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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MLB: Astros telecasts catching on to advanced metrics

Meanwhile back in the media capital of the world…derisive “analyst” Paul O’Neill says: “Frank Thomas was a one dimensional player.”

The idea was bandied about last year by CSN Houston senior producer Carl Patterson, who discussed with his staff how to realistically work some of this into the telecasts. Because the Astros’ front office relies so much on advanced metrics, introducing some of it, independently, into the telecasts seemed like a logical next step. The question was, how to do it?

“Normally, the standard thing is RBIs, batting average, home runs,” Patterson said. “Last year, we talked about doing a whole game where we just talked about sabermetrics stuff. But we kind of realized that none of us understood it well enough to talk about it intelligently. So I spent the offseason just thinking about how to do it.”

...This is something Astros TV analyst Alan Ashby—who admittedly is not a huge sabermetrics fan—feels comfortable with, and often expounds on it when a WAR stat pops up on screen.

“One of the reasons that I bring it up is some part of it is subjective on the defensive side,” Ashby said. “You’ve got Mike Trout from a couple of years ago that has so much WAR positive created on his defensive side. That’s the kind of stuff that makes it intriguing to me.”

Patterson limits the metrics-speak to five main concepts: WAR, BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play), wRC (Weighted Runs Created), FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and Z-Contact% (Inside-the-zone contact percentage).

“I feel like five is enough,” Patterson said. “Pick five that make sense to our guys, then talk about it fluently and passionately.”

Repoz Posted: July 22, 2014 at 09:15 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, media, sabermetrics

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Neyer: Jeff Garlin, we hardly knew ye.

Just a bit outside the rules of professional conduct. #FJeff

In that same essay, I trumpeted the participation of Jeff Garlin. This gave me a great deal of pleasure, because I’m a huge fan and thought he would bring certain qualities to this page that might otherwise go missing.

I first met Garlin a couple of months ago, over pancakes (him) and French toast (me) before one of his shows at the legendary Largo. He was funny and engaging and down-to-earth, with occasional hints of sincere self-deprecation. When some tourists asked if he’d been on a certain sitcom way back when, he could not have been nicer to them. I said I like his movies (true); he said he likes my books (and loves Joe Posnanski, of course). He was everything you could hope for, when meeting a Hollywood celebrity whom you’d long admired from afar.

...Monday, I received an e-mail from Garlin’s lawyer, listing a few seemingly minor concerns about our deal memo (which I’d dispatched some weeks earlier).

Tuesday, I published the essay about JABO’s impending birth, with Garlin figuring prominently. Wednesday afternoon, we launched JABO with Garlin, head shot and all, listed among our contributors. The site looked great, and I was thrilled with our Opening Day lineup. I gotta tell you, it made for a really nice few hours there.

Wednesday evening, just as I thought it was safe to bask in my continuing good fortune, I received a terse e-mail from Garlin.

He said he couldn’t do it. When I responded in confusion and dismay, he explained that he really wanted to do it, but just couldn’t because of professional considerations. Does Garlin do impressions? I don’t think he does. But I’ve been imagining another meeting over pancakes, and this time he does his best Michael Corleone: It’s not personal, Robby. It’s strictly business.

One of these days, maybe I’ll grow up enough where I don’t take it personally. Right now, it really hurts and I wonder when I’ll be able to enjoy Garlin’s work again. It’s okay, though. I know that in the big picture, I’m barely a mite on the flea on the pimple on the ass of Jeff Garlin’s career. But this mite just spent five tremendously happy days in the Twin Cities, marred just briefly by one painful e-mail exchange. This mite will find another flea on another pimple on another ass. There’s always another ass.

Not that Jeff Garlin’s an ass! I can’t see into his heart or his mind, but I suspect he’s a decent sort. And he said he likes my books! I hope he’s healthy and happy and gets great ratings in his new time slot.

Repoz Posted: July 19, 2014 at 06:05 AM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Thursday, July 17, 2014

MLB Network: Christopher Russo Tongue Twisters

I dislike E.W. Scripps. I dislike Scripps. I dislike Scripps a lot.

Repoz Posted: July 17, 2014 at 05:08 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Neyer: Get ready for Just A Bit Outside ... FOXSports.com’s new baseball destination

The future in sports journalism here - flannel-based reporting!

