Monthly Archives: April 2007

GoodEnough for Me: Damn You, ESPN

docgoodensmall.jpgAnd damn you, Comcast, too.

I have OnDemand’s Extra Innings Package.  I shell out the 175 bucks for it in the summer because I would like to watch baseball from 6PM, when I get home from work, until whenever I go to bed (anywhere from 11-2AM). 

Last week, we had the debut of Phil Hughes for the Yankees.  Baseball’s most heralded minor league pitching prospect making his debut for baseball’s biggest team.  Naturally, Comcast decided not to include the game for Extra Innings (which is baffling to me as I was under the impression that I was getting EVERY game).  So I was forced to watch the first few innings of Hughes’ debut on my 15 inch laptop.  Boo. 

As for ESPN.  I don’t play fantasy baseball anymore, and I wouldn’t be using ESPN if I still did, despite that absurd commercials, but I’ve heard all about the serious problems you’ve been having ESPN.  And I’m really disappointed to see that that’s beginning to really creep over into those of us who just want to look at regular stats. 

See, we’ve been using ESPN for our stat-keeping thus far because they’ve got one really stellar advantage over other, better sites, like Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus.  ESPN lets you filter so you only look at the rookies.  This would be exceptionally handy, if it worked.  But, lately, it hasn’t. 

Normally, I update the GoodEnough chartson Sunday afternoons.  However, ESPN was mangled yesterday.  I’d go to the stats, select rookies, and select “Non-Qualified” so I could look at relievers and recent callups, too, and I’d still only get the pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title–Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Hirsh, and Kei Igawa.  Trying it again earlier this morning, I could expand it to Non-Qualified, but only look at some of the stats I needed.  Resolving myself to just take what I could get, and I could look the rest up manually, I started looking up various pitchers.  This is when I noticed that the chart I was looking at on had Hideki Okajima with 8 2/3 IP.  Which would mean the Japanese lefty pitched 1/3 of an inning this week.  That’s just not true.  As a result, I don’t trust the entire chart. 

So, for the moment, GoodEnough is not updated.  As soon as ESPN corrects their stats, I’ll set about to calculate my stats.  If anyone else knows another good place for finding stats that has an option to filter for rookies, I’d love to hear about it.  Either leave a comment or send me an e-mail. 

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Filed under Baseball, GoodEnough

Do They All Die?: “Philadelphia”

dtat.jpg[Editor’s Note: We’ve just added “Do They All Die?” to the sidebar so, please, check out all our past columns in the series. We can’t believe we haven’t done this already.]

Here at Mr. Thursday, we really love Philadelphia and are proud to come from this great city. It’s the cradle of American liberalism, the birthplace of America (for better or for worse), the city of brotherly love, and the home of Rocky Balboa and the mighty Phightin’ Phillies. What’s not to love, right? We at Mr. Thursday are less sure, however, about Jonathan Demme’s 1993 film of the same name, the follow-up to Silence of the Lambs. Don’t get us wrong, we think it’s well acted and arresting. We also think it’s beautifully shot and a visual tribute to the great city it’s set in. But there are some ideological contradictions that we’re not sure what to make of. What follows is a cursory survey of some of the conflicting messages in the film, condensed from a paper I wrote, the last non-exam I’ll ever write in my undergraduate degree.

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Filed under Do They All Die?, Movies, Philadelphia

Friday Show and Tell

The Phillies are probably getting rained out, again, so we’re sitting at home debating on whether to spend $100 on a six-pack of very rare beer

How good is Alex Rodriguez?  So good that a nearly imperceptible change in his swing has turned him from so-good-Yankees-fans-hate-him to Oh-My-God-He-Could-Have-200-RBIs-This-Year!  [The Baseball Analysts]

Aeon Flux isn’t my type of babe, but this is, perhaps, KSK’s finest draft yet.  [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

A couple days ago, we read an article about clutch hitting, and considered the history of clutch.  Other people read that article, too, and had a different sort of reaction.  [Fire Joe Morgan]

Someone’s just not working as hard as they used to over there.  [McSweeney’s]

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Lion vs. Hyena

Why are there not more videos like this? Hat tip is inadequate: Captain Caveman, we genuflect before you for this find. Amazing. Thank you.

