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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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AAAaaaaaahhh!!

Oh my goodness, look at those Mets! I am just beside myself with glee about their recent strategy of unrepentant offensive slaughter. 52 runs in the last 4 games. That’s an average of 13 runs a game, and if you take away their measly 8-run performance on Sunday, that’s averaging nearly 15 runs a game in 3 of the last 4! 

And, although they managed a whopping 20 hits last night without a single home run, they finally finally broke their grand slam streak on Tuesday, with Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran each hitting one! Jason Bay! Hit a Grand Slam! And Comerica Park is not a small place, either. I didn’t watch the game on Tuesday, because I was out on the town being fancy, but be assured, I intend to! 7 runs in the 4th, all with 2 outs? Yes, please.

Some sources have suggested that the sudden surge in Mets offense is a response to New York State legalizing gay marriage. As nice a senitment as that is (yay for gay marriage!), I will remind you that correlation is not causation, and that this is something the Mets lineup has been hinting at for a while now. They were just waiting to be pushed over the edge.

TWO games over .500! Let’s go Mets! I’m so happy right now.

Stupid sign
Screw you, this sign!

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Greatest Names in Baseball Today Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo

This is the long-awaited National League edition of the best names that baseball has to offer today. As before, the rules are simple. The player must currently be on the 40-man roster of a big league team, must have been on the active roster for at least one game this season, and all nicknames must be the primary nomenclature by which a player is known. These rules exclude players like Milton Bradley (man, what a disaster!), and CarGo.

Let’s get started:

10. Will Venable – I just like the name Will Venable. He sounds like the protagonist in a series of sci fi novels. A good, simple, name. But seriously, can’t you just see a guy named Will Venable in a space station, floating around, fighting some aliens, and a vindictive AI? As outfielder for the San Diego Padres, Venable has been consistent and solid.

9. Antonio Bastardo – This relief pitcher for the Phillies is a scary dude. He can’t help it, with a name like that. He could be the nicest, sweetest man in the world, but you wouldn’t know it when he takes the mound. Pitchers are generally intimidating guys in the first place, and the history of mentally unstable left-handers (see Brian Wilson) adds to that. Then, there’s “Bastardo” on the back of his jersey. It’s cool.

8. Darwin Barney – Honestly, I could probably make this entire list out of Cubs players. A kid named “Darwin” says a lot about his family and upbringing. You don’t name your son that accidentally. Charles Darwin is someone that people generally have a solid opinion about. But, in this case, it works. Rolls off the tongue well, and he’s hitting .294 this season, with 25 RBI in 63 games. Also, pretty cute.

7. Prince Fielder – Son of Cecil Fielder, major power-hitter of the 1990s, Prince Fielder is the ace up the Milwaukee Brewer’s sleeve. His actual given first name is Prince, which makes it that much better, and sort of implies that Cecil is still the king–clever work, Dad. What makes this baseball name even better is that his surname is a position in baseball. It rolls off the tongue well, and works as a title for the man, not just a name.

6. Brian Wilson – Another player with the name of another celebrity. But what makes this one so great is the parallels between Beach Boy Brian Wilson and Giants closer Brian Wilson. Both are notoriously weird, iconic representations of California, and cornerstones of their respective organizations. Thank goodness one of them has a beard, or you’d never be able to tell them apart!

5. Homer Bailey – Pitcher for the Reds, Homer’s real first name is David. Which seems strange to me. David is a perfectly normal name, yes, and Homer is a pretty adorable baseball name, but for a pitcher? But it’s okay, he’s 3-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA, 19-17 overall. And paired with his last name, Homer Bailey comes across as a corn-fed all-American good-old-boy, which is endearing, I think.

4. Chipper Jones – Do I really have to explain this one? His real name is Larry Wayne Jones. Larry Wayne Jones sounds like a boring man, but Chipper Jones is an excellent, exciting man. 1999 NL MVP, 2 Silver Sluggers, and 2nd all-time in RBIs by switch hitters. When I was a kid, my brother was given a pack of baseball cards that contained a Chipper Jones rookie card, and we decided, sight unseen that he was going to be awesome, because he had a cool name. And there you go.

3. Corey Hart – Teammate of Prince Fielder, Corey Hart is a teen heartthrob. For fans like myself, who grew up with Coreys Haim and Feldman, Corey Hart fits right in. In fact, Hart probably had his share of girlfriends in middle school based on his name alone. Oh yeah, and then there’s the other Corey Hart, who sang that song about wearing your sunglasses at night. Oh yeah.

