Warning: Kindness May Lead To Shock

Showing others kindness seems to be a rarity these days. You’ve heard the phrase “kill them with kindness” I’m sure but did you also know kindness and manners tends to shock people these days?

Today FedEx delivered my replacement Galaxy Note 5 phone. Admittedly, I have felt a bit lost without this device for the last few days! I use my cell for both personal & business so it’s been interesting. Late last year I purposely chose this phone for it’s S Pen to scratch notes down quickly. It has come in handy as a writer and most recently I use it as an illustrator.

“Thank you sir, I appreciate you bringing the package to me personally,” I said (I was working in the garage). He had parked his vehicle across the street and until he noticed me working, he was headed for the front door.

He looked at me somewhat surprised and said: “You, young lady, are the first one to thank me today and smile, you’re very welcome.”

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I realize he was doing his job but it was 3pm and by this point it was near the end of his shift. I’m certain some of the packages he simply left on front porches, but the fact that it dawned on him that others he had come into contact with hadn’t uttered the words “thank you”? How sad is that?

It’s the little things that make a difference, like saying thank you and smiling- it can brighten someone’s day! Tell those in your life that you appreciate them. Be kind today, even it’s just a smile to a stranger.

Let’s Talk About Stats, Baby

Let’s talk about stats, baby,

Let’s talk about you and me.

Let’s talk about all the good things,

And the bad things that may be.

Let’s talk about…stats.

Yeah that’s right, I threw a little Salt-N-Pepa (with a twist) into this post you’re about to digest.  Baseball is a game of flavorful and perhaps less tasteful numbers. One ridiculous statistic I recently read across my laptop screen was this:

“He’s the first National League player to account for as many as 30 steals and 25 double plays in one season.”

NPR’s Frank Deford wisely responded to this saying, “steals and double plays together? This is like saying, “He’s the first archaeologist to find 23 dinosaur bones and 12 Spanish doubloons on the same hunt.”

I don’t know what led me to Google “ridiculous baseball stats” and “stupid baseball stats” but it proved to be educational, entertaining and enlightening. I think perhaps as fans we just might be more obsessed with the numbers game in baseball than most Major League Baseball managers and players. The reasons behind a team’s skipper making a tough decision in a game often does come down to the probability that his player will produce. Sometimes it’s merely gut instinct or luck. Or both.

'He hits better against right handed pitching, so pitch left-handed, to him.'

Let’s check out a few of the common baseball statistics: BA (batting average), BB (walks), HBP (hit by pitch), OBP (on base percentage) & ROE (reached on error).

BATTING AVERAGE:

Baseball is a game in which as a batter you are considered successful when you fail seven out of ten times.  How? Well, it’s simple math, sort of. My Google search I mentioned earlier was quite enlightening for me personally. I didn’t realize how much of a numbers nerd I truly was but I’m happy to announce that I only wear my taped spectacles when I’m studying baseball statistics. Dropping mathematics as soon as I could credit-wise in high school was a wise choice for me (this is not on my resume).

Anyways, for simplicity’s sake let’s take a batter having ten AB (at bats) and he gets three hits in those ten at bats. In America’s favorite pastime, this is quite successful and his average is .300 (3 divided by 10). ‘Mighty Miggy’, Detroit Tiger’s Miguel Cabrera had 205 H (hits) out of 622 AB which gives him a .330 BA for the 2013 season. Amazing.

Statistically, the beginning month or two of the MLB season are fairly unreliable in determining a hitter’s performance but they of course average out considerably in the end. Maintaining a .400 batting average is virtually unattainable nowadays and hasn’t been accomplished during a single season since Ted Williams did so in 1941. Notable others in that .400 club are Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby &  Shoeless Joe Jackson. Ed Delahanty, Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby all hit .400 or better three times in their careers.

