January 29, 2014: Round Two, FIGHT

The WGOM Cribbage Tournamenf continues with quarterfinal action:

Philosofer vs. Beau
meat vs. spookymilk
AMR vs. daneekasghost
bhiggum vs. brianS

We'll try to get these done within a week again.

143 thoughts on “January 29, 2014: Round Two, FIGHT”

      1. Tiger Stadium would have been a great annual venue for a Summer Game. Whoops.

        Neutral-site World Series games, however, is an idea drawn from the worst of what the NFL has to offer.

      2. Absolutely. Love the idea of the non-baseball stadium locations too. Rushmore? Awesome. National Mall? Awesomer.

    1. Just imagine the hand wringing if the Mariners were playing the Rockies in the World Series. Because baseball has done nothing to promote the game nationally other than Yankees!, such a World Series would be thought of as a disaster. They need to work on raising the profile of the game more than one team.

      1. I feel the NBA runs into this problem too. The Lakers had 3 national games in the span of 6 days last week, including a Lakers-Knicks tilt (!!!!) in the late afternoon Sunday ABC national slot. The NBA and its tv partners keep shoveling the Knicks down our throats and they havent been consistently good since the 90s. Boston was going to have a down year and they get lots of love. While the Pacers and Spurs are barely promoted. When was the last time Toronto or Atlanta had national exposure? Gah, its too early in the morning to get worked up like this.

        1. I never noticed that about the Knicks. 🙂

          The NBA has had really good teams in small markets and the TV does love OKC, but yeah, the Spurs with four titles and very, very nearly a fifth are an afterthought. But, when you have a chance to see Carmelo Anthony dominate the ball for 15 seconds every possession that he touches it, you gotta go with that.

          As for the Lakers, it's really hard to argue that they haven't deserved the attention they've gotten for the last 30 years+. They've been more of a dynasty during that time than the Yankees (10 titles since 1980 and a few more Finals appearances in there, too). The Celts have gone missing when they haven't been good, and the league seemed to show Utah when they were great quite a bit. It's not as bad of a problem as what baseball has.

          1. I agree with all of this, but will add that the NBA national broadcasts needs moar Golden State! (and Wolves on non-cable national broadcasts so I can watch easier, dammit.)

            1. This. I'm still bitter that the Kings did not relocate to Seattle so that Comcast would stop blacking out CSNBA Warriors games in my area.

        2. The difference in the NBA is that the stars have such a big influence on the game. It forces them to promote a team like Oklahoma City.

          1. Right, is not fair to compare the two sports, but in baseball there are marketable stars on losing or small market teams: Joe Mauer and Felix Hernandez comes to mind.
            I think part of the problem lies with MLB's contract with ESPN. While Sunday night games will features west coast teams, the only time you'll get to see the Dodgers or Arizona on a Monday or Wednesday night is if they are playing an eastern or central time zone team on the road because they have stopped doing the double headers.

    2. I think a lot of the ideas that Verducci's article puts forth are lame at best.

      If we're focusing on the negative aspects, the picture I see is:

      1) The viewing demographic is aging

      This is due to:

      2a) Rising cost of attending baseball games
      2b) Fewer kids playing the game

      He doesn't put forth any stats on how many kids played baseball, but I believe that number is declining (and has been declining), and for me, baseball is a sport that is much easier to love if you've played it.

      In making changes, I think you have to be careful to maintain baseball's baseballness, but I do agree with some of the emphasis on keeping the game moving. Some of it is just enforcing rules they already have on the books. Hitters step out of the box too much, and are given time way too often for my taste. All we have to do is go to fangraphs to know who the slow-working pitchers are--make a point of forcing them to work quicker for the bulk of the game. Limiting pitcher-catcher meetings does seem pretty reasonable--it would be easy to implement and a mostly invisible change. I also wish there were fewer pitching changes late in games--I think my preference would just be to limit the number of pitchers a team can carry, forcing some of the specialists off the roster. Of course, the changes wouldn't be as much of a problem if they happened quicker. Maybe only the first new pitcher in an inning gets more than one warm-up pitch on the mound.

      But none of that gets more kids outside playing baseball, which still seems like the root of any long-term trouble that professional baseball may face.

      1. I agree entirely that getting kids out and playing ball has to be priority #1. I did like the "throw money at scholarships" suggestion. That's likely to help, at least on some fringes, get kids to play (well, get parents to pay attention and get kids to play).

          1. Instead of scholarships for college athletes, how about allocating that funding for baseball programs further down the developmental chain? I think getting kids interested earlier than high school is more important to the long term health of the game than giving university athletic departments even more money to throw at the same or smaller number of elite high school players.

