Month: October 2006
Athletics-Twins, ALDS Game 1 Chat
by Ken Arneson
2006-10-03 7:59

Check out all the division series previews over at Baseball Analysts. The last section is written by yours truly.

Then feel free to chat away, all you toast eaters.

Whether I’ll join you, I’m not sure. Will I have the courage to follow the action, or the discipline not to?


J. Kendall c
M. Kotsay cf
M. Bradley rf
F. Thomas dh
E. Chavez 3b
J. Payton lf
N. Swisher 1b
M. Scutaro ss
M. Ellis 2b

L. Castillo 2b
N. Punto 3b
J. Mauer c
M. Cuddyer rf
J. Morneau 1b
T. Hunter cf
R. White lf
P. Nevin dh
J. Bartlett ss

2006 Division Series Preview
by Score Bard
2006-10-03 0:09


The key isn’t hitting by Mauer,
Or finding occasional power
By Justin Morneauing;
It’s Oakland not knowing
Santana’s next miles-per-hour.



With Woody, Wells, Young after Peavy
And a ‘pen that is very releavy,
The Padres are deep.
So maybe a sweep
Is something not too unbeleavy.



This will get ugly, I fear.
Detroit will get kicked in the rear
Unless somehow Zumaya
Is the bullpen Messiah
Instead of Rivera this year.



It’s painful for Penny to throw.
They’re trusting a rookie in Kuo.
With pitching so brittle
The Dodgers are little
But wagers on Maddux and Lowe.

Scott Brosius Messes With My Prediction Formula
by Ken Arneson
2006-10-02 16:22

The Scott Brosius weirdness continues…

Last year, I invented a formula for predicting the playoffs. The formula correctly picked the White Sox to win it all. Of course, since it worked so well, I decided to use the formula again in 2006.

My formula is based on one little-known fact: the team that committed fewer errors in the regular season wins the division series 2/3 of the time. I’ve looked at a whole bunch of stats, but I haven’t found another stat with a better success rates (fielding percentage comes closest).

This correlation only holds for the division series, not for the whole playoffs. So I set up my formula to work like this: in the Division and World Series, pick the team with the fewest errors. In the LCS, reverse the trend, and pick the team with the most errors.

Quite simple, eh? You’d think, but this year, the formula completely falls apart. Watch:

Division Series (fewest errors wins)
Mets (104 errors) over Dodgers (115).
Padres (92) over Cardinals (98).
Yankees (104) over Tigers (106).
Twins (84) and Athletics (84): it’s a tie!!!

Oh, no! We can’t predict who is going to win the A’s-Twins series!

No matter, we can continue anyway:

League Championship Series (most errors wins)
Mets (104) over Padres (92).
Yankees (104) over A’s/Twins (84).

Which leads us to this:

World Series (fewest errors wins)
Mets (104) and Yankees (104): it’s a tie again!!!

Yikes! We have no World Series winner, either! The formula fails!


Scott Brosius, what hast thou wrought?

The Return of Scott Brosius and Other Unsolved Mysteries
by Ken Arneson
2006-10-01 22:16

The other day, Philip wrote, regarding the 2006 A’s, that “this has easily been, for me, the most maddening team to follow. Hardly are those words out than I find myself moving from lacking all conviction one minute to a quiet confidence the next, and then right back again.

My unstable emotional state is probably a sign that I don’t really understand this team very well. I cannot forecast to you the action of Oakland. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I don’t mind having an unsolved mystery or two, like the tagline of this very blog, Stop Casting Porosity, lurking in my life. But when too many unsolved mysteries begin to accumulate, the riddles start turning and turning in my mind, as my mind tries to bind the disparate enigmas together into one impossible story, like a shape with lion body and the head of a man. I become vexed; there is too much data to control; the circles turn wider and wider; the center cannot hold. Questions become obsessions becomes paranoia. Anarchy is loosed upon my mind.

There’s something’s happening here. What is, ain’t exactly clear. You’ve got to be a very wary bear. Stop, listen, what’s that clown, everybody look what’s going down:


The Missing First Draft

I wrote this blog entry once before. But just before I was about to save it, my editing window vanished, and everything I had written disappeared. I gazed blankly at my screen. When something dies, you expect a shadow: some sign of the departed, desert birds circling indignantly for their meal. But nothing. No other computer problems; my other windows stayed intact. Just the one window with my first draft disappeared. How perfectly…inconvenient.

Was there something I wrote in my first draft that somebody didn’t want publicized?


The Racket

Let’s say there’s a product you think you’d like to buy. The product comes in a set. You might want the whole set, but more likely, you’d only want a few pieces of the set. A piece costs about $50-$200, depending on the quality of the individual piece. The set costs about $1,200. Here are the terms that the manufacturer offers you:

  1. At invoice time, there is roughly a 50% chance that the manufacturer will deliver at least one part of the set, and a less than 10% chance that the manufacturer will deliver the entire set.
  2. You must provide the manufacturer with a two-month, interest-free loan for the cost of the entire set, whether the manufacturer delivers the product or not.
  3. You must pay the manufacturer a non-refundable $25 ordering fee, whether the manufacturer delivers the product or not.

Would you purchase the product, or try to renegotiate the terms?

I feel compelled to reject the deal, just on principle. However, it turns out the manufacturer can sell out the product anyway, despite the ridiculous terms.

There are two mysteries: 1. Why do so many people accept these terms? Do people lack all conviction? Are they so full of passionate intensity, they will pay anything, on any terms, to join the ceremony? 2. Given this troubling deal, is there any way to beat this racket?

