Category Archives: Baseball

Bobby Valentine is the Right Guy

As you should have heard by now, Bobby V will be introduced as the new manager for the Red Sox this evening. His name came up late in the discussion, but it was pretty clear as soon as it did, that he was gonna be the guy. Analysts seem to agree that Valentine is the best option for the Sox, especially since Dale Sveum went and signed with the Cubs. There does seem to be a lot of concern that Bobby is too “mean” or “harsh” or “tough” for the Red Sox dugout, which was famously lax towards the end of this season.

But really, why is that a problem? It’s his job to manage the team, and if the players are so spoiled by the media and the fans that Bobby could get in trouble for laying down the law, then Boston really needs to reevaluate its priorities. They certainly have the pieces to be a great team. Boston, as a franchise and as a city, needs to ask itself: “are we trying to create a winning baseball team, or a zoo of talented media darlings?”

I think that hiring Valentine is absolutely the right move for Boston, and iron fist or no, Bobby is a charming man, and will handle the Boston media and potentially grouchy players with that particular brand of Bobby Valentine insanity that Major League Baseball has been missing since he left the Mets in 2002.

Let’s take a look at the two major events in the history of “Bobby Valentine is Crazy”:

  • We’ve all heard about Bobby Valentine and the fake moustache. As a matter of fact, it was one of the first ‘baseball stories’ I heard from my boyfriend when I was first getting into the game. This is the quintessential Bobby V story, highlighting the goofy, foolhardy side of his nature that makes him so fun to watch, and listen to. My commentary on the moustache incident is: Did he have a fake mustache waiting for him in the locker room, just in case he needed it sometime? I mean, look at this guy:

That is a nice fake mustache. That is a fake mustache that has been waiting around for its day in the sun. It’s not just some random shavings slapped together at the last second. And that is what makes it so great: Bobby Valentine had this disguise prepared, just waiting for a chance to try it out. Awesome.

  • Second, is the Wrap Incident. Basically, the story is that Bobby Valentine claims to have invented the wrap sandwich. In an interview with the Food Network, he claimed to be the first person to serve sandwich elements in a tortilla, at his restaurant in Connecticut.  Which is awesome and ridiculous, since, as my boyfriend so eloquently said, “I don’t know if anyone alive can stake a valid claim to that, given its similarities to the gyro and burrito. But that makes it even better.”

I don't care who invented it, it's still delicious

In conclusion, Bobby Valentine has managed winning teams, here and abroad. He knows what he wants from his players, and how to get that out of them. Which is what the Red Sox need right now. They are going to be a better team next year, if only because they will be eating healthy wraps instead of fried chicken in the dugout.

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Filed under Baseball, Red Sox, The Mets

In Case You Missed the Entire Postseason

I know that all of you have been depending on me for your baseball news. And I’ve let you down. I’m sorry. But here I am, back and better than ever, and ready to update everyone on how the 2011 season ended. Since, obviously, this blog is your only source of baseball news.

Here’s the basics:

The Cardinals won the World Series.

Yay.

American League

  • East: Yankees
  • Central: Tigers
  • West: Rangers
  • Wild Card: Rays

National League:

  • East: Phillies
  • Central: Brewers
  • West: Diamondbacks
  • Wild Card: Cardinals

The Red Sox and the Braves both totally imploded to lose the wild cards in their respective leagues, and the Cardinals and the Rays kicked some serious butt to win it. Chris Carpenter pitched an insane complete game to beat the Phillies, which was about the only interesting thing the Cardinals did the entire playoffs. Well, I guess, I mean, Albert Pujols hit three home runs in a single game, and they beat the Rangers in seven to win it all. But really, it wasn’t that interesting.

