Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 5/30/2011

Ended with a loss, started with a worse one, but the five in between made for a tasty sandwich...

  • We knew that the bad start wasn't an accurate representation of this team. There were many reasons to expect this Red Sox team to be one of the best, if not the best, team in baseball. Which is a big part of why the 0-6 and 2-10 starts were so shocking. But since then, they've demonstrated that, in the immortal words of Dennis Green, "they are who we thought that are." Since losing to Toronto on April 15 to fall to 2-10, they've got the best record in all of baseball at 28-13, a 111 win pace, and they've done it over 41 games which is just over 25% of a 162 game season. They've outscored opponents by 65 runs, the largest margin in baseball. They've got the best pythagorean winning percentage. They've scored 5.05 runs/game, second only to the Yankees. They've allowed 3.46 runs/game, fifth in baseball behind the A's, Mariners and two NL teams (PHI and ATL). They have looked like a great, dominant team. Which is what we expected them to be.
  • They have come all the way back from the poor start to take over first place in the AL East. They've got a one-game lead over the Yankees and they're 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the best record in the AL.
  • After really struggling for the first couple of weeks, the offense has awoken, and they are now up to 4th in the AL in runs scored/game. The pitching has settled, and they're up to 7th in runs allowed/game.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - There's a tough choice here this week. It's work mentioning that Mike Cameron (.667/.625/1.333/1.958) made the most of his seven plate appearances, with a walk and four hits, including a HR. Josh Reddick (.500/.556/.500/1.056) looked glad to be back in the Majors. But neither of them played enough to qualify. But the decision comes down to the other two outfielders. For a couple of days, Carl Crawford (.423/.464/1.000/1.464) looked like a one-man wrecking crew, contributing greatly to back-to-back fourteen run outbursts as the Sox rolled over Cleveland and Detroit in matinee performances. With two doubles, two triples and three home runs, it was a dominant week. Jacoby Ellsbury (.320/.485/.640/1.125) had the week of my dreams. In addition to the eight hits, he walked seven times, and was hit by a pitch once. Being on base 16 times set him up for four stolen bases, and his performance in front of Pedroia and Gonzalez really set up the offense for an outstanding week. They were both outstanding, and I want to encourage Ellsbury to keep playing the way he's playing now, but the Player of the Week aware goes to Carl Crawford.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - There were several good performances this week, but nothing stands out. Aceves gave up one in six innings but it was only six innings. Lester threw six scoreless, but it was only six innings. Wakefield had a good start and Buchholz and Beckett each had two, but nothing noteworthy. Other than Bard's inning in Cleveland on Monday, the bullpen was all solid, but again, nothing jumps out. So, looking at the quality/quantity collection, the award this week is going to go to...Josh Beckett, who allowed three runs in 12 2/3 innings (2.13 ERA) over two starts. Nothing special, but the best of a pretty good group of contenders for the week.



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.18(1)4.1(6)0.605(1)31202823-3
Cleveland5.15(2)4.19(8)0.593(2)302031191
Tampa Bay4.53(7)3.94(4)0.564(3)29232824-1
Boston4.77(4)4.17(7)0.562(4)302330230
Texas4.55(6)4.08(5)0.55(5)29242825-1
Toronto4.88(3)4.49(10)0.538(6)29242726-2
Oakland3.65(12)3.43(1)0.529(7)29252727-2
Los Angeles3.87(11)3.75(2)0.515(8)282728270
Detroit4.23(8)4.44(9)0.478(9)252726261
Seattle3.58(13)3.79(3)0.474(10)252726261
Chicago4.15(9)4.55(11)0.458(11)25302431-1
Kansas City4.56(5)5.04(13)0.454(12)24282329-1
Baltimore4.1(10)4.86(12)0.422(13)222924272
Minnesota3.43(14)5.18(14)0.32(14)163517341

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Cleveland10062
Boston9270
New York8973
Tampa Bay8775
Texas8676

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Cleveland9765
New York9567
Boston9171
Tampa Bay9072
Texas8874