            For example, MLB could allocate funding on a per-capita basis to each major league team, making them the liaison and executor of MLB's outreach to and fostering of youth baseball programs within their market. Part of that funding could be used to pay former pro players to do roving coaching/instruction or developmental clinics within each team's area of responsibility, another portion to upgrade facilities, and another for discretionary initiatives.

            1. I might argue that part of the problem is the elite-ification of youth sports. So damned many club sports playing year-round (or at least ridiculously extended) travel schedules. Expensive and exclusive. It squeezes the marginal kids out too early for them to develop a love of whatever sport. Let the kids play (multiple sports!) and have fun.

              1. They really don't allow kids to play multiple sports by the time they are in middle school (or earlier).

            2. That gets more to the root of the problem, but I'm guessing that the farther down the chain you go, the higher the overhead costs are going to be, because you're dealing with smaller and smaller organizations. If they did something like that, they'd probably just want to invest more in their RBI program, or expand its scope to include non-inner-city areas.

      2. I could get behind limiting the number of pitchers on a roster, but the union might put up some resistance. I'd be even more interested in such a limit if it gave rise to more playing time for dual-role 5th OF/emergency long-man guys like Brooks Kieschnick, Micah Owings, and Casper Wells. That's the kind of non-optimal stuff that keeps baseball interesting.

        Maybe only the first new pitcher in an inning gets more than one warm-up pitch on the mound.

        While I think this is an interesting idea, one problem with limiting warm-ups is that those warm-ups aren't just for the pitcher. Those are an opportunity for a catcher to get a quick read on a pitcher's feel for his stuff on that particular day and adjust his expectations/pitch-calling accordingly.

        1. I think some things limiting pitchers coming in makes sense. I think "must record an out" (baring injury) is worth a try. Probably could condition it on "or face X players (say 4, one for each base?) It's probably superior to "only one switch per inning."

          1. I think "must record an out" risks a fiasco that puts the whole cause in jeopardy, because someone has to stay in and allow 10 runs.

            I might have some second thoughts about it, but if you changed the minimum number of batters faced from 1 to 2, then teams might have to start re-thinking how they use the bullpen in close games. If a pitcher gets injured in the middle of an at-bat, or before the 2 hitter minimum, then the unfinished AB or the 2nd hitter gets an intentional walk.

            1. A 2 batter minimum might just do the trick. I do feel like this is something that is a problem and should be remedied. Not everyone is going to agree, but I am of the opinion that specialist/one-out relievers tend to make the game less entertaining. I find their use to contribute a minimal amount to the strategy of the game (indeed, Ubes' point above re: re-thinking the bullpen demonstrates that there might be more strategy involved absent one-out relievers), and their specialization to be less impressive athletically than relievers who face more batters. Plus they slow down the game, which bothers me. Not in the sense that they make it longer (indeed, their success probably shortens actual game length), but in the sense that they introduce a lot of waiting into the flow.

              1. Also, for those looking for more offense, presumably a 2-batter minimum would increase the value of platoon hitters and teams could muster more offense late in close games, leading to more back-and-forth scoring in close games.

                1. I am totally in favor of a two batter minimum. Meaning that if a guy gets a third out (even on a double play!), he has to come out in the next inning.

                    1. If you're strictly going for saving time on mid-inning pitching changes, two batters or the completion of the half-inning would probably suffice. Even then, a manager could keep a LOOGY around for the last out of an inning. Entering with two outs, he'd have to face a second batter if he failed to retire the first, but a manager might not deploy him at all if he was forced to carry over to the next inning.

                    2. I don't have a problem with LOOGYs. I have a (small) problem with LaRussa-ing the game, and a much bigger problem with the Human Rain Delay element of batters stepping out of the box between every pitch to adjust every body part and piece of equipment.

                    1. That would just give more incentive to managers to make sure they have fewer pitching changes, right?

                    2. I don't mind NL rules so much as I mind the arguments that the DH is such a huge abomination. Both styles are fine with me, though these days it seems somewhat concerning that the NL is practically speaking the only league on the continent that makes pitchers hit.

                    3. I don't really think you need to have the rule when it is the end of the inning. It doesn't take any time to change pitchers between innings so it doesn't speed up the game.

        2. If the goal is fewer pitching changes, making a change that makes it difficult for a catcher to work with a new pitcher would be aligned with that goal.

          1. a change that makes it difficult for a catcher to work with a new pitcher

            All new pitchers must speak a different language than the catcher!

        3. How about a 26-man roster, but the manager has to specify a subset of players who are eligible for the first 9 innings of each game?

