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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kelner: Take me out to the metaphorically rich ball game

It seems Moneyball has opened world-wide and some of the reviews I’ve been reading are eloquent ####### pips.

It’s certainly true that, in the field of literature and film, this Atlanticised form of rounders has inspired many fine works, of which Moneyball is just the latest. While admitting I may be a little parochial here, I think it’s a shame that some of the best films about sport – Field of Dreams and Eight Men Out to give two examples – have been about baseball, a game that most in the UK find arcane at best, and often unintelligible.

It’s like all the best comedy films being in a language we find very difficult to understand. I’ve been to a few baseball games, and never really understood what was going on. It felt like a hot dog-eating convention with a game going on at the same time.

The slowly unfolding plot of a baseball encounter is, say adherents, its essential appeal. To me, it felt like ritualised longeur. A friend of mine once explained: usually, you don’t want to leave your seat in case something happens, whereas at a baseball game, you leave your seat hoping something happens.

And then there’s the statistics, the endless litany of numbers and percentages that form the language of the sport, but which, to the untutored mind, are completely meaningless. Nevertheless, I urge you not to be put off by all this esoterica to go and see Moneyball, and not just for a bravura performance from Brad Pitt.

Repoz Posted: November 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, books, media, reviews, sabermetrics

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 29, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#4002765)
To me, it felt like ritualised longeur.

you make it sound like that's a BAD thing
   2. Xander Posted: November 29, 2011 at 02:23 PM (#4002768)
BBC did a radio doc on Moneyball and tied it into rugby and football. I think it's only up for a couple more days:

Link
   3. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: November 29, 2011 at 02:28 PM (#4002769)
This is best read in Jeremy Irons' voice.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 29, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#4002771)
This is best read in Jeremy Irons' voice.

I was thinking Ronald Coleman...
   5. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: November 29, 2011 at 04:12 PM (#4002822)
Anthony Hopkins
   6. Matthew E Posted: November 29, 2011 at 04:37 PM (#4002840)
Gilbert Gottfried.
   7. Greg K Posted: November 29, 2011 at 04:52 PM (#4002852)
Anthony Hopkins

I didn't think I knew what a Welsh accent sounded like until I went to Wales and everyone sounded exactly like Anthony Hopkins.

Seeing as I was finally able to see it on its UK release last week I can make a late addition to the many assessment threads. It had a slower pace than I was expecting (not necessarily a bad thing) and the dialogue wasn't quite as snappy as I was hoping, but was genuinely funny in spots. Overall I quite liked it. As the article suggests, it's quite accessible for those without any background in baseball too. One of the guys I saw it with doesn't really know what an RBI is nevermind on-base-percentage, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.*

*Though he is a newly converted (before he'd heard of Moneyball) A's fan, and our club's rookie of the year for 2011 so he perhaps has more baseball background than most in the UK.
   8. Bob Evans Posted: November 29, 2011 at 07:42 PM (#4003031)
Catherine O'Hara doing Katherine Hepburn.
   9. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 29, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#4003041)
Martin Short doing Katherine Hepburn.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM (#4003051)
a game that most in the UK find arcane at best, and often unintelligible.

But they have cricket? It's not that dissimilar.

Knowing baseball, I could figure out cricket in about 20 minutes.
   11. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 29, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#4003064)
And then there’s the statistics, the endless litany of numbers and percentages that form the language of the sport, but which, to the untutored mind, are completely meaningless.

Knowing baseball, I could figure out cricket in about 20 minutes.

The worst way to try and figure out cricket (as I learned this past spring/summer) is to look at their version of box scores.
It gave me an understanding of how my father feels when he looks at things like OPS, WAR, K/9, etc.

One of my co-workers is originally from India, and I started watching broadcasts of the IPL this year (mainly because I was fascinated by the auction/draft system they used to create teams). It took me a while to figure out the nomenclature for the scoring system (runs/wickets/overs), when pitchers/batters/runners could be switched, and the advanced stats that popped up on the screen.

That said, I think the sport is ripe for opportunity for someone to plan team building (especially in the IPL) using a "Moneyball" approach to runs/dollars.

Side note: It was a ton of fun to watch the IPL matches (Rogers Sportsnet in Canada). The bowling/batting/fielding was amazing to watch, and the crowd REALLY gets into it. I was kind of hoping the champions league cricket was going to be on TV, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
   12. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 29, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#4003066)
Knowing baseball, I could figure out cricket in about 20 minutes.
I didn't get all the nuances, but it only took me about 10 minutes before I "got" cricket when I went to my first match. My then gf, an Aussie, was thoroughly annoyed when I articulated, "Oh, it's like baseball, only... not as good."
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2011 at 08:24 PM (#4003072)
I didn't get all the nuances, but it only took me about 10 minutes before I "got" cricket when I went to my first match. My then gf, an Aussie, was thoroughly annoyed when I articulated, "Oh, it's like baseball, only... not as good."

