick

A Giants Season Ticket Holder Remembers

This is the last season that the San Francisco 49ers will play at Candlestick Park.  Tonight is the last game.  The Giants abandoned the much maligned object for greener pastures in 2000 with the construction of their new downtown gem, PacBell Park, or whatever it's been called over the years.  With this last season, KNBR, the big sports radio station in SF has been airing a series of great memories of the 49ers playing at the 'Stick.  Fans have called in to give their memories.

Well, as a season ticket holder for the Giants' last 15 years at the 'Stick, I have some memories of my own on the 49ers playing in the same yard as my beloved boys of freezing cold summer.

During the 80's when the Giants totally sucked and the 49ers were winning Super Bowls, all "improvements" to the 'Stick authorized by the City were solely for the benefit of the 49ers.  Every baseball season was a 49ers construction zone.  Scaffolding, yellow tape, sections of the stadium blocked off.  Then, construction was miraculously completed and debris was removed coincidentally during the week of the 49ers first pre-season home game in August.  Wow, what an annual coincidence!

The worst slap in the face occurred in the late 80's when the box seats were eliminated.  Each aisle in the box seat sections were filled in with seats to increase 49ers season ticket sales.  Box seats traditionally had two to four seats across, then a bar to divide the small sections for easy seatability.  My box had two seats, then a bar.  Nobody ever climbed over me to reach the aisle.  But when the box seats were eliminated, the section rows grew to maybe 20 seats across.  This was a severe downgrade in seating that caused masses of Giants fans to complain.  The Giants, however, were powerless in the face of 49er-revenue-loving politicos and they caved to the cause of 9er gold.  In typical political spin fashion, the Giants issued a letter to season ticket holders assuring the mass of whiners that filling in the box seats with extra butt holders would actually increase the enjoyability of watching a baseball game at the 'Stick!  The Giants' security and usher staff, having fewer aisles to deal with, would now be better able to patrol the box seats and ensure safety, keeping riff raff out, and would allow ticket holders an increased ease in finding their seats!  What bullshit.  The writer of that letter needs to run for office somewhere.

Then adding insult to injury, after the boxes were completely eliminated from Candlestick Park, the Giants kept calling the lower orange seat sections....box seats!  False advertising at its bait-and-switch maximum.  The next season - and every season after that - were filled with drunken morons sitting in the middle of the section climbing all over me and guests to get out to the aisle to buy more beer.  Nothing against drinking beer, but the spill rate was unacceptable.  Having everybody in the middle of the section climb over you every inning for years was unacceptable.  But what could one do?  There was nowhere else to sit that was any better.  Developing a greater dislike for the 49ers was my solution.

I did see a handful of 49er games at the 'Stick, and enjoyed them, but any enjoyment I got out of football pales in comparison to having my favorite baseball team and venue compromised.  Sadly, my most vivid memories of the 49ers playing at Candlestick were negative.

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dodger Downer, Giant Upper

The past six seasons have brought us an NLCS in which we saw the Phillies play three consecutive years ('08, '09, '10), and the Cardinals play three consecutive years ('11, '12, '13).  It also showed us in their opponents the Dodgers play three times ('08, '09, '13) and the Giants twice ('10, '12). 

A curious theme has emerged.  The Giants and Dodgers have had common opponents in their five appearances, with the Phils playing the Dodgers in '08 and '09, then the Giants jumping in to play them in '10.  Likewise, the Cards played the Giants in '12 and Dodgers following in '13.  The Dodgers have lost all three series.  The Giants, on the other hand, have not only won both of their NLCS, they have gone on to win the World Series in each of those years.  And in the last six years, only the Giants of all the MLB teams have won two championships.

It's gotta be frustrating for the boys in blue to see their rivals beat the teams they lose to and bring home a trophy.  I was in attendance for the last WS game the Dodgers played in Oakland in 1988.  It really was a long time ago.  Hopefully this theme can continue, or something similar.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Phillies' Phall to Phutility Phinal

Last night the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the New York Mets - their 82nd loss of the year - clinching a losing season.  It took the Phils five years to fall from World Champs to a losing team.  They did it one notch at a time.

In 2008, they took care of the Rays in the World Series, becoming champs for the first time since 1980.  In 2009 they fell one notch, this time losing the World Series to the Yanks.  In 2010 they lost the NLCS to the Giants.  In 2011 they lost the NLDS to the Cards.  In 2012 they failed to win the division.  In 2013 they end up with a losing record.

The Phillies' fall was gradual, but steady.  Champs to chumps in five years.

The Giants, of course, only took five weeks to accomplish the same thing.  After their second world championship in three years, the G-men were once again in first place in mid-to-late May, with one of the best records in baseball.  It took only five weeks, from late May to early July, to find themselves in the NL West cellar, where they have spent most of the season.  Which team will recover first?  What's a worse way to lose?  A total collapse or a slow fade?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can Instant Replay Work?

For the longest time I have been against baseball using instant replay for any reason.  You could call this an "old school" approach.  But I have been re-thinking this in light of what I see as technologically possible now.

One reason I have been against instant replay is that, quite frankly, nobody yet has come up with a system of replay that makes any sense.  So, I'd like to investigate that here.

One problem with proposed instant replay solutions is that these solutions get their cue from football's failed instant replay system.  Many people are in favor of importing the red hanky type of instant replay, where the manager gets to wave his red hanky when he wants a call reviewed.  Of course, inherent in this system is the flaw of deciding how many challenges to calls each manager gets.  Some propose one challenge (so use it wisely!), others several.  The problem with this is that it conflicts with the idea of "getting the call right."  I take more of a "getting the call right" approach.  So, if the manager needs more than the allotted number of red hankies, then he's screwed.  So if we take the "getting the call right" approach, the manager would need an unlimited number of challenges to any call, and the game would be ruined by seven or eight hour games.

So, the idea of letting managers have challenges to calls on the field is one that cannot be used.  Period.  But what can be used instead, I think, is having umpires that are dedicated to instant replay.  It's simply amazing how often TV broadcast crews are able to review umpire's calls and "get the call right" in the TV booth before the next batter starts hacking away.  The technology is easily available to make quick calls.  One thing that completely hampers the failed instant replay systems in football and baseball, is that the on-the-field umps and refs must leave the field to go to another location to review video.  Then, they only get to view the videos that are piped into them on microscopic screens on some camera somewhere that must have a shield to protect it from sunlight, etc.

What baseball could do is have one or more umpires on the crew who are dedicated to nothing but instant replay in a booth somewhere in the park.  They could be part of the normal crews.  Baseball umpiring crews rotate around the bases one base each day.  Home one day, first the next, then second, then third, and back to the plate again.  Well, with instant replay, they could rotate from home to first, second, third, the replay booth, then back to the plate.  The ump(s) doing reviews that game would have access to all camera angles and could review every call, in hi-def on big screens, split screens, whatever, and give the correct call to the crew chief on the field in a matter of seconds. We all know what a "close call" is, and that ump could instantly (hehehe, instant replay!) check the call.