    3. I'm not done wuth Verducci's column.
      His first idea: "The Bonus Batter"? I hate it.

      But then, "Best-of-five LCS": Yes, yes, yes! (I've spoken before of my love for the cruelty of the 5-game series and my fear of the LDS going to 7 games.
      He doesn't say this, but 2-3 scheduling would be optimal (for my tastes).
      One problem with the expanded playoffs is pushing games into late October and even November. If the LDS are 2-3 and the LCS are 2-3, then the playoff schedule can be tightened up without going so late in the year. (Also, don't set WS dates in stone, allow for possibilities based on how long the LDS and LCS go.)

      Combine that with "A neutral site World Series [for G1-2]" (not that I really like that idea), but could do 2N-2-3, or 2N-2-3-2. 2N-2-3 has that problem of the "home advantage" team getting swept before playing a game at home. But it would have the advantage of keeping things 9 games.

      1. I think that neutral site thing would be a huge step backward. I'm not a huge fan of the 5-game series, but I'm not convinced it's so much worse than a 7-game series. I'm also not a huge fan of the 2-3 schedule, but again, I could entertain it. You could do the LDS on a TW/FSaSu schedule, then have a travel day on Monday, and do the LCS on a TW/FSaSu, and then have the WS in its (now customary) TWTh/SaSu/TW.

        One thing I would like about that schedule is that it would have more of the rhythm of the regular season. I think of a customary regular season week as two 3-game series, Monday off, the first series T-Th, with Th as the getaway day, and the second series F-Sun.

  1. Keith Law ranks BB as the number 1 prospect in the minors, natch.

    'Spoiler' SelectShow

    This never gets old.

    1. My favorite part of that quote is this:

      ...but the Twins have done a great job of smoothing out Buxton's swing; he's more balanced through contact and already has more power because he keeps his back foot in contact with the ground so he gets more loft in his swing.

      Potentially adding power through coaching sounds so against the usual pre-conceived notion of Twins-ian philosophy that it was either never really true, or they've changed their ways for the better.

      1. because he keeps his back foot in contact with the ground so he gets more loft in his swing.

        I am a bit skeptical of this, but it depends on how much contact there is.

          1. Did they do it by keeping his back foot in contact with the ground? Honest question. My understanding is that it is common for power hitters' back foot to leave the ground momentarily as they transfer their weight forward. That assumes Buxton was doing it right, but I am also skeptical of that.

            1. My interpretation of scout-speak is that by "he keeps his back foot in contact with the ground" they really mean "he keeps his back foot in contact with the ground longer".

                1. Man, Kirby. I miss that dude.

                  On Gleeman and the Geek, they interviewed Scott Erickson(!) and he was about as effusive as he gets when talking about Puck.

                  1. On Gleeman and the Geek, they interviewed Scott Erickson(!) and he was about as effusive as he gets when talking about Puck.

                    That makes sense. If Puck doesn't make that catch in the 3rd inning of Game 6, Erickson is the goat!

      2. Makes sense- letting the back foot come up usually makes the swing plane more level and speeds up the bat. Since Buxton makes good contact and already has plenty of bat speed, keeping that foot down and getting more loft is a probably a good idea.

    1. 6. The NFL always wins. Every time a game ends on a controversial call or somebody loses it on camera, it’s free advertising for the NFL. It’s not just my name being talked about on all the shows; it’s the NFL’s logo on all the shows. That means more eyes on the Super Bowl, more clicks for their websites, and potentially more sales of my jersey, for which I don’t see a kickback. Even when they’re taking money out of my pockets with fines, the league is constantly winning.


  2. Every time I go to the dentist (a visit I really don't mind), I think of Laurence Olivier's Szell/Der Weiße Engel in Marathon Man. Do you think it's impolitic to bring this up next time I visit?

    1. I am completely unfamiliar with that one, but I know that some dentists get fairly sensitive to any of their portrayals. My sister is a dentist.

        1. I've got the book at home. I can mail it to anyone who wants it (plugging DG's book exchangef).

    1. Saw that. Robert Pollard and his brother Jim were fantastic High School athletes. In fact I think Jim even got a Basketball scholarship to a decent school but blew out his knee Freshman year. I bet Bob was a blast to be around in the dugout.

    2. Pollard was a three sport star at Northridge HS in Dayton, Ohio. Both he and his brother* were inducted into the Northridge Hall of Fame.

      *Jim Pollard played basketball at Arizona State with Byron Scott. He also co-wrote "Buzzards and Dreadful Crows" and "Marchers in Orange."

