December 5, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• At the press conference announcing his $10.5 million contract Torii Hunter used the "those nerds never played the game" cliche when asked about his terrible defensive numbers and then called Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press "a prick" four different times in response to questions about Hunter's very public and repeated stance against gay rights. As if there weren't already enough reasons to question to wisdom of signing him for purely on-field reasons.

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily went inside the numbers to show why Hunter's defense rates so poorly, including video of specific plays. Hageman played the game in high school, so not sure if that counts or what.

Aaron Purmort died at age 35, leaving behind a great wife, a great son, and a community who loved him online and in person. He also went out with the best obituary I've ever seen.

• Wanna buy Jonathan Papelbon's condo? It costs $7 million and includes zero colors.

• This is probably one of the top 10 signs someone has posted in the elevator of my building during the 10 months I've lived here.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post raised a lot of good points in arguing against the need for online comment sections attached to articles.

Jerry Kill was named Big Ten coach of the year just 15 months after Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan wrote that he shouldn't be allowed to coach the Gophers.

• This review of the new "America" restaurant at Donald Trump's hotel in Toronto is pure gold.

• Out of shape amateur MMA fighter tries the "Showtime" kick made famous by Anthony Pettis:

Some might say he failed, but failure is subjective anyway.

Josh Willingham announced his retirement, two months after his wife got mad at Berardino for reporting he planned to retire.

Dave Brown made his Fan Graphs debut writing about Willingham being the losing-est player.

• As someone who prefers staying home over just about anything movie theaters trying to be more like your living room is intriguing. But it'll never compete with not leaving the house.

Chris Rock gave a lot of interesting answers in a long, wide-ranging interview with Frank Rich.

Fran Tarkenton is never going to make the baseball Hall of Fame after admitting this stuff.

• It turns out the Twins' new coaching staff looks awfully familiar.

• If given the chance, how many MLB teams would wipe the slate clean and rid themselves of all contracts on the books? I think the Twins would likely be one of the them, despite Phil Hughes.

• Two of my favorites, Todd Barry and Tom Scharpling, sat down for a good chat.

• Scharpling is bringing "The Best Show On WFMU" back, minus WFMU, as a podcast.

• For the second time in three months the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an anti-transgender ad that never would have been accepted if it depicted any other minority group.

Gerald Green had one of the best in-game dunks you'll ever see:

And he's playing well for the Suns after looking like a bust early in his career.

• As expected, I crushed Michael Rand in the Minneapolis Star Tribune fantasy football challenge.

• Coup d'etat has good fries, gnocchi, fish and chips, and whiskey. Joy Summers wrote a good article about their one-year anniversary in Uptown, including guys like me asking for more TVs.

• My pick for Minneapolis' most underrated restaurant, Louie's Wine Dive, got a nice write-up centered around their chef, Patrick Matthews.

• "Gilmore Girls" watching update: Jon Hamm was on an episode in Season 3.

• Heyday is a fantastic restaurant and I'm sure that will remain true, but seeing Lorin Zinter's smiling face was a big part of the experience.

• Nye's Polonaise is closing after 65 years as a Northeast Minneapolis staple.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Aaron Gleeman in a bear suit"
- "Naked parties"
- "Paul Molitor's wife"
- "Snoop Dogg and Eddie Guardado"
- "Fred Durst baseball"
- "Angelina Jolie in Minnesota"
- "Where is Scott Ullger now?"
- "Lizzie Caplan smokes Marlboro lights"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Best That I Can" by Vance Joy:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Uber, which is offering a free ride to first-time users who sign up with the promo code "UberGleeman."

October 17, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• Approximately one million people sent me the New York Times' "brunch is for jerks" article, but here's the thing: Combining breakfast food and booze is undeniably great. End of story.

• UFC announcer Mike Goldberg did play-by-play for the Vikings-Lions game and it was a mess, with botched names and confused calls throughout. Afterward he cursed out people on Twitter who were criticizing his performance, at which point FOX removed him from their NFL schedule.

• If this is true about Kate Mara ... well, then I quit.

• How much payroll space do the Twins have and, more importantly, will they actually spend it?

Martha Stewart vs. Gwyneth Paltrow is this generation's Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com Dana Wessel for winning "Mrs. Arkansas International, 2014."

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we drank beer at 612 Brew and revisited our preseason predictions to see just how terrible they were.

• We also had Twins beat reporter Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press as our guest on "Gleeman and The Geek" two episodes ago and lots of listeners enjoyed it more than usual.

• Imagine if someone from England looked just like Aaron Rodgers and hung around Green Bay:

Tom Wrigglesworth is a quality name, too.

• I "took issue" with something a local newspaper columnist wrote about Joe Mauer and brain injuries, leading to City Pages' amusing recap and this brilliant "Douse Mauer in Gasoline and Chase Him with Matches" parody by Steve "Randball's Stu" Neuman.

