Monday, October 31, 2011

The TPA All-Hallow's Eve Team

By The Common Man

Happy Halloween, everybody! You know, The Common Man really has to apologize for not being around more over the last couple weeks. The newest addition to The Common Man’s family, a little baby Girl who shall be henceforth known as The Girl, coupled with The Boy’s growing precociousness, has played havoc with TCM’s schedule. Plus, if you didn’t know, TCM writes during the week on Getting Blanked now (his weekly post is up today on that site, comparing the 2011 season to classic horror movies) and is posting twice a week on NotGraphs (his first post, in which you can see his beautiful baby girl is here). So things are busy.

But TCM doesn’t intend to neglect The Platoon Advantage this offseason. He knows where he came from and who he has to thank for all of these recent developments. Plus, with Bill, Jason, and Mark around, our site will be churning out quality stuff all offseason. Anyway, in honor of All Hallow's Eve and our renewed acquaintance in these pages, please enjoy this team of All-time Movie Monsters:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

World Series 2011, Game Seven: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

What a World Series.

You have won!


First. Who needs Matt Holliday anyway? Allen Craig did Allen Craig things (opposite-field homer in the bottom of the third to make it 3-2) and also not-really-Allen-Craig things (taking a probable homer away from Nelson Cruz in the top of the sixth) and was rewarded by the baseball gods with an easy fly ball to him to close out the championship.

Mike Napoli is probably still my MVP of the series (I haven't looked at it carefully), but Allen Craig did some tremendous work in this game and Game Six, one of the most memorable contests of all time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

World Series 2011, Game 6: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

A few quick notes before I get to the actual game. First, a bad: I missed everything that happened from 9:00 pm to 9:20 pm Pacific. What that covers is Elvis Andrus's tenth inning single through the beginning of Lance Berkman's at-bat in the bottom of the tenth. What the play-by-play indicates is that I did not see Josh Hamilton with a big homer to put Texas in a position, again, to take the trophy, nor did I see Darren Oliver allow singles to Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay, of all people, leading off the bottom of the tenth, nor did I see Kyle Lohse laying down a pinch-sacrifice, nor did I see Ryan Theriot hit an RBI groundout, nor did I see Albert Pujols being intentionally walked. If any of those plays involved some sort of major good or bad that is omitted below, now you know why. (Hamilton's homer seems like a very likely Good that I cannot in good faith write about. Sorry, Josh.)


Second, another bad: I have no idea when I'm going to get to watch Game Seven. I'm committed to a housewarming party tomorrow night, and then I have to be in bed early so I can run a 5K (a benefit for Homeboy Enterprises) on Saturday morning. I will do a Three Good, Three Bad about the game, but it'll be quite late, and I'm not sure whether I'll read the score or try to keep myself pure for the delayed watching on Saturday afternoon.

Third, a good: GAME SEVEN!


First. David Freese hits a walk-off homer to keep his team's season alive. The ball looked good off the bat, the outfielders read it as a homer, and the dogpile commenced. For some reason, Freese's teammates felt it would be appropriate to tear his jersey completely from his body in the course of celebrating. I'm not sure what that was about, but hey, you get your kicks where you can. Then again, maybe it was justified because ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Eight Worst World Series Winners in History

By Bill

It's kind of easy to forget, considering how well they've played through the playoffs, about that whole amazing run that got the Cardinals to where they are right now, two home wins away from winning the World Series. For most of the year, the Cards were just about an average team (and in a pretty bad division), and ended with just 90 wins even after that great final stretch. Should they go on to win the Series, they'll be just the fourth team since the 162-game schedule was put in place in 1961, and the seventh ever (not counting seasons shortened by war or a strike), to have won the championship with as few as ninety wins.

Below is my own completely unscientific and highly subjective ranking of the eight "worst" teams ever to win it all. (I have no idea why it's eight: I guess that's just how many teams there were that I felt like writing about. Or, perhaps, because it's Nick Punto's uniform number. Either way.) Keep in mind that this isn't really intended as a slight, and any championship season is a great championship season: it happens that my favorite single-year team of my lifetime is on this list. Another thing is that, as you might imagine, relatively recent teams dominate the list: it's just a lot easier for a bad team to make it to, and therefore win, the Series if you don't actually need to be the best team in your whole league to qualify.