Welcome to Just a Bit Outside, coming to FOXSports.com on Wednesday. I’ve been doing this “work” for a long time now, and over the last 70-some years I’ve developed some pretty strong opinions when it comes to covering baseball on the Ultranet. You know, I was there at the beginning, covering such luminaries as Gus “No Shoulders” Wagner and Dale “Murderer” Sisler for the website of the Baltimore Picayune-Democrat, and I’ve seen it all. Having strong opinions is both a blessing (confidence!) and a curse (intolerance!). But it’s difficult to edit a website if you don’t know what you like….

What will you see here? You’ll see some familiar names and faces. Mine, of course. More than you would like, maybe (can’t complain about the price, though). But also two of the game’s top reporters, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi. And two of our smartest former players, Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski. We’ll be featuring, nearly every day, the best work of our partners at FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. And we’ll have some surprises, too. You’ll notice that our masthead includes Jeff Garlin, a brilliantly talented actor, comedian, and filmmaker ... who also happens to love baseball as much as anyone you’ll meet. Jeff’s going to be contributing regularly to this page, and I just can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

I’ve grown tired of the term long-form ... isn’t that just the hipster’s way of saying good, well-developed story? But I’ll tell you right now, Just a Bit Outside is going to feature some really terrific stories in the next few months. I mean, I know it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver ... but damn if I’m not really excited about some of the stuff you’re going to see.

 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Holmes: Tigers’ radio team makes it difficult to tune in

Go, Jim & Dan
Go, Jim & Dan
Go, Jim & Dan…Please!

I am this close…(imagine thumb and forefinger about an inch apart)…from taking a baseball bat to my car radio.

I’ve been in my car a lot recently and it’s given me the opportunity to listen to Detroit Tigers’ games on the radio. As you’ll learn, I mean “opportunity” as in: we have an “opportunity” to get a root canal. It’s like someone’s invading a hole in my head and inflicting pain.

That’s what it’s like to listen to the Detroit radio broadcast team of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price. It’s brutal.

...If I could have a three wishes, I’d use two of them in the typical way (revenge against my enemies and all-encompassing wealth and power), but the third, the third wish, I’d use that to give Dan Dickerson the gift of description. He really has no idea how to describe something in an explicit way, which is really THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF HIS JOB. he’s like pone of those annoying friends who starts conversations in the middle of a story and expects us to understand what the hell he’s talking about.

There’s a drive and he dives and it’s caught out there deep on the warning track. what a play!

WHERE was that drive and WHO hit it? And WHO caught it WHERE? And HOW many guys were on base?!? And what’s the score?

[Driving off the road into a ditch]

Repoz Posted: June 28, 2014 at 07:43 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: media, tigers

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mushnick: Keith Hernandez goes from insightful to bully in one inning

The FB BULLY Project has 642,873 likes, so let’s keep at it!

But in the next half inning, he went from enlightened analyst to schoolyard bully Nelson “Ha-Ha!” Muntz. SNY presented a photo of Padres pitcher Alex Torres from the night before, wearing a cap that bulged at its sides from a protective liner.

Yes, Torres looked odd. Yet, clearly, if he were determined to diminish the chances of a fractured skull or brain injury from a line drive to the side of his head, his head, if not his cap, was on straight.

Well, Hernandez took a macho, style-over-function stance, mocking Torres for looking “absurd.” (The same was heard when batting helmets arrived then grew larger until they included earflaps and would be worn by base coaches.)

He wasn’t done. He suggested Torres and anyone who would wear such a thing are cowards: “If you’re scared, get a dog.”

Ugh! Either Hernandez was unaware of the dozens of annual, all-levels episodes that have pitchers rushed to hospitals — some with permanent neurological damage — or such episodes have not yet left an impression on him.

In Torres’ case, last year with the Rays, he replaced Alex Cobb after Cobb was nailed in the head with a line drive. After Saturday’s game, Torres recalled he still could hear the crack against Cobb’s head — and Torres was in the bullpen. “I’m glad he’s alive.”

Cobb, depending on how one looks at it, was lucky — he was out just two months.
Good Keith, bad Keith. For better and worse, he keeps both in the game.

