Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lil' Ken Offended By Yankee Stadium

It really must be a slow news cycle, because writers are publishing their bold predictions of things that will happen this season. This one comes courtesy of Ken Rosenthal (er, Rosensquirrel) and is boldy titled "These things will happen this season":
The New Yankee Stadium Will Be Offensive
I'm not talking about how the park will play; that's to be determined. I'm talking about the Yankees opening their monument to excess in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression. And no, I'm not forgetting about the Mets and — ahem — Citi Field.
Clearly the Yankees should have cancelled plans to move into the New Stadium based on the fact the fact that the economy sucks. They should have haulted construction when the Dow went below 8,000 and it was 3/4 completed. Nevermind the fact that the construction of the New Stadium actually stimulated the local economy by creating more construction jobs and will continue to by adding more coconcession positions dues to increased points of sale.

And how is that "offensive", exactly? Because the Stadium is extremely nice? Because the best tickets are $2500 each? You know, the seats Ken gets fucking PAID to sit in everytime he covers a game...


(h/t The Sports Hernia)

Click through and read the rest of the article because Ken is certain that A-Rod will not make it through the season, that "there will be no surprise teams" and that Gary Sheffield will hit his 500th home run (he's at 499).

Wow, It's Been A Long Offseason


It has literally been a long offseason; at least a week longer than the thirteen previous ones. It wasn't just that the Yankees didn't make the postseason, they were pretty much dead to rights when they fell 12.5 games back of the Rays and 7 games back of the Red Sox on August 31st. They hadn't even been within 5 games of the division lead since July 31st. The didn't lead the division at any point during the year.

I was lucky enough to attend each of the last three games at the Old Stadium, but by then it was completely apparent that the Yanks weren't going to the playoffs although they hadn't been mathematically eliminated quite yet. It was a great spectacale to behold, but on the field, they were dead men walking.

Despite the fact that missing the playoffs represented a monstrous failure to the organization, the outlook on September 29th was pretty rosy. Dropping Giambi, Mussina, Pavano and Abreu represented a huge amount of payroll relief and the New Stadium was set to bring in a massive influx of new revenue. Sure enough, the Yanks reeled in the top three free agents on the market and significantly upgraded their roster by Christmas.

Since then, we started this blog (and have written over 400 posts), we started our Countdown to Spring Training, Joe Torre's book came out, Andy Pettitte came back, Selena Roberts dropped the bomb, Peter Gammons interviewed A-Rod, A-Rod paused for 27 seconds before saying "thanks", we tried to start another countdown, A-Rod had surgery, the Yankees were outed as a Ponzi scheme, and then the Details magazine article came out.

All this drama has made the chasm between meaningful baseball games pretty excruciating for us Fackers. We don't want to be reduced to talking about bullshit gossipy topics like Jeter's house or A-Rod's revolting taste in women, but unfortunatley those were the most compelling things at the time. I don't think it's a whole lot better to get wrapped up in the ups and downs of Spring Training.

Is anyone else just ready for some baseball that actually matters?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Apologies

Sorry for the lack of content today, but like your mother always told you, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all". I've been writing some stuff that may or may not appear in a more reputable establishment, and for the time being, that has taken precedent over what gets done around here.

In the mean time, check out Fack Youk's blogger profile. We spent some time on Saturday morning updating it and hopefully you find it somewhat amusing. It's not supposed to represent me or anyone else who writes here, just personify the blog itself a bit. It is a living document so feel free to offer any additions in the comment section for things you think would fit in.

We'll be back and better than ever tomorrow. Actually... we'll just be back.

But it will be one day closer to this:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guitar Solo Sunday (03/29/09)

I swear there are some original guitar solos in the works by friends/readers, but I'm operating with the mental acuity of a gerbil right now, and therefore am just going to call on the honorable Derek Trucks to keep this tradition alive. It only violates one of the founding principles this feature was built upon. This version of Desdemona is from the Beacon in 2004. It also appears on One Way Out.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Old Home Place

[Ed Note: This has absolutely nothing to do with sports, so feel free to take a pass. I'm taking the weekend off from blogging since I'm upstate but figured (something > nothing)]

It was about 65 today, so I decided to cue up a playlist of relatively obscure Bob Marley songs, and take a walk in my development's common land and snap some pictures. Despite what the musical selection might lead you to believe, no illegal activities occurred during the process of producing this post. Well, actually, there was about 45 seconds worth of trespassing.

I mentioned it in the Snow Day post, but here is little more about the common land, if you are so inclined: The company that developed this neighborhood had the foresight to set aside 50 of the 130 acres it is set on for the shared usage of the homeowners. Those fifty acres border on the Mohawk River and would be absolutely prime if they weren't located directly across from Knolls Atomic Power Lab and a GE Research and Development facility.

It's probably not the greatest time of year to be taking pictures back there. Actually, scratch that, it's the worst possible time. The snow is gone, aside from a few frozen waterfalls on the South side of the river, and nothing has started to come to life yet. It's gray and drab, but I think it's still incredibly beautiful in it's own way. It makes the things that are colorful stand out even more.

It was a somewhat bittersweet photo safari, as many of the trails that Sampson and I used to mosey along are totally grown over. No one really goes down there anymore, so the homeowners association has really let the place go. In a way, that's better though, because it's a lot cooler feeling like the only person to take advantage of it. It also makes the song choice even more appropriate. It's a version of The Dillard's Old Home Place performed by Phish on 06/11/98 at the Worcester Centrum.

If you watch closely, you can see Llenroc peeking through the trees in one of the pictures.

video

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dill Dough


Some of you may know DJ Gallo as "the only funny person writing for Page 2" or possibly as the sole proprietor of The Sports Pickle. I started reading his stuff a few years back on Page 2 when I realized that I couldn't sit in a chair and do work for 9 hours a day. His A.M Jumps and columns were always good for at least one laugh that would let your coworkers know that you weren't proofing the report your boss sent down. Since they pulled the A.M. Jump from Page 2, I've rarely visited, but I did stop by occasionally to check out D.J.'s NFL Hangover.

