Category Archives: miscellaneous

Looking for someone that understands arb hearings

Just thought I’d plug this again, I’m looking for someone that understands arbitration hearings and how they operate from the team’s perspective (from the general managers to the team reps in court). This’ll be for a several-part off-season series. If you’re interested, email is xcoughitup at gmail.


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A Brief Old Memory and Looking for Some Help

You can still hear the guy’s heart breaking.

I remember watching that game live and laughing soooo hard. It’s so easy to see it happen to another team, and so hard to see it happen to yours.


I’m turning to a big development project for the summer. If someone with some knowledge on arbitration hearings and the managements’ side of it (specifically GMs and assistant GMs) could write me an email, contact me at xcoughitup at gmail.


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TV Review: The Simpsons’ Sabermetrics Episode, “MoneyBART”

Good timing. Well, if Sabermetrics was JUST coming out and Fire Joe Morgan hadn’t already been shut down for three years. But we’re in the heat of the playoffs, the exact time that arguments of clutch and grit come up, in the face of successful teams that got to where they are because they’re built around very good players.

The Simpsons tonight came out with an episode that addresses Sabermetrics and the divide between the Saber followers and the heart and grit fans of the game. It was good. There were a lot of inside jokes and some very good satire. The humor was self-depricating. The best part was the episode summarized the narrative of the Saber revolution in about 22 minutes.

Lisa starts out looking for extra-curriculars and finds Bart’s Little League team needs a manager. She looks around for someone that knows baseball and when dad is too drunk and people at the bar know nothing, Moe points her to some geeks in the corner who know all about Sabermetrics (featuring a quick soundbite from Bill James: “I make baseball as fun as doing your taxes”).

From there, Lisa starts acting like she knows everything and Bart resents it. However, the team is winning. When Bart ignores her and swings for a home run when she says don’t swing, she kicks him off the team. The players resent it. But the team keeps winning.

Bart eventually learns a lesson that playing for a team means listening to your managers, even if Lisa’s being a jerk about it (thanks to a certain Mike Scioscia, who’s no longer suffering from a tragic illness).

Bart returns for the big game, putting his ego aside to pinch run in the bottom of the 9th inning, but steals bases despite Lisa telling him not to. Lisa gets caught in the contagion of the stolen bases and screams about how exciting it is until … Bart is caught stealing home and they lose the game. After that, everyone hates him and even Homer tells him he sucks.

I loved how both sides were represented and sympathetic. Yeah, sure, sabermetrics is right, but being complete dicks about it doesn’t help spread the gospel. And vice versa; being pig-headed and egotistical doesn’t lead to enlightenment. That’s the heart of the argument and the episode very well showed that battle. Scioscia put it a clever way to bring Bart back into the fold. Then there was an inside joke about developing players and being a teacher to young talent.

But the overwhelming consensus of the episode is this: risks are freaking awesome when they pay off and suck terribly when they don’t, but winning rules all. (Wish that was true for the Rays). That’s what baseball is and probably always will be about.

The little hints that the writers dropped in were perfect. There’s jokes about spreadsheets and VORP-like stats. Lisa looks at spray charts–like, actual images of spray charts and not some made-up-looking graphs–and moves fielders around. She talks about OBP and the laws of probability. When Bart steals a couple of bases, everyone loves it. When he’s caught home, he’s booed and ditched at the stadium. There’s jokes about statistical anomalies, Pete Rose dislocating Ray Fosse’s shoulder in the All-Star Game (at Rose’s expense), and players in the announcing booth.

And my favorite line: “It’s a triumph of number-crunching over the human spirit, and it’s about time.”

There’s so much this single episode explained, understood and made fun of in only 22 minutes. It was really, really good.

This was a funny episode, delightful even, and the writers absolutely nailed it. This is the best writing from the Simpsons I’ve seen in years, I think I’m gonna start tuning in this year.


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I am under water right now.

I wanted to replace the cold water supply valve underneath my sink in order to install a reverse osmosis system. If you follow me on twitter, I’ve been complaining about this for a few weeks. Yesterday I finally got the super to turn off the main water valve underneath my apartment (which was when I wrote this post) so I could make the switch. Only problem is he turned off the wrong one, so when I went to change the valves, a steady stream of cold water shot right at my face. My kitchen was under about an inch of water and my carpet was soaked through in the living room, but luckily I have a friend who does this sort of thing regularly and I got a wet-dry vac in my place within a couple of hours.