Baseball is a much easier game to call than football.  Twenty-two players plus a ball, all in motion at the same time in different and changing directions vs. fair/foul or out/safe or homer/in play.  Baseball should have little problem solving the instant replay controversy.  But they won't because as usual, idiots are in charge.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Post-Season Wild Card Success

Recent baseball wisdom holds that wild-card teams can be more successful in the post-season than their division winning counterparts because they are usually the hotter team right at the end of the season.  And, since more teams can be involved in a wild-card race than a division race, the team with the latest hot streak usually wins the wild-card.  I've been thinking about wild-card teams a lot in the past several years, so I decided to do a study of wild-card teams in the post-season.  The results were interesting.

There have been 18 post-seasons in the wild-card era; 1995-2012 (the strike in 1994 eliminated the first post-season with the wild-card format), with one wild-card team from each league.  That totals 36 wild-card teams.  For the sake of clarity, I'm only counting the wild-card team that won the one-game play-in for the 2012 season.

Overall, wild-card teams have won 34 post-season series and lost 31, for a .523 winning percentage of series.  In the NL, the results have been even better: wild-card teams have a 20-15 series record, for a .571 winning percentage.  If the Cardinals had won either of games 5, 6 or 7 against the Giants in the NLCS last year, that record would be 21-14, or a .600 winning percentage.

NL wild-card teams have fared better than AL teams overall, with NL teams going 10-8 in the NLDS compared to 9-9 for AL wild-cards in the ALDS.  Those NL teams that make the NLCS have won a startling 70% of those, compared to only 33% in the AL.  Wild-card teams have ten World Series appearances, winning 5 and losing five.  The NL teams are 3-4 in the WS and AL teams are 2-1.  One year, 2002, saw the two wild-card teams facing each other in the WS.

Looking at the data I compiled, it does seem true that the wild-card teams have an advantage in the post-season.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pitcher's Park?

The Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968 from Kansas City.  Since then, here's what the A's have compiled.  It's a startling list:

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland A's

44 seasons
15 division titles
1 wild card
6 AL pennants
4 World Championships
5 Cy Young Awards
7 MVP's
5 Hall of Famers
7 Rookies of the year
4 Rolaids Relief Awards
7 Home Run champions
4 ERA leaders
3 Saves leaders...

ZERO batting titles

Pitcher's Park?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giants Franchise - Historical Greatness

I've heard some all-time franchise stats before, scattered here and there from announcers or talk show hosts.  I've wanted to collect or calculate some franchise stats for a long time now.  Fortunately the Baseball Reference [dot] com website has some sortable data that is easily accessible.

So, in case you've wondered about all-time rankings for franchises, I can tell you about a great franchise: the Giants.  The Giants are the winningest franchise in baseball history, winning more games than any other franchise, ahead by several hundred wins.  Of course, the NL is older than the AL, so it stands to reason that the Giants would have more wins than the Yankees.  The Giants are surpassed in winning percentage by only the Yankees.  The Giants have more hall-of-fame players than any other franchise, by far.  Only the Cubs have scored more runs; only the Yankees have hit more home runs; only the Yankees have won more pennants; and by the slimmest of margins, only the Dodgers have a better all-time ERA.

The Yankees, Cardinals and A's are the only teams with more World Series championships, but looking at the Giants history, they should have won more than the A's and Cards.  But they didn't.  Maybe they will pass these teams in the next decade or so (as they owe it to their starved fans).  Go Giants!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Giants Win The World Series - Again

The Giants win the 2012 World Series!  Their second championship in three years.  I can say right now that this will never get old, as I'm sure fans of other teams have found when their teams win several in a row or in an era.

The win was in such convincing fashion, that it will be well remembered in baseball history.  They didn't only beat the best team in the AL, the Tigers were a powerhouse team with the most potent lineup, the most visible 3-4-5 hitters in the game - including the triple crown winner - and what most people consider the best pitcher in baseball.  They were picked to win it all before the season, and it came as no surprise that the Tigers put it together in the post-season.

The Giants will be remembered for winning six consecutive elimination games, three after being down 2-0 to the Reds, and three after being down 3-1 to the Cardinals.  They will also be remembered for beating Verlander in game 1, sparked by an historic three-homer game by Pablo Sandoval.  They will be remembered for pitching two consecutive shutouts against this lineup, and for striking out the triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera to win it all.  They will be remembered for Barry Zito's game 5 shutout against the Cardinals in NLCS game 5, and his victory over Justin Verlander in WS game 1.

Well, they will be remembered for lots more than that, but I'll save the detailed stats for a future post.  Keep it up Giants!  Let's try to win some more.  We can smell dynasty.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Giants Baseball Primer

For those of you who might be surprised by what you're seeing in the World Series (I'm writing this after game 2 of the 2012 series, with the Giants up two games to none on the Tigers), or this post-season for that matter, I have put together this Giants Baseball Primer to help initiate you to how Giants baseball is played.  This can also serve as a refresher course to Giants fans who are familiar with the strange happenings with the orange and black.

First, and foremost, what you are seeing is not an anomaly.  This happens all the time.  The Giants have been playing this way for a number of years now, and all their post-season accomplishments - however bizarre - have been on national TV with millions of viewers.  The Giants are not hiding anything, but all is in plain view.

The Giants have a great pitching staff.  Their 2010 World Series champion staff was the best baseball had seen since the 1965 Dodgers.  They shut down everybody.  They still have most of those pitchers here, and even though they aren't quite as good as in 2010, they can pitch the same way.

Madison Bumgarner shut the Tigers down with a two-hit shutout.  He did nearly the same thing to the mighty, mighty Rangers in 2010 game 4.  Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton were hypnotized, so it should come as no surprise that the same thing happens to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

The Giants have a mediocre lineup.  They have the fewest home runs of any team in baseball at home.  (But, for some reason, they hit the most road homers in the majors, out-homering their opponents on the road.  Go figure.) The Giants are so lame at the plate, they don't know what to do when the bases are loaded.  Most teams do better with runners in scoring position, but the Giants do worse.  They do what comes naturally to them: they make outs.  Look at last night's game.  They scored only two runs, and they made three outs on those two plays.  Grounding into a double play with the bases loaded, and a flyout with the bases loaded.  Game over.  Again, this should come as no surprise, as they beat the Reds in 2012 LDS game 3 by making outs, and did so many times against the Cardinals in the NLCS.  A great pitching staff plus a mediocre lineup plus a pitcher's park equals low scoring games.

According to the Transitive Property of Equality, if A=B and B=C, then A=C.  Let's apply this to the Giants:  San Francisco is the weirdest place on the face of the earth.  San Franciscans are the weirdest people on the face of the earth.  Twenty five of the weirdest baseball players are on the Giants roster.  Halloween is orange and black.  The Giants are orange and black.  Every day is Halloween in San Francisco.  The weirdest things happen in San Francisco.  Pitchers are blown off the mound in All-Star games.  Earthquakes happen during World Series.  Bridges collapse.  Stadium lights go out at bizarre times.  I could go on and could write a book about this.  But I think you get my point.  Don't be surprized when things happen that are normally surprising elsewhere.  They always happen here.  No exceptions.