Andrew and I went to go see game 2 of the Yankees-Tigers ALDS, which was pretty amazing. It was rainy as all get-out, and I was pretty sure the game wasn’t going to be played at all. Max Scherzer pitched an outstanding game, and the Tigers won 5-3. So that was wonderful. I also got a Yankees souvenir cup, but trust me, that doesn’t change my opinion about the Yankees one bit (I don’t like ’em). Max Scherzer is super cool, I know he blew it for the Tigers a few times over the course of the season, and obviously he’s no Justin Verlander (who won the Cy Young and the AL MVP, by the way), but he does have two different colored eyes. Which, if Josh Hamilton is to be trusted, enables him to pitch in both day and night games. It’s also kind of hypnotizing to look at.

WooooOOOooooo!

The Tigers thankfully managed to hold it together and keep the Yankees out of the ALCS. But then they lost to the Rangers, who were, as was to be expected, a offensive powerhouse. The Brewers beat the Diamondbacks, who really had an outstanding season, and Kirk Gibson went on to win NL Manager of the Year. Then the Brewers demonstrated their terrible, terrible defensive skills in the series against the Cardinals, who, obviously they lost to. Ryan Braun did win MVP, though.

Oh! The Rays were amazing. I mean, they lost to the Rangers in the first round, but game 162 of the regular season was EPIC. And I don’t use that word lightly, like some people on the internet. I think this game is really getting overlooked, since you know, the Rays didn’t go on to win. But, in my opinion, it was the most exciting game of the year, regular- or postseason. The Red Sox lost earlier in the night, and the Rays had to beat the Yankees to clinch the wildcard. Stakes don’t get higher than that.

I won’t recap the entire game, because I know that secretly you probably actually watched this game, and were not just refreshing this page, waiting for me to tell you about it. But jeez. Talk about a comeback! Talk about clutch hitting! Talk about face of the franchise! That was the best! And I didn’t even watch it! (I know!) I had to work until gosh-darn midnight! I just followed updates on my phone, and texts from my boyfriend. And even then I was on the edge of my seat.

That game, even though it was technically in the regular season, is what I think this season should be remembered for. No offense to the Champion Cardinals, or any of the other talented, hardworking teams that labored through the playoffs. But Game 162 Yankees-Rays is what baseball is is all about.

Okay, so there’s the postseason. Since I am very baseball-starved these days, despite near-constant viewing of MLB Network, you can expect more posts from me, as I try to wrap my head around all the changes going on (Even leagues? More wildcards? Labor agreements? Wha?) and try to convince myself that the Mets could really win it all next year.

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In Which I Attempt to Score A Baseball Game

I love keeping track of minutia. I used to have complicated spreadsheets of everything I ate, not for health or weight-loss reasons, but just because I like to do that kind of thing. So, obviously, baseball is right up my alley, and probably psychologically healthier for me than charting the number of potato chips versus carrot sticks I’ve eaten this month.

Those of you who do not obsessively follow the New York Mets, or their SNY broadcasting team, may not know that Keith Hernandez, of first baseSeinfeld, and Just For Men fame, is just about as statistically obsessed as I am. He keeps a infamously complicated scorecard, and is basically my hero when it comes to the analytical aspect of baseball fandom.

I was a bit intimidated to do a scorecard live, cause it seems like there’s a lot to do, even if you don’t keep track of each player’s batting stance and preferred dugout sports drink, so I decided to score an old game available in the archives of my MLB.tv subscription. I happened to have a Rockies scorecard that I picked up in the Denver airport, so I picked a Mets-Rockies game from May, and had at it.

(click through for enormous full size)

As you can (maybe) see, I didn’t finish the game, I got distracted, and this had already taken nearly three hours. The Mets lost, anyways. The funny pink bits in the lineup are pieces of gaffe tape that I put over the lineups, because I originally forgot to skip boxes when filling it out. I couldn’t find any whiteout, and of course I did all this in pen.

I don’t want to go through the game play-by-play, but rather to look at the notation require to do one of these things. The basic plays, like a fly-out to center field (F8), or a walk (BB) are pretty universal, but beyond that, there is a lot of room for interpretation. I took some time to look at this website, and of course, the advice of Keith Hernandez, and his scorecards in the back of the Pure Baseball book I mentioned earlier.

