First of all, several days ago, the NY Yankees clinched the AL East, setting in motion a possible Subway Series with the NY Mets, who have clinched the NL East. Of course, you know how baseball is. It’s possible that neither team will be in the Fall Classic.
The Detroit Tigers hope to have something to say about it. They beat Kansas City today to clinch at least the AL Wild Card. If they can hold off the surging Minnesota Twins, the Tigers, who were last in the playoffs in 1987, can capture the AL Central crown.
Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hit his 15th triple of the season. It’s the first time since 1930 that a player has hit at least 15 triples in three straight seasons .
David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox tied Babe Ruth for most homers hit on the road by an American Leaguer when he hit his 32nd homer of the year away from Fenway . It was No. 53 on the year for "Big Papi," whose total this year is a new Red Sox record. He has Monday’s game in which to pass Ruth for most road homers in the AL.
And last but not least, Padres’ closer Trevor Hoffman notched his 479th save in today’s 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh. His 1-2-3 ninth inning set the all-time saves record.
Yesterday afternoon’s three-way tie for first place in the NLWest among the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres was quite short-lived as the Dodgers beat the Rockies 4-3 last night, on a walk-off single by Kenny Lofton. The Boys in Blue, who were in last place not long ago, have won 12 of their last 13 and now sit atop the division a half-game ahead of the San Diego and Arizona.
Thanks for nothing, Rox. We had hoped that your victory in the middle game of the series would start to bring the Dodgers back to earth.
It is now up to the SF Giants to not let the LA crowd, the real LA crowd, not those folks in Anaheim, run away and hide. C’mon Giants, you never want to lose to the Dodgers!
Meanwhile, back in the desert, Livan Hernandez makes his first start for the D’Backs. He’s up against Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins. With Hernandez having gone 4-0 before coming to Arizona, let’s hope the ERA’s don’t tell the whole story. Hernandez has a 5.43 ERA while Johnson is only at 2.85.
DTLFL hopes to have NL West standings back on the Byrnesblog soon, but we are not promising anything. Something went wrong with the coding. It’s a totally backroom thing we had nothing to do with. If we can get standings that will work and not produce an annoying error message every time the page loads, we will.
The erratic AZ Diamondbacks pitching staff has plunked several Dodgers this week, including Nomar Garciaparra thrice. Since they’ve been so bad, no one is really accusing them of throwing AT the Dodgers deliberately. Nonetheless, the Dodgers–ironic name for a team whose players keep getting hit, isn’t it–have taken to throwing a bit inside, perhaps deliberately.
Steve Gilbert of The Tao of Steve, in giving the AZ linuep for this evening’s game, noted that "Shawn Green was scratched due to pain in his hip from when he was hit in the hip last night." If you’ve ever seen Greenie on TV, you know he ain’t got no padding. And that’s that a camera puts 10 pounds on you.
If the Vargas who pitched in Oakland shows up in L.A. tonight, no one should get hit.
As for the D’Backs’ batting order, Diamondhacks recently came up with the idea of having the players bat in order of .OBP, with the highest .OBP batting leadoff. This makes sense, since you want the tablesetters at the top of the lineup to get on base so that the sluggers in the middle of the order have RBI opportunities. (Goodness knows, the way the D’Backs have been pitching, the team needs early runs).
According to Diamondhacks’ Lineup Theory, this should be the order of starters Steve posted for tonight [.OBP-.SLG]. Jackson [.370-.401] DaVanon [.369-.429], Gonzalez [.358-.411], Byrnes [.351-.531], Estrada [.341-.467], Easley [.336-.457], Tracy [.330-.445], Hudson [.324-.397], Vargas (p).
The numbers suggest that Gonzo is underperforming as a slugger, but he’s still the team leader in doubles (24) and walks (42, with only 29 Ks), so having him bat third with Green hurting is OK. Byrnes, who is tied with Tracy for the team lead in HRs (12), and second on the team in doubles (22), batted cleanup yesterday. He went 2-5 with an RBI. Tracy, though tied with Byrnes for the team homer lead, and third in doubles (21), leads the team in Ks with 82. (Second place is Byrnes with 49). Tracy’s total also puts him in 5th place on the NL Strike Out list, an unenviable position unless you are Nos. 1-4.
The actual batting order, as posted on The Tao of Steve is: DaVanon [.369-.429], Byrnes [.351-.531], Tracy [.330-.445], Jackson [.370-.401], Gonzalez [.358-.411], Estrada [.341-.467], Hudson [.324-.397], Easley [.336-.457], and Vargas (p).
The word "hodgepodge" comes to mind. So do a few other words that would be asterisked out of here.
