An ode to all that is good and pure in the world of A's baseball. featuring Devo, Jayho, and Khai

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I arrived in Baltimore at 6:30 am EST. I slept reasonably well on the plane - the damn flight just proved too short. Half asleep I claim my backpack and clumsily follow the signs through the international terminal all the way to the waiting light rail ... only it wasn't waiting. Oddly enough, the light rail doesn't start running on Sundays until almost 11:00. It became very clear to me - a nap was very much in order. Much more than you might expect because I had been up until almost 5 am Friday night playing wing man and drinking with my buddy and a couple of gals. I was on my game - and as I learned the next morning, I definitely got the job done.

I'll go ahead and fast forward to 10:50 when the light rail finally showed up. I hopped on and was bound for the inner harbor and Camden Yards.

The more astute among us might have a very serious question - what the heck does he think he's going to do with that backpack that was apparently so large that he had to check it? That's a very good question - and the answer was this, my first destination was not Camden Yards. No, it was not a hotel or anything of that sort - I wasn't staying the night in Baltimore. My destination was, well, the first grocery/drug store I came to. About 6 blocks NE of the park I finally came to a CVS. I grabbed myself a bottle of water and an energy bar and went to the front to check out. The checker asked the typical question, "do you need a bag?" to which I responded, "yes, can I have several?"

I totally looked like a homeless person as I made my way into the line to get into Camden. Wearing a heavy coat and carrying a half a dozen plastic bags filled with clothes, I showed the man my ticket and walked on in. You see, I figured something out on the many occasions I was going to the Coliseum after leaving the gym - while you aren't normally allowed to bring bags into the park - you can bring in virtually anything, if it's folded up and placed in a plastic bag.

The long and short of it was this - I was at Camden Yards - one of the prettiest parks around.

I picked a great day to come, since it was the afternoon on which Melvin Mora and our beloved Miguel Tejada received their Silver Slugger Awards. I've got a feeling this infield might win two or three more this year.

The game was great - Kevin Brown was very hittable - and Miggie Magic hit, to the tune of 3 for 4 with two doubles and a homerun. Melvin Mora also went deep and Brian Roberts had a relatively poor game, merely collecting two singles, as the O's finished off their sweep of the Yanks, 8-4.

Sadly, I had to leave after the 7th because I had a train to catch. I hopped back on the light rail and half an hour later I was waiting for my train up to Philadelphia. U-Penn greated me as I looked out the window when the alarm on my cellphone woke me up. It was perfect timing as I was just minutes away from my destination. The train would be rolling on quickly, so if you're getting off, you'd better be ready.

I walked about a mile to my friend's parents house, where I was spending the night, dropped off my bag, and walked another mile to the Subway. 15 minutes later I found myself looking at this.

The new park, unfortunately named Citizens Bank did not disappoint. I picked up a very tasty cheesesteak sort of sandwich (not a true Philly Cheesesteak) called the Schmidter and headed up to my seat. It had a little bit of a faux feel and the 35,000 fans would certainly not have been described as rowdy, but my medium quality ticket provided an excellent view of an action and so I settled in to watch a great game.

It was quite the pitching duel, as Mike Hampton and Brett Myers had both eaten their Wheaties that morning. Despite a few hard hit balls

neither offense did much until Mike Hampton came to the plate in the 8th inning, following a Johnny Estrada single. Hampton has always been an excellent hitter and he came through in a so called “clutch” situation on this evening, driving a double into the Right-Center gap. Never a speedster, Estrada was content to cruise into third, until he looked up and saw his coach waving him around. Abreu had bobbled the ball, opening up an opportunity to break the collective shutout and give the Braves a seemingly commanding 1-0 lead. The momentary delay rounding third, combined with a laser from Abreu in deep right made for a great play at the plate.

Locked at 0-0 heading into the 10th, the offenses came out. Raul Mondesi drove in the pinch runner Pete Orr to open the scoring in the top half of the frame – but that was just setting the stage for the real drama. It was drama of the sort that we recently experienced in Oakland, as defensive miscues made it happen. Danny Kolb opened the 10th with a pair of walks, before proving to the world that he is thoroughly incapable of fielding a bunt. After throwing away Kenny Lofton’s sacrifice attempt and allowing the tying run to score, he failed to pick up Jimmy Rollins’ bunt, loading them up for Placido Polanco. Kolb’s night was done, but Placido was just getting started as a ripped a grounder through the infield to give the home town club the W.

