Monday, April 19, 2010

Off Night Links

[Again via 30fps]

Yet another baseball-less night. Here are a few things to help pass the time.
Navin Vaswani, better know on Twitter, in the blogoverse and on occasion in our comment section as "eyebleaf" is doing a project for the Toronto Globe and Mail during which he'll travel by bus and visit all 30 Major League ballparks in 60 days. He's a Jays fan and filed his report of yesterday's Yankees and Rangers game from the refreshing perspective of an outsider. Tonight, he's off to see the Mets play the Cubs at Citi Field before he continues his journey. If, like me, you are extremely jealous of the awesome trip Navin is embarking on, you can keep up with his dispatches here.

+100 to Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk for this headline.

Will Leitch has an excellent feature in New York Magazine about advanced defensive metrics awesomely-titled "Databases Loaded".

Both Joe Posnanksi and Larry from IIATMS took a look at the Forbes Business of Baseball Rankings. It's really staggering how much more money the Yankees make than everyone, particularly at the gates.

Sam Dolnick of the New York Times wrote a piece about the street named after Thurman Munson. There's a great quote from Munson's widow, Diana, in it:
“He wasn’t about the big superhighway and mainstream streets,” she said. “It fits his personality so much more that it would be an out-of-the-way street and be something that not a lot of people would embrace.”
In conjunction with his new gig at RotoGraphs, Mike from River Ave. Blues made an appearance on FanGraphs Audio this weekend to talk about fantasy baseballing.

Last week, a message informing people of a Metro North train with service to Yankee Stadium was accidentally replaced with a warning of a bomb threat at several stations. Oops.

The Wire + Baseball = Win.

More Soxenfreude, this time from Charles P. Pierce who thinks that it's not too early to panic over the Red Sox. As much as I'd like to agree with him, it is. We're only through 7.5% of the season and although they've stumbled out of the gate, they're going to find their way soon enough.

Morgan Ensberg wrote a post at his blog this weekend about the real reason the pace of play in the MLB is so much slower than it used to be: Bud Selig. Not really, it's the commercial breaks and FOX, ESPN and TBS get an extra 30 seconds every time. But the players are only allotted 8 seconds of at bat music because that's the real menace.

Dave Cameron, who just joined FanGraphs full time, talks about the Mariners' baserunning so far this year and attempts to draw the line between aggressive and reckless.

Ubaldo Jiminez threw a no hitter this weekend, which is cool and everything, but he had six walks and needed the 10th most pitches of the Retrosheet era to do it. It's still an impressive feat without a doubt, but wouldn't, say, a two hit, two walk complete game shutout technically be better?

An interesting note from that game: Matt pointed out that Jiminez started throwing exclusively from the stretch after the 6th inning and didn't give up a walk after that.

Sagiv from Fire Jerry Manuel took Jon Heyman to task for saying that Andy Pettitte is going to the Hall of Fame for pretty much the same reasons he said he wouldn't vote for Bert Blyleven.

Speaking of firing Jerry Manuel, Matthew Carruth at FanGraphs took him to task for allowing not only holding back Francisco Rodriguez from pitching until the 19th inning on Saturday, but letting him warm up in every single inning before that, throwing over 100 pitches. Warm up pitches aren't imaginary, Jerry, they tax pitchers' arms too.

Do the Mets need Jesus in their lives? Mike Francesa doesn't see why he would choose them over any other team in the division.

There are parallel characters in The Sandlot and Reservior Dogs? You bet.
That's all for tonight. Catch you in the AM.

Rays Sweep Sawx, Ruin Patriots' Day

[Screengrab via Schiff, courtesy of 30fps]

It wasn't an especially enjoyable Patriots' Day for the Fenway Faithful, as the Sawx were already losing 6-0 by the time high noon rolled around. John Lackey got pounded, allowing 8 runs in 3 1/3 innings, the biggest blow coming in the form of a 3 run homer to B.J. Upton that Bill Hall ran into the wall, ribs first, trying to catch. Jeremy Hermida broke up Jeff Neimann's shutout with a two run shot in the 7th inning, but it was too little, too late.

The Rays won 8-2, extended their winning streak to 7 and their TV crew captured a most exquisite visual representation of Soxenfreude in the process.

New Poll: Yankee Fans Are Liars

When I first saw the Toyota text poll pop up during the second inning of yesterday's game, I predicted to a few of my buddies that 70% of people would answer "Yes", knowing that the actual proportion of people still in the stands after 20 innings would be nowhere near that. The actual results?