2. Welington Castillo – This is the guy that inspired me to do these lists at all. I was watching the Cubs game, and the as the lineup was announced, I did an audio doubletake. What was that guy called? How does someone get this name? I fully support Mr. Castillo, and I hope he has a long, storied career in the majors, just so we can keep talking about him. Welington Castillo. Yes.

1. Huston Street – The closer for the Rockies leads the majors in saves so far this season, with 22/24. Impressive. He also has the same name as a famous thoroughfare in New York City, albeit minus one letter “o.” But his name is pronounced in exactly the same way that thousands of tourists pronounce Houston Street every summer as they wander hopelessly around lower Manhattan. To make things even better, Huston was born and raised in Texas, where there is also a famous place named Houston. But it doesn’t seem to be distracting him from getting clutch outs for his team.

Honorable Mention:

Arquimedes Euclides Caminero – Currently in the minor league system of the Florida Marlins, this right handed pitcher technically does not qualify for this list. But I came across his name in my research, and I couldn’t bear not to share it with you. Are his parents mathematicians perhaps? Or philosophers? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Just a Quick Thought

I’ve been working on a top-to-bottom ranking of baseball teams from most- to least- favorite for a couple of seasons now. The top and the bottom are firmly set in place, but the middle has always been a bit flexible.

Numbers 1 and 2 are the Mets and Mariners, and Number 30 is the Yankees. But I’m sitting here watching the Tigers and Rays, and I realize that I like them exactly equal amounts. Miguel Cabrera is cool, Justin Verlander is exciting. The Rays are scrappy and an important part of keeping the Yanks out of the postseason. 

So, as of now, I guess, I would put these guys as tied for 15th. Not particularly interested or unintertested, in exactly equal amounts. 

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Vacation-Time Predictions: The Results

Alright, I’m back. Colorado was great. Here’s a picture from the back porch of the cabin where we stayed:

And those are "little" mountains  Pretty sweet, eh? Yeah, I thought so. You could see mountain goats climbing around on the tops of those mountains, too. The altitude was 9500ft, and let me tell you, it makes a difference. I had been skeptical about all this “thin air” stuff at Coors Field, but there is seriously less air up there. So much so that I basically had an asthma attack anytime I tried to go above 10500ft. But, let’s get on with the predictions.

1. The Diamondbacks will fall in the NL West.

Result: True-ish.

The D-backs were 5-2 the week before I left, and 2-4 while I was gone. They are still only one game back in the West, with a series coming up this week against the Giants, which will be a big test of their staying power. They are still 5 games over .500, which was better than I was expecting, but I’m gonna say the losing record while I was out is a confirmation of my prediction of a slow decline.

2. The Cousins-Posey Debate will continue.

Result: False

Thank goodness. What with the draft, and then Joe Girardi being a big baby about David Ortiz’s bat flip, and then his players getting hit by pitches, the media has gotten over this one. And I am grateful.

3. Ike Davis will come to my house.

Result: True

At least that’s what my boyfriend said. He sent me a picture of them playing video games together.

Best Friends!

Don’t they look like they’re having fun? I’m pretty jealous, really. Maybe he’ll come hang out with me sometime, since it doesn’t look like he’ll be playing baseball anytime soon.

4. RA Dickey will get a win.

Result: True!

RA had a fantastic outing on Sunday, leading the Mets to a 6-4 victory over the Braves, which I’m sure you know all about already. But I’m still quite pleased, as I’m getting updated on things. The header photo on this blog is RA Dickey, pitching against the Rockies, which I took myself, thank you very much. He’s so great. Have you read this? Yes, he got a loss last night, back to old form, but all I asked was for a single win.

5. Mariners will play well.

Result: True

Hmm, well, the M’s were 3-4 while I was out, but they’re still 2nd in the AL West, and a game over .500. I suppose I just used very similar stats to declare the Diamondbacks “in decline,” but you see, I like the Mariners, so I will say that they are continuing to play well. Let’s see, I said they would pitch well,  the bottom of the lineup would deliver, and they would score more than expected. Unfortunately, they scored only one run in each of their losses. However, Ichiro seems to be doing better after taking a rare day off, hitting a stand-up triple and scoring the team’s only run last night, so that’s point for me. Figgins continues to be awful, which surprises no one. I’m just gonna cut my losses here, focus on the 33-32 average and say I was right.

Overall Score: 4/5

Results: I am a baseball psychic!

