Friday, October 31, 2014

The Phillies No Way

Apparently Phillies GM has just unleashed a new organizational bible on the team called "The Phillies Way". 

This, as you might expect, is a terrible idea.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

World Series - Final Thought

Madison Bumgarner has a terrible nickname.

Seriously. "MadBum". That's the sort of thing you expect to hear attached to a minor character in a Monty Python skit, or maybe used as an insult when the Gallagher boys from Oasis are feuding again. It doesn't even fit into the sort of pre-fab model of modern baseball nicknames, where you either add a "-sey" to a  guy's last name, or take his first initial and the first syllable of his last name and get something that I'm pretty much started out as an internet "What's Your Porn Star Name?" meme.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Royal Thank A Twin

Here is what we know about the World Series:

It may be decided by Glen Perkins. Perkins, some of you may note, plays for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins, some of you may further note, are not playing in the World Series. As a matter of fact, they got about as close to the Series as I currently am to the Coachella Valley and the big carrot festival therein, which is to say "not very".

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

RIP Oscar Taveras

Somewhere in my baseball card collection is an In Memoriam card for Ken Hubbs. Hubbs won Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove for the Cubs back in the day. In 1964, a small plane he was piloting crashed, and he was killed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Observations From The Third Deck, World Series Edition

Friday, I was lucky enough to attend game 3 of the World Series. Hitting a World Series game has been a dream of mine since I was old enough to be called out for being terrible at baseball (as opposed to when I was younger than that and simply lacked the small motor skills to do things like "catch" and "throw a two-seamer", and so, when the opportunity materialized (courtesy of friend and occasional Sportsthodoxy contributor), I went. 

Now, I have been to a lot of baseball games in my time. Majors, minors, good games, bad games, games where I helped heckle Von Hayes into incoherent confusion and games where Mike Schmidt turned around and gave my dad the finger. (True story. I swear.) I'd even been to a playoff game before - though that was in Atlanta, so it didn't entirely count. But there is nothing like a World Series game. A few notes from the seething cauldron of orange-and-black noise that was AT&T Park...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scene From A Royals Game

The one time I went to a game in Kansas City, the Royals were terrible.

Which was fine, because they were playing the pre-Maddon Rays, who were terrible, too. Which meant lots of runs and lots of wacky fielding and lots of opportunities to buy beer and hang out with my wife and our friends as the game rolled along.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Latest UNC Scandal, In Five Sentences

Five takeaways from the latest scandal at UNC, where the ship of institutional integrity has foundered on the rocks of the desire for mid-tier bowl payouts.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Your Weekly ACC Roundup: Weak 8 Edition

People describe a conference as "competitive" when they want to say one of two things.

One, they mean that the conference is really, really good and that the level of competition is high.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Handy Dandy Guide To Stupid Baseball Think-Pieces

Now is the season when writers and talk show hosts who have paid absolutely no attention to baseball for the last six months suddenly develop Very Important Opinions on things, and share those opinions with the world. It should not come as a terrible surprise, however, that most of those opinions are about as finely considered and well thought out as your average episode of Challenge of the Superfriends.

Fortunately, we're here to make sense of all this newly minted brilliance, largely so you don't have to. Just sit back and let us translate pundit to English by way of baseball:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ACC Week 7 Wrapup: Here Is What We Know

Here is what we know about North Carolina: They can’t stop anybody. The fewest points they have allowed this season is 27, to a SDSU team that’s ranked 98th in the country in scoring. Notre Dame just hung 50 on them to run their PPG allowed to 43.3, which, I’m pretty sure, is more than Tulane has scored all year. They may have finally figured out that going with just one quarterback is a good idea, but it’s too late for this season. They’ll have to win 4 out of 6 to be bowl-eligible, and I don’t see them knocking off Duke, Virginia or Miami. Only Pitt and a suddenly vulnerable NC State, both at home, look like solid possibilities, and that’s for a team that started the year ranked.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Words is Words, ALCS Division

Jarrod Dyson is a very fast man. Jarrod Dyson said some stuff. The stuff, and I'm paraphrasing here, is that the team he plays for, the Kansas City Royals, is going to win the playoff series they're currently contesting, in five games at most. Another bit of stuff he said suggested that if the team his team is playing got down 3 games to none, they wouldn't think they could come back and win it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sportsthodoxy Interview - Kevin Wilson

While Duke may grab the college sports headlines in Durham, the city is home to another Division 
I school that's making some noise in athletics. Last season North Carolina Central's men's basketball team went 17-1 in-conference on its way to a MEAC championship and a first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Thanks to a fortuitous Twitter encounter, we got the chance to sit down and talk with one of the individuals behind the rise of NCCU, Associate Athletic Director Kevin Wilson. From Kierkegaard to Fayetteville and the ins and outs of development for an athletic program, here's the straight scoop from the Eagles' Nest: 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Your National League Championship Series Rooting Guide

And here is where I potentially end relationships with either all of my friends in the gaming industry in the Bay Area, or my wife's family in Missouri. Forward!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Your American League Championship Series Rooting Guide

