Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » September 2005 » Blunderbuss baseblogging....

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09/22/2005: Blunderbuss baseblogging....

Real Life™ has been taking precedence, and I've not been able to spend as much time paying attention to baseball (at least in this space) as I've wanted (but then again, the Cards have won the NL Central Title, so nothing important will be going on while we coast into the postseason, right?). To remedy that (a bit), I'm going to just hit some recent highlights:

  • We achieve our 15 minutes of fame!!!! I'm a subscriber to Baseball Library's daily "Baseball Today" email newsletter. It's a great way to get both pointers to baseball news stories and a rundown of what happened "Today in Baseball History". It's also where I learned about Baseball Library Text Linker which I blogged about on Tuesday morning.

    Imagine my surprise when I received my copy of "Baseball Today" on Wednesday morning, and saw that the folks at Baseball Library had found my little capsule review of their text linker application, and quoted it in their internal "ad" for the Text Linker (along with a direct link to my post).

    No, I don't work for them, I'm just a satisfied customer.
  • Baseball Prospectus's Postseason Odds Page has the Astros with a little over a 73.5% chance of winning the NL Wild Card. As I've mentioned here, I'd prefer that so that the Cards could play the NL West Champions (right now, the most likely candidate is the San Diego Padres, who are barely afloat at 76-75) in the NL Divisional Series. However, in a possible case of "watch what you wish for, because you just might get it", it's been brought to my attention that the Padres are one of the few teams (the Cubs are another) who have a winning season record this year against the Cards, notwithstanding their seeming inability to beat anyone else consistently.

    Then again Bob Uecker was a career .200 hitter, just at the UeckerMendoza line, but for some reason known but to God he could consistently get hits off of Sandy Koufax (a feat few other major leaguers could manage). Baseball history is full of interesting little flukes like that.
  • BRIAN GUNN SIGHTING!!!!! For those of you late to the party, Brian Gunn was, for two years or so, proprietor of Redbird Nation, which was (IMHO) the preminent St. Louis Cardinals blog in the world, if not the preminent baseball blog in all of Blogtopia. Back in November of last year Brian hung up his cleats and stopped regular blogging, though he maintains Redbird Nation as a static archive of his writing there. Every once in a while you can find an article by Brian (usually at The Hardball Times). While surfing around for other information, I stumbled across this brief masterpiece by Brian: My Little Blue Book:
    When I was nine years old, my parents gave me a little book with a blue cover for Christmas. It was small enough to fit into a stocking--5 by 4 inches, with the kind of cheap-grade paper that made its 174 pages seem more like 50. Written by Louis Phillips in 1979, it had the terse, uninspiring title BASEBALL.

    You wouldn't think much of the book if you saw it today. It's littered with dry lists (the 3,000-hit club, top ten lifetime homers, etc.), strange-but-true anecdotes (like Harvey Haddix's lost masterpiece), a glossary of baseball terms (a can of corn is "a high, lazy fly ball that can be easily caught"), and mini-bios and illustrations for some of the game's most honored luminaries. The quality of the drawings is variable at best - you'd swear Carl Yastzremski was actually Richie Cunningham, and that someone inserted a sketch of Dionne Warwick in place of Rod Carew.

    But to me the book was a godsend.


    But to me the game has always been about these serendipitously random moments--like when two balls were in play at Wrigley Field in 1959, or when a guy in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium caught foul balls on back-to-back pitches, or when a Randy Johnson fastball just so happened to cross the path of an unfortunate flying dove. The game is full of such impossibilities. My brother Patrick was there when Randy Velarde turned an unassisted triple play, while a friend saw the Twins turn two triple plays in one game at Fenway Park. Sometimes it seems like everything has happened in baseball--but nearly every week, if not every day, the game comes up with something that you've never seen before.

    Back in 1979, I read this passage in Louis Phillips' BASEBALL:
    Although many players have managed to hit 2 home runs in a single inning, not one player has ever hit 2 grand-slam homers in a single inning in major-league play.
    I'm not sure why that factoid made an impact on me, but I used to chew on it when I was a kid. I dreamed that sometime, somewhere, someone could pull off that feat.

    Flash forward twenty years later. I'm sitting in the stands in Dodger Stadium on a night in late April, and Fernando Tatis goes yard with the bases juiced--not once, but twice in the third inning. The second one was a low liner that just barely cleared the fence in left center. The Dodger fans around me glumly buried their heads in their hands, but I stood up, stunned. As Tatis rounded the bases, the first thing I thought of was my little blue book. It was almost dead to me--I hadn't thought of it in years. But on that night the memory of those pages came back to me, as alive as ever. It was enough to give me a lump in my throat.
    It was a sad, sad day when Brian hung up his cleats; thank what powers that be he graces us with these gems from time to time.
  • It can't be a bad week when I find two baseball related 'net toys within a three day period. Today I stumbled across Cool Standings. The front page is a basic standings table similar to BP's Postseason Odds Page; in addition to standings it makes projections about the expected number of wins and losses for each team and the odds that each team has of making the postseason. But on top of that, you can get neat little toys like the Cool Standings "dashboard" (one for each team). The dashboard represents, graphically, how the playoff odds of each team have ebbed and flowed over the season. For example, the dashboard linked here, the one for the Cardinals (of course!), shows that since about June the Cards have been a damn near mortal lock for the NL Central Title, with a slight chance of winning the wild card (add 'em up for a practical certainty that the Cards would be in the postseason).

Len on 09.22.05 @ 08:41 PM CST

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