Today, word came down that the Pickle had been acquired by CollegeHumor. From the press release:
Created as a sports humor and satire site by DJ Gallo, SportsPickle.com's content has attracted a loyal audience ripe for expansion across the CollegeHumor Media properties. Known for its funny, entertaining and original content appealing to both consumers and advertisers, CollegeHumor Media caters to the same demographic of males age 18-24, showcasing the natural synergies between both brands.
The Sports Pickle was The Onion's sport section before The Onion had a sport section. Updated weekly with six or seven articles, there were also recurring features such as (ranked in magnitude of hilarity) Ponder This, This Week In Sports Revisionist History (T.I.R.S.H.), Fake Quote Of The Week and Mail Athletes.

Cash those checks D.J., you've earned them.

Some Yankee-related favorites:





Enjoy.

"The Secrets Of Dork Elvis Will Be Mine"

I'm hesitant to make a tradition out of this, because it's beyond trite and cliched for a blog called "Fack Youk" to FJM Bill Simmons. It's completely unoriginal in two distinct ways. (-2 x -2 = 4??)

But again this week, he hit the lowest common denominator, "stats are for nerds". Reading that kind of lazy, anti-intellectual bullshit from a crotchety old newspaper hack is one thing, but from fantasy sports devotee who constantly references the current season of the Real World?

The Sports Guy is a unique case, because he bridges the gap between the old school and new school of sports writing. He pumps out content like a blogger but has the the rigid weekly schedule of a newspaper columnist. He made his name on the internet, but loves intangibles and greatness and as you will see in this column, considers any sort of statistical analysis dorky. And just like two weeks ago, right after he is finished reinforcing that stigma, makes suggestions for new interesting stats.

-----

Never come between an NBA stat geek and the truth.


A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, or as I dubbed it, Dorkapalooza 2009!

I'd save the "Dorkapalooza 2009!" tag for something like this. Or this. It's only March.

A slew of statistical rock stars showed up: Dean Oliver, Aaron Schatz, John Hollinger. Panels argued topics like "Where are basketball analytics headed?" and "What's more important, coming up with a cool formula or kissing a girl?"

Rick Reilly approves this message.

The hottest celeb? My friend Daryl Morey, the Rockets GM, who was hounded by MIT students as if he were Britney among the paparazzi. I dubbed him Dork Elvis. Even he admitted that was funny. Begrudgingly.

How I imagine that going down:

Simmons: [Breathlessly] Daryl, Daryl... I can't believe how everyone is following you around this place trying to talk to you...

Morey: That's probably because they all knew I was going to be here and read the article Michael Lewis wrote about me for the New York Times a of couple weeks ago.

Simmons: You are a rock star. Like the Nerdy John Lennon. Or the Geeky Bono. Or the Dweeby Dave Matthews. No, I've got it... You are DORK ELVIS. Can we all agree that Daryl Morey is DORK ELVIS??!!?

Morey: I mean, it doesn't have anything to do with basketball...

Simmons: DORK ELVIS!!! Is that NOT hilarious?!??!

Morey: Yes, Bill. I suppose it is somewhat funny.


That's the thing about stat geeks: They have a sense of humor about themselves.

They have a sense of humor because they "begrudgingly" admit Bill Simmons' jokes are funny. Why stat "geeks", exactly? These guys are creating cutting edge statistical techniques to break down and quantify a very fluid, fast-paced sport played by some of the sickest athletes on earth. That sounds pretty cool to me.

And yes, I count myself among them.

Why does he throw himself into the nerds/geeks/dorks category? You know he doesn't think of himself that way. Aren't those terms more relevant to some one's personality type and social disposition? There is noting inherently nerdy about systematically drilling down into a topic like sports, which by most people's standards is about as far from geekdom as one can get. It's not like these guys are trying to calculate the Expected Value for plays in Magic the Gathering.

I played entire Microleague baseball seasons on my 1984 Apple and kept handwritten stats.

Okay, that's pretty nerdy.

I've played fantasy baseball since 1982. I frequent the Prospectus sites and devour their books. I try to hide my inner geek, but believe me, it lurks.

Yes, try to hide that intellectual curiosity. It will do wonders for your analytical sports columns.

Remember, I'm the guy who figured out Hickory High's title-game box score.


How could we forget?

In my mind, basketball lends itself to the perfect blend of objectivity and subjectivity. Statistics help only so much; we still have to interpret what we see.


Which is totally different than say, baseball, where there is nothing to interpret or read between the lines.

I hear that some NBA teams factor "clock-saving attempts" into adjusted shooting percentages. But do they share that info? Of course not. And that's what's wrong with this revolution: We have access to only some of the data.

It's been said that a lot of baseball teams have their own sophisticated methods of defensive analysis that they keep secret from the public, and more importantly, other clubs. Because that would, you know, sacrifice their competitive advantage and defeat the entire purpose of creating the system.

There's one problem with that: Baseball isn't basketball. It's an individual sport; teammates don't matter unless they can help get PEDs. (Sorry, I had to.)

No, you didn't. You (presumably) typed this at a computer. You could have very easily applied the backspace or delete button and removed those six words (or the three unnecessary ones in parentheses).

Every conceivable diamond talent can be measured objectively.

Can you measure a pick-off move "objectively"? Bunting? A catcher's ability to call a game? A third baseman's arm? A reliever's ability to hold runners on?

There is a long way to go before defensive metrics can be considered objective. John Dewan's Fielding Bible is great, but the methodology is still subjective [emphasis mine]:

Video Scouts at BIS review video of every play of every major league game and record detailed information on each play, such as the location of each batted ball, the speed, the type of hit, etc.


