brewers baseball and things

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Making Sense of WAR

I was watching a special on the MLB Network about the 1967 Red Sox. It’s called The Impossible Dream:Red Sox Nation Begins. The premise was that 1967 marked a watershed moment in Red Sox history, that it turned a city’s attention towards its baseball team. I like that it’s narrated by Boston native John Slattery. Adds some local color to the show.

There were interviews and adjectives thrown around and yet, I still wanted to know what was implied by watershed as in how did it translate into numbers. Thanks to baseball reference, I had my wish. Attendance at Fenway did more than spike from 1966-1967. It doubled, from 811,172 (10,014 per game) to 1,727,832 (21,331 per game.) That may or may not be a record.

There is a dialogue between  two players from that team – Rico Petrocelli and Mike Andrews and also an extensive interview with Carl Yastrzemski. I don’t remember all the details of the show, but one really sticks out – that Yaz carried the team on his back for most of the season.

This type of single-handed contribution screams of WAR or Wins Above Replacement Player. I’m not too knowledgeable when it comes to today’s statistical analysis, but I don’t think the formula or factors or complicated math matters. What does matter is the intent – to determine how valuable a player is to his team. That’s interesting and in this case, it proved to parallel the word “carried team on his back.”

The all-time single season WAR leader begins with Babe Ruth (14.3 in 1923) and is followed by Ruth as well (12.9 in 1921) and who is third? Yaz in 1967 with 12.5.

Those numbers don’t speak to me the way a batting average above .300 does or an OB% above .400, but one day, they might…….





Peralta’s revenge

On June 17th the Royals recalled former Brewer, Wily Peralta from AAA Omaha and since then have used him in semi, high leverage situations, an inning here, an inning there. He’s pitched well, earned a hold and a save.

The Royals took a 5-1 lead over the Brewers yesterday after roughing up the previously un-rough-uppable Josh Hader in the 7th inning. Tim Hill came on in the ninth to close the door for the Royals.

But then things got interesting. Recently acquired middle infielder Brad Miller hit a three run homer and suddenly the Brewers were within one run. . Peralta was summoned. He allowed a hit, but then induced his old teammate Ryan Bryan to hit in to a game ending double play.

Peralta earn the save and  helped the Royals split the mini 2 game series.


Do we have to do the splits?

Last Friday, I bumped into a guy from work at the bottom of a subway escalator.  I didn’t know his name, but his hat, oh his hat; unmistakable;  it had the C and R for Colorado Rockies. I had never seen one in Montreal.  It proved to be a better conversation starter than a dog. I asked the obvious,

“So you’re a Rockies fan?”

He opened up right away, told me he loved the National League West. Then he reeled off the division’s teams. I said something about Coors Field being a real bomb. He said,

“Yeh, I’d like to go there some day.”

I countered with Diamondbacks being so good at the beginning this season, then so bad, and now leveling off, good again, still in first place.

“You know baseball…..” he said; as in nothing lasts forever.

“Yeh” I answered and with that he went through the turnstiles. I had to buy a ticket and by the time I had, he was gone. But I got to thinking of the Seattle Mariners winning 100 however many games back in 2001 and on the flip side, what team in recent memory lost the most games, maybe an expansion team or maybe one of the Astros or Royals teams that suffered three consecutive 100 loss seasons? I wasn’t sure so I waited patiently till I got back home and looked it up. Turns out the Tigers are the team. In 2003, they suffered a winning percentage under .300, going 43-119.

What’s remarkable to me is how close 119 losses is to 90 losses. If the Tigers would have simply won one more game per week or four per month, that would’ve been 24 for the season..easier said than done, but it would have brought their loss total to 95, barely better than the one year bankrupt Seattle Pilots who went 64-98.

Anyway, a team always offers intrigue, regardless of its place in the standings. Those 2003 Tigers had four guys hit double digit HR’s and well, if you prefer to visit funerals (like Harold in the movie Harold and Maude), there were three pitchers on that team flirting with 20 losses and one pitcher – Mike Maroth who did.