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Sine Macula: Bone Machine

Tom Waits is a brilliant musician. This album, Bone Machine, is not his best, nor his most well-known, and yet this still qualifies, with ease, for Sine Macula.

Bone Machine was released in 1992, Waits first proper album since 1987’s Frank’s Wild Years. In the years between the albums Waits did a bit of acting, and the only albums of music he released were a score to a Jim Jarmusch film, and a live album. Waits’ musical career can be easily divided into three periods: 1973-1982, in which Waits wrote albums of mostly piano music, focusing mostly on bluesy tunes and ballads; 1983-1991, in which Waits stripped down his music, and started utilizing a lot of different styles of music, most famously the influence of gypsy music in Rain Dogs; and then 1992-present, in which Waits’ instrumentation becomes both barren, and unusual to the point unrecognizable, sometimes. Bone Machine is the first and, probably, the greatest of his albums in this third period.

It’s an apocalyptic album. The world is bleak, dark, and twisted. Waits weaves narratives of misery and suicide, but leaves the listener, as only he can, with a sense of hope at the albums finale.

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Wake Up America! You Too, World!

Today we’re gonna discuss something a little more serious. I know there are wars, and terrorism, and poverty, illiteracy, political scandals, cancer, racial hatred, ethnic hatred, and that the designated hitter is still a part of baseball, but we need to sit down today and talk about something that’s even more real, terrifying, and dangerous. I think after a minute of solemn pondering, we can all agree that the biggest threat to the lives of Americans, nay the very denizens of planet Earth themselves, is the ever escalating prices of video gaming systems and video games themselves.

Stay with me here, don’t just tune out and roll your eyes at me. Let’s just think this through slowly and logically and see where we end up.

Back in what I consider to be the golden age of video games, long before final fantasy 473 had serious gamers playing for 96 hours to complete 47% of the game with 9% of the secrets unlocked, there were two platforms: Nintendo and Sega. A clear dichotomy, and for the most part, you were either on one side of the fence, or the other. A Nintendo cost $99.99, at a time when the only other option was a Sega Genesis (for a similar price I assume, I was a Nintendo boy- but I’ll do my best to remain objective and not try to compare the two) or a computer, but this was back when unless you were playing Oregon Trail, you weren’t playing video games on your computer. The console came with Mario and Duck Hunt, friggin incredible. When I got my Nintendo, it came with 2 controllers (all it could handle), a gun, and two games…for $99.99! Now you can pay a grand for a console when it just comes out, you get 1 lousy controller, then you gotta shell out another 60-70 bones for your game. Honestly, this system is becoming horribly detrimental to society at large and could have catastrophic consequences unless we, as a nation, and as a people, stand together and say “Hey! You! Video Game Designers and Console Manufacturers! How about some affordability over here!”

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Foot & Meter: In the Clutch

footmeter.jpgDejan Kovacevic, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has written an excellent article on the concept of clutch-hitting in baseball (thanks to Baseball Musings for the find). Clutch-hitting is a somewhat nebulous concept in baseball. There are players who are known for their “clutchness” (or, if you prefer, “clutchity”), such as David Ortiz and Derek Jeter. There are also players who are known for being particularly lousy in the clutch, such as Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez. The question has always been one of defining a clutch situation. Any baseball fan watching a game can tell you, as its occurring, that thisis the clutch moment. However, looking over the course of a season, it’s nearly impossible to isolate any situation in which players like Ortiz are more dazzlingly excellent than they already are. As a result the “traditionalists”–writers like Bill Conlin and coaches like Ozzie Guillen–do frequent battle with the “nerds”–sabermetricians like Bill James and Nate Silver about whether or not “clutch” exists.

Kovacevic’s article looks at a couple of statistics, and interviews a number of players, coaches, and stat nerds about whether or not clutch-hitting exists. Now, being enthusiastic about baseball, I’ve got plenty of thoughts about the existence of clutch-hitting, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

Foot&Meter asks, “Where did “clutch” come from?”

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Filed under Baseball, Foot & Meter, Print