Archive for ‘Random’

Tuesday: 02.12.2013

LABR and Radio and Pods, Oh My!

Plenty of non-PaulSporer.com goings on lately including:

  • Tonight is the LABR mixed league draft. It’s my first “industry expert league”. I have done mocks for magazines before, but never a full league. Jason and I will be co-owning, but I’ll have the reins tonight at the draft with J out for family duty. If there was ever a reason to miss, it’s family stuff! If you’ve listened to the podcast at all, though, we have the same brain so it doesn’t really matter if one of us couldn’t make it. We got saddled with the 14th pick which might not be so bad when you really think about it. There’s the top three, another handful going in that four to seven range, and then a giant cluster of like-valued guys so picking near the end of that clump and then again quickly in the second round won’t be so bad. If you want to follow the draft live this evening, you can do so here. I’m fairly certain Jennifer Lawrence will be following along in the chatroom cheering me on. I mean, it’s whatever. 

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  • In addition to our regular podcast, the Towers of Power Fantasy Hour, I’ve appeared on another BP podcast twice in the last couple of weeks. Effectively Wild is doing their team-by-team previews and I did the Tigers one (obv) plus I contributed to the Cleveland Indians one. I’ll be on for the Nationals and Phillies in the future as well. BTW, I’d bump my Indians win projection by about 3-4 games with the Michael Bourn signing. I could reasonably go high since it’s the adding of him and subtraction of Drew Stubbs, but I’ll stick w/3-4. Speaking of these two podcasts, this probably shouldn’t surprise you because I’m a titan:

Meanwhile, here are some random things interesting me at the moment:

-Between Two Ferns Oscar Buzz Part 1, and Part 2: SO GOOD!!!! Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Bradley Cooper, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, and of course Zack himself. Just so much greatness here.

-Harlem Shake everything!

-House of Cards

-Texas being awesome & Beyonce making a semi-duck face look cute as hell

-Jennifer Lawrence is the best. No one is more real during her interviews

-Pitchers & Catchers reporting all over the MLB:

ps&cs

Wednesday: 07.11.2012

The Worst Day of the Year

Today is the stupidest day of the year (and you’re not far behind, tomorrow, so stop looking so smug).  The Wednesday after the All-Star Game is the one day on the calendar without any major sports which makes it extremely stupid.  I’m more concerned with the utter lack of baseball games (save your AAA All-Star Game, people) and this year is even worse as the break has been extended through Thursday.

I am torn on this change.  Usually there are 6-7 games on Thursday which is entirely unfair to the teams who have to play while others get another day of rest.  Selfishly I was always glad to see baseball return, but how was that not an all or nothing day?  They landed on the side of nothing so we’re stuck with two baseball-free days.  This is like giving Jesse Pinkman a wheelbarrow full of meth for nearly three months and then none for two days.  This isn’t going down from wheelbarrow to radio flyer red wagon to a bucket full to a handful, just wheelbarrow to zero.

So to help get you through this mess, I have 26 games from the first half that contain some of the best, most exciting baseball we have seen thus far.  Obviously the viewing of these games will require an MLB.tv subscription which you should already have secured back in February (yes, February), but just in case you haven’t it is on sale for $80 bucks.  That’s a steal in my opinion and no, I’m not being paid by MLB to say that.  It’s seriously the best purchase I make yearly, except for the food that keeps my beagle alive.

(in chronological order)

Motown Mash

April 7thMiguel Cabrera & Prince Fielder hit 2 home runs apiece in 10-0 rout of Boston – box, video

Sure, this first one is a bit homerish (pun intended), but two of the biggest stars in the game were paired together this offseason when Fielder signed in Detroit and everyone was excited to see them as a 3-4 combo in the Tigers lineup.  They didn’t wait long to display fireworks (2nd game of the year) and they did so against one of the better pitchers in baseball in Josh Beckett.  Lost in the mix is the Tigers bullpen cobbling together 5.3 scoreless innings.  It’s easier with a huge lead, but it was only 2-0 when Doug Fister left with an injury.

