At FanGraphs, the incomparable Dave Cameron lists how he pronounces various statistical categories. This sounds profoundly stupid to an outsider, I’m sure, but when the bulk of your statistical conversation is nonverbal, the first time you’re confronted with talking about a stat can create an awkward moment.
Does WAR rhyme with “star,” or is it pronounced like the second word in “World War II?” Or do you just say Wins Above Replacement? Here’s how I do things:
FIP – rhymes with dip, which is fitting in the baseball world.
wOBA – It’s much easier to say “whoa buh” than it is to say “W-O-B-A” or “weighted on base average.”
SLG – “Salt and slug, salt and slug, one’s sodium chloride, the other’s a bug!” I also say “slugging” sometimes.
BABIP – Joe Posnanski once described this as rhyming with “crab dip.”
WHIP – Just the way it looks.
WAR – To me, it rhymes with “star,” but I understand if people pronounce it like “War! HUH! Good god, y’all.”
Acronyms I spell:
E-R-A – Does anyone say this like the word “Era?” I’ve never heard it that way. I could though, since I’ve used Era laundry detergent for as long as I can remember. Good stuff.
O-B-P – This could also go in the next category – the full names. I alternate between “O-B-P” and the full “on base percentage is a better indicator of talent than batting average, sucka!”
O-P-S – I’ve heard some older TV announcers comically bumble through a conversation about “ops.” They were talking about OPS, but pronounced it like it was short for “operations.” It was awkward.
U-Z-R – This one also switches between the spelled-out acronym and the full name. Just depends on the audience.
I use the full name for these:
ISO – Isolated power.
LOB% – Left on base.
OBP and UZR – as mentioned above, fall into this category and the acronym one.
What do you say? Also, do you find yourself reading a ton about a particular prospect, and then realize when you’re talking to someone out loud*, that you have no idea how to pronounce the player’s name? This happens to me all the time.
*or even on the radio, NOT THAT I HAVE EVER DONE SOMETHING THAT STUPID.
Tags: Agreeing with Whitlock this much is scary, antiquated notions, Gilbert Arenas, Gilbert Arenas gun, put that pedestal AWAY young lady!, sportswriting
I’ve never agreed with every single word of a Jason Whitlock column before. I’m pretty sure that, at those sad times when he has attempted to dissect baseball, I’ve disagreed with every word. I do think his football columns are quite good, but I can still disagree with him even in his best football work.
But this column is perfect. The nail could not have been hit more squarely on the head, no matter how hard any writer tried. I can’t decide what quote to highlight, so I strongly recommend reading all of it. Many (most?) pro athletes* are indeed pretty rotten human beings.
We let them get that way – once they figure out they’re awesome at a sport, all they have to do is play that sport well and everything else works itself out. Girls flock to them even if they’re jerks. People hang on their every word, even if they have nothing to say. I’m guilty of it myself – the hanging-on-words part, not the flocking-to-athletes part. Just look at the people I follow on Twitter. Lots of jerseys there.
*to my athlete friends – I’m sorry! You know I don’t mean you! But you also know you can think of a few teammates whom my description fits to a T, right?
This shouldn’t be news, yet lots of people still cling to this idea that athletes belong on pedestals. It’s absurd, but I think it won’t take much longer to change. Is it always right for blogs and gossip rags to air out athletes’ dirty laundry? Nah. But at least the public can see that it’s really not OK for little Timmy to worship Tiger Woods or Derek Jeter or really anyone who is paid for sport. Emulate them as athletes, sure – I always reminded myself of some of Tiger’s philosophy when hitting endless range balls in high school – but look somewhere else for heroes, please.
Here is another link to Whitlock’s column, in case the first two weren’t enough.
Via Deadspin, here’s the story of how the Montana football team is no longer talking to the school’s student newspaper because the paper had the audacity to write a story about a couple of players who were allegedly involved in an assault. The nerve!
