Odds and Ends
At some point late last night I realized what you are reading right now was going to be the final Aaron's Baseball Blog entry of 2003. So I quickly brainstormed and tried to come up with something brilliant for the occasion. Sadly, nothing came to me. Instead, you get this.
I was actually planning to write this entry earlier in the week, but Tony Batista and Ben Grieve caught my attention.
I took a few days off from blogging last week and found that I am sort of addicted to it. I was okay for a day or so, but by the third day I had like a dozen things bookmarked that I wanted to talk about and I kept creating sentences in my head, except I had no place to put them. It's funny how quickly a person can get used to doing something every day.
Anyway, today's entry is filled with a whole bunch of random thoughts on a whole bunch of random stuff. It's not exactly baseball analysis at its finest, but hopefully you'll find some of it interesting. Enjoy...
My new favorite writer?
I have written in the past about Bert Blyleven deserving to be in the Hall of Fame and several of my favorite non-mainstream writers have also taken up Bert's cause.
Then the other day I saw an article by Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News entitled: "Upon further review, Blyleven deserves to be in Hall." It was a very interesting article, not only because Rosenthal agrees with me that Blyleven should be in the Hall of Fame after previously thinking otherwise, but because of why he now agrees.
Here's a little quote:
"Advanced statistical analysis offers fresh insight into the careers of pitchers such as Blyleven, providing richer context. Over his 22-year career, Blyleven's ERA was 18 percent better than an average pitcher in his league, according to park-adjusted figures on baseball-reference.com. By that measure, he was better than numerous Hall of Fame pitchers, including Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton. He also was significantly better than John and Kaat."
First of all, I'd be happy if a Hall of Fame voter simply decided to look beyond someone's wins and losses to judge them by their ERA. The fact that Rosenthal is using Blyleven's adjusted ERA from Baseball-Reference.com is pretty damn cool and a major step in the right direction.
At the end of the article, Rosenthal scores even more points with me:
"I voted for Jim Rice once, then stopped -- he batted .320 at Fenway and .277 on the road. I also don't vote for Jack Morris, Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly, though each has his merits. Joe Carter is my most notable omission among the first-timers. His 10 100-RBI seasons are difficult to ignore, but his career .306 on-base percentage would be the lowest of any player elected by the BBWAA."
Here we've got a national, mainstream baseball writer with a vote for the Hall of Fame and he's using park adjusted ERAs, home/road batting splits and focusing on on-base percentages. It's almost too good to believe.
I have to admit that, up until a few months ago, I wasn't really much of a Ken Rosenthal fan. It's not that I didn't like him, just that I don't read The Sporting News very often. I searched through my entire archive and found just two mentions of Rosenthal in the 17 months this blog has been in existence.
Now he's one of my favorite national writers. Not only because of what he said in that article to put him head and shoulders above the majority of the people in his field, but also because he appeared on the Howard Stern radio show in October to "discuss" the Red Sox/Yankees ALCS.
I put "discuss" in quotes because he didn't exactly give a thorough breakdown of the series. Apparently Rosenthal wrote somewhere that he thought the Red Sox would win the series, so Stern, whose show is based in New York, had him on to discuss his prediction.
Except when Rosenthal got on the air, he changed his tune and basically said that it was possible the Red Sox would win, but he didn't think they would. Rosenthal ceased being interesting to the show at that point, but Howard kept him on the phone anyway. For the next 15 minutes or so, Howard, Robin and Artie talked about their routine for going to the bathroom. I could get more specific, but I won't.
Every few minutes, Howard would stop and say something like, "Hey Ken, what do you do in the bathroom?"
It was pretty funny and even more humorous to me because Rosenthal is pretty much at the top of his field, a field I want to be in some day. He was suddenly reduced to a guy no one was particularly interested in hearing from, but who was being used for comedic purposes. Rosenthal even did he best to hold his own, despite being severely over-matched.
I mean, can you imagine Phil Rogers even going on Stern? Anyway, that's why Ken Rosenthal is a new member of The Official Aaron's Baseball Blog Group of National Baseball Writers. For now anyway. I'll have to start reading more of his stuff, just to make sure his sudden greatness isn't a matter of small sample-sizes and having the good fortune of being booked on the greatest radio show in the history of mankind.
Since this entry is supposed to be a whole bunch of notes on different topics, I actually meant for that part about Rosenthal to be a lot shorter than it turned out to be. But that's okay, it's a perfect segue to the next thing on my list of topics.
Probably the number one thing associated with this blog is the fact that I write very lengthy entries almost every day. At some point, people started referring to them as "Gleeman-length." I've seen it used in both positive and negative ways, but for the most part I take it as a positive, so I've used it as well.
To be honest though, I'm wasn't 100% sure where the phrase was coined. Then I recently came across this blog entry by Christian Ruzich (of The Cub Reporter fame) that I think explains it:
"I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I am the person who first coined the adjective "Gleeman-length." It's being bandied about pretty regularly these days, and I just want you all to know that it did not spring, fully formed, into the Blogosphere like Athena from the head of Zeus. In fact, it was forged in my underground metaphor factory here in the mountains of southern California, and much effort was expended on it. It was part of a run that included such descriptors as "Pintovian," "Carminatish," and "Belthic," but it appears to be the only one that stuck."