Baltimore Orioles
Reasons to Root For Them:
Haven't been to a World Series since 1983, when I would sneak out of bar mitzvah receptions to try to find a TV so I could watch them pummel the Phillies. Buck Showalter is the best manager left in the playoffs, and is actually interesting to watch. The team survived season-ending injuries to its best player (Manny Machado) and second best player (Matt Wieters), plus last year's MVP candidate went kerblooey before getting popped for ADD meds and their expensive free agent pitcher did his best Shawn Boskie impersonation all season long. Camden Yards is still a gorgeous ballpark, and Boog's BBQ is actually edible. Plus, karma - at this point the kid who stole that home run ball from Tony Tarasco in the playoffs against the Yankees is a Weleyan grad, but c'mon - the universe owes them one.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Your Weekly ACC Roundup - Week 6: Things We Were Wrong About

On the surface, Week 6 - the first full week of conference play - looked pretty normal in the ACC. After the giddy heights of the first few weeks and the mayhem of weeks 4 and 5, it was almost a relief to get into conference play and have favorite pretty much run the table. But even in the midst of a sea of the expected - like, say, Florida State pummeling Wake Forest like they were re-enacting the Hulk-Loki scene in Avengers - there is still proof that we got some things wrong. Namely:

Monday, October 06, 2014

We're Doomed: World Series Ratings Edition (Again)

The transcript of a conversation held inside Fox Sports HQ last night after the baseball scores went final.

EXECUTIVE ONE: Oh crap, we're doomed.

EXECUTIVE TWO: What do you mean?

EXECUTIVE ONE: The American League. We thought we were going to get LA-

Sunday, October 05, 2014

10 Things We Learned From Last Night's Giants-Nationals Game

Nationals/Giants pre-game photo. Note the beards.

The short version of last night's Giants-Nationals playoff game is: Nationals blew a 1 run lead in the bottom of the 9th and then lost it on a home run in the 18th. Which, of course, is saying The Hobbit is about a hiking expedition. Scratch the surface of an 18 inning game and you'll find plenty beyond the score; dig deep and you'll find really interesting things like:

  1. At times the game resembled the old "Action Hank" episode of Dexter's Laboratory. You kind of expected Jayson Werth's beard to charge the mound and attack Yusmeiro Petit's remarkable facial foliage. Just remember, Little Hank - It ain't the beard on the outside, it's the beard on the inside. Unless it's elevated, in which case a left-handed batter can turn on it.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Foles Guy

So everyone in Philadelphia is freaking out because Nick Foles has apparently forgotten how to pass.

This is not true. (the "forgetting how to pass" part, not the "people in Philadelphia freaking out" part. Because I grew up in Philly, and if there is one thing the good people of Fildelfyuh do exceedingly well, it's panic on cue when calling in to sports talk radio. And make cheesesteaks. But mostly panic on sports talk radio.)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

ACC Roundup: Week Five, Which Looks Oddly Familiar

Here are ten things we know about the ACC following week 5's results:

  1. North Carolina State is absolutely for real. You could be forgiven for doubting them, considering their first for games - all wins - were against two community colleges, a school that stopped playing football in 1972, and Jimmy John's Sandwich University. But they took it to Florida State from the opening kickoff and stayed in it largely to the end, when FSU's superior depth finally allowed them to put it away. NC State coach Dave Doeren was later forced to apologize for suggesting the FSU players had faked injury to slow down NC State's offense; this was a clear case of "just because it's true doesn't mean you can actually get away with saying it." But all things considered, the Pack might be the second-best team in the conference right now, which, considering last year's debacle, is an impressive place for them to be.

Wild Wild Life

Baseball is layered thicker than lasagna with stories.  These stories are immensely varied in length, quality and character.

The smallest unit is the individual pitch.
An at-bat.
A half-inning.
A full inning.
One pass through the batting order.
The full game.
A three or four game regular season series.
The full season series between two teams.
The playoff race near the end of the season.
The whole regular season.
The playoffs.
The whole year.
A generation of players for any team (for instance, the Derek Jeter era).
The full history of a team.
The full history of baseball.
The perogie race (Hunter Pence cheers for Potato Pete).

There's one thing that cuts this structure of stories off at the shoulders.  The Wild Card game.

It's a one game win-or-go-home pressure cooker.  There's no "We'll get them next game!"  There's no chance for a multi-game comeback.  It has the pressure of a game 7 without all the build-up of games 1-6.  No chance to develop a nice seething hatred for Hunter Pence (who loves Jar-Jar Binks).  It doesn't even feel like a true playoff game.

It should be a best of 3 series.  It's short, which doesn't give the division winners that much additional rest, and you can have multiple high-pressure games.

There are some downsides, of course.  How do you manage the travel issues?  Pittsburgh-San Francisco is some serious back and forth, when games are every day.  Does it give too much rest to the division winners, such that they're at a significant advantage over the teams that had to play at least two additional games?  Does this end up being like the NHL playoffs, where it seems like they go on longer than Hunter Pence spends doing his hair?

But I think it would be better for the game to have a longer Wild Card series.

(Disclaimer:  I live in Pittsburgh.  But I felt this way last year too).

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

If (Oakland Version)


If Coco Crisp hadn't hurt himself in an 11th inning that never should have happened, he would have been out there to snag that fly ball that found turf in the twelfth. Or Sam Fuld is in left, where he belonged, and he gets it, and lovable but immobile Jonny Gomes is on the bench, a minimum safe distance from his glove...
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