February 26, 2003

Procrastination 101

I was planning on not writing an entry for today.

You see, at approximately 12:45 this afternoon I have/had a paper due in my "Mass Media Ethics" class. While I have been working on the paper for the last week or so, I am like any good college student in that I inevitably wait until the last moment to put the "finishing touches" on the paper.

My plan for last night was to work tirelessly on the paper and to skip writing an entry for this blog in order to devote as much time to the paper as possible. Makes sense right? I mean, the paper is a once or twice a semester thing, whereas I write something here at least 5 times a week. Plus, as much as I like you guys, you don't have the power to affect my GPA and you certainly lack the ability to protect me from my mother when my grades arrive in the mail.

The part of that equation that I did not factor in is that I am perhaps the worst procrastinator in the history of the human race. You may be thinking that I am really exaggerating when I say that, but if you knew me you wouldn't be so sure.

No matter what it is, I tend to wait until the last moment.

It's why, as I discussed earlier, I lost out on having my dorm room again next year.

And it's why I am writing this blog entry instead of my ethics paper.

I just can't help it because it is deeply ingrained in my inner-being, or it's at least a really bad habit.

I've convinced myself that if I don't stick to one topic and write 3,000 words on it for today's entry, it is okay that I am taking time away from my schoolwork to write it. In other words, if I just do some short comments on various topics, it'll be okay.

Now that I typed it on the screen, it really doesn't make any sense. But hey, it is keeping me from actual school work.

And away we go...

I saw the following article in the Houston Chronicle yesterday:

Berkman dismisses one-sided thinking

The story is about Houston outfielder Lance Berkman, who is a switch-hitter.

Here's a quote:

If he could do it all over again, Lance Berkman would not do it all over again. He definitely would not try to switch-hit in the major leagues. Lance would bear down, suck up and train himself to accept the scary visuals of a curveball whizzing straight for his noggin, then breaking sharply back across the plate.

This is interesting because Berkman is a "natural" left-handed hitter and has had a whole lot more success batting left-handed (against right-handed pitching) than he has had batting right-handed (against left-handed pitching).


Left-handed = .307/.420/.639

Right-handed = .240/.351/.364


Left-handed = .337/.438/.661

Right-handed = .308/.400/.467


Left-handed = .320/.401/.615

Right-handed = .218/.347/.372

2000-2002 (total for 3 years):

Left-handed = .322/.422/.642

Right-handed = .260/.368/.404

That is a huge difference.

He hits like Brian Giles from the left side and David Eckstein from the right.

Berkman is still a useful player batting right-handed, but that's only because he still manages to post a good OBP; he definitely should not be batting in the middle of the lineup on days when a lefty is on the mound.

Further down in the article I found another quote that "interested" me:

Berkman doesn't expect to evolve into as stout a hitter from the right side as he is from the left. That would be an unrealistic aspiration. Lance's contemporary reference standard for switch-hitters, Atlanta's Chipper Jones, has batted above .300 from both sides of the plate over the last three seasons, yet three-fourths of Chipper's homers have been jacked from the left.

Obviously, the problem with that quote is the part about 3/4 of Chipper Jones' homers during the last 3 seasons coming from the left side.

Why is that a problem you ask?


The author is trying to say that, because 3/4 of his homers have come from the left side, he doesn't have as much power from the right side.

There is one fatal flaw in that assumption however, which is this:


Left-handed = 1360 at bats

Right-handed = 339 at bats

In other words, during the last 3 years, only 19.9% of Chipper's at bats have come from the right side. Which means approximately 80% have come from the left side.

So really, if he's hit 25% of his homers from the right side during that span and has only had 20% of his at bats from that side, isn't he MORE powerful from the right side?

Well, yeah.


Left-handed = 1 HR / 17.9 AB

Right-handed = 1 HR / 14.1 AB

That, my friends, is an example of extremely sloppy journalism. The author uses a "stat" to support his "point" even though the actual stat is completely incorrect in the context he is using it. Someone reading that quote might think, "Wow, Chipper hits 3 times as many homers from the left side!" In reality, he hits more homers per at bat from the right side, which is the complete opposite of what the author was trying to show.