BB, HBP AND ROE:

What isn’t included in a BA that not necessarily should be but that just doesn’t totally reflect a batter’s total potential or odds of getting on base are: BB (walks), HBP (hit by pitch) & ROE (reached on error).

It takes a good eye and a patient at bat and/or a pitcher not having too good of an outing on the mound for a batter to receive a walk to first base. You’d think a hitter would get some credit for that awarded base, right? And let’s take a similar situation of being hit by a pitch (ouch).  Doesn’t the struck batter get any compensation for the bruise he’ll be sporting awhile? Well, yes, on both accounts, the player does receive credit…kind of like, well, a store credit, if you will. They will have something to show for it but it’s tucked away in the aforementioned statistics like OBP and ROE.

I’m about to talk nerdy to you so put these glasses on because they’ll help you follow these next equations:

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Got your glasses on? Alright, here we go. OBP does NOT include errors such as fielding errors, fielder’s choice, dropped/caught third strike, fielder or catcher’s obstruction. In the last five years there has been arguments, whether weak or strong, that the on base percentage should include errors in it’s calculations. Here is the OBP formula:

OBP= H + BB + HBP divided by AB + BB + HBP + SF (For those of you unfamiliar: H=hit; SF=sacrifice fly).

So this begs the question: who decides an error or a base hit? Answer: The official MLB scorekeeper on duty during each game. From what I understand to be true, Major League Baseball official scorekeepers have the power to decide for example if a player has a hit or if a fielder has an error. Judgment calls are made all the time. Major League Baseball actually recruits their own official scorers.

“It’s always safer to call it a hit (than an error). The batting team is happy and the fielding team can be ambivalent…but you have to make the proper call.” -Stew Thornley, official scorer

Here’s another head-scratcher for you:

BABIP= H-HR divided by AB-K-HR-SF (For those of you unfamiliar, HR=home runs; K=strike outs)

Now, what the heck is this? Good question. The not-so-simple answer is batting average on balls in play. To explain further, it is how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits or how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits, excluding home runs. And just FYI, a normal BABIP is around .300.

Do MLB coaches and staff actually implement these formulas through their 162 game seasons? Some will admit to “playing the odds” or “consulting the numbers” and others won’t say.

Will a manager late in a game, if his team is behind by a run, put in a hitter with the best batting average (BA) or does he opt to put in another guy on the bench with a higher on base percentage (OBP) for their best chance at a victory?

Well, whether you believe statistics in baseball to be out of control or not, maybe you’ll find this to be true:

“Baseball isn’t statistics – baseball is (Joe) DiMaggio rounding second.” – Jimmy Breslin

Sports statistics are not in and of themselves misleading but they just might be an acquired taste. The inferences one may choose to draw from them, or be quietly led to draw from them, can be dangerously out of touch with reality. Factual as they may be, the only way to really digest a stat is with a grain of salt.

And remember baseball is a team sport so each individual player’s statistics are not going to be solely based upon his performance no matter how you add, subtract, multiply and divide. 

Alright, I’m checkin out for the night, time to take off my nerdy glasses.

Love and Laces,

Belle of Baseball

 

 

A Pitcher’s ‘Picture Perfect’ Point of Release

This is an upcoming post in which I will be discussing the mechanics of pitching.  Do I have experience personally in pitching? Yes, yes I do…in my backyard as well as fastpitch softball as a teenager 🙂

I will be focusing on the MLB pitcher in whom I believe has the prettiest pitch and the most magnificent motion in professional baseball (go ahead and guess if you like). And I will be revealing why I believe he has been such a success in the majors. The answer just might surprise you…

Here is a photo hint: He does NOT throw this type of pitch:

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More photos and my diamond dust of baseball wisdom coming soon my fellow baseball fans…

 

Pick A Lane!