• Speaking of which, one year ago Neuman wrote my favorite parody ever, including this opening line: "As night-life emissaries go, one could do better than Aaron Gleeman."

Maggie "Boss Lady Yung Mags" LaMaack is one of the most underrated writers in Minnesota, this time on the subject of using Tinder to date.

• The local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America gave Ron Gardenhire their "media good guy" award on his way out.

Andrew Friedman left the $50 million payrolls in Tampa Bay for the $250 million payrolls in Los Angeles and sent a goodbye letter to a Rays blog.

• I went to a high school journalism conference when the Final Four was here in 2001 and Bob Ryan's storytelling mesmerized me, so I enjoyed Grantland's profile of the Boston sportswriter.

• Believe it or not the Twins had many valuable players this season and I ranked them on my hypothetical team MVP ballot.

• Two all-time greats, Bill Murray and Howard Stern, had a nice long chat and it was very fun.

• You may not think so, but you'll definitely want to watch a little kid recreate Patrick Swayze's dance moves from the final scene of "Dirty Dancing":

I can do the same thing, except with Elaine Benes' dance moves in "Seinfeld."

Dax Shepard is one of the most underrated actors/funny people around and he was predictably funny/charming chatting with Marc Maron.

• I spent a week reading "Gone Girl" and wherever I put it down--on the bed, on the floor, on random places around the house--she immediately slept on it.

• On a related note, my power rankings of David Fincher movies:

1. "Seven"
2. "Fight Club"
3. "The Social Network"
4. "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
5. "The Game"
6. "Gone Girl"
7. "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"
8. "Panic Room"
9. "Zodiac"
10. "Alien 3"

I apologize in advance for not liking "Zodiac" more. I realize that will bother many people.

J.J. Hardy, whom the Twins basically gave away to the Orioles in 2011, signed a three-year, $40 million contract extension to remain in Baltimore.

• Thrilled that Tom Scharpling is bringing back "The Best Show" after reconsidering retirement.

• I agree with Rick Nelson's review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Libertine has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants for dinner and brunch.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Man who couldn't stop laughing at his own twin"
- "Sweet Martha's Cookies revenue"
- "Sylvester Stallone young beard"
- "What will happen to Rick Anderson?"
- "Jerome Felton's girlfriend"
- "What was Aaron Burr's sidekick's name?"
- "Jon Taffer pumpkin carving stencil"
- "Naked twins"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Take Me To Church" by Hozier:

October 7, 2014

Gleeman and The Geek #165: Mike Berardino and Manager Searches

On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we're joined by special guest Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for beers at New Bohemia and topics included the Twins' manager search and potential wild card candidates, expectations for the offseason, and eating a giant pretzel.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 165

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Here's what we looked like recording the podcast:

New Bohemia podcast


This week's blog content is sponsored by Uber, which is offering a free ride to first-time users who sign up with the promo code "UberGleeman."

October 11, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• This week the New York Times' "fashion and style" section featured an article by Matt Haber about Minnesotans trying to date in Uptown. It was met mostly with derision, as locals felt it was cheesy and cliche-filled. And it definitely was, as the intro makes very clear:

As night-life emissaries go, one could do worse than Robert John Wayne, a 31-year-old artist here who happily told a recent visitor about everything from an indigenous delicacy called the Juicy Lucy (a burger with cheese baked into the patty) to what women want, something Mr. Wayne should know, seeing as how he's dating four of them.

"Nobody's exclusive," he said "That's what dating is." Mr. Wayne, who described his work as "graffiti realism," was at Mortimer's, a wood-paneled bar on Lyndale Avenue in the swath of Minneapolis known as Uptown.

However, as someone who started hanging out in Uptown recently I mostly found it amusing and made a joke about what a quote of mine would've looked like in the article. And then a few days later friend of AG.com Randball's Stu wrote a brilliant parody of the Times article starring local sports bloggers for the Minneapolis Star Tribune's site. I'd suggest reading the Times version first and then reading Stu's version, because it's a masterful spoof, but here's how it begins:

As night-life emissaries go, one could do better than Aaron Gleeman, a 30-year-old Minnetonka sports blogger who wearily told a recent visitor about everything from a baseball statistic called FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) to what women want, something Mr. Gleeman shouldn't know, seeing as how he recently asked one if he could live-tweet their date.

"It's an endless series of half-starts and missed opportunities," he said. "That's what dating is." Mr. Gleeman, who described his work as "sitting at my computer and writing about baseball as I wait for death's sweet embrace," was at Stella's, a multi-level bar in the swath of Minneapolis known as Uptown.

And then it just keeps building from there. As one of the main characters I'm biased, but it's one of the funniest things I've ever read and so perfectly matches the tone and structure of the New York Times version. My sincere hope is that for the rest of my life whenever anyone Googles me that article is the first result they see. Also, you should follow Stu on Twitter for more genius.