I decided to keep track of all the pitches in each at bat, numbering them in the balls/strikes columns by the number of said pitch in the at bat. By that I mean, if the count is 1-2 after the first three pitches, and the batter fouls off the next two pitches, the following ball is noted as “6” in the ball column, rather than “4,” to indicate that two pitches were thrown between the third and sixth “counting” pitches. And I put a little dot down to note each 2-strike foul ball. You can see this in CarGo’s at-bat in the first inning (page 2, 3rd box in the 1st column), there is no “4,” because the 4th pitch was a two-strike foul ball.

That is super-nerdy, and requires paying a lot of attention. I have not tried this out during a live game, and I am a little nervous to do so, especially since I tend to watch baseball socially. Otherwise, you can see some variation in my scoring notations, as I try to figure out what I like. I decided that I like drawing the little line (see Ike Davis in the 4th and 6th innings) that shows where the ball was hit. But, with those two singles, you can also see the difference as I decide where to write the “1B” on the diamond. It makes sense to write it outside, if you fill in the entire diamond when a player eventually scores a run, but I feel that wastes valuable note-making space.

There’s still a lot more work to do in order to make this easy for myself while I do it, and easy to put together after the fact. I like the idea of different colored highlighters for different pitchers, or to annotate other aspects of the game that the traditional scoring glosses over.

I’m gonna keep working on this, and maybe I’ll show you some of my work. But, as always, it’s not about showing off, or trying to teach or preach. It’s about me loving baseball, and wanting to be as involved as my neurotic, obsessive-compulsive personality can be. And feelings, and tampons and other lady-things.

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Filed under Baseball, Math, Rockies, The Mets

News and Requests

Hello, and have I got some things to tell you!

First of all, I have started a twitter account to be linked with this blog, for me to post short baseball thoughts, without having to develop them into full posts. Also so that the little twitter feed on the side doesn’t get clogged with non-baseball tweets like “I want some chinese food! #lol” So, as of RIGHT NOW you can start following @Lady_Baseball and receive up-to-the-minute live Lady Baseball Opinions (r) on your feed! You’re also welcome to continue following my personal account, @fiiidget, but remember what I said earlier about tweets regarding chinese food.

Secondly, do you remember when I went to the Mets-Cardinals game on my birthday and I got an Ike Davis Bobblehead? Well, I want to know if you went to that same game, too! (July 19, 2011, 7:10 PM) Did you get an Ike Davis Bobblehead? Do you know someone who did? Did you buy one on eBay afterwards and make a shrine to it in your linen closet? I’d love to know about it!

You can now email me at ladybaseballopinions@gmail.com! Send me a photo of your Ike Davis Bobblehead, along with any personal information you’d like to divulge, and I will feature it on this here blog! Exciting!

That’s about all the big news that I have. I’ve got a few things I’m working on for future posts, including another epic math-baseball-breakdown, and my adventures in scorecards. What can I say, I like stats.

See you punks soon!

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Filed under Baseball, Lady Stuff, The Mets, Uncategorized

Baseball Fights! POW!

Did you see the benches-clearing brawl between the Phillies and Giants last week? It was… cool? The problem with baseball fights is that there are a lot of dudes, and a lot of space on the field, and a really intense fight between two very angry players can quickly become a half-hearted mosh pit of 40 or 50 guys.

I know there’s some serious stuff happening in the middle of that group, but most of it is just guys hanging around kind of being a little angry and maybe trying to throw a punch or restrain someone. It’s fun to watch for a minute or two, because baseball is usually such a controlled, paced game, there’s a real thrill when someone loses their cool and goes nuts.

Of course, that can result in injuries and suspensions, and when someone smashes someone else’s head in with a blunt object, it’s not perfectly choreographed like it is in pro wrestling. And a fight doesn’t have to be between two players, either. Umps take a lot of lip from players, and if, for example, your go-ahead home run is nullified because of something like, say, too much pine tar, it’s probably bound to make you pretty mad.