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston6.29(3)2.43(1)0.851(1)6152-1
Oakland4(10)2.86(2)0.649(2)52520
Texas6(4)4.67(8)0.613(3)42420
Toronto8.2(2)6.4(10)0.611(4)32431
New York4.83(6)4(4)0.586(5)4233-1
Tampa Bay12(1)10(13)0.583(6)11231
Baltimore4.67(8)4.33(7)0.534(7)33330
Los Angeles3.43(14)3.29(3)0.519(8)43430
Seattle3.83(11)4.17(5)0.462(9)33421
Minnesota3.67(13)4.17(5)0.442(10)3324-1
Detroit3.83(11)5.5(9)0.341(11)24331
Chicago5.2(5)7.8(12)0.323(12)23250
Kansas City4.83(6)7.33(11)0.318(13)2415-1
Cleveland4.67(8)11.67(14)0.158(14)03242

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Yup...

Michael Ramirez...

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Boston @ Detroit, game 1

Not impressed. Yesterday, they got a 7-0 lead in the first inning. Today it took until the 3rd.

Slackers...

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Throwing out nonsense

I've mentioned my sympathy for people who have to fill column space every day. But there's a lot of nonsense produced in the process, like this throw-away line from the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham:
The Yankees and Rays also lost. Is the AL East really this mediocre?
  1. The fact that all three teams lost on one day says nothing, less than nothing, about the quality of the teams or the quality of the division. Let's do a little quick and easy math to see that.

    To start with, the baseball season is about 180 days long, a period over which each team plays 162 games. We're talking about three teams, some of the off-days are going to coincide, so assume that there are 30 days during that 180 in which one or more of the teams doesn't play, leaving 150 on which they all do.

    They're all in the same division, and they play each other 18 times head-to-head, so there are 54 more nights on which they cannot all lose. That brings us down to 96 days during the course of the season on which all three play games independent of one another.

    If we assume that each is a 95 win team (that would make it a non-mediocre division, right?) then the probability of each team winning on any given night is about 58%, and the probability of each losing is about 41.4%. The probability of all three losing is therefore 41.4 ^ 3 (cubed), or about 7%.

    7% of 96 is about 7 games. So, of the approximately 16 days per month that the three teams play independent games, we'd expect them all to lose at least once. Therefore, the fact that they all lost last night is not statistically improbable, and says nothing about the quality of the division.
  2. The Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are all on a pace to win 86-plus games. How many divisions have three teams on an 86-win pace? Two, the AL East and the NL East.
  3. The Red Sox and Rays each started horribly. If you look at the standings starting April 8, leaving off the first week of the season (in which Boston and Tampa were a combined 0-12), the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are a combined 72-51, which is a 95 win pace.

In short, there's no evidence whatsoever to support the theory that the AL East is "mediocre." It was a throw-away line that contributed nothing to the piece...

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 5/23/2011

One inning, one 8-run 8th inning, away from a perfect week...

  • When the score of Monday's game reached 6-0, I had no expectation that they were going to score, never mind make it competitive, never mind win. It just had all of the feel of "one of those games," as they were coming off the sweep in NY, Lackey had gone onto the DL, and Matsuzaka had limped through four on his way to the DL. All of the circumstances combined to make that not just a good win, but a great win.
  • They followed that up with two more 1-run wins, a shutout 1-0 and then scoring three runs against Justin Verlander and beating the Detroit bullpen, after another stellar Beckett outing.
  • Since losing to Toronto on April 15 to fall to 2-10, the Red Sox are 23-11, the best record in baseball, 2 games better than Tampa and 4 1/2 games better than the Yankees. They're now 1/2 game behind those two teams in the AL East. Only the Cleveland Indians have a better record in the AL than the three AL East teams.
  • Not only was I not at all interested in the Cubs' visit to Fenway, beyond the simple fact of the Red Sox playing, I don't even understand the interest. Why would any Red Sox fan be more interested in seeing the Cubs than anyone else? Interleague play irritates me, and even more so when they try to sell something like Red Sox-Cubs as if it has some intrinsic interest beyond simply another Red Sox game.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - There were several excellent offensive performances this week, starting with Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.400/.500/1.100/1.600). Unfortunately for Jarrod, he only played three games. Adrian Gonzalez (.481/.500/.556/1.056) and David Ortiz (.320/.346/.680/1.026) were both excellent. But the most productive, and the winner of the Player of the Week award, was Kevin Youkilis (.500/.593/.950/1.543), who hit .500 with four doubles, one HR and five walks.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - I'm splitting it this week, and giving co-Pitcher of the Week awards to Clay Buchholz, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 win, and Jonathan Papelbon, who finished three games, and struck out six in three scoreless innings.





AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Cleveland5.18(2)3.68(3)0.651(1)291529150
New York5.22(1)4.11(7)0.608(2)27182520-2
Tampa Bay4.21(8)3.68(2)0.561(3)262126210
Texas4.36(6)4(6)0.54(4)25222423-1
Toronto4.52(4)4.28(9)0.525(5)24222323-1
Los Angeles3.94(11)3.81(5)0.515(6)25232424-1
Boston4.54(3)4.43(11)0.511(7)242225211
Oakland3.6(12)3.51(1)0.511(8)24232225-2
Detroit4.28(7)4.3(10)0.498(9)232323230
Chicago4.04(9)4.21(8)0.482(10)23252226-1
Kansas City4.52(4)4.74(12)0.479(11)222422240
Seattle3.54(13)3.74(4)0.475(12)222422240
Baltimore4.02(10)4.93(13)0.408(13)182721243
Minnesota3.4(14)5.31(14)0.307(14)143115301

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Cleveland10755
New York9072
Tampa Bay9072
Boston8874
Texas8379

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Cleveland10656
New York9666
Tampa Bay9171
Texas8676
Toronto8478

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Seattle3.57(10)1(1)0.911(1)61610
New York6.43(2)2.71(3)0.829(2)6152-1
Cleveland6.71(1)3.14(5)0.8(3)6152-1
Chicago4.86(4)2.86(4)0.725(4)52520
Boston6(3)4.17(9)0.661(5)42511
Texas2.43(13)2.14(2)0.557(6)4334-1
Minnesota4.86(4)4.29(11)0.557(6)4334-1
Toronto3.83(8)3.83(6)0.5(8)33330
Oakland4(7)4.14(7)0.484(9)3425-1
Tampa Bay3.71(9)4.14(7)0.45(10)34340
Los Angeles3.14(11)4.29(11)0.362(11)3425-1
Baltimore4.17(6)7.67(14)0.247(12)15241
Kansas City3(12)6.29(13)0.205(13)16251
Detroit1.67(14)4.17(9)0.158(14)15150

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 5/16/2011

For the first time this year, we can say that the Red Sox have won as many as they've lost...

