First Notepad Scribbles of the year, and I’ve got a wide variety of stuff to share today.
Blaming The Victim
Earlier this month, 42 year old Brian Stow was brutally attacked by two Los Angeles Dodger fans after a game at Dodger Stadium, seemingly because he was wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey. Earlier today, this article from John Steigerwald of the Observer-Reporter in Washington, PA surfaced on several websites, and Steigerwald basically claims that Stow should have expected to be attacked after wearing a Giants jersey in Dodger Stadium, a ballpark that is becoming overrun by gangs.
Looking past this idiocy, it appears as though Steigerwald’s point was supposed to be that adults shouldn’t be wearing jerseys at games (after all, the title of the article is “Know when you’ve outgrow (sic) the uniform”). However, using an assault as evidence for this article was tasteless and a terrible decision.
Some people prefer a separation between fans and the team. I briefly watched a Whitney Cummings special on Comedy Central once, and one of her jokes entailed a (former?) boyfriend that once said, “Oh, we didn’t play well last night.” That, I can completely understand. Fans do not play the games, and cannot be blamed for wins and losses unless you’re the idiot that reached over the railing to touch a ball still in play.
But are the fans to blame if teams embrace their fans as part of the team? After all, the Seattle Seahawks have called their fans “The 12th Man.” The New York Mets rolled out a commercial which claimed that buying/renewing your season tickets would make you the prize acquisition of the offseason. I’m not even an employed writer, and I’m pretty sure I just found several forms of evidence that would have supported Steigerwald’s point far better than calling out a man that’s now in a medically induced coma.
On A Lighter Note…
I was perusing the NotGraphs portion of FanGraphs when I came upon this video. Those Japanese people film the darnedest things!
Basically, years ago Bernie Williams, Barry Bonds, and Jason Giambi were invited to attempt to hit a baseball pitched by a guy bouncing off a trampoline, in an attempt to recreate a scene from a Japanese cartoon. Simply put, trying to hit a moving object at a greater angle is much more difficult. The following Paint drawings explain.
The blue line is the flight of the ball, and the red line is a batter’s swing. While the lines cross at only one point in each example, it’s easier to hit a liner in real life because there’s a much larger margin for error. I know that Bonds gets a lot of crap for using steroids and being the best jerk he could possibly be, but you have to admit that he pulled a smart move by adjusting his swing to the pitch, allowing his swing path to better match the flight path of the ball on his 3rd swing in the video, which yielded the only well hit ball out of the three batters.
Fun (Well, Not So Much When The Twins Have An Anemic Offense And Are 3-6) With Early Season Numbers
– If you listened to a particular podcast from 612 Sports with Jack Steal, I was a guest along with Seth Stohs back during spring training. Jack asked me how concerned I was about Justin Morneau’s recovery from his concussion, and I said something along the lines of “This may sound weird, but as long as Morneau keeps his strikeouts down, it tells me he’s doing just fine in the batter’s box, even if he doesn’t have many hits.” Well, Justin is batting .258/.303/.355, which is downright impressive compared to nearly everyone else on the team.
He has 1 strikeout in 33 plate appearances. That’s a 3.2% strikeout rate.
For context, Jeff Keppinger had the lowest K rate at 7.0%. Morneau won’t be able to keep this up, but he’s been making contact so far, which is good.
– Three regulars are batting better than .250 right now: Jason Kubel (.300), Denard Span (.286), and Justin Morneau (.258). Drew Butera is hitting .250, but I think most fans would like to pretend that it’s actually .150 so he can be kicked off the team.
– For as much as it was publicized that the Twins wanted to add more speed to the team, they’ve only attempted 2 stolen bases (successful both times, however) through the first 9 games. This can be partially attributed to being down in so many games and struggling to put runners on base, but I’d think that even Span would have attempted one stolen base by now.
– Jim Thome is leading the team with 5 RBI. He’s tied for 9th in plate appearances with Alexi Casilla.
– On the pitching side, Nick Blackburn has a 0.77 ERA through two starts. I thought he couldn’t top his 1.50 after the first game, but I guess I was wrong. Now if he lowers it even more, I might just hang up my blogging gloves.
– The problem with walks has been the popular issue for the pitching staff (3rd worst rate as of now), but they also rank 25th in strikeout rate and 27th in home run rate. Ouch.
– Finally, we may be panicking, but the Twins are not this bad. It’s basically the same team as last year, just with a weaker bullpen (which actually hasn’t been that bad so far) and no J.J. Hardy/Orlando Hudson, who were good role players but not the heavy hitters in the lineup. It’s frustrating to watch, but the offense will eventually wake up, the pitchers will stop walking a batter every other inning, and Delmon Young will stop making great plays in the outfield. Wait until the middle of May before worrying.