Tag Archives: baseball

Friday Random 10: Anniversary Edition

Pax Arcana

It’s as gloomy and shitty as ever outside today, but thanks to the Joy of Sox my spirits are buoyed. That’s because today is the five year anniversary of one of the greatest games in baseball history — the July 24, 2004 brawlfest between the Red Sox and Yankees that featured not only loathsome douche Alex Rodriguez getting a glove sandwich shoved between his stupid purple lips, but also a six-run comeback by the Sox, capped by a game-winning 9th inning home run from Bill Mueller.

And I was there.

arod_varitekNot just me, but the straight-but-not-narrow then-future Mrs. Pax Arcana, her mother, sister, and mother’s husband. We were in the right field grandstand, at first just hoping the rain would hold off (it did) and that none of the calzone-stuffed mongoloid Yankee fans in our section decided to shave their backs mid-game. Instead we were treated to the wildest game I’ve ever seen.

In the third inning, Bronson Arroyo hit A-Rod with a curveball. Because he’s dumber than a sack of turnips, A-Rod assumed it was a purpose pitch. Jason Varitek intervened and the fisticuffs erupted. Normally I’m not one to condone fighting in baseball. But if there was ever douche who needed to be slapped in front of 40,000 people, it was the 2004 version of A-Rod.

Tek and A-Rod were both ejected, Tanyon Sturze (nice career, dick) bled from the ear, and the Red Sox capped a miracle comeback when Bill Mueller smoked a 3-1 cutter off Mariano Rivera into the visitors’ bullpen — a two-run homer to give the Sox the win.

At the time, the Red Sox were 8 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Soon after the brawl they would embark on a crazy win streak and end up winning the World Series after executing the greatest comeback in history in the ALCS. Several of the players on that team still point to the July 24, 2004 game as the spark that led to their eventual triumph. I don’t know about that. All I know is I was convinced that Fenway Park was going to crumble into pieces from everybody jumping up and down.

Update: Cool interview with Curt from the Car on his site at the new WEEI.com: http://bit.ly/I4oox

The songs:

Waterfalls — TLC (Chili I still love you. Call me.)
Don’t Know When But a Day Is Gonna Come — Bright Eyes
Elq Milq — Black Moth Super Rainbow + The Octopus Project
California Stars — Wilco
The Piano Has Been Drinking, Not Me — Tom Waits
We Are All Accelerated Readers — Los Campesinos!
Windowsill — Arcade Fire
Can You Tell — Ra Ra Riot
Boneless — The Notwist
Public Service Announcement — Jay Z + DJ Danger Mouse

Bonus video:

The Rake’s Song — The Decemberists (Live)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change

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Jim Bunning is still a Phillie

Pax Arcana

jim_bunning_doucheBy now you’re probably familiar with my opinion of the Philadelphia Phillies. By which I mean the entire organization and its fanbase is a fetid pool of douche limned by a thick ring of fuckfacery.

But did you know that this is not a new development? It’s true! While today’s Phillies team features smirky fratboy douchebag fuckface asshole Cole Hamels, wife-punching caveman Brett Myers, and steroid-addled asscrack JC Romero, the diseased core of the franchise was built by historical knob-jobs like Pete Rose, Dick Allen, and several thousand others.

Consider the case of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, a former Phillies pitcher and probably the worst Hall of Famer not named Phil Rizzuto. Not only is Bunning something of a paranoid who has accused “little green doctors” of attacking him at public events and once exhorted the people to vote for him because his opponent (an Italian-American doctor) looked too much like Saddam Hussein’s sons — he also just got nabbed red-handed breaking Senate rules by accepting money for autographs:

Bunning has paid himself a total of $155,000 in salary from the foundation since 2001, according to disclosure documents reviewed by The Hill. He works on foundation business for an estimated one hour a week.

The foundation was created in 1996, when Bunning was a member of the House of Representatives. In 2008, IRS documents show Bunning attended two autograph-signing events, for which the foundation was paid $12,595. Along with a licensing program run by the Hall of Fame, the foundation took in a total of $16,091.

But as Bunning was being paid as the foundation’s sole employee, the Jim Bunning Foundation has consistently donated less than the $20,000 the senator collects. The foundation has never given more than $19,575 in a year, according to IRS documents and documents Bunning has filed with the Senate.

It should be noted that there’s probably nothing illegal about what Bunning is doing. It’s douchey, but not illegal. Like tribal tattoos and baby corn. YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE BABY CORN. WHY DON’T YOU COME BACK WHEN YOU’RE ALL GROWN UP?

Bunning makes $20K from baseball signings [The Hill]

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Daydream believer

Pax Arcana

Cheers_S6First, an apology. The competent and forward-thinking Mrs. Pax Arcana and I have been tied up of late with real estate shenanigans (previously discussed here). Basically we’re in those terrifying middle stages of purchasing our first home, wherein terms like P&S, quitclaim, covenant, and easement suddenly burst forth from the underworld and coat you in a sticky film of confusion.