This is what my place looked like after the carnage and after some cleanup.

Seth's apartment is ruined.

I’m very lucky to have a good friend in the business.

Needless to say, I’m gonna take the weekend off to clean up. Check back Monday for updates.


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Notes on the Year of Magical Thinking

At the start of the season, I wrote this. The following is a follow-up personal essay.

Fuck. That’s the Dodgers’ 2010 season in a nutshell. It just fucking sucked. It sucked more than anything that has ever sucked before.

There was the complete failure of the team. There was the meltdown from the bullpen (mostly from its misuse by Joe Torre). There was the team infighting, between management and players. There was the awful starting pitching, the horrible regressions of every good player and yet another year by James Loney where he failed to be anything but below-average for his position. Let’s not even get into the horribly embarrassing divorce of the owners.

And then there was the personal stuff. I lost my dad October of last year. I lost my job in April. The latter was likely because of the former.

I was delusional heading into the season. Maybe we all were. Dodger fans, that is. We all had a lot of hope for this team and there was good reason. The team came off a 99-win pythag season. The two key players they lost were Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf. Both were three-win players. Yeah there was an impending divorce, but this wasn’t rocket science. Even replacement players and some marginal regressions would put the team at about 90 wins. Plus, the team got rid of Juan Pierre.

But then the season happened.

The game I remember the most was the Yankees-Dodgers game from June 27. You probably remember it too. Dodgers had a 4-run lead going into the 9th inning. The one guy that had been lights out in the bullpen all season amid such tumultuous performances came in and blew the game. Joe Torre kept Broxton in, even though Broxton clearly didn’t have it that night, for 48 pitches–just enough to lose the lead.

And then just to add insult to injury, Robinson Cano, the guy I’d been praising all year long, smacked the game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning.

That’s when the facade just fucking crumbled. The team’s pythag magic disappeared. They were down to just above .500. All hope and glimmer faded quickly. Talks of “if the Dodgers do this, they’ll win the division” turned into “if the Dodgers win this game, they’ll still be in contention” turned into “if the Dodgers win this series, they have a fighting chance.” The season died a horrible, horrible death.

I was at that game, the June 27th one. I was keeping score as usual. And just as Broxton started blowing it, two Yankees fans, a boy of about 8 and his dad, moved up to the seats behind me and my mom. He cheered Robinson Cano and mocked the Dodgers. This game was fine, losing was fine, but this kid was it. My insides roiled with hatred for him and his awful father and their sweet little happy moment they got to share. I was so mad I even wrote a post the next morning saying Joe Torre should be let go after this season.

We’re symbolic creatures, maybe that’s what separates us from the animals. It took me a while to realize what that anger was all about and why it was about some kid and his dad.

This year wasn’t about disappointment or failed expectations (for me at least). There was still some part of me that, even faced with contrary evidence, believed I would still experience something magical this year. The 2010 season was about cold hard reality knocking sense into me, and that happened at the exact moment that kid moved to the seats behind me. The Dodgers weren’t contenders. I’d never get to experience a game with my dad again. Both were statements of fact.

And after accepting that, everything was OK. It was tough to accept, yes. But the season moved on. The rest of the year was easy to handle after that, including all major holidays and birthdays. My grief had turned into just sadness.

As for baseball, I would make new memories. And these memories–with family and friends and associates–I’d get to tell my kids about them.

My sister became pregnant in 2010. It was easily the best news of the year. She’s now 8 months in and is due in exactly a month, Nov. 4, 2010 (fun fact: she was born Nov. 6, 1980, both of which are/were election days). The baby’s name will be Alana, after my dad’s name. She’ll be the first of her generation.

I’m looking forward to being an uncle. I’m looking forward to taking her to baseball games (and maybe coaching her in Little League) and telling her of the Jacksonville Five, the Matt Kemp/Clayton Kershaw years, and the other history and minutiae I experienced. Just as my dad did before me and his dad before him.

