Deadballers: Ducky and High Pockets Present…

Passionately undeveloped opinions on the state of baseball, the shifting landscape of stats and analysis, and the opiate power of El Pato tomato sauce

Category Archives: General Baseball Musings

Cobb County Charlatans

“Thanks for submitting. However, this really isn’t the type of content we’re looking for. This piece would be fine for a blog, but, for us, there are too many generalizations, it’s too political, and it really has no connection to sports.”

TO THE BLOG CAVE!

I don’t live in Atlanta and don’t deserve any credibility to comment on the new Cobb County stadium story.

But in the wake of details released Thursday about how Cobb County plans on paying for their portion of the deal, I can’t help but feel a twinge of pain. The most upsetting detail is that over the course of the 30-year plan, Cobb County will reallocate $8.67 million per year in existing property taxes to pay for the stadium.

This is, in no uncertain terms, corporate welfare to enrich the Atlanta Braves organization at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in local services. Cobb County citizens should brace for even deeper cuts to their already struggling school system, fire and police services, and other activities that regular citizens depend on whether they want a professional sports team or not. And, perhaps most outrageously, this will all go down without a public vote.

It’s not the most preposterous waste of money I could imagine from a local government. I live in Tucson, a sleepy desert town that generally minds its own business and asks you to do the same. However, Tucsonans have a bitter spot in their heart thanks to the disastrous Rio Nuevo project and the more recent boondoggle “Modern Streetcar” project, a pair of quarter-billion dollar city development plans that have lined the pockets of out-of-town developers.
The alleged revitalization comes at the expense of a struggling local construction industry (some of the largest contracting bids were awarded to out of state firms) and resulted in many local businesses shutting down due to the torn up sidewalks and resulting depression of local traffic.

Tucson was deeply impacted by the housing bubble, and really isn’t anywhere near recovering. Road improvements are restrained to the point where they are almost mythical. We have potholes that Tolkien could have written about at great length. Many public teachers work on one-year contracts, and those with specialist training are the first to be let go because they’re the most expensive to retain.

Tucson Police Department is expected to lose 100 jobs before next year. A superficial facsimile of either San Francisco streetcar charm or eco-friendly public transport isn’t going to make up for these precious losses. We could use a few hundred million dollars right now. This is why I’m upset about the new Braves stadium deal. A county outside of Atlanta is going to start dealing with these same, avoidable problems.

I’ve always known that there was much about Atlanta that I didn’t understand and couldn’t ever hope to experience as an outsider. Southern culture is beautiful and perplexing to me, from the language to the cuisine. I don’t understand what it means to be in Atlanta for more than a weekend, to deal with the legendary traffic, or to try to live and work and raise a family in the area. I’m one of those fans that Atlanta locals probably mock, a kid that started watching the Braves because they were on national TV while I didn’t have a local team to pull for and was learning how to play the game.

But it is upsetting to me to hear about this type of public fleecing, and I didn’t think I’d ever be forced to consider it on behalf of my favorite team and the cornerstone of my childhood. It is of course a sweetheart of a deal for the Braves that they’d be insane to not accept. And as a fan of the Braves, this is a positive development that should help field a winning team into the future. But the deal doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is going to have human consequences.

This appears to be a decision made by Cobb County officials, without a vote from the rest of the citizenry, that they think is going to pay for itself and help the local economy. The spin will deceptively say that the majority of residents won’t see any change in their tax bill. But those millions are coming out of existing budgets at the expense of critical assets. If an exchange of police officers and teachers for professional baseball is indeed the will of Cobb County citizens… well, I’ll just consider it another cultural quirk I’m unlikely to ever understand.

We need more power!

Got wind thanks to @lonestarball, this tweet sums up The Worldwide Leader’s attention to details:

Yup, the Red Sox just jumped the Rangers in rankings of power (a bizarre concept when you really think about it) after getting swept by said Rangers.

Advise

My older bro is busy doing fancy law stuff with lawyers out in New York. Not my cup of tea because, as you’ll see below, it greatly infringes on one’s ability to blog about baseball.

Generally, I enthusiastically respond to anybody asking me about the Great Pastime. But not when the query comes before 5am.

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Boston

First, I share my deepest sympathies and astonishment over the events yesterday in Boston. I’m blessed that personal family and friends appear to not be directly injured, though I would still consider them victims in need of all available positive juju. An acquaintance is a trauma surgeon at Mass General. Makes my stomach tie up. I think we need a live chicken up here on the mound.