World Series 2011, Game 5: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

Close baseball!



First. Nick Punto hit a bloopy liner thing to left in the top of the second. I think David Murphy broke the wrong way initially, but then started in the right direction and wound up making a diving catch to end the inning. For some reason, Punto carried the bat with him all the way down to first. Upon seeing the Murphy catch, he Hulked out and smash-- no, I'm sorry, he Bruce Bannered out and tried to break his bat across his knee, only to fail miserably and grump his way back to the dugout.

I would recommend that any other middle infielders out there harboring illusions of being Bo Jackson work those issues out at home / on the couch. Just talk it out, guys, and go do what you do best: scrap.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Robots Now?

By Mark Smith

I’ve gone back-and-forth on how I feel about instant replay. Initially, I thought it was a complete overreaction to a couple New York home run calls on national TV (still do), and I figured everyone was just throwing a fit over nothing. We’ve had missed calls in the past, so what’s the big deal? But smart people made the argument that we shouldn’t be okay with missed calls just because we have before. If we have the technology, we might as well use it. And I gradually began to see the merit in using instant replay frequently, and that it wouldn’t slow the game down any more than coaches arguing and umpires conferring. In any matter, having instant replay only for home run calls is the most ridiculous move baseball could have made.

But lately, I've begun to wonder more about instant replay. I’m not trying to be a contrarian, but I’ve started to wonder about why we want it, if we need it, and if it would accomplish anything of substance. What follows are two arguments. The first is how I feel about instant replay and its use in sports. The second is how I feel about instant replay, sports, and how it fits in the current social context. I promise it will make more sense … I think.

Instant Replay and Baseball

The first thing we have to ask ourselves is why we watch baseball, and the answer is pretty simple--entertainment. So when we ask why we need instant replay, we then ask a few more questions. First, does instant replay make the game more entertaining? Second, if it does not, why else would we want it in the game?

In reference to the first question, instant replay doesn’t make the game more interesting or more entertaining (this is kind of subjective, but I can't imagine many people excited by the idea of watching it happen). Frankly, it’s way more entertaining to watch coaches, players, and umpires yelling at each other than it would be to watch them civilly discuss the possibility of using replay. Even as a fan, it’s more entertaining when we get to moan and groan about missed calls. While I won’t go so far as to say instant replay makes the game less entertaining, I don’t think it improves it, either. Simply put, umpire calls and instant replay are not reasons we watch baseball.

So there has to be another reason we want it, and the answer is legitimacy and fairness. Simply put, instant replay ensures that the game comes down to the performance of the players on the field and is not subject to the whims of umpires. It sounds really good, but let’s stop kidding ourselves. We don’t want equality and fairness. We don’t want our team to get screwed (less cynically, we want what happens in front of us to match the call). Look at instant replay in football, we cheer instant replay when it fixes a bad call, but we frequently beg our teams to run up to the line and snap the ball to avoid one that might hurt our team. For the fans who do cheer for the right call to be made despite its effect (there are plenty of these, though I wouldn’t near a majority of sports-watching fans), remember that instant replay doesn’t get every call right, and depending on how it’s done, it can become a part of strategy that prevents questionable calls from being looked at (like the NFL and the flags). It does improve the legitimacy of the game, but it does not prevent the umpires from having an effect, especially as they will have to interpret how to handle overturned calls.

But do bad calls really call the game into question? Theoretically, they certainly do, and there's even a protest rule in place. But when it comes to our perception of events, it does not. I’m sure many calls have gone wrong in past seasons and World Series, but no one ultimately questions the result. Matt Holliday’s slide into home that really wasn’t affected an entire post-season, but we don’t really care. And if we really believed legitimacy to be an important part of the game, we would do something about it, namely stop going to games. But adding some instant replay didn’t boost attendance, and adding a full slate of it won’t bring more fans. And I doubt not having it at all would cause a decrease in attendance. It hasn’t yet. Basically, that means that instant replay isn't something necessary to our loyalty to the game.

