Friday, May 14, 2004
Moving DayAs you read this, I will be moving all of my stuff out of the dorm room I've been living in since last September. This is something I have done in years past, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it will not be a fun experience. For some reason, the worst parts of my personality come out whenever I am moving into or out of a dorm.
For testimony regarding this, you can ask my mom, although she won't be involved in this year's move-out (smart move on her part!). For some reason, when I am in the middle of packing and moving boxes from one place to another, every single little thing that could possibly annoy me annoys me, and not just a little. It builds throughout the day, to the point that my dad asking me where I want a box to be put will end up with my yelling at him or something equally as ridiculous.
But I can't help it. God love my parents, they know what they're in for heading into this every year. The good thing for my dad is that it is infinitely worse on move-in day, because at that point I have an entire year of school ahead of me. Right now, after move-out day, all I have ahead of me is about four months of watching baseball with my dog.
All of which is my little way of saying that, if you show up here Monday and there is nothing new for you to read, it is most likely because my father murdered me today. If this does happen, I urge authorities not to prosecute, as he will almost certainly be within his rights to beat me to death with whatever blunt object he can find after taking my abuse for however long he can take it before snapping today.
In the meantime, some baseball-related notes...
It has been an amazingly up and (mostly) down year for my man Johan Santana, but he turned in a beauty of start yesterday afternoon.
IP H R ER BB SO HR PITBefore you get too excited, you have to remember that the Mariners can't hit. Aside from that, it was a wonderful thing to see. He gave up six hits in seven innings, but all of them were singles. He only walked two, struck out five and, perhaps most importantly, did not give up a homer. He also made it through seven full innings with just 94 pitches, while throwing 66% strikes.
Santana has been wildly inconsistent and mostly sub par this year, but the funny thing is that his numbers right now aren't bad. The ERA is at 4.47, which is a little high, but not so high that a few more good starts won't get it into the 3.00s. And his record, thanks to run support and bullpen support, is 2-0. He's unbeaten!
Santana is still not quite right in my opinion, but he's closer than he was at the start of this year. I have put aside visions of him going 18-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 220 strikeouts for now, and I would be happy with some consistency for the rest of the season, along with him just staying healthy.
If you remember back to the start of the year, I wrote about the fact that, in Santana's first 2-3 starts, he was inducing a ton of ground balls, which was never his style. I suggested that this showed that something was wrong with him, or at least not right, as his style and pitch assortment is one that causes extreme flyballs.
Well, Santana is now back to getting everything in the air. Check out his totals after those first three starts:
GS IP ERA W L SO BB HR GB FB G/FNot bad, huh? Not all of those starts were good ones and I still don't think Santana has quite been himself during that span, but the numbers are sure nice to look at. In his first three starts, he had more than two groundballs for every flyball, whereas now he has 25% more flyballs than groundballs.
Along with Santana's good pitching lately, the Twins have actually gotten some offense from their shortstop, Cristian Guzman. Guzman is one half of the "Keystone Chasm", along with Luis Rivas. My personal nickname for Guzman, depending on if he's playing well or playing like he normally does, is either "Lesser of Two Evils" or "Crissy." Both work well.
A lot of the Twins fans I hear from are getting excited about Guzman's play this season, particularly of late. So far this month, Guzman is hitting an even .400 in 47 at-bats. For the season, his batting average is up to .328 in 31 games.
Now, don't get me wrong, Cristian Guzman hitting .328 two months into a season is always going to be reason for happiness. It is very difficult to not be a good offensive player with a .328 batting average. However, this is one of the emptiest .328 batting averages you will ever see.
Guzman has drawn six walks in 135 plate appearances and he has a total of eight extra-base hits in 125 at-bats. In other words, everything is based on him hitting a ton of singles (33 in 31 games, to be exact).
If he gets cold (or goes back to being Crissy), and his batting average drops to a still-very-respectable .280 or so, then his overall numbers would look like this: .280/.308/.368.
In other words, Guzman is doing just fine while hitting .328, but if he were walking and hitting for power like he is now and his average was "only" .280, his offense would be a sinkhole, just like it was last year.
Now, you may think that Guzman can hit .328 all year, but I doubt it. Even if he can keep the average at .300, his overall numbers right now would be .300/.328/.388. The average American League shortstop hit .269/.329/.414 last year.
In other words, Guzman's offense is so entirely based on dumping singles over the infield that he would be a below-average offensive shortstop even while hitting .300.
There was once a time to get excited about Guzman putting up a big batting average. It was the first-half of the 2001 season. He was hitting .308 -- 20 points lower than he is hitting now -- but he had a .507 slugging percentage. Back then, Guzman had seven homers, 22 doubles and 13 triples in 347 at-bats before the All-Star break.
Then, after the break, he hit .288/.316/.404, which is the very same high batting average emptiness that he's doing right now, just minus a few singles.