Repoz Posted: June 27, 2014 at 09:38 AM | 82 comment(s)
  Beats: media, mets

Friday, June 20, 2014

MLB, the MLBPA announce the creation of the Puerto Rico Summer League

Players from Puerto Rico are subject to the Major League draft, which, kills the incentive for teams and scouts to go there and develop teenage talent like they do in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Since the imposition of the draft in Puerto Rico in 1990, the once rich vein of talent heading from there to the big leagues has all but dried up.

But not to worry, this summer league is sure to turn around 25 years of decline.  Problem meet solution.

 

Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: June 20, 2014 at 02:32 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: media, rangers, wtf

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Chicago Cubs leaving WGN radio

Holy cow!

After 90 years and no World Series victories, the Chicago Cubs and WGN radio are going their separate ways.

The Cubs will announce a new, seven-year deal to broadcast games on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM on Thursday, according to media reports. The deal starts next season.

After 197 losses in two seasons, WGN used an opt-out clause in its contract due to declining ratings and revenue last fall, and couldn’t come to terms with the Cubs on a new deal.

“We’re very proud of our long-time association with the Cubs, but it has to make good business sense and the current arrangement does not,” WGN radio president and general manager Jimmy de Castro said Wednesday morning on 87.7 The Game.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 04, 2014 at 01:59 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, media, radio, wgn

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ron Darling: Keith Hernandez qualified to be a critic of Mets’ hitting philosophy

Keith got 9 IBB’s in 86…so there’s that!.

Fired Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens used the word “naysayers” when describing the SNY announcers—including Keith Hernandez—who have criticized the team’s batting approach.

SNY announcer Ron Darling had another word Tuesday night to describe Hernandez: Expert.

“If you look at Keith’s career,” Darling told Newsday, “Keith was the poster boy for what they do. He’s already done it. These guys aspire to do it. I think that Keith is probably the best person to talk about how you get on base, but at the same time the aggressiveness with which you can do that. So I don’t know anyone better to speak about it.”

Darling was asked before Tuesday night’s game about comments Hudgens made to Newsday after his Memorial Day firing.

Said Hudgens: “The naysayers, the guys who disapprove of us, the guys who I listen to on TV all the time, those guys that know everything about the game, I’m just amazed at it . . . I just shake my head at the old-school guys that have it all figured out. Go up there and swing the bat. Well, what do you want to swing at? It just confounds me. It’s just hilarious, really. That’s one thing. I’m glad I don’t have to listen to those guys anymore.”

Repoz Posted: May 29, 2014 at 01:09 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: media, mets

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chappell: Rockwell’s Baseball Painting ‘The Rookie’ Sells For $20 Million (NPR)

Norman Rockwell’s “The Rookie” has sold for $20 million at auction Thursday. The 1957 painting of baseball players in a locker room was sold by Christie’s auction house — heady heights for a work that first appeared on a magazine that sold for 15 cents.

A painting I’ve always admired, a popular subject for jigsaw puzzles and the like.  #8 in the painting is catcher Sammy White, not Frank Sullivan as the article suggests.  The focus of the picture is Jackie Jensen looking up in quizzical welcome.  Ted Williams (who as the article explains did not pose for the picture) provides a subtext, giving The Rookie a furtive side glance while said Rookie doesn’t even notice him. 

Thanks to spike, who linked to a linked story in the OTP thread.

BDC Posted: May 22, 2014 at 12:04 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: americana, art, jackie jensen, media, red sox, sammy white, ted williams

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Former Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia still bitter about treatment in Toronto

Despite his historically poor production on both sides of the ball, by Arencibia’s estimation it was the media who ran him out of town.

“I think the media made me out to be a monster — I wasn’t. They changed a lot of things that I said or made up stories. So I thought that that was a big thing that went down. I learned how much media does control things.”

Arencibia did not specify to which reporters or media outlets he was referring. Of the allegations he said were falsely reported, he mentioned only one: that he had complained to team president Paul Beeston about Hayhurst and Zaun, which he said “wasn’t even close to what happened.”

Arencibia himself was actually the source of that report, when he said in an MLB Network radio interview that he spoke to the “team president” about broadcasters “that we employ” and asked, “How do you build a fan base when everything that fans are hearing is negative?”

Though he once again declined to specify about whom or what he was speaking, Arencibia also said he considered taking legal action against some members of the media, whom he vaguely accused of defaming him.

“Of course I was over it at this point of trying to say anything because it made no difference,” he said. “For everything that I did and everything that I try to do in the community and always be a good person first, to see people just turn around and make things up. Obviously you know that there’s bad human beings in this world and I realized we had quite a few of them that I had to deal with.”