It's still a scout's eye, just more methodically applied. UZR is objective but still somewhat crude in terms of measuring defense, especially in the infield where Baseball Info Solutions locations data are less accurate.

I thought Derek Jeter was a great shortstop until the defensive stats told me otherwise.

I thought he was when I still lived in Boston and couldn't watch him play every night. Eventually you notice that, aside from the step-throw maneuver, Jeter doesn't make that many impressive plays and a lot of balls seem to get by him.

Like every other forward-thinking GM, he considers numbers not a sacred evaluation tool but rather part of a bigger process: How can we calculate the best way to win?

This isn't a phenomenon contained to "forward-thinking" GMs. Steve fucking Phillips probably thought stats were "part of a bigger process". No one thinks numbers are a "sacred evaluation tool", whatever that means.

Does it not bother anyone else that certain teams meticulously keep track of and hoard those moments? It's valuable data that would give us all a better understanding of what we're watching.

No, it literally does not bother anyone else.

In fact, that's what made Dorkapalooza so much fun. But one thing we all agreed on was that the basketball revolution will be much rockier than baseball's.

Are you shitting me? Please show me one column by a basketball writer who thinks statistics are ruining the game? ONE. Now go to FJM and start from the begining. Baseball is fraught with traditionalist fans and writers who have fought and continue to fight the movement tooth and nail.

It's not as simple as embracing WHIP and OPS or creating watershed, easy-to-prove stats like VORP and PECOTA.

Rough estimate, but I'd say that that 75-80% of baseball fans don't embrace WHIP or OPS. You won't find too many of them in the blogoverse, but you will in the stands. I'm not sure what good "proving" VORP or PETCOA would be, but I know it wouldn't be "easy".

NBA teams need to stop acting like they're protecting nuclear info during the Cold War. Aren't we in this together?

No...? Every NBA team, by definition is in it for themselves. Why should they give a shit if a very select few die hard fans want to know their advanced statistics? They league has them by the balls anyway, they really don't need to appease them by disclosing proprietary information. Do other businesses disclose their secrets to their customers...

When I asked Daryl that before begging for a few secret stats, he laughed the way Frank might if you asked for his RedHot sauce recipe. In other words, not a chance.

Shocking. You mean he wouldn't disclose his competitive advantages to one of the most popular sports writers in America?

Next year I'm returning to Dorkapalooza, strapping a recorder to my chest and getting him drunk on tequila -- or laser-printer fumes.

The secrets of Dork Elvis will be mine.

What, your laser printer doesn't fume?

/Morey files restraining order

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thhaaaaaaa. Yaaaankkeeeesssss. Wiiiiinnnn.


How is that for analysis? (I'm swamped at work, what do you want from me?)

Joe Girardi Reads "Fack Youk"

Back in January, I desperately pleaded for Joe Girardi to bat Derek Jeter leadoff due to his higher OBP but higher tendency to ground into double plays and effectively waste Johnny Damon's solid OBP.

According to fellow Mick blogger Kat O'Brien of Newsday, it appears that Joe G. has begun to follow my advice:

Derek Jeter will be the leadoff hitter and Johnny Damon will bat second, a top of the lineup switch the Yankees will use for the rest of spring training.

Manager Joe Girardi said the reason for the switch is because the team likes how Damon has looked batting second in spring training games. As long as the Yankees like what they see over the final week of spring training games, the team will bring this lineup into the regular season.
Very refreshing in various aspects. First of all, Joe Girardi clearly reads our blog. Second, if I fail to get a legal job, which looks like the case, I could be a Big League manager. Third, it is nice to have a skipper who is not scared of stats and to break away from horrid logic like "Derek Jeter has always batted 2nd. Therefore he should always bat 2nd".

Let's hope Giradi gives this line up a chance and doesn't let the small sample size of one week in Spring Training derail potential goodness.

The Price is Wrong, Bitch!

I've enjoyed hearing every "expert" say that the Tampa Bay Rays are going to repeat as AL East and AL champions. Reason #1: The pitching will only improve because of the addition of young phenom David Price to the rotation.

Well, it turns out that young Mister Price will start his season in Durham along Nuke LaLoosh. The Rays management feels that this will allow them to more effectively limit his innings considering he pitched only 139 1/3 in 2008. I can't say that I disagree with this innings limit, but couldn't the Rays try something like the Yankees are doing with Joba, i.e. skipping his turn ever so often?

Rays vice president of baseball operation Andrew Friedman said Wednesday Price should be called up later in the season.

I expect this to be around June. Any time earlier than that and Price would become a "Super Two" player, meaning that he would become arbitration eligible at the end of his 2nd season in the Bigs rather than his 3rd as is typically the case. Despite the innings reason that the Rays gave, I believe that this "Super Two" prevention is the real reason for the move. The Rays are notorious cheapskates despite the new ownership group's assertion to the contrary. Just ask Delmon Young, whose withholding from Major League service in order to prevent "Super Two" status resulted in his stunted development.

A Note To The Rays: If you want to play with the Big Boys (i.e. the Yanks and Sawx), you are going to have to consistently put your best players on the Diamond.

Any Rays "fans" out there care to comment on the matter?

"Experts": Do you still think the Rays will beat out both the Yanks and the Sawx?

Has She Won 6 WNBA Championships?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Keep In Mind This Occurred In Phoenix

It's not like you can switch into those costumes in the bathroom. The guy dressed up as Jerry Sloan even brought a clipboard to pretend to draw plays on? I'll bet you $50 the fella in the Hornacek jersey was the mastermind behind this. Come on, you're getting 5:1 odds.

The guy on the far right is either wearing a #26 Kyle Korver or John Amaechi jersey. Judging by the way he has his hand tenderly placed across his chest, I'm going to go with the latter.