Having instant replay would affect the game (calls, results, etc.), but it wouldn’t really affect how we feel about the game. We won’t sleep better at night about it. We won’t look at division winners or World Series champions any differently. Most of the time, we forget about those plays a few days later anyway. We aren’t concerned about legitimacy or fairness. We’re concerned about having the call meet the reality before our eyes.

World Series 2011 Game 4: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

We're all evened up ...

Happier times for Lackey


First ... which is my first favorite of the night. The result of the game means that we're down to a best of three series and an excellent chance of seeing a World Series Game 7 for the first time since the Angels beat the Giants in 2002, winning 4-1 behind a three-run double from Garret Anderson. Since most of you reading this aren't Cardinals or Rangers fans, the best we can hope for is as much baseball as possible. Right now, we're getting that.

By the way, TV announcers for that 2002 World Series? Joe Buck, Tim MacGy McCarver. The more things change, the more ... I despair that the important things will always stay the same.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

World Series Game 3: Three Good, Three Bad.

by Jason Wojciechowski

Good gracious was that a lot of baseball.

Putting together incomprehensible senstences from just
bits of string and stray memories.


First. Albert Pujols, duh. Three homers, all after the fifth inning, five hits, an uncountable infinity of runs created. My original notes to say something nice about Pujols came in the fifth inning, when he laced a line drive single up the middle. I wanted to talk about what a thing of a beauty his swing is, the controlled force and elegant length of it, how right-handed batters, I think because of the direction their momentum carries them and the way they have to reverse that momentum to start running to first, typically don't have swings that immediately please us the way lefties do (and which also inspired a Tim MacGyver McCarver ramble late in the game about how teams should have lefty/righty hitting coaches), with Pujols the notable exception. All of this becomes a tad trite when a man hits three homers in a World Series game, though. Of course he has an amazing swing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Certified Public Accountancy

By The Common Man

Last night, as Jason Wojciechowski pointed out, Albert Pujols made an incredibly poor defensive play that wound up costing the Cardinals what turned out to be the winning run. Misjudging a poor throw from John Jay, Pujols reacted late and allowed the ball to bounce off his glove rather than cutting the ball off cleanly and holding Elvis Andrus at first base.

After the game, as we learned this morning, Pujols was nowhere to be found in the locker room. Similarly, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman were absent as well. Jeff Passan complained that Pujols’ decision to leave early showed “zero leadership” (which seems unfair, he could have led the other veterans out). Jon Paul Morosi similarly wrote, “The lack of accountability was inexcusable from a man who is frequently described as a good teammate — and will soon want to be paid like the greatest player in the game.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

World Series Game 2: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

Sure, let's make this a running thing. Three favorites and three unfavorites from Game Two of the World Series.


First. Ian Kinsler was on third in the top of the fourth with Adrian Beltre at the plate. Beltre smashed a hard one hop grounder right at Kinsler, standing, as he is supposed to, in foul territory. Kinsler recoiled and ducked his head to ensure that he would survive to get his World Series share for his family, allowing the ball to glance off his shoulder and deflect harmlessly away.

So I like near-death experiences, right? No: after the play, Kinsler, with the director having gone to the isolation shot on him, gave Adrian Beltre a little Jay-Z brush-the-shoulders-off move. Laugh in the face of the Reaper, Ian Kinsler! Well done.

World Series 2011 Game 1: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

The Platoon Advantage isn't really a game-recaps kind of place, I've noticed, but this is the World Series, right? So you'll have to excuse me as I point out my three favorite and three least favorite plays of the game.
Lay out!


  1. Chris Carpenter goes laying out like a college frisbee player for Albert Pujols's poor throw in the top of the first. Carpenter tags the bag, but his momentum carries more than just his glove across the base, putting his pitching arm and head directly in the math of Elvis Andrus's onrushing boot. Andrus kindly avoids stomping all over Carpenter's face and the Cardinals' dreams, though, and steps on the scant portion of the sack left to him. He's out, but he is a gentleman.