Yeah. I mean, 2 bases, no foul territory, bat 'til you're out, hit the wicket is an out, no called strikes. It's not hard to figure out the differences just by watching for a little while, and asking a half-dozen questions.
   14. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: November 29, 2011 at 08:28 PM (#4003075)
Martin Short doing Katherine Hepburn.

Worst porn EVER.
   15. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: November 29, 2011 at 09:50 PM (#4003136)
It’s like all the best comedy films being in a language we find very difficult to understand. I’ve been to a few baseball games, and never really understood what was going on. It felt like a hot dog-eating convention with a game going on at the same time.


I've gone to minor league games with people from non-baseball nations three times. They all enjoyed it, without having much idea of what was going on. I mean, you sit out in the sun, you drink beer, you eat, you stare at people, there are people in funny outfits doing something vaguely athletic out on the pitch, and occasionally they change sides while something random occurs -- everyone sings "YMCA", a couple of people come out in sumo suits and wrestle, something like that. It's a fun environment if you are at all interested in being out with people. The author's description isn't incorrect, but none of it is necessarily bad.
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 29, 2011 at 10:44 PM (#4003163)
Catherine O'Hara doing Katherine Hepburn.


Martin Short doing Katherine Hepburn.

Just so long as it's not this version of Katharine Hepburn, the rock-throwing hillbilly in Spitfire.
   17. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: November 29, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#4003179)
Washington Irving, by someone called Dr. J.
   18. AndrewJ Posted: November 29, 2011 at 11:40 PM (#4003193)
I live right near Haverford College, and in the summer of 2010 I attended my first cricket match there, on the campus green, between two teams of East Indians. Took me most of the afternoon to get a basic grounding of the action.

h/t to #17's David St. Hubbins ref.
   19. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: November 29, 2011 at 11:51 PM (#4003196)
I live right near Haverford College, and in the summer of 2010 I attended my first cricket match there, on the campus green, between two teams of East Indians. Took me most of the afternoon to get a basic grounding of the action.


The Midwest Cricket Conference and the American Cricket Conference both play in Washington Park on the western border of Hyde Park, Chicago. They play most weekends through the warmer months, and the MCC players all come out in proper cricket whites for their matches. I've found that if you go and set up shop near one of the pitches for more than ten minutes, someone will come over and ask you if you know about the game, and will then talk you through the rules and gameplay in as much detail as you can possibly desire. It's a great way to get a handle on the game.
   20. Greg K Posted: November 29, 2011 at 11:54 PM (#4003198)
I just recently figured out how test cricket works. For me that seems like the most interesting way to play.

I actually might play some cricket for the first time in the new year...looking forward to it!
One of the guys I play baseball with also plays for a local cricket team and he's been trying to get some cross-sport fraternizing going. Apparently at the local level cricket clubs are pretty negligent when it comes to fielding so he's hoping to get some of our better baseball players to teach those guys how to throw a ball properly. I've tried some bowling, but I've yet to figure out how to do it legally. My body keeps wanting to, you know, THROW the ball. But apparently that's not kosher.
   21. Gonfalon B. Posted: November 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM (#4003202)
Martin Short doing Katherine Hepburn.

Worst porn EVER.


"Long Day's Grimley In Too Tight."
   22. Richard Gadsden Posted: December 03, 2011 at 02:38 PM (#4005661)
@Greg 20 - I played Second XI cricket for my high school. Bowling is easy; roll your arm over instead of forcing it; you can learn how to put power in later.

The basic technique: stand still. Hold up your arm as if you're doing a Hitler salute, and then let it drop down, keeping it straight - don't bend the elbow. Then it swings around behind you as you lean your torso forward. Let your shoulder twist (roll) as your arm moves, and then you will raise your leg (the leg on the same side as the arm you're bowling with) so the leg sticks out behind you to keep your balance. Don't push the speed too much until you've got a feel for the basic technique.

The hard bit is getting the run-up right. It's a lot like a long-jumper - you have to get the correct foot to hit the right spot of ground, at a high speed. Do a three-step run up (like a spinner) once you have a basic feel for the bowling action. Then try to speed that up until you need a bigger run-up to get up speed, only then do you start learning how to lay out a long run-up. That's probably at least a year after you first turned your arm over.

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