Those damn facts are always messing up good stories.

What makes this manipulation of stats even worse is the fact that the author actually used the exact same stat correctly in regard to Berkman just a few short paragraphs earlier!

Batting left, [Berkman] has a .317 career average over his three-plus Astros seasons and has whacked 95 home runs -- one every 13 at-bats. Batting right, he's a .256 hitter with just six shots having cleared the fence, or one per every 57 at-bats.

He uses the per-at-bat homer rate in that case because he wants to show that Berkman lacks power from the right side. So, using that stat is convenient for him and it helps support his argument. Then when he is talking about the exact same thing in regard to Chipper, the stat no longer supports his argument, so he just ditches it.

It's blatant and it's just flat out crappy journalism.

Over at ESPN.com, Peter Gammons' most recent article had an interesting tidbit about the Oakland A's.

(By the way, did you notice how I resisted the temptation to segue from the Berkman article to Gammons' article by using something like "Speaking of crappy journalism..."? Just checking)

Peter often discusses music in his articles, which is occasionally somewhat annoying, but in this case was interesting (to me at least):

Here are Scott Hatteberg's three musical picks for this spring training:

Jason Marz

Jets to Brazil

Supreme Beings of Leisure

Remember, Hatteberg was the first one interested in John Mayer and Jack Johnson, no matter how tired you may have gotten of each. And Hatteberg is amazed at teammate Barry Zito's musical progress, his song-writing and his guitar playing.

Zito is big on Mayer, which doesn't get far with A's GM Beane.

"It all sounds the same," Beane told Hatteberg and Zito. "Like if you've heard one Dave Matthews song, you've heard the entire repertoire."

I don't have anything earth-shattering to add here, other than it being really cool that a General Manager can talk to his first baseman and starting pitcher about John Mayer sounding like Dave Matthews.

Before Sid Thryft got canned by the Orioles, do you think he was discussing Coldplay with Jeff Conine and Sidney Ponson? I'm gonna go out on a very large and stable limb here and say no.

That story from Gammons now becomes reason number 653,484,567,593,920 why I think Billy Beane is an awesome General Manager.

Speaking of Billy Beane...

(Seriously, do you see how easy it would have been to have gone from Berkman to Gammons earlier by saying "Speaking of crappy journalism"? Once again, just checking)

I neglected to mention this earlier this week when it first came out, but Miguel Tejada is talking contract extension.

From the ESPN.com story:

Miguel Tejada wants his two children to have a stable education in the United States, and that's why he says he is so anxious to get a long-term commitment from the Oakland Athletics.

Call me a cynic, but I don't believe for a single moment that Miguel Tejada's children will have anything to do with whether or not he stays in Oakland. I could be wrong and it would be nice if I was, but I just don't think I am. That's not to say anything bad about Tejada, it's just the way it is.

My initial reaction to this story is that Miguel Tejada will be wearing a different uniform this time next year. I don't see Billy Beane and the A's committing to a long-term, multi-million dollar contract with Tejada.

He's a great player and he absolutely deserves to be paid very handsomely and to receive a long-term contract, but I just don't think the A's are going to be the team to give it to him.

Of course, maybe I am wrong. Maybe Tejada really does want to keep his kids in Oakland and maybe he's willing to sign a shorter deal, like say 3 years.

I bet Beane would be a whole lot more willing to give him 3 years and $35 million than he would 7 years and $75 mill. Having star players is definitely a nice thing, but having payroll flexibility, particularly when you are a low-budget ballclub like Oakland, is absolutely essential.

If Miguel Tejada is willing to sign a 3 or 4 year deal, his kids might grow up in Oakland. If not, I bet he'll be somewhere else and Mark Ellis or Bobby Crosby will be playing SS for the A's.

It'll be an interesting story to keep an eye on.

That's enough procrastination for today.

Please check back tomorrow when I'll have an exciting new announcement involving reader involvement.

It'll be fun for the whole family, I promise!

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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