You Can't Get There From Here

Ross at New Stadium Insider drums up another detail in the fine print about the New Stadium: Only those with Field Level tickets will have access to the Field Level area and concessions:
We have mentioned before that one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to baseball games is roaming around the stadium and checking out all of the nooks and crannies of the ballpark. Never before have we been to a ballpark that does not let fans explore the concessions on an entire level of the Stadium. We have been to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Safeco Field in Seattle in the past few years and NONE of those stadiums have this policy.
I'm hoping there aren't any concession stands that are located only on the Field Level, so everyone would have access to everything they wanted to try, but if not, that's the Yankees' loss more than ours.

A lot of the people at the Field Level have the option of having food brought to their seats. Why do can't us commoners come check out the food options and walk around? It's not like people can get down to where the seats are. They are still advertising the availability of "Between the Bases" seats during Spring Training games and elsewhere. The Yankees continue to cater to the endangered species that is "Corporate High Rollers" while telling the average fan where they can stick their New Stadium experience.

Tucked away at the bottom of the Yanks initial press release was the fact that gates would be three hours prior to game time, so fans would presumably be able to take in some batting practice. Ross shoots that one down too. He finds here that "Guests are welcome to watch batting practice from their seat location".

Yup, hurry to the park three hours early so you can sit in your 400 level seats during batting practice and get a head start on getting ripped off on concessions. You wouldn't want to disturb those people in the Field Level, who aren't even going to be there yet.

Or you could just go to Stan's, Billy's, or the Bowling Alley. Your choice.

Looking Ahead


Trying to make sense of Matt Holliday's home/road splits yesterday got me thinking about next offseason already. After this year, the Yankees are going to be in the market for some outfielders. The contracts for Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui will all be expiring, leaving Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and possibly Austin Jackson if he makes some serious strides through the minors.

Those remaining all represent some pretty serious question marks. As a Yankee fan, I'd like to think that Swisher is due for a bounce back since his stats took a serious dip last year in what is ostensibly his prime (age 27) and had a BABIP of .249. Brett Gardner may be off to a nice start this Spring, but let's not forget that in 127 Major League AB's last year he had a line of .228/.283/.299, good for a 53 OPS+. In a year when Melky was supposed to step forward, he fell back significantly. Austin Jackson is still only a prospect, so planning around him being MLB-ready to start the 2010 season is quite foolhardy.

Back in December, Tim at MLBTR compiled a list of the free agents to be in 2010. I whittled it down to the most intriguing options, in my opinion. (The Scarlet B represents a Boras client)

Centerfield Options
Rick Ankiel (30) - B
Coco Crisp (30) - $8MM club option with a $500K buyout

Unless the market turns around Crisp won't have his option picked up the the Royals, but I'd rather have Count Chocula or Tony the Tiger playing CF. Ankiel represents the Boras Dilemma. If he has a great year, his price tag will be astronomical, if he has an average one, you aren't going to be too excited about getting him anyway.

I think we have to hope that either Jackson or Gardner pan out for that spot. They are both solid defensively, which is tremendously important, but they will have to prove that they can hit Major League pitching before I get excited about either of them manning center field.


Now, the Corner Outfield Options.
  • Carl Crawford (28) - $10MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout
  • Jason Bay (31)
I really, really, really like Carl Crawford, aside from his production (or lack thereof due to a torn tendon in his hand) last year. Each year from 2004-07 he had 11 or more HRs, from 46-59 stolen bases, and averaged almost 15 triples (!) per year. The Rays have a pretty well-stocked farm system and it wouldn't be all that shocking if they didn't spring for his $10M option. More on that here (from before Fack Youk's pre-Black & White borrowed picture policy).

I get the feeling the Red Sox will sign Jason Bay before the season is over, but if they don't, I hope the Yankees take serious interest. He gets slept on because he spent most of his career with the Pirates, but look at his numbers. He had a down year in '07, but the guy can hit.


More Boras Dilemmas:
  1. Matt Holliday (30) B
  2. Xavier Nady (31) B
  3. Johnny Damon (36) B
Pass. Pass. Pass.


The Old, the Expensive and the Defensively Incompetent:
  1. Bobby Abreu (36)
  2. Jermaine Dye (36) - $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
  3. Vladimir Guerrero (34)
  4. Manny Ramirez (38) - $20MM player option B
  5. Magglio Ordonez (36) - $15MM club/vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Part of me would love to see one of these guys DH'ing, but the other knows that with the Yanks aging rapidly, there will be guys who need a break from playing the field from time to time. Is it worth overpaying for a top of the line hitter when their presence is going to take Jorge out of his rhythm when he has to ride the pine when he's not manning the dish? Maybe not.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Austin Jacks One

We just copyrighted that headline.

Don't even think about it, John Sterling.

It takes a lot to get me excited about about a Spring Training. This would fall under the category of "a lot".


Boom. A grand slam against the Red Sox by my favorite Yankee farmhand.

13 days...

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

When the initial reports of $6 beers at the New Yankee Stadium came out yesterday, I was thrilled. Even though they only serve schwilly light beer at the Stadium and it's miserably overpriced, it's a lot of fun to hike up to the upper deck and do some day drinking.

Frank, Big Wille Style and I put away our fair share of $9.50 brewskis last year (and $9 the year before) while sitting in our Saturday Package seats in Sec 7, Row M. Despite the fact that we got shut out of our Saturday games this year, I was looking forward to not getting bent over every time I ponied up for a cold one. I thought maybe they were throwing fans a bone because of the economy. Of fucking course not.

As always, New Stadium Insider saw through the P.R. bullshit and discovered that the beers they are offering for $6 are only 12oz, whereas last year it was $9.50 for 20oz. The price per ounce actually increased slightly (from $0.48 to $0.50). Guess we will still be packing a flask of Jameson or Johnnie Walker this year.