Wild One in Comerica

April 8th – Tigers win a thriller in 11 to secure sweep of Boston – box, video

No, this isn’t going to be 27 Tigers games.  It is merely coincidental that the first two involve my favorite team.  But I stand by the selections.  Who doesn’t like watching Boston get smashed 10-0 and who doesn’t like watching Boston’s hearts get ripped out in extra innings?  Textbook win-win.  Lost in the shuffle of allowing 13 runs is that Vicente Padilla (4 IP, 4 K) and Franklin Morales (2 IP, 3 K) threw six shutout innings.  Thankfully Mark Melancon is a thing.

So Aroldis

April 11thAroldis Chapman fans 5 of the 7 batters he faces in a Reds walkoff win – box, video

The feature of this game doesn’t start until the eighth inning, but it is a nice 3-3 battle between the Reds and Cardinals before that including a 4-hit day from Joey Votto.  The only thing lacking is the trademark 100+ MPH heat of Chapman, but he does sit 96 with his fastball and threw strikes in 63% of his pitches.

Cain & Lee Go 19 Scoreless

April 18thCliff Lee goes 10 and Matt Cain goes 9 in an 11-inning gem – box, video

If you don’t love a 1-0 duel between aces then you probably don’t love baseball.  Neither ace figures into the decision as this one goes 11, but what a great game between a pair of the game’s finest on the mound.  Perhaps some foreshadowing was seen in this game as Melky Cabrera turns in a 3-hit day in a game that saw just 13 hits in all.  A few weeks later he notched 476 hits in May alone and capped off his first half with an excellent All-Star Game that included the best shoes of the night.

Humber Humbles Mariners                       

April 21stPhilip Humber is perfect in the Emerald City – box, video

The key component of the Johan Santana trade finally pays dividends… for a different team.  The degree of difficulty certainly wasn’t highest as he cut through the Mariners lineup, but Humber isn’t exactly Halladay either so no need to discount his achievement.  Furthermore, if perfect games were easy against crappy lineups, we would see 7-10 a year.  While no-hitters and perfectos have been a bit more frequent in this new pitching age, they are still far from common.  I love the symmetry of Humber’s perfect line that included nine punchouts, too: 9-0-0-0-0-9.  He’s been far from perfect since (7.47 ERA), but on this day he shone brightly.

Yu Takes New York

April 24thYu Darvish fans 10 Yankees in 8+ scoreless – box, video

Darvish had an inauspicious start to his MLB career with an ugly debut against the Mariners followed by better, but still far from special starts against the Twins and Tigers.  He walked four or more in each of those three starts so a visit from the Yankees looked like it could be troublesome.  Of course, whenever you really think something will happen in baseball, the opposite often comes through instead.  Darvish was masterful as he scattered seven hits and two walks in 8.3 scoreless innings.

The Kid Cometh

April 28thBryce Harper makes his surprise debut in LA – box, video

Not only is it Harper’s debut, but Stephen Strasburg is on the mound for the first place Nationals who are facing the first place Dodgers with Vin Scully calling the game.  It really doesn’t get more basebally than that.  Chad Billingsley was hitting on all cylinders, too, and this was actually one of his best outings of the year.  If all those individual components aren’t enough (stop being greedy, jerk), there is the fact that it was a thrilling extra-inning game that was capped off with a Matt Kemp walkoff home run.

The Hittingest Game of the Year

May 2ndRoy Halladay & Tommy Hanson fall apart in an 11-inning, 15-13 battle royale – box, video

Remember what I said about things sometimes not living up to the hype?  Pitting stud arms like Halladay and Hanson together in a battle of division rivals has all the makings of a 2-1 gem.  This game was actually scoreless through two innings which makes the 15-13 score even more impressive.  It was Carlos Chooch Ruiz’s coming out party as he went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs.  Every starting position player had at least a hit, six had 3 hits and five others had a pair of hits.  Oh, and it ends on a walkoff home run by Brian McCann Chipper Jones.  May 2nd was an incredible day of baseball.