I dunno, I don’t really have anything more to say on the subject besides, “Hey, baseball fights! They happen.” It’s like balks. I don’t have a solution or an alternative or anything. It’s just a part of the game. A part of the game that can be exhilarating, terrifying or just kind of anticlimactic.

Like this post.

(Ponder that for a minute, will you?!)

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3 Parks in 7 Days/NE Ballpark Tour ’11

This past week has been an excellent one, in terms of me+baseball. For my birthday on the 19th, I saw a Mets-Cardinals game; also for my birthday I went to Boston over the weekend and saw a Red Sox-Mariners game, my first time at Fenway, and just last night, on a whim I went to see the Yankees-Mariners game! So that’s three different parks in less than a week, and 5 different teams! My team only won once (The Mets!), but I did get to see Terry Francona’s 1000th win, and the Mariner’s 14th and 16th consecutive losses! So a record-setting tour, for sure!

I also have begun to teach myself to score games, watching old games on MLB.tv, so that I can pause and rewind to double check my notations. But that is content for another post.  For this post, I think I shall review the 3 ballparks I have recently visited–the only three major league parks I’ve seen games in, in fact. (I did visit Shea–I gave tours of it, and I saw a Salem Avalanche game years and years ago).

Let’s start with the hometown team:

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Filed under Ballparks, Baseball, The Mets

It’s Shopping Time!

UPDATE: It’s my birthday!! And, being a selfish child, I insisted on opening a present first thing upon waking this morning. It was this book:

Now I can geek out even, even, even more about this excellent game! I wanted to write a much longer post about all the different cool things about baseball, but my thumb hurts, so I just tweaked this post some! I’m going to the Mets game tonight to get my Ike Davis bobblehead. Don’t worry, you will hear ALL. ABOUT. IT.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled post:

We ladies sure know a lot about shopping! Am I right? Totally, shoes and stuff! Yeah!
Nah, what I am really talking about is the trade deadline, and teams shopping around to gain or lose players and money! The trade deadline is at the end of this month, and marks the date that teams must stop swapping around their players, except for waivers, which is a concept that I do not completely understand. I imagine the “waiver wire” to be something like the decoder ring scene in A Christmas Story.

The Mets...offer...Beltran...

But we haven’t reached that point yet, it’s still the nice straightforward part of the season where teams do their trading out in the open! So let’s discuss what’s up for grabs:

  • The Mets really are a big story in all this! Even though I live in NYC and would hear all about their every move anyways. They’ve already dealt their problematic closer, and have two big exciting players that everyone wants! Sandy Alderson has already expressed strong interest in keeping Reyes around, and rumors swirl about Beltran going to the Giants, which makes sense. Brian Wilson said it, and who are we, as mere mortals, to argue with him?
  • The Braves continue to hold a strong 2nd place in the NL East, and Wild Card lead. Plus they’ve a nice batch of young players. So, the talk of Derek Lowe going to Detroit is unsurprising and the Braves pitching is deep enough to handle it. Plus, Lowe is a Michigan boy, and hometown heroes are a big thing these days.
  • The Yankees are inquiring about Ubaldo Jimenez, because exactly what they need is another super-hyped pitcher who fails to live up to expectations. There are several teams who could stand to add another starting pitcher, but Ubaldo is a risky choice. No doubt he was an ace last season, and there are those commercials with him and his funny name, but he has Really Struggled this season. Which means that a team like the Reds or the Yankees could end up paying for the Ubaldo who no-hit the Braves in April, and went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 2010, and end up getting the Ubaldo of 2011 who didn’t win a game until May 17.

But the most exciting part of all of this is that player who are traded get to go out and buy some new shoes to match their new uniforms! Yay shopping!

If Beltran goes to the Giants, he gets a pair of these!

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Filed under Baseball, Lady Stuff, The Mets, Trades