The only baseball "logic" I see in this lineup has to do with stolen bases. DaVanon is 8-2, Byrnes is 9-1. Of course, on that basis, Byrnes should be leading off, which is sometimes does. (Not that I like that). One would think that if these two got on, you might see some base stealing or hit-and-run. But the D’Backs are not exactly a running team. DaVanon and Byrnes plus Craig Counsell, who is not starting today, are a combined 27-9. League leader Jose Reyes of the Mets is 37-9. Additionally, with Chad Tracy, the team’s Mr. K, batting third, there would be a great risk of a "strike ’em out-throw ’em out" double play.
The game starts in an hour and yes, I will watch, or at least have it on in the background while I do some housework. So if Byrnesie has a bad night, blame it on me, and if he does great, maybe I’m not a jinx afterall.
Kéllia "Looking for True Elation 13" Ramares
MLBlogosphere said that I was on a doubleheader rant. I saw that and promised to turn my doubleheader into a tripleheader after work. So here is part three.
First a correction to Part Two: Eric Byrnes is lifetime 3-9 against Bronson Arroyo, not 3-3. What IS 3-3 is that all three of those hits are doubles. I realize that I have probably made the same mistake in recent comments on other blogs, so if you come across it, remember Byrnes is 3-9 lifetime against Arroyo, all three hits being two-baggers.
As both an honest person and a journalist with high standards, I strive for accuracy and I correct my mistakes when I find them, and here all the more-so now that a California appellate court ruled Friday that bloggers have the same rights to keep their sources confidential as traditional journalists. Not that I have any sources here to keep confidential. And not that I need a California court to tell me what I already know, i.e. that bloggers are journalists. But it’s nice to know that a California appellate court sees the issue as I do. To put it as Kurt Opsahl, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, did: "Does Walter Cronkite stop being a journalist if he blogs for the Huffington Post? What makes a journalist a journalist is not the format. If you’re engaged in journalism, you’re a journalist. You have to look beyond the medium selected."
<rant mode on> The above-mentioned Byrnes stat did not change today because Platoon Sergeant Bob "Mechanical Mel" Melvin started Jeff DaVanon in center today instead of Byrnes, to my shock and dismay. I had been looking forward all week to this confrontation. Ask Red Sox Chick, she will even tell you that I was interesting in liveblogging this game with her, seeing as she is a big Arroyo fan. Now, according to the Cincy announcers who were broadcasting the game (which I turned off after DaVanon’s first AB to pay more attention to the Indy 500), DaVanon is .375 lifetime vs. Arroyo. Admittedly, .375 is a bit better than .333. But consider also that Byrnes is currently batting .322 (to DaVanon’s .281 entering today’s game), and riding an 11-game hitting streak.
Now you know why I was so fried this morning that I made the mistake I did. When Melvin wants to start the switch-hitting DaVanon in order to play the Lefty-Righty match-up game, there is nothing Byrnesie can do to make it otherwise, because the issue is not what he is doing but what he is. If Byrnes had been 0-9 against Arroyo, I could understand it. But .333 with three doubles? And Byrnesie high on this year’s NL Doubles list and due for another two-bagger? None of us saw this benching coming, including the folks at MLB.com who highlighted the game on their front panel this morning with a picture of Byrnes, and then had to change it to Shawn Green, who actually was starting.
It reminded me today of an opera theatre audition I did at a summer music festival in Alaska over ten years ago. Despite giving an audition talked about through the two weeks of the Festival, there was no part for me. And I was the only woman in the group I was hanging out with who didn’t get some sort of role. (I was hanging out with sopranos and I’m a mezzo). When I mentioned it, one of the coaches mentioned that another mezzo had only two lines, and I said, "It’s not about being a star. It’s about being included." And grabbing my own throat, I said, "I can’t change this."
I suppose that the "being included" part is DaVanon’s line this year, but I would suggest it fits Byrnesie too. In 2004, he appeared in 143 games. I now wonder if he will appear in that many this year, even though he’s supposed to be the everday CF. He’s a pure righthander. He’s not going to change that. And he’s hitting right-handed pitchers better now than he did last year. Heck, he’s doing everything way better now than he did last year! But I can picture the poltergeist Ken Macha (A’s manager and noisome spirit who I don’t think much likes Byrnes) whispering in Melvin’s ear about Byrnes having trouble with righties. And I can picture that whisper overriding what Melvin’s eyes, and Byrnes’ history with Arroyo, are showing him now.
And it’s not like I have anything against DaVanon, though I will admit to some schadenfreude when he doesn’t do well in these situations. It’s just that I have this strong feeling that 95% of DaVanon’s starts are going to come at Byrnesie’s expense, despite DaVanon’s ability to play all three outfield positions and the early claim that he would give all three outfielders some days off. And I don’t like that feeling one sock-darned bit!