• Here's a non-parody response to the New York Times dating-in-Minnesota article that's also interesting. I'm definitely very guilty of No. 2 on her list and thought for a second she might be talking about me with the quote: "We had a really awesome date and then he bailed on the second date citing 'baseball' as the reason."

• So the Twins are hiring a "full-time data engineer" and OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE COMMENTS.

• Going back to read the stuff about Christian Ponder from right after the Vikings drafted him is quite an experience.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked a ton about Ron Gardenhire, sung the praises of 612 Brew, and unknowingly had our picture taken from across the bar.

• I'm probably Hawk Harrelson's biggest/only fan in Minnesota, but Awful Announcing's lengthy compilation of the season's best "Sad Hawk" moments is undeniably magical:

Harrelson is the Vin Scully of freaking out on the air when things go against the White Sox.

• Speaking of which, Scully will record your outgoing voicemail message for $299 and the money goes to Autism charity. "Hello, this is Vin Scully. You’ve reached Aaron, but there’s zero chance he wants to talk to you, or anyone, on the phone. Seriously, just text him. But leave a message if you want to, I guess."

• Scully's radio call of Juan Uribe's series-winning homer was predictably lovable.

• No one ever listens to me about John Mayer, but maybe you'll listen to Molly Lambert and Tess Lynch.

• Seriously, are any of you even real?

• Twins Daily's annual "Offseason Handbook" is available for presale, so order now and you can get tons of great content featuring analysis of free agent and trade targets, payroll breakdowns, and organizational depth charts for just $4.95. Not only is it a worthwhile product for a very fair price, buying the "Offseason Handbook" also supports all the free content John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs churn out at Twins Daily all season.

• Hageman's year-end collection of Twins numbers has lots of interesting tidbits.

• I'm not on Tinder, in part because I have a Blackberry and in part because it sounds awful, but if I were on it I'd follow this guy's lead and exclusively talk to women in rap lyrics.

David Ortiz celebrating with Koji Uehara is not safe for work.

• America's highest-paid sportswriter.

• It might be time to re-think America's drug laws now that they're hurting our chubby comedians.

Aubrey Plaza behaved around Chris Bosh the same way I'd behave around Aubrey Plaza.

• In addition to being one half of my favorite podcast, Dave Shumka also writes funny stuff for CBC Music, like how WebMD would diagnose Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus based on their lyrics.

• Take two minutes and see why Jen Kirkman is great:

Related: My mom really liked that video.

Michael Rand is now shooting daily videos for the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website and his latest captures the pure, unadulterated Dana Wessel Experience.

Gabe Vodicka of Flagpole wrote a really good article about Jason Isbell's success as a solo artist, struggles with substance abuse, and songwriting prowess. I'm going to see Isbell at the Varsity Theater in a couple weeks and couldn't be more excited about it.

• How much payroll space do the Twins have and will they actually spend it?

This exchange made me chuckle. Funny how fast it goes from strong opinion nationally to being nice locally.

• Also: Presented without comment, other than to say those all occurred within 24 hours.

Amy Poehler wrote about working at an ice cream parlor for The New Yorker.

Marc Maron's new stand-up comedy special "Thinky Pain" is now available on Netflix and I love that the first person you see and hear is Tom Scharpling giving a pep talk.

• I enjoyed Todd Barry's chat with Natasha Leggero.

• Does anyone in or around Green Bay have any leads on lodging for Packers-Vikings weekend next month? I'm thinking about driving there with a bunch of doofuses, but hotels are all booked up and we'd rather not make a trek from somewhere like Appleton. We're willing to get creative.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Professional baseball duos"
- "Aaron Gleeman hot wife"
- "What if I eat Green Giant steamers every night?"
- "Nick Punto head-first slide"
- "Influential conservative podcasts"
- "Aaron gettin fat"
- "0.25 pounds in one day is how many pounds in one year?"
- "Lori Loughlin socks"

• Finally, because I stumbled across this video and immediately fell in love with both the singer and her acoustic rendition of the Whitney Houston song this week's AG.com-approved music video is Possum Plow's cover of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody":


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April 4, 2013

Ron Gardenhire, Joe Mauer, and the No. 2 spot

joe mauer and brian dozier

There's been lots of talk about who should bat second in the Twins' lineup. Many simulations and studies show that teams tend to score more when the best overall hitter bats second, but for most of MLB history the best hitter has batted third or fourth and the second spot has been home to lesser hitters with above-average speed and contact skills. Not surprisingly Ron Gardenhire prefers the speed-and-contact route, telling Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

I've always had the thought a No. 2 guy has to be able to take pitches a little bit. He has to be able to protect the guy on base and be an on-base-percentage guy also so your 3-4-5 guys are getting opportunities. Bunt. Get 'em over. Be able to shoot the ball the other way with a man on second. All those things. Basically, handle the bat. That's a No. 2 guy.

