The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Cardboard Cut-Ups

My Michael Jackson post prompted some Facebook-based reminiscence from my friend Tim, recalling the junior high school Saturdays in which we'd head down to Crossroads Mall in Salt Lake City to spend our allowances on records. I do remember one time we went off the beaten path to the distinctly Mormon-flavored Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore where during a previous drag of a visit with my mother, I had discovered a book about baseball cards. With that in mind, I guess that particular week I'd refrained from excavating whatever British Invasion landmark album I'd been curious about, because I had no hesitation to shell out $8.95 for The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book.

Alternately hilarious and poignant, that book quickly became one of my all-time favorites; hell, I'll put it with The Summer Game and Ball Four on my shortest of short lists of baseball books. Two decades later it would become one of the initial inspirations for this site, albeit one I've invoked with decreasing frequency as my own work here and beyond has grown more analytical.

I'm reminded of all of this because of a Los Angeles Times article linked by Cardboard Gods' Josh Wilker, a man who adopted the book's style of incorporating baseball cards and the existential revelations they held into the narrative of his own journey. In it the LAT writer catches up with the authors of TGABC... — that thing just doesn't want to condense — Brendan Boyd and Fred C. Harris:
Boyd and Harris were twentysomething baseball geeks who worked together at a Boston bookstore. The idea, Boyd remembers today, came when a customer requested a book about baseball cards and he and Harris realized that there was none. After the store manager, Richard McDonough, left to become an editor at Little, Brown, he signed the pair to write their baseball card book

At once irreverent and nostalgic, "Great American" is a hybrid of Roger Kahn's "The Boys of Summer" and Mad magazine. The first section is devoted to Boyd's memories of collecting cards in the 1950s and early 1960s, at "corner stores that were never on corners. Variety stores completely lacking in variety. They were generally owned by middle-aged men with psoriasis -- paunchy citizens with sallow complexions and sour outlooks, who wore plaid woolen shirts no matter how hot it was and little felt hats that had repeatedly been stepped on."

...Boyd went on to contribute the text for "Racing Days," a book featuring Henry Horenstein's exquisite horse racing photography. He also wrote the novel "Blue Ruin," about the fixing of the 1919 World Series. He was a pop music and financial columnist. Today, he is working on another novel.

"I'm proud of the baseball card book, but it feels like it was written by a different person," he says. "A lot of people thought I was interested in baseball cards, but I was really interested in the cards as a way of talking about childhood."

Harris owned a store in Boston called the Great American Baseball Card Company until, he says, "baseball cards stopped being about fun. The whole money motive got disgusting." He now works in IT analysis and writes a blog.
The article also has a few choice quotes from Terry Cannon, the executive director of the Baseball Reliquary, even drawing a line from the book to the Pasadena-based Reliquary's intersection of baseball and art, including their upcoming exhibit, Cardboard Fetish. Good stuff, though a part of me wishes Boyd and Harris had more baseball writing in them than just that one tome.

I guess it's up to the rest of us now.


Friday, June 26, 2009


Death Scores a Hat Trick

Like everyone else, I was surprised and saddened by the death of Michael Jackson yesterday, capping a surreal day of celebrity demises that also claimed Farrah Fawcett and garage rock legend Sky Saxon.

I'm old enough to remember when Thriller hit the racks and was all the rage; I didn't have a copy, but my brother did, and that was more than enough for me to get sick of it — except for maybe Eddie Van Halen's guitar playing on "Beat It" - because for a couple of years, his songs were everywhere. Still, for a kid who didn't have cable TV, I have to admit that his videos, watched sparingly in their rotation on Friday Night Videos, were something else.

Nonetheless, for some reason the two video clips I thought of with regards to Michael Jackson's music aren't those well-worn classics but these rather off-the-beaten-path ones which speak to his broad cultural reach by featuring his music but not his image (Cliff Corcoran curated an idiosyncratic selection of Jackson vids at Bronx Banter, while Pitchfork has the motherlode). The first is from the Kevin Smith movie Clerks II, a scene in which Becky (Rosario Dawson) teaches Dante (Brian O'Halloran) to dance to the Jackson 5 classic "ABC." Joyful, absurd, and poignant all at once:

The second one is just surreal — a group of some 1,500 Filipino prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center learning an ensemble dance routine to "Thriller." You can read about the dance program here, but for now, just watch:

Meanwhile, here's a clip of Saxon's band, the Seeds, in a 1967 clip on the Mothers-In-Law show, lip-synching their hit "Pushin' Too Hard," one of many garage rock staples immortalized on the Nuggets compilation. Saxon's the guy with the cape:

As for Fawcett, being the prettiest of Charlie's Angels, married to The Six Million Dollar Man made her about as famous as Reggie Jackson in my eight-year-old mind. Here she is in the opening credits to the pilot episode of her first star vehicle:

Labels: , ,


Get Me Rewrite

It was a weird week for the Prospectus Hit List in that I worked ahead considerably so that I could enjoy a night out with my wife for her birthday. Then of course I found that three players whose slumps I'd highlighted — the Tigers' Magglio Ordonez, the Rangers' Chris Davis, and the Reds' Willy Taveras — all had big nights while I was out. Get me rewrite, and more coffee, damn it.
[#8 Tigers] Cancel Maggs Subscription? The Tigers bench Magglio Ordonez for four games, a move which has agent Scott Boras up in arms. The 35-year-old Ordonez is only 204 plate appearances away from vesting an $18 million option for 2010, but he's hitting just .274/.348/.354 after connecting for his first homer since April 27; his GB/FB ratio has nearly doubled, while his line drive rate has dropped 40 percent.

[#12 Rangers] Swish Davis and Company: A 2-7 tumble, part of an 9-12 June swoon, knocks the Rangers out of the sole possession of first place that they'd enjoyed since May 5. They're hitting just .221/.282/.368 this month, with Hank Blalock (.182/.280/.3218), Nelson Cruz (.183/.256/.394) and Chris Davis among the bigger bats stinking up the joint, though a four-hit performance snaps him out of a .200/.250/.333 showing. Davis has whiffed 22 times in his last 49 at-bats, and 103 times in 230 at-bats overall (against just 15 walks). He's crossed the halfway point to breaking the single-season strikeout rate—by mid-September.

[#22 Reds] Can't Stop the Bleeding: The Reds slide below .500 and into fourth place in the NL Central thanks to Dusty Baker's stubborn insistence upon keeping Willy Taveras not only in the lineup but also in the leadoff spot. Taveras is just 4-for-54 in June without a walk or an extra-base hit, and as Geoff Young points out, his slump actually goes back to May 15; he's now at .104/.128/.113 in 111 PA since then. In an unrelated story, the Reds are averaging just 3.8 runs per game since May 15, the league's third-lowest rate. Late note: In the exception that proves the rule, Taveras goes 3-for-5 with a double.
By the third one, to hell with it, tack on the postscript.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Missing the Point on Manny?

Something that keeps coming up in the mainstream reporting surrounding Manny Ramirez's return, and something I've been asked about in radio spots — it came up in today's Toledo hit — and in the BP piece's comment thread, is the idea that his rehab stint is a) unique to his case and b) a violation of the spirit of the suspension which shows what a farce the whole system is. The Plaschkes, Ringolsbys and Justices are having kittens as they work overtime to manufacture outrage over this, and I'm sure there are plenty of talk radio hosts around the country stoking the fires.

As to the first of those two statements, in fact every player who's been suspended for 50 games under baseball's drug policy has had the same right to such rehab stint, including Ramirez's Dodger teammate Guillermo Mota, who did so with the Mets' Triple-A affiliate back in 200, and the Phillies' J.C. Romero, who did so in the Phillies' chain last month.

As to the second statement, people seem to forget that the policy is the product of collective bargaining. MLB and the owners can't just unilaterally impose their will to punish the players — that's why there's a union, for crying out loud, and that's what the 1994 strike was all about, the prevention of the owners from unilaterally imposing working conditions.

There's nothing magical about the number 50 in a 50-game suspension other than the fact that it's a round number. It seems apparent that the Players Association would only accept such a length of time for a first-violation suspension if a minor league rehab stint were exempted from that count. Had they not agreed to such a stint, it's quite possible the players wouldn't have accepted a suspension longer than, say, 40 games, and Ramirez would be coming back cold, or forced to spend a week at the team's extended spring training complex or something. The overall timeline for his return to the majors might not have changed at all.

Labels: , , ,


Mind Like a Steel Trap

A few weeks back, I was in Minneapolis for the wedding of my wife's cousin, and at some point during the festivities, the wedding of the bride's father came up in conversation. It took place on June 25, 1977, which also happens to be my wife's birthday (the birthday girl was the flower girl for the wedding). My father-in-law told me a story about taking his two sons to see the White Sox play the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium the day before the wedding.

He said he remembered the Sox leadoff hitter Ralph Garr getting a single but being thrown out at second base by Twins left fielder (and future multimillion dollar Brewer bust) Larry Hisle, who had apparently been forewarned that the speedy Garr liked to stretch singles into doubles. He also remembered Oscar Gamble crushing a long home run for the White Sox, as did both of my brothers-in-law when the game came up for conversation elsewhere during the weekend.

