October 30, 2009

Baseball Player Names of the Week

Today's names come courtesy of valued commenter Unmoderated:

Mutz and Jewel Ens, brothers out of St. Louis, MO.

Mutz made it to the White Sox for all of 5 days in 1912, where he had zero hits and no walks in 6 plate appearances, giving him a lifetime OPS+ of -100. He also made two errors at first base, just for good measure.

His brother Jewel, younger by two years, played with Pittsburgh for parts of four seasons - 47 games in 1922, but only 3 by 1925. His batting average was .290, but his OBP was just .323, and he hit one home run in his career. The internet doesn't tell us much more than that about the Ens brothers, except that Mutz's real name was Anton, and that Jewel's middle name was... (drumroll):


At Least It's a More Creative Chant Than "Phillies Suck"

My writeup of last night's game, which perhaps predictably half-turned into an essay on Pedro Martinez, is up at the Banter.

This seems like too short of a post to put up all by itself, so: bonus dog photo.

Hopefully I'll get a Name of the Week post up later.

October 29, 2009

The Cliff Lee Affair

There's not much point in urging fans to relax, to not freak out so much about one bad game... after all, isn't irrationally investing our emotions sort of the point of baseball fandom? There's nothing logical about the enterprise to begin with.

Still, it's always a little startling how quickly one game can flip the general fan mood (as measured, highly unscientifically, by talking to a few friends, reading a bunch of blog comments, and checking in with the huge Yankees fan who works the late shift at the deli on the corner). Cliff Lee's performance last night - which was not only great, but also just so Steve McQueen cool - seems to have flipped the consensus from "Yankees in 6" to "Phillies in 4 and I just hope a Yankee hits the ball out of the infield again, some day."

If Pedro, of all people, wins tonight's Game 2, it ain't gonna be pretty.

October 22, 2009

Sad Dogs and Englishmen

I'm too tired even to take a cute picture of my dog, so here's a random photo of a sad dog from the internet reacting to last night's game:

Meanwhile my post on last night's roller coaster is up at the Banter; I found kinda the perfect quote for that game:

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

As I wrote in my Banter post, now that they've rescheduled Saturday's Game 6 for the evening, I may have to miss at least a chunk of it - I'm going to a dinner party that night. Aaargh! But it's at the apartment of a good friend who has known me a long time... so I'm assuming she'll forgive me for checking the score during the meal.

October 21, 2009

Banter, Bugs, and Further Animal Exploitation

So I wrote up last night's Yankee win at the Banter, and posted a little something about the umpiring shenanigans at Bugs & Cranks.

Meanwhile, following yesterday's successful debut of Pearl as the official Eephus Pitch mascot, I give you my dog's reaction to the blown fifth-inning call at third:

Yes, Pearl wants instant replay in the playoffs. Instant replay, and maybe a peanut butter treat.

October 20, 2009

New Crush

If he keeps calmly and sensibly taking apart Chip Caray, as he has been throughout this postseason, I'm going to develope a serious crush on Richard Sandomir.

Call me Richard. We'll spend cozy evenings in, ordering Thai and methodically trashing inept sports broadcasting.

Now on Sale at the Stadium Store, Pitchforks and Torches

You know how some sports blogs try to attract traffic with photos of hot chicks in bikinis? Well, I'm going to try a slightly different, but related, approach: the cute animal photo. Herewith, the expression on my dog's face when Joe Girardi took Dave Robertson out of the game in the 11th inning, with two outs and nobody on, and brought in Alfredo Aceves:

Pearl, official Eephus Pitch mascot

I hope to make this a regular feature.

Anyway, this is one of those days I'm just glad I'm not a manager, especially not a New York manager. I like Joe Girardi, and I think he's done a very good this year on the whole, but... yeah... it may be time for him to take it down a notch.

I'll be writing up tonight's game over at the Banter. Make Pearl happy, CC.

October 19, 2009

The Final Word on My Jeopardy! Appearance:

As usual, Weird Al says it best. (Yes: from T.S. Eliot to Weird Al in less than 24 hours. Liberal arts education, ladies and gentlemen. "Let us go then, you and I,/ When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherised upon a table; We been spending most our lives living in an Amish paradise.")

Bonus Weird Al video:

October 15, 2009

Onwards to the Stony Rubbish

I've got a new post up on Bugs & Cranks about last night's epic Angels-Yankees error-off, and the upcoming three-game jaunt into the Wastelands of Anaheim. (I have never been to Anaheim, but I do generally imagine it as A heap of broken images, where the sun beats/ And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief/ And the dry stone no sound of water.)

Meanwhile the Yankees doing something fan-friendly for once and opening up the Stadium for anyone who wants to watch Game 3 in Anaheim. That sounds pretty neat, and though I'm sure they'll still make a tidy profit on concessions, in a refreshing departure from their usual squeeze-out-every-penny approach they will not be charging admission. If I have time maybe I'll head up there.