I was back on the subway – and off to bed, and man did I need it. I spent the next day doing tourist stuff around Philly and enjoying my first real Philly Cheesesteak – but the sun was going down and I still had several hours to kill before my 12:30 train to Boston, so I set to the street looking for a nice sports bar to enjoy that night’s Cubs-Reds game on ESPN. Two hours later, I finally found one – and here I had always heard that Philly was a sports town – and watched the Cubs come up short 7-6. The Yankees also blew out the D-Rays on YES. To go with the games I had a nice plate of wings, several pints of Yuengling, and a disappointing Newcastle cheese soup. After watching some boxing on ESPN classic and highlights from the various east coast games, I walked the last couple of miles to the train station and … after catching a cab back to the bar to get my train ticket, I was on the train to Boston. It was very exciting to sleep through several states I had never previously visited.

I arrived in Boston at 8:30 the next morning, very thoroughly refreshed, checked into my hotel, took a quick shower (I had gotten pretty ripe, having not showered since Saturday morning), and was off …

I took the 11:00 tour of Fenway with a very funny and knowledgeable Bostonean and soon found myself standing upon one of the coolest things in the world.

and before long I was below it too.

I spent the rest of the day doing tourist stuff and returned that night for the game with the Blue Jays. I had one heck of a view of the pre-game warm-ups.

Anyway, Fenway was truly all that it was advertised to be. The park is incredible. It has a spectacularly authentic feel. The crowd was boisterous and, as the tour guide said, never needed the scoreboard to tell them to make noise – which is a good thing, since it never, ever tells them to.

The game was good, close game, quality pitching, but the Sox ‘pen blew it … here’s a couple pictures:

Before heading out, I found time to take a picture with the sight of the longest homerun ever measured at Fenway, compliments of The Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame.

On a drear Saturday, that weekend, I found myself in Brooklyn, so I figured I would make my way to the Bronx and found myself at Yankee Stadium. There was a baseball contest being undertaken, so I thought I might was well attend.

Miraculously, Chan Ho Park pitched pretty damn well, Texeira and Co. hit Jaret Wright so hard he ended up on the DL, and the boo birds came out in droves, as the Rangers didn’t have much trouble picking up the W.

It was a pretty park, though, but the chicken fingers really disappointed and I can’t say that I was impressed with the fans lambasting their team.

The next day I took my cousin, who I was staying with, to the game at Shea. The park was rather ho-hum, but the seats were lacking in knee space and I was definitely ready to not be sitting in them. Enjoy the pictures, I’m getting a tad bit tired of writing.

Here’s how I rank the parks:

1. Fenway, unparalleled park, best atmosphere, best view, best fans, second best food.
2. Camden Yards, great view, friendly fans, beautiful park … didn’t eat.
3. Yankee Stadium, beautiful park, good and bad fans, horrible food, good view.
4. Citizens Bank, nice park, friendly but quiet fans, best food, good view.
5. Shea, decent park, quality fans, good view, didn’t eat.

and then I returned to Oakland

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And, since we don't have much time to invest before pitchers and catchers report, here are my top 10 baseball movies:

10. The Rookie

9. Bad News Bears

8. A League of Their Own

7. The Natural

6. Field of Dreams

5. The Sandlot

4. Eight Men Out

3. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

2. Major League

1. Bull Durham

Monday, December 20, 2004

Here's some books to keep you going until spring training.

A's Books!

Other Baseball Books!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

So there's been a lot of discussion of third basemen lately. Who is the best? Well, Rolen - obviously. But how do the rest of them rank?

Using the same method as my CF rankings, here's how I rank them.
Rolen 4.07
Chavez 3.73
Rodriguez 3.4
Beltre 2.93
Lowell 2.73
Ramirez 2.73
Mora 2.67
Blalock 2.4

There's such a huge spread because, despite the fact that they're all hitting very well this year, the guys at the bottom play truly attrocious defense. Beltre plays great D, but he was truly awful with the bat before this year. Rodriguez also suffers, because this evaluation method only allows a player to excel so much in each category and had nowhere higher to go in his OPS3 ranking than an A+.

Also, I did some slightly different things on defense. Since A-Rod and Mora are in their first years at 3b, I compared their ZRs to the ZRs of the others (which would have all earned very similar grades to the defensive # I used) and approximated a score for each of them. I also averaged Rolen's def # of the last three years, instead of just using last year, because that score was clearly an outlier.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The A's are currently up 6-4 on the Yanks. It's great to see them finally doing some hitting against quality pitchers. We seem to have had trouble with that this year, but the bats might just be finally coming around .... here's hoping it's not just a brief hot streak.

I'll be out of town until next Monday, so I won't be posting in the interim.