Furthermore, our resident Culinary Correspondent HowFresh Eats notified me that Citi Field's food options destroy those at the New Yankee Stadium:

Did you know that that Citi Field is completely outfitted by Danny Meyer? Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and several other spots. While we get Johnny Rockets and Hard Rock. That pisses me off to no end.
Ever heard of Shake Shack? HowFresh did some intrepid reporting on the location near my apartment a few months back. It is out of this world. Take a look at the what fans at Citi Field are going to be able to choose from. Now tell me you wouldn't take those options in a tenth of a second over what they've got in the Bronx.

Like Ben at River Ave. Blues, I'm just not that excited about the food options at the New Digs. I pretty much never ate anything from the Old Stadium (outside of the Stadium Club), but that was because the food was disgusting. They had a chance to start over but kept the same crappy holdovers, I mean... "Traditional Favorites" like Famiglia Pizza, Premio Sausage, Nathan's Famous and Carl's Steaks.

Some new additions sound pretty good, like the Latin Corner (Cuban sandwiches & burritos), Soy Kitchen (sushi), and Noodle Bowls, but I'm probably still going to opt for a quick sandwich from Lenny's and eat it on the subway ride up. When I go to Citi Field though... I'm bringing my appetite.

Doing Splits

I don't play fantasy baseball, but I would like to give you some advice if you do.

Let someone else draft Matt Holliday.

I'm guessing there is some sucker in your league that is going to have their perception skewed by his 2nd place finish in the 2007 NL MVP voting or Woody Paige's homeristic knob slobbery. Perhaps they remember the play at the plate in the 13th inning against the Padres in the 163rd game of the '07 season and subsequent World Series run and snatch him up in the first round. Unfortunately for them, he will now be hitting in the spacious McAfee Coliseum which would harm any hitter's offensive production, let alone someone with Holliday's home/road splits.

If you are a fan of any team with money to spend in the 2010 offseason, you may want to pay attention to this as well, because he will be a free agent (represented by Scott Boras) next year.

Five years is a pretty damn large sample size and those differences are staggering. I can see a player's slugging percentage varying dramatically from home to away based on the dimensions and conditions of other parks, but his average and OBP are both far lower away from Coors. As friend of the blog Simon said on GChat yesterday, he's is like Manny Ramirez at home and Xavier Nady on the road. Look at those guys' stats. He's dead on.

The good news for Holliday owners and A's fans is that his numbers on the road have continually improved throughout his career. Although he didn't have a particularly good year in 2008, his splits were the least dramatic of his five years in the league. That was both a function of his home numbers dropping (especially slugging) and his road numbers getting better.

On other astonishing nugget I found along while perusing his Baseball Reference pages was that his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .324 on the road, which is well above the league average (+/- .290). But at home... it's .382. Wow.

(Chart via FanGraphs)


That's not a single season fluke. That took place over the course of 5 seasons and almost 350 games. Granted, the better a hitter is, the better his BABIP will be, given that the ball comes off the bat of the best players the hardest, making it more difficult to field. That said, Manny Ramirez's career BABIP is .344, Albert Puljos's is .323 and A-Rod's is .327. Holliday's overall is .356.

Coors Field installed a humidor in 2002 to counteract the effects of altitude, but it appears as though BABIP is skewed higher in Denver. Todd Helton has a pretty significant home/away BABIP split (.358 to .313). Garrett Atkins (.351 to .279) and Troy Tulowitski (.330 to .302) do too.

It should be interesting to watch Holliday this season, and as fans of AL teams, we will have a few chances to do so. I'm still a little dumbfounded by these numbers, but all signs point to the former Rockie falling off this year with out the assistance of altitude. One thing is for sure though, no matter what happens, Scott Boras is going to be demanding way too much for him next offseason.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Either Way, The Answer Is "Yes"

I was reading through this post on the Blue Screen I noticed this ad widget on the side:

Soooo, which is it? I'm going to go with 117, because the only way you are going to get an average IQ of 84 among 53 people is if they are all six years old, suffer from dementia or are related to Kevin Millar. That or they messed up and 84 is really just Brandon Jacobs' score.

End Of The Road For Schil-do

As much as I would love to see him make a comeback and get tattooed this year, Curt Schilling is hanging up his bloody cleats for good:
To say I’ve been blessed would be like calling Refrigerator Perry ‘a bit overweight’.
That line brought to you by Rick Reilly.

Four World Series, three World Championships. That there are men with plaques in Cooperstown who never experienced one, and I was able to be on three teams over seven years that won it all is another ‘beyond my wildest dreams’ set of memories I’ll be allowed to take with me.
Let the Hall of Fame debate ensue. I say "no", but those who exalt clutchiferousness would probably beg to differ.
I want to offer two special thank you’s.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for granting me the ability to step between the lines for 23 years and compete against the best players in the world.
Jesus doesn't read your blog. He does read Fack Youk, though.

I guess this means he'll have much more time to devote to his political career and blogging efforts. How long until he's on the MLB Network? I give it two weeks.

Five Things

Friend of the blog Jorge Says No! checks in this morning with his recurring feature Five Things To Look Forward To In 2009 on the Yankees. Not all of them are things you will be looking forward to in a good way, necessarily, but they are on the horizon. Here are the teases:

1. Joba in the rotation...finally
2. What next for A-Rod?
3. Brett Gardner
4. A healthy Jorge Posada
5. CC

Head over and check it out. It will be a welcome break from all the Ace Dominico nonsense and serve as a reminder that in the near future they will actually be playing baseball games that matter.

14 days, 5 hours and 25 mins...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Was That The Last Flight Of The Conchords Ever?

It was the season finale and they ended up back in New Zealand.

I mean... SPOILER ALERT!!!!!11!!1!!!11!

Are they really going to move back to New York and start up Season 3? Will they continue the show in the Southern Hemisphere? I really don't think so.

Hopefully you got on board like Sampson and I did from day one and caught every episode, because if that show only ends up lasting two seasons, it will still be one of my all-time favorites. Regardless if you liked an individual song, especially this season, you could appreciate the effort they put into working it into the show and producing the video.