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joe Posnanski: Knowing Arky

Might as well be Parkyakarkus* Vaughan.

Extreme Seinfeld reach

And then, the Royals announcers started to talk about it.

Ryan Lefebvre’s color commentator these days is Rex Hudler. I’ve never met Rex. I’ve been told he’s a wonderful guy, and I have every reason to believe that. But I will not lie: He’s the reason I don’t watch the Royals broadcast regularly anymore. His voice hits me the way Mary Hart’s voice used to hit Kramer on Seinfeld. Well it’s not the voice itself — his voice is fine — it’s the stuff he says about baseball. I’m not going to go any deeper than that; he’s not my thing.

But I was listening here and Rex saw the list and said something to the effect of, “Wow Honus Wagner. He goes all the way back to the ’30s.”

The thirties. Yeah. Honus Wagner. who is probably most famous for the T206 baseball card of 1910 (or so) that has sold for about $3 million dollars, who was a childhood hero of Babe Ruth, who may have been the greatest deadball player ever … Rex had him playing in the 1930s. When he was 60. Ugh.*

*I’m told that later in the broadcast, Rex referred to the moon as a planet. I don’t know if this is true or if it was done as a joke. I was watching the Penguins-Rangers.

So, I grimaced there but was ready to move on. Then Ryan — my pal Ryan who I greatly admire and enjoy — started going on about how he had never heard of Arky Vaughan. Never heard of him. Well, more than that, Ryan did something that bugs me: He made it seem like NO ONE has ever heard of Arky Vaughan, like it was incredibly nerdy for his name to even be on this list. I realize Ryan was just trying to get a little comedy out of the moment, but I have to say I really don’t like that. I have a lifelong aversion to people who don’t know things acting like not knowing is the default position. In high school, I once had someone make me feel really dumb because I had read Moby Dick (it was a fluke, I admit; I had not read any other classics as a kid) … and it affected me. It really did. It made me think it was uncool to know things. It made me embarrassed to raise my hand and say something because not knowing was cooler. That sort of downward pressure drives me nuts.

It is bad enough that Ryan has not heard of one of the five greatest shortstops in baseball history (Bill James ranks him second) and the 73rd greatest baseball player ever on my list (Ryan, aren’t you reading me here?). He didn’t need to keep harping on it as if Arky Vaughan was the most obscure player in the history of mankind.

Repoz Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:13 AM | 174 comment(s)
  Beats: history, media, royals

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Smullens: Don Draper and the New York Mets: 1969, A Year of Miracles

Those Madison Avenue types could Frisella _____ to a _____.

Now here comes the optimistic foreshadowing—the year for Don and his Mad Men (and Women) is 1969, the Mets’ eighth season in the Major Leagues. In the seven preceding seasons the Mets had never finished higher than ninth place in the ten team National League and had never had a winning season. Records show that they lost at least one hundred games in five of the seasons.

Now stay with me, and yes, prepare to hoot and holler! The Mets got their act together when the Chicago Cubs suffered a late season breakdown, finishing the season 100-62, eight games ahead of the Cubs. They then defeated the National League West champs, the Atlanta Braves, three games to none in the League Championship Series. On a roll, they proceeded to defeat the American League champs, the Baltimore Orioles, in five games (I remember this well, as my home town was Baltimore!!), and win the World Series.

By the way, do you recall the first baseman who was named the series most valuable player (on the strength of his .357 batting average, three home runs, and four runs batted in)? His last name is Clendenon; his first, Donn.

And there is more foreshadowed hope symbolized by the formerly rumpled Mets pennant, now neatly attached to its new home, front and center! Casey Stengel, who managed the Mets from their inaugural season to 1965, called his team the “Amazin’ Mets.” Others refer to them as the “Miracle Mets.” Well, you and I know that miracles can happen if you believe they can and will yourself to turn your life and luck around.

Yep, I join those wholeheartedly who are not giving up on our Don. He’s got many a home run in him, and it will be thrilling to see what he does with them.

Repoz Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:46 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: business, history, media, mets

Monday, April 28, 2014

Awful Announcing:  The MLB Local TV Announcer Rankings

Over the last two weeks, we polled the Awful Announcing readers on their opinions of each local broadcast team around the majors…Each “A” vote received 4 points, 3 points for a “B” vote, down to 0 points for an “F” vote. The total points scored were divided by the total number of votes to calculate what amounts to a GPA for each broadcast booth.