One final way to look at what Guzman is doing offensively is to separate hitting singles from everything else. Once you do that, you get this:
YEAR ISOP ISODISOP is Isolated Power, which is his slugging percentage minus his batting average. ISO is Isolated Discipline, which is his on-base percentage minus his batting average. In case you're wondering, there isn't a number in that above table that isn't awful.
Same old crappy Guzman, just more singles. He's actually hitting for less power than he did in 2002 or 2003, and he hit for almost zero power in both of those years.
I'm all for switch-hitting middle infielders relying on slapping the ball around the ballpark and racking up singles. You can be a very nice player doing that. These types of guys are called Luis Castillo. The problem is that guys like Castillo, the slap-hitters who make themselves into good player, actually take walks, and that is something Guzman has been completely incapable of doing in six years.
As for why I'm choosing now to pick on Guzman, when he's hitting .400 this month and .328 this season, I'm not sure exactly. I guess I'm just playing the part of the turd in the punchbowl.
Oh, and he's another one that'll make a nice, big splash: Guzman's DP partner, Mr. Rivas, is "hitting" .215/.259/.355. Exactly how many years must I be forced to put up with this, exactly? The funny thing is, when the Twins finally ditch Rivas, I bet you won't be able to find anyone who was a supporter of his. I should start documenting names for historical accuracy.
I can just see it now. "Who, me? No way, I never thought Rivas was gonna do anything. I've been saying they should get rid of him for years!" It'll be like the exact opposite of trying to find someone who thought the Marlins had a chance last year.
See ya Monday...
New York (Trachsel) +210 over Houston (Oswalt)
Anaheim (Colon) -135 over Baltimore (Ainsworth)
Total to date: -$1,000
W/L record: 41-58 (2-4 on Wednesday for -100, with one rainout.)
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Nothing to say, finallyI was literally up all night Monday (and into the morning Tuesday) finishing up some "final papers" for my journalism class. One was rather lengthy and somewhat amusing/entertaining/interesting, so I'm actually thinking about posting it here at some point. The papers weren't due until 4 p.m., but I was up at 7 a.m., looking like a zombie, so I figured why not just go turn them in.
After making my way through an empty journalism building to put the fruits of my late-night labor into my teacher's mailbox, I went back to my dorm and signed up for a "check-out time" with my CA (Community Advisor).
He was, I assume, sleeping, but I signed up for a time on the sheet taped to his door. Incidentally, would any of you find it awkward to be crouched down in the hallway of a dorm, writing something on a piece of paper taped to someone's door at 8 in the morning? I don't know why, but I felt like I was breaking some sort of law or something.
Anyway, I signed up for a time on Friday, at which point the CA, whom I have seen one time since September, will take a look at my (hopefully) empty, clean room and declare it fit for me to abandon. In the meantime, I had a whole lot of packing to do.
Unfortunately, I learned that I am physically unable to pack boxes full of stuff following more than 24 consecutive hours of being awake. So I went to sleep and set my alarm for 4:30 p.m. (how many of you have ever said that sentence?).
When I woke up, I went to work, packing all of my prized possessions into duffel bags and moving boxes. After about 20 minutes, I realized I was getting woozy and I wasn't sure why. I went over to the thermostat and noticed the temperature in the room: 84 degrees.
Now, keep in mind that I don't think it got above 75 outside yesterday. I'm lucky I didn't die. The funny thing is, one of the reasons I moved into this particular dorm, as opposed to the one I lived in last year, is that it has air-conditioning, or at least it's supposed to. I had the temp set to 65, so I guess it was off by less than 20 degrees, right?
Anyway, I'm tired, my internal clock is all screwed up, even more than usual, and it is still unbelievably hot in my room. All of which is a long way of saying there isn't much of an entry today. Sorry.
Before I go though, I wanted to share with you some new information I came across. Blogger, the thing I use to publish this website you're reading right now, recently upgraded and added a bunch of new features and stuff.
One of the things is something that shows you how many entries you've posted on your blog and how many total words you've written. Now, before starting The Hardball Times, I was known for my "Gleeman-length" blog entries. Over the last couple months they've been a whole lot shorter, in part because I have been publishing my longer pieces at THT. Still, I had a good 15 months or so of Gleeman-length stuff on this site.
So, wanna take a guess at the total number of words in Aaron's Baseball Blog history?
(Drumroll please ...)
Yes, that's right, 810,295. That's ... like ... almost a million. And that's before today!
There have been a total of 525 entries in this blog's history. Which means, despite some entries that were just quick notes of 50-100 words and the past couple months worth of entries that have been pretty short, I have averaged 1,543 words per entry.
A wise man once said, "If you can't win them over with quality, beat them over the head with quantity."
Actually, I just made that up about 30 seconds ago, but it's not bad. Can you tell I'm rambling? 1,000,000 words, here I come.
Oh, and in case you're wondering ... despite having nothing to say today, this entry? 695 words.