  • Here's one way to look at it - Boston is a big spending over-hyped "powerhouse" that's just a .500 team through 40 games.
  • Here's another way to look at - since April 15, the Red Sox are 18-10, a 104-win pace, with the second best record in the Major Leagues.
  • I don't know what the reason was, but they weren't ready to start the season. Maybe Crawford had to adjust, maybe Pedroia and Youkilis needed more than just the spring to get their timing back after missing the second half of last year, maybe Gonzalez was adjusting to the new parks and new pitchers and his repaired shoulder, maybe the pitchers and catchers and new pitching coach were all struggling to get on the same page, maybe all of the above. They weren't ready to start the season, and it showed, as they lost their first six and 10 of their first 12. But since that time, they've gotten ready. They enter the 3rd week of May only three games out in the AL East with 122 games to play, and really beginning to look like the team we expected them to be.
  • There's too much talent there, too much of it either near or at its peak, for the team to have continued the way the started. As far as I'm concerned, they're still the favorites to win the AL East and the AL.
  • It's tough to overpay a player as good as Adrian Gonzalez.
  • The Posada story baffles me. Since when is it headline news that a player asked for a day off? It happens every day. Would that have been a story at all if Fox hadn't been covering Saturday's game for a national audience? I'm skeptical.
  • It's far too early to count the Yankees out, everyone looks worse than they really are at the end of a two-week stretch of bad baseball, and, if they need to, they can always take on a bad contract to improve the team, but they don't look scary right now. At all. (OK, if I were a Yankee fan, I'd be scared [and the mere thought of being a Yankee fan is horrifying.]) Other than Granderson, Texeira, Cano and Sabathia, they look like a team of complementary pieces. Rodriguez and Jeter are not superstars any more, Gardner and Swisher and Martin never were, and Posada looks to be close to done. They don't have any black holes, necessarily, but that's not a scary lineup, it's not a great defensive team, and the pitching is very iffy.
  • I'm not going to run out and buy a New Era cap, but if I had one, I'd tip it to their ad guys - the Alec Baldwin-John Krasinski ads, the second of which debuted last night (at least, it was the first [and second and third and fourth] time that I've seen it), have been hilarious.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - I take this seriously. Always. I may joke about it, but I gather all of the numbers, and try to take everything into account. OPS, Runs Created per out, Runs Created, special moments, everything. Before I even do any analysis today, I can state, with confidence, that this week's Player of the Week is Adrian Gonzalez. On the week, he hit .346/.400/.962/1.362 with five home runs, and continued to demonstrate why the Red Sox were willing to empty their minor league system to get him.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Another category in which there's no competition. Buchholz was excellent in New York on Friday night, but Josh Beckett started two games this week, and the team won both as he allowed only 13 base runners in 13 innings, while striking out 14 and allowing no runs. Absolutely dominant.


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Cleveland4.89(2)3.78(4)0.615(1)231424131
Tampa Bay4.3(8)3.6(2)0.581(2)231723170
New York5(1)4.37(9)0.561(3)21172018-1
Los Angeles4.07(9)3.73(3)0.54(4)221922190
Texas4.7(4)4.33(6)0.538(5)22182119-1
Detroit4.68(5)4.33(6)0.536(6)211922181
Kansas City4.79(3)4.46(11)0.533(7)21182019-1
Toronto4.63(6)4.35(8)0.528(8)21192020-1
Oakland3.53(13)3.4(1)0.517(9)21192020-1
Boston4.33(7)4.48(12)0.484(10)192120201
Baltimore4(10)4.51(13)0.445(11)172219202
Chicago3.9(11)4.44(10)0.441(12)18231724-1
Seattle3.54(12)4.23(5)0.419(13)162316230
Minnesota3.13(14)5.5(14)0.263(14)102812262

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Cleveland10557
Tampa Bay9369
Detroit8973
Los Angeles8775
New York8577

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Cleveland10161
Tampa Bay9468
New York9072
Los Angeles8775
Texas8775

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Detroit7(2)3(2)0.825(1)41501
Baltimore4.67(4)2.5(1)0.758(2)51510
Toronto7.17(1)4.17(7)0.73(3)42511
Chicago4.33(5)3.67(5)0.576(4)33421
Texas4(8)3.4(3)0.574(5)32320
Boston4.83(3)4.33(8)0.55(6)33421
Oakland4.2(6)3.8(6)0.546(7)3223-1
Kansas City3.4(10)3.4(3)0.5(8)3223-1
Tampa Bay4.17(7)4.33(8)0.482(9)33330
Seattle3.25(12)4.5(10)0.355(10)1304-1
Cleveland4(8)5.75(13)0.34(11)13221
Los Angeles3(13)4.5(10)0.323(12)24240
New York3.33(11)5.67(12)0.275(13)2415-1
Minnesota2.67(14)7.17(14)0.141(14)1506-1

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lord Is My Shepherd

Sunday anthem, Park Street Church Sanctuary Choir.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My favorite BIOS error message

You see this when booting with no keyboard attached.

0211: Keyboard error
Press F1 to continue...