And so the Brewers beat the Cards two in a row, Thursday and Friday. Then they lost on Saturday and to make matters worse, Lorenzo Cain (grimace) left the game with hamstring cramps, same diagnosis that brought him out of Thursday’s game. He wasn’t in the lineup on Sunday and the Brewers didn’t win. Travis Shaw also left the game due to a wrist injury in the middle of his at bat. The Brewers were winning at the time 2-1, but went on to lose 8-2 as the Cardinals earned a split of the four game series and around dinner time, late Sunday afternoon, I heard an echo…”You know baseball.”



sort of a prayer

So Tony Horton gets traded from the Red Sox to the Indians for Gary Bell and he’s probably wondering why since Ted Williams had called him a natural in 1963 at Spring Training. Or maybe he didn’t wonder why. Maybe he witnessed George C. Scott (yes the Boomer’s middle name was Charles) on defense and knew he wouldn’t get a chance at first with the Red Sox. Sure, Scott could hit home runs, but he could also play great D. He even won a few gold gloves according to baseball reference. He musta been a big part of the Brewers. I don’t remember that far back, but a friend of mine from Milwaukee who now lives in Vancouver, Washington was in the south, in Mississippi, and he stumbled on George C. Scott, yes the baseball player and he took some pictures. He was manning a Hickory Smoked Pig House. This was before he passed away or at least I think he passed away?

I did get to witness the guy we traded Scott for….Cecil Cooper and he well, we impersonated his stance all the time, Carew like without the continuous alterations, just a consistent crouch that Cooooooooooop. That’s formative baseball years substance, comes back to mind when I catch a spring summer smell. The nose is a powerful organ, wonderful at times remembering pleasantries, but wicked other times when the opposite is true.

So there Horton goes to Cleveland in exchange for Gary Bell. Maybe Horton got bummed out about the Red Sox being so good the year they traded him? That was 1967, a couple of years before divisions were born. There was some last day significance between the Sox, Tigers, and Twins that season and the Sox finished tops and Horton in Cleveland? I don’t know where the Indians finished in the standings, but it wasn’t first. Still, I doubt that bothered Horton too much. I mean he went on to have some pretty decent years. He hit 10 home runs with Cleveland the year of the trade, slumped a bit the next season, but then bounced back in 1969 with a Charboneau year…. 27 home runs and I think that was the pitcher’s year, no? The year they lowered the mounds to give batters a chance against Bob Gibson.

Come to think of it, after doing some minimal research I discovered that he had a decent swan song season too, 17 homers and oh forget it. What good are stats! I think his method of termination was slit the wrists, but he failed and sort of lives on in mystery, but so do most suicides and almost suicides unless they are very good at vocalizing things or writing things down, but even then, as Lori Anderson sang……”Language is a virus.” I guess she meant to say it’s limited at best and doesn’t get to the eye of the storm. There is a Police Song that cites the limits of language too. It’s about love……”de dooo dooo doooo de daaa daaa daaa.”

Today’s billboard – Let Your Inner Self Scream Out.

I sometimes sit on my sofa and stare into space and wish players like Tony Horton had given themselves a break more often and then I realize I’m wishing the same for myself and everyone else.

Sun Ra would sell these types of singles out of the back of a car at shows. Often times they had homemade art work on the cover. Many of them had no record label. This one happens to be on Saturn Records. I believe that’s June Tyson who opens the chant with “Lightning, darkness” and then Sun Ra kicks in with the chant and the Arkestra follows like a caravan….on and on and on.


i believe in jesus

Sun god or son of god…I believe in Jesus, Aguilar that is.

Since the Brewers first baseman took over for the injured Eric Thames, he’s hit….well there’s a lot of percentages, equations, factors and what not, but one stat I can rap my head around is 10 home runs in 149 at bats, one of those a 13 pitch walk off bomb.

If I worked in a bumper sticker manufacturing plant, I’d suggest to the foreman that we engineer some “I BELIEVE IN JESUS” stickers with Aguilar’s head as the punctuation mark, an exclamation and then, if that took off, we could present our case to the Brewers marketing department and suggest bobble heads with Aguilar dressed up in an old Nazareth robe.


beautiful nuts

That’s what this game will do to ya, baseball, make ya feel…nuts, but in the end it’s beautiful, not ping-pong or on-line poker nuts though those probably reap havoc their own way. Take this afternoon, I’m tuned to audio, enjoying my Brewers, a 1-0 lead over the lowly last place White Sox through five or six innings, the lone run coming on catcher Erik Kratz’s home run, his second since coming over from the Yankees says Bob Uecker. Brewers then get runners on first and third, no outs, can’t score. And the next inning, a runner on third, no outs, can’t score again. You know what’s coming. You feel it in your unsabermetric gut. The White Sox will score two runs and win the game. Where’s my faith in this first place team! Jonathan Villar who saved the tying run from scoring the previous inning with a great play at second came to bat in the top half of the seventh and launched a solo blast. 2-0 Brewers. Lorenzo Cain then hit a solo homer the next inning and a few batters later Jesus Aguilar hit a 2-run bomb. 5-0 Brewers, top of the ninth. White Sox still to bat, It’s only 4:38 in the afternoon. I’m outside sitting in the sun, some unknown purple flower invading my nostrils, but who cares! There’s many more games to be played tonight and I have the 19.99 subscription. Uecker talks about the White Sox future being bright.