That’s why there’s been a scarcity of mind-blowing awesomeness on this site, and why that scarcity will likely continue for a while. But rest assured — my irrational fear of science, komodo dragons, and the undead continue to haunt me and will soon propel this site back into action.

In the meantime, scientists at the University British Columbia have discovered that your brain is far more active during daydreams than previously believed:

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that activity in numerous brain regions increases when our minds wander. It also finds that brain areas associated with complex problem-solving – previously thought to go dormant when we daydream – are in fact highly active during these episodes.

I like how they’re called episodes. It’s like your brain is a sitcom factory, just churning out storylines of mistaken identities, crazy neighbors, multiple generations of family under one roof, and sexual tension between coworkers. Like Sam and Rebecca on Cheers. I know that show went off the air like 16 years ago, but do you think Rebecca is as fat as Kirstie Alley now? If so, you’ve got to imagine that horn-dog Sam is catching it from his old Red Sox buddies. He’s doing guest spots on NESN talking about Jon Lester and the camera guy keeps cutting to still pictures of Rebecca stuffing her face with Fenway Franks on the concourse. Oh man I bet Sam punches that little shit Tom Caron right in the face.

Brain’s Problem-solving Function At Work When We Daydream [Science Daily]

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Carl Crawford is a winnar

Pax Arcana

Carl Crawford, who plays outfield for the Tampa Bay Heathen Sea Frisbees Rays, is on pace to steal 108 bases this year. While that number would fall short of Rickey Henderson’s single-season record (130), Crawford could make a different kind of history — stealing more than 100 bases without being caught.

Carl_CrawfordSeriously — the dude is fast.

But does it matter? Are stolen bases more than just a flash of temporal excitement? Do they unnerve pitchers? Do they bring the defense out of position? Do they increase the likelihood of the batter getting a hit?

Not really, according to Bill James and other statistically-inclined thinkers. They say the stolen base has little correlation with wins, despite plays like Dave Roberts’ epic steal of second base against the Yankees in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

Over at the WSJ, Tim Marchman looks more closely at this kind of thinking and applies it to Crawford’s ridiculous run:

As a rule, according to baseball researcher Tom Tango, a team adds .02 wins to its season total when it steals a base, and loses .04 when someone is caught stealing. By this math, last year’s Rays, who led the majors with 142 steals in 192 tries, gained just a single win from their exploits. A team stealing 200 bases in 250 tries would add just two wins in an entire season.

But what about a player who steals 108 bases in 108 tries, as Mr. Crawford was on pace to do going into Friday’s game? Because he’s losing no value by getting caught, this player would add two wins all by himself.

So the Rays might get two extra wins this year just on Carl Crawford’s legs. The next step is for Joe Madden and his questionable math skills to devise some sort of formula to prove that 2=8 or 108=162 or some shit like that. Good luck, Joe!

Baseball’s Fastest Man Outruns Math Guys, Too [WSJ]


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Stay classy, Philadelphia

Pax Arcana

As if you needed more evidence that Philadelphia sports fans are a half-step down the evolutionary ladder from animals that literally eat their own feces, here’s what happens when you show up for a Mets-Phillies game in the wrong colors:


According to The 700 Level (a great blog despite its unfortunate allegiances), the Mets fan pictured above had the good fortune to be hit with a flying glass bottle at one of the games this weekend.

Here’s what the guy who took the photograph reported:

When the commotion started he was standing up, but he fell to the ground soon after I started watching. He was on the ground for a while and it took about 10-15 minutes for an EMT to arrive. They bandaged his head and helped him walk away. Apparently the perpetrator was immediately led away by the police.

Our area (section 143, in left field) and the outfield in general were pretty nuts throughout the game. A fan in the scoreboard porch area threw a bottle of beer on the field after Ibanez’s home run, and I later saw police and security questioning him. Also, while the bloodied fan was waiting for the EMT to arrive, about 5-10 people in orange shirts were walked down from the scoreboard porch handcuffed by the police. I think they also were ejecting fans who threw Mets home runs back on the field. All in all a wild day. I wouldn’t have wanted to have a family there. And it’s only May. I can’t imagine what the fall could be like.

I’ll give you an idea of what fall is like for Philadelphia fans. First the leaves turn brown about 20 days early because the local populace has been using the Schuykill Expressway as a giant urinal again. In November, 92 Philly fans are killed when tainted Cheez Whiz hits store shelves. Just before Thanksgiving, Eagles fans decide to drop the charade of tolerance and just go ahead and boo all the black players and cheer the white ones.