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 5/9/2011

Obviously 4-3 is better than 3-4, and better than they've done in all but one week so far, but this was an ugly week of baseball...

  • The week started on a scintillating note. They beat the best pitcher in the AL thus far, Jered Weaver, and the key to the game was a 13-pitch 2-out, 2-on at-bat by Dustin Pedroia, which ended with a single that drove in two to take them from one down to one up. It also contributed greatly to cutting Weaver's outing by an inning, and they beat up on the Angels' 'pen to put it away. It was one of those seminal "storyline" moments of a great season.
  • They beat another excellent starter, Dan Haren, the following night, and looked like they were really on a roll. Not only had they gotten to within one game of .500, their run differential was positive (+3) - for the first time, they'd outscored their opponents on the season.
  • And one of the reasons that you can't always trust "storylines" is what came next. When they tied up the Wednesday night game in the bottom of the 9th, it felt as if they were at the inflection point, ready to race to the pennant. Then they allowed 22 runs and scored 2 over the next 21 innings, while losing three straight, and *poof!* - the storyline's up in smoke. Instead, you've got people wondering if Theo failed to take "hunger" into account when constructing the team.
  • Here's a "storyline" comment - man, did John Lackey ever come up small when they needed a good performance! After that Wednesday night disaster, in which rain limited Josh Beckett to 4 1/3 innings and 5 hours of baseball over 7 1/2 hours of real time had them use one more of their starters plus their "first alternate," as well as everyone in the bullpen, what they needed was a quality performance on Thursday afternoon, good pitching and lots of it. What they got was 8 runs allowed. That's bad, of course, but they ended up getting shut out so one would have been bad enough. What was worse was that he only managed to pitch 4+ innings, recording only 12 outs, so they need to get 15 more from the already overburdened relief corps. It was, under the circumstances, the single worst performance by a Red Sox starting pitcher this season.
  • The good Tim Wakefield showed up last Sunday. The far more predictable Tim Wakefield showed up on Friday, leading to a second straight bad loss and a third straight day of decimating the bullpen. From Wedneday through Friday, the starters pitched 12 1/3 innings - the bullpen pitched 18 2/3 innings. That's not a recipe for success.
  • Jose Iglesias' Major League career started on a not-particularly memorable note, with one inning as a defensive replacement and one routine play made.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - On a per at-bat basis, Marco Scutaro (.545/.583/.818/1.402) was the most productive hitter this week but only had 19 at-bats. David Ortiz (.391/.440/.652/1.092) also had an excellent week, but, factoring in playing time, defense, and offensive performance, the player of the week is Jacoby Ellsbury, who hit .387/.406/.516/.922 and stole five bases.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - There are three good candidates this week. Daniel Bard was outstanding, unscored upon in 5 1/3 innings over five appearances. Jon Lester had the best start of the week, striking out 11 while allowing only one run in seven innings of a tight pitchers' duel (until the Sox blew it open against the Angel's bullpen late). But this week, the award goes to Clay Buchholz, who allowed two runs over 11 2/3 innings in two Red Sox wins. The most important thing that he did, though, was come back for three more innings at the end of a two-hour rain delay that followed the second inning on Saturday afternoon, holding the Twins scoreless and limiting the bullpen exposure after two days of bad and brutally short starts.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Cleveland5(2)3.55(3)0.652(1)221122110
New York5.31(1)4.13(5)0.614(2)20121913-1
Tampa Bay4.32(6)3.47(2)0.599(3)201420140
Los Angeles4.26(7)3.6(4)0.576(4)201520150
Kansas City5(2)4.62(12)0.536(5)181618160
Texas4.8(4)4.46(8)0.534(6)19161817-1
Oakland3.43(13)3.34(1)0.512(7)181718170
Detroit4.34(5)4.51(10)0.482(8)171817180
Toronto4.18(9)4.38(7)0.478(9)16181519-1
Boston4.24(8)4.5(9)0.472(10)161816180
Seattle3.57(12)4.2(6)0.426(11)152016191
Chicago3.83(11)4.57(11)0.42(12)15201322-2
Baltimore3.88(10)4.88(13)0.397(13)132014191
Minnesota3.22(14)5.19(14)0.295(14)92312203