Of course, I couldn't resist going back to find the box score for that game, and lo and behold, those details were just as they'd remembered. Garr was indeed thrown out by Hisle -- that actually happened on the game's first at-bat. Gamble homered off Twins starter Paul Thormodsgard in the sixth, the second homer of a back-to-back tandem following Lamar Johnson. In fact, the ball must have been jumping off the bat that day, because there were actually six homers hit, three by the White Sox (Jim Essian being the other), and three by the Twins (Hisle, Lyman Bostock and Craig Kusick).

As it turns out there would have been a seventh home run. According to Baseball Toaster's Bob Timmermann, who randomly exhumed the box score and wrote about the game a few years back, Garr came up in the third inning with two men on:
Third baseman Eric Soderholm led off with a single and catcher Jim Essian reached on an error by shortstop Roy Smalley. Garr then hit a deep fly to right that Ford made a leap for against the wire fence in Bloomington. Ford crashed to the ground and first base umpire Nestor Chylak ran out to make the call and seemed to take a while. While this was happening, Soderholm and Essian went back to their bases, thinking that Ford had caught the ball. But Ford hadn't, the ball had gone over the fence. However, as Essian went back to first, Garr passed him on the bases. So Garr was credited with a single, but was then called out for passing Essian. Soderholm and Essian did score to cut the lead to 5-2.
As it turns out, the Sox needed Garr's extra run, as they wound up falling to the Twins, 7-6.

Anyway, given how often memory proves faulty when it comes to recalling old games, I was pretty impressed that the details which were relayed to me did match the picture this time. Fun stuff.

Labels: ,


Home Sweet Hell

Today's Prospectus/Insider twofer covers the Phillies' odd home-road split:
On Sunday, the Phillies fell to the Orioles for their second consecutive sweep and third straight series loss at the hands of an American League team. Though they remained atop the NL East, the defending world champions finished their latest homestand with a 1-8 record, their worst since 2004. Indeed, Citizens Bank Ballpark hasn't lavished much brotherly love on the Phillies this year, and not because of their notoriously leather-lunged fans. The Phillies have gone just 13-22 at home, with a .371 winning percentage that ranks 29th in the majors, surpassing only the Nationals. On the other hand, their 23-9 road record, good for a .719 winning percentage, is the majors' best. What in the name of the Phillie Phanatic is going on?

...Looking more closely at the team's home/road splits and their overall numbers, it's worth remembering that these aren't the 2008 Phillies. The flaws of this year's squad start with the fact that while they're outscoring all other NL teams with 5.3 runs per game, they're allowing runs at the second-highest rate (5.0). The pitching staff has been in disarray all season long thanks to injuries, from Cole Hamels' elbow to Brett Myers' hip to Brad Lidge's knee, and, while healthy, neither Joe Blanton nor Jamie Moyer have lived up to last year's solid performances.

The main problem is that their staff isn't well suited to its home park. Where last year's pitchers generated ground balls on 46.4 percent of all batted balls, good for seventh in the league, this year's model is getting ground balls on only 42.9 percent of batted balls, the league's lowest rate. With Myers possibly out for the year, they lack a single starter above 46.0 percent; it doesn't help that his replacement, rookie Antonio Bastardo, is at 30.0 percent. Blanton, in his first full year with the team, is at 41.1 percent. Chan Ho Park, whose career-best 52.6 percent last year offered hope — both that he could survive outside Dodger Stadium and that the Phillies could add a ground-baller — regressed significantly and was blitzed out of the rotation. Park was replaced by J.A. Happ, who at 38.2 percent is another extreme fly-baller.

Particularly at Citizens Bank Park, those fly balls means more home runs. While its 1002 Park Factor in Clay Davenport's translations means that it's basically neutral as far as scoring is concerned, CBP is very home run-friendly. The park ranked in the top five in home runs in four of the past five seasons, including the major league lead in 2007. It dipped to seventh last year because the Phillies' staff allowed only 0.96 homers per nine at home, 0.37 lower than in any year since the park's 2004 introduction. They're yielding an astronomical 1.65 HR/9 at home this year, as 19.2 percent of all fly balls off of opponents' bats have left the CBP field of play, a rate 50 percent higher than the major league average.
Sample size obviously has a lot to do with the incongruity of the Phillies' record; their 348-point home field disadvantage (the difference between their home and road winning percentages) is more than double the largest full-season split, and eight of the top 20 teams that show up in a raw ranking from the post-1960 expansion era hail from strike-affected seasons (1972, 1981, 1994, 1995). Here are the full-season leaders:
Tm    Year  Hm W-L  WPCT   Rd W-L  WPCT     HFA
KCR 1998 29-51 .363 43-38 .531 -.168
BOS 1980 36-45 .444 47-32 .595 -.151
CIN 2001 27-54 .333 39-42 .481 -.148
NYY 1965 40-43 .482 49-32 .605 -.123
OAK 1971 46-35 .568 55-25 .688 -.120
LAD 1970 39-42 .481 48-32 .600 -.119
MIL 1999 32-48 .400 42-39 .519 -.119
SDP 2001 35-46 .432 44-37 .543 -.111
BOS 2002 42-39 .519 51-30 .630 -.111
NYM 1968 32-49 .395 41-40 .506 -.111
STL 1970 34-47 .420 42-39 .519 -.099
ATL 2001 40-41 .494 48-33 .593 -.099
MIL 1980 40-42 .488 46-34 .575 -.087
MIN 1973 37-44 .457 44-37 .543 -.086
CAL 1984 37-44 .457 44-37 .543 -.086
NYM 1979 28-53 .346 35-46 .432 -.086
CLE 2005 43-38 .531 50-31 .617 -.086
CIN 1999 45-37 .549 51-30 .630 -.081
CHW 1979 33-46 .418 40-41 .494 -.076
Those 2001 Braves are thge only team to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record over the course of the full season. The list only goes to 19 teams there because the next six are tied with a 74-point deficit. The 2009 Diamondbacks, who are 14-23 at home and 15-18 on the road for a 165-point deficit, also have a shot at breaking the Royals' record; the current Marlins, who are 17-20 at home and 18-16 on the road, have a 143-point deficit that might work its way into the class photo as well.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Missing Manny?

In today's Prosepctus Hit and Run, I examine how the Dodgers have stayed afloat since during Manny Ramirez's suspension, an analysis that took a close look at Juan Pierre:
...Ramirez is eligible to return to the Dodgers' lineup on July 3, and barring a major collapse over their next nine games, which come against three .500ish teams, his team will have weathered his loss just fine. They were 21-8 when the news of his suspension broke, with a +55 run differential, both major league bests. Since then they've gone 25-16 with a +30 run differential, both National League bests, and they've held the Hit List's top spot since the first regular season rankings. At the time, they had a 6½-game lead over their closest pursuers, the Giants, an 8½ game lead over their expected rivals, the Diamondbacks, and an 83.3 percent shot at the playoffs according to our plain-vanilla playoff odds. Now they lead the Giants by 8½ games, with the Diamondbacks DOA at 17 games back, and their overall odds at 97.8 percent. That's about as pretty as a team can sit.

Pierre hasn't homered all year, but his overall slugging percentage is 50 points higher than [James] Loney, 98 points higher than [Rafael] Furcal, and 133 points higher than [Russell] Martin. Indeed, the supreme irony of this entire fiasco is that the ridiculously expensive slap-hitting speedster who had been relegated to fourth outfielder status has gone bonkers upon being restored to the lineup. Pierre collected multiple hits in 14 of the first 20 games after the suspension, and has now done so in 19 of 41, including a three-hit effort in the most recent ESPN Sunday Night Game of the Week against the Angels. Thanks to an unsustainable .368 batting average on balls in play, he's third in the batting race at .337, and his .392 OBP and .433 SLG would both be career highs.

Furthermore, his .198 MLVr trails only Ramirez (.641), [Casey] Blake (.249) and [Matt] Kemp (.211) among Dodger regulars, which raises the question of what happens once Ramirez returns. Last week, manager Joe Torre told reporters he'd be headed back to the bench, but given Andre Ethier's slump in Ramirez's absence (.233/.296/.404) and struggles against lefties (.195/.279 /.377), it's not hard to envision a potential Ramirez-Pierre-Kemp alignment working its way into Torre's rotation; Pierre is hitting .411/.476/.518 in 65 PA against lefties, the kind of small-sample performance Torre might find impossible to resist.

The larger question is whether Pierre's play has boosted his value enough to make him attractive to other teams, and the answer is "probably not." He's about halfway through his absurd five-year deal, owed $10 million this year, $10 million next year, and $8.5 million in 2011. It's unlikely any team is willing to assume the approximately $22 million he'll still have coming after the trading deadline; in the current economic climate, even half that might be a stretch, and with the Dodgers already eating $21 million worth of Andruw Jones pie between here and 2014, it's tough to envision them having an appetite for much more — unless Steve Phillips, who from the ESPN booth has lobbied for the Dodgers to take care of Pierre so often you'd think he was his agent, suddenly finds himself in a GM chair. Suffice it to say that there's no threat of that these days.