Obviously, I don’t know all the facts. I guess it’s possible that the paper, like, totally made up the story. Maybe the two players had nothing to do with the assault. But one teacher, a writer for Esquire and ESPN the Magazine, stood up for the reporters who wrote that story:
“There is definitely a code of silence over the team,” [Chris Jones] said. “Bobby Hauck is mad because of good reporting and the Kaimin should not apologize for good reporting.”
From where I sit, it looks the kids did what they could to get the story right. It is damaging to any sports team when its members get in trouble like that, but what else were the reporters supposed to do? Sit on the story, just because other local outlets had failed to report it?
Journalism students may, in general, be annoying*, but banning the paper from covering the football team is not going to look good no matter how you slice this situation. I don’t think suppression is ever the answer.
*and I say this as a jounalism student. Oooh, look, crappy indie bands and ironic glasses! Stereotypical j-school kids really are intolerable.
Props to the paper for their solution: They just started featuring Montana opponents instead. No point in profiling players who aren’t allowed to talk to you, right?
After what seems like 15 years of waiting, Joe Posnanski’s new book, The Machine, is finally out.
And, well…my name is in it. I’d be lying if I said I did not immediately flip open to the Acks page right there in the aisle at Barnes and Noble. And if I said I didn’t show the random strangers who were browsing the same aisle. Dorky? Duh, it is. But hey, my name’s in a book. That’s never happened before.
Poz writes: “I must thank research assistant Minda Haas for…almost getting an interview with George Clooney — we’re hoping he’s still available to play in the movie.”
Why Clooney? Lots of people have asked. Clooney, apparently, was a huge Reds fan and a fairly athletic young man back in the day. He even tried out for the Reds as a teenager, but didn’t make the cut. His input would have been a fun addition, and Joe and I figured he’d enjoy sitting down to talk baseball for a while.
Whether he would actually enjoy it, we never did find out. I only “almost” got the interview, and “almost” doesn’t go very far when you’re trying to put someone’s words into a book!
It wasn’t hard to find Clooney’s publicist. Google and a quick phone call took care of that. But every time I’d call, I was told Clooney was in this place or that, but never available. Clooney was promoting a movie, then vacationing for three months in Italy and 100% unavailable, then shooting in the Caribbean, and yep, you guessed it, not available.
So we gave up. Deadlines come fast, and Joe was already staring down a dreadfully busy summer – working on the book, and sending back daily columns from the Olympics in Beijing (even though he was originally not planning on going there).
And then, within mere weeks after it was definitely too late to get his input….Clooney was in Omaha. Where I LIVED. Grumble grumble.
Sales pitch: The Clooney-less book is now available at a bookseller near you. Or here’s that Amazon link again. I’ll be reading and reviewing very very soon.
The Internet is a silly and wonderful thing sometimes. It gives people the opportunity to reach out and make connections that would have been impossible without it. You can wind up caring a whole lot about people you’ve never met, but whom you “know” through the splendor of the Web.
Jonah Keri is one of those people. Keri and I have never met, and it’s entirely possible we never will. But I like his writing, and somehow ended up being one of his helpers on his upcoming book about the Tampa Bay Rays. He seems like a pertty awesome person, so when I read yesterday that he should be dead in a ditch, I was pretty shaken.
He’s OK, somehow. His wife, very pregnant with twins, is doing well too. In the comments of his post linked above, he gives sage advice, spoken like someone who has been given a sharp injection of perspective on life:
“Go hug your loved ones. In the end all that matters are family and friends.”
So…yeah. What he said.
Joe Posnanski, as you may know, is my favorite sports writer. You may also know that his new book, The Machine, is coming out very soon – 09/09/09. You can check out a wonderful excerpt on the Sports Illustrated website, or in the paper version of SI if you get that too.
Here’s one Pete Rose story from that excerpt that stood out to me. Love it!
