Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quick Hits and Links

By The Common Man

Because of the West Coast road trip the Twins are on and his recent forrays into single parenting while The Uncommon Wife has been away, The Common Man admits that he fell asleep several times during last night’s Twins game. And it wasn’t just nodding off. TCM consciously chose to lay down on the couch during the game, knowing what would probably happen. And he dropped off for a half-hour at one point (waking up for the top of the 9th) and then falling asleep again after Plouffe’s sac fly in the 10th and staying that way until 2:00. As such, TCM is tired and in no mood to write a long column today. Instead, you get this:

The Pirates are The Common Man’s second favorite team, thanks to the leftover love they inspired while he worked for them for two summers. But seriously, Come ON! After almost twenty years of losing, you’d think the team would have the slightest sense of humor about itself. But no. Instead of celebrating the fact that people in their town are inventing new ways to pay attention to the traditionally moribund franchise, they call bar patrons to complain about their absolutely hilarious promotions. And they warn employees and their families to stay away from that establishment. The Pirates could have chosen to allow the city of Pittsburgh to laugh with them and engender some additional good will. Instead, they chose to let the country laugh at them. Like we have been for 20 years. Some things never change.


The Common Man is starting to think there is actually something wrong with Hanley Ramirez. His line drive percentage is way down to 12%, his infield popup ratio is way up to 23%, and his GB/FB ratio is the highest it’s ever been. He’s also getting caught stealing at a higher rate so far, suggesting his speed may be down. Perhaps it’s in his swing or a health issue, but his play in 2011 is completely out of character for him. Small sample size caveats apply somewhat, but this is just completely out of sorts for him. TCM is worried.

It's been raining a lot, and Eno Sarris (of the absolutely essential NotGraphs) has a pretty comprehensive look at what teams and fans can do to entertain themselves while the rain comes pouring down.  Jousting!


As TCM laid out on Sunday, he could not care less about the Jorge Posada “controversy.” Yes, it’s likely the Posada handled the news he’d be batting 9th poorly. But even when they make $13 a year, ballplayers are human, and sometimes they don’t react well when things aren’t going their way. It’s also incredibly likely that, old and cranky and distracted, he wouldn’t have helped the Yankees that night anyway. So ultimately his begging out was a good thing for the Bombers. As long as this doesn’t become a habit, and Posada continues to say the right things about the incident, TCM says it’s a non-issue. Sadly, this seems to put TCM in the same camp as Murray Chass. So perhaps it’s time to rethink.



The news that the San Francisco Giants will be making an “It Gets Better” video is terrific. Professional sports often get a bad rap when people wonder whether an athlete can come out while playing. Part of that is self-inflicted, because of slurs used by Kobe Bryant, John Rocker, Roger McDowell, and others. But part of that is also a blanket assumption on our parts that, because sports clubhouses are macho and testosterone-driven, that they’re inherently anti-Gay. The truth is more likely that sports clubhouses are places where a lot of different cliques with different world-views interact with one another, but aren’t always mingling. It’s also true that most homophobia doesn’t survive actual first contact with a gay person, because it’s hard to discriminate and rip on a group of people that you actually like or at least can put a name and a face to. And it's true, as Charles Barkley says, that a lot of potential homophobia in the locker room would be overcome by a gay player who could produce.  That the Giants are reaching out to an important part of their potential fan base is excellent news for the Giants, for San Franciscans, for gay people, and for gay athletes. As if having one of them in the clubhouse could possibly be weirder than Brian Wilson and The Machine.


TCM may be in the minority here, but he still likes interleague play. Yes, it’s inherently unfair. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass, scheduling-wise. Yes, it diminishes a little of the novelty of the World Series. And yes, it highlight how much better the AL has been than the NL. But it also is really fun to have the Twins go to Wrigley Field. Or the Cubs go to Fenway. Or the Rays go anywhere that is not their home ballpark. And TCM really appreciates that the Twins play three games a year at Miller Park, which is just down the road a piece. If interleague play went away, The Common Man wouldn’t mind terribly. But he still gets off on it just a little.


This is the first time that anything good has ever been found by police in a swamp.


Baseball podcasts are great, but TCM has really been enjoying the WTF podcasts with comedian Marc Maron. Maron gets consistently interesting, funny, and moving interviews with huge names in comedy. Last week was especially wonderful, as Maron sat with the legendary Jonathan Winters. TCM came away amazed at the darkness that Winters draws from in his comedy, and Winters is still adept at slipping into and out of the characters that exist in his head. Also, this interview with Andy Dick made The Common Man hate the concept of Andy Dick roughly 85% less. Also, Conan. And Gallagher gets mad and walks out after being called out on his racist, homophobic bullshit.


Aaron Gleeman with exhibit #425 that closers are made, not born. Meanwhile, Matt Capps is making $7 million this year and Wilson Ramos has a 106 OPS+ while Twins catchers have an OPS+ of somewhere around negative-20. Good times.


Never, ever, ever should a manager be criticized for lifting a pitcher to bring in Mariano Rivera in a tight game in the late innings.


Finally, TCM put out a lot of stuff over Twitter regarding Harmon Killebrew, but didn’t write about it here (though Bill did here, and collected other people's stuff here). Aside from his amazing prowess as a hitter (573 homers, 6 home run titles, 143 OPS+), here are The Common Man’s favorite factoids:

  • Killebrew won his first home run title at just 23. So Justin Upton needs to get going.
  • Harm’s career batting average on balls in play was just .254. 
  • And in 22 years, he attempted just 37 steals, and was only successful 19 times. In 22 years. 22 years. 19 steals.

But most importantly, TCM wants to leave you with this, which encapsulates the way The Common Man, and so many others feel about “The Killer”: Harmon Killebrew-Hero, MVP, Leader. Also played baseball.

1 comment:

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Great post. Just as good as the one when TCM isn't so tired.

Agreed with everything. Which is kind of surprising.