    Pujols, by contrast, needs to take a little more care not to put his Game One starter in a position to suffer grievous bodily harm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

World Series Prediction: A Nickname Face-Off

Once upon a time, The Common Man committed to objectively reviewing and grading all 30 of the nicknames of baseball's 30 teams.  He got eight done.  While he is committed to finishing the list this offseason, The Common Man did happen to review the nicknames for both Texas and St. Louis, and on the basis of those reviews, he is confident he can predict the outcome of the 2011 World Series. How will it go when the Rangers meet the Cardinals?  Re-printed below are TCM's nickname reviews for each squad.  Predictions at the end.

An Interview with Ralph Branca

By Bill

Every now and then, as co-proprietors of a blog that a few people sometimes deign to read, we get emails from publishers or publicists (most accurately, publicists for publishers, but there's no non-goofy way to say that) offering advance copies of baseball or other sports books.

Most of them, frankly, aren't that exciting (we're just not that big a deal), but the one pictured to the right -- A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak and Grace, by Ralph Branca and David Ritz -- really caught my eye. I requested and received a copy, and read it (212 easy-reading pages) in a matter of a couple days.

It's a good -- and, again, easy -- read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in immediately-post-War baseball. I've been a Branca fan for at least ten years now, since I met him at a sports card show alongside Bobby Thomson, with whom he of course is forever linked, and got this (for my dad, who was born later in the month in which the event depicted took place):

What I loved about Branca -- apart from a fascination with a very good, three-time-All-Star pitcher who became known almost exclusively for one single (presumably) bad pitch -- was his friendliness and good humor and, especially, the incredible grace, good-sportsmanship, and sheer oddity of touring the country with (and, from all appearances, being friendly with) the guy who was most directly responsible for making him the goat or antihero of the sport's most famous moment. It's just a very cool, unique thing.

So when I was also offered the opportunity to have a little chat with Mr. Branca, I jumped at it. I was a bit afraid, both in talking to him and reading the book, that he'd reveal an undercurrent of bitterness and resentment that ruined that whole picture of him I have, but while the bitterness and anger are certainly there -- understandably so, when you consider he's lived as the goat for sixty years and has known for most of that time that the team that beat him was implementing an elaborate technological system for stealing signs -- there's also a very genuine good nature, and there was a genuine friendship with Thomson.

At 85, Branca is passionate, funny, and has a tremendous memory. It was the first interview I'd done since serving as the sports editor of my college newspaper about twelve years ago, but Branca is good and interesting enough for both of us. He was kind enough to spend about 25 minutes speaking with me about the book, Jackie Robinson, the Shot, the sign-stealing and more. A transcript -- edited only to remove most verbal pauses and a tiny bit of redundancy -- appears below.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jonathan Mahler on the MLB competitive landscape

by Jason Wojciechowski
Over at The Grey Lady, Jonathan Mahler has a piece about Moneyball, money, making the playoffs, the death of inefficiencies, and so forth. Mahler makes an interesting argument about the parallels between the A's and the state of capitalism, but his poor analysis about the state of baseball competition undermine his larger point.

Mahler's basic baseball argument is that Billy Beane is wrong when he complains that the rich teams have caught up in the Analysis Wars. Mahler appears to be making the claim that money matters very little for team success in baseball.

The problems, though, start right in the second paragraph, when Mahler uses the four teams remaining in the playoffs to argue that you don't need big money to succeed in baseball anymore. This, of course, eliminates the four teams that made the playoffs but did not advance, including the Yankees and Phillies. It also leaves out the two teams that missed the playoffs by so little as to be utterly meaningless as a matter of team-talent, the Braves and Red Sox. (It also omits the Rays and Diamondbacks, to be fair, teams that aren't exactly big spenders.) More importantly, we can use all the anecdotes about salary and making the league championship series we want, or we can do what Tom Tango did and look at the data. Guess whether, in the aggregate, payroll matters.

What's a Comeback Player, Really?