October 12, 2009

What is "One of the More Surreal Experiences of My Life, Alex?"

So in the end, my anxiety about the ALDS was largely unfounded - except for Carl Pavano's ace performance; did I call that or what? My recap of last night's Yankees win went up on the Banter this morning.

And since it worked so well last time, now I'm off to write about all the many ways the ALCS could turn into a total disaster for New York.

Meanwhile, weirdly enough, I'm supposed to be on "Jeopardy!" tonight - I went out to LA for the taping back in August and it was a fun though deeply weird experience. I'm Tivo-ing the show, but as I hate even hearing my own voice on a tape recorder let alone watching myself on TV, I will probably go with the Phils-Rockies game tonight instead.

And I'm not allowed to say how I did before it airs, but I can't let it go without just one preemptive note: I knew the Mickey Mantle question! I just couldn't buzz in in time, I swear!

October 08, 2009

Bugs and Cranks and Stuff

So, I'll be doing a little blogging over at Bugs & Cranks, and my first post went up yesterday. I outlined all the various things that might go wrong for the Yankees this postseason, including the possibility that cockroaches will swarm Mark Teixeira and carry him off to the sewers. (These things happen).

Of course I'll also be continuing to post over at the Banter, and in fact have a writeup of last night's Yanks-Twins game there. Feel free to chime in with suggestions for my upcoming TBS/Chip Caray Drinking Game. E.g.: take a drink every time someone uses the phrase "plays the game the right way"; if Craig Sagar's suit is attacked by frightened birds, finish your beer; etc.

Finally, for those of you who enjoy having your information input and output arbitrarily limited to 140 characters, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

I think that about covers it. Except I'm so happy to have playoff baseball back in New York that I actually did a little dance at the first pitch. No one saw except my dog, and she, luckily, will never tell.

October 05, 2009

Baseball Player NICKname of the Week

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 10 different Major League Baseball players nicknamed "Wild Bill," from Bill Hutchinson in 1884 to Bill Connolly in 1953.

But there is only one Ed Heusser, "The Wild Elk of the Wasatch."

Heusser pitched for five different teams in the 1930s and 40s, though why he reminded anyone of a wild elk is not clear. (It seems safe to assume "Wasatch" refers to the mountain range in Utah, where Heusser was born). He ended up with 300 walks (compared to 299 Ks), but didn't hit an especially large number of batters or throw that many wild pitches.

I just hope this unsolved nickname doesn't come to haunt me the way that Bristol Robotham Lord's "The Human Eyeball" still does.

NB: Heusser is not to be confused with Pepper Martin, "The Wild Horse of the Osage."

October 03, 2009

"Afraid to Win": The Story of the 2009 Mets

A few weeks ago, when Derek Jeter was about to pass Lou Gehrig on the Yankees' hit list, I almost posted the following paragraph:

"While needless to say I love watching Jeter play, and I have nothing but warm feelings towards Joe Torre, when I see a quote from the ex-skipper about the Captain like: "Just the tenacity, the determination. He's not afraid to win," I do have a strong urge to bury my head in my hands and weep for the English language. No one in sports is as good as Torre at stringing a selection of pre-approved words into convincing but meaningless sentences. He's "not afraid to win"? How many professional ballplayers are afraid to win? Except Chuck Knoblauch, maybe? Is that really what prevents the average player from being Derek Jeter, their victory phobias? Gah."
I decided not to put it up, because it seemed too grouchy - bitching about one of Torre's well-meaning platitudes in the middle of a nice celebratory moment. But I remembered it the other day while I was watching the Mets lose, again, to the Washington Nationals... Maybe I was too hard on Joe Torre, I thought. Maybe this is what "afraid to win" looks like.

I'm not serious, of course - all the psychoanalysis in the world wouldn't make that shredded lineup a pennant winner. But this year's Mets will make you entertain a lot of strange thoughts. They've overcome all kinds of obstacles, and repeatedly defied the odds, to lose in a series of remarkable ways.

(SIDE NOTE: I also thought of my abandoned blog post when Knoblauch was arrested for domestic assault the other day. Afraid to win, perhaps, but not to - allegedly! - hit his wife. Lovely.)

Anyway, I think every Mets fan I know wants Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel fired, though few have any hope that it'll actually happen. Given the staggering array of injuries, I'm not sure it's really fair to call for their heads... on the other hand, I don't think I can argue with it, either. There's a lot to answer for, and I don't know how else the team would be able to start spring training without this year's toxins hanging over them.

Then again, as an alternative, maybe they could try teaching their players how to run the bases and field grounders. Sure, winning is frightening - but just using both hands to catch popups, that's not so scary, is it?