...Back to Ramirez, it will be interesting to see how the fan base and the mainstream media, both local and national, handle his return. Prior to his suspension, he had mostly enjoyed a nonstop lovefest even given this winter's contentious negotiations. So long as he can still produce — even if not at the level he had done since last August — the majority of Dodger fans will likely warm to him, rationalizing that he's paid his debt to society. His transgressions will almost certainly generate some boos in opposing ballparks, but that's hardly new given his tenure playing the villain in Boston; on the other hand, his sixth-place showing in the All-Star balloting suggests he's also got his supporters outside the city of angels. But expect that the moment the Dodgers finally lose three games in a row — amazingly, they've yet to do so — you'll see a spate of articles from the usual hacks on Manny's tired act and the way his return has disrupted the team chemistry, hanging poor Juan Pierre out to dry at a time his career was undergoing a renaissance. That train is never late.
Of course, as I note in the article, the team's pitching has plenty to do with their surviving without Manny; they're allowing fewer runs per game than any NL team, they lead in BP's starter- and reliever-based win expectancy metrics, and they're getting by with Jeff Weaver and Eric Milton having made eight starts. That those two as well as free agents Randy Wolf and Casey Blake and nobodies like Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario have been contributors to the team's success even as the Loneys and Martins have disappointed reflect favorably on Colletti and his staff, for all of their various missteps. Even a blind chicken finds a few kernels of corn now and again.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 22, 2009


What's Eating A-Rod?

For the Baseball Prospectus/ESPN Insider soup du jour, I join forces with Will Carroll to examine Alex Rodriguez's struggles, which saw him benched for Friday and Saturday's games amid an 8-for-55 June swoon that dragged his overall line down to .212/.370/.462. Here's a taste:
The schadenfreudians might believe that Rodriguez is receiving a cosmic comeuppance for his sins, but the slugger's statistical line suggests his slump is nothing extraordinary, except perhaps in the context of his extraordinary career. His .250 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) is 22 points below his career mark, but about the same distance above two of his five full seasons in pinstripes. It surpasses all but 24 batting title qualifiers, not that A-Rod himself has enough plate appearances to qualify. He's homered in 5.4 percent of his PA, which would rank ninth among qualifiers, though it would be the fifth-lowest of his career.

The 33-year-old superstar's real problem is that the hits aren't falling in. Prior to his benching, Rodriguez's batting average on balls in play was .192, 128 points below his career mark and 10 points below the lowest qualifier, Jay Bruce. Upon closer inspection, he's hit line drives — which result in hits far more frequently than any other type — on just 14.8 percent of his balls in play, well below last year's 18.1 percent. Meanwhile, his groundball rate has risen significantly. Using BP Idol contestant Brian Cartwright's BABIP estimator (15 * FB% + .24 * GB% + .73 * LD%) with the Baseball Info Solutions-based data available at Fangraphs around which he designed that formula (instead of our own MLB Advanced Media-based data, which differs somewhat), we can see how askew his results are:
Year    LD%    GB%    FB%  eBABIP  BABIP    dif
2002 19.0 38.1 42.9 .294 .292 -.002
2003 22.8 38.8 38.4 .317 .309 -.008
2004 15.5 45.2 39.3 .281 .313 .032
2005 15.6 44.8 39.7 .281 .349 .068
2006 18.1 42.3 39.6 .293 .329 .036
2007 16.9 41.1 41.9 .285 .315 .030
2008 18.1 42.0 39.9 .293 .332 .039
2009 14.8 46.3 38.9 .278 .192 -.086
Total 17.9 41.8 40.2 .291 .315 .024
Because BABIP is so unstable, the formula isn't terribly accurate given one season's worth of data; Cartwright notes that the annual root mean square error for hitters is 36 points. Even so, while A-Rod may be making solid contact less frequently, his batted ball distribution isn't so out of whack that it should produce a sub-.200 BABIP. Decreased foot speed from aging or injury doesn't explain the dip, either; he's produced infield hits on about eight percent of groundballs since 2002, but just four percent this year — a shortfall of two hits.

Indeed, his numbers could simply be the product of bad luck in a small sample size. Such low BABIPs over the course of exactly 165 PA aren't uncommon, with 86 hitters—many of them accomplished sluggers—enduring such stretches since Opening Day 2007, including eight this year...
Meanwhile, Will takes the medhead approach to discuss how little we know about the wave of hip procedures that have been done on hitters lately (Chase Utley, Mike Lowell, Alex Gordon, Carlos Delgado) because the latter two aren't even back in action yet. Elsewhere at BP, Will cited Pete Abraham's piece from last week about the Yankees' failure to follow the plan for A-Rod. Here's Pete:
According to Rodriguez, the plan put in place by Philippon and Lindsay was for him to take 5-8 games off during his first 45 games back with the team. Not 45 days, 45 games.

But over the first 38 games he was back, A-Rod sat out zero games. He started every one of them, 35 of them at third base. Day games after night games, rain-delayed games, every single game.

A-Rod said he fought to stay in games, which is what he supposed to do. Knowing him, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did. But why didn’t the Yankees stick with the plan their doctors drew up? All of a sudden a third baseman with a high school education knew better than the two best doctors in their respective fields? Of course Alex said he wanted to play. What else would he say?

Joe Girardi admitted yesterday that he should have given Alex more days off than he did. It appears that Brian Cashman finally forced the issue yesterday. But he should have made that call a week ago. A-Rod has been struggling for three weeks now. His June slugging percentage is .291. Teams have been intentionally walking other players to get to him.
It simply amazes me how the team has handled their priciest asset, and it speaks ill of Brian Cashman that he hasn't secured a better backup to cover for Rodriguez on his much-needed off days. Meanwhile, Angel Fucking Berroa languishes on the roster hitting .136/.174/.182. That's a one-fucking-thirty-six average with a three-fucking-fifty-six OPS in case you can't see the numbers because they're so small. Berroa hasn't been a useful major leaguer since 2003. That's gross general managerial malpractice, right there. As is having Brett Tomko on the roster, but that's a story for another day.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 20, 2009


The First Baseman Who Put the Cheese in Machismo

As something considerably less than the world's biggest Keith Hernandez fan, I certainly didn't expect to find myself watching and enjoying Rob Perri's just-under-20-minute short film, "I'm Keith Hernandez" — at least until I read the synopsis at the website:
Part baseball documentary, part anti drug film, part socio-political satire, I’M KEITH HERNANDEZ utilizes a version of Hernandez life as a vehicle to discuss how male identity is shaped by TV/film, sports, advertising, and pornography.

By examining the aforementioned types of media in conjunction with Lacan's "Mirror Theory", a clearer picture of masculinity emerges. As part of this discourse, the physical attribute of the mustache is explored as a symbol of male virility. Other topics include the Iran/Contra Affair and the resulting "Crack Explosion", celebrity obsessed culture, and the subtleties of children's television programming.
Narrated in an innuendo-laden tone reminiscent of VH1's Behind the Music exposés and occasionally making the type of narrative and editing leaps I associate with Craig Baldwin's wacko pseudo-documentary Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America, the film simultaneously celebrates and eviscerates the cheesy mustache man, the image he projects, and the dark period where narcotics made their way into the national pastime. Here's the narration from one of my favorite parts:
Hernandez would also offer guidance to fellow New York first baseman Don Mattingly by telling him about the secret power of the mustache.

[cue Magnum P.I. opening credits]

Keith explained to Mattingly that with the recent success of Magnum P.I., it would be foolish not to capitalize on the possibility of being attractive by association. And after taking Hernandez's advice, Mattingly certainly bagged more babes, but he also bagged more bases. In 1984 he won the American League batting crown...
Perri's film audaciously stitches together a tapestry full of generous "Fair Use" helpings of Seinfeld footage, baseball highlights, Clyde Frazier cameos, hair metal soundtracks, baseball cards, "Just Say No" public service announcements, even a brief segment featuring a Hernandez look-alike porn star. No cow is too sacred to be sacrificed ("...shared the co-MVP honors with veteran Willie Stargell, who was a degenerate pill popper..."). Fantastic, funny stuff about the first baseman who put the cheese in machismo. Don't miss it.


Friday, June 19, 2009


Oh, You Want a Reynolds Rant?

So Joe Posnanski is pulling his hair out over a 522-word blog entry from Harold Reynolds -- about OPS and how slow runners clog the basepaths -- that at least one reader has termed "Worst. Blog Post. Ever."?

Been there, done that, right down to the part about it taking two hits to score Jason Giambi. And that was five years ago, so I guess ol' Harold is taking a reaaaal long time to warm up to those stats. Easily on the short list among my all-time favorite FI posts.