If your pitcher is pitching a no-hitter into the late innings of a close game, YOU WILL LOSE.  This always happens.  Derek Lowe of the Braves found this out in the 2010 NLDS.  Roy Halliday of the Phillies found this out in game 1 of the 2010 NLCS.  Homer Bailey of the Reds found this out in game 3 of the 2012 NLDS.

The longer a game is scoreless, the better the odds of a Giants victory.  The Giants are used to low-scoring, nail-biting one run games.  As last night's game went scoreless into the sixth inning, I knew the Giants would win.  They KNOW late inning scoreless games.  They live them and breathe them.  The list here is too long to post.  Remember Cliff Lee vs. Tim Limcecum in game 5 of the 2010 World Series?

Our games start when the rest of the country goes to bed.  The Giants silently put together winning teams while east coast media sleeps.  They should be warning people of how the Giants play, but they don't.

Lastly, the worst strategy to use against the Giants in post season is: "We're going with what got us here."  Doesn't work very well.

This concludes my Giants Baseball Primer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mathematical Elimination

Most websites that carry the Major League standings these days have a column with an elimination number.  Looking at this number from the point of view of the first place team, it can also be called the "magic number."  This is the number of games the first place team wins plus the losses of the team in question that will total the elimination number.

But there's a factor missing in "mathematical elimination" that I wish would appear in the elimination number.  I will explain.

Scenario #1:  Suppose Team A is in first place, two games ahead of Team B with three games left to play.  Team A's magic number (which is the same as Team B's "elimination number") would be two.  Team B can win the division if they win their three games and Team A loses its three.  Or the could tie and Team B could win a playoff game.  That's simple. 

Scenario #2:  Now suppose Teams A and B are tied for first place, and Team C is two back with three to play.  Team C has an elimination number of two, but both Team A and Team B have magic numbers of four against each other.  Well, in this case it is less likely, but if Team C wins all its games and both Team A and Team B lose their games, Team C still will win the division.  In this scenario, Team C still has a chance.

Scenario #3:  Well, there's a potential catch to scenario #2.  What if Team A plays Team B the last three games of the year?  Even though Team C is only two back with three to play, because one of the teams, A or B, necessarily will win at least two of three against the other, Team C has already been mathematically eliminated!  Their "elimination number" is still two, but it's impossible for them to win.  They were already eliminated at least from the previous game played.  Elimination numbers don't take into consideration the number of games played between multiple teams in front of that given team.  And if there are more than two teams ahead of the given team, it becomes even more complex.  In short, the problem is that guaranteed future wins are not counted in the elimination number.

A real life example came from 1989.  With a month left in the season, the Giants were 5 games up on the Padres.  A short news clip noted that the woeful Braves were mathematically eliminated the previous day.  The assumption was that the Braves could have won all their remaining games, the Giants would lose all their games, and the Padres would lose all games but at most five.  A three-way tie would result and the Braves could win a tie-breaker.  But upon looking at the schedule, I saw that the Giants and Padres still had six games against each other to play.  How could the Giants lose all six and the Padres win five at most?  Only if both teams lost the same game, which couldn't happen.  So I figured out that the Braves were actually eliminated the day before that.

How can the real elimination number be calculated?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interleague Rivalry Matchups for 2013

In my last post, I said I would publish a list of interleague rivalries, those interleague matchups that will (or probably will) occur every year, regardless of which divisions play each other.  These rivalries in 2013 will consist of a home-and-away four game series, two games in each city, in the last week of May.  Here is a list of all rivalries, with American League team listed first.  The first five rivalries will be the five pairs of teams that play in the same metro area, followed by the rivalries that play in the same state, followed by all the rest.  Then some notes.

New York Yankees / New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels / Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox / Chicago Cubs
Oakland A's / San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles / Washington Nationals

Tampa Bay Rays / Miami Marlins
Cleveland Indians / Cincinnati Reds
Kansas City Royals / St. Louis Cardinals

Seattle Mariners / San Diego Padres
Boston Red Sox / Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays / Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins / Milwaukee Brewers
Detroit Tigers / Pittsburgh Pirates
Texas Rangers / Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros / Colorado Rockies

Notes: The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros were longtime interleague rivals, both being from Texas, but now the new realignment has moved them into the same division. Each of them has a new National League rival.  The groups that don't have a natural rivalry built-in seem a bit forced, but what else can baseball do?  I'm not sure long lasting rivalries will be created between these teams, but you never know.  Detroit and Pittsburgh are only a few hundred miles apart, and the Twins/Brewers pairing might be helped by the already existing Vikings/Packers rivalry from the NFL.  Not to mention college football.  Toronto and Atlanta played against each other in the World Series, and Seattle and San Diego share an ocean.  Boston and Philly are large east coast cities that could make a good rivalry.  The last two sets I have no hope for.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 2013 Season Schedule

The new 2013 season schedule is out!  I've checked it out (for all 30 teams to some small degree) to see how it deals with the new realignment.  The Houston Astros will be moving from the NL Central to the AL West next year, and each league will have 15 teams, and each division in baseball will have 5 teams.

I believe in an unbalanced, yet symmetrical, schedule.  Baseball history was full of such a thing until 1977 when the American League expanded from 12 to 14 teams.  Well, the new schedule has a number of surprises, some seem good, others not so.

I believe in an unbalanced schedule simply because if you have divisions and a balanced schedule, the divisions are meaningless.  You simply need to play more games against teams in your own division.  Otherwise, just have one league and x number of playoff teams.

I believe in a symmetrical schedule simply because it fosters a level playing field for all teams.  If the schedule is asymmetrical, there will be built-in bias for some teams.

Okay, enough of that.  Let's get to the schedule.  The schedule is unbalanced, and slightly asymmetrical.  The schedule retains the traditional 162 games for each team.  It seems that each team plays the other teams in its own division a total of 19 times each.  Ten in one park, nine in the other.  Nineteen games times four other teams equals 76 division games.  Each team plays the other ten non-division teams in its own league either 6 times (against four of the teams) or 7 times (against six of the teams) for a total of 66 out-of-division league games. 

Interleague features for the very first time that each team in a division plays each team in the other league's matching division, and only that division.  (Except for "rivalry" matchups which I will get to next.)  Each team in a division plays the teams in the other division a mix of games: three games each against four of the five teams, then two separate two-game series - home and away - (for a total of four games) against the fifth team.  This totals 16 interleague games against the selected division to be played that year.  In addition, because each league has an odd number of teams, every series during the year will see at least one interleague matchup, including opening day and the last series of the season.

Finally, the "rivalry" interleague games.  For the first time ever, every team in baseball has a rivalry team in the other league.  This is because the number of teams in each league are the same.  I will provide a separate post listing those rival matches.  Here's the cool thing about the rivalry matchups.  All rivalry series in baseball will be played simultaneously.  The last week of May, starting with Memorial Day, will see a four game series (M, Tu, W and Th) between each rivalry.  But, it will be a four game home-and-away series!  The first two games on Monday and Tuesday will be in the park of one team, and the second two games will be in the park of the other team!  This means that the metro areas that share two teams (and thus are rival teams) will play four games completely within the metro area.  I will develop this, again, in a subsequent post.  Also, I noticed a scheduled day-night double header during one of the rivalry series.  I'll tell which teams at a later time.