30) Chicago White Sox – 1.37
-Hawk Harrelson (play by play)
-Steve Stone (analyst, play by play – select)
-Aaron Rowand (analyst -select)
-Mike Huff (analyst – select)
-Tom Paciorek (analyst – select)

Most popular grade: F (46% of voters)

puck Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:52 PM | 123 comment(s)
  Beats: media, mlb

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mike Puma insulted Bartolo Colon and the Mets were not amused

Quite Obnoxious…(I Wanna #### You) Like A Puma

Using the Michael Pineda pine-tar-on-neck incident as a conceit, New York Post beat writer Mike Puma made a joke about Bartolo Colon’s weight in his game recap of this past Thursday’s 4–1 win over the Cardinals at Citi Field. In his lede, Puma wrote under the headline “LARDBALL”:

  “If the umpires searched Bartolo Colon’s neck for a foreign substance on Thursday, chances are they only would have found peanut butter.”

In the recap’s next paragraph, Puma continued to drive the point home that Colon weighs more than the average person by referring to him as “rotund.” Apparently, Mets players were not amused. According to Daily News reporters Justin Tasch and Kristie Ackert, the team refused to speak with the media after Friday night’s win until Puma was no longer in their presence. Puma was escorted out of the clubhouse without incident, and then the players began taking questions as promised. The team refused to comment on the incident.

Repoz Posted: April 26, 2014 at 05:19 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: media, mets

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Vin Scully tells a story about Torii Hunter’s dad and a crack pipe (Video)

You could give the same background information about a player to 10 different broadcasters, and Scully would just be able to make it sound so much better than the others. And even when he’s telling a story about crack pipes, he still makes it sound great.

During the Los Angeles Dodgers-Detroit Tigers game on Tuesday, Scully was talking about Torii Hunter and told a story about Hunter’s father being a crack addict. The story went that Hunter’s father wore his son’s jacket and left a crack pipe in the pocket, and the pipe fell out of the pocket in a classroom after Torii wore the jacket to school. But the way Scully tells it … man, he is just so good.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2014 at 05:19 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Monday, April 07, 2014

Steinberg: Braves announcers on Bryce Harper

Announcers think Harper is kicky!

If my math is correct, the Braves and Nats have played three times this season. And in all three of the Atlanta broadcasts on Fox Sports South, the Braves announcers managed to take cracks at Bryce Harper.

I didn’t watch the entire Atlanta broadcasts — just segments, after fans highlighted individual cracks. I can’t promise this is a comprehensive cataloging.

...First, Caray and Joe Simpson discussed Harper’s offseason during an early-game at-bat, while showing a photo of him with his UFC belt.

“In the offseason Bryce Harper made it a point to let the world know about his offseason conditioning program,” Caray said. “He really hit the weight room in preparation for this 2014 season. Maybe he was looking more like an NFL linebacker.”

“I don’t know why young guys think that more muscles mean more power,” Simpson said. “That’s almost a clown move, bro. Long line of guys who think that muscles equal more power, and not necessarily so. You can make a phone call to Jeff Francoeur and see how that affected him. Jeff thought that beefing up to about 230 would help him hit more homers, and it did not. In fact it had an opposite effect….[Harper’s] such a gifted baseball player, can do so many things well. Any team would love to have him on their ballclub. You just would hate to see him somehow affect what comes naturally to him and how strong he already was before he worked out, or did whatever he did this winter.”

Later, Harper struck out again.

“How concerned are you about Harper now? Ten strikeouts in his first 21 at-bats. I know it’s early, but….” Caray began.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Simpson laughed.

“Let me rephrase that: How concerned do you think the Nats are?” Caray asked.

“I would think that they’d want to revisit that workout program,” Simpson said.

Repoz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 06:06 PM | 70 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, media, nats

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Francesa delivers screeching anti-paternity-leave rant

Francesspool: Asleep at the mic…asleep at the wheel.

Mike Francesa isn’t a big fan of paternity leave.

The WFAN radio host blasted Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the team’s first two games to be with his wife, Victoria, in Florida for the birth of their son, Noah, who was born Monday.