My Favorite Baseball Quilt

I've never attended a perfect game, but back in the summer of 2003, I attended "A Perfect Game," an exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum devoted to baseball. I was so taken with it that I wrote a lengthy review, which included this bit about the image above:
One of the most prominent pieces of the exhibit is a 7' x7' quilt called "My Favorite Baseball Stars," created by Clara Schmitt Rothmeier, the daughter of a minor league ballplayer. (This photo of the quilt and the other photos I link to for this article were generously provided by Susan Flamm of the AFAM for the purposes of this review). Over a ten-year period from the mid-Fifties to the mid-Sixties, Rothmeier drew pictures of her favorite players, traced them onto fabric, appliquéd and embroidered each one, then sent them to the players for their autographs. Once a panel was returned, she would add it to her quilt, embroidering the signature as well. Midway into the project, she added a border of cloth baseballs, each featuring another signature that she'd collected. The finished quilt contains forty-four panels and about three hundred autographed balls. There are some heavy hitters among those portrayed: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Robin Roberts, Al Kaline, and a sleeveless Ted Kluszewski. Among the signed and embroidered balls are even more legends: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Jimmie Foxx, Frankie Frisch, Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, "Cool Papa" Bell, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax. Yeah, some of those guys could play ball.
Born in 1931, hailing from Gerald, Missouri, Rothmeier was certainly no stranger to the diamond. From her bio in the exhibit catalog, The Perfect Game:
Rothmeier was an accomplished baseball player as well as a quiltmaker. Her father played minor league ball in the Pittsburgh organization, and her five brothers and four sisters had all played on traveling baseball and softball teams. Rothmeier herself played first base for a traveling softball team from Springfield, Illinois. While on the road, she started sewing to keep busy. Her "favorite stars" quilt took more than 10 years to complete. She has also made quilts commemorating the 1951 and 1956 St. Louis Cardinals (her favorite club), the major league teams of 1948, and Jackie Robinson's 1955 World Champion Dodgers.
Last night, I received an email from a woman named Elizabeth Hixson informing me that Rothmeier, her great aunt, had passed away this week due to cancer. "She was a great artist [and] she was a great person," wrote Hixson.

My deepest condolences to Rothmeier's family and friends.

Labels: ,


The Week's Work

Stuff from my latest three pieces at Baseball Prospectus:

• In "Conquering the Cubs," the latest edition of my "Pair Up in Threes" series, I examine the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds, all of whom are atop the Cubs in the NL Central race, a major surprise given that our PECOTA projection had the Cubs at an NL-best 95 wins. Here's a bit on the Brew Crew:
The Brewers stumbled to a 4-9 start, but since then, they've put up the league's second-best record even with a recent 2-6 skid. Their turnaround largely coincides with the arrival of 41-year-old Trevor Hoffman, the former Padres closer who spent the season's first three weeks on the disabled list. Since returning, he's yielded one run in 20 innings, converting all 16 save opportunities while allowing just 13 baserunners, a performance good enough for seventh in the league in WXRL. LOOGY Mitch Stetter and a pair of free-talent pickups who've worked their way into meaningful roles, Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice, are in the league's top 30 as well. As a unit, the Brewers' bullpen fourth in the league in that category, a major reason why they've exceeded their third-order Pythagenpat record by 4.8 games, the league's second-best mark. Though they've lost five straight one-run games to fall to 10-12 in that category, they're 16-8 in games decided by two or three runs.

While the rotation's been shaky (more on that momentarily), the staff as a whole is getting plenty of help from a defense which two seasons ago ranked third-to-last in Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Their impressive ranking is nothing new, actually; they were 10th last year with virtually the same lineup, the outcome of a chain of events which saw the arrival of center fielder Mike Cameron, the move of Bill Hall from center to third base and of Ryan Braun from third to left field. The sudden loss of Rickie Weeks for the season hasn't changed things much; this remains a quality unit that's been helped by the fact that the pitchers are allowing the league's third-lowest line drive rate as well as the third-highest groundball rate. Whether they can keep that up remains to be seen, but it's certainly easier to do so than maintaining a high Defensive Efficiency in conjunction with a high line drive rate.
• In "Another Mile-High Miracle?" (which also ran at ESPN Insider), I examine the Rockies' 14-5 surge under interim skipper Jim Tracy, and whether the Rockies have enough to contend that they should consider buying instead of selling:
Only a week ago, the rumor mill was abuzz with the future destinations of Brad Hawpe, Jason Marquis, Ryan Spillborghs and Huston Street, but the streak has allowed the Rockies to defer such decisions. To the credit of Tracy and GM Dan O'Dowd, they've quickly made moves which help their chances of sustaining some momentum, starting with the replacement of third baseman Garrett Atkins with Ian Stewart, who's now out of the way of Clint Barmes at second. In a lineup that's second in the league in scoring but just seventh in EqA (.262) — taking stock of the Rox starts always starts with letting the air out of their offensive stats — Atkins (.210 EqA) has been the lineup's only real sinkhole; he recently went five weeks without a homer or a multi-hit game, a tough task for an everyday player. Barmes (.270) has been the team's hottest hitters over the past month (.345/.405/.560). Stewart (.262 with a team-high 12 homers) is hitting .314/.357/.667 this month after fighting through a prolonged slump.

As Joe Sheehan pointed out recently, the Atkins shuffle should bear fruit for a team that's 10th in the league in Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (-1.05 percent below average) and last in raw DE (.677); Atkins is a lousy third baseman, Stewart a natural one, and Barmes is better at the keystone than the latter. Also helping the defense is the recent promotion of Carlos Gonzalez, a toolsy former top prospect with the ability to play center field. He spent the first two months of 2009 in a Triple-A refresher course following his acquisition in the Matt Holliday trade and a none-too-impressive half-season in Oakland (.242/.273/.361 with an 81/12 UIBB ratio). Tracy's slotted him in left, previously the domain of an unstable but not wholly unproductive cast of righty Spillborghs, lefty Seth Smith and redheaded stepchild Matt Murton.

...When it comes to making any deals, thanks to their streak the team has the luxury of playing both sides of the fence in the six weeks between now and the trading deadline. If they continue to play well, they should have few glaring weaknesses to shore up aside from their bullpen, and may have a spare outfielder to deal if Gonzalez clicks. If this latest burst is simply a mirage, they can gain salary relief and/or restock their larder by flipping Street, and selling high on the none-too-cheap Marquis ($9.875 million this year) and the relatively affordable Hawpe ($13 million total in 2009-2010). Perhaps they can even offload Atkins ($7.05 million); as discussed yesterday, the Cardinals need a third baseman, and the Reds could use one as well to hedge against Edwin Encarnacion's continued wrist problems.
As an aside, I was sorry to see Clint Hurdle's recent firing. While by no means a great skipper, he showed a ton of class in leaving the stage, reminding me that the former phenom is the author of one of baseball's great quotes: "There's two kinds of people in this game — those that are humbled and those that are about to be."

• And in the spirit of former Dodger manager Tracy's revival, I'll stick with the (ex-)LA theme in excerpting this week's Hit List:
[#1 Dodgers] The Dodgers continue to sit pretty even as their offense has cooled off in Manny Ramirez's absence thanks to the strong performance of their bullpen. They're 37-8 when leading or tied after five innings, second in WXRL and first in Fair Run Average, with Jonathan Broxton leading the league and Ramon Troncoso — who's saved four games while giving Broxton the night off — ranked fourth. The team is winning more than its share of the close ones: 16-6 in one-run games and 10-7 in two-run games.

[#2 Red Sox] Penny for Your Thoughts: Brad Penny tosses 11 innings against the Yankees and Marlins without allowing an earned run, but even so, he's only put up a 4.94 ERA and a .465 Support-Neutral Winning Percentage. That's mainly due to his 40.5 percent groundball rate, about 10 percent lower than last year. With the June 15 deadline for trading last winter's free agents without their permission having passed and John Smoltz slated to debut next Thursday, Penny's the subject of trade rumors, but for the moment, the team will cycle through a six-man rotation.

[#8 Rangers] Ruw the Day? Released by the Dodgers in the spring, Andruw Jones exacts a modicum of revenge by homering twice against them — one less than his 2008 total — though the Rangers drop both games and thus the series. Jones is hitting .245/.355/.504 but is just 4-for-30 in June; he's started in the field just 12 times, none in center, even with Josh Hamilton missing so much time.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Jose, Can't You See?

Jose Canseco's stupidity is America's most renewable natural resource. Check this one:
Jose Canseco plans to file a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the players' association, saying he's been ostracized for going public with tales of steroids use in the sport.

Canseco said Wednesday that he has discussed the suit with lawyers and intends to enlist Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro to join in the suit.

Canseco said the basis of the suit would be "lost wages -- in some cases, defamation of character."

"Because I used steroids and I came out with a book, I was kicked out of the game, but I have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame," Canseco said in a telephone interview.

"A lot of these players have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire and so forth. They're losing salaries, because obviously when you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, you get asked to do certain, you know, appearances and shows and so forth, which incorporates income. So there is a major income loss.

"Not even that, baseball blackballs you from their family, meaning you can't have a future proper reference from them, a job, no managerial jobs, no coaching jobs, nothing. They completely sever you."
Let's see, the posterboy for bad behavior in baseball broke the game's steroid rules (however poorly enforced) and the clubhouse code of silence, created a firestorm of negative publicity (but alas, was right about so many that he fingered), served jail time and two years of house arrest due to battery charges stemming from a nightclub brawl (a term which he violated by using steroids, natch), pled guilty to a misdemeanor offense of trying to bring a fertility drug from Mexico into the USA, revealed himself to be not just a total assclown but a flat-broke one, and then suffered every public speaker's second-worst nightmare (showing up without pants being numero uno). And he wants to be MLB's latex salesman? Thinks he's entitled to be considered for employment -- not to mention untold riches -- given that track record?