In this spirit of needing to enjoy enjoyable things as a means of avoiding my instinct for disgust and abhorrence at our human condition, our troubling capacity for infliction and disheartening incapacity for meditation, here is the comprehensive list of the top baseball movies of all time. Scientific and irrefutable, guaranteed or your money back:

1) The Sandlot
2) Bull Durham
3) Moneyball
4) The Bad News Bears
5) Major League
6) A League of Their Own
7) Eight Men Out
8) Field of Dreams
9) Little Big League
10) Rookie of the Year

2,048) Fever Pitch
2,049) For Love of The Game
2,050) A Bronx Tale (mostly a slobberjobbing of the old timey Yankees. Blech. And then some Mafia stuff, which was alright)
2,051) That video of The Indians doing the Harlem Shake
2,052) That episode of LOST where Linus explains to Jack that the Sox won the ‘04 Series
2,053) Major League II
2,054) Major League: Back to the Minors

Discuss, and be WRONG.

But please, be happy and spread your happiness. Patton Oswalt said that if humanity were inherently evil, we would have eaten ourselves a long time ago (Go read the rest of his message for a pick-me-up). Call your family and tell them how much you love them, let your neighbor borrow your trash can, and have some people over for a bratwurst this weekend. For all of our sake.

Unconnected thoughts

First, the WGotD (worst game of the day, catch up with the new lingo) quickly turned one-sided thanks to a Colin Cowgill (who?) grand slam. He plays for the Mets. So the Mets won 11-2 over the hapless Padres. Edinson Volquez was once traded for Josh Hamilton and for awhile people thought the Reds won that trade. Not so much. Oh, and Ike Davis was 0-5 with 4 Ks. So begins the Deadballers curse.

Second, I was going to rant about this earlier, but Ron Washington is an idiot and his ability to create a unified clubhouse is quickly becoming a non-starter for me in conversations. Is it really that hard to not be seen as a blowhard stats guy of a manager by players? Why can’t common sense work in a clubhouse? Can’t we just tell baseball players, “Look, bringing in this player in this situation gives us the best chance to win, period. Sorry you’re the veteran and you’ve got to take a seat on this one.”? Would they not understand? Yesterday, in a 4-2 game in the 6th inning, Ron Washington brought in Derek Lowe to face Rick Ankiel with 2 men on. Lowe had most recently not been selected to be the teams 5th starter over Nick Tepesch (go look him up, I can wait)……….Exactly. Why do you bring in your worst possible option to face a decent power hitter?! WTF, Ron?!

Rant over. It could be a long season.

Opining Expertly

“It’s the element… I’m telling ya, they let those kids run wild up there. Well, maybe it serves ’em right.”*

So it turns out I jumped the gun a bit, because ESPN stretched out the last 100 player announcement over a 4 day event rather than a two day reveal. It’s cool, though, because any point I was going to make about this process being preposterous gets amplified with any hung jury fauxdrama. Somebody should have been waiving flags at the courtroom steps. And rather than bury the lead, I’ll just let you know that the EXPERTS agree that Miguel Cabrera is the greatest that ever was or ever will be. 

I understand that ESPN is an absolute mockery of journalism, even in the mock-worthy realm of sports journalism. I understand that revenue is generated by page clicks, so it’s an excellent strategy to just create more pages within a story and break those pages up by days in order to generate more views. I can even begrudgingly accept that, in order to get any real kind of news or journalism out of ESPN baseball coverage, you have to be willing to get waxed to the tune of a 40$/year premium. That’s what hurts the most, because I could almost justify paying 40 bucks a year for Keith Law and Buster Olney work. I just can’t justify any of that money going to their bosses. Someone over there needs to be willing to take the crab out of crab soup.+

Was that the point of this post? I may just be pissed that I can’t honestly think of a reason to visit the ESPN website anymore, a website that has been a staple of my fan-hood, maybe a staple of my existence, for at least the last decade. Maybe the walls have been slowly coming down for me for longer than I would like to admit. Before I let this get too far down the rabbit hole and write that sports never were important in my life, that the distraction is just a cynical cash grab preying on our Sartrean fears of non-existence or existence in absurdity, that they might as well be serving baseball analysis with high fructose corn syrup and caffeine…

Where was I? Oh yeah… How can you put a reliever in the top 20??? Cabrera more valuable than Trout??? I see the bros as ESPN still love them some RBIs. Idiots. All of us. Idiots!