      1. We're getting the back back together!
        What the programmers of the Chris Bermanbot say when producers ask if he's ready for the Homerun Derby.

      1. GMTR putting too much weight on that "Look how many former Twins are in the Playoffs!" thing from last year, decides to corner the market.

  3. I am thinking about dropping the satellite and cable. Is there a legal way to watch the Twins or am I stuck with radio?

        1. I was thinking about that today, actually. I've absolutely no desire to get cable, and if I ever moved back to Minnesota, I wouldn't be able to watch the Twins. Boos all around.

          1. One of the best parts of being in WNY (and now I suppose in TX) is the blackout doesn't apply for me.

          1. Whoever broadcasts Brewers games must get carried by cable providers in that part of MN, I'm guessing. I think it's kind of sad how states without teams seem to get hit hardest with the blackouts (Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern NV.)

            1. I think it's kind of sad how states without teams seem to get hit hardest with the blackouts (Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern NV.)

              I hate the entire concept of blackouts but this makes no sense at all. Wouldn't teams want to promote their products on a regional basis?

    1. This discussion is another thing leading to baseballs lack of appeal to younger viewers. Family's like mine aren't going to get cable, so we can't watch the games on TV. With a family of 5, we aren't going to go to enough games for the kiddos to get an appreciation for it.

      1. this really reminds me of John Helyar's (The Lords of the Realm) discussion of baseball's approach to TV broadcast rights back in the 1950s and 1960s. The more things change....

        1. We also didn't watch many games growing up. My passion for baseball came from playing it, both on the field and in video games.

      2. Yeah, that's another thing I was thinking.
        When the Twins were broadcast Sundays on 29 or whatever, they could grasp some of it.

  4. Hey Bootsy (and others) did you see The Sonics, Charlie Pickett, The Suicide Commandos and Curtis A are playing First Avenue March 1st? I think I gotta do that one.

  5. Mwahahahaha!

    The petition is clear and to the point: "Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card."

    And now the petition at WhiteHouse.gov, created six days ago, has passed the 100,000-signature mark required to get an official response from the Obama administration. Wednesday morning at 8, the total was at 102,446 signatures.

    1. That signature total is lower than I would have expected for it being around for nearly a week. I better go over and sign it.

  6. 6-8 inches of snow predicted for the Sierras. Huge, collective sigh of relief around here, even though we're just getting sprinkles.

      1. oh, I know. Even with a huge storm (which this is not), we would be waaaay below normal precip for this rainy season, and the snowpack is at like 20 pct of normal (or less).

  7. So I will be heading to Dusseldorf in October for a trade show. Some preliminary research indicates that I will be drinkin a lot of Alt bier and nothing else. (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

    1. When I was in Köln, the locals were very dismissal of any beer from Düsseldorf and advised me to stick with only Kölsch.

      1. Personally, I'll take an alt over a kölsch any day of the week. Course, I'm no fan of the idea of sticking with only one thing, even when in Rome.

        1. I disagree with the former statement and agree with the latter.

          kölsch is a beautiful, subtle thing. Sometimes a guy wants subtle. But it very much depends on context.

          1. Oh, by no means was that meant to disparage the kölsch. I just haven't really found myself thinking I'd rather have one if other options are available, which, to be fair, might have to do with the fact that there just aren't a lot of good examples of the style in this country. And also IPAs.

            1. I love a good kölsch, but cheaptoy makes a good point – I haven't found a great many easily-obtainable examples of the style. Alaskan's Summer seems to be the most reliable kölsch I can find on shelves. Brewpubs around here do them occasionally, but if you want a kölsch for drinking at home your options seem much more limited.

              1. The answer to this, it seems, is for me to make one. I do have the fridge space for the lagering, at the moment, although my next batch (when it warms up) is going to be a take on an American Rye Ale. (Think Gumballhead from 3Floyds but with rye instead of wheat or Capital Island Wheat but with flavor instead of none.)

  8. Just got the love taco bell advert. I guess it has gone national, at least during NBA broadcasts on the 4ltr.

  9. Not to overshare (because I know I have in the past), but I just spent a few hours out on the town with a very lovely lady who for whatever reason is into me. Things went incredibly well. I can't wait to see her again.

  10. And also while I'm tooting horns (while not violating HIPPA I don't think) - my sister, the paramedic, saved someone's life tonight. A lady with severe nut allergies was going into anaphylactic shock after having a reaction, but my sister was able to administer an epi-pen and whatever the hell else one does (she explained it but *woosh* right over my head) and the patient is stable and recovering.

    To say I'm proud of her would be the understatement of the year.

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