Archive for October, 2013

→ Can we all agree that Dan Shaughnessy should never write about the Red Sox?

Here is what he wrote in February of this year:

But here’s the reality, people: The 2013 Red Sox might be really bad. Worse, they might be really boring. Anybody talking about baseball in your neighborhood these days?

The first base situation is alarming. Mike Napoli is an old 31, hit .227 last year, has played only 133 games at the position, and has a degenerative hip disease. Don’t be surprised to see Lyle Overbay as an alternative.

The outfield looks like Gomes in left, Ellsbury in center, and Shane Victorino in right. Not exactly Rice, Lynn, and Evans, is it? Gomes is a winner but is best deployed as a platoon player. Ellsbury’s power numbers were way off last year. Victorino looks like a guy whose best days are behind him. Better hope he’s not Kevin Stevens or Joseph Addai.

Sorry. The juice glass is half-empty today. These guys could be really bad. And really boring. “Scrappy” doesn’t sell in Boston in 2013. Not after everything that’s happened. For $170 million, a little more prime-time talent would have been nice.

It is quite impressive how much he got wrong in a single piece. In fact, even his attempts to point out what he thought was a strength1 turned out to be misguided.

Essentially, if we were measuring predictions like we measure batting average, Shaughnessy would be Pete Kozma.


  1. The bullpen anchored by Joel Hanrahan. Yeah, that Joel Hanrahan

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→ David Schoenfield Chronicles Big Papi’s Career Path

David Arias? Really?

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→ How the Tar Heels Measure up Versus the Rest of the ACC

With college basketball season a little over a week away, it's time to start looking at how Carolina measures up against the rest of the ACC. C.L. Brown provides some quick notes to get you started.

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→ New Medals Unveiled for Princess and Tinker Bell Half Marathons at Disney Parks

That Enchanted 10K medal will be mine!

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→ When the Cardinals Should Just Walk Big Papi

Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs explains when the Cardinals should think about walking Papi:

In the bottom of the first, the Cardinals need to have fallen behind by a pretty wide margin in order to justify walking Ortiz. For example, they need to be down by five runs with two outs and a runner on second for the walk to Ortiz (who would be coming up bat for the second time in the inning!) to make sense. In the bottom of the second, much the same is true — the Cardinals would need to be down three or four runs (it is close) with one out and runners on second and third or two outs and a runner on second to walk Ortiz. As the game progresses, the number of situations in which intentionally walking Ortiz with a right-handed pitcher slated to face him and the following batters increases, but just slightly, and it is close. They mostly occur with one or two outs and runners on second and third, or two outs with runners on second or third.

The Cardinals would need to be behind (and again, I’m simplifying to avoid just listing every case): by at least three in the third, two in the fourth, or one in the fifth. By the bottom of the sixth, walking Ortiz with a righty on the mound is recommended even in a tie game with runners on second and third and one out or a runner on second and two outs. In the seventh, with second and third occupied and one out, the Cardinals might even want to walk Ortiz if they are up by one.

As you can see, the answer is not as clear as “just walk him every time he comes to the plate”.1


  1. Which, unsuprisingly, is what some people are suggesting 

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Big Papi’s World Series Dominance

Big Papi’s unbelievable World Series has led to a number of articles trying to quantify and otherwise explain how unstoppable he has been.

For those of you who want a pure recap of that stats Papi has been putting together there are a couple of pieces from ESPN that talk just about his numbers.

Bill Chuck, over at Gammons Daily started the stories of Papi’s dominance before Game 5:

But in this constellation that GM Ben Cherington brilliantly assembled and Professor John Farrell manages, on this “team,” a description in the truest sense of the word, there has been no brighter star this World Series than David Ortiz.

I often refer to the consummate designated hitter and sometime first baseman as “Diva” Ortiz. He preens, has baseball’s slowest tater trot, and demands special attention. “Diva” is only inaccurate because I should use the masculine “divo.” However, it is most accurate in that this person is also considered an outstanding talent in the world in which she or he is participating.

I honestly believe this brilliant World Series performance by Big Papi has nothing to do with the St. Louis Cardinals. I don’t care who he might be facing, David Ortiz is a man on a mission: the ring.

and then pointed out how close Papi is to historical milestones as Game 6 approaches:

Ortiz will have either one or two games to enter into the elite territory of batters who have had 12 or 13 hits in a single Series

Names like Stargell, Brock, and Clemente populate that list.

Tom Verducci also attempted to put Papi’s World Series performance in historical context, both in Boston and nationally:

On the brink of such team history, one man has elevated his stature in baseball and in the deep-rooted culture of the Sox more than anyone else. It might not quite be Ruthian what is going on here, but it’s the next best thing to see a garrulous big man becoming a legend of the fall.

It was eight years ago that the Red Sox presented David Ortiz with a plaque that called him “the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox.” Ortiz’s performance in this series has moved him far beyond plaques. It is pushing him toward having his number hang from the right-field roof at Fenway, having a statue outside the old ballpark and an official spot in the namesake town of his clubhouse nickname: Cooperstown.

With three more hits in a 3-1 Game 5 victory, Ortiz is batting .733 (11-for-15) in this World Series and .476 (20-for-42) in his World Series career — the best average in history among all men who have at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic.

