Reminder: DraftKings chance to win $20,000

If you missed it yesterday, make sure to check out’s $100,000 contest, which doles out $20,000 to the first place winner.

Daily fantasy is the same as regular fantasy, except all contests last just 1-day.  You pick a team under the allotted salary cap, click “submit”, and watch the results live.  A night of baseball is a lot more exciting knowing you can win the $20,000 first-place prize!

For just $5, you have 2 chances to win a ticket into the $100,000 contest on Friday.  Even if you don’t place in the top-2, at least 40% of the people who enter will get paid out.

Special Chance to turn $5 into $20,000 Playing Fantasy Baseball, the leader in daily fantasy sports, is giving Crashburn Alley readers a special chance to qualify into their $100,000 contest this Friday.

Daily fantasy is the same as regular fantasy, except all contests last just 1-day.  You pick a team under the allotted salary cap, click “submit”, and watch the results live.  A night of baseball is a lot more exciting knowing you can win the $20,000 first-place prize!

For just $5, you have 2 chances to win a ticket into the $100,000 contest on Friday.  Even if you don’t place in the top-2, at least 40% of the people who enter will get paid out.

So if like fantasy sports, or even if you just like winning money, enter into this special contest now.  Space is limited to the first 50 people who sign up so hurry!

The Tuesday 10: Cheese Me

Over the weekend, I made pilgrimage to the great lands of Milwaukee and Chicago, the former of which being close to where current penman extraordinaire Michael Baumann resides. We, along with another friend from the east, had been planning this trip for some time, and considering the poor guy has already been in the cheese state for more than five months, probably due.

I’ve lived in eastern cities my whole life, if you pardon a month-long stint in Lansing, Michigan, so every time I head halfway west I’m always struck by how clean and pretty lots of places out there are. It’s kind of a strange, non-quantifiable statement, I guess, but it’s a good impression to leave an area with. I’d still like to see more of Chicago – especially the north side – but what the troupe of us managed to see was almost universally positive.

I even managed not to get thrown out of a Milwaukee bar when I ordered a brat without kraut.

This left me mostly unaware of the weekend’s baseball action, save for the extra-inning madness I somehow avoided being in the office for. Nevertheless, let’s take a look back together and see just what the week held, and what I missed as I stuffed my face with Polish sausage at U.S. Cellular Field.

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Ryan Howard Is A Shadow of His Former Self

It is June 10 and Ryan Howard has seven home runs in 231 trips to the plate. Seven home runs used to constitute a good week for the slugger. Among full seasons, his previous low for home runs on June 10 was ten in 2010. His .185 isolated power this year is 90 points below his career average and his .306 weighted on-base average nearly matches his output last year when he was hobbled by his Achilles.

The biggest and most obvious change is that Howard struggles with fastballs a lot more than he used to. Back in 2011, he hit fastballs for a .345 ISO and .417 wOBA. This year, those numbers are .157 and .310. The numbers improve only marginally if you limit the sample to right-handed pitching.

Here’s a graphical look at the evolution — or de-evolution, if you prefer — of his performance against fastballs from right-handed pitchers in 2011 and in 2013. Continue reading…

Charlie Manuel’s Buffoonery Costs Phillies Another Win

Charlie Manuel has been the manager of the Phillies since 2005, so you think we’d have gotten used to these kinds of games, but they sting all the same even nine years later. The Phillies, staked to a 4-0 lead through four innings, managed to lose 5-4 in nine innings on a walk-off single by Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez’s game-winning RBI was but a foregone conclusion; the frustration lies in the path taken to get there in the first place. What follows is a tactical breakdown of Manuel’s decisions.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 57: Bully for JMJ

I got a haircut last night. Every three months, I get Karl Urban’s haircut from the new Star Trek movies and shave my beard into a mustache. After about a month, I get tired of maintaining the mustache and let it grow out until I look so disreputable I have to get it cut again. But before all that happened, I caught myself instinctively pulling my hair back into a ponytail. I’ve worn my hair in a ponytail before, but never in the past five years or so, because I’m an adult now and I know I’m never going to be a professional musician. I guess my question is–is the reflexive ponytail pull something that ever goes away? Or is it like how after that one time with the pig in my dorm room I’m going to start sweating every time I pass the deli counter at the supermarket?