BTW, righthanded rookie 1B Conor Jackson started, and he did quite well, going 2-3 with 1 BB, 1 RBI and 1 R. A lesson in not needing to be slavish to percentages? (I still haven’t forgotten the IBB to the 0-4 Geoff Jenkins in Milwaukee the second series of the year that set up the righty-righty confrontation between Jose Vizcaino and Carlos Lee with the game on the line. Lee only needed a single to win it, which he got).
Anyway, Melvin messed with Byrnesie when he shouldn’t have and reaped the bad karma that is his lot when he does. (Unfortunately, that bad karma gets shared by the team, just as Melvin’s recent argument with a home plate ump ended with D’Backs catcher Chris Snyder getting rung up). It wasn’t a great day for Arroyo, who was gone after 6 innings. But the score ended up Cincy 5 – Arizona 4, with the Reds getting a walk-off homer in the 9th off D’Backs closer Jose Valverde. DaVanon went 0-3 with 1 BB and 2 Ks. I’m not mourning that.
It was not a good day all around. I was awakened at 8 this morning by a phone call from Florida. My cover designer said that the pix for my book sent to her by my photog were blurry and unusable. The samples from which I chose the final shots look fine to me, so I don’t know what gives. Neither my brain nor my computer were turned on, so I couldn’t make any decisions. This glitch puts my June 10th release date in danger. I have been finding myself of late stuck in the middle of a "dispute", for lack of a better word because these two haven’t directly communicated, between my photog and my cover designer over matters beyond my ken. I’m a words and sound person. Maybe that is why I couldn’t capture the photo of Byrnesie that appeared on the MLB.com front page this morning before the bad karma was set in motion.
In the Indy 500, I was rooting for Danica Patrick. She finished 8th. Will somebody please get her a car with better MPG? At the very end, I was rooting for rookie Marco Andretti. During that last lap, I was literally shouting "Go, Marco! Go Marco!" over and over again at the little boom box TV I had turned on in the kitchen so I could watch the race while doing some dishes. Sam Hornish, Jr., won very narrowly. Congrats, Sam. But more than anything, I hope the guy whose foot you ran over in the pits is going to be OK!
<rant mode off, for now>
Near the Ragged Edge of Earth, (and ragged edge of patience with BoMel),
Kéllia "Journalist–Poet–Baseball Blogger" Ramares
in "a little too cool for this time of year", Oakland, CA
Matt of Diamondhacks put up a post about who should be No. 2 in the D’Backs batting order long-term, and he and I got into a little discussion over where Byrnesie should be, of course. So while Juan Cruz was staking the San Diego Padres to a 9-0 lead before the D’Backs even got their first at-bats, I did a bit of calculating. Who’s got the pop and who’s got the patience and thus, who should be in holes 2-7?
The basic assumption is that Counsell will be leadoff and Hudson will bat eighth.
Among Byrnes, Estrada, Green, Gonzalez, Jackson and Tracy, through Tuesday, May 16th, Tracy had the most XBH (21). He’s followed by Gonzalez (18), Byrnes (15), Estrada (13) Jackson (12) and Green (10).
In terms of XBH as a percentage of total hits, it’s Gonzalez (.486), Tracy (.467), Byrnes (.441), Estrada (.397), Jackson (.387) and Green (.212).
In terms of XBH as a percentage of ABs, it’s Byrnes (.141), Tracy (.137), Gonzalez (.129), Estrada (.124), Jackson (.108) and Green (.072)
In terms of overall batting average, it’s Green (.341), Byrnes (.321), Estrada (.314), Tracy (.294), Jackson (279) and Gonzalez (.264).
As for patience, total strikeouts: Tracy (36), Green (22), Byrnes (17), Jackson (15), Gonzalez (14), and Estrada (11).
Total Walks: Gonzalez (22); Tracy (15), Jackson (13), Byrnes (9), Green (9) and Estrada (4).
K/BB (The bigger the number, the worse the ratio): Estrada (2.75); Green (2.44); Tracy (2.40); Byrnes (1.89), Jackson (1.15) and Gonzalez (0.64).
With the score now 10-1 Padres after three and with Byrnesie just having made the last out in the 3rd, I’m going to shut this game off and work. But you stats mavens, tell me, given these indicators of pop and patience, how would YOU arrange the Diamondbacks batting order 2-7 to produce the most potent offense?
I have had my poll up for a week, and the stats say that it’s had 302 visits, but only 7 people have voted! Surely more than 7 people out of 302 have an opinion on the question "Should the D’Backs trade Byrnes?"