Weaver Solves the Twins

May 2ndJered Weaver joins the no-hitter party and comes a walk shy of perfection – box, video

Like whoa, Scoob, the Twins couldn’t earn a single Scooby Snack against Weaver on this night.  The rarity of this game wasn’t so much the no-hitter as it was the Angels winning without the aid of Mike Trout.  Trout had been up for a few days at that point and was inexplicably given a day off.  Fortunately the offense got loose on Liam Hendriks en route to a 9-0 smash job.

Boston Marathon

May 6th – The O’s & Sox go 17 as two position players pitch and one doesn’t succeed – box, video

Neither starter made it through five, but then runs were in short order for quite some time.  There were eight scoreless innings from the 9th thru 16th innings and except for a run for each team in the eighth, there would have been 11 scoreless.  Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Davis both went 0-for-8, but Davis was given the opportunity to make up for his failures and did so with two scoreless innings and ended up with the win.  In fact, Davis exacerbated Gonzalez’s horrible day by striking him out in the 17th.  If you have a free six hours and seven minutes, enjoy this epic.

Hamilton’s Career Day

May 8thJosh Hamilton mashes 4 HR in Baltimore – box, video

This was the eighth game of an incredible 16-game hitting streak by Hamilton during which he hit .424/.493/.966 with 10 home runs, 26 RBIs, 15 runs scored and 64 bat tosses.  This looked like the jump off toward an all-time season, but he cooled off bit in June.  Alas, he is still pacing toward shattering the tossed bat record and putting it out of reach forever as most players know how to hang onto their bats or understand the value of using aids to do so like pine tar since chucking your bat into the stands three or four times a night isn’t ideal from a safety standpoint.

Almost Nothing

May 18thJustin Verlander comes within two outs of no-hitting Pirates – box, video

See, I went nine games without a Detroit game.  There is a no-hitter watch every fifth day when Verlander toes the slab and he showed why again on this Friday evening in Detroit.  He walked the second batter of the game taking perfection out of the equation and the Pirates would go another five innings without a base runner (Andrew McCutchen walked in the 7th) and seemed poised to go hitless until Josh Harrison’s dumb face stepped up to the plate in the ninth.  He stuck his bat out (probably a stupid bat, if I had to guess) and made some fluky, lame-o contact with the ball for a cheapie single up the middle.  I’m not mad, I swear.  SHUT UP!

Maximum Strikeouts

May 20thMax Scherzer registers 15 Ks (all swinging) in a comeback win against the Pirates – box, video

After going nine games in between Tigers mentions you know I had to go back-to-back with ‘em.  Scherzer set the bar for strikeouts on the season (which would be matched, but not topped thus far) with a dazzling performance against the Pirates.  Even seven innings of two-run ball only took his ERA down to 5.73 after an awful April, but including this game he has a 3.56 ERA in his last nine starts with 73 Ks in 55.7 innings (11.8 K/9).

The Most Mike Trout Game Ever

May 20th – The rookie phenom flashes all five tools in San Diego – box, video

Yeah, the Angels lost (3-2) and I actually can’t remember if Trout makes any special defensive plays (two of the five tools are throwing ability and defense) , but if you want a single dose of what he brings to the table, at least offensively speaking, then this game is for you.  In this 13-inning affair, Trout goes 3-for-4 with two singles, a home run, an RBI, two runs scored, two walks (one intentional because teams are scurrred) and two stolen bases.  He also plays centerfield, leftfield and then centerfield again.  Versatility is his middle name (don’t check that).