So, each team it seems will play 76 division games, 66 inter-division games, 16 interleague divisional matchup games, and four interleague rivalry games, for a total of 162 games.  As strange as some of the things are in this schedule, the relative symmetry compared to schedules past is far preferable to there being an interleague matchup each day of the season, as an example.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giants All-Star Game Pitchers

As a life long Giants fan, I am grateful for their discovery of pitching in the last ten years.  Prior to the end of the Bonds era, the Giants were known for one thing: hitting.  Their long time fight song, "Bye Bye Baby" (please click on the link and treat yourself to a one-minute classic) is about the home run.  And their players have shown this.

Jason Schmidt ended a multi-generational fixation with the bat.  He was the first ace/stud/stopper the Giants had since Juan Marichal.  And the Giants were the only team in baseball during this era without one.  This one-sided approach to baseball - all time slugging greats amassing zero World Championships - showed its colors well in the Mid-Summer Classic.

In the 20 year period prior to Jason Schmidt's transformation of a franchise, some pretty amazingly abysmal statistics can be found for Giants pitchers in the All-Star game.  And I found them.

In the 20 years from 1983 to 2002, 13 Giants pitchers were selected to the NL All-Star team.  They made 10 appearances, for a total of 9.1 innings.  That's less than an inning per appearance!  And they were horrifying.  Almost all of them.  Only Mike Krukow pitched an inning without allowing the AL to score.  Okay, imagine those 9.1 innings as one nine-inning game.  Check out these statistics:

   G    W    L   ERA    IP    R    H    ER    HR  OPP     AVG
  10    0    3 18.32   9.1    21   24    19     5*  .462

(*Including the only grand slam ever)

And check out these ERA's:

 PITCHER   ERA
 Mike Krukow   0.00
 Rod Beck   4.50
 Robb Nen   9.00
 Rick Reuschel  18.00
 Shawn Estes  18.00
 John Burkett  40.50
 Jeff Brantley  54.00
 Atlee Hammaker  94.50

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Giant All-Star Game

I've watched nearly every All-Star game of my life.  I've attended two.  And I have never seen the players and situations surrounding one team dominate the game in the way the Giants dominated this year's Mid-Summer Classic.

First, your fans step up to the plate and help vote three starters in.  Then, your pitcher is picked to start the game.  In the first inning, one of your players gets the first hit of the game.  He then scores the first run of the game.  This sparks a rally.  Later in the inning, another of your players walks to load the bases, then immediately after that another of your players hits a three-run triple.  He then scores on the next play.  All this is done against the other league's best pitcher, who is starting for them.

Because of this first inning eruption, and the fact that the game results in a shutout, your pitcher gets the win.  And, the player that got the first hit and run later hits a two-run homer.  Every run of the game but one is either scored, knocked in, or both, by players from your team.  A player in the dugout from your hated arch rival is overheard on national television note that this game has become your team's show.

Finally, your player that scores the first and last runs of the game wins the MVP award, and you have just obtained him this off season via trade from the team that is hosting the game.

I'm not sure how it's possible to do more.  Hopefully they just earned home field advantage for themselves.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To Heckle Tony Gwynn, Jr

"Hey, Gwynn...your dad was a good player."

I tried this out last night in the centerfield bleachers at the Giants/Dodgers game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moving Down

A rite of childhood is moving down to the box seats in the late innings once all the rich people have gone home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gigantes

Today being Cinco de Mayo, the Giants wore their Spanish language jerseys with "GIGANTES" appearing across the front.  Now, I wonder why the Brewers didn't wear their "CERVECEROS" Spanish jerseys.  Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Ballpark in Miami

Watching Opening Night in Miami and the new Marlins' park, Marlins Park.  It looks comtemporary and I'm glad it has a Miami flavor.  I haven't been able to look at all the features as the game progresses, so I'll have to visit someday.  I'll have to visit regardless.  I've also updated my ballpark list.

Now the Oakland A's are the only team remaining in MLB that share a ballpark with an NFL team.  Wonder how long that will last?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Granny Ramirez Coming To the Ballpark Closest to My House

Manny Ramirez is coming to the Swingin' A's?  With being much older and with much less testosterone, I've decided to call him "Granny."  And yes, living east of both San Francisco and Oakland means that Oakland has the closest ML team to my place.  So, I'll endeavor to attend a few A's games and see Manny, my seven year old's birthday and Christmas card money saved to buy Giants tickets notwithstanding.

It is a low risk move by Guillermo Frijole, even with the 50 game suspension to be served out of the green and gold.  And I can't wait to see if Manny will wear a green bandana or a gold one.  Maybe he'll wear both, alternating the complimentary color matched with the uniform color.  And I would die laughing if he led the Athletics to a World Series title, even though I would accept it.

Let's see what excitement he will bring to the city by the other side of the bay.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Game 6 Collapses Lead to Temporary Game 7 Hope

The Texas Rangers' historic 2011 Game 6 collapse - two of them in one game, actually - is one of the all time greats.  It will be remembered forever.  The Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series two innings in a row with two run leads to start each inning.  Yet the ultimate in horrifying took place.  Not only did they crumble to lose Game 6 in devastating fashion, the Rangers seemed to do the inevitable: lose Game 7 as well.

After such a Game 6 collapse, a Game 7 win seems as doomed as the Game 6 choke was shocking.  But upon further review, something interesting happens.  With the four most famous Game 6 collapses (that I can remember), the losing team went on to take an early lead in Game 7.

In the 2011 World Series, the Rangers shook off the loss to take a 2 run lead in the top of the first inning in game 7.  But fate overcame their lead and the Cardinals won.

Now for the other three Game 6 collapses I remember.  In 1986, the Boston Red Sox, up 3 games to 2 over the New York Mets, took a two run 10th inning lead.  In the bottom of the frame, they got the first two outs before disaster struck.  Three straight Mets singles scored a run and put the tying run at third.  With two strikes, the Sox were one strike from winning the World Series.  A game-tying wild pitch uncorked by Bob Stanley was the replacement.  The third out then went through Bill Buckner's legs, completing the Game 6 catastrophe.  But the Sox shed the pain and took an early 3-0 lead in Game 7 that lasted until the 6th inning before the Mets completed their comeback.

In the 2003 NLCS, the ever cursed Chicago Cubs held a 3 games to 2 lead over the wild-card expansion Florida Marlins.  With their ace on the mound, the Cubbies took a 3 hit shutout into the 8th inning with a 3 run lead.  Five outs from their first World Series in a million years, Cubs fan Steve Bartman interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball at the wall.  The Marlins answered with 8 runs, dashing the hopes for the evening, and no doubt for another several decades.  But although the Cubs were the only one of these four teams to not score first in Game 7, they did score five unanswered runs to take an early 5-3 lead before the Marlins completed their comeback.