Not mentioned by Gardenhire is that he also has a very strong preference for second basemen and shortstops in the second spot. You wouldn't think a player's defensive position should factor into where he fits best in the batting order, but whether Gardenhire specifically wants middle infielders or middle infielders are simply the players who usually fit his "handle the bat" description they've dominated the No. 2 spot since he took over as manager. Starts in the No. 2 spot, 2002-2012:

Cristian Guzman       254
Nick Punto            228
Alexi Casilla         203
Orlando Hudson        126
Ben Revere             86
Jason Bartlett         83
Luis Rivas             77

All four players to start at least 100 games in the No. 2 spot were switch-hitting middle infielders with little power. Six of the seven players to start at least 75 games in the No. 2 spot were middle infielders with little power and the seventh, Ben Revere, was a speedy, no-power center fielder. In all 17 players started at least 30 games in the No. 2 spot and all but four of them (Revere, Joe Mauer, Jacque Jones, Doug Mientkiewicz) were middle infielders.

Gardenhire has used middle infielders in the second spot regardless of on-base skills and overall hitting ability, and not surprisingly the results haven't been good. None of the seven players with at least 75 starts in the No. 2 spot had a .350 on-base percentage there and only Revere, Jason Bartlett, and Orlando Hudson were above .330. Cristian Guzman, who started most often in the No. 2 spot, had a terrible .283 OBP there, and Luis Rivas was even worse at .276.

Looking beyond on-base percentage, the Twins' overall production out of the No. 2 spot has been consistently awful under Gardenhire. During his first 11 seasons as manager here's how the Twins ranked in OPS from the No. 2 spot in the 14-team American League: 13th, 13th, 14th, 14th, 12th, 13th, 8th, 12th, 11th, 13th, 12th. Not once in 11 seasons did they place higher than eighth in OPS from the second spot and they were 12th or worse nine times.

Berardino's article notes that Jack Goin, the Twins' manager of baseball research, has suggested that Mauer should bat second. Goin is the team's stat-head and no doubt has seen the research showing that the No. 2 spot should be filled by the best hitter. Mauer fits that description, with the added benefit of having more on-base skills than power, making him ideal there. As of last week Gardenhire seemed uncertain about the idea, saying:

People say Joe Mauer should hit second or whatever, but do we really want "man on second base and Joe Mauer coming up," and he's shooting it over the other way? I don't know about that. That's not his game. Just hitting is his game, but he could do it. ...

Once we start, I'll make that final decision. I'll sit down with my staff and our stat guy and see what that computer spits out, and then we'll go from there. If it's coughing, then I'll do it my way.

For the past 11 seasons "I'll do it my way" led to ranking among the worst teams in the league at getting production out of the second spot, as Gardenhire chose "handle the bat" middle infielders for a role that logs the second-most plate appearances in the batting order and sets the table for the lineup's power hitters. Sure enough it looked like Brian Dozier, a second baseman with little power and a .280 OBP between the minors and majors last year, would bat No. 2 this year.

All the statistical analysis in the world doesn't mean a whole lot if the actual decision-makers don't incorporate it into their decision-making, but whatever Goin and "that computer" said must have worked on Gardenhire because Mauer batted second in the first two games. Of course, it's worth noting that Gardenhire also batted Mauer second on Opening Day in 2008, but gave up on the idea after a week and turned to light-hitting middle infielders Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto.

In fact, Gardenhire has batted Mauer second a total of 73 times in nine seasons and Mauer has fared well in the role, hitting .316/.373/.512, but within weeks the manager has always moved the best hitter back into the third spot and inserted a light-hitting middle infielder into the second spot. We'll see if it sticks this time around. If it does Goin deserves credit for making a convincing argument and Gardenhire deserves credit for listening and adapting. Better late than never.

Most of the focus on batting orders tends to be about the interactive nature of a lineup, such as a leadoff man getting on base in front of big bats or a cleanup hitter "protecting" a No. 3 hitter, but the bigger impact tends to come from the allocation of plate appearances. Last year, for instance, the No. 1 spot in the Twins' lineup batted 758 times, whereas the No. 9 spot batted 619 times. Moving up or down one spot in the lineup adds or subtracts 15-20 plate appearances.

In this case by dropping Dozier from No. 2 to No. 8 they'd take away 100 plate appearances from one of the lineup's worst hitters. And by moving Mauer from No. 3 to No. 2 and sliding everyone else behind him up one spot as well they'd give an extra 15-20 plate appearances to each the lineup's best hitters. Whether you want to call that sabermetrics or common sense, more of the best hitters and less of the worst hitters is a pretty smart approach.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Territory Train, which takes the heavy lifting out of planning and executing Twins road trips. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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