Brian MacPhereson from the Providence Journal talks about both the statistical impact Papi has had, as well as his leadership:

The statistics are astounding, eye-popping, laughable — take your pick of incredulous adjective. He’s hitting .733 with a .750 on-base percentage and 1.267 slugging percentage. He singled twice and doubled in Game Five, and his slugging percentage went down.

And that’s after Ortiz pulled the entire Boston team aside in the middle of Game Four to deliver a passionate pep talk immediately before Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home run. There’s nothing that has happened in the World Series that the Red Sox can’t credit to Ortiz.

If you prefer to look at things on a micro-level, then this in-depth look at one at-bat from Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs is probably right up your alley:

If you were watching, you understand, because the extended at-bat felt a little like theater. There was nobody on and there was one out, but it felt like a moment with substance and meaning. It felt like it meant more than it did, and Wainwright got an ovation after Ortiz was retired. The thing is, any pitcher should probably get an ovation at this point if he’s able to get Ortiz out. In the first inning on Monday, Ortiz doubled on the first pitch. In the fourth inning, he singled on the second pitch. I don’t need to tell you about his numbers in the World Series; I’ll just remind you that those numbers don’t include what could’ve been a Game 1 grand slam. Ortiz has been the story, so pitching to Ortiz must be a story as well.

Lastly, in a Evan Drellich piece detailing all of Papi’s accomplishments, it is this quote that stands out:

“I was born for this,” Ortiz said.

After how he has played so far this World Series, it is tough to argue with that.

→ New Disney World dining reservation cancellation policy changes delayed

I wonder if they started realizing this might cause some problems over the holidays.

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→ The end of the “Big Two” era as Diane Nelson confirms DC Entertainment relocation to West Coast

What it does mean is that the “Big Two” publishing era is officially over—which has been true for a long time, but will now be official. For 50 years, freelancers ran from one side of town to another, from Marvel to DC, looking for work, finding safe haven when they got on the bad side of one editor, and running back when things looked better. That freelance culture hasn’t existed in a while except as a romantic notion, but it did still exist.

I think I would be more excited about a top-down change where writers instead of editors can decide how certain things happens in stories.

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→ Apple confirms Mavericks giveaway wasn’t a one time thing, future updates will also be free

Not a surprising move, but a welcome one.

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→ Craig Breslow Talks about HIs World Series Performance

Writing at his WEEI blog:

At this point of the postseason, I feel like I have some work to do to get back to where I need to be. There’s not a specific adjustment to make so much as a need to catch my breath and get back to what has worked for six months. It’s not always easy, as these games can magnify problems given that the amplitude is increased, but with all of that in mind, I’m getting called upon to do a job and I didn’t do it.

Certainly, it becomes a little bit easier to take a step back after a win like Game 4 than it was after Games 2 or 3. When you lose, you start to think about your performance and the way it contributed to a team loss. Here, I don’t have to worry about how it contributed to a team loss. I will consume myself with my personal performance and how to improve it, but most importantly, we won the game. I need to be better, and I’m confident that I will be, but the takeaway from Game 4 is that we moved one step, one win, closer to our ultimate goal. I could sleep last night knowing that.

I hope the Red Sox have a big enough lead that they can get Breslow some work. Anything less than 4 runs though, and I will be really, really nervous.

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→ Changes to NCAA’s Block / Charge Rule

Under the revised block/charge call in men’s basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass. If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul.

Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.

It should be interesting. The change does not seem to be that large, but I hope it makes the “default” call a block instead of a charge.1


  1. Most importantly, I hope it drops Duke’s lame charge call numbers significantly. 

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→ Diagon Alley to apparently open in ‘spring’

Last time “spring” meant June 18. This time, I am hoping it means mid-May.

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→ Healthcare.gov crashes again in the middle of pivotal Congressional oversight hearing

Of course it did. What a disaster.

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→ Fantastical 2 for iOS Now Available in the App Store

The updated version of Fantastical is now available in the App Store1. It is available for a launch-day sale price of $2.99.


  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link.) 

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→ Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

Is this really a surprise to anyone? I know President Obama said you could keep your plan, but did people really believe him? I thought people voted for this because they want socialized medicine. There is no way people actually believed this system would work, did they?

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→ It’s HSBC Champions week, which means we get more of these incredible photos

Jason Dufner is amazing.

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→ Boston Red Sox one win from Fenway fireworks

Jayson Stark explains the historical impact of a World Series win at Fenway:

Here, though, is what hasn’t happened before — at least not in the lifetimes of these men in uniform. Or the lifetimes of their parents. Or, very possibly, the lifetimes of their grandparents:

This time, these Red Sox are one win away from winning the World Series at Fenway Park. And that, friends, is a feat for the history professors in our midst, much more so than for the tailgaters and talk-show callers and sports nuts in our midst.

I am so excited, and so nervous, for Wednesday night. I have no idea what to think. I want the game to start now.

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→ Clemson Releases Facility Renderings

These look really, really impressive. I hope the real-life, constructed versions look this good.

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→ Jeff Passan with the Line of the Night on Lester’s Performance

Lester limped off the field with two outs in the eighth, happy to yield to Uehara for the final four outs. He faced pain and pressure and kicked their ass like he did cancer seven years ago and, best of all, he sent Boston home for a Game 6 that will turn Fenway Park into a ceaseless ball of energy.

Brilliant.

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→ Fangraphs’ Breakdown of Lester’s Game 5tart

Jeff Sullivan explains just how dominant Lester was last night. What a performance.

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