Now for the largest, latest collapse in baseball history.  The 2002 San Francisco Giants were thrashing the Anaheim Angels (or whatever they were named back then) in Game 6, 5-0.  Their ace was on the mound with a two-hit shutout in the 7th inning, just 8 outs away from their first World Championship in almost 50 years.  A couple of singles brought a pitching change.  A brain-freeze low-inside target given to a low-inside hitter resulted in a 3-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-3 before getting out of the inning.  The 8th inning saw the best bullpen - and most overworked - melt down for another 3 runs to the surging Disneylanders after cutting the countdown to five outs away.  Robb Nen's career ending arm blowout was the red carpet to the G-Men's crash and burn.  In Game 7, the Giants scored first, early, but that didn't last as Livan Hernandez responded with a Psychology 101 mental breakdown case study, giving up four runs to eventually complete the flushdown.

[Note to whiny Cubs fans: Quit complaining that Dusty should have taken the pitcher out during Game 6.  He DID take the pitcher out in Game 6...one year earlier, and look at the results!!!  You were doomed either way.]

These Game 6 meltdowns seem to reveal that the teams could rebound, take the field the next day, and perform well enough to take the lead in Game 7.  But the ultimate result is a less extreme come-from-ahead loss in Game 7.

[Update: I neglected to include the umpire induced Game 6 meltdown of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.  Essentially two outs away from a Cards ring, Don Denkinger botched a call at first base that triggered a 2-run Royals game winning rally.  The Redbirds were shutout the next day 11-0.  I guess this shows my theory is only good from 1986 on.]

Friday, October 28, 2011

ONE. STRIKE. AWAY...twice

Well, I never.  I was at work on swing shift and didn't get to see game 6 tonight, but I heard about what happened.  I knew the Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series in two different innings before coughing it up twice.  I knew they lost it on a lead-off walk-off homer in the 11th.  On the way home I was listening to the radio and there was some serious criticism of Ron Washington for not putting his best gloves in the outfield for the ninth inning.  He replaced Nelson Cruz later in the game anyway, so why not in the 9th?

Okay, I was able to piece together that Cruz had a hand (or maybe just the opposite) in the Rangers' crushing defeat, but I didn't know what that was.  After I got home I was able to watch some highlights.  Disbelief.

Nelson Cruz should have caught that ball on the warning track to win the World Series.  But he didn't.  He reminded me of Jose Canseco out there, the worst outfielder I've ever seen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Big Dogs Home for LCS

The ALCS and NLCS are being played without the presence of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Giants, Braves and Rays.  All of the teams that are supposed to be there aren't.  It's also the first LCS since 2005 without an Eastern division team in either series.  Although this is generally welcome to me, the absence of my Giants is specifically troubling.

In any case, I'm reverting to rooting for the lesser of the remaining evils.  That means the Milwaukee Brewers are my choice to win it all.  If I had to pick a pecking order of the teams still in it, I would pick the Brewers first, then the Tigers, then Rangers and lastly the Cardinals.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Phillies Ratcheting Decline

The Philadelphia Phillies have been experiencing a strange ratcheting decline the last four years.  They have fallen precisely one notch per year.  In 2008 they won the World Series.  In 2009 they lost the World Series.  In 2010 they lost the NLCS and in 2011 they lost the NLDS.

If this trend continues, in 2012 they will lose the division title.  Whether this means they will still make the playoffs as a wildcard or they will lose the division title in game 162 when Ryan Howard makes the final out again remains to be seen.  It stands to reason that if they make it as the wildcard, they will lose the NLDS again.  But the result would be the same as this year, so I'm thinking they would lose the division title on game 162.  If the trend continues, of course.

Philly fans are more than frustrated with this turn of events.  Seconds after the final out the other night, the fans booed their Phils for a disappointing season end.  Of course they're the fans who once booed Santa Claus.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shutting Philly Up

This has nothing to do with the outcome this evening, but it is simply amazing just how quickly 46,000 raving lunatic fanatics wearing red can become mute.  The deafening roar changes to recording studio hush at the crack of an opponents bat like no other venue in sports.  I wonder why that is?

The raucous rooters in Philly were silenced tonight by the Cardinals' rally.  It reminded me of the Giants effect on the crowd last year in the 2010 NLCS.  The contrast is simply stunning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Realignment #2 - My favorite

A few weeks ago I wrote about realignment and listed just one idea.  I've been thinking about it for a while and I think I've come up with a great idea for realignment.  I think it's far better than all others I've encountered.  This is because it solves many of the problems with the current alignment and baseball schedule, and also it creates some new and much needed rivalries and is sure to increase attendance and revenue.  It's a win-win-win situation I believe.

First I'd like to list problems with the current alignment and schedule:

  • Each league has a different number of teams.  But this is because to have an odd number of teams in each league would require an interleague series every day of the season.
  • Divisions have different numbers of teams, either 4 (AL West), 6 (NL Central) or 5 (all other divisions).  An AL West team has a 50% greater statistical chance of winning the World Series than an NL Central team simply by being in a 4 team division.
  • Unbalanced numbers of teams in each division make it so that teams play each other different numbers of times than other teams.  Because of this, weird adjustments need to be made to make a total of 162 games.  Examples are:  often when the Giants and Cardinals play their 6 games against each other, they are split so that 4 games are played in one park and 2 in the other.
  • Intra-divisional play results in some teams playing 18 games against each other, some others 19 and even others 20.  Inter-division play results in 6, 7 or 9 games against other teams.  There is no uniformity, balance or symmetry.  The schedule playing field isn't really level. 
  • Because of an unbalanced number of teams in each division, when two divisions play each other in interleague play, every team in one division doesn't play all teams in the other.  Sometimes a team plays only 3 or 4 of the 5 teams, etc.  This also creates odd matchups.  The A's this year (AL West) played the NL East.  They played only 3 teams - Mets, Phillies and Marlins - but not the Braves or Nationals, but to make up space to total 162 they also played the D-Backs (NL West).  Go figure.
  • Interleague play was designed so that teams in the other league will get to see the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs etc.  Yet after 15 years of interleague, the Cubs finally visited Fenway for the first time.  The last time the NL West played the AL East, the Giants completely missed the Yankees, playing them neither at home nor on the road.
  • Interleague metro and intra-state "rivalry" games create an unlevel playing field among teams competing for the same division title.  As an example, the Mets and Marlins are both in the NL East.  For over a decade, the Marlins got to play six games against the hapless expansion Rays while the Mets had to play six games against a historic dynasty Yankee team.  That's a good two to three game swing in the standings just because of your schedule.  Hardly fair.
  • Also, far too many games are played in different time zones.  West coast fans are still at work when East coast night games start, and East coast fans are in bed when West coast night games start.  Airline travel is greater with the current schedule as there are fewer groupings of teams that make sense to economize.
  • There are more problems that I won't go into, but the totality of them warrants a re-thinking of alignment.  Which brings me to my proposed solution:

Here's my solution for all this nonsense.  It works out beautifully and symmetrically, using traditional baseball numbers, creates new rivalries and enhances existing geographic rivalries.