By Bill

Craig made what I thought was a good point yesterday, first on Twitter and then on the blog. Jacoby Ellsbury and Lance Berkman, winners of the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year Awards, both had very good years, both coming off of what, for very different reasons, was a ruined 2010. But on the other hand, Bartolo Colon had a very nice year after not even playing professional baseball in 2010. He hadn't started 20 games or pitched 100 innings in a season since 2005, back when Ellsbury was drafted and Berkman went to the World Series alongside Bagwell and Biggio. I don't really know what a "comeback player" is, but whatever it is, Colon has to have been just about the comebackiest comeback player in history. How does he not win this thing?

I'll admit, coming into yesterday, I'd spent probably a total of ninety seconds in my entire life thinking about the Comeback Player of the Year Award, either the old now-irrelevant Sporting News version or the new-since-2005, officially sanctioned by MLB version. But looking at the list of past winners of the latter, it seems to me that what we've got is a pretty familiar problem with end-of-season awards: the thing the voters are voting on is really poorly defined, so no one really knows what they're voting on.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can the Cubs Fans Stay Realistic About Theo?

By Bill

I love Theo Epstein, which I'm sure isn't terribly surprising. Always have. I probably wouldn't have given John Lackey either five years or $82.5 million, but otherwise, I think pretty much everything he's done has been great. I also like the Cubs, God save me, and so I'm pretty excited that apparently, my favorite GM and my second- or third-favorite team are about to be joined in holy contractimony.

I do buy, to some extent, Dave Cameron's point that spending tens of millions on any GM is a mistake, given the wealth of brilliant minds out there who would do the job for less. But then, there's a lot more to GMing than knowing which stats are important and how to apply them (and in fact I'd say that's a pretty tiny part of the job, as long as you're smart enough to hire people who do understand those things). There's knowing what to look for in scouts, analysts, etc., there's managing personnel and maintaining good relationships with your manager and coaches, the art of negotiation with other GMs, and so on and so forth. And from everything I can tell (which of course is very much the tip of the iceberg), Epstein has been very good at pretty much all those things. Add on a couple million for the extra season tickets you'll sell (or rather, won't lose) based on excitement about getting THEO, and I think this is a great, great move for the Cubs.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On baseball reporting

by Jason Wojciechowski

Let's talk about baseball reporters. You're reading this on the internet, so it seems likely that you encounter the work of baseball reporters somewhere, whether on one of the major sports destinations (ESPN, CBS, Yahoo), on Twitter, via your friends sharing their work on Facebook, Google Plus, or a new social network I'm not cool enough to know about. In your run-ins with these writers, you've probably come across them expressing opinions -- on award voting, on the great ethical issues of the (baseball) day, on which team ought to acquire which player, on the social value of the bunt, and so forth. I want to be clear right up front: everything I say below is not about baseball reporters expressing opinions.

So what am I going to complain about? Reporters doing what they do best: reporting. Specifically, why I think they should stop doing it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Who Am I?

By Mark Smith
Stereotypes are interesting social phenomena. While they are almost always given a negative connotation, stereotypes are actually quite useful descriptions. Let’s take a look at an example. If I wanted to describe to you an overweight white person with a Southern accent, a John Deere hat, jeans, and a wife beater t-shirt, it is a lot easier to say “hillbilly” than all of that (sorry to anyone currently wearing such a thing; this is only example, and I’m about to justify my use of it). It saves a lot of time to be able to simply use our social observations to make a quick description of a person. The problem, however, is in the use of stereotypes. Instead of using them simply as descriptors, we attach judgments to those images or assume they are a certain way (often negative), and we often do so without knowing much about the person. The stereotype, therefore, isn’t the problem. It’s the prejudice we use to associate with those images.

In baseball, we also have certain stereotypes, but we like to use the phrase “profiles for the position”. We have a certain image of what a catcher is supposed to be, of what a left fielder should be, and what a second baseman should be. When players don’t fit those profiles, it often becomes difficult to accept their contributions. Take Carl Crawford (well, pre-2011 anyway) and Brett Gardner, for example. They don’t fit the usual “mold” of a left fielder, and because they get a lot of their value from defense and baserunning, it was hard for people to accept that they were better than the traditional big bopper. On the flip side, shortstops such as Omar Vizquel are supposed to play good defense and run the bases, so he gets plenty of credit for having done so.

