May 2007


14samirtries.jpgSo today’s the day, kid. Your whole life, all thirteen years of it, have been leading up to this moment. Just one question:

What’s it like to peak at seven?

Because if you lose this one, that’s going to be your epitaph. You’ll never be able to live it down.

Ever.

Just ask Freddy Adu, Todd Marinovich, or Ludwig Wittgenstein. Sure, you won the North South Foundation National Spelling Bee at age seven, but that’s like winning the Grey Cup. And let me ask you this, who won this year’s Grey Cup?

My point exactly.

Your rookie year, at age nine, you took home the bronze. Casual observers quickly tapped you the favorite for the 2004 Bee, but hardcore spelling analysts knew there were huge holes in your game. Sure, you finished third. But you lost on “boudin.” Half the cast of Girls Gone Wild: Mardi Gras could probably spell “boudin.” And most of them went to state schools. (more…)

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dufaux.jpgMeet Laurent Dufaux. Your Tour de France winner.

From 1996.

Dufaux actually finished fourth in the tour that year, five and a half minutes behind winner Bjarne Riis.

However, Riis came clean today (May 25, 2007) that he rode dirty during the Tour. In addition to EPO, Riis admitted to using cortisone and human growth hormone and noted, “The only effect I had was that I rode faster.” See, folks. Drugs work. (more…)

chipper.jpgNobody cares about your fantasy team.

Well, if you’re in a head-to-head league, the other guy you are playing might care. But even that isn’t lasting more than a week. Seriously, if you want to suck the lifeforce out of people just tell them how you dropped Chad Gaudin right before he became SP eligible so you could pick up Jason Hirsch on a 2-start week only to see him get pounded twice.

I am now a less interesting person simply for having written that sentence.

I am also guilty. I am obsessed with checking my teams’ scores as they update. I watch gamecasts to see if Micah Owings can pitch out of a 2-on 2-out jam. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Micah Owings six weeks ago, or if I did, I probably thought it was some brand of cookware. These aren’t even actual games I am watching, they are just dots that appear on a web page that show where a pitch crossed the strike zone. I’m an Ecclesiastical fence-sitter (read: agnostic), yet I believe those dots to reveal something true about the world. It’s not healthy.

I want to talk about my fantasy players but I want to do it in a way such that I don’t lose my friends and don’t chase away potential girlfriends. So I will attempt to use the only idiom that will not engender hatred. (more…)

brady.jpgEventually I’ll do more than suggest certain players have, oh, peculiar statistical phenomena associated with their numbers. In fact, that day is today because I’m not even going to do any statistical analysis with former Baltimore Oriole Brady Anderson.

Later I will, but not today. Today, it’s just raw data. This was suggested in the comments to the Bonds post below. The commenter singled out Brett Boone, but I prefer showing the following numbers with Brady Anderson. No reason.

Anderson went from Boston to Baltimore in 1988. He stayed in “The Greatest City in America” (their motto, not mine) until 2001 before an unremarkable 34-game farewell campaign with the Tribe (the baseball team, not the Jews) the following year. (more…)

z_sweat.jpgBig Z might have been wise to take a page from the Roger Clemens playbook and just skip April.

And most of May if he could have gotten away with it, because Zambrano has been costing himself potential millions by starting the season on time and starting the season with a Bruce Chen impersonation.

Zambrano, who entered the season as the Cubs’ staff ace, has been anything but.

On Thursday (May 10) Zambrano was touched up for 6 runs in a loss to the Pirates. In fairness, only 4 were earned. Matt Murton started checking out the Lincoln Park Trixies in the crowd before squeezing a fly ball out. The ball glanced off the outside of his glove and the muff led to a couple of unearned runs for the ‘Burgh. Bummer because the Cubs came back with a couple of late homers to pull within 6-4. Take the two unearned runs off the board, and Big Z is off the hook for the loss.

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Lies and Damn Lieshit_bonds.jpg

Barry Bonds is on the verge of breaking Hank Aaron’s all time home run record in Major League Baseball. It’s inevitable. In fact by the time you read this it might have already have happened. But, eh, nobody seems to care much. Well, nobody outside of the Bay Area or Bristol, Connecticut.

This probably stems from the fact that hardly anybody not being paid by Barry seems to like Barry very much and that people think he’s cheated his way to the record through the use of various anabolic steroids, growth hormones (both human and cow apparently), and a couple of BALCO products known as “the cream” and “the clear.”

And of course flaxseed oil.

But other than once for amphetamines, Bonds has never tested positive for any PEDs. Still, this hasn’t ended the speculation.

For a few reasons there is still rampant suspicion that Bonds’ inflated power numbers come from better living through chemistry. First, there is his involvement with BALCO, Victor Conte, and trainer Greg Anderson. Then there’s this. Finally, just look at Barry. There has clearly been a dramatic change in his physique from his earliest days as a skinny kid in a Pittsburgh Pirate uniform to the Giant (both senses) he is today.

To quote Stuart Mackenzie, “Look at the size that boy’s heed. I’m not kidding, it’s like an orange on a toothpick.”

Still most of the reporting remains focused on the feds, the remnants of the BALCO scandal, the toothless investigation by the Mitchell committee, or some other informant du jour. It’s almost as if the media and MLB are both waiting for someone to hand over a smoking gun registered to Barry with his prints on the still warm grip (“Hey look, Godot!”). What there hasn’t been much of is an examination of the probability that what Barry has done was legit from a purely statistical standpoint.

The below is attempt to do just that. It’s a analysis of Bonds’ 2001 single-season record-breaking home run mark of 73. It’s long. Sorry. But, statistically, it’s interesting because Bonds really didn’t hit 73 home runs in 2001. Or at least you can almost prove it.

Admittedly that’s a bit of an irresponsible use of the word “prove.” The numbers don’t prove anything. And Bonds actually did hit 73 baseballs that cleared the fence during that season. What the numbers do show is that it was so improbable that it would almost be more rational to believe it didn’t happen.
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