Don't stop believin', Jose. Without you we'd have much less to laugh about.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Holy Toledo!

For the past two years, I've been appearing nearly every week on a Toledo, Ohio ESPN affiliate, WLQR 1470 AM, as the guest of Norm Wamer for the show "The Front Row." It's my favorite media hit of the week, as Norm and I have a great rapport, and generally at some point during our freewheeling conversations we'll crack each other up while talking about the Tigers (whose Triple-A affiliate is based in Toledo), the Indians (who are geographically closer), the AL Central race, obscure and lousy players from the Seventies and Eighties, or whatever else is at hand in baseball.

I've long wished the station streamed or archived the segments so that those outside that local market could hear them, and finally, it appears that they do both. This week's segment, which was done with fill-in host Joe Rychnovsky, is here. The opening question, which somehow got trimmed, was along the lines of "What's going on with the Nationals and their supposed firing of manager Manny Acta?" We discussed that, Sammy Sosa, the Tigers' pitching staff and more.

Last week's episode, which was done with Wamer and led off with a bit about the draft and first pick Stephen Strasburg (two weeks in a row leading with the Nationals?), is here (skip to 2:30 in), and the one from two weeks ago -- which by my count was the 100th time I've appeared on the show -- is here (skip to 1:45 in). Enjoy!

Update: and here is the Young Guns show from Boston's WWZN 1510 AM.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


An Unexpected Stop for the Ryan Express

Back when the Futility Infielder site was merely a twinkle in my eye, a time when my friends and I were still reveling in our dumb good fortune to climb aboard the Yankee ticketholder bandwagon en route to a 114-win season, an issue of the Brown Alumni Monthly landed in my mailbox. Now, I rarely give the alumni mag much more than a passing glance, but this issue's cover story was right in my wheelhouse. In "How I took the Ryan Express to Brown," research professor Jim Blight entertainingly recounted his late-Sixties career as a minor league pitcher in the Tigers' chain, one that included more than its share of futility -- not to mention a brush with the legendary Nolan Ryan.

Blight's self-deprecating style and skill as a raconteur made for a winning combination, so I circulated the article among friends, who found it as hilarious as I did. One of his best anecdotes still pops up in our conversations. With the alumni magazine having recently digitized its archives, I'm finally able to share Blight's piece with a wider audience, augmenting it with data from Baseball-Reference's recent expansion into older minor-league stats.

After attending Michigan State, the 19-year-old Blight was chosen by the Tigers in the 19th round of the 1966 draft, the 374th overall pick. It was not a round brimming with major-league talent. Ron Cey, who was selected by the Mets to start the round but who wisely chose to attend Washington State before being drafted by the Dodgers two years later, was the only pick from that round to ever reach the bigs. Three future major leaguers were chosen in the prior round, while five, including Dave LaRoche, were chosen in the following one. Such was the crapshoot nature of the amateur draft, which was only in its second year. Hell, that year's overall number one pick, catcher Steve Chillcot, never even made the majors. The Mets chose him while passing on Reggie Jackson, who was snapped up by the Kansas City A's with the second pick, apparently because they were concerned the latter was dating a white woman (actually a Mexican-American, and Jackson's future first wife).

A 6-foot-3, 180-pound righty, Blight didn't draw rave reviews from scouts ("decent heat but not much movement on it, real good overhand curveball, good control..."), and he drew guffaws when he went into duck-and-cover mode while pitching batting practice to Tigers' big-leaguers like Willie Horton during spring training. He soon discovered that his lack of heat and movement made him "the perfect natural batting-practice pitcher. That was not a compliment: "In the jargon of the pros, I threw watermelons. Coming from my hand, the ball looked big and easy to hit." Ouch.

Blight's mediocrity would soon help him carve a spot in the record books:
As one of my catchers indelicately put it, I didn't just suck, I "swilled." ... Even my brushes with baseball immortality were of the "swilling" sort. I am, in fact, represented in the baseball record book for one accomplishment. It happened in 1967, during a game in the Florida State League. I was the starting pitcher for the Lakeland Tigers against the Miami Marlins, which at the time was the Baltimore Orioles farm club. After the manager, "Stubby" Overmire (at five-foot-two, possibly the shortest pitcher in modern Big League history when he pitched for the Tigers in the 1940s), gave me the ball and I took the mound, he did what he always did: he walked down to the left-field foul pole, ducked into our makeshift clubhouse, and lit a cigarette, smoking being prohibited in the dugout. The details of what followed blur in memory, but this much is clear from the record book: the lead-off man for Miami, Moses Hill, hit a solo home run to start the game. The same man, Moses Hill, also hit a grand slam later that inning during his second at bat, bringing in runs seven, eight, nine, and ten. There was still nobody out. The usual crowd of several dozen drunks, whores, and pimps was, on this particular night, joined by a couple dozen prisoners from the local road gang. State troopers brought a group once a week, in chains, clanking into the stadium, and whenever our team fell behind, the prisoners clanked their chains rhythmically. After the grand slam, everyone was screaming, clanking, and getting generally unruly as they shouted for Stubby to come and get me the hell out of the game.

After Moses Hill took me deep for the second time, Stubby at last put out his cigarette and headed to the mound, accompanied by the boos and the clanking. I watched him all the way in, and thought, Jesus, at last he's coming to get me out of here. Stubby reached the mound and, as a former pitcher, he (as usual) picked up the resin bag with his left hand and tossed it down. But this time he just stood at the bottom of the mound and looked up at me with a big grin on his face, which reached roughly to the height of my belt buckle. When I bent down to hand him the ball, he handed it right back, and said, "If you think I'm going to waste another pitcher on this game, you're crazy. Man, you are in for nine. Good luck. I'll be down in the clubhouse suckin' weed." And so he left, to more booing and clanking.

I did eventually get someone out, then someone else, and someone after that. At the end of nine innings, I had given up twenty-two earned runs on thirty-one hits. As far as I know, no pitcher has before or since, in the recorded history of baseball, given up two home runs to the same player in the same inning. The reason is obvious: in every case but mine, the manager removed the incompetent pitcher before such a feat became possible. In their way, my teammates understood the significance of the evening. As they filed into the clubhouse after the game, each, in turn, looked me solemnly in the face and then began to laugh uncontrollably. So did I. So did Stubby. So, I imagine, did Mo Hill. Even the prisoners must have yucked it up as they clanked back to the state prison. I was beginning to see the implications of being a natural batting-practice pitcher. I didn't suck, my catcher said, and I didn't even swill. Tonight, he said, I "chugged." For the remainder of my brief career in the minors, Chug became one of my nicknames.
"If you think I'm going to waste another pitcher on this game, you're crazy," has since become a touchstone of conversation any time my friends and I have seen a pitcher enduring an interminable shellacking, not an infrequent occurrence in this slugfest-heavy age. The irony, in fact, is that in the same month that Blight's article was published, on April 23, The Cardinals' Fernando Tatis bashed two grand slams in the same inning off the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park.

Even moreso than Park, Blight's plight recalls that of Aloysius "Allan" Travers, the poor schlub who was torched for 24 runs, 14 earned, in an eight-inning performance while pitching for the Tigers on May 18, 1912. Travers was one of seven St. Joseph's University players whom the Tigers recruited to fill out their lineup for a game against the Philadelphia A's after Ty Cobb had been suspended (for beating a leather-lunged heckler who'd lost both hands) and his teammates had gone on strike in protest of the decision. For a $50 fee, Travers dutifully took his pounding -- manager Hughie Jennings hadn't recruited any relievers -- and faded into oblivion, never to play in the majors again.

Thanks to the recent addition of pre-1990s minor league stats to Baseball Reference, we can now see Blight's minor league record in its full glory. He went 2-9 with a 4.96 ERA for Lakeland in 1967, striking out just 40 hitters in 78 innings, but if the numbers recounted from his legendary beating are accurate, that would leave a 2.79 ERA in his other outings, not too shabby in a league with a combined 3.61 ERA. Furthermore, he gave up just five homers for the year, so aside from Hill's two, he allowed just three more in his remaining 69 innings. Not that his record was exactly sterling; for his career he went 11-22 with a 4.23 ERA, never making it higher than a five-game stint in the High-A Carolina League and in fact spending most of his three seasons in the Florida State League.

