Monday, September 12, 2011

Thoughts, Links, and Errors

By The Common Man

Forgive The Common Man if his mind is crazy elsewhere lately. As you may know, he is expecting the second child to arrive via stork any day now. As such, TCM is a bit scattered. So what you get are a bunch of random thoughts bound together, sometimes in response to links, with nary a thought to segues and transitions. Enjoy.

Among the names The Uncommon Wife has rejected for our second child, should it be a boy: Henry, Aaron, John (Jack), and Harmon. Admittedly, TCM didn’t do much to disguise that last one, and she caught on. Thus, TCM didn’t bother asking about Roberto.

Aaron Gleeman asks whether this is the worst season in Twins history. The Common Man thinks so, but this is not the worst team in club history. For one thing, the quality of this team should have been much better, but injuries sapped the club of much of its effectiveness. The worst team, as far as TCM can figure is the 1999 club that lost 97 games and tried to pass off LaTroy Hawkins (10-14, 6.66), Mike Lincoln (3-10, 6.84), and Dan Perkins (1-7, 6.54) off as starting pitchers, let Benj Sampson put up an 8.11 ERA in 71 innings, suffered through a 38 OPS+ season from Christian Guzman, and whose lone All Star was Ron Coomer (.263/.307/.424) primarily as a 1B. But while the 2011 Twins team is much better than the horrible band of misfits forced to travel the country together in ’99, their season is a much larger failure, given the level of talent on hand and the expectations surrounding the club.

Despite its failings, however, the club has definitely accomplished much. For instance, Drew Butera has managed to post the 16th worst batting average of any player in baseball history with more than 225 plate appearances. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, as Bill Bergen shows up on the list three times above him. Butera’s OBP is even more atrocious, as he currently holds the 9th worst mark of all time among players with more than 225 plate appearnces. Bergen again dominates the list above him, holding five of the top seven spots. Butera could, conceivably, slip down to #8 before all is said and done. Aside from Bergen, the only players above Drew are Tony Pena Jr, who became a pitcher, notorious flameout Brandon Wood, and an old turn-of-the-century catcher, Jack Ryan.

Also, with just four more errors in their last 16 games, the Twins will have made their most miscues since 1986, when they had 118 errors as a team. Fielding percentage and errors are a horrible way to judge a club’s defense, but the team also has the lowest Defensive Efficiency rating in the American league. Once upon a time, The Common Man noticed the Twins were mired in the “pitching and defense” mindset in an increasingly offense-oriented league. TCM hoped that the Twins were falling far enough behind the curve of progress so as to eventually actually be at the forefront when the curve came back around. Alas, now that the rest of the league favors young, athletic players and defensive contributions, it seems like the Twins are once again, as they always have been, wearing last Fall’s fashions.

Speaking of dubious achievements, yesterday Jim Leyland set the Tigers record for inserting the same reliever into a game in the 9th inning with the lead, and having that reliever not blow the game. Good job, Jim Leyland!

The Common Man is a regular reader of NotGraphs, the whimsical kid sister of FanGraphs, and has especially enjoying their regular feature, Inserting Dick Allen’s Name Into Works of Literature. Today, Patrick Dubuque turns the feature on its head, inserting literature into the works of Dick Allen. The results are spectacular.

Also on Notgraphs, Bradley Woodrum produces pictorial evidence that the Tampa Bay Rays are CosPlay masters. The Common Man will not rest until the entire Tampa Bay Rays team is photographed dressed as the Hot Cops from Arrested Development. Joe Maddon can be the construction worker…for some reason.

The Cubs are searching for a GM, and it sounds like owner Tom Ricketts would really love to pry Theo Epstein away from Boston. Yeah, that’s totally happening. The Common Man is sure Theo can’t wait to leave his extremely high-paying job that he’s ridiculously successful at, in which he has almost complete autonomy thanks to a smart owner, in his hometown, where (TCM imagines) he can’t even buy his own drinks anymore to go to another city, where no one knows him, where the media atmosphere is just as poisonous, and the team is a perpetual cellar-dweller under relatively new management. Good luck with that.

Via David Schoenfield (or, more probably, the headline writers at comes TCM’s newest most favorite obnoxious and horrifying term yet: “Call Shot.” TCM supposes this is meant to mean that Schoenfield is calling his shot when he’s picking the Rays to come back and take the Wild Card away from Epstein’s Red Sox. However, Schoenfield doesn’t account for their upcoming schedules which, as Craig Calcaterra points out, have the Rays facing the Yankees seven times, while the Red Sox get seven against the Orioles. Therefore, “Call Shot” is going to be TCM’s new catch phrase for when someone makes an against the grain prediction that’s sure to go wrong, simply so they can say they’re going against the grain. Steve Berthiaume, for instance, could have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble this Spring if he’d just written “Call Shot: the Astros will win the NL Central.” At that point, we can see Bert’s pick for what it was, an attempt to be different at the expense of expertise, accuracy, and intellectual honesty, and go back to our daily routines without feeling the need to mock him incessantly (though that can be fun too).

The hat controversy last night over the New York Mets game is largely a symbolic one, with no real-world consequences, but it makes TCM angry nonetheless. It’s a relatively simple thing for baseball to allow the Mets to wear NYPD and NYFD hats to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary, despite the rule being invoked to keep uniforms standardized. Baseball has made exceptions in the past, including in the wake of 9/11 itself, and the concern that MLB would suddenly have to allow all teams to commemorate local tragedies with special hats rings especially false, given the gravity of event in question and how rarely this request has been made over the past 10 years. Baseball’s decision to ban the Mets from wearing the hats, going so far as to come into the dugout and take an FDNY cap off the head of David Wright in the middle of the game, is tone deaf and idiotic at best, but more likely reeks of the rankest greed over merchandising rights. Shame on Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and Joe Torre. Damn them for their stupidity and lack of respect. There aren’t many things more important than baseball in this world, but this was one of them.

Finally, on a lighter note, you have spoken, and you have determined that “buying her a washing machine” is the baseball equivalent of signing a reliever to a 3-year contract. The Common Man is sure we’ll all appreciate that joke being driven into the ground again and again this offseason on this website and on the Twitter.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

What a fantastic post. I enjoyed reading this and smiled throughout. And no, though his comment sounds like something you'd see in spam comments, it's really how I feel bout it.

Richard said...

On the "Call Shot": its worth pointing out that Schoenfield predicted at the beginning of the season that the Phillies would not make the playoffs this year. Despite the fact that his own analysis showed them winning 92 games, and making the playoffs. Maybe a bobble head David Schoenfield should be in the works?