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The launchpad in New York

The big story that emerged out of baseball this weekend is that the new Yankee Stadium is a launchpad. Buster Olney, a guy who I normally agree with, wrote the article I linked, and he does give some pretty hard evidence that the new stadium is homer-friendly: in the first four official games, plus the first two unofficial games, there have been 28 home runs (the article was from yesterday morning, the Indians and Yankees totaled 3 home runs yesterday). For those of you keeping track at home, that’s more than four home runs a game. (To put this in perspective: in the 2007 season, 4,957 home runs were hit in Major League baseball games during the regular season. That’s 30 teams, playing 162 games, divided by two for overlap (someone correct me if my math is wrong, but I think I’m right) to total 2430 games. This means that in 2007, there was an average of just about two home runs per game.)

But here’s a thought: ever considered the fact that the Yankees pitching (and the Indians pitching, to a lesser extent, for that matter) is just bad? Remember the Indians of the late 90s? Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Eddie Murray, Matt Williams and others led the Indians to winning seasons because of their offense. The pitchers consisted of starters like past-his-prime Orel Hershiser, flash-in-the-pan Jaret Wright, that-guy-from-Geneva Brian Anderson, past-his-prime-part-deux Dennis Martinez and others. (Oh yeah, I almost forgot not-even-steroids-can-save-you-now Jason Grimsley.) In the bullpen, Paul Assenmacher (probably the best of the bunch), Eric “Ker” Plunk…and the biggest goat of them all, Jose Mesa.

Anyone noticing a trend here? In the 90s, Jacobs Field was a hitters park because the Indians lineup had at least two Hall-of-Famers, probably three. The guys I mentioned above have over 2000 home runs between them. They know how to hit.

But what happened in the 2000s? The Indians got some pitching! CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, Bartolo Colon, and others forced opposing offenses to manufacture runs the old fashioned way, because you weren’t going to hit many home runs off of these guys. On the other side, since the Indians could no longer afford Hall of Fame power, they settled for the likes of Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, etc. Grady Sizemore is the only one out of that group who might hit 500 home runs in his career, and he isn’t even a power hitter! With good pitching on that side of the ball, and back-to-earth hitting on the other, Jacobs Progressive Field has become a pitchers park.

Now back to Yankee Stadium. First of all, it’s early. This stadium will probably be standing in the Bronx for another fifty years. That’s 8100 4050 games, assuming the Yankees never make the playoffs. You can’t judge how the ball jumps off the bat based on four games. The wind might have been weird for that series, space aliens might have taken an interest, who knows. The point is, the sample size is too small to make such generalizations.

Secondly, I know this might be hard for Yankees fans to believe, but it’s possible that your pitching just isn’t that good. On Saturday, during the Indians’ 22-4 drubbing of the Yankees, Indians hitters teed off against Wang (whose sinker is completely flat), Claggett (who was making his major league debut), Ramirez and Veras. Of the six home runs, three of them went to right field, and three of them went to left field. If the ball carries so much to right field, why did the Indians have no problem hitting them to left? (The hitters that hit them to left were DeRosa, Choo and Hafner. Choo and Hafner are left-handed, so they hit the ball the other way, and Choo hit his to left-center, a longer shot.) And if the ball was carrying in both directions, why didn’t the Yankees hit six home runs and score 22 runs?

Occam’s razor suggests that the solution to this problem is that the Yankees pitching was just worse than the Indians on Saturday. Before we go jumping to the conclusions “it’s the park, it’s the park! There’s no way they could spend $300 million on free agents and still stink! Who are they, the Mets?”, just remember that we’re four games in, and the new Yankee Stadium has a lot more games left to be played.

EDIT: Math correction.

Election night

So for those of you living under a rock, tonight is election night. Almost two years of campaigning and literally billions of dollars has all led up to tonight, where we will choose a new President. A couple thoughts:

  • It’s amazing how patriotic people can suddenly be on election day. On Facebook today, at least 20 friends had “donated their statuses” (yeah, I was impressed too. I wish I had that kind of status that I could just donate it so freely.) to either Obama or McCain. I wonder how many people made their decision based on the Facebook poll – probably depressingly too many.
  • It’s always interesting to watch the technology evolve over the years. Think about it: four years ago, most TVs were not high-def, most computers were not hooked up to broadband Internet, and most people didn’t really need constant updates via text message to their cellphone.
  • CNN brags that their political team is the best political team on television. Most of them are morons.

And in other news…

  • In an unprecedented common sense move, the Browns are starting Brady Quinn, even though ESPN’s Trent Dilfer doesn’t like the idea. Seriously, if Trent Dilfer knew anything about quarterbacking, he might still be playing for the Browns. I like the move – Anderson, while not completely at fault for Sunday’s epic collapse, definitely made some major mistakes.