And thinking about that makes me the happiest I’ve been in years. That’s what I get to take out of this season.


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Calcaterra Burns the Shit Outta David Whitley

UPDATE: Not so updated, but I thought I’d link to this Flip Flop Flyball image about gay baseball players here.

Craig Calcaterra writes for NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk. David Whitley writes for FanHouse. Well Whitley wrote something … well, bigoted, and Calcaterra really took him to task for it.

I’d like to take the socially enlightened high road on this one, but I can’t help sympathizing with that father who’ll be sitting next to his son or daughter at Busch Stadium.

“Daddy, why are those two men kissing?”

“Umm, err, hey isn’t that Albert Pujols coming to bat?”

I just so happen to have a son and a daughter. If either of them asked me that question, the answer would be “because they love each other.” Then again, maybe I just don’t appreciate all of the nuance of the allegedly complicated scenario Whitley has set up for us.

Call me homophobic, but I just don’t think a 5- or 10-year-old brain is ready to tackle those complexities.

Fine. You’re homophobic.

And you know what kinds of complexities my five year-old has a hard time understanding? Unfairness. Like when his sister gets a toy and he doesn’t. Or when his friend gets a cookie but he doesn’t. And while it hasn’t come up yet, I can guarantee you that he’d have an equally hard time understanding why some folks get to marry the people they love and some people don’t. Indeed, the unfairness of that would be as plain as could be.

Wanna know hard? Try explaining to your kid the rationale behind such disparate treatment. I bet you can’t. Not even to a five year-old.

I mean Goddamn.

Whitley used the THINK OF THE CHILDREN defense. He’s kinda deflecting his own uncomfortable issues with homosexuality by saying “well, I’M ok with it, but how am i supposed to explain this to my kids????”

Look, Whitley even made a really good point in the article about the unfairness of Kiss Cam.

A superimposed heart frames the couple. Appropriate music plays. It’s usually something like “As Time Goes By.”

“You must remember this

A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh …”

That was easy for Sam to sing in Casablanca. Rick’s Café didn’t have a “Kiss Cam” and gays weren’t demanding the respect they deserve.

Now, they are. Their latest beef sprang from the Rams’ opener this past week. Two guys in Arizona jerseys became the focus of 67,044 fans. The crowd cajoled them to kiss. The men reacted like kids facing a cootie outbreak.

The obvious message was that Cardinals fans are gay, and gay is emasculating. The group behind Saturdays “OUT at the Ballpark” promotion then requested equal PDA time.

“We always felt left out because the kiss cam always singles out heterosexual couples,” organizer Harrison Roberts told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But after what happened at the Rams game, all the gay and lesbian fans that were there felt embarrassed and a little degraded.

“Why shouldn’t we be on camera, too?”

You’d think he’d come in with some words of support that, but the following line is:

Because I’m not ready to discuss same-sex relationships with my 3-year-old. I don’t think she’s ready, either.

And Calcaterra really did nail that one. Kids understand love, they don’t understand unfairness.

Here’s to you, Craig.


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Who Do You Think Made Better Use of the Song in the Ad?

The song is Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Lights Orchestra. I love this song.

Volkswagen — “Bubble Boy”

Guinness — “Dot”

I’m kinda conflicted on the Guinness commercial. Very creative visuals and art, but the ad features a voice over and a bizarre almost snow-globian meaning-of-life reason for drinking Guinness–a particle chooses to be anything, this particle saw the world and decided to become a drop of Guinness? The creativity could sell Guinness alone, the voice over and meaning of the dot was overboard.

The VW ad, meanwhile, is concise and brilliantly edited in time with the music. The point is there too–you wake up early every morning to work the same shitty job every day of your life, why not make the drive to work more playful and light-hearted? It’s kind of silly, though. Basically the guy’s living his life like an automaton day in and day out until he sees a Volkswagen. His personality is so bare that he needs a car to define who he is. Such is the absurdity of modern advertisements. But the upbeat melody of the song and the quick-cut editing is just too … well, good. It’s really entertaining to watch.

While Guinness played the song, then played some really cool unrelated visuals with it, then had a voice over over the song, VW made the song an integral part of the ad.

I say VW wins. And I should, because I bought one of their awful, awful cars.

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