First, I'm going to start with the idea proposed earlier this year with the Houston Astros going to the American League West to even every division at five teams.  I'll put them in with Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim and Texas.  Other than that I'm going to keep the existing divisions in tact.  BUT...

What is going to be different is in how I organize the divisions into leagues.  Instead of two leagues with three divisions in each league, I'm going to invert this to result in three leagues of ten teams each with two divisions of five teams in each league.  I'm going to invert the names also.  The three leagues would be called Western League, Central League and Eastern League.  In each league there would be an American Division and a National division.  The beauty of this is that it concentrates games within regions rather than being spread out over the country.  And it is all perfectly symmetrical.

Here's a breakdown of the leagues and divisions:

WESTERN LEAGUE  CENTRAL LEAGUE  EASTERN LEAGUE

American Div.   American Div.   American Div.

LA Angels       Cleveland       Baltimore
Oakland         Detroit         Boston
Seattle         Chi. White Sox  NY Yankees
Houston         Kansas City     Tampa Bay
Texas           Minnesota       Toronto

National Div.   National Div.   National Div.

Arizona         Chicago Cubs    Atlanta
Colorado        Milwaukee       Philadelphia
San Diego       St. Louis       Washington
Los Angeles     Pittsburgh      New York Mets
San Francisco   Cincinnati      Florida

Now for the math.  In each division, each team would play the other four teams in that division a total of 18 times.  This is a traditional number dating back to 10- and 12-team leagues after expansion in 1961-62 and 1969.  So, 18 games x four other teams = 72 intra-division games.  Now, each team in a division will play each team in the other division in that league a total of 12 times.  Another traditional number of games played against teams in the other division that came along with the 12-team leagues.  So, 12 games x five other teams = 60 intra-division games.  This totals 132 games, and when subtracted from 162 leaves 30 games.  There would still be "interleague" play.  Each division would play one of the other four divisions not in their league per year, rotating each year for four years.  With 30 games to play against 5 teams in the other league's division, each team will play the other team six times, three home and three road!  So every team will play every other team home and away every four years, guaranteed!

In short, 18 games against teams in your own division, 12 games against teams in the other division in your league, and 6 games against the teams in an interleague division on a four year rotation.  Total: 162.

Now to spell out some great advantages.  Since each league is constructed regionally instead of spread out across the country, divisions in that league contain natural rivalries.  All five metro area rivalries (NY, LA, Chicago, San Fran and DC/Baltimore) and all four intra-state rivalries (TX, FL, OH and MO) will have those teams playing at least 12 games against each other per year, with Texas and Houston playing 18 since they're now in the same division.  Imagine the Cubs and Sox playing 12 games against each other every year, or the Yankees and Mets, or the Giants and A's, or the Reds and Indians.  Not only is this a great advantage, but other regional rivalries will be created as well.  Just imagine the Phillies and Red Sox playing 12 games every year.  Or the Yankees and Braves.  Or the Mets and Red Sox.  Or the Cards and White Sox.  Not only will the Brewers play 18 games against the Cubs every year, they'll also play 12 games against the White Sox.  The A's and Dodgers, Giants and Angels.

Also, since leagues are arranged regionally, long flights to the opposite coast will only happen once every two years during the "interleague" play against those divisions.

Now a question is raised about the All-Star game.  With three leagues, how will that be arranged?  Well, the traditional league format could be kept in tact by choosing players from the three American divisions combined to play against players from the three National divisions combined.  The game will retain an "American vs. National" flavor.  And post-season play could be similar.  Each division would advance its winner to the playoffs with a wild-card with the best second place record of the three American divisions and another from the three National divisions.  National division teams could play off against each other and so could American division teams.  The World Series then could be a matchup of an American division team and a National division team, with each year rotating for home field advantage.

Overall I think this realignment idea would improve baseball to a good degree.  I think I'll push for it to become more popular.  Maybe write the commish?  I'd love to get any feedback on this idea, so if you have any, please comment.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Realignment #1

Realignment was a big baseball topic a month or so ago.  I'm just now getting to it.  I believe realignment needs to happen and there are a number of ways to accomplish it that are better than the current alignment.  As I've written before I'm for balanced divisions and an unbalanced but symmetrical schedule.  I'm for an unbalanced schedule because with a balanced schedule, divisions make no sense whatever.  I AM for a symmetrical schedule because it gives all teams the same level playing field as it were.  Baseball has always had an unbalanced schedule.  From 1901 to 1996, there were two leagues of teams that never played each other at all.  Many games against your own league, zero against the other.  Unbalanced.

Here are some ways to realign, and I will give the first one here.

Realignment #1:

Move an NL team to the AL and have 15 teams in each league, with 5 teams in each of the six divisions.  This would almost guarantee an interleague series always happening throughout the year, but this could be done in a simple way.  Series at the beginning or end of the year could be played between teams that finished last or near last from the year before.  In this format, each team could play the other 4 teams in their division 18 times each (which is a traditional number easily divisible by 3)(for a total of 72 games), each other team in its own league six times (3 home and 3 road, for a total of 60 games), and each team in one division in the other league six times each (3 home and 3 road) for a total of 30 interleague games.  This totals 162.

More in a coming post...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Best Team

The best team doesn't always win the World Series, but I would say that the best team did win it the last four years running.  The Giants were arguably the best team in baseball last year in 2010 - and certainly in the second half - while the Yankees were the year before.  The 2008 Phillies lived up to expectations and the 2007 Red Sox ran away with it.

In 2006, the Cardinals barely had a winning record, the 2005 White Sox were very good, the 2004 Red Sox were a wildcard storybook team, the 2003 Marlins and 2002 Angels were WC teams, too.  The 2001 D-Backs had a great 1-2 rotation built for October and I'm not positive they were the best, but the 1998-2000 Yankees were.  So, it had been a while since the best team won, now four in a row.  Will the best team win again?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Victory Outfit

And that's why the Giants are World Champs.  What a form-fitting game.  Cain tosses seven innings of one-run ball (unearned) and the bullpen mops up.  Wilson heard every four letter heckle there was in the 'pen.  Yet another low scoring one-run game, 2-1.  Yet another Philly frustration.  Their fans probably think it's because their lineup wasn't hitting well.  But we know better.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Expanded Playoffs With More Teams?

There's a proposal for expanding the playoffs for 2012.  Each league would have an additional wild card team.  Normally I would be opposed to such a thing, as I think there are more than enough teams in the post season as it is.  I don't like the wild card either.  Eight out of 30 teams make it (more than 25%), and that's too many.  But depending on how the format works, I might just be for it.

What would work for me is to add an additional wild card team for each league, but the two wild card teams in each league could have a one game play-in the day after the regular season is over to determine who plays in the regular format.  That way, no wild card team could feel safe with a late season surge to gain the wild card that carries over into post season and ends up winning the World Series just because they're the hottest the latest.  But an additional series between those two teams that allow all other teams an extended time off?  No way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busted Posey

It's been quite a while - blog time speaking - since Buster Posey was injured at the plate by Scott Cousins.  One thing I did was listen to every side possible and come to a conclusion after that.  I didn't see the play live, but heard the radio account, then listened to the post-game show, interviews with various baseball people, and lots of talk radio.  I didn't see a replay immediately and wasn't able to view one for about three days.  So I heard others' opinions of the play before I saw it.