I hope everyone voted today. Our veterans and forefathers have made sure you’re not obligated to vote, but at the same time have fought for your right to vote. The very process that takes place today (in this year’s case, choosing the lesser of two evils) is the essence of democracy – it separates us from every other nation on earth.

Early Friday tidbits

It’s March 14th today (Pi Day, for those who are unaware) and as I write this, it’s 43 degrees outside! I hope we’ve seen the last of winter, but I doubt it. Anyway, onto the the musings:

  • ESPN.com is running a nice piece on Travis Hafner. I’ve said for a while that Hafner is just as good as Jim Thome on the field, if not much better, and as this article shows, Hafner is just as good off the field. There are many reasons he’s my favorite player on the Indians and his sense of humor is just one of them. (The fact that he never struck out used to be, until last year, when he, you know, struck out a lot. Hopefully that changes this year.)
  • Got some new business cards at Lazorpoint. They’re nice, although it just says “Jimmy Sawczuk”, not “Jimmy Sawczuk, Programmer Extraordinaire” like I requested.
  • I got around to updating my website, http://www.jimmysawczuk.com/, today. There’s a little link to the blog in the navigation bar and everything’s a different shade of blue than it used to be. Also…
  • Google Calendar now syncs with Outlook! This is the main reason I don’t keep a calendar because its mostly a tremendous pain to update and actually use, but now that I can use Outlook and Google Calendar concurrently, maybe I will. There’s a link to my calendar on JimmySawczuk.com for everyone looking to plan their Jimmy time.
  • The delegate war between Obama and Clinton continues. Florida has apparently come up with a plan to “redo” their primaries, and not surprisingly, it was rejected. Seriously, a mail-in primary? Are you kidding me? Dear Florida: Make a website at http://www.voteinprimary.fl.us/. Open some public computer labs, or allow people to vote from home, people would log in using their SSN or Driver’s license ID and pick a candidate. And guess what: counting would not only be instantaneous, but it would be accurate! That would be a huge step up for Florida who has had problems doing arithmentic for years. I’ll even help you write some of the code, for the counting:

    SELECT CandidateChosen, COUNT(VoteID) FROM tblVotes GROUP BY CandidateChosen

    Ah, the power of SQL. (See? I blogged about something technical!)
  • Quote of the day (and this has been my away message before, but it’s worth repeating):
    I left the comedy club there and walked down the street. On one corner, there was a Starbucks. And across the street, from that Starbucks, in the exact same building as that Starbucks, was a Starbucks. At first I thought the sun was playing tricks on my eyes. But no, there was a Starbucks, across from a Starbucks. And that, my friends, is the end of the universe.

    Lewis Black
  • By the way, Lewis Black may be my favorite comedian to listen to, especially about politics because while I may have a calm demeanor on the outside, Lewis Black does a good job of showing the rage I sometimes feel on the inside.

Sorry about the lack of updates this week. When I’m working there’s not as much to talk about because I try to keep the specifics of what I do at work confidential, but hopefully I’ll be back to my usual pace next week. Until then, have a good Friday and weekend!

Early bedtime on a Tuesday night

I’m tired and ready to go to bed but before I do, a few recent happenings.

  • A lot of media speculation lately about a Hillary-Barack or Obama-Clinton ticket and how well it would do. I’m not sure how well it would do (although my guess is that the Democrats will run away with this election anyway, so it doesn’t particularly matter), but I do find it incredibly funny how much disagreement there is; take the opinion of Bill Clinton vs. that of Rush Limbaugh.
  • The city of Cleveland is an absolute mess right now thanks to the visit from Father Winter this weekend. On Saturday…well, you saw the picture of the road (which has won acclaim from some for its artistic nature!). On Sunday, the highways were okay but the roads around Case were terrible. And now, it’s Tuesday and the roads around Case aren’t much better. That’s to say nothing of downtown. Getting there today wasn’t…terrible. But getting back was a nightmare. Not only is all of East 9th under construction, but now there’s snow on the sides of the road, so there are less lanes and thus cars (and pedestrians) are being stupider than ever. A general traffic tip: if the light is green, check to make sure you can get through the intersection entirely! If you do this, there aren’t as many times when you want to shoot yourself and wonder how a device as advanced and state-of-the-art as a traffic light could have allowed such a situation to occur.
  • I might post a bit tomorrow about Microsoft’s recent efforts in research and development, as some of the stuff they’re doing is pretty awesome. People really don’t give Microsoft a lot of credit (ahem), but they come up with some pretty crazy stuff. I think you can compare Microsoft to the Cleveland Indians. In the 90s, Microsoft was a big company who was buying and overpowering and getting wins. But in the early 2000s, the company (and the Indians) decided a rebuild was needed, and here we are in 2007 with the Indians returning as the Central Division champions. I think Microsoft’s rebuilding will take a bit longer – because software development often takes longer than rebuilding a baseball team. But if you ask me, Windows 7 will put Microsoft back on the innovation forefront – along with other technologies.
  • Today is March 12th, which means the Indians open their season about three weeks from now against the White Sox at Progressive Field. I hope to post some longer thoughts about what I’ve seen so far, but for now I’ll say a couple quick things:
    1. Travis Hafner was worrying me a little bit but he seems like he’s coming along, hitting a couple doubles the other day. He had a terrible spring last year and that said a lot about his year, so hopefully a better spring means more Travis Hafner like we know and love him.
    2. Same for Grady Sizemore – he hit his first two home runs today.
    3. Pitching-wise, sounds like Sabathia is lights-out, Carmona is still nasty and Westbrook knows what he’s doing. The other guys – well, they’re coming along. Laffey would be my pick for the 5th spot in the rotation, but his performance a couple days ago kind of hurt his stock.
  • I watched most of the 6 PM edition of SportsCenter tonight and noticed something entirely disconcerting: in the midst of the football offseason, there were 4 segments out of 6 with one or more football bits. In the baseball offseason, you’re lucky to get one. Dear Todd McShay: I don’t care that much about the draft! I’ll watch on April 28, until then, get a life! Seriously, Todd McShay must have been born on Leap Day or something, because you have got to be completely used to waiting for happiness in order to spend that much time covering a one-day event.

