Girls can be legitimate baseball fans – and not just butt watchers

Archive for November, 2014

Baseball, Statistics, and Thanksgiving

This piece is not a well researched work about baseball. This piece is honestly not that well thought-out. If you’re looking for something amazing…this is probably not the piece for you.

At this very moment, I am sitting in my bed watching one of my favorite movies, Gone With the Wind. Tonight is the first night all week I am sure I will be able to get a good night’s sleep, even though I have to wake up early to sing at Thanksgiving mass tomorrow. I am perfectly happy with this scenario. Tonight, I am taking some time to relax and do what I want (write a baseball blog)…and I don’t feel the least bit guilty!

The majority of my “free” time has been devoted to school work. That comma in the title of this piece, the little mark of punctuation between “baseball” and “statistics” signals the difference between enjoyment and a semester of frustration. “Baseball statistics” is something we, as baseball fans, are all familiar with – and we love baseball statistics (to varying degrees). But non-baseball statistics…analyzing data to calculate confidence intervals and tests of significance…that’s a whole other story.

I’ve taken a very non-traditional approach to my education which has lead me to taking college statistics this semester, with some students who are actually young enough I could be there mother. But yet here I am, just about to finish the semester and this class, and constantly wondering when the hell I may ever use this information.

Of all the data to analyze in all the world, not one time did we discuss baseball. I would love to properly calculate an ERA (I honestly cannot do it – but I get a little better each season) than study data about Facebook usage or corn plant production or hypothetical water pollution. Give me a topic of interest, and maybe I will be a little more accepting of this subject!

Here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful time to be with family – and I have spent time with them today, and will again tomorrow. For now, everyone is settling down before the excitement of tomorrow. What do I have to be thankful for this year? There are always, every year, more things than I could even mention. I have a home, a job, family and friends, and so many other things I know I take for granted every day.

Since I’m writing this piece and publishing it on my blog, I can’t help but think of yet another thing to be thankful for. In all honesty, I have no business writing a baseball blog. I am just a fan writing my opinions, and I did so in my own little corner of the internet fully expecting no one to ever read my posts. Fast forward a little bit, and my little amateur blog is now connected to the BYB Hub along with several other baseball blogs – some well established and some beginners like me.

Any baseball fan can connect with the BYB Hub, which is important to me because I actually have three favorite teams (of course Yankees are #1). I can write about any of my teams or any baseball topic and it shows up on the BYB Hub website. It’s exciting to me as a baseball fan to have such quick access to all these other personal perspectives of baseball… And it’s surreal to me as one of the writers that my dinky little blog can be connected in any way to respected blogs that I already read and follow.

I’m not only going to be thankful for the honor of being connected to the BYB Hub, I’m going to encourage any of you baseball fans reading this to check out the website yourself and to share it with your friends. My blog is small, and it’s really taken a backseat to my class this semester – but there are some really incredible writers on this page, and they are pouring their heart and soul into their writing.

So friends, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with family and friends. And say a prayer, cross your fingers, whatever you do, that I get a good grade when I take my final exam next week. If all goes well, I will hopefully be back to writing again soon for whatever few people stop by my corner of the internet!

And don’t forget – check out my friends on the BYB Hub!
http://bybhub.blogspot.com/

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So Now We Have a Confession…

Just about a week ago, I wrote this lengthy piece about being an Alex Rodriguez fan – and that if I hadn’t given up yet, I probably never would. While that is still true, it becomes increasingly harder everyday. Yesterday, we heard news of his secret confession in Florida.

What does the confession change? Likely nothing, as far as MLB goes. He was given his punishment and served his time. Will the Yankees try to use this as a way to remove him from the team? Honestly, the thought has crossed my mind – and I have a gut feeling about it – but at this point I just don’t care.

This story just won’t go away. Never in my life have I ever felt like Florida was such a creepy place. And every time the story resurfaces, just when you thought it was over and the worst of the story was told, there are even more creepy details.

Rodriguez confessed his involvement with Biogensis and use of PEDs to the DEA, behind closed doors, so he could be granted immunity from prosecution. This in an of itself is not necessarily a bad thing – I believe any lawyer would advise their client to take such a deal, and anyone in Rodriguez’s position would likely do the same – just like the other MLB players involved in the case did.

What bothers me about this is it happened in January – about 9 months ago now – and there hasn’t been a good opportunity to speak up in all that time? (In his defense, Rodriguez hasn’t said a whole lot in his year off anyway.) In January the height of A-Rod hatred had probably peaked after months of fighting everyone involved in a “witch hunt” against him. It couldn’t have gotten any worse by speaking then. People already hate you – so why not just be honest? Just tell your story, fess up to what you’ve done wrong, and then go spend your season off in silence.

Why admit your mistakes only in private? I do respect his decision to be truthful to anyone, at any time – but why not come clean to the public as well? We are the ones who had to endure the circus created at ballparks across America. Baseball fans are the ones who watched as you sued MLB and bad mouthed their entire organization. We might have our own criticisms of Bud Selig and MLB, but no one else in history had disrupted all of baseball expressing their opinions.

Maybe infamous cousin Yuri pressured Rodriguez into it. Maybe Rodriguez is actually so stupid he fell for Bosch’s fake doctor act. Maybe someone put a gun to Rodriguez’s head and would kill him if he didn’t follow the Biogenesis plan. Whatever led him there doesn’t matter. Alex Rodriguez is a 39-year-old man who needs to take responsibility for his actions.

Forget children looking up to professional athletes as role models – there have been too many bad examples for that to be possible anymore. But this man is a father with two young daughters who are going to learn from his actions – or inaction. What kind of example does that set for them? If you do something wrong, just hide? It’s okay to lie when you mess up?