MeMooreial Day Sale

May 28th – Two promising lefties fan a combined 25 in only 14 innings of work – box, video

Yeah, I realize I’m trying too hard with that headline but just… shut up, please (I said please!).  On the opposite end of the spectrum from that Coors Field Home Run Derby is this Memorial Day throwdown between Chris Sale and Matt Moore, who both sliced up the opposition in a breezy 2-1 game that took just over two and a half hours.  Sale drew the attention for his 15 Ks in 7.3 innings en route to a win, but Moore was impressive with 10 Ks in 7 innings in what was easily his best start to date topped only by his 7 shutout innings against Miami a few weeks later.

More Like No-han

June 1stJohan Santana blanks Cards for first no-hitter in Mets history – box, video

Santana gave everyone the easiest headline of the year by having a first name that starts with something that rhymes with “no” and then throwing a no-hitter.  As his pitch count mounted (thanks in large part to 5 BB), everyone wondered if Terry Collins was going to leave him in for the chance at history, but I’m pretty sure he’d have had to fistfight him to bring him out of that game.  It was a special game and while there was a blown call on what would’ve been a Carlos Beltran hit, I don’t think it takes away from greatness of this one.  Definitely watch the Mets broadcast on this one.  Not just because the special event is happening to them, but because they have the best team this side of Scully.

Free Baseball in DC

June 5th – Mets/Nats play a seesaw extra-inning battle that features 7 ties/lead changes – box, video

I love games that have multiple ties/lead changes during the extra innings portion and this game features just that with scoring in the 10th and 12th innings.  Five of the 13 runs scored occur after regulation.  There are several would-be heroes throughout the game before, yep you guessed it, Bryce Harper comes through with the walkoff win.  It helps that he ends up the hero, but any game with seven Harper at-bats can’t be bad.

Strasburg Dominant for Six

June 8thStephen Strasburg fans 13 Red Sox in just six innings of work – box, video

It wasn’t best start of the year, but it was impressive to watch Strasburg slice his way through the Sox lineup for six strong innings.  He caps the outing by striking out the side twice en route to his 7th win of the season.  Additionally, Harper shines again with a 3-for-5 effort that includes a double and home run with three RBIs and two runs scored.  All that with Fenway Park as the backdrop.

A Team Effort in Seattle

June 8thKevin Millwood leaves early passing a no-hitter to the bullpen – box, video

The peak of Millwood’s season is undoubtedly his filthy four start run that saw him go into the Bronx, Coors Field and Arlington as well as host the Texas Rangers yet come out on the other side with a 0.67 ERA.  He was brilliant for 27 innings with a 0.74 WHIP and 20 Ks.  After a stumble against the White Sox, he was back at it on this night against the Dodgers throwing six no-hit innings with six punchouts and a walk before succumbing to injury and turning the game over.  Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen combined for three no-hit innings of their own (Pryor’s two walks being the only blemishes on their collective record) to complete the team no-no.  Adding to the drama is the fact that it was a scoreless game through six and a half innings before Kyle Seager’s RBI single plated Ichiro for the game’s only run.

Cutch Clutch

June 10thAndrew McCutchen drives in all three for Pirates as they draw tied for 1stbox, video

This game is the Pirates season in a nutshell: a big effort from A.J. Burnett and McCutchen leads the offense.  They haven’t been the only the two to lead the team, but it’s an apt microcosm.  Cutch went 2-for-3 with a double and homer, a walk, all three RBIs and a run scored in the 3-2 win.  This was their first day in first place for the season and only a tie at that, but they entered the break with spot all to themselves.  They fell back to second the day after this game and stayed there until early July when again a McCutchen performance led them during a Burnett start.  I didn’t include that game because Burnett was actually knocked around a bit.

Astros Get Cained

June 13thMatt Cain pitches the game of the year (so far) going perfect with 14 Ks – box, video

The Giants scored in the first five innings of this one so the result was never really in question, but it didn’t take away from Cain’s special night.  There were incredible defensive plays to save the perfection, too, including the last play of the game.  Of course Melky Cabrera has a multi-hit game, too, pushing season batting average to 2.498 (yes, he gets nearly 2 ½ hits per AB).