And on a final note, I found a new coffee shop in the first floor of our building today, A.J. Rocco’s. I really liked it – cheap but excellent coffee and a nice selection of breakfast stuff, and quite a nice atmosphere. I look forward to going back tomorrow. I’ll try to write more tomorrow, until then, stay warm!

Musings from KSL

A couple little tidbits from high atop Kelvin Smith Library (which, if you’ve seen Air Force One, is adjacent to the Presidential Palace of Kazakhstan):

  • Picked up a half pound of Schuil Coffee‘s “Michigan Maple”. Wow. What an unbelievable smell! I fully recommend this product to anyone who likes the smell of maple syrup and the taste of Einstein Bros. Vanilla Hazelnut coffee.
  • Finished my paper on Kim Philby, who I had never heard of before last week and now am convinced is the coolest spy ever.
  • Anyone hear Hank Steinbrenner (owner of the New York Yankees) yesterday? I think he simply said what a lot of us have been thinking for years (including me – see this entry from last fall).
  • I think its interesting that politicians (in general) talk about what they have done and compare their record to someone else’s. Does that really matter? What do I care if Obama smoked marijuana in college (which I think he admitted to) if Hillary’s plan for peace in the Middle East involves killing all men? I don’t want to hear about what you have done, I want to hear about what you plan to do.
  • That goes for blaming others too (ahem, Obama): regardless of whether or not you feel Bush was right to go into Iraq, to support NAFTA or whatever, it’s done. You can’t do anything about it, why make excuses? I’m pretty sure no one has forgotten who invaded Iraq.
  • Before you decide to not vote on March 4, take a moment and think of all the people who have died so that you have that right. I abstained from voting once, a couple years ago, and then talked with a veteran who reminded me of that – no matter how frustrated you are with the political system, it is by the grace of God and the blood of our forefathers that we have the right to choose a new political system instead of simply having to deal with it.

You may have noticed the “Morning Coffee” add-on on the right hand side of the page. I plan simply putting whatever coffee I have in my cupboard in that box – I think I’m turning into a coffee junkie, maybe.

The Boston Bias

Now that the Indians have won two games, ESPN is trying to analyze it with the tagline, “How can the Indians be ahead against a team that looked to be invincible?”

Invincible to who? This is a team that nearly collapsed at the end of the season, letting the Yankees reduce a 14 game deficit to a 1 game deficit. The bullpen, which was outstanding in the beginning of the year, was much more vulnerable in the second half. We also saw how impotent the lineup was without Manny Ramirez.

So they go into the division series, they sweep the Angels. The Angels were a completely different team than they should have been, but even so, Ortiz and Ramirez pretty much led that offense through that series. The Angels had a terrible gameplan against Josh Beckett which made him look outstanding. Actually, the same can be said for the whole series: it seemed like the Angels tried to change who they were instead of making the Sox play their game.

The Red Sox get through to the Indians, and to their credit, made Sabathia work. I thought Sabathia was getting squeezed, but he should have been challenging Red Sox hitters more than he did anyway. Game 1 went to the Sox. Game 2 was much the same, but the Indians managed to hold off the assaults of the offense and won it, in the first game where Manny and Ortiz FINALLY looked human. And finally, in Game 3, Westbrook was able to shut them down and cool off the red-hot Ramirez.

So in the end, the Red Sox were NEVER as invulnerable as ESPN would have you believe.