MLB rules allow a player to take three days away from the team on paternity leave, but Francesa believes they should never take the time.

“You’re a major-league baseball player. You can hire a nurse,’’ he said on his Wednesday show. “Whaddya gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?”

Murphy will be back with the Mets for Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals at Citi Field, but Francesa was under the impression he was going to be gone for 10 days.

“First of all, the first two days, your wife is in the hospital anyway, you’re there with her,’’ he said. “And the baby’s in the hospital. So you’re not taking the baby home usually till the third day. You think the third day that Daniel Murphy’s going to be in charge of nursing that baby the third day? … That’s my point. He’s not there to take care of the other kids, he’s not there to nurse the baby.”

Repoz Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:15 PM | 454 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Friday, March 28, 2014

Craig Calcaterra: On journalists with access to the clubhouse vs. journalists who don’t.

A positive, constructive meeting in which Puig came away saying all the right things about wanting to be a better player and a good teammate and a manager saying that it’s all good and that everyone is heading in the right direction. No teammates, on the record or off, are saying they have continuing problems with Puig. It’s a sourced and reported story of a team nipping a problem in the bud.

But this all happened on Tuesday. Before Bill Plaschke wrote a column in which Puig was a cancer and all of the same things about Puig being receptive and Mattingly saying there are no issues between the team and Puig were spun as things that were negative and not to be believed. Likewise, my Twitter correspondents — the ones who told me that I must listen to and believe the people who live in and report from that clubhouse rather than think I know better — were essentially dismissive of it too. No, Puig’s a jerk, they say. He’s bad news for that team.

Why is it that all of us have to believe what the reporters and people on the team have to say and the reporters themselves do not? And why do those folks get to assert their superior authority — I’ve been there, I know, you haven’t, you don’t! — and totally dismiss the actual statements of the principals involved? It’s almost as if it’s someone besides me “telling people how it is” without any basis for doing so.

In any event: until someone wants to actually report and explain what they assert is so obvious — Yasiel Puig is a big a-hole who is hated by his teammates and that dynamic has harmed the Dodgers — I’m going to choose to believe what Don Mattingly and the Dodgers say about the situation. And here’s what they’re saying about the situation:

“It was good for everybody. Donnie just wanted to squash this, and it did,” one veteran, who asked not to be named, told ESPN.com.

Puig said he understood his teammates “wanted to help me get better” and encouraged them to approach him directly anytime they had something to say to him.

“Puig’s a good kid. He just didn’t come up through the system like we all did,” a veteran teammate said.

Afterward, Mattingly addressed the media and said of Puig, “We’re good. I’ve got no issues with Yasiel.”

I assume this will be dismissed by the Plaschkes and Joneses of the world as mere PR, spin, etc. Which, sure, happens a lot. But if it is, tell us why it is. Report something which gives us a reason to believe that everyone here is lying and that, in reality, Puig is still a malignant force who is going to bring the Dodgers down. Don’t merely assert it and expect us to believe you.

Tripon Posted: March 28, 2014 at 12:42 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, media

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Neil Best: A trip to Mike FrancesaLand

I don’t like Sabermetrics. I like Inge…a lot.

It still was early on another day he would spend entertaining, informing and frequently maddening metropolitan-area sports fans, a job he has been at for a quarter-century during which he has become an iconic New York lightning rod.

Francesa is fine with that.

“The one good thing is nobody has ignored me,” he said. “You don’t have to have them love you. You don’t have to have them hate you. You just have to have them want to listen to you no matter what.

“I have people say to me, ‘I never miss you. You drive me crazy.’ I say, ‘You know what? That’s music to my ears.’ “

...An entire cabinet is filled with books on the former president. “I know more about John F. Kennedy than I do about the New York Yankees,” Francesa said.

...Such self-deprecating humor is not his specialty. He admitted that it would have served him in September 2012 when he famously appeared to doze off on the air.

“When it exploded, it exploded with such ferocity that I wasn’t sure how to react,” he said. “It was like trying to catch a tiger by the tail. That thing got bigger than anything I’ve ever dealt with before.”

The previous fall, Francesa opened himself up to ridicule with a convoluted explanation for seeming not to be familiar with Tigers relief pitcher Al Alburquerque during the ALDS against the Yankees.

Francesa acknowledged he did not handle the situation well, mostly because he was frustrated with himself.