Florida (Willis) +145 over Houston (Miller)
Atlanta (Hampton) +160 over St. Louis (Morris)
Pittsburgh (Benson) +105 over Colorado (Estes)
New York (Glavine) +170 over Arizona (Johnson)
Cincinnati (Lidle) +130 over San Diego (Lawrence)
Philadelphia (Wolf) +125 over San Francisco (Schmidt)
Seattle (Garcia) -115 over Minnesota (Radke)
Total to date: -$900
W/L record: 39-54 (2-4 yesterday for -330. I stink, that's all there is to it.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
The Last DaysAs I enter the final days of the 2003-2004 school year (this week is Finals Week), I have come to realize exactly what it is that I will miss about living on campus when I go home for the summer.
I won't miss cooking for myself every night, which essentially meant choosing between fast food or a microwavable fettuccini alfredo. I won't miss waking up early for class, or having to stay up late writing papers and reading books.
I won't miss not being able to see my dog, or missing out on all the dinners and get-togethers my family has. I won't even miss having to live in a cramped closet of a room that alternated between not having any air-conditioning and not having any heat.
However, there is one thing I will miss greatly, and that is seeing all the people on campus promoting their various "causes."
From the guy screaming about Jesus in the middle of the "mall" to the Peta people at their table in the student union, with the video of "animal cruelty" playing three feet from the food court.
I'll miss the campus republicans and the campus democrats, the Nader-backers and the anti-war protesters. I'll even miss the people who, despite me walking past them every day for a whole year, I still haven't quite figured out what it is they are for or against.
There is nothing that brought a smile to my face at 8 a.m. quite like seeing two people at a "Vote John Kerry" booth, and hearing one of them start a sentence with "Oh, I beg to differ" as I walk by on my way to class. If anyone ever hears me start a sentence with "Oh, I beg to differ," I am officially giving you permission to punch me in the face. Hard. And you can kick me in the stomach if it's before noon.
Last Friday, I was walking home from class when I saw a big get-together in the open grassy area outside of my dorm. A big sign said, "Say No To Cruelty." I thought to myself, "That sounds like a pretty reasonable position to take."
Then I saw the fine print and it had something to do with "Vegans." I'll say one thing -- no one parties outside of a dorm at 11:30 in the morning quite like 20 Vegans. There was a CD player playing music at an almost-audible level and they even had what looked like chips and dip. Good times.
The thing is, when I see something like that, I get this weird craving to do exactly what the group is trying to stop people from doing. I'm not saying I want to beat up a dog when I walk past a Peta booth, but I will say that, a few hours after I saw the little Vegan bash, I went to dinner at a Chinese buffet and ate like 400 pounds of meat. And no vegetables. I figure that'll teach 'em.
So here's to all the protestors and supporters and activists and pacifists and whatever else these people trying to spread the word about whatever it is they are into want to call themselves. You'll be missed by at least one person this summer. Until next school year, of course, at which point I'll go back to giving you dirty looks as I walk by.
Pittsburgh (Wells) +105 over Colorado (Elarton)
Chicago (Wood) -150 over Los Angeles (Weaver)
Philadelphia (Millwood) -105 over San Francisco (Williams)
Cleveland (Sabathia) +190 over Boston (Martinez)
Seattle (Pineiro) +120 over Minnesota (Silva)
Toronto (Halladay) -185 over Kansas City (Reyes)
Total to date: -$570
W/L record: 37-50 (1-1 yesterday for +10. I actually won a little!)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, May 10, 2004
Alex-O?One of the coolest things about this whole blogging community is that you never quite know what someone looks like until you actually see them. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a picture of someone I've read or someone I've talked to on the web, only to have their actual looks completely differ from the mental picture I had of them.
It's actually kind of fascinating to me. Why do you picture someone a certain way when you've never seen them and never even seen them described physically? I know personally, my mental image of someone ends up being even remotely close to what they actually look like maybe 10% of the time.
Anyway, I saw a picture of one of my favorite bloggers, Alex Belth, for the first time over the weekend. Another of my favorites, Jay Jaffe, is also in the picture, but it is Belth's mugshot that I want to discuss here.
You see, it struck me almost immediately that Alex is a dead-ringer for one of the most talented performers in entertainment history. Take a look for yourself...
Okay, now you tell me...which one of those guys is one of the best bloggers around, and which one staples his testicles to his leg and stun guns himself until he passes out? (And no, that's not a trick question.)
That's right, Alex Belth and Steve-O, separated at birth.
Sadly, Jay Jaffe bears little resemblance to Johnny Knoxville. I did, however, hear (okay, start) a rumor that Alex Ciepley (the man behind the camera) is a Bam Margera look-alike.
New article at The Hardball Times: Three Games In May
New York (Baldwin) +145 over Arizona (Daigle)
Toronto (Hentgen) +110 over Kansas City (Anderson)
Total to date: -$580
W/L record: 36-49 (2-3 on Friday for -75. I can't buy a winning day at this point.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****