Yep, it happens ... a lineup like that, it's insane.

but the game ended just in time for me to switch to ESPN2 and watch Jimmy Rollins hit an inside the park homerun, which was cool.


Wow, I just saw my second inside the park job of the night, by Dustin Mohr - exciting stuff.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Kotsay, again? Yep. That's right.

MVP? Nope.
New question: Best CF in the AL?

With Beltran and Cameron joining Jones, Edmonds, Pierre, Finley ... and Griffey in the senior circuit, the battle for top center fielder in the AL is wide open. When evaluating the glory position of decades past, we cannot discount the importance of defense, both in defining the glorious legacy of the Mays, DiMaggios, and Mantles of yesteryear and in overcoming the slowest of foot sluggers in the corner spots.

To evaluate defense, we'll use a slight variation on the "Cedeno Method" envisioned by Avkash (http://theraindrops.weblogs.us/archives/015441.html). For a number of reasons, I do not believe that Win Shares is appropriate to combine with UZR, Rate2, and the Probabilistic Method, so I just averaged the last three numbers, without Win Shares, yielding slightly than Avkash found. See Avkash's article for an explanation of the various methods and how we used them.

In addition I used OPS and three year OPS (01-03) to measure offense. I assigned each player considered a grade in each "class" based on how well they performed relative to their "classmates". Grades were assigned to specific intervals.

example for Defensive Number:
A+ = 22+
A = 18-21
A- = 14-17
B+ = 11-13
B = 8-10
B- = 4-7
C+ = 1-3
C = -2-0

I then figured a GPA for each player, giving double weight to each offensive category, since offense is so much more important than defense. One of the first things I will attempt to discern a more exact proportion that these should be weighted against one another. I weighted present OPS and past OPS equally because the present OPS is more important, being that it is what they are doing right now, but past OPS is statistically more valid because it has a much larger sample size.

For AL, only, I considered Kotsay, Hunter, Wells, and Damon.
The grades they received were (OPS, OPS 3, Def#)
B+, B, A+
C, B+, B
B, A, C
A, C, B+

Kotsay: 3.57
Wells: 3
Damon: 2.93
Hunter: 2.93

Now, just for fun, lets see how they compare to their NL counterparts.
I considered the above players, plus Beltran, Cameron, Jones, and Edmonds.

The grades they received were (OPS, OPS 3, Def#)
B, B-, A+
C, B, B
B-, B+, C
B+, C-, B+
A, A, B+
C+, B-, A+
B+, B+, A
A+, A+, B

Edmonds: 4.06
Beltran: 3.87
Jones: 3.46
Kotsay: 3.12
Cameron: 2.85
Wells: 2.80
Damon: 2.67
Hunter: 2.60

The NL center fielders are certainly the class of the game - but Kotsay looks great compared to his brethren in the AL.
Please offer any comments and criticisms.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Mark Kotsay ...

Damn, he has been really good lately. So good that some have been starting to mention him as a possible MVP candidate. No doubt he's our MVP to this point. .845 ops, Gold Glove D in center - he's been a stud. But an MVP? Heck, I'll buy it, I know how important he's been to the team. But will the reporters? Not a chance. Lets look back.
Kotsay's Stats


Great numbers, all of them, no question. When combined with his D, I'd be fine giving him the MVP. Reporters would see it differently, though. Why? Two reasons, RBIs and Runs.

Since 1970, 8 players have won the MVP (both leagues) without either scoring or driving in 100 runs. 4 of them were pitchers:

Blue '71
Fingers '81
Hernandez '84
Clemens '86

The other 4 were all National Leaguers. Three of them were in injury or strike shortened seasons:

Stargel '79: (tie) 126 games, 60 runs, 82 RBIs
Schmidt '81: 102 games, 78 runs, 91 RBIs - GG at 3b
Larkin '95: 131 games, 98 runs, 66 RBIs - GG at SS

In a full season, they would have all cleared the 100 mark, Schmidt and Larkin by a wide margin.

Pendleton in '91 is a different story, however. In a very close vote, he edged Bonds by 15 points who probably lost votes to teammate Bobby Bonilla, who finished a solid third. It was also a weak season, with only one guy (Bonds) topping .900 in OPS. He was a Gold Glover, even if he didn't win it that year.

So of the last 68 MVPs, only one hasn't been a 100 run or 100 rbi guy. With plenty of quality candidates, I couln't possibly imagine Kotsay winning it unless he played absolutely ridiculously out of his friggin mind in September ... which would get him past 100 runs and make this entire article irrelevent.