While making the Florida scene, Blight was forced to bat against a 20-year-old, heat-throwing Nolan Ryan, hardly a fair fight for a career .085 hitter. Ryan had gone a combined 17-4 with a 2.36 ERA and 307 strikeouts in 202 innings with two Mets farm teams in 1966, and had even gotten a cup of coffee in the majors, but he was limited to just four appearances in 1967 due to a elbow troubles and a six-month stint in the Army Reserve. While the details Blight recounts (such as facing Ryan in the ninth inning of a meaningless game) don't square with the fact that Ryan's sole official FSL appearance was a four-inning start, there's no doubt that he speaks the truth about his harrowing experience:
...I saw absolutely nothing, other than Ryan's arm coming toward me. I heard a faint whoosh, then a pop behind me that sounded like gunfire, followed by "Steeee-rike one!" from the umpire. My knees started shaking. My palms began to sweat profusely. I will never forgive Nolan for the next pitch. It was a slider or curve or something like that. It started out behind me, or so it seemed, and then broke hard over home plate for strike two. As the ball crossed the plate, I was flat on my back on a pile of dirt, in a needless effort to avoid being hit.
The notoriously contact-shy Blight understandably reached an epiphany at that point, surrendering his major league dreams for a different path, one that led him to settle in as a research professor at Brown's Watson Institute and author a dozen books on U.S. foreign policy, most notably The Fog of War: Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, later turned into a documentary directed by Errol Morris. Blight's expertise brought him face to face with the likes of Fidel Castro and North Vietnamese leaders, but quite understandably, nothing ever scared him as much as facing Ryan did.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Nuf Sed

Choice cuts from this week's Hit List, including about as much as I have to say about the Yankees' recent sweep by the Red Sox:
[#1 Dodgers] Riding high in April (.306/.423/.553) but shot down in May (.211/.306/.295), Andre Ethier has picked himself up and gotten back in the race. Collecting walk-off hits on back-to-back nights against the Phillies, then bashing a pair of homers—his second two-fer in three days—against the Padres, he's hitting .400/.417/.914 with five jacks in June. That's a welcome power surge for an offense that's averaging 4.6 runs per game and hitting just .271/.341/.380 since Manny Ramirez's suspension, though they still lead the league in batting average and rank second in OBP.

[#2 Red Sox] Papi Pop? David Ortiz quadruples his season home run total by connecting three times in five days. with the middle shot kicking off the scoring in Boston's three-game sweep of the Yankees, against whom they're now 8-0. That Ortiz is hitting .310/.394/.655 in June may be cause for optimism, but until Thursday night he was still below the Mendoza Line overall, and his numbers since his celebrated mid-May benching (.195/.262/.403) aren't much better than what proceeded them. Also interesting: Ortiz is hitting better against lefties (.233/.284/.425) than righties (.187/.306/.291) despite a career platoon split that's 139 points of OPS higher against the latter.

[#7 Yankees] We Searched All of Recorded History But Couldn't Find Anyone Who Sucked Worse: Chien-Ming Wang fails to escape the third inning against the Red Sox amid a three-game sweep in Fenway. The Yankees are now 0-8 this year against the Sox, their longest season-opening losing streak against their rivals since 1912; they've been outscored 55-31 in those games. On the subject of pre-World War I factoids, Wang's 21.61 ERA through five starts is the highest since 1913, when baseball began tracking the stat. He's on a short leash as far as remaining in the rotation, with Phil Hughes awaiting another turn.

[#26 White Sox] We'll Meet Again: Ozzie Guillen erupts at his team's lack of execution and threatens plenty of face time: "Good teams win games. Horse**** teams have meetings." Alas, things only get worse for the Sox amid a 2-8 skid as Carlos Quentin is diagnosed with a tear which will sideline him through the All-Star break. He's hitting just .229/.325/.458 and hasn't homered since April 29.
God bless Ozzie Guillen for making the White Sox Hit List entries among the more enjoyable to compile.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Subterranean Home Park Blues

If all you watched was baseball pertaining to that Bronx team -- and let's face it, that describes a certain portion of this blog's readership -- you'd think that home run rates were off the charts this year given the major league-leading 1.81 homers per game that are being hit at Epic Fail Stadium. That's not the case, as I point out in today's Hit and Run:
When we last checked in on 2009 home-run rates, April was just about in the books, and was providing a strong indicator that this year's overall home-run rate would finish ahead of last year's. But while the performances of Adrian Gonzalez (22 homers) and Raul Ibañez (20), and the frequency with which balls continue to fly out of Yankee Stadium (1.81 homers per team per game) suggest a homer-happy season, the reality is that rates have slowed considerably.

Through April 25 -- the cutoff point for the data used in my previous piece -- batters were homering in 2.79 percent of their plate appearances and averaging 1.082 home runs per team per game. By the end of the month -- a period shortened by the World Baseball Classic having pushed Opening Day back a week -- those figures had dropped to 2.71 percent and 1.051 per game. Thanks to a May where the fences seemed to move outward (2.58 percent and 0.999 per game), the overall rates are now ringers for last year's numbers, and would be among the lowest of the post-strike era if the season had ended on June 9:
Year  HR/PA   HR/TmG
2009 2.61 1.009
2008 2.60 1.005
2007 2.63 1.020
The numbers are more revealing once they're broken down by league, with the two new New York parks excluded:
Lg    2009   2008-td   2008-f
AL 1.032 0.858 1.002
NL 0.946 0.989 1.003
ML 0.986 0.928 1.003
Eliminating the New York parks from both years, we find that per-game home-run rates are up 6.3 percent over last year at this time [2008-td, for "to date"], but that the current figures would still finish 1.6 percent below the full-season 2008 rate [2008-f] because of a June-July uptick (1.073 per game) that pushed things back toward normalcy.
Also noted in the article is the recent Accuweather report discounting the meteorologists' earlier theory about the new Yankee Stadium creating a wind tunnel in favor of, um, closer fences due to less gentles curves (a point my BP colleague Marc Normandin already hit. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The Museum of Small-Sample Split Oddities

Step right up and get your small-sample anomalies! That's the subject of today's BP/ESPN piece, which starts with a Yankee:
We're just past a third of the way through the season, and it's no secret that the new Yankee Stadium has played as a hitter's park thus far. After 29 games played in the Bronx, teams are averaging an AL-high 5.7 runs and an MLB-high 1.8 homers per game, with batters hitting a robust .271/.354/.476. Alas, Nick Swisher's invitation to the party must have been lost in the mail. Through Monday, he was hitting just .190/.390/.354 at home, and that after a long ball in each of his last two games there, just his second and third round-trippers at home. Meanwhile, he's thrashing at a .313/.400/.708 clip on the road, where he's hit nine home runs and 19 of his 26 extra-base hits.

The 363-point OPS difference between Swisher's location splits constitutes the largest home-field disadvantage among hitters with at least 100 PA in both contexts, but it's hardly the only sizable split, even among those spending half of their time in hitter-friendly parks. Three Phillies -- Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, and Ryan Howard -- rank in the top 20 in that category. Werth's OPS is 308 points lower at home, "good" for fifth, while Victorino's 239-point deficit is eighth, and Howard's 149-point deficit is 18th. With the minimal sample sizes in play, such anomalies shouldn't be terribly surprising, nor should Werth's 2008 reverse split be (887 OPS on the road, 832 at home), since it takes years of regular at-bats before the sample sizes become large enough to yield reliably representative results.

Still, like bearded ladies and monkey boys, such early-season freak shows are fun to gawk at before the regression police shutter them for operating without a license.
From there, I go on to detail the biggest home/road extreme park reverse splits, the largest lefty-righty reverse platoon splits, the fattest Siamese pitching coaches of all time, and the two-headed cowwhom the Yankees just signed to help out in the bullpen. All in a day's work.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Mending the Mets

With Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and J.J. Putz on the disabled list for extended periods of time due to injuries, our New York-centric brethren over at ESPN asked a handful of Baseball Prospectus writers -- myself, Will Carroll, Christina Kahrl, and Kevin Goldstein -- to partake in a roundtable regarding what the Mets should do to navigate their current injury woes and remain in contention. They're three games behind the Philies, who are no juggernaut, and currently in the Wild Card lead, but it's tough to believe they can survive a race as constituted. Read here or here.

To me, pitching should still be their biggest concern:
If I'm the Mets, throwing Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding out there in the same rotation cycle, I'd start to sniff around the Mariners' Erik Bedard and see what it would take to acquire him. Granted, he's fragile, but he's certain to be available this summer, and he's pitching about as well as he ever has been. Better him than -- to go back to the Indians, who are roadkill waiting to be picked over by vultures -- Carl Pavano, because Bedard misses more bats.

If the price of Bedard is too steep -- and let's face it, the Mets aren't brimming with blue-chip prospects -- then Jarrod Washburn might be more attainable, particularly as he's more expensive ($10.35 million this year) and the ability to take on salary is something the Mets will need to draw on at some point in this process, given that they've got more holes than a Jarlsberg wheel. Washburn's not as good as his 3.22 ERA suggests, but he's a viable fourth starter. While they're at it, perhaps they can liberate Jeff Clement and throw him into the first-base mix. The Diamondbacks' Doug Davis is another pitcher who comes to mind, particularly as that team is DOA and always looking for salary relief.

For the relievers, LaTroy Hawkins is a name that comes to mind. He was pretty much run out of town on a rail by the Yankees last year, but he's done fantastic work with the Astros (47/13 K/BB in 43 2/3 innings, with just two homers allowed), and while he's currently closing games in Houston, the Astros are going nowhere.

