Tag Archives: wall street journal

Oh Those Lowly Dodgers ……..

Baseball Surprises!

Recently, I asked my brother-in-law if he thought the Dodgers would be able to put together 100 wins this season.   It seemed a given, but they’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games and it reminds me of the 2008 season when the first place San Diego Padres lost 10 in a row in the last month of the season to allow the Giants to win the division, and eventually the World Series.

I know.  I get it.  Us Giants fans are supposed to hate the Dodgers so we’re always cheering for their demise, but I’m older and have a different perspective.  Back in the 1950’s when there were only 16 MLB teams, the closest being located in the Midwest, you had to be a Dodger or Yankee fan, but you couldn’t be both.  I was torn because Mickey Mantle was my hero.  But the Dodger’s were generally considered the underdog, so they had to be my team.

When the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers moved West it changed everything.   West Coast fans were of course delighted.  Since I was an Oregonian at the time the closest MLB team was now San Francisco Giants.  And that’s how it’s been since 1958, when I got to watch my first live pro baseball game between the Giants & Dodgers at Seal Stadium.

I may be the only Giants fan who’s delighted in watching  Yasiel Puig, the snot nosed rookie from Cuba, dive in over his head to become a bonafide contender against the odds.  And it wasn’t because he didn’t have the talent, he did.  But his attitude stunk up the place and we generally cheered for his demise. His numbers aren’t all that great even now, but I still pay attention when he’s at bat.  And then there’s Kershaw.  If we could have him and the D’Backs Goldschmidt we could easily be back in the saddle again.   But “what ifs” are for Fantasy players.

So this morning’s Wall Street J0urnal published a great article by Jared Diamond bringing up some memories of the 2001 Mariners and comparing that team to the current Dodgers in their win/loss record.  The semblance is striking and should make the Dodgers a bit nervous about their chances in this year’s playoffs.

After the awful season the Giants have put us through this year, I’m going to root for the Dodgers and hope I can get some sort of satisfaction through them.  I’ll just pretend it’s 1958 and start all over again.

 

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Broken Bats, Barry Bonds and The Easy Way Out.

broken bat image

John Bowker, Giants vs Cardinals, April 18, 2008.

It takes a lot to get me back into blogging mode these days.  And it’s not because I don’t want to but, like everyone else, I’m busy.  So when I read an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal I couldn’t contain myself.

The article was written by Jo Craven McGinty,  “Behind Broken Baseball Bats, Broken Records.”  Blame Barry, she says, and that got my attention.  Evidently the year that Bonds hit his record 73 home runs, he was using a maple wood bat, unlike the ash bats that were commonplace in the majors at the time.

Today the use of maple wood bats has increased to nearly 75% of all bats used in broken bat 2the major leagues.  There’s controversy about whether maple vs ash bats contribute to more home runs.    The problem is that maple is more likely to split into multiple pieces when it breaks, while ash “flakes”.   In other words, it can hurt people.  Like it did on June 5 at Fenway Park, when it smashed into the stands and into the face of a fan.

Kurt Ainsworth, Marucci Sports, puts it this way.  “When you have future Hall of Famers putting up crazy numbers, it’s hard for MLB to take those bats out of their hands.”  Really.  Is that what it means?  You mean Barry Bonds record home runs was due to his “bat” and had nothing to do with steroids?   According to Lloyd Smith, Director of the Sports Science Lab at Washington State University, “The speed of the ball coming off maple is no different from the speed of the ball coming off ash.”

But here’s the kicker.  According to McGinty’s article, which also deals with the diameter, density and slope of grain of the bats, regulations have reduced the number of broken bats.  “Since 2013 the minimum density of the barrel of the bat is 0.0245 pounds per cubic inch.  The Regulations have reduced the number of broken bats.”  But, as she notes, there are exceptions to the rules:

“Players who used low-density bats before the rules took effect are grandfathered in and at least 15% of maple bats used in MLB today have densities below 0.0245.”

Are you kidding me?  If there’s any substance to this regulation at all, why would you take the easy way out and let any of the players keep using the maple bats?

I’ll bet money on the fact someone out there has the answer.  And I hope it’s not because the guys who are hitting the homers are the ones who are still using those bats and drawing the fans through the gates.  I mean it can’t always be about the money, can it?

Locker Room Interviews ….. a Waste of Time?

I read and review hundreds of sports reports and baseball blogs every month and once in a while a story resonates with me so much I’m compelled to share it.    Today has one of those stories and it’s about those pesky locker room interviews after the game where microphones are shoved in the players faces and reporters are yelling … what, I don’t know, because I can never hear the question … and the players are trying to be calm and cool, giving respectable answers that will satisfy the coaches, management and rest of the team.  

I’ve rarely heard a question asked that I thought was important or even remotely entertaining. “How did you feel, what did you think” ….. adds nothing to the insight of the game.  I’d like to know what it was the umpire said to you that made you laugh out loud after a play, or what it was you yelled at the pitcher after being nailed by a pitch for the second time this game.  Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports had some insight into this very thing in his blog this morning and almost as fun as the article are the comments that readers shared.   Here’s the article: 

Over at the Wall Street Journal today Craig Wolff writes about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what purpose, exactly, does it serve to have reporters in the locker room before and after games? Read the thinking-it-through parts of it all, which are good, but here’s the central question I think:

In the end, no matter what becomes of this American tradition, it’s probably time to start asking if all this standing around amounts to loitering and is worth the strain it puts on the relationship between press and players. It’s not clear that either side derives much from the transaction.

It used to be that the teams needed the local paper for publicity and stuff. That’s way less necessary now than it used to be, and in fact, the situation has reversed, with papers needing the team way more for circulation purposes.  But are the postgame quotes all that useful to the reader?  Wouldn’t the reporter’s face time be better spent trying to talk to athletes about more in-depth matters in feature stories?  Shouldn’t their gameday focus be more on the game itself, with their own analysis and insight — which in the case of most reporters is considerable because they’ve seen a lot of baseball — rather than transcribing the cliches?

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is quoted in the article talking about how being in the locker room, despite the bad, empty quotes, is important for maintaining relationships, the sorts of which no doubt would lead to better feature stories like I’d like to see.  I get that.  It just seems to me that there’s gotta be a better way.”