My personal favorites:

Tape of Love




"Another way that love is similar to tape,
That I've noticed,
Is sometimes it's hard to see the end,
So you search on the roll (search on the roll),
So you search on the roll (search on the roll),
With your fingernail (nail) (ail) (il) (l),
Again and again,
Again and again..."

Inner City Pressure:



"You want to sit down,
but you sold your chair,
So you,
You just,
Stand there"

"You know you're not,
In high finance,
Considering second-hand underpants,
Check your mind,
How'd it get so bad?
What happened to those other underpants you had?"


and The Girl With The Epileptic Dog:


"How’d you meet your lady?
I was going for a jog and she lost a dog,
I was runnin' in the area and she lost a terrier,
Was this about 20 seconds ago?
No about 23 seconds ago,
Ooh Whoa Whoa,
Oh no,
Oh no"

Guitar Solo Sunday (03/22/09)

We skipped this feature last weekend because things got a little out of control, but it is back and better than ever. I've got some great news for you folks... this one is not by me!

The honorable Smarty Barrett from Mass Hysteria was kind enough to prepare the offering below. It's pretty cool that he and HZMLS gave our site a chance despite the fundamentally opposed rooting interests of our blogs, and we are certainly happy to have them around. Check out their site when you get a chance. I trust you will find it most entertaining.

About the solo, Mr. Barrett says:
I opted to use a pedal because I wanted to mix in a different sound. Used a Zoom 505 and I flip to an auto-wah effect that I created myself. Played on my Epiphone Les Paul Custom with a Marshall amp. Certainly not my best work but it's something.
Without further adieu:


Jay: Awesome man. Sounds sick. I'll drop what you wrote below into the post. Anything else you'd like to add?
Smarty: Yeah. Fuck the Yankees. Haha.
There you go, boss. Fack Youk, too.

Because You Can't Put Blogs On Your Bookshelf

It might not have any Tolstoy, Dickens, J.D Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway or Nathaniel Hawthorne, but I'm sort of proud of my bookshelf.

If you took the time to look it over, you could probably find out a lot about me. It's a little skewed, because the entire left side holds roughly 19 poker books, but that was a big part of my life for a long time.

Dan Harrington, Phil Gordon, Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, David Sklansky, James McManus and T.J. Cloutier taught me a shitload about poker, objective analysis, and life. Read Harrington On Hold 'Em Vol. I & II and you will destroy any home they will let you sit at it. Both Super Systems are packed with sound strategy for almost any variation of poker you have ever heard of. I would recommend Positively 4th Street to someone who had no interest in no-limit hold 'em because it is so beautifully written.

If you work your way right from there, you'll see a Matt Taibbi book, a dictionary, The Complete Encyclopedia Of Beer (actually quite incomplete), Running the Table, Why Golf?, In Search Of Burning Bush, um, another book (shut up, it was a gift)... John Daly's Autobiography, The World is Flat, New Rules, a Jimi Hendrix biography, Under a Wild Sky, The Devil's Teeth, The Last Voyages of Captain Cook, some Carl Sagan, The Hardball Times '09...

Continue East you'll find some Malcolm Gladwell, Harvey Penick, more Carl Sagan, Moneyball, Anthony Bourdain and Into the Wild. The Orchid Thief and The Heartless Stone are there too.

If a person has the inclination to put together a bookshelf, and you have the time to look it over, it will give you insights into their personality it would take months, if not years, to glean in conversation. Next time you are feeling nosy at someone's apartment, instead of looking through the pill cabinet, check out their bookshelf. It will tell you infinitely more about them.

I wish I had a blogshelf in my room. My bookshelf tells more of a history, while a blogshelf would represent a more current narrative. You'd see River Ave. Blues, the National Football Post, ShysterBall, Kissing Suzy Kolber and figure that I like the Yankees, football, intellectual baseball banter and that I'm an asshole. You might notice 538 and Floating Shawn and guess I voted for Obama. Schiff Happens would be kickin' it, along my most recent addition, HowFresh Eats. Those fellows can tell you about music, food and city living and do it right at my frequency.

Since there is no such thing as a blogshelf, and people don't usually look through each others RSS readers, all of those nuggets are lost to cyberspace.

Unfortunately, since I've started writing for this here site, I haven't even been tempted to crack a book. There's no time. At this point in my life, books are for vacations. My attention span is so frayed by RSS Feeds, Twitter, Google Analytics, Facebook, BitTorrent, and the other endless bounties of the internet that the commitment necessary to read a book is too daunting. I used to read books in the morning. Now, my Google Reader is overloaded and the first thing I do when I get up is reach for my iPhone and start chipping away at the unread posts.

Eventually, it might be unrealistic to expect to someone to read 400 pages on a single subject. Why would they? With an endless supply of constantly updated mediums, from which you can select the exact ones that pertain to you, it seems grossly inefficient to spend the time it takes to read a book. As an author, to dedicate months if not years and hundreds of thousands of words to any one topic is so far over my head, it's laughable. However, if you add up all the stuff I've written in this space since Christmas day, I'm guessing it would come pretty close to the length of a book.

But blogs are considered disposable. You coast through a post and it gets marked as read, never to been seen again, unless you so desire. Somehow, we pay $15 for a book, but a blog, which is by your side day in and day out, is considered worthless, monetarily. The argument has been made that since you don't read newspapers or blog posts more than once, you can't charge for them. How many magazine articles have you read more than once? People still pay for then AND they have ads in them.

Charging per post could never work, but blogs have to provide some value. Some are entertaining, some are educational, some funny, others analytical, most are current. Just because people are willing to provide them at no cost doesn't mean that they have no value.

What if blogs charged for their RSS feeds? Would it be worth $1 a month to me to not have to go to a site and check for updates? If you think time is money, then the answer is decidedly "Yes". I constantly hear people talking about the untapped taxable resource that marijuana represents, but it's not like the alcohol industry is dying out. With the foundation of the print media crumbling under our feet, I don't hear nearly enough people proposing ways to monetize the amazing amount of content being written out there on the Long Tail.

