Crash Bag, Vol. 56: The Chapel Hill Dirty Foots

Guys, there’s playoff baseball today. PLAYOFF BASEBALL TODAY. Let’s do this thing.

@magoplasma: “how do I get my boyfriend to love baseball. Or even like it?”

It’s not often that I’m able to dispense relationship advice about a problem I myself have handled successfully. This may be the first such situation I’ve ever encountered.

I’m currently engaged to be married to someone who actively disliked baseball before we started dating, and now plays in two fantasy leagues and wears a Roy Halladay t-shirt from time to time. So I asked Kate, the Long-Suffering Fiancee, how she came to be even the casual baseball fan she is now, in the hope it might help young Magoplasma. Here’s what she said:

  • Stockholm syndrome. We’d been dating for about six years before KTLSF started to come around on baseball, which, in retrospect, must have been excruciating. Because I’m sure there are people who put on internet personas, but I’m not one of them–what you read here and on my Twitter feed is pretty much who I am. I think about baseball constantly. I write about baseball constantly. I think about writing about baseball constantly. I talk about baseball and talk about writing about baseball constantly. Eventually, I guess, KTLSF’s resolve had been weakened and she’d absorbed enough information that eventually it happened.
  • Get him into the tactics. KTLSF says this: “Watching a game if you don’t know the strategy behind it is incredibly boring. To me, there’s no intrinsic interest in a baseball game happening. But once I realized that there’s a rhyme and a reason to players’ roles and how the pitcher and catcher interact, that’s when it got interesting–when I started looking at it like a chess match.”
  • Use it to tell a story. I’ve been obsessed with baseball for 20 years, and the stories and oddities that come along with individual players are still my favorite part. Narrative isn’t how I evaluate baseball, but it’s why I like it. So if you catch yourself watching a Phillies-Marlins game with your boyfriend, tell him about the Marlins’ despicable owner, or Jose Fernandez‘s amazing personal history. Or just gawk and laugh at Antonio Bastardo‘s enormous butt–you don’t have to know a ton about the game, or even like it that much, to appreciate an interesting story.
  • Use the college game. When I asked KTLSF what the tipping point was, she said it was around when South Carolina was in the College World Series in 2010. She’s always been a huge football fan, and USC’s other teams have always been of interest to her. So when, for the first time, a team she had a reason to be emotionally attached to showed up on the national stage. Now, I know that you, Magoplasma, are a fan of the Chapel Hill Dirty Foots, and if your boyfriend is at all interested in that school’s other athletic programs, he might be intrigued to find out that those selfsame Dirty Foots are ranked No. 1 in the country in baseball (a subject that will be discussed in more depth later in this post), and among their ranks is third baseman Colin Moran, who may go first overall in next week’s draft. So if the BF is at all interested in Tar Heel basketball or football, make him watch some of the NCAA tournament with you.

So knowing nothing about your boyfriend, that’s the best advice I can give. Continue reading…

The Future is Unwritten: Cesar Hernandez Scouting Report

As you have likely learned by now, Michael Young was placed on the bereavement list earlier today. While the exact reason for his leave isn’t yet known (and may not ever be because it probably isn’t any of our business) we do know Young will be gone from anywhere between three and seven days. We wish all the best to Michael in sorting through whatever may be wrong at home.

Taking his place on the 25-man roster is 23-year-old second baseman, Cesar Hernandez. I’ve seen plenty of Hernandez over the past few years and while his first stint in the big leagues is likely to be a short one, I don’t expect it to be his last. Here’s a full scouting report the young, switch hitting, Venezuelan infielder.

Continue reading…

A Visual Look at Delmon Young’s Tuesday Night

For some hitters, they see five pitches more or less in a typical at-bat. When Pat Burrell drew a team-high 114 walks in 2007, he got to a 3-0 or 3-1 count in 87 of his 598 plate appearances (14.5 percent). For Delmon Young, he has gone to 3-0 or 3-1 in three of 89 PA (3.4 percent). That’s right, Delmon Young has been in a 3-0 or 3-1 count exactly three times this season.