...Even conceding the point that Hernandez has been serviceable (and 4.29 FIP is certainly that), you've still got Redding, a very flawed [John] Maine, a broken [Oliver] Perez, and a Mike Pelfrey who's pushing a 5.00 ERA, though that's one bombing coming off five straight quality starts. Maybe they don't break the bank for a Bedard, but they need another solid starter given that it's Johan Santana and a whole lot more going wrong than right.
That Bedard is a fragile injury case and Hawkins a guy who's as notable for his spectacular crashes and burns as for his above-average stretches only goes to show what a crapshoot the in-season trade market is. Personally, I'd fire Jerry Manuel before I'd invest to heavily in a deal, because I think he's one of the more ineffectual managers out there, and that the problems of Perez and Maine owe something to the manager's usage and ability to deal with them. Not that I think Omar Minaya, who failed to stock their corner outfield and rotation with adequate depth over the winter, should be let off the hook, but GMs generally don't get fired in-season.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 05, 2009


The Big Unit Gets Loose

Randy Johnson won his 300th game on Thursday, waiting out an outburst of ark-building weather before getting down to business. Though he entered the game with a 5.71 ERA, the highest of any pitcher going into his 300th win start, he dominated the Nationals for six innings, throwing just 78 pitches and allowing two hits and an unearned run. He depart in part because he bruised his shoulder making a fantastic defensive play. Impressive.

On the local front, Johnson didn't fare tremendously well during his two years in Yankee pinstripes. Though he won 34 games in 2005-2006, his 4.37 ERA was right at the park-adjusted league average, and his 6.92 postseason ERA during that time was a big reason the Yanks didn't make it out of the first round in either year.

The irony, of course, is that the pinnacles of Johnson's career prior to reaching 300 came at the Yankees' expense. The combined tally, as I noted years ago: 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 27.1 innings facing them in two postseason series. First, he came out of the bullpen on a day's rest to close out the thrilling 1995 Division Series for the Mariners. "To this day," I wrote back in 2003 of rooting against the Yanks in that series, "the hair on the back of my neck rises when I recall the cameras panning to the Seattle bullpen as one of the announcers excitedly exclaimed, 'The Big Unit is getting loose!'" Any Yankee fan bitter about that one need only recall that it was the series loss which triggered the firing of Buck Showalter and the hiring of Joe Torre. Things didn't work out too badly over the next few years.

At least until the heartbreaking 2001 World Series, where pitching for the Diamondbacks in the godawfulest purple-and-teal atrocity of a horseshit uniform ever devised by man, he collected three wins, two as a starter and one in relief, the latter on zero days' rest in Game Seven. That one wasn't so fun from where I sat, but that it was Johnson delivering the coup de grâce makes it slightly more bearable, at least in retrospect. As Cooter and Spud -- the Simpsons' carny folks who might pass for Johnson's kin -- would say, "We were beaten by the best."

In any event, the ugly 6'10" goober with the mullet and the meanest goddamn slider you ever saw has stuck around into his 46th year, doggedly fighting his way through multiple back surgeries since leaving the Yankees, generally effective when he could get to the mound, which wasn't especially often (51 starts in 2 1/3 seasons). Take note, because it's going to be a long time before we see another 300-game winner. That's the subject of one of my pieces up today at ESPN and Baseball Prospectus:
At this writing, the only pitcher within 80 wins of the magic 300 is 46-year-old Jamie Moyer (250), whose own 7.62 ERA suggests that he's on his last legs. Of the three other active pitchers above 200 wins, 37-year-old Andy Pettitte (220) has annually threatened retirement since 2006, 37-year-old Pedro Martinez (214) is currently unemployed after three injury-filled seasons, and 42-year-old John Smoltz (210) is rehabbing his way back for a final go-round in Boston. Just three other active players are even halfway to the milestone: 42-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (184), 36-year-old perpetual rehab case Bartolo Colon (153, but just 14 since 2005), and 34-year-old palooka Livan Hernandez (151), the game's most hittable pitcher.

Of course, not everybody does care these days, as pitcher wins ain't what they used to be thanks to the rising offensive levels, deeper lineups, longer at-bats, and increased reliever specialization which have made the complete game a relic from the increasingly distant past. In 1972, the year before the designated hitter's introduction, starters completed games 27.1 percent of the time, collected decisions 78.5 percent of the time, and lasted an average of 6.7 innings in their starts. In contrast, last year they went the distance 2.8 percent the time, collected decisions 69 percent of the time, and averaged 5.8 innings. Against this backdrop, the win has come to be understood less as the product of an individual pitcher's brilliance or intestinal fortitude on a given day, and more as the confluence of the right amounts of support from the offense, the defense, and the bullpen. That's true both in sabermetric circles, where pitcher value is preferably measured in isolation of such factors, and in the dugout, where a manager cares less about who collects the W and more about bridging the gap from starter to closer, inning by inning or batter by batter.

Down by the old mainstream, however, the attachment lingers. The Baseball Writers Association of America hasn't elected a starting pitcher to the Hall of Fame since 1999 (Nolan Ryan), and hasn't elected a starter with fewer than 300 wins since 1990 (Fergie Jenkins). With the disappearance of the 300 clubbers on the ballot, the writers have barred the door for the eminently worthy Bert Blyleven, almost solely due to his missing the mark by 13 wins, and they never came close to inducting Tommy John (288 wins) or Jim Kaat (283), pitchers with shakier credentials. Though Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine have reached 300 this decade, the Rocket's raging steroid-related controversy suggests that it will take until 2014, when Maddux is eligible, for another starter to earn election to the Hall.

As for the Big Unit's successors, the current field's distance from 300 wins leaves us lacking a rigorous methodology for forecasting. PECOTA, which looks "only" seven years into the future, foresees just 81 wins for both Johan Santana and CC Sabathia from 2009-2015. The annual totals, which dwindle into single digits, put Santana at 190 through his age-36 season, and Sabathia at 198 through his age-34 season. Less scientifically, Bill James' aptly named Favorite Toy method identifies nine pitchers with at least a 10 percent chance at 300 wins in The Bill James Handbook 2009, estimates that are based upon weighted three-year averages of each hurler's win totals. James' notion of an "established win level" is rather dicey because of the teammate-dependent nature of the stats — pitcher wins don't predict future pitcher wins very well.
I took a look at the field of contenders who are at least one quarter of the way there, using James' toy as well as what I called the Jaffe Blind Optimism Method, which "generously assumes each pitcher will average 15 wins annually through his age-42 season, unfettered by injury or bad luck, and with the bonus of not having his 2009 total to date counted against this year's allotment." Uh-huh. The three pitchers who emerge looking as though they have some kind of shot are Sabathia, Santana, and Roy Halladay, with the latter possibly reaching the halfway mark by year's end.

Meanwhile, in this week's Hit List, I noted of Johnson, "[C]onsider that with a JAWS score of 89.0 (110.5 career, 67.5 peak), he's in the mix with Warren Spahn (122.4/62.7/92.6) and Lefty Grove (110.6/68.7/89.7) as the top lefty hurler of all time." Here's a few more tastes:
[#1 Dodgers] Opening Day starter Hiroki Kuroda makes a solid return to the rotation after missing nearly two months due to an oblique strain, and while the Dodgers fall in that game, they continue to hold the majors' widest division lead. That the Dodgers are where they are despite Kuroda's injury is a surprise; they're 14-5 in games started by Eric Stults, James McDonald, Jeff Weaver, and Eric Milton despite a .490 combined Support Neutral Winning Percentage and a 4.83 ERA because they've supported those hurlers with 6.8 runs per game of offense.

[#11 Brewers] Hoff Time: The Brewers share the top spot in the NL Central, and their bullpen (save for a meltdown-and-out by Jorge Julio) is a major reason why, as they're third in WXRL and first in reliever Fair Run Average. Trevor Hoffman is 14-for-14 in saves while tossing 16 scoreless innings and allowing just seven baserunners. He's fourth in WXRL, while free-talent pickups Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice are also in the top 25.

[#26 Astros] Breaking the Wandy? After allowing just one homer in his first 70 1/3 innings, Wandy Rodriguez is blitzed for four over his next 2 1/3 frames, including two by Garrett Atkins, who hadn't hit one since Colorado attained statehood. After yielding a 1.83 ERA and 6.6 hits per nine through his first nine starts, Rodriguez has been lit for 29 hits and 18 runs (12 earned) over his last three turns (13 2/3 innings). The loss snaps Houston's season-high four game winning streak and quashes their hopes of an undefeated June, but they can still root for the Tooth Fairy to show up.

[#27 Diamondbacks] In a performance that surely confuses senile Angelenos, Billy Buckner blanks the Dodgers for six innings en route to one of the team's two victories on the week. Demoted during the season's first week with a 15.75 ERA compiled in relief, Buckner's put up a 2.95 ERA over three starts since being recalled...
I don't know why, but at 1 AM on Friday morning I was especially proud of that opening line in the latter entry; those confused need look no further.

In any event, I write this while watching Jamie Moyer befuddle the Dodgers through his first six innings, perhaps on his way to 251. I won't be happy if he adds this particular notch to his belt, but at this rate, he may get there yet. [Late note: nope, as the Dodgers rally in the ninth at the expense of a Pedro Feliz error and the none-too-perfect Brad Lidge. See how hard 300 is?]