Now, these “profiles” can be helpful. They are there for a reason, and it is generally helpful to find guys who fit the “mold”. The thing to remember, however, is that there is value in people who don’t fit the traditional mold, and we shouldn’t judge someone based on how well he/ fits that mold. Looking at the person and observing what they bring to the table is always advised before making any judgments.

And after all that, here are players at each position who have had the most stereotypical (not the best) years for a player at the position. I’ll give a vague description of the player. You need to either remember or write down your guesses, and at the very end of the post, I’ll put the answers (well, at least my answers; feel free to argue). Here we go:

Friday, October 7, 2011

How Much Is a GM Worth?

I still can’t believe the Marlins gave up real, live human beings for Ozzie Guillen. Nothing about that situation makes any sense whatsoever. The Marlins have repeatedly shown they have no idea how to handle public relations or get their employees to handle public relations in an appropriate manner, and Ozzie is the Pandora’s box of public relations nightmares. Owner Jeffrey Loria is a nutcase who can’t sit still for more than four months, and Ozzie’s actions will make him stir like he’s got ants in his pants. Even looking at this from a pure baseball perspective, Ozzie is about as good of a tactician as I am a tennis player (though I always swing for the fences). Then, the Marlins gave up two decent arms that could be late-inning relievers, and even if that isn’t much, 1-2 wins a season is way more than the wins Ozzie will cost the team. About the only thing Ozzie has going for him is that he’s Hispanic, but I’m not really sure if that matters that much or not to the 1,430 Marlins fans. The trade was just ridiculous all the way around, and if this is what they meant by Loria having more say in baseball operations, I no longer worry about the Marlins as Morrison and whoever else ticks him off will be traded for a stereo system and a scoreboard upgrade shortly.

Anyway, what this made me wonder about was the value of a GM. Managers could be worth a few wins if they didn’t all make the same decisions, but GMs make quite different decisions all the time. They have to. They can’t make the same decisions, don’t live under the same circumstances, and have differing ideas on what builds a good team. Through all of this, they have the most impact on the team. They build it from the ground up, and they could have a huge impact on the number of wins a team has. So when it comes to the Cubs possibly trading something to get Theo Epstein from Boston, I have no idea what to think, but here are a few thoughts.

1) If Ozzie brought back two decent prospects, the Red Sox have to demand a premium prospect at least.

2) Is there even a way to try to quantify a GM’s value? Valuing managers appears difficult enough, but they have definite cause-effect relationships between decisions on the field. When they bunt, we know the difference in run expectancy. How do you evaluate Cashman losing out on Cliff Lee and going to Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?

Friday Forum: Our Award Picks

Another Friday, another forum. This week, I (Bill again) polled the TPA staff and got full ballots from each of us for each of the "major" awards: AL & NL MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. 

The Platoon Advantage is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and this post doubles as our site's ballot for their parallel awards: the Stan Musial Award (for the top player in each league), the Walter Johnson Award (for the top pitcher), the Willie Mays Award (top rookie) and the Connie Mack Award (top manager). Accordingly, the "ballots" below represent an aggregate ballot formed from combining all our picks; each first place vote got a number of points equal to the number of slots on the ballot (10 for MVP, 5 for Cy Young, 3 for the others), and each one-step-lower vote got one point less, such that the last slot on the ballot was good for one point. For a spreadsheet showing each of our individual ballots, click here

We've got a tie for the AL MVP, which is fine, but then I flipped a coin to determine the AL Stan Musial Award winner. I also flipped a coin to determine the last spot on our AL Connie Mack Award ballot. Our comments were submitted in different ways; sorry for the inconsistencies. If it helps, it kind of bugs me too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baseball Improvement

By Mark Smith

I won’t try to deny it. I love Home Improvement. Though I could attempt to tell you that I am ashamed to admit that I liked the show, I will still sit there and watch episodes of the show if I could find them. It was corny, cheesy, and wasn’t much more than the average sit-com, but I identified with the show more than others. Perhaps it was because the family mirrored my own. My father isn’t exactly Tim Allen, but my family had 2 parents and 3 sons, the youngest of them named Mark (me!). Perhaps it was because I grew up as the kids grew up, and every time I watched an episode again, I could find a new point as I began to see things from the perspective of the kid that happened to be my age, making the show unintentionally (or maybe intentionally, now that I think about it) versatile and long-lasting.