[Pete Rose] ate up old stories. Waite Hoyt was a hard-drinking former Yankees pitcher who’d known the Babe and Ty Cobb and all the rest of those old baseball greats. He had also been a radio announcer for the Reds in the 1960s, and Pete would talk to him for hours. Pete would ask him to repeat the same stories again and again. Later, Callahan would hear Pete tell those stories, word for word, facial expression for facial expression. It was eerie. Several years later, when Rose was chasing Cobb’s record for most hits, New York Times sportswriter Dave Anderson asked Rose how much he really knew about Cobb. Rose, being Rose, indelicately answered, “I know everything about Ty Cobb except the size of his c—.”
Of course, The New York Times — the Gray Lady — could not report it quite that way. So the quote was delicately repackaged like so: “I know everything about Ty Cobb except the size of his hat.” Rose was furious. He knew damn well that Cobb’s hat size was 7 5/8.
Baseball Prospectus’s Will Carroll, another of my favorite people in sports writing, had good things to say about the book. “How good is @jposnanski‘s book ‘The Machine’? I read it on paper. If there’s a better sports book this year, I haven’t read it.” [via Carroll's Twitter]
Now, it turns out Posnanski will be in Omaha tonight, chasing down a story about Disco Hayes. What a funny coincidence – I will also be in Omaha tonight! Neat.
My favorite writer is more than my favorite writer. And he’s finally getting the gig he has unquestionably deserved for a long time. Without getting too cheesy here – that’s your warning that I’m about to get too cheesy – Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated’s new Senior Writer, changed my life.
Somehow I’ve never shared that here, but it’s completely true. Without Joe (or Poz, or JoePo, however you know him), I wouldn’t be here and I don’t want to know where I’d be instead. As a college freshman a few years ago, I knew I wanted to be a journalist…of some kind. Buuut, I have always preferred to take in a ballgame over a political affair, and read the sports section way more closely than the front page news. I really was never worldly enough to go out into the wide world of news reporting, and I was never sure I wanted to become that way. I liked my cocoon.
But still, I didn’t know I wanted to do sports writing. I still took interest in all my general journalism courses, and read a few newspapers every day like any good journo kid. But then, in September of 2006, I read a Joe Posnanski column in the Kansas City Star, and I knew. Before that column – it was about then-new Royals GM Dayton Moore’s hopes for his new team – I didn’t know in my soul that a sports writer could move people quite like that.
What’s funny is, that column gets mocked now for the hope it carried in Dayton Moore. What at the time gave me the spark to throw myself wholly into sports writing is now a punchline for the pathetic Royals who have barely improved under Moore. “Where are the Royals going to have their World Series parade, again?”
But the fire Posnanski lit in me through that column is still there. Since then, I’ve gobbled up almost everything he’s written, whether it’s a 3,000 word blog post about random baseball history factoids, or a Sports Illustrated cover story about Zack Greinke or Albert Pujols, or his book, The Soul of Baseball.
And last year, I even got to help him do research for his forthcoming book about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. I spent hours in the library, slack-jawed in awe at Sports Illustrated stories from that year by legends like Frank Deford. Now Posnanski is in Deford’s shoes. More people than ever will see each of his stories, and many will clip them out – or bookmark the online versions – to read a second, or third, or hundredth time. I would hope nobody would question how much Poz deserves this, and I hope some young kid picks up one of his SI stories and is forever changed by it, like I was three years ago.
(P.S. Huge tip of the cap to Andy Hutchins for digging up that column for me.)
I really like sports books, whether it’s a numbers-heavy baseball annual, a collection of magazine essays, a football player’s drug-fueled misadventures, whatever. One of the few books I can pick up and read over and over, any day of the week, is a baseball book.
Will I like a list of accounts of people dying at baseball games? I am sort of curious. I’ve always had this quiet fear of dying that way, because if that happened, my family might feel bad about going to ballgames again afterward.