Many were saying that Giants players resigned to the idea that it was a legit taking out of the catcher who was blocking the plate.  So I was expecting to see a Rose/Fosse type of play, or a Snow/Pudge type of play or a Schierholtz/Chinese catcher type of play.  But when I saw it, I was shocked to see Posey not even close to blocking the plate, and Cousins veering completely out of his way (not even trying to score), crossing the foul line and throwing his entire body across the inside of the plate in order to take Posey out.  The video matched essentially nothing that I heard about it on the radio.

The "old school" types flexed their egos and said this is the way baseball has always been played.  Really?  Going out of your way to take somebody out?  I understand old school toughness of taking out the catcher...IF he's blocking the plate.  But all the other "comparative" plays that were mentioned had one thing in common with each other that wasn't present in the Cousins/Posey play.  In all the other plays, the catcher was blocking the plate.

Now I'm not advocating what GM Sabean said, either, that it would be fine with the Giants organization if Cousins never played again at the major league level, being the 25th man on the Fish roster.  Yes, it was an act of backing up his guy, but is just as much a part of baseball as the collision.  I'm wondering what will happen in Florida later in the season if Cousins is still on the roster.  Chin music is part of baseball, too.  But one thing is clear.  You don't run on Schierholtz.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through May 31

May 16 through May 31: (note: projected record in orange)

L 22-18 .550, 89-73; L 22-19 .537, 87-75; W 23-19 .548, 89-73; W 24-19 .558, 90-72; W 25-19 .568, 92-70; W 26-19 .578, 94-68; W 27-19 .587, 95-67; L 27-20 .574, 93-69; L 27-21 .563, 91-71; L 27-22 .551, 89-73; W 28-22 .560, 90-72; L 28-13 .549, 89-73; L 28-24 .538, 87-75; W 29-24 .547, 89-73; L 29-25 .537, 87-75.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through May 15

May 1 through May 15: (note: projected record in orange)

L 13-14 .481, 78-84; L 13-15 .464, 75-87; W 14-15 .483, 78-84; W 15-15 .500, 81-81; L 15-16 .484, 78-84; W 16-16 .500, 81-81; W 17-16 .515, 83-79; W 18-16 .529, 86-76; W 19-16 .543, 88-74; W 20-16 .556, 90-72; W 21-16 .568, 92-70; L 21-17 .553, 90-72; W 22-17 .564, 91-71; ppd 22-17 .564, 91-71.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Month?

It's been about a month since I've blogged here.  I could never have imagined such a thing.  I need to get on it and post.  It shouldn't be too much longer.  Lots to talk about, except those things are now distant history, social networkingly speaking.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through April 30

April 16 through April 30, 2011 (Note: projected record in orange)

W 8-6 .571, 93-69; L 8-7 .533, 86-76; W 9-7 .563, 91-71; W 10-7 .588, 95-67; L 10-8 .556, 90-72; L 10-9 .526, 85-77; L 10-10 .500, 81-81; L 10-11 .476, 77-85; W 11-11 .500, 81-81; L 11-12 .478, 77-85; W 12-12 .500, 81-81; L 12-13 .480, 78-84; W 13-13 .500, 81-81.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trouble In Tinseltown

So the owners of the Dodgers are in deep financial trouble.  Bud Selig is having MLB take over the team in an attempt to rescue them from disaster.  This reminds one of the Montreal Expos woes prior to their moving to Washington.  But that was the Montreal Expos.  This is the...the...the...Dodgers.  And it's so bad that last I heard the ownership might not be able to make it's payroll for employees for the month of May.

Guess my resume won't be going there.  First, winning the World Series, now the Dodgers in almost ruin?  Interesting time to be a Giants fan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Over .500

As of yesterday, judging by the major league standings, only 10 of the 30 teams have records above .500.  I figure this to change a bit over the season, but one never knows.  I wonder what percentage of teams have winning records each year throughout history.  I could figure that one out, but I'm not so without a life as to try.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giants Record Projection Through April 15

March 31 through April 15, 2011:  (Note: projected record in orange)

L 0-1 .000, 0-162; L 0-2 .000, 0-162; W 1-2 .333, 54-108; L 1-3 .250, 41-121; L 1-4 .200, 32-130; W 2-4 .333, 54-108; W 3-4 .429, 69-93; W 4-4 .500, 81-81; L 4-5 .444, 72-90; L 4-6 .400, 65-97; W 5-6 .455, 74-88; W 6-6 .500, 81-81; W 7-6 .538, 87-75.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2011 Giants Record Projection

For the last three seasons I've done a game-by-game projection for either how many wins or losses the Giants are projected to have at the end of the season keeping the same win-loss percentage.  I started this in 2008 mainly because I knew the Giants really stank, and I wanted to see how bad the year would go.  So I projected the number of losses.  I continued it in 2009, but to my surprise they had a winning season, so the loss projection didn't help as much.  So I switched to a win projection in 2010, and decided I would do the following seasons win or loss projection based on whether they had a winning season or losing season the year before.

This year I've decided to change all this to a record projection, showing both wins and losses.  Like in years past, I think I'll update this running projection on the 15th and last days of each month.  There should be 12 such projections.  So, starting with next Friday's game, I should have the first couple of weeks projected out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Opening Day For The World Champs

Today is the home opener for the San Francisco Giants.  They get to raise the championship banner.  Tomorrow night, they'll be handing out the World Series rings.  Things are in a frenzy here baseball wise.  And today, with the raising of the banner, the Barry Bonds trial - just several blocks away - goes to the jury for deliberation.  Any Giants fans on the jury?

This will be the second Opening Day I've missed in as many years.  I'm sure it will be on TV somewhere, and it will always be on the radio.  They got off to a less than desirable 2-4 start on the road in LA and SD.  Maybe once the hoopla is over they can get back to winning Torture style.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Opening Day on the Schedule

For some reason baseball started one series earlier this year.  Normally, the season would have started this coming Monday.  But due to the early start this last Thursday, it is realized that the NCAA basketball final won't be interfering with Opening Day this year.  Usually the NCAA final is the night of Opening Day, and media feel some kind of obligation to cover it, cutting into the Opening Day coverage.  So, maybe this is a good thing this year.  I'll have to see how it goes having the season ending on a Wednesday.  Sounds totally strange.  But maybe baseball is trying to capitalize on putting any last-series pennant races on weekdays that usually have lower attendance.  Who knows.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Day

Okay, Opening Day was yesterday.  As of this writing, two games have been played by most teams.  I missed writing about it a few days ago as I had some pressing projects.  But baseball is back again.  Spring training is one thing, but Opening Day is something completely different.  Each team has an opening day, and so does baseball overall.