In last night’s 3-1 victory over the Red Sox, Young came to the plate four times and saw five pitches in total. Total. Like the cereal. Let’s take a stroll through his Tuesday night. Lots of .gifs after the jump.

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The Wednesday Ten: Starving for WiFi

Once again, the Tuesday 10 has become the Wednesday Ten as Paul, your regularly scheduled host, searches high and low in Manhattan for an Internet connection. Much as early man scoured the desert for water, man now crawls on his hands and knees, growing weaker by the hour until he finds WiFi. Is that… a Starbucks? With free Internet? No, couldn’t be. The closer you get, the more you think your search has ended until… nope, just a mirage. What you thought was a Starbucks in the distance turned out to be the halal cart.

Let’s jump into the Ten.

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Come Back, Nate Schierholtz

Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was a throw-in when the Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants last July. Catching prospect Tommy Joseph and pitching prospect Seth Rosin were the real prizes. Schierholtz’s 73 plate appearances with the Phillies in August and September were underwhelming as well, reinforcing the indifference, as the lefty posted a .273/.319/.379 line with one home run while missing a few weeks with a broken toe.

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Today in Dubious Achievements

Between the beginning of the current millennium through 2012, 24 players have met the plate appearance minimum to qualify for the batting title, and finished a season with an on-base percentage greater than their slugging percentage, with an OBP of .350 or worse. It’s a true mark of offensive ineptness.

Presently, nine players thus far in the 2013 season have taken enough trips to the plate to qualify for the OBP > SLG club. Five of them either are on the Phillies or have been in the recent past. Two are on the club now: Michael Young and Ben Revere; the others are Juan Pierre, Greg Dobbs, and Placido Polanco — all Marlins. Unsurprisingly, the Marlins have the worst runs per game average in baseball (2.71) and the Phillies are third-worst (3.49).

The list: Continue reading…

Cole Hamels’ Struggles Due to More Than Just Poor Run Support

As Matt Gelb astutely noted in his latest column following another Cole Hamels loss, this time at the hands of the offensively-impotent Washington Nationals, the Phillies have scored 20 runs in the 69 innings Hamels has pitched over a span of 11 starts. His run support ranks 99th out of 104 qualified starters according to ESPN. Now with a 1-8 record, the Phillies have lost each of Hamels’ last five starts, even though four of them were decent (yesterday’s start included).

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The Decline of the Phillies’ Running Game

At the pinnacle of their success in the 2007-11 era, the Phillies were one of the most formidable base-stealing teams around. With a fearsome foursome of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth, the Phillies not only stole with frequency, but with efficiency as well. Much of that can be traced to former coach Davey Lopes, one of baseball’s foremost base-stealing threats in his playing years, and a base-stealing guru as a coach.

Per Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies led all of baseball in SBR (Stolen Base Runs) in 2007 (8.56) and 2008 (7.66), ranked third in 2009 (2.52), ninth in 2010 (1.00), eighth in 2011 (1.89), and ninth last year (2.47).

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Crash Bag, Vol. 55: We All Prisoners, Chicky Baby

When I got home on Wednesday night, there was a notice taped to the door of my apartment building announcing that the pool would open next week.

I’ve lived here for five months and I had no idea we had a pool. I’m going to have to start working out. I wonder if we have a gym too.

Your questions, starting topically.

@dj_mosfett: “How long will Chase Utley *actually* be on the DL?”

Seems like the requisite 15 days is a decent estimate, maybe a little longer. But you know these oblique injuries–they can go sideways really quickly.

@DangerGuerrero: “do u think dom brown would have a higher ops if he were a giant dragon?”

No, I do not.

Dragons have relatively short arms and large heads, so Dragom Brown would not be able to cover the plate effectively. Furthermore, if he’s got eyes on either side of his head like a dinosaur (I’m thinking scary dragons and not that big flying cat from How to Train Your Dragon), he’d lack the depth perception required to hit.

That said, the power of flight would probably make him a superb defensive outfielder, so it might be worth it anyway.

@stevoc31: “why does Delmon Young exist?”

So Wally Joyner can take him to the Island of Dr. Moreau and turn him into a dragon for experimental purposes. This should happen at once.

Continue reading…