View From The Bleachers

April 30, 2010

GirlieView (04/30/2010)

Filed under: Featured,General — Lizzie @ 5:32 pm

Lizzies

  • Commenting is like the end-zone …..act like you have been there before.
  • I’ll take those kind of Sunday afternoons…sunny, good breeze, and the Cubbies beating the fool out of their opponents!
  • I went looking for a Cubs site and somehow ended up in a food channel thread.
  • Zambrano gets into trouble when he over thinks things, tries to work in everything he’s got instead of just going right after hitters with his fastball/sinker/2-seamer combo.
  • just got a little excited to see Silva is on the hill tonight.
  • when the offense scores only once, a run given up by the pen really isn’t that consequential.
  • Basically all the Nationals had to do was breathe in order to win this game.
  • What, no locusts?
  • The way the Cubs are hitting bunting is all they have got at times.
  • We suck. The end.
  • chin up my man. We are only 5 1/2 back!
  • Don’t you actually have to have a lead in the ninth inning to need a closer?

Lizard

  • I think the funnestastic part of this Friday is the ass-whoopin going on in Wrigleyville right now

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Funtastic Friday: Surviving a Lion, The Crosstown Cup, and A Jello Contract

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 12:01 am

Happy end of the week you crazy Cub fans. Life sucks right now for us and so let’s have some fun. Enjoy the big pile of random crap this week.

I found this all over the internet. This kid is ridiculous.

I loved the Dark Knight and toddler VFTB loves Curious George. What a perfect combination:

Speaking of movies, how about a montage of movies from the 2000’s:

the films of the 2000s from Paul Proulx on Vimeo.

CNN had a story on weird baseball contract clauses that I found entertaining. A few of the highlights:

After a spectacular rookie season in 1986, rotund reliever Charlie Kerfeld, who always pitched in his lucky Jetsons T-shirt, needed a new contract. Kerfeld asked for $110,037.37, matching his No. 37 jersey, to pitch in 1987. On top of that, he received 37 boxes of orange Jell-O in the deal. (Read the Full List)

After looking at that list, I found a link inside for weird sports injuries. I thought for sure that Felix Pie’s twisted testicle may make the list. He didn’t, but the list did not disappoint:

Chicago Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal missed a game in 1974 because his eyelid was “stuck open,” which prevented him from blinking. Although he eventually overcame this ailment, it didn’t help Cardenal’s reputation as a player who liked to use suspicious injuries to get out of games; two seasons earlier he had missed a game because crickets in his hotel room had kept him up all night, leaving him exhausted.

The Deadspin Funbag Q&A of the week (Source)

Q: Suppose you are on an island that is five miles by five miles. Some rocky parts. Some jungle-ish parts. Assume it’s similar terrain to the Lost island. The only other animal of consequence on it is a lion. Who dies first, you or the lion?

I maintain that a single human’s odds of survival in this situation are extremely low, until said human becomes aware of the lion. Once that person knows the lion is on the island with him, his odds of survival grow steadily. My co-workers and I spent a whole lunch hour screaming at each other about our relative abilities to construct a trap with raw materials found on the island and whether or not I could kill a trapped lion with a spear.

A: Well, the lion is used to living out in the open without benefit of Wi-Fi or a working [crapper]. Lions also know how to hunt and do so under cover of darkness. So I fail to see how knowing there’s a bloodthirsty lion stuck with your sorry ass on an island helps you at all. You now know you can’t sleep on the island at night, because that [sucker] will eat you and sport wood while doing it. If anything, it would drive you to madness. It took Tom Hanks four years in Cast Away to turn into Super Awesome Spear Hunter Guy Who Looks Like Brent Hinds. And everyone in the theater where I saw that movie thought that was some serious bull.

I’m sure this already exists, but there very much needs to be some sort of desert island survival test rich people can pay for. They pay a helicopter to drop them onto a barren island. Then, the rich Richard Branson-type asshole tries to see how long he can survive on that island (with no training) until he gives up and pushes the special giant red button that calls the helicopter to come pick him up and bring him back home. I wouldn’t last 12 hours on the island before pressing that button. Not a chance. Especially if it rained. I curl into the fetal position and cry like a bitch when the power goes out for longer than five minutes. I’d also forget all my training from Man vs. Wild. FIRE IS SO IMPORTANT FOR YOUR MORALE.