Despite the fame (or infamy), the money, and the celebrity girlfriends, Alex Rodriguez is still a human – and no human is infallible. We all make mistakes – and we all love a comeback story. This particular story just might be too disgusting for anyone still involved to have a redemption, but there is a very slim possibility left.

There wasn’t much time left for Alex Rodriguez to improve his career or public image – and there’s even less time now. If he wants any chance to redeem himself in even the slightest way, he needs to do something immediately, and it needs to be honest and sincere. No one is going to believe what he says anyway, but if tries to tell the truth publicly for once, he might finally learn it’s the right thing to do.

I’ll still hope for the best in this story, but each day my outlook gets a little more bleak. Even the most optimistic and dedicated fan will eventually reach their breaking point.

The Case for David Robertson

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One of the great stresses I have experienced at the end of this season, and into this off season, is the question about who the Yankees closer will be in 2015. I’ve said in the past that I was impressed with David Robertson’s performance as closer this season, and that I am hopefully he somehow remains on the team for next season – or better yet, many more seasons down the road.

Reports indicate that the Yankees will make a qualifying offer to Robertson tomorrow – at this year’s cost of $15.3 million. I’m still in shock over the price of qualifying offers for this year, but I still feel this is a deal worth at least considering.

I don’t understand why the Yankees haven’t already signed this deal like they did earlier this year with Brett Gardner. Both Robertson and Gardner have come up through the Yankee system, and are valuable parts of the team in their own way. Even with the uncertainty of whether Robertson would be able to fill the void left by Mariano Rivera retiring, he was still a valuable relief pitcher as Rivera’s setup man, and during his previous five years pitching at the major league level.

It wasn’t until the end of spring training that the Yankees decided Robertson would in fact be the closer in 2014, but he lasted the full season and produced very respectable numbers. His record from the season was 4-5 with a 3.08 ERA and 39 saves in 44 chances. While several sources expected him to easily earn 40 saves during the season, 39 saves is the 3rd highest save total in the American League – or tied for 8th highest in both leagues (with Steve Chishek and Jonathan Pabelbon). He wasn’t always perfect, but that’s not a bad year. There were a few blown saves (I saw one in person in Baltimore – I think all of Camden Yards could hear my heart breaking) and there were runners on base a little more than fans would like. Quite honestly, no one is perfect, and he had big shoes to fill.

After he retired, Mariano Rivera wrote a book called The Closer. In the book, he refers to David Robertson as “my bullpen buddy.” It’s a nice image – a baseball legend in his final seasons, sitting next to the young pitcher who very well may take his job. But it’s more than just a friendship – it’s David Robertson literally sitting next to greatness.

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There’s no doubt that Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in this history of the game. Fans who hate the Yankees even admit that – because he was an extraordinary pitcher, is a wonderful man in general, and there will never be anyone like him. There is likely one pitcher in the world (Robertson) who can say he learned how to do his job from the greatest ever.

But there’s the money, and $15.3 million is a lot of money – a whole lot more than the $5.25 million Robertson made this year. Are pitchers worth that much? Is a relief pitcher worth that much? Is David Robertson worth that much?

To put it in perspective, Mariano Rivera did not make $15 million a season until 2008 – when he was in his 13th year and the world already knew he was going down in baseball history.

Yankees management stated an intent to bring the payroll under $189 million. It’s a nice goal – but in reality, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. There were already multiple bad contracts in place with players making far too much money for what they were producing on the field. More big contracts were handed out with the signing of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann, plus the Brett Gardner 4 year extension. If the Yankees want to get under $189 million, they need to be realistic about the contracts in place now, and realize it’s not going to happen for several years.

So now we’re at the eve of the alleged $15.3 million qualifying offer. Do the Yankees actually make the offer? Does David Robertson accept the offer?

If the Yankees do in fact present Robertson with a qualifying offer, I think it shows they’re serious about wanting him back on the team next year.

Robertson could take the offer and make a huge sum of money – and likely more money for one season than any other deal would get him. But, it is a one year deal and he would go through all the uncertainty again next season (bring me and my nerves right along with him).

Alternatively, what if he leaves? The obvious choice is to have Dellin Betances take over as closer. No doubt he’s been great this year – but he only has 3 years and 78 games of experience. There’s a chance he could become a closer in the future – but in his career he has only one save to date (which I actually saw in Cleveland this past July). Before Robertson officially became the closer, he had 8 saves in 6 seasons. If there was uncertainty surrounding Robertson last year, it seems logical for even more uncertainty about Betances.

Also if Robertson leaves, there is a good chance he comes back to face the Yankees wearing another uniform. If he doesn’t sign with New York, outside interest will certainly be there – look at the bullpen collapses in the playoffs this year (Detroit particularly comes to mind). Do the Yankees want to take that risk?

There is the saying “you can never have enough pitching” and that is becoming especially true in recent seasons. The one strength the Yankees had this year was pitching. The big bats who were supposed to be hitting the homeruns and driving in runs did not produce. There are a few big name pitchers who are free agents this off season, and there are rumors the Yankees may be interested. Is it worth the risk to sign a big name (and therefore big money) starter and risk a weaker bullpen? Think again about the Tigers in the ALDS and their trio of Cy Young starters.

Yes, we have Betances. Yes, there are great pitchers coming up through the farm system now. Currently, we have some pitching strength and a now proven closer other teams will be jumping to sign if he walks. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Ideally, I would actually like Robertson to decline the qualifying offer and work out a deal with the Yankees to stay for a few more years. I think it gives both sides a little more confidence going forward. Yankees should have made this deal months ago – but hopefully they get it right now.