Right now, I have 4 No and 3 Yes.
And while you are at it, Maddog wants to know if you think Derek Jeter is this year’s MVP.
(Be warned that this is long. I wanted something to do while acting as substitute tech for the remote broadcast of the Berkeley School Board Meeting).
When was the last time you used a pen or pencil?
That was a question posed by Mark Newman, MLB.com’s Enterprise Editor (and Blogger-in-Chief) in his article New Software Makes Scoring Fun Again, which touts new software for fans who like to keep score on their computers or PDA’s.
"My Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports are always done in pencil," I replied at MLBlogosphere, "So I’ve been using a pencil every day since the season started, even if it’s just to note that he’s not in the lineup again. GRRR!"
"My Friend, The Yankees Fan" has kept score on a Palm Pilot at the House that Ruth Built. In 1923, when Yankee Stadium opened, pilot was a title for guys who flew overgrown kites to deliver mail, dust crops, kill each other in wartime dogfights–why do they call them that? Dogs don’t fight in the sky–or kill themselves in stunts designed to show the people on the ground how much fun flying was. I’m not saying this because I’m afraid of flying. Airline ticket prices, now those are scary. And the guys in fatigues wielding M-16’s at the airport last time I was there, well, they didn’t exactly make me feel secure. I figured that if they opened fire, ordinary Jane’s and Joe’s in the area would be "collateral damage." But hurtling through the air in a metal tube doesn’t especially scare me. After all, the technology’s come a long way since 1923.
And the technology for recording information has come a long way since the graphite pencil became common. Still, I like keeping score at the park on paper. I like writing The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report in pencil. I’m not a Luddite and I am not a geek. I’m somewhere in between. I’m considered a power user at work and I’m a web head at home, spending much more time in front of the computer than the TV. I blog here and watch the baseball games on computer.
I have to side with Michael of Some Ballyard, at least partially, on the problems of watching baseball on the Internet. He’s right. The screen freezes. Mark Newman disagrees. He loves baseball via computer: "Always enjoy Some Ballyard, but have to beg to differ on the experience of watching live baseball over the Internet. Quality is constantly improving and it’s a way of life for millions — including this blogger right here. There’s a Nats-Phils game on MLB.TV on the computer right next to me as I type this, in fact."
I guess how good baseball on the computer really is depends on the kind of equipment you have. I suspect that Mark, who works at MLB.com in New York City, watches his baseball on state-of-the-art computers. I don’t know what Michael’s set up is, but I have a PII with a 333-clock. It’s the fastest computer I’ve ever owned and it’s a dinosaur by today’s standards. An early dinosaur, at that. And my dinosaur often can’t keep up with a good slider or even a hard hit ground ball.
Baseball on the computer is a great use of technology; I just have to get a faster computer. But I think bringing a Palm Pilot to the ballpark is a symptom of what is wrong with baseball today. Going to the ballpark is an occasion for me to get away from the computer, which between email and baseball games is an actual, not virtual, addiction for me. It’s not an addiction I am looking to break. Thanks to the computer, I can follow Eric Byrnes’ exploits, or lack thereof, anywhere in the country, without the excess baggage and expense of cable TV. But, as Red Sox Chick implied in her Spheroid, there are other things we can be doing with our lives besides sitting in front of a computer screen. Some ballparks, including "Whatever they’re calling it this year" Park in San Francisco, are installing Internet access, so that fans can bring their laptops to the game. I have a feeling it’s not so that fans can keep score by computer. With a variety of other non-baseball activities such as walking courses, swimming pools, B-B-Q pits, shops, etc being added to the ballpark experience, along with sausage, taco, dot, Bart-car and other races on the scoreboard and on the field, the experience of the game itself is being diminished. It’s as if we all have ADD and have to have a large variety of activities to keep us at the park without…what? Falling Asleep? Leaving early? Rioting? I go to the ballpark to watch a ballgame. Evidently, that’s as quaint as, well…keeping score with a pencil.
Doing a scorecard, or The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report, by pencil keeps me engaged in the game. I don’t have to worry about saving the file, or whether or not the system will crash or the battery will fail while I am recording the information. If I drop the scorecard or the Report, I haven’t broken anything. While at the Coliseum last season, I spilled a little mustard on one of my Reports. No big deal. As we know from Red Sox Chick’s experience, foodstuffs and electronics are not always a good combination.
