Monday, April 12, 2010

Off Day Linkaround

Make of the above picture what you will. Use your imagination. Create a caption if you'd like.

Now, from elsewhere in the intertubes:
How should Curtis Granderson reply to his first roll call when he takes the field tomorrow? Here's your chance to tell him yourself.

Greg at Pending Pinstripes took a numerical look at the Gardner and Thames platoon in left field. One of them came out slightly ahead but you're going to have to click through to find out who.

'Duk over at Big League Stew doesn't care for the Yankees' complaining about Evan Longoria's catwalk single yesterday. He says (somewhat tongue-in-cheek):
But if the Yankees really don't like the rule, then let them pay for the new Rays ballpark that St. Petersburg-area taxpayers don't seem interested in footing.
How about we let them play at lovely George M. Steinbrenner Field instead? Then they might actually sell some games out!

After he pretty much blew the game yesterday, DRays Bay defends the use of Randy Choate, citing his high groundball rates and the opportunity for a double play with Jorge Posada at the plate. Good idea, really bad execution.

Our buddy Ross discussed a few of the changes that have been made to the Stadium over the winter.

Joe Posnanski dove into the pace of play issue, and it turns out that Yanks/Sox battles are even longer than the article in Business Week said, averaging 3:39 last year. The post is packed with interesting numbers and other nuggets.

On Saturday, Ben from River Ave Blues explained how the City was able to save part of Gate 2. Also via Mr. Kabak, here are some pictures of the famous Joe DiMaggio quote on the outside of the Stadium crumbling to the ground. Ouch.

Bonus points to the person who can find the most factual errors in this post.

The Blue Jays (you know, the team we all picked to finish last in the AL East) are leading the division. If you need to be reminded why they doesn't matter, Joe Pawlikowski will set you straight at FanGraphs.

The hilarious DJ Gallo rounds up the best and worst MLB stadium giveaways of 2010. Was anyone at Citi Field on Saturday to snatch up a fabulous free Mets scarf??!?!

David Pinto notes that compared to the first week of the 2009 season, offense this year is slightly lower. The reason? Teams have hit 30 points lower with runners in scoring position.

Excellent news: FanGraphs now has John Dewan's +/- and the Hardball Times Revised Zone Ratings freely available on their site. Although they are all imperfect, the more defensive ratings we have, the closer we will be to accurately determining as player's defensive skill level.

At The Hardball Times, JT Jordan looks at the differences between UZR and +/- and there is considerable disagreement. Mark Teixeira is one of the players who scores high on Dewan's system but low on UZR. FanGraphs looks at the differentials, how else, graphically.

Also at THT, Matt Lentzner interviewed Morgan Ensberg about some of the finer points of hitting in the Big Leagues.

Torii Hunter gave Hideki Matsui a new nickname, which combines his old one dating back to Japan with the roundabout name of his new team.

Drunk Jays Fans put together a guide to attending Opening Day at the Rogers Centre. Even if you're not going to be there today, it's worth reading for A) DJF's usual vulgar levity and B) tips that you can use any day of the year.
That's about it for us today. We'll leave you with a smooth jazz adaptation of Mariano Rivera's entrance song. You won't know whether to be psyched or soothed.

Opposites Attract

Via Aaron Gleeman over at NBC, rumors indicate that Josh Beckett is engaged to an actual rocket scientist that he went to high school with:
Now, it appears that Beckett and his future bride both graduated in 1999 from Spring High School in Spring, Texas. So reunited high school sweethearts? Perhaps.
Has he's been holding onto the necklace she made him in 11th grade art class for the last 12 years? Maybe.
He went into the minor leagues after graduating and she left Texas for Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 2004. While working at Boeing - right out of college - she scored a Master of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering from University of Southern California.
While I wouldn't dount that their relationship is held together by a deep curiosity for exploring what lies beyond the Earth's atmosphere, Josh Beckett doesn't exactly exude intellectualism. What would this unlikely couple be analogous to? We took the liberty of playing matchmaker and paired up some other Red Sox with their most antithetical future wives:
Yours in the comments.

There Might Be Some History Between Mo And Joe West

Good morning Fackers. The first week of the season is in the books, and for all the gnashing of teeth over Javy Vazquez' performance Friday, slow starts by Mark Teixeira and Nick Johnson, and Marcus Thames' defense, things are pretty good. The Yanks went 4-2, on the road, against what figures to be their two toughest opponents in the American League.

Off the field, the week's big story was the comments long time umpire Joe West made to the Bergen Record regarding the pace of Yankee-Red Sox games. To me though, the most surprising part of the story was not that a veteran umpire would publicly single out two teams for their pace of play, but that Mariano Rivera, who's about one hundred times more likely to blow a save than he is to court controversy, was the first player to respond to West's comments, and that he responded harshly.

I was pondering all of that as I did some yard work Saturday morning. While I don't disagree with Mo at all, I found it highly uncharacteristic of him to speak out like that. Then I thought back to a story told to me a couple years ago.

The morning after the Giants defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, I boarded a plane to Phoenix. I was a day late and several hundred (thousand?) dollars short for the feature event, but had a business trip planned nonetheless.

I was staying at a resort in Scottsdale, and one night upon returning there, I decided to hit up the hotel bar for a night cap. As I entered the lobby, I observed several signs adorned with the MLB logo, reading "Welcome Umpires". As it turned out, the World Umpires Association was holding their annual meeting there.

Entering the bar, I met Marty Springstead, a long time American League umpire who retired in 1985 but worked as an umpiring supervisor until his termination this past off-season. Springstead was a friendly guy, and introduced me to a few of the other men in blue who were in the room: Richie Garcia, who made the infamous call on the Jeffrey Maier home run and later lost his job as part of the mass umpire resignations of 1999; Jim Wolf, brother of Brewers' pitcher Randy Wolf; Derryl Cousins, and Jim West.

Now, my recollection of that evening isn't exactly airtight, and it was a brief conversation. But in light of the comments made by West and Rivera last week, I think it's worth recounting here.

I spent a few moments speaking with West and Cousins. When it came up that I am a Yankee fan, West immediately told a story of a playoff game in Yankee Stadium during which he worked the plate. If I recall correctly, West made some comments as to the pace of the game. What I do specifically recall is West saying that late in the game Joe Torre summoned Mariano Rivera from the bullpen.

Apparently, Mo squeezed in a couple extra warm up tosses in the pen after he had been waved in. So when he got to the mound, West indicated to Mariano that he was only allowed six warm up tosses, rather than the customary eight. When Mariano protested, West informed Mo that he was docking him the two extra pitches thrown in the pen. West also made a comment indicating that such gamesmanship was common practice with Mariano.

Clearly, this is just one story, about one game. But why would Joe West, upon meeting a complete stranger, at the mere mention of the Yankees, amongst all the stories he had accumulated in twenty nine years of umpiring, choose that story to tell? And why would Mariano Rivera, after fifteen years in the daily cauldron of the New York media, with all the various issues and controversies that have surrounded the Yankees during that time, choose Joe West's comments about the pace of play as the one issue about which to speak out? Could it be that there's more history between these two than meets the eye?