I have no answer for either question.


The Convoy

For a whole week earlier this month, two or three times a day, a convoy of eight or so SUVs and minivans, all with Michigan license plates, kept driving past my office. About one or two minutes later, the entire convoy would turn around and drive away in the other direction.

Where were they going? There isn’t really much at the end of my road except a dumpster, a turnabout, a tennis court, and a boat dock. Why did they come all the way from Michigan to California? Why wasn’t one car enough? Why did all of these cars need to travel together? There wasn’t really enough time for them to load or unload much cargo and turn right around. What in the name of Bo Schembechler is going on here?


Dude, Who Stole My Car?

As darkness dropped on Wednesday evening, I lay in a stony sleep, nursing an injured neck, when my wife awakened me to a nightmare: some pitiless thief had just stolen my car from in front of my house.

This is the second time this car has been stolen. Were they looking for something in my car? Did the Michiganders have anything to do with it? Was Scott Brosius involved?


The Return of Scott Brosius

Brosius Card

Some weeks earlier, I arrived home one night, went into my kitchen, and flipped on the light. Right in the middle of the floor, I found a 1997 Topps Scott Brosius baseball card.

I had never seen the card before. I asked my wife. She had never seen the card before, either.

Where did the card come from? Who put it there? Is it a warning? An omen?

Why a baseball card, and why Scott Brosius? What does Scott Brosius mean, anyway?

This image from the past troubles my sight. In my eyes, if Scott Brosius is a symbol for anything, it’s the lost sheep, the prodigal son. Brosius left the A’s after a miserable 1997 season, and went to the Yankees, where he became a postseason hero. In fact, Brosius’ departure began an incredible run where nearly every World Series featured someone who had done practically nothing in Oakland, but seeming out of nowhere became a postseason hero in their new homes:

1998-2001: Scott Brosius
2002: Scott Spiezio
2003: nobody, really, but Dontrelle Willis is a local kid who got away, so maybe he counts
2004: Mark Bellhorn (plus Johnny Damon and Keith Foulke, I suppose)
2005: Jermaine Dye

FWIW, here is a list of players who match the above criteria, who are eligible for the postseason:

Octavio Dotel, Cory Lidle, Sal Fasano, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman (minors), Andre Ethier (minors), Olmedo Saenz, Chad Bradford, Tyler Johnson (rule 5 sendback), and two former champions, Mark Bellhorn and Scott Spiezio.

Will it happen again? Is one of those players on this list the next ex-Athletic to earn postseason glory?

Or does the second coming of Scott Brosius mean something else? Is some new revelation is at hand? Is there some great Spirit of Baseball loosing a strange new tide upon the world? What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Oakland to be born?


And The Last Puzzle Piece…

There’s a v

Stupid, Stupid Tigers
by Ken Arneson
2006-10-01 17:19

How the heck do you get swept against the worst team in baseball when you need just one win to capture the division title? The Tigers should be automatically disqualified from the playoffs for that simple fact alone. Let the White Sox in the playoffs instead. At least they’d put up a fight. I wouldn’t usually root for the Yankees in any playoff series, but the pathetic display by the Tigers this weekend has disgusted me so much that I am now rooting for the Tigers to suffer the most humiliating, lopsided playoff defeat in major league history. If they’re gonna choke like that, why couldn’t they have saved their major choke job for one more day (i.e. in the playoffs against the A’s)? Argh.

I guess I spent whatever good karma I had on winning the division, because everything else in my life has pretty much sucked since then. The day after the A’s clinched the division, I injured my neck so badly that I could barely move, and every time I tried to do anything, I ended up with a pounding headache. And then, the same evening I hurt my neck, someone stole my car. And now, the coup de grâce, the stupid Tigers have gone ruined the whole playoffs for me by getting swept by the Royals, of all teams.

The playoffs are ruined because now the A’s have to face Johan Santana and the Twins. Facing Santana is the toughest possible playoff assignment, but that’s not what’s ruining the playoffs for me; I actually enjoy watching Santana pitch. Santana is probably the only Twins player I’ve ever liked outside of Kirby Puckett.

No the problem is simply that I hate the Twins. I really, really hate the Twins. And the Metrodome. I hate the Metrodome, and that stupid turf, and the way its ugly shade of green reminds you that you are playing on fake grass instead of beautiful green grass, and the way the game resembles pinball more than baseball because of that stupid turf, and that stupid roof, and the stupid way all the noise gets trapped in there like a greenhouse traps heat because of that stupid roof, and the way the ball is hard to see through that stupid roof when you play a day game, and the fact that playing a day game is completely wasted when you play it under a stupid roof instead of the open sky, and the way the stupid architecture makes you play an inferior sport with inferior rules and inferior tactics, and how you have to change your approach to take precautions not to lose a game because of a stupid fake grass bounce or a misjudged stupid white roof fly ball, and how you can lose a game that you normally wouldn’t lose under open sky and on real grass because the ball takes a stupid fake grass bounce or a fielder misjudges a stupid white roof fly ball, and the way I can list a whole bunch of stupid things I hate about the Metrodome without even mentioning how stupid I think that stupid plastic bag fence is, and that stupid plastic bag fence.

There’s no way I could possibly enjoy this playoff series now, even if the A’s swept all three games by 16-0 scores. I think that listening to Roseanne Barr sing the national anthem for three hours straight would be a more pleasing aesthetic experience than watch the A’s play the Twins in the Metrodome.

Well, good thing then that the first three games are weekday day games. I can’t watch, I have to work. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

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