The desert island test could also have add-ons you could pay for. You could pay to have the lion on the island. You could pay to have the island set up just like Myst (which is basically what Lost is), with all kinds of puzzles and shit to solve. Or you could go the full Lostie package and have a Smoke Monster and evil tribes of other people and hatches and all the other shit they have on that show that I know of vaguely because Entertainment Weekly devotes 75 pages to the damn show every week. Every TV show should have an elaborate fantasy camp. You could go to Sopranos camp and be a mob boss for two weeks. You could go to Letterman camp and host a phony talk show for a week. I’d enjoy that.

Finally, Chet West chimes in with some thoughts on the stupid new idea for a cup to be the “prize” for the Cubs or Sox winning the cross town series:

What do Chicago baseball and the largest corporation in the United Kingdom have in common? Quickly, do you have the answer? Nothing? Well, up until this past month the answer was very little.

One of baseball’s biggest rivalries, the Crosstown Classic between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, is getting a slight facelift. It was announced in recent weeks that the winning team (best record of the six game series) will receive The BP Crosstown Cup.  I don’t mind the concept of an award to mark the occasion and its winner, however I am struggling with some of the labeling and the actual physical award itself.

Let’s start with the name, it is being marketed as The Crosstown Cup, so throw the charming “Crosstown Classic” tag out the window. I liked the “Classic” it wreaked of baseball and came naturally which segue’s nicely into my next two thoughts……

I thoroughly enjoy the Stanley Cup, The World Cup, The Ryder Cup, and even the Breeders Cup from time to time. The protective cup was a great invention albeit somewhat uncomfortable. They all work with their respective sport in harmony, and have a place in history. They were all named after somebody or something related to the sport (with the exception of the protective cup of course, but its purpose is obvious). Baseball is not a “cup” sport never has been and never will. We do trophies or better yet pennants….the “cup” has no place near the diamond.

British Petroleum is, as the name states, a British company. They are based in London and while they do operate everywhere in the States, they are not American. I suppose they had the highest bid and won the rights but it makes for yet another strange detail that does not seem to fit in this equation. I suppose a nice American company that understands our nations pastime, apple pie and fireworks was not available or just couldn’t cough up the dough to have their name put on such a prestigious award.

I understand the reality and need for advertising dollars, but this one takes the cake.  Think about it this way, would the idea for this cup even come up if the concept of ad revenue was not an option. I get the feeling the powers that be would say, “what’s the point? Total waste of time!” It gives you the feeling that they stay up late at night thinking of different things to slap an ad slogan on….wait a second, I am pretty sure they do. I am waiting for the day when I flush a toilet at Wrigley and a voice booms over a speaker in my stall and says, “This flush brought to you by Old Style!” (well, actually it most likely was, but you know what I mean.)

I guess the “cup” is here to stay for the moment but it will always be the Classic to me. Besides, there is only one trophy that should matter to Cubs fans and it comes when you win the World Series……Which one would you rather have?

Happy Friday. Make sure you vote in the roster approval vote in the right sidebar as well as check back this evening to see who won a Lizzie this week.

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April 29, 2010

Game 23: Turn That Frown Upside Down

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 9:43 pm

First Star: Adam LaRoche (.273 WPA)
Second Star: Ian Kennedy (.127 WPA)
Third Star: Chris Snyder (.097 WPA)


You want me to tell you the truth? You can’t handle the truth. TP2 said the truth perfectly today in the comment section.

“We suck. The end.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Right now this team sucks. We want to believe. We hang onto the hope that each win is the start of something beautiful and it’s still only April. I’m just as frustrated as you are. Instead of wallowing in our own filth (Seymour, you feel free to continue), let’s turn our attention to three things that are going well for this team.