“I make so few [mistakes] compared to other people and I’m on so much longer and cover so much more stuff than people, but I know I’m going to be and should be held to a higher standard,” he said.

“I’m supposed to be the standard. I understand that. I have the biggest show, get paid the most money . . . If I do something like that, I’m mad at myself and say to myself: You know what, I didn’t work hard enough.”

Repoz Posted: March 16, 2014 at 07:57 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: media, yankees

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hardball Times: Learning the Language of the Clubhouse

What I’d been looking for was some insight into the ideal ground-ball rate for a hitter. The Royals were hitting the most ground balls in the league, and I thought it might be affecting their power. Since I knew Eric Hosmer was the one behind me laughing at me, I thought I’d be the adult. I asked Butler about ground balls, but I motioned at Hosmer (I see you there): “I was asking Eric about this, but are ground balls and fly balls something you think about when you get up to the plate?”

“I think about putting the barrel on the ball.”

The peanut gallery exploded. “He gets paid to put the barrel on the ball, you guys get paid to think about fly balls and ground balls,” offers Hosmer clearly on the tape. Which wouldn’t be so bad, he’s right. But as I finished up the interview — Butler was great, he admitted that he looked for the low ball, since the pitcher was trying to throw it there anyway, something I found very interesting in terms of game theory — there was a hum behind me that threatened to take away my concentration.

I didn’t know who exactly was talking, but the tone of the stream and the intent was clear: “we get paid to put barrels on balls man, what the f— is this guy talking about, walk rates, ground-ball rates, barrels dude, barrels, what’s up with this hair, must be because he’s Greek, yeah or blind, these are some stupid questions, man, I’ve never heard anything like this, dude needs to shut up, bothering us about ground-ball rates man, barrels, dude, barrels, nut sacks more like.” The interview with Butler had been getting better, but there was one last emphatic statement from the trio behind me before they exited: “This guy’s the f—ing worst.”


Levin: Why Rick Reilly couldn’t survive in the era of Bill Simmons and Nate Silver.

Rick Reilly checked out years ago. Now, he’s finally leaving. Reilly had it first on Twitter: The columnist will write his last story for ESPN.com on June 30 and will then transition to crafting soft-focus features for various Bristol TV properties. As Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch points out, the mothballing of Reilly’s word processor will allow ESPN.com to reshape its home page, giving Nate Silver and the new FiveThirtyEight.com a prime promotional slot alongside Bill Simmons and Grantland. As Silver rises, Reilly disappears—there can be no better symbol of the triumph of modern journalism over the worst habits of the old-school press.

Reilly probably should have quit in 2009, when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. If not then, he should have quit that other time in 2009 when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. If not then, he should have quit in 2011 when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. And if not then, he should have quit this February when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old ESPN pieces. In that last one, a regurgitated brain dump on boring golf celebrations, Reilly copied and pasted such stale-the-first-time zingers as “I’d go absolutely electro-shock, three-alarm, bat-guano nuts!” and “I’d pick up the flagstick and fire it like a Tommy gun at the crowd.” In his defense, Reilly did change “If this were football, the guy would be doing the electric chicken right in front of the other team’s bench” to the timelier “If this was the NFL, he’d be twerking in front of the other team’s bench!”

...Reilly’s problem isn’t that he’s so often wrong or that saying something “was the biggest L.A. surprise since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child” isn’t nearly as funny as he thinks it is. It’s that his column reads as if it’s been airlifted to the Web from the Los Angeles Times, circa 1984—that it feels constricted and pat in an age when online writing tends to the discursive and enthusiastic. The one big thing that Reilly’s missing is precisely what’s made Nate Silver and Bill Simmons so successful: passion for his subject.

Whatever you think of Simmons, you can’t doubt his love of sports or sportswriting. Silver’s pieces are full of a different kind of ardor, the obsessive zeal of someone on a quest to right the wrongs of mainstream punditry. Reilly’s columns, by contrast, read like stifled yawns. The columnist has his interests (Elway, Tiger), but he can’t replicate the Sports Guy’s day-to-day investment in who’s going to win the NBA title.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:14 PM | 62 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Friday, March 07, 2014

Finn: Fox’s decision to hire Harold Reynolds is uninspired

Sometimes you feel so uninspired
Sometimes you feel like you’ve been hired

But this is about Reynolds, who has served as an affable if rarely insightful studio analyst at MLB Network since its launch in 2009. To be blunt: Fox Sports made a less-than-inspired choice to replace McCarver, and it’s disappointing given the prominence of the position.