Dickey Doubly Dominant

June 13thR.A. Dickey gets lost in shuffle of Cain, but 1-hits TB with 12 Ks – box, video

June 18th – Dickey repeats his 1-hit feat five days later for the home crowd – box, video

Before Cain’s perfection Dickey limited the Rays to a single hit, and a dubious one at that, fanning 12 and extending his scoreless* streak to 33.3 innings.  Then five days later, he went four no-hit innings before yielding a single to Wilson Betemit.  He upped the ante strikeout-wise, this time punching out 13 and extended the innings streak to 42.3.  It would last two innings into his next start as the CC Sabathia-Dickey showdown on Sunday Night Baseball failed to live up to its billing.  Back-to-back one-hitters are impressive for any pitcher, but there is an added amount of excellence to Dickey’s as a knuckleballer.

*earned runs only, he allowed an unearned run in the TB outing

Anything You Can Do…

June 22ndChris Sale and Zack Greinke go toe-to-toe in a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel – box, video

Sale wound up on the wrong end of this duel, but it was an excellent game as a current ace and potential future ace matched each other pitch for pitch in a 1-0 game that went 10 innings.  There were more innings (10) than hits (9).  Sale leaned on the strikeout with seven in eight innings while Greinke was less-reliant on them netting just four in nine, but still felt plenty dominant inducing tons of weak contact.

That Was Quick

June 29thAaron Cook mows down the Mariners with an 81-pitch shutout – box, video

Cook is one of the premier groundball artists in the game and this actually wasn’t even his best shutout in terms of fewest pitches.  He has a 79-pitch shutout under his belt from his time back in Colorado and a 74-pitch complete game (during which he allowed two runs).  If you want to watch a team just get decimated in a brisk 2 hours and 18 minutes, this is your game.

Coors Field Trolls All of Us

July 1stKip Wells and Drew Pomeranz somehow headline a 2-0 game in Coors Field – box, video

What?  Really?  I am sure bettors lost tons on the over with this one, even if it was an over/under of 15.  Wells hadn’t pitched in the majors in two years and had been awful when he did from 2004 through 2009 yet he throws up seven scoreless in Coors Field.  Pomermanz is a promising rookie, but Coors has been chewing up established veterans let alone promising rookies this year so this had trouble written all over it.  So of course he throws six strong allowing just an unearned run on two hits and three walks.  It is easily the best trolling by a stadium since Veterans Stadium was seriously used for actual sporting events for 30+ years.

Friday: 06.8.2012

Have You Ever Noticed?

I have a useless knack for noticing random things.  I notice when a cigarette grows in length during a scene on a film or show.  In fact, I notice way too many continuity errors.  Maybe I can get paid for it and become a Continuitist.  Best job ever.  I notice random patterns and of course ones that are more obvious, too.  I use several different sites to cull statistical information when I am working on pieces or just doing research for my fantasy baseball teams including ESPN.

It always seems to catch my eye when the same guy leads across the board on the five categories they have as the header on team stat pages.  This would fall under the more obvious patterns to catch as I am sure a lot of people would take notice of the same face five times in a row. They just wouldn’t turn it into a blog post about the teams in baseball who have this going on for their team.

There are eight teams in baseball with the same guy leading the club in batting average, home runs, runs batted in, on-base percentage and hits.  Let’s just say there aren’t scrubs pulling off that feat.  It’s not a massively diverse skill set needed to pull off the feat, but a good number of things have to align properly to be atop all of them.

Obviously you are kind of double-dipping with batting average and hits, though it’s no guarantee that leading one will give you the other.  In fact, 12 teams have a different leader in batting average and hits.   Home runs and runs batted in are an obvious double-dip as well and only seven teams saw a different leader in each of those categories.