Opening day tomorrow. Try not to think about it too hard.

+From Season 5 of The Wire. Just watch the fucking Wire already. Jesus, how are we still friends?

*From 12 Angry Men, at least as best as I can remember the film. Watch that first, then go watch The Wire.

ESPNs top 500 baseball players

I’m jumping the gun on this because there are still 100 players left to reveal over 2 super exciting days, but ESPN has “compiled an expert panel of 34 to rate on a scale of 0-100 how each player will perform in 2013.” Hopefully they greatly altered the qualifications for “expert” after 2012’s Punxsutawney Phil display. Y’all can expect some deeper comments after the complete list is posted, because so far it’s really a hoot. Did you know Kevin Youkilis is 172 players worse than he was last year? It’s right there in the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. “Players” is an official statistical number. You can’t pull a number out of your ass!

It also includes links to player twitter handles when applicable, so you know that’s unbiased. It’s gold, I tells ya.

On the bright side, I guess I can stop reading the 2013 Prospectus. 34 experts! Holy Cow! That’s, like, a lot of experts! No way BP has that kind of staff. Also, they don’t have Kruk throwing in his two cents, so it’s basically 560 wasted pages of paper. Shame on your eco-terrorism, BP.

disclaimer: Buy baseball prospectus. You will learn a lot of cool math. Do not trust Jon Kruk for anything in your life. I think even joking about it makes me liable for future lawsuits. Jon Kruk is a braying manatee of a moron. Though that might be giving a bad name to braying, morons and manatees. 

Fantasy Camp

I will be participating in three fantasy baseball leagues this year. Two have cash rewards, one (now active in one form or another for about 11 years) is purely pride and bragging rights among friends. They feature three different formats (one points, one roto, one head-to-head), all three have variant scoring categories. Two are auction drafts with keepers,  one is a serpentine draft without keepers. I have developed 3 pretty extensive spreadsheets to accommodate the various philosophies I have to take into each of the formats. Each spreadsheet has conditional formatting, frozen rows, and references the other 2 spreadsheets. I have never used any of these spreadsheet functions for any other purpose.

I guess my point is that if I had put 1/3rd of the effort into school that I have put into any given fantasy baseball season, I probably would be a Nobel laureate by now. At least a TED fellow. But, as a surgeon I shadowed once said, “If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle.”

Happy drafting, everyone.

Life and other things

Hey there.

Quite a bit has happened in the respective personal, non-pseudonym’d lives of your two favorite bloggers. High Pockets just welcomed his first born son into The League. Nolan Cy Musial Ty Honus was born leading all rookies with a .310/.388/.490 triple slash. The scouts really like the cut of his jaw. He’s got some interesting thoughts on the limitations of UZR and whether or not we get ahead of ourselves when we start forecasting free agent marginal wins/$. Good stuff. Not real polished yet, but that should come around with a class in linear equations, bladder control and the passing of his teething phase. Congrats to all involved. Sorry you’ll never sleep again, HP. MLB.tv archives games right around midnight, I think.

I purchased Baseball Prospectus for the first time, which is embarrassing but at least now rectified. I’ve gotten through the projections for Aardvark, A in the Atlanta organization. Might take a few days to complete. I also got engaged, so if everyone could keep this blog on the hush-hush for a little while longer that would be outstanding. Finally, I recently found out that my extended family all reads the blog. So to uncle Biscuit Pants, Three Finger, Aunt Yogi, grandma and grandpa; thanks for the kind words. And I promise to keep writing these totally useless jams. It was great to hear you laughing at my terrible puns.

So anyway: Let it be resolved that I, Duckfurd Q. Medwick, will post at least once a week, no more than 10-12 dick and fart jokes per paragraph. Twitter feed should light up a bit more as well, @deadballers for those of you accommodating of short quips.

Happy time-passing!

Miami

I have several things I want to write about: The Braves/D’Backs situations, upcoming thoughts on Spring Training, and the new BALCO situation… but instead I stumbled across The Marlins payroll obligations courtesy of the indispensable Cot’s Baseball Contracts :
Miami has 5.5 million dollars committed to the 2014 roster. That would be 4M to pay Heath Bell in Phoenix, and 1.5 M for catcher Jeff Mathis.

Ha.

At least the public financing of Loria’s aquarium will only cost the county like one and a quarter billion dollars. Or 250x the team’s 2014 payroll obligations.

Loria. Fuck that guy.