Meanwhile, the fat guy + mustache combination remains the signature look of the region. So yay!

Mets-Phillies Rivalry Already Turned Ugly [The 700 Level]

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It wasn’t Jorge’s fault

Pax Arcana

Last night Jacoby Ellsbury stole home plate, sold it on eBay, and used the profits to buy a t-shirt outside Fenway that says HAAHA YANKEES YOU SUCK BALLS FUCK YOU.


Needless to say, stealing home is a pretty sweet play.

Except when you’re watching the game on ESPN, and you’re forced to listen to Joe Morgan say exactly the opposite of what is correct about what just happened. As recapped by Fanhouse, Morgan repeatedly blamed Yankee catcher Jorge Posada for allowing the steal to happen, despite the followingn indisputable truths:

1. It is the pitcher’s job to keep the baserunners on their toes at all times.

2. Posada told pitcher Andy Pettitte to “Be careful” of Ellsbury and “pay attention to him.”

3. Pettitte completely ignored that advice.

Says Matt Snyder:

The play came down to two simple things. Ellsbury perfectly played his maneuver, and Pettitte blatantly ignored a speedster who was taking a huge lead from third base. I’m not going to accuse Morgan of being ignorant on the subject — considering he stole a few bases in his Hall of Fame career — but there’s got to be some confusion or bias on his part to stake this claim.

If I were a sports blogger, I’d start a new Web site dedicated to getting Joe Morgan fired. I would then expand the site into a catch-all basket for sports media criticism. And I’d make it hilarious. Then I would make every sentient being in the world cry by shutting it down to work on a new television show and stare at Rashida Jones all day.

Posada Warned Pettitte Before Jacoby Ellsbury Stole Home [Fanhouse]


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Mackenzie Brown will save the Mets

Pax Arcana

mackenzie_brownThe sports blogs are all aflutter today with the story of Mackenzie Brown, a 12-year-old girl who pitched a perfect game in a Bayonne, New Jersey Little League game. Brown struck out 12 hitters in her 6 innings of work, including the last 6 batters she faced:

Mackenzie, who says she plays baseball because she always has been successful against the boys and just wanted to continue with it, knew she had something special going midway through the game.

“In like the fourth inning I kind of knew,” she said. “Then I just tried to keep doing what I was doing and not try to mess it up.”

And because she’s 10 gallons of awesome in a pint glass, Mackenzie Brown will be throwing out the first pitch at the Mets game tomorrow. Here’s hoping she can show the 6-9 Mets how to play with some balls.

Bayonne girl’s perfect game gains national recognition [NJ.com]


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Tall people got no reason to catch

Pax Arcana

For the first eight years of my organized baseball career — from the minor Little Leagues through sophomore year of high school — I was a catcher. And I loved it. And I was good at it.

matt_wietersBut I wasn’t better than Sonny Nictakis, who was a year older than me and would eventually go on to play for Boston College after being scouted by multiple Division I programs, so when I was 16 the high school varsity coach made me switch positions.

I became a bad outfielder. In college I converted to the infield and became a bad first baseman. The point is that catching was the one position I was actually good at in the field, but the vagaries of fate stripped me of my beloved chest protector.

I suppose it’s a good thing I wasn’t better than Sonny Nictakis, because even if I been good enough to work my way into the professional ranks, my height would have been an impediment. That’s according to Tim Marchman in the Wall Street Journal, who says tall catchers are among the five worst ideas in baseball:

Just 11 catchers listed at 6-foot-4 or taller have ever had at least 2,000 plate appearances in the modern major leagues. Among them, only Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, a two-time batting champion, has been a truly exceptional player — at least, when he’s healthy. Mr. Mauer is currently out of the lineup with a back injury. The idea that catchers shouldn’t be too tall is the rare concept that has the scouts and the statisticians nodding their heads in agreement.

This is bad news for the Baltimore Orioles, he says, who are hell bent on ruining top prospect Matt Wieters by allowing him to remain behind the plate:

Their top pick in the 2007 draft was catcher Matt Wieters, who’s listed at 6-foot-5 and hit .355 with 27 home runs in the minor leagues in his professional debut last year. Given the dearth of tall catchers of note, the Orioles could be tempting fate by leaving a potentially historic hitter at the position most likely to stunt his career.

Not to mention that the Orioles pitching staff is horrendous, meaning sometime soon Matt Wieters will be spending an average of 42 minutes an inning watching Jeremy Guthrie give up taters. Have you ever seen Jason Varitek after a bad Dice-K inning? He looks like a former coma patient learning to walk again.