Thought I’d wait before posting this and what d’ya know. The White Sox put runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth and Uecker said, “The bullpen getting ready.” That means Corey Knebel to possibly replace Taylor Williams, so many names in a bullpen, so many great arms Josh Hader this year for the Crew. Hader has already pitched today, his customary one and two thirds, four strikeouts. Can they finish another one off? Tim Anderson up there. He’s got 11 home runs this year, third most among American League shortstops, part of the White Sox supposed bright future. He pops up to his counterpart at short. One out. The catcher coming up, can’t spell his name. Pops up to first. Two outs. Adam Engle the next batter is called back. The pinch hitter is announced…Daniel Palka, not sure about the spelling of his last name, but I like it, rhymes with polka which reminds me of the Brewers theme song Roll Out the Barrel. Strike three. Game over. Great job by Taylor Williams. Second and third no outs and the Sox can’t score. Sound familiar? Good thing this game didn’t continue or the Sox mighta started going yard.


diamond therapy

It became kind of clear they didn’t want us there. The little darts came zooming in from every direction and they were loaded with some sort of sedative; knocked us on our ass, out cold. Lucky we weren’t carrying gold in our teeth or we’d be hubcaps in east St. Louis, gone and forgotten.

We woke up in an alley atop mattresses with springs jetting out, stray newspapers everywhere. Bottle caps galore, broken glass too, smell of a cat urine,  a little like Eucalyptus. We all rolled around a while, still recooping from the darts, fell back to sleep, cut my hand on a stray sardine can or maybe it was a dream? Sucked the blood for breakfast. It was real. Everyone else was hungry. It was way past sunrise. We were way behind schedule. Actually, we had no schedule. We had quit our jobs and settled on a life of nothing. This was day one.

Ghetto criteria came into full zoom and bloom…..the trifecta of a check cashing institution, a liquor store, and a holy site, church or otherwise, in this case, Luigi’s Mosque which happened…go figure, to be a former church. The front door had a ram for a knocker; made a loud thump sound. We let it loose five times before someone came to the door. There were three of us. We held out our hands, hoping for a falafel ball or silver coin, something, anything, but all we got was the pork-o-meter, a simple device, much like a metal detector. They x-rayed our ass or rather, read our entrails. We had no chance. The pork rinds and strips of bacon we had eaten lit up like bolts of lightning. The mosque master handed us each a bag of coins and flung us to freedom. 

We spoke with fake Arabic accents, but it was no use. We lacked the royal family gene so we sucked up some air and remembered the rumors about pay phones; how a few still existed at the bottom of Silendro’s shopping mall, and if you tapped the cap with a paper clip, you could win a dial tone, free of charge. I stepped into the booth first and liked the sit down position much more than the walk around, look important cell phone routine.

called the suicide hotline.

“Press one if you’re feeling like an overdose with Valium washed down with Whisky.
Press two if you prefer carbon monoxide poisoning.
Press three if you have a rope and are near a chin up bar or some other horizontal pole.
Press four if you have a bridge to jump from not too far away.”

This went on and on and if I hadn’t thought about suicide before calling, I sure did now, all the recordings and no actual human, but fittingly the reel of spiels ended on the ninth option. Nine…. like nine players on a diamond. I smashed the phone down, not out of disgust or hatred at the world. I did it for the sudden synchronicity over the number nine. I put my arm around my buddy’s shoulders and we walked to the liquor depot. We pooled our bags of coins together and bought a bottle of rot gut wine, Carlo Rossi, so big we needed a wheel barrow to lug it along.

Instead, we cruised by the junkyard and snatched up an abandoned stroller and then…..well….we strolled, a family of four…..the three of us and our baby bottle red tucked nicely in the stroller throne, a cherry king.  We drank and drank and we were lit up when we entered the diamond. I forget who was playing….high school or little league, maybe an Indy league team? It didn’t matter. It was relaxing.

We lived another day.