Good batting average and on-base percentage don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, so you have to be able to rack up hits and either do so with a good eye to draw some walks (lest an Adam Dunn-type thwart you in OBP… though Paul Konerko shan’t be outdone this year) or just be on a team where your huge batting average and handful of walks overpowers anyone else’s OBP.

First, take a moment to see how many of the eight names you can guess without looking below.  Here are some hints:

  • Of the eight, four are what I would call “obvious”
  • Of the four non-obvious, two aren’t obscure names, just surprises to be leading these 5 cats
  • Of the eight, six are from the American League & two from the National League
  • Of the eight, five are outfielders

OK, those are your clues.

Good luck guessing.

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This is me

…giving you some time

…and pushing some space

…between the above text

…and the pictures that I am about to post.

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OK, time’s up.

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Let’s eliminate some name that you may have guessed.

There were five guys who just missed making the list as they led in four of five categories:

  • Carlos Gonzalez is just .002 OBP points behind Dexter Fowler.
  • Miguel Cabrera is just .011 OBP points behind Prince Fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is just .013 AVG points behind Placido Polanco.
  • Chase Headley is just .008 AVG points behind Will Venable.
  • Matt Joyce is just 6 RBIs behind Luke Scott.

Of those, I would assume that Cargo, Miggy and Pence were possible, if not likely, guesses.

The obvious guys were all outfielders:

Even as stacked as the Rangers are (despite their recently mortality in which they have gone 3-7 in their last 10), it is no surprise that Josh Hamilton is leading the pack their because he has just been on another level.  He actually has three guys on his butt for the hits lead as Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler all have 66. The impressive thing about that is that they all have 11 or more at-bats than him.

With Fielder gone, Ryan Braun doesn’t have much competition atop the leaderboards for the Brewers.  If Jonathan LuCroy hadn’t gotten hurt and could’ve registered enough at-bats for the batting title, he might have pushed Braun in OBP where he trails by .002 right now.

If these were ordered by most obvious, Andrew McCutchen would have been listed first.  He is up by 11 hits, two home runs, nine RBIs, .062 average points and .068 on base points.  Pedro Alvarez’s power output is the only thing keeping Cutch from running away with all five categories.

Jones is a bit surprising if only because the surprise Orioles have gotten several standout performances, but his 16 home runs and 35 runs batted in are among the American League’s best which is why he still made it into this group of relatively obvious leaders.

Oddly enough, two of the surprise names are full time DHs:

It is quite impressive that David Ortiz is leading all five of these categories on the Red Sox.  The middle three aren’t terribly surprising, but to see him pacing the squad in batting average and hits is definitely a shock.  Haven’t we (we being the baseball community) left him for dead two or three times?

I guess Billy Butler isn’t too surprising in light of the struggles to their other hitting standouts, but he usually displays modest power making his 32 home run, 103 RBI pace a shock this deep into the season.  He might finally be having the power breakout I have projected for the last 17 years.

I am pretty sure my beagle was leading the Oakland Athletics in hits at one this season, so perhaps Josh Reddick isn’t exactly surprising given how inept their offense is, but apart from his 14 home runs, he easily has the worst numbers of this octet and he might not be leading any of these categories had Yoenis Cespedes not gotten hurt for a spell.

And in my estimation, the biggest surprise of all is Mark Trumbo.  We can’t just chalk it up to Mike Trout not qualifying either as he has him beat in batting average and on-base percentage, though if you gave them an equal number of games, Trout is pacing to have more hits.  On a team with Albert Pujols and coming from a guy who posted a sub-.300 OBP last year, this is a major surprise.  It will be far more impressive if he is leading at the All-Star break, let alone the end of the season, but for now he gets his glory.  He is definitely the favorite to lead the team in Trumbombs this year.

I realize this isn’t in the vein of most posts you find here at BbP, but I figured something fun for a Friday might be a nice change of pace.  Besides, who doesn’t want 1,000+ words on the guys in baseball leading their team in five arbitrary categories picked by ESPN?

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