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Cleveland10854
New York9666
Tampa Bay9567
Los Angeles9369
Kansas City8676

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Cleveland10656
New York9963
Tampa Bay9765
Los Angeles9369
Kansas City8775

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Tampa Bay4.5(4)2.17(2)0.792(1)51510
Chicago3.5(9)1.83(1)0.766(2)5133-2
Detroit5(1)2.71(3)0.754(3)52520
Kansas City4.17(6)3.33(6)0.601(4)4233-1
Los Angeles5(1)4.14(9)0.585(5)43430
Oakland3.29(10)3(4)0.542(6)43430
Minnesota3.6(8)3.4(7)0.526(7)32320
Cleveland3.17(11)3(4)0.525(8)33330
New York4.43(5)4.29(10)0.515(9)4334-1
Boston4.86(3)5.43(13)0.449(10)34431
Texas3.71(7)5(12)0.367(11)3425-1
Seattle2.33(14)3.67(8)0.304(12)24331
Toronto2.5(13)4.33(11)0.268(13)24240
Baltimore2.57(12)6(14)0.175(14)16160

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

On stand

The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps perform their standpiece and drill at the 10th annual Lexington Muster, held at the National Heritage Park in Lexington, MA on May 7, 2011.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Super MariObama

Brilliant!

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

"It is time to start talking about trillions"

Some of us already have been, but Boehner's speaking the right language here...
Asked to define "real spending cuts," Boehner said, "It is time to start talking about trillions" of dollars, instead of the billions and tens of billions debated in earlier budget battles this year.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Youth Culture - Megan McArdle - National - The Atlantic

Megan McArdle is a little bit surprised that "a significant number of teens didn't know who Osama Bin Laden was until we killed him." Megan attributes this to "youth culture," making the observation that
Teenagers live in their own little world, only tangentially connected to the one the rest of us occupy. Today's high-school freshmen weren't even in Kindergarten when 9/11 happened. Why would they remember?
I'm not even a little bit surprised. And I don't think it's anything to do with "youth culture," or "teenagers liv[ing] in their own little world." It is, as I've written before, historical blindness. Kids learn what they're taught, and no one's taught them about this, because for adults, it's still a fresh memory. For today's teenagers, they're obviously not being taught about 9/11 in history class, because it's not integrated into the curricula yet (or at least, if it is, it's certainly not in enough for everyone to have been taught it.) For the adults, it is a secret de Polinichelle, which Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot1 described as "a secret that everyone can know. For this reason the people who do not know it never hear about it - for if everybody thinks you know a thing, no one tells you."

One of my kids recently asked me, "what really happened on September 11?" They know the date, they've grown up with people talking about it, they know that something awful happened, but they don't really know any of the details. (And we were in the US Capitol building when the plane hit the Pentagon, and a couple of my kids got knocked down in the panicked rush to the exits when they evacuated the Capitol. We saw the smoke from the Pentagon. We saw the smoke in New York when we drove home later that week.) We don't talk about the details, all that much, because we all remember it. Except those that are too young. And we haven't taught it as history, because, well, it's still the present, the world in which we live, for those of us old enough to remember it.

Not only that, bin Laden's name isn't even a first-order part of the story. You can talk about Pearl Harbor without mentioning Hirohito; you can tell the story of 9/11 very effectively without ever mentioning Osama bin Laden. "Terrorists hijacked planes, flew them into the tallest buildings in New York, and the Pentagon, and the buildings in New York collapsed. Thousands of people were killed and everyone watched it happen." You've actually got to go into some detail to get to bin Laden.

So frankly, I'd be more surprised than not if a majority of the 13-18 cohort knew who he was...




1 - Mrs. McGinty's Dead

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It can happen any night...

Why do we love sports? Because you never know when you're going to see something like this...