This is not to say that there is no room for modern technology in keeping track of baseball events. (Overdue thanks to Carl at Inside Pitch and Matt at DiamondHacks for pointing me to a web site where I could find the batter-vs-pitcher histories that are becoming part of my research into why the Diamondbacks are not employing Byrnes as the everyday center fielder he thought he would be when he signed with them). The Gameday screen at MLB.com has been a huge help to me, when it is complete, because sometimes I can’t watch the whole game, usually due to work or the time it takes me to go to and from my job. This happened the other day when I missed Eric Byrnes’ first time up because of how long it takes me to get home from work by public transportation. (If I could afford a car, I would have made it home in time). The Pitch-by-Pitch feature of the Gameday screen allowed me to record what happened on each pitch Eric faced when I was not looking.
When the 2005 "Bloggies" were awarded, Mark stated that he hoped that we computer jocks got away from our screens long enough to get to some actual ballgames. Some of us do. Unfortunately, ticket prices are getting so high that, as the commercials suggest, a family trip to the ballpark is now an occasion of debt. We miss the fresh-air, out-with-the-crowd experience of the live game when we watch at home. At the ballpark, a good pitch freezes the batter, not our view of the play. But we can get a better view for a lower price by watching from our screens. And when something happens like the Oakland A’s shrinking the capacity of the Coliseum by refusing to sell tickets to the third deck seats that made the live game watchable AND affordable for me, I feel that baseball wants lower-income people like me to stay home.
What I miss, good and bad, of the live experience, I gain in the form of camera angles and replays that help me observe Byrnesie’s batting mechanics. So the technology is an indispensable aid to my greater understanding of how Eric Byrnes performs and how he can improve. (We may be past the point of dealing with Global Warming, but Byrnes’ consistency problems are solvable!)
Still, the pencil plays a major role in my observations (or obsession, if you would believe Diane of Diamonds are for Humor, and Bobby of Deep Fried Fish). When "My Friend, the Yankees Fan" found out that I was keeping detailed notes on Eric Byrnes’ plate appearances, her first reaction was to wonder why I was fussing over a mediocre player who wasn’t even good looking. She then told me that I could find all those stats online, and she even provided a URL. But, by doing the Report by hand, I have gone beyond the mere aggregation of stats to thinking about the many facets of the game, and how I can arrange those facets on one page, for one player, in a way that is meaningful to me. A web site can’t do that. It can provide the raw information, but it can’t assemble it in the way that best suits my purposes.
The very first Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report, which I did on July 3, 2005 while I was at the Coliseum, was merely a series of tick marks in Byrnes’ boxes on a standard scorecard. The Report is now much more sophisticated than the title implies. Having records on the Internet allowed me to go back to June 1, 2005. Actually, I could have gone back farther–the archives are there–but it is not as much fun to copy stats from a computer screen as it is to keep track of what’s happening in real time. The former is academic research, the latter is baseball. And dammit, Jim, I’m a journalist, not a paleontologist.
Here’s how The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report now works. On a single entry along the long side of an 8.5 x 11 inch page—I’d show you if I had a digital camera and legible handwriting–I record an inning, the outs, where the baserunners, if any, are, whether Byrnesie takes, misses, fouls or hits a pitch, and whether the taken pitches are balls or strikes. I also record the result of a plate appearance, often using the same shorthand one would find on a scorecard, whether or not he has advanced any baserunners without RBI’s (and to where), how many, if any, RBI’s there were, and whether or not Byrnes scored after he reached base. I’ve also added a "Notes" section, recording things such as whether or not he has taken a level swing, has swung at what looked like a ball (something I can more easily discern on the computer than at the park) or whether he was robbed by a great play. There is always something either to be added to the Report or gleaned from it. Keeping true to the original intent of the Report, I calculate and record Byrnes’ P/PA for the game. But nowadays, I’m also counting how many PA’s he has with empty bases and how many he has with runners in scoring position. This way, if anyone criticizes Byrnesie’s RBI total to me, I can point out how relatively few RBI opportunities he has.
A "Miscellaneous" section at the bottom of the Report records his great grabs, stolen bases and other information about the game. Since I am keeping this season’s Reports in a looseleaf binder, I have taken to using the previous blank page, i.e. the reverse page of the previous Report, to record other things, e.g. remarks by broadcasters, achievements by other players, or literary quotes I might want to use in a future blog entry. There’s more, but that’s the "guts" of the Report. The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report is the place from which I glean the information for the EB Statshot-2006 that is now on a sidebar of my blog.
All of this comes from my doing the Report in pencil, in real time whenever possible, rather than periodically grabbing stats from a web site. BTW, Byrnesie didn’t play yesterday. GRRR!
Technology can be a great tool. But you’ll miss out on something if you let the computer do it all for you.
Kéllia "Eric Byrnes’ No. 1 Blogger" Ramares