It means that every game now means something.  Even if it doesn't mean anything, it still means something.  And it will continue for about 180 games including the post season.  So, here's to enjoying another season of memories.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas Cainsaw Massacre

If you take the "h" out of "chain" in the famous event "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" then you end up with "Texas Cainsaw Massacre."  Apparently, that's the nickname given to Matt Cain's 9-0 mowing down of the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the 2010 World Series.  I heard this on the radio today from a caller, and it seemed somebody also has a Facebook page by that name commemorating the event.  Not only is this true - I checked it out myself - but there's a t-shirt and a poster to go along.  And the original sign was made up the day before the event and brought to game 2.  Now that's cool.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six Year Old Knows His Stuff

Our six year old son is a nuclear powered baseball nut.  Mrs. Scott and I are fans, but we decided before having kids that we wouldn't force sports (i.e. baseball...i.e. the Giants) on our kids.  But, one day when he was 18 months old, a Giants game was on TV, and he became instantly engulfed.  He learns all the players, collects cards, pastes newspaper clippings all over his room.  On and on it goes.  He's been playing pee-wee ball since he was four and even tried out while he was still three.

Two pee-wee teams he has played for have been the Red Sox and Cardinals.  So, on top of being a Giants fan, he's taken some interest in whatever pee-wee team he's on.  He just got drafted this winter on to the A's.  Anyway, when with the Cardinals, he was handed uniform #5, which is Albert Pujols.

Today, there was a spring training game on TV between the visiting Cards and the home Sox.  He knows all the channel numbers, too, so I walked into the room with the telecast already on.  As they gave the starting lineups, he noted all the players he knew from just having an interest in those teams.  As the last infield warmup throw went to first base, the camera zoomed in on the Red Sox first baseman as he tossed the warmup ball to the dugout.  He asked, "Dad, didn't that guy play for the Padres last year?"  Simply amazing.

Division Alignment Problems

I'm no fan of the current division alignment in major league baseball.  Each league has a different number of teams, and there are three sizes of divisions.  When MLB went to the current three-division alignment in 1994, each league had 14 teams arranged in divisions, one with four teams and two with five.  With the 1998 expansion, each league added a team and the Brewers moved from the AL to the NL.  The AL now has 14 teams and the NL 16.  The AL has division sizes of 4, 5 and 5, while the NL has sizes of 5, 6 and 5.

This poses a bit of a problem for the post season picture.  It is easier to win a division with fewer teams in that division, in terms of straight odds.  And it is also easier to finish second in that division and have a shot at the wildcard.  Now for some geeky math.  The odds of a team winning its division are 1/x, where x is the number of teams in that division.  That's obvious.  But the odds of finishing in second place is also 1/x.  Since there are three divisions, the odds of making the playoffs by finishing second (wildcard) are 1/3 of 1/x, or 1/3x.  The odds of a team making the playoffs are the odds of winning the division plus the odds of winning the wildcard.  So, that would equal 1/x + 1/3x, or 3/3x + 1/3x = 4/3x, with x being the number of teams in that division.  For teams in a four-team division, the odds are 4/3(4) = 1/3, or 0.333.  For teams in a five-team division they are 4/3(5) = 4/15, or 0.267.  For teams in a six-team division they are 4/3(6) = 4/18, or 2/9, or 0.222.

Making the playoffs gives each team (roughly) the same odds of winning the World Series.  So, for teams in a four-team division, the simple random odds of winning the WS are 50% greater than those teams in a six-team division.  Is this what baseball wants?  I think it better to balance the number of teams in each division, even if it means screwing up interleague play, than to create artificial favorites.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Beer In The Bleachers

I was just reminded of something by a slip of the tongue.  Somebody on TV made reference to the bleachers at Dodger Stadium.  Then, I recalled that my entire life has been lived without beer being sold in the bleachers in Dodger Stadium.  Bleachers?  Well, Excuuuuse me!  La-ti-da!  There are no bleachers in Dodger Stadium.  That section behind the outfield fence is called the Pavilion.  No beer in the Pavilion.  I took a picture of such a sign once.  I should try to find it.

It goes without saying that of all the times I've been to Dodger Stadium, I've never sat in the "Pavilion."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baseball Detectives

Douglas Dinsmoor at his Open Stance blog writes a piece about being a baseball detective.  It seems a movie was filmed in Boston with a Red Sox game figuring into the equation.  Using all sorts of clues from the movie, a Baseball-Reference.com reader was able to pinpoint which Red Sox game was being filmed, the inning, who was on base, etc.  Douglas applied that to his foul ball and home run baseball collection.  He pieces info together from the ball, his memory, ticket stubs and so forth to figure out which game he snagged a particular ball.

I've done the same thing, and it's really fun.  I just remembered as I started typing this that I used to tag each ball - including batting practice balls - with a piece of masking tape that had all the info on it.  Date, inning, who hit it, all of that.  I kept them all in a big box.  Over the years, the masking tape lost its stickiness, and many of the tape pieces fell off.  So I've had to do some pretty detailed detective work to get the proper labels back to their rightful owners.  Some of the clues are whether it's an AL ball, NL ball or the newer MLB balls.  Who's signature appears on the ball and when was he the league president?  Was umpire's mud rubbed into the ball?  This may help distinguish the ball as a game ball or batting practice ball.

Dinsmoor's is the first baseball blog I ever read and his was an inspiration, both in layout and content.  We have quite a lot in common, baseball wise, and some things not.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Hat

It was my birthday this week, and my oldest son got me a new Giants hat.  The Sunday hat with the orange bill.  I haven't had one of those since 1982 when they had a similar hat.  That one was a cheap hat for a promotional hat day, and it wasn't constructed very well.  But this one is the official hat.  Thanks, son!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Baseball Is On The Radio!

It's that time of year again!  The first radio broadcast of a spring training game.  The familiar voice of the long time announcers are music to the ears.  I'm glad that this will last all the way through October.  Sonic therapy.

Cliff Lee #31

Cliff Lee is #31.  No, not his uniform number.  He is ranked as the 31st best baseball player right now according to the MLB Network's show about the 100 best players right now.  It's interesting that with all the Cliff Lee hype during the post-season and off-season that he wouldn't have been ranked in the top 10 or top 5.  The rankings were done by several panels of experts, so the list went through many hands.  I guess the consensus of people in the know is a bit different than the consensus of what the media portrays.

During all the free agent hype, I wanted to ask some of the media types if there were any rumors around that had the Giants jumping into the Lee circus to sign him as their #5 starter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Yellow A's Uniforms

The Oakland A's will be adding a twist of lemon, so to speak, to their look in 2011.  One of their alternate jerseys is yellow with green piping.  Click here to view it.  This is a slightly different take on their Sunday uniforms of the early 80's with the green piping on a white jersey (the jersey I'm talking about is the second from the left on the 1981 and '82 plates and the lead uni on the '83).  I heard about the new yellow threads, but hadn't checked them out until now.  I'm actually a bit more excited about them once I saw them.  I was anticipating more of a lemony type of yellow, one that looked closer to their tops from that earlier era.  Marketing plays into this decision, I'm sure.  So, shine Athletics.  Color seems to be back a bit more in baseball lately.