[Sample size note: For all we know, 8 people texted in and only one of them (12.5%) said "no" but given the size of YES's audience, we'll assume that it's north of 100, making it relatively stable for analysis]

Pretty astonishing, right? The results bear no relation to reality whatsoever. Just look at how many people were still at the Mets vs. Cardinals game on Saturday night in the 19th inning compared to how many were there in the first:

You can't see the whole stadium, but it's probably safe to assume that the upper deck was even more sparsely populated given that people tend to move down to better seats as others leave. Saying that a quarter of the fans were still there would be fairly generous. And that game took place on a Saturday night, so it wasn't like most people had to get up for work in the morning.

So why is the poll so egregiously wrong?

First off, the sample is biased because it depends on people to volunteer to pick up their phone and take part in it. It's called participation bias. A text poll is always going to suffer from this type of error (as do online surveys, to a lesser degree), but if you wanted to get a better answer and still use a survey method, randomly asking people in the stands (and not at home) would give you more accurate results.

Furthermore, the average age of text polls are always going to skew younger and young people are the the ones who are more likely to actually stay for the game. Your grandfather probably isn't going to pick up his Droid and dial 58772 and there's a good chance that's he's gone long before the second seventh inning stretch rolls around.

Also, it's more likely that someone would text in to say "yes" as opposed to "no" since affirmative and/or positive answers are better at coaxing people to take part. Saying that you would leave early from an exciting game isn't something people are keen on admitting to because they think it makes them look like less of a fan. Surveys attract people by allowing them a chance to offer their opinion, so when they are somewhat ashamed or embarrassed by it, they are less likely to go out of their way to give it.

Most importantly, though, the question deals with stated intent, something that surveys often can't measure effectively. In a vacuum, I'm sure that people would like to stay and see all 20 innings of a game. It sounds great in your mind ("What an epic game!", "I'd never leave in the middle of it") but in actuality, there are a ton of small inconveniences that you don't bother to take into consideration.

It becomes uncomfortable to sit in the same crappy plastic seats for over 7 hours, especially when they stopped serving beer in the middle of the 7th and most (or all) of the other concessions stands are probably shut down as well. Of course people are going to claim that they would stick it out when they are sitting on their cushy couch watching the third inning of a game on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but when they are at the park, stomach growling, legs falling asleep, and eyelids seemingly increasing in weight, it's easy to turn to the person next to you and say "Do you wanna get the hell out of here or what?". Staying for an entire marathon extra inning game is a classic example of something that's "easier said than done" and surveys can only measure the "said" part.

So perhaps the headline was a little misleading. It's not that people are exactly lying; most aren't willfully misrepresenting their positions. This is just an example of a time when a survey question has no correlation with reality. I don't know if it's a bad question, necessarily, because no one is basing any decisions on the outcome of it, but the results certainly don't reflect the truth in any way shape or form.

Marathon Monday Morning Matinee

Good morning Fackers. While the Yankees have an off day today, there are eight games happening over the course of the day. Amongst them are seven night games, and one morning game. Two days after finishing two games in one night, the Red Sox will play their annual Patriots' Day morning game, with the first pitch slated for 11:05. If the Rays manage a sweep, the Sox will suffer their fourth loss in a span of about forty two hours.

There are a number of things I miss about being a college student. Today is one of the days I miss the most. Patriots' Day gave us a three day weekend, and though we didn't need it, and excuse to party. That it happened just as the weather was getting nice and the school year was winding down was an added bonus. The cherry on top was that tailgating rules were in force, meaning that nearly all of Lower Campus at BC turned into one large outdoor party while the Boston Marathon trudged by on Commonwealth Avenue.

My junior and senior years, the Yankees were in town for the morning game. Though they didn't win either contest, it was still a treat to be able to watch a Yankee game while stranded in enemy territory. And of course, by the end of both of those seasons the Yankees had the last laugh over their rivals. Even the Yankee losses in those games didn't ruin the rest of the day's festivities for me. Jay and Joe were in attendance for the 2003 game and were treated to a Sox loss, even if Jay did have to watch it from behind a pole.

Though Patriots' Day isn't observed in Connecticut, it often fell during April vacation when I was growing up. Having a morning baseball game to watch on a day off from school was a nice break from the normal drudgery of whatever else was on TV on a weekday morning - even if it was a Red Sox game.

So as our New England neighbors observe the anniversary of the start of the American Revolution today, I'll tip my cap to them. I may not like their team, but as far as I'm concerned, the more hours of the day during which there is baseball to watch, the better.

Have You Seen This Man's Puppy?

What are the odds this guy drives a van with no windows in the back? How much candy do you think he keeps in his pockets at all times?

Maybe this fellow is just your average, run-of-the-mill weirdo, but going to a baseball game by yourself, playing with some sort of stuffed animal/puppet and sitting in the last row really screams "Amber Alert". I don't want to get on his bad side, but judging by those headphones I don't think he would know what a blog was if one got separated from its parents at a ballpark and asked him for help.