Of course, none of the actors have really gone on to do anything. Tim Allen did some really crappy movies and looks to be the head of a crappy sit-com. I’ve seen Patricia Richardson in a few things but not much. Jonathan Taylor Thomas pretty much fell off the planet once his teenage cuteness wore off. And Richard Karn was or is still (?) the host of Family Feud, which is like asking for career euthanasia. Nevertheless, the show was quite successful with several good supporting actors surrounding a somewhat star in his peak.

But Tim Allen’s new show got to me thinking about the show and how much I miss it, and like most things that I think about, I started relating it back to baseball and re-casted the show. What follows is the absurd result.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Joe West's Crew, Part 4: Final 2011 Ejection Data

By The Common Man

Joe Mother-effing West
It recently has come to our attention that Joe West… Joe Mother-effing West…is umpiring in the postseason, along with his former partner in crime Angel Hernandez (the two were separated mid-season by Major League Baseball, who was clearly taking the elementary school approach of having two troublemakers sit on opposite sides of the classroom). This realization blew The Common Man’s mind given that just last year West was ranked by players as the 2nd worst umpire in the Majors, and he’s had no shortage of controversial run-ins with players and managers since then. Indeed, as The Common Man pointed out at midseason, Joe West has promoted a culture of confrontation and quick thumbs that was interfering with the integrity of the games in which he was umpiring, changing their course and making West and his crew the central focus.

At mid-season, The Common Man reported that Joe was tied for second (with crew-mate Angel Campos) for most ejections in the Majors, and his crew was lapping the field in terms of the number of players, coaches, fans, and mascots they ejected. Since the regular season is done, and West and Hernandez could play a large role in October’s action, here are the updated and final ejection standings for 2011:

A more sophisticted PLAYOFFS+ metric

by Jason Wojciechowski

As I'm sure you recall, I've proposed that different people have different theories of value. Some of us (myself included) would prefer to strip as much team context as we can out of a player's performance when arguing for individual awards like the MVP and Cy Young. (I called this theory of value WINS+.) Others, though, think that the entire point of the regular season is to help your team get to the playoffs. You see this in arguments that only players on contending teams should be eligible for the MVP.

This, I argued in that post, is an entirely rational position. (I called this theory of value PLAYOFFS+.) The problem is that it's usually applied in an ad hoc fashion, providing excuses for a voter to ignore a better performance because that voter thinks, for whatever unarticulated reason, that the lesser player provided more value by pushing his team near or into the playoffs. I've previously put together a naive but consistent way to implement PLAYOFFS+ -- only players whose teams make the playoffs by a margin slimmer than that individual's WAR total are eligible, and the player, of that group, with the most WAR wins. That approach was rife with problems, some of which I've attempted to address here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Poetry Saturday: "Blue-Butterfly Day"

by Jason Wojciechowski

Welcome to Poetry Saturday. The blogfathers have, for some reason, given me editing privileges here on The Platoon Advantage. I have managed to restrain myself for a time, but here, I take advantage.

Courtesy of the Poetry Archives's "Random Poem" button:

Blue-Butterfly Day
by Robert Frost

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

You might think that eMule chose this in a fit of irony -- this is fall, not spring. The days are growing shorter and colder. We're arguing over playoff rosters, not who the last man on the 40-man should be and whether that Rule 5 pick should sit out in the bullpen.

But the Rangers and Rays are on TV as I write this, and while the stands in Arlington aren't unmixed -- there appears to be red, white, and blue in approximately equal proportions -- for sheer quantity, surely no flower (or regular-season baseball game) could compete. The more melancholy second stanza reflects the eventual fate of all but the luckiest of fans -- they will fly and sing and display their colors as long as they can, but eventually they'll go home unhappy as their teams are eliminated.