I'll put my money where my mouth is. Who wants my dollar per month? Craig, I've already told you I'd pay to read ShysterBall. River Ave. Blues, ditto. I would certainly have to pare down on the number of feeds I subscribe to, but the money those people would make from the subscription fees would make their content better. The best bloggers could make a living from writing and not have to work around a full-time job like many currently do.

You know why HBO is better than regular TV? Because in the late 60's Charles Dolan came up with the idea of a "Green Channel", to which people would pay to subscribe independently of their regular cable system. They had to overcome a massive churn rate initially, but look where the channel is today. 38 million subscribers. They eliminated the bullshit that an advertising-based system exists upon and got people to pay for the content.

Advertising is on the way out. No? You don't think so?

Do you have a DVR? I do, and for $10 a month every channel is HBO to me. I absolutely refuse to watch commercials, which is how they are supposedly "charging" me. The cable company is giving me the technology to basically steal from the channels they provide me. That is a sustainable model? (For the record, I was writing about this three years ago. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Anon.)

If you are like me, you are probably ahead of the curve and are only getting away with this because people who are older than us or less technologically inclined are still sitting through commercials. It won't last forever. People will still buy things without advertising. I pimp plenty of stuff in this space and don't get paid a dime for it. I'm just looking out for you Fackers and when I find something I like I feel the need to pass the word along.

People are so cynical that I don't think advertising makes much of a difference anymore. The communications are slicker, but our ability to tune them out far outpaces marketers ability to reach us. The only thing advertising is good for is awareness, but awareness does not equal purchase interest. Trust me, I work in market research.

I tune out advertising online and I'll take my headphones out during the commercial break on 1050 ESPN Radio too. I'm starting to listen to more podcasts like The Bronx View, KSK, On The DL, and the brand new Deadcast. In some ways, the content is better and there are no commercials. Stack those up and you are approaching a healthy portion of the work week. I'd pay for them too.

I'm not pretending to know where this is going. There are trillion variables and maybe people like Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky, who say charging for content will never work, are right. I'm not saying this for my own good, either. I've got a rough idea of how many readers we have and $1 a month from each of them wouldn't even begin to supplant my income, let alone our other contributors. I just think more people who have things that people value should jettison the free spirit of the internet.

Once upon a time there was Napster. Now there is iTunes. They found a way to bridge the gap between Wall Street and the Wild West, and on most levels, it works. There are ways to tame the internet, smart people just have to want to do it.

This Is Never Going To End

More tawdry tales from the Daily News:

Davis met Rodriguez in June of 2006 in a gym in Philadelphia, shortly after she opened a branch of her call-girl service in the City of Brotherly Love, sources said.

Davis told a friend the then-married Rodriguez asked her, "What are you doing tonight?"

I've gotta remember that one next time I'm at the gym.

That night, Davis told a friend, Rodriguez booked a two-hour "date" with one of her girls, who met him at the Four Seasons on Rittenhouse Square.

"He gave his real name," Davis told the friend. "The next day we found out who Alex Rodriguez was. The girl we sent freaked out. Her father (works for) another Major League Baseball team."

Hahahaha, he used his real name? Nice work, you marvelous moron.

Ron Mexico is already taken, but he could have gone with Juan Miami, perhaps? Leave your best fake name for A-rod in the comments.

In an e-mail exchange provided to The News by a former booker for Davis' Wicked Models, Rodriguez purportedly told Davis on Nov. 17, 2006: "Thanks for setting me up with Samantha. She was gorgeous. But she is not you. When can I see you you are gorgeous . . ."

Yeah, "gorgeous".

/vomits

She's gorgeous in that fake-titted, whorish, too much make-up, porn star way that just makes you want to take her home to mom.

/dry heaves

I'm sick of this already, so click through to read the pathetic [sic]'d conversations between the two. It's half hilarious, half disgusting and totally fucking mind-boggling when you consider that the asshole hitting on a madame of a whorehouse is going to make $32M this year.

I can't prove it to you, but I promise that if I was the highest paid athlete in any sport I would probably aim a little higher than trying to nail a hooker.

Some friendly advice for you, A-Rod... please buy a private island, stock it with hair dye, steroids, and a harem of muscly strippers/whores and fucking disappear forever.

Please?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chicks With Guitars

I posed this question a while back, but in light of the nasty guitar solo Susan Tedeschi just laid down during Southbound, it must be resurrected:
Here is the question: A chick ripping a guitar solo: Hot or Not?
Check out the look of pride on Derek Truck's face (and the one of surprise on Warren's) if you think I'm messing with you. With all due respect to Sampson, the answer is "Hot. Real, real hot".

As they were exiting the stage, this got picked up on Greg's mic:
"Thanks for letting me play man, it was fun" ~ Bruce Hornsby
Yes.

-----

Shut up, I had tons of other things I could have done with my Saturday night, but chose to watch this concert instead (not really, but I blame Meredith for making me start drinking at 2:00).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Derek Jeter Is Recession Proof

You thought A-Rod's 8,300 sq. ft. mansion in Coral Gables, Florida was sick? Derek Jeter is not impressed. (via Neil Best)

New York Yankees slugger Derek Jeter is building a behemoth of a mansion just a stone's throw from downtown Tampa.

Once completed, the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house on Davis Islands will be 30,875 square feet, according to Hillsborough County public records. To give you an idea of how big that is, the average Best Buy store is 39,700 square feet. That's also twice as big as the Bayshore Boulevard mansion of Lazydays RV SuperCenter founder Don Wallace.
To give you more of an idea of how fucking ridiculous and excessive that is, I grew up just down the street from this place. It's only 20,000 square feet, and supposedly cost $32.5M to build... in 1992. It has a glass elevator and a "mermaid bar", which has windows looking up into their indoor pool. The cobblestone driveway is heated and it leads to a split underground 12 car rotating garage. The house for their two Dalmatians was (and maybe still is) a scaled-down replica of the main building.