Anyway, this Slate article describes the book as “fundamentally a reference book—a list carefully organized into categories like ‘Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Position Players’ and ‘Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Baserunners.’”
Do I want to know about all those people? Would that just make me paranoid about all the time I spend in the line of fire (of foul balls) at my job? I freely acknowledge that it’s got to be some kind of miracle that I’ve never been nailed with a foul ball in over 2 full seasons on top of the dugouts and roaming the stands. And being superstitious, I’d be afraid my luck would run out if I was aware of each of the people whose luck wasn’t so hot while they were at the ballpark.
The price tag makes the decision a little easier, but if I can find it for cheaper I am still curious.
American Idol may have ended last week, but Baseball Prospectus Idol is just getting rolling. If you haven’t heard about it, Baseball Prospectus is using an American Idol-esque process to find the next great baseball analyst. The original announcement and explanation is here, and the current entries are here.
The contest was announced right at the start of my busiest time of the school year, so I didn’t get to spend much time on my entry (which is below). That said, even my very best work isn’t as good as some of the finalists, so I may not have made the cut anyway. Here’s what I submitted:
Q: What do the 2009 Yankees, Mets and Royals have in common?
A: They all lost in their home openers in new (or mostly new) parks.
You probably knew that answer; it was hard to escape the press from both New York park openers, especially the New Yankee Stadium.
Yankees and Mets fans shouldn’t be glum about their teams’ home openers being spoiled, because the home team losing its inaugural game is actually kind of trendy in Major League Baseball. In parks that have opened since 2000, seven home teams have lost their parks’ first games (and five have won).
The Royals are a little bit different case from the New York teams, because Kauffman Stadium certainly isn’t new. But the team did unveil $250 million worth of renovations for the April 10 home opener, and the Royals lost to the Yankees.
When Kauffman (then Royals Stadium) was new in 1973, the Royals won their opener there, beating the Rangers 12-1. That was the largest margin of victory for any team in its current park’s first-ever game.
The largest margin of defeat came in 1991, when the Tigers beat the White Sox 16-0 at what was then Comiskey Park. That game was of just two shutouts in a current park opener. The other was the Orioles’ 2-0 win at Camden Yards in 1992.
The highest total score of an inaugural game came, unsurprisingly, at Coors Field. The Rockies and Mets combined for 20 runs in April of 1995, but the home team emerged victorious.
Overall, MLB teams were 12-18 in Game Numero Uno in their current homes. One team is responsible for four of those losses: Cincinnati beat the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers and Pirates, and so spoiled more stadium openers than any other team in baseball. Incidentally, the Reds did not win their own stadium opener, but lost 10-1 to the Pirates when the Great American Ball Park opened in 2003.
The Mariners have been the biggest losers in ballpark openers. They lost their own opener at Safeco Field in 1999, along with losing to the Indians and Tigers in those teams’ stadium openers.
Does it really matter what the outcome of Game One in a new house is? Probably not. The Cardinals probably did not win the World Series in 2006 because they won their first game at Busch Stadium III. Likewise, the Yankees won’t lose the division because they lost in their very expensive new playground last Thursday. The Royals will be the Royals, whether winning in Kauffman’s true first game back in the ‘70s, or having Sidney Ponson pitch in the opener of the face-lift version of The K.
The first game in a new stadium eventually becomes little more than a footnote in team history, but it’s fun to look back (with ample help from Baseball-Reference and Ballparks.com) to see what happened on the field when fans first got to lay eyes on their team’s new digs.
Personally, I have never been in attendance when my Royals have lost a home opener, and I’m probably very lucky. After scrambling for tickets, planning a trip, and looking forward to sweet, sweet baseball after a winter of waiting in boredom, it must be a massive letdown to see your home team lose in person. It would be especially aggravating, I would think, if this happened in a brand new park. Fans of 18 different MLB teams know exactly how aggravating that feels, and both New York teams are the newest in the club.