Dustin Pedroia : Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Pickoff attempt, Ball, Ellsbury stole second, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Pedroia singled to center, Crawford and Ellsbury scored.
That's the line on the 5th inning at-bat for Dustin Pedroia vs. Jered Weaver. Weaver came in as the best pitcher in baseball, and looked it. But the Red Sox, trailing 2-1, put two runners on with two outs in the 5th, and Pedroia came to the plate with Weaver having thrown 93 pitches, and on a pace to get through 7 innings, at least. And then Pedroia fouled off a tough pitch. And another. And another. He ended up fouling off nine pitches, eight of them with two strikes, and finally driving a pitch up the middle to score two runs.

It was a captivating moment, one of the moments that you get in a baseball game that you don't see coming, and it's a joy when it happens. (Probably less of a joy for Angels fans, of course, but that's always the way these things work.)

Not only did Pedroia's hit give the Sox the lead, the thirteen pitches raised Weaver's pitch count to 106, and the Red Sox ended up teeing off on the Angels bullpen in the 7th, instead of facing Weaver for one more inning. And when the 2011 Red Sox story is over and written, that's very likely an at-bat that's going to be remembered...

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 5/2/2011

You know, when three of the four weeks you've seen have been under .500, it's hard to not wonder if the one over .500 week doesn't represent a fluke...


  • One of the great things about baseball is, and always has been, is that there's no such thing as a "lock." There are a lot of games that end with you thinking, "yeah, that's exactly what I expected to happen," but there are also a lot of games that you expect to go a certain way in which things turn out completely differently. When you add the Red Sox offensive struggles + Felix Hernandez + Tim Wakefield, we knew (well, I knew) that yesterday was another Boston loss. (Seriously, I wonder what kind of odds you could have gotten in Vegas for the proposition that Wakefield would outpitch Hernandez? But that's what happened...) That's just one more example of why the game is alway interesting.
  • The pitching was, for the most part, very good again. But there have been some notable bullpen failures. For the second time this season, they came back from a deficit to tie a game in the late innings with a HR, and for the second time, Bard promptly gave up the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Matsuzaka left the game (early with a stiff elbow) with a lead, and they (primarily Bobby Jenks) lost the lead and the game. Wakefield left the game with a lead after giving them more than they had any right to even hope for, never mind expect, and the bullpen (again, Bobby Jenks) promptly gave up the lead (though they did come back to win that one.)
  • For the most part, there's been no such thing as an insurmountable lead for the Boston bullpen, and no such thing as a surmountable lead for their opponents' bullpens.
  • The bullpen problems notwithstanding, obviously the issue this week continues to be the offense. The raw production was bad, as they hit .254/.313/.376/.688 as a team. Their timing was worse, as they "created" 23 1/2 runs and scored only 18. On Saturday, they were shut-out in a game in which they had 7 hits and drew 6 walks. They left the bases loaded in the first inning. They loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth and didn't score when a line drive turned into a double play.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - For the first time in his Red Sox career, Adrian Gonzalez (.417/.440/.583/1.023) is the player of the week. He's been very productive thus far, albeit in more of a Wade Boggs than a Manny Ramirez style. Long-term, I'd expect more of the latter than the former, but regardless, he's been one of the productive spots in the lineup.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Hidecki Okajima somehow threw three scoreless inning in three outings. Papelbon was good twice. Lester was good, Matt Albers threw five scoreless (but allowed an inherited runner to score.) But the award goes to Tim Wakefield for his stellar spot-start on Sunday, outpitching reigning Cy Young winner "King Felix" Hernandez with 5 2/3 scoreless (yes, there was a runner at first with two outs when he left, and Jenks allowed that runner to score) in a performance that they desperately needed.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Cleveland5.41(2)3.67(3)0.671(1)1891981
New York5.56(1)4.08(5)0.638(2)1691690
Los Angeles4.07(10)3.46(2)0.573(3)161216120
Texas5.07(4)4.32(8)0.573(4)161216120
Tampa Bay4.29(6)3.75(4)0.561(5)16121513-1
Kansas City5.18(3)4.89(11)0.526(6)151315130
Toronto4.54(5)4.39(9)0.515(7)14141315-1
Oakland3.46(13)3.43(1)0.505(8)141414140
Boston4.07(9)4.26(6)0.48(9)13141215-1
Baltimore4.23(7)4.58(10)0.464(10)121413131
Seattle3.83(12)4.31(7)0.446(11)131613160
Detroit4.18(8)4.96(12)0.422(12)121612160
Chicago3.9(11)5.14(13)0.376(13)11181019-1
Minnesota3.15(14)5.52(14)0.264(14)7209182