I’ve done incredibly well, I must say, only being wrong on the one thing I really wanted to be wrong about. I’ve still got some catching up to do, but I promise promise promise to get the NL version of my Greatest Names out this week.

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Vacation-Time Predictions

As I write this, I am sitting the middle seat of an Airbus A320, en route to Denver, Colorado, to spend a week in the mountains with my family. By the time this gets posted, however, I will have landed, because I do not ride fancy airlines that have wifi. 

None of my immediate family gives one whit about baseball, (though I do have an uncle who is a diehard Braves fan), and there will be no cable TV or internet in the mountain retreat, so my access to the sporting world will be limited to local Rockies broadcasts. I do suspect, though, that I will be shunned for attempting to keep up to date on scores and such. So. No baseball for me. 

So I thought I’d make some predictions about what will happen in baseball over the next seven days, post them here and then evaluate them upon my return. Let’s get cracking!

1. The Diamondbacks will drop in the NL West. I don’t think they can keep this up, and I suspect that they will start to fizzle out over the next couple of weeks. Not a sudden drop off, but the beginning of a steady decrease.

2. People will continue to debate the Cousins-Posey play, and the various comments made about it. I wish this too would fade out over the next week, but I doubt it will, sadly. Per my very first post, I don’t think this sort of accident should be up for public debate and derision.

3. Ike Davis, unable to play real baseball, will come over to my house and play MLB The Show ’11 with my boyfriend, and then mysteriously vanish by the time I get back. At least, I imagine, that is what I will be told.

4. Speaking of the Mets, they had better win a game for RA Dickey this week. He’s pitching today, and then presumably again later in the week, and although he’s got a losing record and a bit of a fat ERA, he has been pitching beautifully. He’s just stubborn and stays in an inning or so longer than he should, and then the Mets defence just implodes on him. He’s a talented, awesome, tricky pitcher, and he deserves a few good wins.

5. As for the Mariners, I predict that they will continue to play well, getting runs out of the bottom of their lineup, and superb performances from their starting rotation. I also predict that anaylsts will still be shocked, shocked every time they score a run, even though the Mariners have made it abundantly clear that they are not last year’s team. Figgins with continue to slump, Ichiro will not.

Other than that, all I can say is that some home runs will be hit, some games will be won, others will be lost, and someone will make a bad call at some point. Check back next week to see how I did, and for the Greatest Names in the National League!

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What is the DEAL with Balks?

Now, I’ve only been a fan of baseball since the 2008 postseason. And baseball is a complicated game, with a lot of rules, a lot of players and a lot of games. I picked up the main principles of the game pretty quickly, I (begrudgingly) played baseball in gym class, and there’s just a sort of subconscious knowledge that most Americans have. But for the more nuanced bits of gameplay, and things like the shorthand scoring conventions have come a little slower. Fortunately, I have a great boyfriend who grew up with baseball to explain things to me when I get confused.

But then there are balks.

The Official Baseball Rules defines a balk as “an illegal act by the pitcher with a runner or runners on base, entitling all runners to advance one base.” At first that seems pretty straightforward: the pitcher does something wrong, the opposing team gets to benefit from it. But the ambiguity of the phrase “illegal act” and the subjective human element of the umpire who calls the balk basically means that turns into a magical catch-all for funny movements on the mound.

And then, you discover that a balk can be called if the catcher is outside his box when catching an intentional walk, which is not an illegal act by the pitcher at all, but rather by the catcher. It’s also considered a balk if, with a runner at third, a catcher (or any fielder) steps on or in front of home plate without possession of the ball.

“But that’s just the weird stuff,” you say, “the majority of balks are about faking pick off moves, about preventing the pitcher from surprising the hitter with a pitch, so he doesn’t get hurt or something.” Yes, that is true. But it is still really weird and hard to tell what is and what is not a balk.

For instance, there was Justin Verlander’s strange move last month. He faked to first, and then threw his pick-off throw to home plate, nearly decking the batter. Asked about it, Verlander said that he realized he was about to balk, and was trying to avoid it. The umpires were baffled momentarily–was it a balk or not? They finally decided that it was, but the impression that I got was that it was scored “BK?”

And then there was Doug Fister with the Mariners last week, where a perfectly regular-looking fake-to-first-throw-to-third move was called a balk. Fister made the exact same move in his next start, without incident, which just highlights the subjectiveness of the call.

I’m not trying to say baseball should remove or modify the balk rule, just that it is REALLY WEIRD. And it’s not really something that video replay could help with, since what constitutes a balk varies so much from umpire to umpire. It’s just weird, that’s all.

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