Sure enough, I did a little searching and found the following entry from The Cub Reporter, dated May 13, 2003:
"As I mentioned yesterday, Will Carroll and I have been having an ongoing email discussion about the Cubs over the last few weeks, with an eye toward publishing it here (call it an homage to Rob & Rany on the Royals). We started out talking about pitch counts (big surprise) but have moved on to other subjects, including the third base situation, the leadoff situation, and a certain Hall of Famer currently toiling in Paramus or Mahwah or wherever he is.
Herewith, the first Gleeman-length installment of The C & C Baseball Factory:"
I think we can all agree that Christian is the creator. Some might even say he created a monster.
Anyway, after Ruzich made that post about the origin of Gleeman-length, a reader of his named Johnny Mack responded as follows:
"While Gleeman-length (an interesting construction, but one weakened by the clumsiness inherent in the use of a hyphen) could be considered a metaphor, it seems a broad use of the term. It's technically a "proper adjective", I think, because "length" is actually acting as an adjective suffix to the proper noun "Gleeman."
A better word for the purpose might be "gleemanic," an adjective which could serve more than one purpose: 1) it could describe writing which is considered lengthy in comparions to other examples which follow a similiar format; 2) it could suggest prolific writing on various aspects of a particular subject; 3) it could describe the amount of research and/or thought needed to write well about a subject; 4) it could describe the level of concentration and/or fanaticism needed to attain and maintain the kind of daily production that Gleeman does ... that'll do for starters -- it's time I brought this gleemanic comment to a close."
At this point I think we can all agree that this is far, far too much time being devoted to this topic, so I will move on...
Whaddya know, I can pick football too!
During the baseball season, I made daily "picks" for baseball games at the end of each day's entry, using Las Vegas odds and purely hypothetical betting. For the season I won slightly over $3,000 pretend dollars, which is pretty good.
For the recently completed NFL season, I was involved in a little contest over at Seth Stohs' site, SethSpeaks.net, where a group of nine bloggers and non-bloggers picked the winner of each football game for the entire season.
The final standings are in and Yours Truly has come away victorious! Go ahead, I think a little applause is reasonable for such an accomplishment.
For the year I went 176-80 picking the winners, which works out to 68.8%. I narrowly edged Ben Jacobs of the Universal Baseball Blog Inc., who went 174-82. And Ben writes about football for a living!
In addition to picking the winners every week, we also made pre-season predictions for all the year-end stuff. I looked back at mine and I think they turned out pretty well...
AFC Champ - Indianapolis Colts
NFC Champ - Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl Champ - Philadelphia Eagles
NFL MVP - Donovan McNabb
NFL Rookie of the Year - Charles Rogers
# of Vikings Wins - 8
Really, the only one of those that turned out horribly is the Charlie Rogers pick. He was playing well early on, but broke his collarbone and missed the final 11 games of the season.
Other than that, I'm looking good. My pre-season NFC Champs ended up with the best record in the conference and they have homefield throughout the playoffs. My AFC Champs finished 12-4 and have homefield in round one.
My MVP, Donovan McNabb, started very slow but finished very strong and is definitely among the top five candidates for the award. And the Vikings won nine games, missing my prediction by one.
So, lest anyone think my expertise is limited to the world of baseball. Of course, my fantasy football team in the Baseball Primer League didn't do all that well and my fantasy basketball teams aren't either, so perhaps I should stick to baseball after all.
The Fall of the Vikings
Speaking of the Vikings...
As many of you know, the Vikes missed out on the playoffs last Sunday by allowing a touchdown on the final play of the season. I'm not nearly as big of a Vikings fan as I am the Twins and Gophers, or even the Timberwolves, but that was one of the most painful endings to a game I have ever seen.
Let me count the ways...
1) They missed the playoffs after starting the season 6-0. Nothing like raising everyone's expectations so you can completely disappoint them in a season in which no one initially even thought you'd be all that good.
2) They lost on the very last play of the season, on a 4th and 25 semi-hailmary pass with zero time left on the clock.
3) They lost to the Arizona Cardinals, who finished the season 4-12, tied for the worst record in the entire NFL.
4) Their loss put the Green Bay Packers into the playoffs.
5) Everyone in Minnesota hates the Packers. Actually, despises might be a more apt description of their feelings.
6) The Packers/Broncos game was going on simultaneously. The Packers had been scoreboard watching all day and, despite their blowout win over Denver, they seemed resigned to the fact that it was all for naught.
Then, all of a sudden, the Vikings gave up two touchdowns in the final couple minutes and Lambeau Field was going crazy. It was as if the entire stadium just won the lottery.
7) Not five minutes before the Vikings blew the game, with Minnesota up two touchdowns, I noticed the Green Bay crowd cheering as the Packers took a 31-7 lead. I turned to the person sitting next to me and said something to effect of "I'm glad they're cheering. It'll be even better in about 10 minutes when the whole game was meaningless."
Oops. That's life as a Vikings fan. Always has been, always will be. Hey, at least we get a better draft pick now, right?
As long as we're talking about football and theoretical betting, let me remind everyone that I will be heading to Las Vegas next week. Don't worry, I have a bunch of really good guest writers set to take over for me while I'm gone.
I arrive in Vegas very early on January 4th and the Oklahoma/LSU BCS "championship" game will be played later that evening. So, my first official Vegas plans involve sitting at the sports book to watch that game. Hypothetically speaking (cause I don't think it's even good to talk about making real bets, even if you'll be doing them legally), I advise every one of my loyal readers to take Oklahoma, minus the points.
You'll thank me. I think.
Have a great New Year's Eve!
Here's hoping everyone has a good time tonight. Remember, if you're gonna drink, don't drive. And don't do anything I wouldn't do...
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****