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Cleveland11448
New York10458
Los Angeles9369
Texas9369
Tampa Bay8775

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Cleveland11052
New York10359
Los Angeles9369
Texas9369
Tampa Bay9072

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Seattle5.5(3)2.17(1)0.846(1)51510
Cleveland6.83(1)3.17(4)0.803(2)51601
Tampa Bay6.83(1)3.5(6)0.773(3)5142-1
Los Angeles4.83(7)2.83(2)0.727(4)42420
Baltimore5.5(3)3.5(6)0.696(5)42511
New York4.29(8)2.86(3)0.677(6)5243-1
Toronto5.43(6)4.14(8)0.621(7)43430
Kansas City5.5(3)5.33(10)0.514(8)33330
Boston3(10)3.33(5)0.452(9)3324-1
Texas4.29(8)5.57(11)0.382(10)3425-1
Oakland2.83(11)4.67(9)0.286(11)24331
Chicago2.71(13)5.57(11)0.211(12)16251
Detroit2.83(11)6.83(13)0.166(13)1506-1
Minnesota2.33(14)9(14)0.078(14)06060

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Nit-picking

Sometimes, I'll click a link and end up at the Huffington Post. It's never a good idea...
Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had targeted bin Laden during their presidencies, and both had failed to either capture him or kill him. The failure to snare bin Laden weighed most heavily, perhaps, on the Bush Administration, which occupied the White House during the 9/11 attacks, and the al Qaeda leader’s killing falls exactly eight years to the day when Bush famously declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.
Bush didn't ever declare "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. The words never came out of his mouth. He did declare an end to major-combat operations, when major-combat operations had concluded, but the "Mission Accomplished" was a banner hung on the USS Abraham Lincoln by the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln when Bush gave a speech on the carrier, as it was heading home, its "mission accomplished..."
Details about the fight itself are still difficult to come by. According to local reports in Pakistan, a helicopter involved in the attack had a mechanical problem and crashed. U.S. forces intentionally destroyed the remainder of the wreckage to reduce signs of their presence in the area...
How does a bombed, destroyed helicopter represent a "reduce[d] sign of [its] presence in the area"? It doesn't. They destroyed the wreckage to prevent any usable technology from getting into the wrong hands. The idea that the American presence could be hidden by blowing up the downed helicopter is so silly that I'm amazed anyone would print it.

I've had conversations on this topic with someone who's been there and knows all about this. Helicopters do go down. When that happens, other helicopters go in and put a sling around them and lift them out. When that is not possible, the downed helicopters are stripped of weapons and communications equipment and then destroyed so that there aren't any usable pieces left. Which makes sense.

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Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. forces

It's about time...
Osama bin Laden, the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces Sunday in what officials described as a surgical raid on his luxury hideout in Pakistan.
I'm not sure that this actually changes anything, but it had to be done. Really, if there were one outcome from the military action that the US began in 2001 that was essential, it was the death of Osama bin Laden. That has now been accomplished.

This does not stop those who are engaged in jihad. It may make some of them more eager to strike. It certainly doesn't end the conflict, and doesn't come close to ending the struggle between Islam and the west. But it was necessary, and it's great that it has been done. Congratulations to all involved, and some credit even goes to President Obama (albeit nowhere near as much as he'll try to claim) for not keeping his campaign promises to shut down Guantanamo (where the intel that led to this action came from) and pull out of the mid-east.

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