@mattjedruch: “have you done a crashbag answer about baseball books before? I’d like to expand my library and wondered if you could help”

I’m sure I have, but there have been 56 Crash Bags before this, each between 2,500 and 5,000 words, and I’m not going back through them all to find them for you, so I’ll answer the question afresh if I’ve done it before. Two points up front: 1) Probably four of my five favorite sports books are about soccer. With one exception, I’m not sure there’s a baseball book that I absolutely love. 2) The overwhelming majority of the books I read are fiction, and as a result, I have never touched a lot of the baseball canon: The NaturalDollar Sign on the MuscleBall Four, either of the Hayhurst books–so if you’re reading this and I missed one, add it to the comments, because I don’t want Matt missing out on a worthwhile book just because I’ve got a crush on Simon Kuper. Also, baseball books are the topic of Episode 7 of David Temple’s excellent Stealing Home podcast (link here), so if you’re curious, check that out. Here goes.

  • The New Historical Baseball Abstract, by Bill James. This is the one book you need to have. This book has been next to my toilet for the past 12 years. Apart from Moneyball, it’s probably the most important mass-market book about baseball of the past 20 years because of the way it brought many of the statistical and philosophical concepts we rely on to the mainstream. That said, what I love most about James’ book is that it’s an exhaustively researched, consistently funny encyclopedia of folklore. The advantage of the way this book was written is that it’s a thousand-page book that’s composed of about 800 interesting digressions, from amusing anecdotes about Rabbit Maranville and Don Mossi to James posing and answering really interesting, creative ways. You can’t be serious about baseball and not own a copy of this book.
  • Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. Completely overrated, overwhelmingly misunderstood, nowhere near as good a book as The Blind Side or even Liar’s Poker. Probably necessary. Still a solid read, with some good peaks–I go back and read the draft chapter every so often.
  • Weaver on Strategy, by Terry Pluto. If I could have any manager from history to manage my baseball team, I’d have Weaver, and his book on his craft is really enlightening. It’s a short, easy read that offers a really interesting look inside the mind of the manager.
  • Summer of ’49, by David Halberstam. My dad read this chronicle of the Red Sox-Yankees pennant race to me as a bedtime story when I was six or seven, and because he was kind of unsure of how to handle how liberally this book quotes Ted Williams, I learned how to curse from this book.
  • The Great American Novel, by Philip Roth. It’s not often that you get legitimately good literary fiction about sports. I hear tell that Chad Harbach pulled this off with The Art of Fielding, but I haven’t gotten around to reading that yet. Also, it’s weird that we’re far enough along in time that we’re having novelists called Chad. But this book is as funny and weird as one would expect from Roth, and it’s worth a read, if only so I can ramp up the frequency of my Roland Agni references.
  • Two books that are interesting and well-written, but reach completely incorrect conclusions about the way baseball works: Men at Work, by George Will and Three Nights in August, by Buzz Bissinger. As much of an egomaniacal weirdo as Bissinger turned out to be, he’s a hell of a writer of nonfiction. If you haven’t read A Prayer for the City, you’re a worse person for it. These two books are about what you’d expect from monographs that lionize Tony La Russa, and in Men at Work in particular, you’ll get a lot of theories from ballplayers that seem plausible, but have been proven to be demonstrably false. For instance: Orel Hershiser  goes into that home runs-kill-rallies malarkey, and Tony Gwynn credits his high batting average in 1984 to his hitting behind stolen base threat Alan Wiggins. So, you know, don’t believe everything you read.

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If the Phillies Hadn’t Played the Marlins…

The Phillies have had some success against the Miami Marlins in an otherwise uninspired year. They’ve gone 8-4 against the Fish, 21-24 against all other contenders entering Wednesday.

Many players have also enjoyed their best (or worst) personal success against the Marlins in 2013, who are quite easily regarded as one of the more hapless teams running these days, for a variety of reasons.

If the Marlins didn’t exist, just what would the season lines of some members of the lineup look like? I wonder these things to myself, and will now indulge this voice in my head.

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John Mayberry’s Big Night Demonstrates Delmon Young’s Irrelevance

Through his first 111 plate appearances as a Phillie, right fielder Delmon Young has hit about as well as well as we realistically could have expected. He had posted a .304 and .305 weighted on-base average in 2011 and ’12, respectively, and currently sits at .302. The National League average for right fielders is .331. To put it simply, Young has been between two and three runs below average offensively. Despite flashing a strong arm that has surprised those of us (including yours truly) who thought he was in the same company as Juan Pierre and Ben Revere in terms of arm strength, Young has been a trainwreck defensively and he has not added any value on the base paths, making him a net negative to the Phillies.

With the emergence and subsequent takeover of the league by left fielder Domonic Brown (.378 wOBA), playing time has been few and far between for John Mayberry. Ignoring interleague games in which Young was used as a designated hitter, opening up right field, Mayberry has started nine times since the start of May. Six of those were starts in center field for the offensively-impotent Ben Revere, including four games in a row May 14-18 when Charlie Manuel was most frustrated with Revere.

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