Meanwhile, because Alex Belth didn't get to it today, I'll link Pat Jordan's excellent New York Times magazine profile of Johnson and Curt Schilling, "The Odd Couple." It's a doozy mainly for what it says about the latter, but it's also a teling portrait of the man of the hour, and one of the best lefties of all time. Enjoy.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 04, 2009


You Discussed Posada's Hall of Fame Candidacy and Didn't Invite Me?

With about 17 things on my plate this week, I didn't get a chance to weigh in on the latest round of debates regarding Jorge Posada's building candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Rob Neyer fired the opening salvo suggesting that while he's probably the top catcher of the current decade, Posada isn't worthy. Jonah Keri got all up in his grill, and others, including Craig Calcaterra and Beyond the Box Score, weighed in as well.

I won't rehash anyone's argument, but having last checked in on Posada in the context of Mike Piazza's candidacy, I'll offer the numbers from the latest build of JAWS, which showed him continuing to close in on the Hall of Fame average as the season began (* = Hall of Famer):
Rk  Catcher           Career  Peak   JAWS        
1 Johnny Bench* 105.8 69.3 87.6
2 Ivan Rodriguez 114.0 57.0 85.7
3 Gary Carter* 99.0 64.8 81.9
4 Yogi Berra* 90.0 54.0 72.1
5 Gabby Hartnett* 91.0 50.7 71.0
6 Bill Dickey* 88.6 52.7 70.7
7 Carlton Fisk* 93.5 47.0 70.4
8 Buck Ewing* 83.0 56.7 70.0
9 Joe Torre 80.0 53.0 66.7
10 Mike Piazza 77.3 55.5 66.4
AVG HOF Catcher 78.3 50.9 64.6
11 Deacon White 77.5 49.4 63.5
12 Charlie Bennett 70.1 51.5 60.8
13 Mickey Cochrane* 70.0 49.8 60.0
14 Jorge Posada 64.6 50.9 57.8 <<<
15 Lance Parrish 67.9 44.3 56.1
16 Roy Campanella* 56.1 48.6 52.4
17 Thurman Munson 57.9 46.4 52.2
18 Ted Simmons 63.5 40.4 52.0
19 Gene Tenace 58.5 44.7 51.6
20 Bill Freehan 57.8 40.0 49.0
21 Ray Schalk* 54.0 43.4 48.7
22 Jason Kendall 54.6 42.4 48.5
23 Jim Sundberg 54.0 37.9 46.0
24 Darrell Porter 53.1 38.5 45.8
25 Chief Zimmer 55.9 35.6 45.8
26 Ernie Lombardi* 55.1 36.3 45.7
27 Wally Schang 57.3 33.9 45.6
28 Johnny Kling 48.3 42.1 45.2
29 Roger Bresnahan* 52.8 37.6 45.2
30 Del Crandall 50.8 39.3 45.1
31 Duke Farrell 53.1 36.1 44.6
32 Mickey Tettleton 47.9 41.0 44.5
33 Benito Santiago 52.5 33.0 42.8
34 Tony Pena 48.6 36.5 42.6
35 Elston Howard 43.8 38.6 41.2
36 Sherm Lollar 48.0 33.7 40.9
37 Terry Steinbach 48.1 33.0 40.7
38 Javy Lopez 44.6 36.0 40.3
39 Johnny Roseboro 45.4 33.9 39.7
40 Jack Clements 44.6 34.3 39.5
41 Al Lopez 49.3 29.6 39.5
42 Bob Boone 47.4 30.9 39.2
43 Walker Cooper 43.4 34.4 38.9
44 Mike Scioscia 43.1 34.5 38.8
45 Darren Daulton 40.0 37.0 38.6
46 Rick Ferrell* 45.9 30.3 38.1
Posada began the year ranked 14th according to JAWS, and he's currently hitting a sterling .320/.402/.630, albeit through only 100 at-bats due to a hamstring injury which cost him most of May. Because of that, he won't approach his 2006-2007 numbers (7.9 and 8.5 WARP3, respectively).

Nonetheless, he's already put together a peak which is exactly equivalent, in WARP terms, to the average Cooperstown backstop, and his .300 career EqA is well above the group average of .286. He simply needs to continue his progress towards the career numbers, which look to be about two great or three good seasons away, including this one. Barring injury, that's certainly doable, particularly as he's a good enough hitter to stick around as a DH-1B as his catching days wane, but having lost most of last year and part of this year to the disabled list, it's no guarantee.

So, from here, it's too early to say Posada absolutely belongs in the Hall, but Neyer to the contrary, his peak suggests he's certainly Hallworthy, and his status as the decade's best catcher is another point in his favor, albeit a mild one, since "zero years" are arbitrary endpoints. What's more relevant is that he's basically the third-best catcher of the Wild Card era behind Ivan Rodriguez and Piazza, better than the former (.279 career EqA) with the stick and the latter with the leather. There certainly ought to be room in Cooperstown for three catchers over what will wind up being at least a two-decade span, since it will fall to the Joe Mauer generation before anyone else starts mounting a case.

And no, Jason Varitek ain't even close (33.2/27.6/30.4).

Update: Jonah shares the love.

Update II: Rob returns to the conversation: "More on Jorge Posada's Hall of Fame qualifications -- as opposed to chances, which (as I think some of my friends are forgetting) is a completely different thing -- this time from Jay Jaffe (and I'm sorry, Jay, but I don't believe that Ray Schalk and Rick Ferrell are remotely germane to the discussion)."

Rob's right in that chances and qualifications are different things, which is why Ron Santo and Bert Blyleven, respectively the single most qualified hitter and pitcher outside the Hall, aren't in. They're overqualified by any rational stretch of imagination, but the electorates (the re-re-re-constituted Veterans Committee in Santo's case, the Baseball Writers Association of America in the former) don't see it that way -- or at least the portion that refuses to heed the value of sabermetrics in advancing a Hall case. The numbers on both players are pretty damning of those voters' obstinacy, but so long as they occupy more than a quarter of the electorate, those two candidates' chances remain doomed.

But Rob's initial point addressed both Posada's chances and qualifications -- "Ivan Rodriguez is going into the Hall of Fame. Posada isn't, and shouldn't" -- and it's the latter note to which I've added my data. And as to the question of Schalk and Ferrell, well, only the former is actually included in the JAWS score, because as the lowest-ranking VC honoree, the latter has his score dropped before the average is computed. I merely ran the entire chart because I could, not because it's terribly applicable here beyond the stretch of good-not-great catchers towards the bottom of the list.

On the JAWS scale, Posada already outscores four of the five VC-elected catchers (all but Ewing) and by the end of the year he'll top the two lowest BBWAA elects, Campy and Cochrane, both of whose careers ended short due to injury. The question is whether he can make any headway into the upper group of six BBWAA elects plus his two contemporaries, and that's a taller order. The chances aren't great, but so long as he continues to hit like he is, they're still there. And if he does reach that group, he'll certainly deserve enshrinement. Whether he'll get it even if that happens remains to be seen, but it sounds as though at least one eventual BBWAA voter (Neyer, of course) will have to be much more convinced before he casts a ballot Jorge's way.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Koko Taylor, RIP

Chicago blues icon Koko Taylor passed away on Wednesday at age 80. In my rather expansive music collection, I'm ashamed to say I've got precious little of her work, a compilation cut or two. But I do have a story.

In late September 1999, the aforementioned Nick Stone and I took a trip to the Midwest to see some baseball. The impetus was a chance to see a game at Tiger Stadium, which was in its final week of functionality. We began our trip in Cleveland, where we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and saw the Yankees beat the Indians in an 11-7 slugfest. From there we drove to Detroit, where we saw the Tribe bow to the Tigers, and then it was onto Wrigley Field for a pair between the Cubs and Cardinals.

Those are stories for another day, but back to the matter at hand, in looking for something to do on Saturday night, Nick and I discovered that Taylor was playing at some downtown restaurant/bar. It was a rather cheesy venue, too brightly lit, and by the look of things, so was Ms. Taylor. "Man, that's a fucked-up hair situation," I famously remarked, seeing her beaded, multi-colored wig as it shifted uneasily around her head while the 70-year-old legend belted out blues standards. Still, she had the joint shaking, no more so than when she got down to business with her most famous hit, "Wang Dang Doodle," late in the set.

Here she is, performing it circa 1965, when she originally recorded the song, a Willie Dixon number originally written for Howlin' Wolf:

It wasn't baseball she was singing about, but you gotta love these lyrics:
Tell automatic Slim
To tell razor toting Jim
To tell butcher knife toting Annie
To tell fast-talking Fanny
We're gonna pitch a ball
Down to the union hall
We're gonna romp and stomp till midnight
We're gonna fuss and fight till daylight
We're gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long
Damn right. Rest in peace.

Labels: ,


June 2001   July 2001   August 2001   September 2001   October 2001   November 2001   December 2001   January 2002   February 2002   March 2002   April 2002   May 2002   June 2002   July 2002   August 2002   September 2002   October 2002   November 2002   December 2002   January 2003   February 2003   March 2003   April 2003   May 2003   June 2003   July 2003   August 2003   September 2003   October 2003   November 2003   December 2003   January 2004   February 2004   March 2004   April 2004   May 2004   June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]