  • The Starting Rotation – Even with Zambrano’s issues and demotion to the bullpen, and Lilly’s injury, the Cubs still rank 2nd in baseball in quality starts. You can do with that what you want. There are those that don’t put a lot of stock in the fact that all it takes is 6 innings of 3 earned runs or less from your starter. I say BS. If you’re consistently getting starts like that from your rotation, you’re going to win games. I believe in this rotation. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what we’ve gotten out of Tom Gorzelanny and especially what we’ve seen from Batman. This rotation is going to be the anchor of this team. When the bullpen figures out how to work the last three innings, things can change in a hurry.
  • Comeback Hitting Seasons – We’ve seen some early dividends of the Rudy Jaramillo hitting school with the return of several guys that slumped through the season last year. Kosuke Fukudome, who hit his first ML grand slam today, has had his usual hot April. Mike Fontenot has returned to 2008 form and has clearly taken the job from Jeff Baker. Geovany Soto has a freakin .500 on base %. Think about that for a second. He gets on base half the time he comes to the plate. Tyler Colvin is making the most of his opportunities to play, though few and far between. There are guys in the lineup that are showing the potential we thought was there. Now it’s time for the guys we know will hit to start doing so.
  • We’ve actually got a closer – Remember all the Kevin Gregg mess from last year? It was Gregging annoying. Carlos Marmol has taken his role and run with it with the exception being the one hiccup about a week or so ago. I believe he can be one of the better closers in the game right now if we can start giving him more opportunities. Remember 2007 when he actually received an MVP vote for the NL? Yeah, I said MVP. I think he can be that kind of pitcher in this role and that just leaves two innings to fix. That’s doable. Very doable.

Yeah it sucks that we lost today. The thing to remember is that as bad as we got beat, we still get to go out and play again tomorrow. Keep your head up and let’s get a win behind Randy Wells tomorrow.

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Series Preview: Cubs / Diamondbacks

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 10:36 am

Probable Pitching Matchups

Thursday – Ted Lilly (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Ian Kennedy (0-1, 4.43 ERA)

Friday – Randy Wells (2-0, 2.49 ERA)  vs. Rodrigo Lopez (1-0, 4.88 ERA)

Saturday – Batman (2-0, 1.73 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (3-1, 4.50 ERA)

Sunday – Tom Gorzelanny (0-3, 2.45 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-2, 6.67 ERA)

Things I Need to See This Series

  • Derrek Lee needs to hit or move down in the order
  • Geovany Soto needs to move up higher in the order than 7th or 8th
  • Three wins. I came into this week with a goal of 5 wins, two series wins. Now it’s going to take a good series to make that happen.
  • A freakin’ win for Tom Gorzelanny. Has anyone had worse luck that him this year and he’s facing a guy who has been shelled so far this year.
  • Batman’s start. I missed the entire outing for him against the Nats due to tech problems from MASN. He’s my favorite pitcher to watch on this staff right now.

Golden Diamondbacks Nuggets

AZ Snakepit checks in to preview the series from the D-Backs perspective:

There are many differences between Cubs fans and Diamondbacks fans. Cubs fans have been going to the same park for almost a century, since Arizona was barely a state, while the Diamondbacks team is not even a teenager. Cubs fans endure winters from hell: D-backs ones, summers in hell. We have one World Series win in the past century…but I’ll move rapidly on. For there is one thing that unites us: fear and loathing for our respective team’s bullpen.

Both relief corps have lost six games so far, and we only escaped a seventh today by the offense coming back from five runs down. in Colorado. I do feel, however, that we have you beaten, since our bullpen ERA was 6.28 coming into today, and won’t be going the right way, thanks to the seven earned runs allowed this afternoon. Don’t try and beat the traffic at Wrigley by leaving early, for our bullpen has allowed 21 ninth-innings in only twenty games, resulting in this graphic.Oh, and the bullpen worked eight innings this afternoon, so you’re getting us while we gently wheeze. So, no Arizona lead this series will be safe.

However, the same might be said for our offense. The D-backs have been averaging a healthy 5.20 runs per game and are #1 the National League in home-runs. Mark Reynolds and, surprisingly, Kelly Johnson, are tied for the league lead in long-balls [edit: Johnson just his eighth], and six of our regular starting eight have posted an OPS+ above 100. Heck, and that number doesn’t even include starting pitcher Dan Haren, who is 7-for-15 this year, with a four-hit evening to his name, and has also been used, successfully, to pinch-hit.

Which bring me nicely to the Arizona starting pitching, still sadly (for us, if not for you) without Brandon Webb, whose return from shoulder surgery has had more pot-holes than the Kennedy Expressway [see, I do my local research!] – there’s no date there. The three pitchers you will see have all been up and down. Dan Haren, so good in the first-half last year, allowed seven earned runs in one start, and still got the win; Ian Kennedy is a bit of a work in progress; and Rodrigo Lopez is decent enough, but is still a back of the rotation guy.

