Thursday, December 18, 2008

Staying In The Cafeteria With Rodney Stuckey

Until recently, I considered Rodney Stuckey to be one of those annoying players who is relentlessly hyped by those who are in the business of relentless hype-making. You know the sort of player I mean: he performs well for a game, maybe two, but ultimately no amount of opportunity enables him to harness his potential. A 29 point, 11 assist game is immediately followed up by a forgettable three point, four foul effort. People get on and off his bandwagon like it is a trolley car. Think Tyrus Thomas, or Yi Jianlian.

I mostly ignored Stuckey.

Looking back, it is impressive that a certain NBA guru had Stuckey pegged so accurately earlier this past summer. In a way, it reminds me of the high school history teacher who knows that Sonya Marks in his AP History class will ultimately blossom into a beautiful woman. Meanwhile, all the high school boys naively pursue Alicia Cartova. Ten years later, Sonya Marks is in makeup commercials and Alica Cartova still lives in your hometown, looks tired all the time, and works behind the counter of a local hardware store that is slowly being run out of business by Home Depot.

My relationship to NBA players is all about teenager-maturity-level love. To give this pursuit of love some context, it should be noted that in my hometown, school dances were held in the cafeteria. Students who were bored with the dance were permitted to go down the hall to the basketball gym. So that's what my friends and I did. We didn't even play real games, either. Instead, we threw court-length baseball-style passes in our never ending attempt to reenact this moment.

So, when it recently (and finally) occurred to me that I was in love with Stuckey, that he was more Sonia than Alicia, I rushed to my fantasy basketball league's waiver wire and was elated to see that he was still available.

I promptly asked him to the homecoming dance.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Accidental Home Runs on the Rise

Over the last 50 years, the amount of accidental home runs hit has been increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, if accidental home runs were to continue to increase at their current rate, there would be more accidental home runs than intentional home runs by the year 3,521.

Kenny Loften, who led the league last year with 7 accidental home runs, defended his penchant for the so-called "oops bop": "I never try to hit a home run," he said. "I just try to put a good swing on the ball."

While accidental home runs are down overall in spring training so far, a recently hit dramatic surprise slam has kept the topic in the news: Jacoby Ellsbury, after hitting a game-winning home run in the 10th inning of a spring training game, admitted his home run had been a complete shock: "Not what I intended to do at all," he said. "But hey, I'll take it."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Johan: El Cy Youngazo (The Great Cy Young)

Johan Alexander Santana Araque might be the best American baseball player this world has ever known. His 91-95 mph fastball, his slurve, and his tailing changeup are all quad-plus (plus plus plus plus) pitches, and his ability to leg press 1050 lbs--while irrelevant to his pitching prowess--is also impressive. Almost as impressive as his ability to stay a strict vegan even though his wife makes her soups with a chicken-based broth (source: anon within Philly org).

In fact, Doug MacCafferty, the famed single-A scout, believes Santana is poised to shock the world and win at least thirty games this year. "If he can command his stuff, really just go out there and command it each start, I see no reason why he doesn't win thirty, thirty-one games this year."

In addition, I just got off the phone with my source within the Mets organization and he is soup-to-nuts thrilled. The Mets feel that once you control for stadium coefficient, line-up lag, catcher ineptitude, and New Yorkability, Santanta could double the number of wins he had last year (he had 15 wins last year).

I did some quick mathematical projections myself and found that as long as the Mets lineup scores their projected 1020 runs created (runs = (hits+BB) (TB) / At-bats + BB), and as long as he faces the Pirates seven times (assuming the current rotation holds steady), he could win as many as thirty-five games and as few as seven. The biggest variable is Measure Maturity, which for Santana should hold steady or even increase (see graph).

Bottom line: If he wins his fifteenth before the AS break, I'd say he has a decent shot at the elusive 30-win mark. The MLB record is held by Jack Chesbro, who went 41-12 for the New York Highlanders in 1904.