Tall Catchers, Managers in Uniform, Pitchers Batting 9th, and Other Bad Ideas in Baseball [WSJ]

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Now that’s the way to do it

Pax Arcana

The death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart — and his friends Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson (this is a must-read if you haven’t seen it) — was both a tragedy and a senseless crime. It was also another reminder of our own mortality — that even professional athletes aren’t immune from death.

ed_delahantyUSA Today ran a feature yesterday on five other notable baseball players who died while still active.  The list includes former Yankee Thurman Munson, who died in a plane crash, and All-Star pitcher Daryl Kile, who died in his sleep at 33 a few years ago. The feature ignores some obvious examples — like Yankee pitcher Corey Lidle, who piloted a small plane into a building in New York City in 2006. It also ignores Ray Chapman, still the only major league player to die after being hit by a pitch.

But for all its flaws, the USA Today feature succeeds in introducing us to what must be the single greatest epitaph an old-timey ballplayer could ever have asked for. Prepare to be dazzled by the demise of Ed Delahanty:

Ed Delahanty:  A 1903 New York Times obituary on baseball-almanac.com stated that the unruly Hall of Fame outfielder had been put off a train in Canada after threatening passengers with “an open razor” and died when he fell into the water trying to cross a draw bridge near Niagara Falls. The accident happened as the Washington Senators were returning home from Detroit. Delahanty, who was 35, had a .346 lifetime batting average in 16 seasons, mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies.

That wasn’t the only time Delahanty found himself at the center of some Keystone Cops-style shenanigans. According to Wikipedia, Delahanty was also at the center of a bizarre play in 1892 after Hall of Famer Cap Anson hit a ball that landed in a small enclosure used to store scoreboard numbers. The result was anointed one of the “most shameful home runs of all time” by people who never saw my two-bouncer into the parking lot at Timberlane Regional Middle School in 1990:

Delahanty tried to get the ball (it was still in play) by first reaching over the doghouse, then crawling down into it, but on the latter attempt, he got stuck, and by the time teammate Sam Thompson had freed Delahanty from the area, Anson crossed home plate on what the “Baseball Hall of Shame” book calls an “inside-the-doghouse home run.”

I had never heard of El Delahanty before today, but I like to think he looks down upon all of us every time we get stuck in a doghouse or accidentally go over Niagara Falls. It gives me a real sense of peace knowing he’s up there, smiling down on us. Because he’s drunk.

Munson among those who died young while still active [USA Today]
Ed Delahanty [Wikipedia]


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Let us now commence with the hype

Pax Arcana

Last year the New York Mets appeared to lose every single game in which they entered the 8th or 9th inning with a lead (they were actually fine until Billy Wagner got hurt — then they were terrible). So in the offseason the Mets replaced their wretched bullpen with a handful of proven — if expensive — relievers.

johan_santana1Yesterday the Mets won their opener 2-1 as two of those relievers — J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez — shut down the Reds in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.


Let’s witness the carnage.

The New York Post:

CINCINNATI — What was a nightmare for the Mets last year played out like a dream on Opening Day.

Much to the relief of Omar Minaya’s players and his manager, the GM’s offseason overhaul of the bullpen couldn’t have worked any more perfectly than it did here in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

The New York Daily News:

CINCINNATI – Johan Santana pitched like an ace. The bullpen blueprint worked as scripted, with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez handling the final two frames. And Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church’s performances suggested Gary Sheffield need not rush into the starting lineup.

Four years after Braden Looper surrendered two homers against the Reds in the ninth inning on Opening Day to spoil Pedro Martinez’s feel-good debut with the organization, there was no demoralizing reprise. The Mets christened their season with a 2-1 win against the Reds as a steady drizzle fell and the temperature hovered in the 30s.

New York Newsday:

CINCINNATI – The Opening Day blueprint for the Mets‘ 2-1 victory at Great American Ball Park was no happy accident. This was a meticulously planned, perfectly executed strategy that became a reality five months ago in a tricked-out suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

That’s where general manager Omar Minaya spearheaded a two-pronged effort to sign Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $36-million contract, then traded for J.J. Putz and Sean Green in a 12-player deal that also involved the Mariners and Indians.

The New York Times:

CINCINNATI – The Mets’ team meeting Monday morning began with the players gathering in a circle and, according to Manager Jerry Manuel, discussing their responsibilities for this season.

For Johan Santana, that means reinforcing his status as an ace. For Daniel Murphy, that means rewarding the organization’s trust in him. For their bullpen, that means erasing the bad memories from last season. The Mets’ 2-1 season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday was made possible by contributions from all three.

Look — I’m not saying you can’t mention the famous Mets bullpen collapse of 2008. But when you write your lede and read it back to yourself, and YOU KNOW DAMN WELL that your competitors are all writing the same lede, it seems like a good opportunity to reconsider your approach. It’s almost like blogs exist precisely because these stories are so damn predictable.

Anyway, the important thing is that the Mets are in first place and the Phillies are eating shit at the bottom — right where they belong. Those cat rapers.


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