Bad Good OBP

Erubiel Durazo has the hardest name to type in MLB history. I think the correct spelling actually contains backspaces.

Susan Slusser has an interesting article about him in today’s SF Chronicle. Last year, he was the perfect example of taking the walks-are-good philosophy too far. He was

drawing a tremendous number of walks, but doing little else and leading A’s statistics expert David Feldman to coin the terms “good on-base percentage and bad good on-base percentage.”

This year Dra^H^Hurza^H^Hazo is actually doing what Billy Beane expected when he traded for him. He’s hitting. Money quote:

“It kind of works together,” A’s hitting coach Dave Hudgens said. “Sometimes last year, guys were working for a walk, when what you want to do is work for your pitch (to hit). You want to be aggressive, and walks come as a byproduct. That’s why I think Ruby’s walk total will be up next year, because on-base percentage comes from respect.”

It’s an amazingly fine line that batters have to balance between aggression and patience, isn’t it?

The same goes for typists.

Our Pre-Post-Modernist Age

NOTE: the first two versions of this sucked. So,
[Cntl-X]*n (where 5<n<30), and thereby
text-- == postmodern++;

Baseball Prospectus threw me into postmodernism

without flaws
I lacked
  meaning

aggressive reactions have relied on
devolvement into incremental deconstruction

   twisting baseball around

often so weird
   that no one in their right mind

can make a n y sen
se o
f i
t

please
let’s skip

to whatever comes next

A Stats-Free Analysis

Last year, the A’s went into Florida for three games in June. In the first game, the Marlins blasted Mark Mulder, 13-2. The A’s managed to win the second game, but only after Florida had knocked Tim Hudson around first. In the third game, the A’s couldn’t touch Dontrelle Willis, and were shut out.

The A’s weren’t swept, but Florida made a statement. It seemed so bizarre, because the Marlins were under .500 at the time, but the impression I got out of that series was that Florida had kicked Oakland’s butt, and they were clearly the better team.

So this year, I’ve been watching for that type of butt-whippin’, where just watching the opposition it felt like the A’s were clearly inferior. Where you know that even if you play well, you’re still at a disadvantage. I got that feeling against two teams this year: the Cardinals and the Red Sox.

The Yankees have beaten the A’s pretty good this year, too, but their wins felt more like a function of the A’s playing poorly than the Yankees being superior. I feel like the A’s can stay with the Yankees. Perhaps if the A’s had played well and still lost, I’d be more impressed with the Bronx Bombers.

Last night, the A’s and Red Sox played a great, tense ballgame. Then the third base umpire made a horrible call in the eighth inning, ruling Manny Ramirez had caught a ball he clearly trapped, and the A’s were toast. One break went against them, and the A’s fell apart. The Red Sox got their break, and they stomped all over Oakland with a kind of killer instinct I’ve never, ever seen in the Red Sox before. A close game ended up 8-3.

Color me impressed. Traditionally, Boston falls apart at the slightest provocation. This post-Nomar team is different. I think this is their year, and the only thing that can stop them is Albert Pujols, star of the equally impressive Cardinals, shooting bullets through the Green Monster. Either that, or some weird ghost showing up.

I’d love to see the A’s win it all, but if justice is served, we’ll see St. Louis and Boston face off in the World Series this year.

Missed Flight

Said Baseball: “Flee Hurricane Frances!”
“We’ll watch how the stormfront advances,”
Replied Tampa Bay.
“We’d much rather stay.
And on Monday, we’ll just take our chances.”

Come Monday, the storm was still blowing.
That morning, no planes were yet going.
The Rays had to wait.
They arrived much too late.
“It’s a forfeit!” the Yankees were crowing.

Said Tampa, “The weather’s to blame.
If a ring’s won with this, it’s a shame.”
Bud bought Tampa’s story.
So sorry, Joe Torre,
You’ll earn your wins playing the game.

Injury Report

Ken Arneson will miss 2-4 weeks of the soccer season, after suffering a sprained ankle three minutes into Friday’s game.

Owowowowowow. My foot got stepped on, my ankle turned over, and I could hear the ligaments rip. That hurt. So this old fart is now stuck sitting in front of the TV, practicing RICE, and there’s nothing on TV to watch except this godawful Diamondbacks-Giants game.

I’m a fair-weather Giants fan, but I find this year’s Giants team darn near unwatchable, except for Jason Schmidt and Barry Bonds. How good is Bonds? The Giants are right in the middle of the playoff hunt, and they have Deivi Cruz batting third tonight. Deivi Cruz!

Dave Burba entered the game in the fourth inning. My sister-in-law walked into the room and said, “Oh my God, is that Dave Burba? Are you watching ESPN Classic?”

I wish. I don’t get ESPN Classic. This game is almost three hours old now, it’s 18-5 Giants, and we’re still in the sixth inning. It won’t be good enough to be a classic, but by the time this game is over, it will have aged enough to qualify. And I might be ready for my AARP card.

Rock the Kazmir

As Bryan Smith points out on Wait Til Next Year, the A’s knocked Scott Kazmir around in his second major league start on Sunday.

I was at the game, so I decided to give Kazmir a close look to see what all the fuss was about. I watched him warm up in the bullpen. From the side, his delivery reminded me of Ted Lilly. But when I saw him from behind the plate, it looked different. From that angle, I could see why so many people are worried about his delivery. I’m no expert or anything, but it looked very effortful, not smooth at all.

Kazmir is the second heralded rookie I’ve seen this year. I’ve seen Zack Greinke twice. Greinke is much more impressive, changing speeds like he’s been pitching in the majors for fifteen years. Kazmir throws harder, of course, but it didn’t look like he changed speeds very well at all. Everything was hard: hard fastball, hard slider.

The A’s spat on the slider, sat fastball and, being the patient team that they are, eventually got it. If Kazmir doesn’t want to end up as just a LOOGY, I think he has some learning to do.

Dream

I woke up this morning have just dreamed this:

There’s a rustling coming from my attic. As I approach to investigate, I notice the attic is dripping.

I climb up the ladder to the attic, and discover that Arnold Schwarzenegger has just finished installing a new toilet for me.

Arnie smiles, but says nothing. He demonstrates: the toilet works now, no leaks! As the flush completes, Richard Nixon begins speaking on radio, telling me about all the great features of this new toilet.

That’s weird, I say to myself. I thought Nixon was dead.

I have no idea what this means. I’ve dreamed about sports before, but never politics. This blog is doing strange things to me.