Saturday, May 23, 2015
Aaron Barrett proudly displays his Star-Spangledtude.
The game hardly mattered by the time it began. A mere baseball game, especially one played in May between the charging Nationals and the sputtering Phillies, could not possibly carry the emotional weight of the test of human spirit, of will and of hope, that preceded it. The Nationals won Friday night’s game, 2-1, and that was good, of course. But first, Aaron Barrett won one of the longest post-anthem standoffs in recent memory — one the baseball world will little note, but one those who witnessed it will long remember.
As with many of baseball’s inexplicable but time-honored traditions, the origins of the post-anthem standoff are obscured by the blur of numbers on jerseys, of bored players, of long pregame ceremonies and long baseball seasons. It sums to this: “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays to a reverent crowd, and both teams line up, hats off, held over their hearts. The song ends, the crowd cheers, and the players disperse. Most of them, anyway.
One hearty soul on one side stays. Someone on the other side notices, considers consequences of surrendering without standing up for himself, then engages. The standoff ensues. Barrett said later he did not want a fight Friday night. The challenge came, and he did not back down.
Barrett has a decorated history with such things. Umpires nearly threw him and Rockies’ outfielder Brandon Barnes out of a game in Colorado last season when they refused to leave the field before the first pitch. Like that July staredown, Friday’s showdown was the stuff of which legends are written, the stuff about which novels are scratched out by candlelight. Had he been following on Twitter, exhausted at Marathon, Pheidippides himself would likely have thrown an olive wreath Barrett’s way to honor of his endurance.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
I did pretty well last year, although Travis Ishikawa didn’t end up getting the Pirates’ job and that hurt.
HACKING MASS, our competition to pick the least dangerous hitters and least effective pitchers in the majors, returns for the 2015 season!... You’ll have a full week to enter (the deadline is April 13, 2015, at midnight PST), but it’s easy to change players, so feel free to go all in on Freddy Galvis on the entry form today, then switch to Adeiny Hechavarria Monday morning…
Simply pick the players who you think will be the stiffest at each position. A team’s aggregate stiffness is measured by summing the ESPN (Exuded Stiff Points, Net) of all of the players on your team. We’ve updated the scoring logic since the last HACKING MASS competition to better fit the times, so for hitters, ESPN is 0.700, minus his OBP, minus his SLG, and multiplied by plate appearances—i.e., (.700-OPS)*PA. For pitchers, the formula is the pitcher’s ERA, minus 3.74, times his innings pitched, divided by three, or (ERA-3.74)*IP/3. This results in similar Stiffness scores for the firmest hitters and pitchers…
In each case, it isn’t enough for a player to simply suck; somehow the Stiffest of the Stiff must find a way to remain in the lineup or rotation. Possession of incriminating photos of managers and GMs, telekinesis of ink onto lineup cards, large contracts that need justification, and ties to the underworld can all be important attributes of your players besides their lack of hitting and pitching talent.
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