Really, it comes down to our offense. The Diamondbacks this season have a 8-0 record when scoring six runs or more – but are 0-9 when they are held to four runs or less. How well the Cubs pitching staff – starters and relievers – do at keeping the Arizona bats in check, will likely decide how this series turns out.

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A Couple of Alternatives to ERA

Filed under: Stat of the Week — Joe Aiello @ 6:24 am

For years and years and years, and to this day, the standard stats to quote when talking about a player are home runs, RBI and batting average for hitters, and wins, losses and ERA for pitchers. Here are a couple of examples. From MLB.com’s Player of the Month section where Carlos Lee was named NL Player of the Month last September, “Overall this season, Lee batted. 306 with 35 home runs and a career-high 111 RBIs.” From today’s Chicago Tribune, “With his victory Sunday, John Danks is 7-2 with a 1.73 earned-run average in 11 April starts.”

More and more, however, we are starting to see usage of OPS (On-base plus Slugging). From ESPN.com today: “David Ortiz (.549 OPS this season) reportedly wants to play “2 or 3″ more season in the big leagues.” Hmm, not with that OPS. The trend toward using OPS is excellent. As we all know by now, OPS is a much better stat than batting average to understand a hitter’s overall effectiveness, and all that’s left is for fans and media to gain that frame of reference that we all know about batting average (.300 is good. 200 is horrible). For OPS, a corresponding frame of reference might be .900 is good, .600 is horrible. Looking at this, a quick rule of thumb might be “Divide by three”. If you take a guy’s OPS, divide it by three, and it looks like a good batting average, it’s a good OPS.

Over on the pitching side, by comparison, ERA is a much better indicator of effectiveness for pitchers than batting average ever was for hitters. The need for an alternative hasn’t been as great. Nevertheless, there are a couple of alternatives, favorites of mine, that I think are better that I’d like to share with you.

One is Opposing OPS. I find it very surprising how infrequently this is used. If it’s a good stat for hitters, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a good stat for pitchers. Maybe people simply don’t like the acronym that falls out of this one (OOPS). However, in terms of overall performance, it is a better indicator than ERA. Let’s look at this year’s top five ERA leaders and top five OOPS leaders

ERA Leaders
Pitcher ERA OOPS
Mike Pelfrey 0.69 0.565
Ubaldo Jimenez 0.79 0.510
Livan Hernandez 0.87 0.518
Francisco Liriano 0.93 0.485
Brad Penny 0.94 0.565
OOPS Leaders
Pitcher ERA OOPS
Barry Zito 1.32 0.419
Adam Wainwright 1.69 0.466
Jonathan Sanchez 1.85 0.482
Francisco Liriano 0.93 0.485
Carlos Silva 1.73 0.487

ERA is subject to a lot of variables that make it a much more volatile statistic. When the starter leaves the game with men on base, his ERA is in the hands of the relief pitcher. Not so with OOPS. ERA is subject to random timing of when hits take place. If a pitcher happens to give up a bloop single with a couple of men in scoring position, that hurts his ERA big time while having a much smaller effect on his OOPS. In the long run and especially in the short run, OOPS is a much better indicator of pitcher effectiveness than ERA.

One other pitcher stat I’d like to point out is Pitcher Runs Created. This was invented by David Gassko over at the Hardball Times (www.hardballtimes.com) a couple of years ago. This is a stat meant to correspond with Bill James’ Runs Created for hitters. Here are the Pitcher Runs Created leaders for the current season, and for 2009. I like this stat as well. In fact, Pitching Runs Created predicted both Cy Young Award winners in 2009, 2008, and 2007. Neither ERA nor OOPS got more than one right each year.

Pitching Runs Created leaders — 2010
Pitcher ERA OOPS PRC
Roy Halladay 1.80 0.593 33.9
Ubaldo Jimenez 0.79 0.510 29.8
Adam Wainwright 1.69 0.466 27.0
Johan Santana 2.08 0.605 26.5
Ricky Romero 1.80 0.516 25.5
Pitching Runs Created leaders — 2009
Pitcher ERA OOPS PRC
Zack Greinke 2.16 0.609 191.4
Felix Hernandez 2.49 0.603 157.5
Tim Lincecum 2.48 0.557 155.3
Roy Halladay 2.79 0.667 154.1
Adam Wainwright 2.63 0.643 143.5

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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