Reynolds willfully disregards the statistical advances in baseball to traffic in hagiography, myth-making, and archaic thinking. He’ll argue without a second thought that the win, a misleading stat, is the greatest measure of a pitcher’s value. He’ll attribute intangibles to a player when his actual value doesn’t equal the media’s gritty-gutty-scrappy perception of him. He will not criticize management, and he’ll over-praise certain players so much that you may start recalling McCarver’s particular adorations as restrained and subtle.

Fox Sports, which prides itself on being the fun and innovative foil to ESPN, missed a golden chance to be the latter here, though at least Reynolds suggested he has an open mind during a conference call Monday.

“I broadcast every day in this current realm where sabermetrics can’t be denied or ignored, and so it’s a compelling conversation whether you’re on one side or the other,’’ he said. “There’s a place in the conversation for it in baseball, no doubt.

“If there’s a window open to do it, I think we’re well-versed enough to discuss it. I got my training from Brian Kenny [his sabermetric-bent foil on MLB] last year. Every day he threw a different metric at me that I had to go back and study.

“The main thing is, if you ignore it, you’re not current, and we’re current with all these guys in the booth.”

Repoz Posted: March 07, 2014 at 07:02 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics

Thursday, March 06, 2014

OtM: Don Orsillo takes batting practice, is predictably awkward

As Howard Cosell once said when a camera shot showed Chuck Tanner picking his nose…“Not a pretty sight.”

Don Orsillo is a wonderful announcer. For my proverbial money, he’s one of the best in the baseball, and I’m continually shocked he hasn’t moved on from NESN and the Red Sox to a more high-profile, permanent national gig. It’s good that he hasn’t, though, because now we have this Vine of Orsillo taking batting practice down at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers…

...He looks like he’s dressed for golf, not the batting cages—I’m suddenly glad polo shirts are not part of any team’s uniform—but hey, he’s got a wooden bat, made contact on multiple offerings, and even sent a few of them into play. Plus, he’s got the frustrated grunt necessary to be a big-league slugger down to a science already.

Repoz Posted: March 06, 2014 at 02:25 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: media, red sox

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Leitch: Reynolds and Verducci bring new voices to FOX MLB broadcasts

The Reynolds Effect…a dimensionless quantity? We shall see.

Reynolds and Verducci seem chosen specifically to erase all lingering McCarverism. First off, each of them are 20 years younger than McCarver; Reynolds is 53, Verducci 47. They at least carry the aura of youth—they’re youthish—which will come in handy in making people forget McCarver. They’re also both very likable guys who are new enough in the business that they’ve shown they’re willing to adjust and change depending on what’s asked of them. McCarver (and Packer) couldn’t have changed if you’d given them a brain transplant; they were resolutely themselves, no matter what circumstances were in front of them. Reynolds and Verducci are a couple of guys who can take direction.

Neither is on the forefront of anything. Reynolds is rather far behind the times when it comes to advanced baseball analysis and the resources that front offices in the game value; Watching him “debate” Brian Kenny about pitcher wins last year was embarrassing to anyone who has even passing familiarity with how baseball analytics have evolved in the last 30 years.

And Verducci, for a professional sportswriter, is strangely behind the times when it comes to advanced analysis, not just clinging to his resoundingly disproven Verducci Effect, but even lamenting the Joey Votto-ization of baseball. (You sense sometimes that Verducci is trying to show players and network TV types that, don’t worry, he’s not one of those writers.)

But then again: Expecting a booth of Kenny, Keith Law and Joe Sheehan, as much as I might enjoy that, was never realistic. (And would almost certainly make every one of my baseball-loving uncles’ heads explode.) One shouldn’t underestimate the likability thing, particularly when it comes to Reynolds. Whatever your thoughts about Reynolds as an analyst—and his breakdown of why the infield fly rule call in the 2012 wild-card game was actually the correct one is pretty much perfect baseball television —it is basically impossible not to like Harold Reynolds. Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug. Even when I don’t agree with what he’s saying, even when I don’t understand what he’s saying, I find myself helpless: You can’t get mad at Harold Reynolds.

Repoz Posted: March 01, 2014 at 02:57 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics

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