It gets more ridiculous:

Crafted from over 1,200 tons of Ithaca’s Llenroc Stone (the same material used to construct the Llenroc dormitory at Cornell University), this elegant home has a first floor master suite with his and her bathrooms, 15 fireplaces, $3.5 million worth of imported Scandanavian marble flooring, hundreds of unique hand-painted Portuguese tiles, a formal dining room featuring 24 karat gold guilded ceilings and moldings, walnut design inlaid hardwood floors, miles of mahogany moldings, a five-floor glass elevator, four galleries, and a servant’s kitchen with its own elevator.
Because 18 karat gold guilded ceilings just wouldn't do.

Click through here and look at the pictures. It's astonishing. I could go on longer, but you'd be better served Googling "Llenroc" (Cornell spelled backwards) because it will blow your mind. The story behind it is pretty interesting also. Al Lawrence, the man who built that monstrosity spent two months at the very end of his life in jail for fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion. It was only two months because his cancer was diagnosed as terminal and we was released to die at home (which he did in 2002). That seems fair.

Llenroc is excessive, garish, gaudy, decadent, ostentatious, ... yes?

Now make it 50% larger.

Because that's Derek Jeter's place. Imagine if A-Rod was building that home right now? People would want to burn him at the stake. What's the difference?

NCAA Tournament, Drankin', and Gamblin'

Today I took a personal day to watch the NCAA. There will be drinking, gambling on bodog, tv watching, and grilling. I will be updating this post throughout the day (or until I can't see the keyboard anymore) so stay tuned. Lets Go CUSE!!!!!

(42' Plasma, laptop w/ gambling capabilites, first beer of the day at 12:10)

2:10 PM - Take that Stephen A. Austin!
2:11 PM - Gus Johnson is the greatest announcer ever.

Betting Recommendations:
[Ed Note: Fack Youk in no way condones the degeneracy associated with gambling. All recommendations are for entertainment purposes only. If you think you have a problem, please call your local gambling addiction hotline...or don't, because we really don't care.]

1st Half - 2PM Games
Cornell vs. Missouri Over 67½
Temple +3

2nd Half - Noon Games

Cuse and SFA under 70
Marquette -2 and Tenn/OSU under 82.5 parlayed

1st Half - Noon games
Tenn giving -1
Cuse and SFA under 61
Kansas giving 5.5 and Marquette giving 3.5 parlayed

Welcome To The Fack Youk Hall Of Fame, Matt Taibbi

I don't care if the point of his article was to say that swamp donkeys like the Fackin' Youkah are undervalued because of their hideousity, as opposed to our new handsome(ly paid) first baseman. If you drop lines like these, you too, fair reader may recieve the honor of a terribly photoshopped (actually MS Painted) Fack Youk Hall Of Fame plaque. (h/t Simon on Sports)

Then there’s Kevin Youkilis. Youk has only three body parts, all hideously oversized: an enormous set of gnomish, bushy forearms; a massive, casaba melon–size white head; and a cauldronlike belly. He has a truly awesome bristle of thick red chin hair that makes his face look like a cross between a vagina and something out of The Hobbit.

>8

Whereas a guy like Teixeira was born with a swing so gorgeous you want to paint it, Youkilis fighting a middle reliever to a nine-pitch walk looks like a rhinoceros trying to fuck a washing machine.

Our inaugural inductee.

/sheds tear

It probably should have been Joba for throwing at Youk's head, or Manny for getting into a shoving match with him in the dugout, but both of those events predate our site's existence.

Congratulations, Matt. Come claim your prize of a drink on me at the Manhattan watering hole of your choice. Operators are standing by.

Come And Go Blues

The show started just before 8:30. And they opened with a live version of Little Martha backed by a slideshow of Duane and the early days.


At the beginning of Statesboro Blues, Derek's guitar wasn't working...

And then about three minutes later, it was my internet that wasn't working.

Awesome timing. It's not like I had been waiting for this for an entire week or anything...

That pretty much sums it up right there. I was running a cable and was connected to two different wireless networks that I usually steal from, so it wasn't just my issue. The whole area was down.

Even Billy in 4C couldn't help a brother out.

This felt exactly like the time when I was still playing online poker for a "living" and flopped four jacks at a final table. I had the second biggest chip stack in play and was about to run away with the tournament (provided my opponent didn't draw two perfect runners to a straight flush) when my internet shat out. Once the 90 second disconnect grace period was up, the other player, who could have had two pair or some bullshit, probably just made the minimum bet and my hand was automatically folded. By the time the connection came back 45 minutes later, my stack had been blinded down to a measly pittance and I ended up in 7th place.

Except that's not how this ended.

After almost two hours of watching the 'Zags zap the Zips and other NCAA Tournament action (which isn't a terrible consolation prize) the internet rose from the dead right in the middle of Good Morning Little School Girl.

Immediately after the song, Greg announced Clapton and they broke into Key to the Highway.

DreamsWhy Does Love Got To Be So Sad

Little Wing

Anyday

Encore Break:

Layla (Piano jam)

The two hours without internet were pretty brutal. Any two hours of my life spent indoors without access to broadband is inconvenient, but I had been looking forward to this and hyping it up for a week. And you know, the main reason that I bought Moogis was to be able to watch this show live.

On the other hand, what made this show so sick was Clapton, and I caught every note of the songs he stood in on. Not to mention that the song selection was awesome. I got my wish for Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, so tomorrow I'll be out on the town and will turn my password over to Cliff, who is probably the biggest Clapton fan I know. Enjoy it, homey.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go move my car which I spent two hours in searching for a spot last night, before I ended up parking on the same block I was on, on the same side of the street.