How many times have you been cruising down the highway in the passing lane (and I mean that literally, I am a ‘cruise-a-holic’ when it comes to highway travel), when some aggressively speeding imbecile decides to whiz by you in the right lane? Personally, I feel it’s ridiculous on their part when they pass on the left or right.  I’m already locked within a safe  margin over the speed limit (under potential speeding ticket range).  And might I add, I always set my cruise 5-6 mph above the speed limit set by state law, so it’s not like this ‘Miss Daisy’ is just slowly driving along.

Regardless of my competitive nature, it’s not the fact that the irresponsible buffoons race ahead of me in traffic it’s how they dangerously go about putting themselves in the “lead position”.  Highways that have more than two lanes merely give these people more passing lane options.  You will notice I am using the non-gender specific pronoun “they” and “people” here because I have evenly dealt with both male and female self-appointed NASCAR drivers.  I have on numerous occasions found myself in the middle of a need for speed NASCAR qualifying race on the freeway.

Recently I reviewed the MLB rules for pertaining to how a batter is allowed to overrun first base and I rediscovered the running lane.  My initial understanding of these rules was simple, yet I learned what I believed to be true about running through first base wasn’t entirely accurate.

Here’s what I originally thought: I believed it mattered in which direction the runner turned after he crossed first base as to whether he could be tagged out.  I was wrong.  The official MLB rules states: 

In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball; Rule 6.05(k) 

Got it?  Well, first, take a look at the photo below.  The running lane is clearly marked in chalk-and by my larger, orange markings (which I know, aren’t straight but…).  The line begins halfway, 45 feet down the first baseline and then stops of course at first base.  The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. The runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.Runninglane4Labeled

Referring to the MLB rules again, there is nothing in them that state which direction the player must turn. The rule states that the runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning first base as long as returns to the base.

Of course, there is an exception to this rule (and more in which I won’t discuss in this post) in that the runner can make no attempt to go to second base or he can be tagged out.  This comes down to the judgment of the umpire and not whether the player turned into foul territory or not after crossing first base.

Wouldn’t that be interesting if someday the MLB implemented instant replay to decipher a runner’s intent after touching first base?  Yikes.  And by ‘interesting’ I mean, please no.  Let’s draw a chalk line in the dirt someplace that we won’t cross.

I understand crucial umpire calls have seemingly determined the outcome of games.  Being a Detroit Tiger fan, I remember the blown call at first base by an ump (whom I will not include his name here, the man felt bad enough) that kept Armando Galarraga from his nearly perfect game on June 2, 2010.

To error is human.  Sometimes those mistakes we make are just more painfully obvious.  I have mixed feelings about instant replay in this game of baseball I love so dearly and I plan on writing another post about that in the future.  For now, I will just share that I like the human element, the imperfection of an umpire’s vision.  It ignites a rip-roaring anger within me when a call goes against the Tigers, yes but I still prefer this over “rewinding the tape”.

I wish I had the authority to tag other drivers ‘out’ when they are hastily passing me on the road.  I would be benching those that dangerously passed me on the right. And ejecting those jack holes that have to hurry and pass me on the left only to cut immediately back into my lane, just before exiting off the highway.  Remember, it’s not that other motorists pass me that irritates me, it’s how they go about it.

 

Cold Michigan Grateful to Wear It’s Mitten

Brrr!  As I sit cozy and warm inside the house, the temperature outdoors is struggling to stay in the single digits. IMG_0284

Often around this time of the month in January, I will hold onto any small change in the weather that appears to be the beginning of warmer, spring weather with it.  Thus far in this new year of 2013, there have been no such signs!

Spring time is loved by many people here in Michigan because it brings new life with it.  We are thrilled at the first signs of spring like early blooming flowers that can protrude even through leftover snow that’s still melting around us.  This begins our mental checklist of things to get done as spring approaches and what projects we wish to work on when it’s finally here.  We look forward to the first time we can open our windows and let that fresh spring air flow through our homes that have been sealed tight to keep out winter’s harsh cold.  And of course for each MLB team, a fresh baseball season.

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

-Rogers Hornsby

Admittedly, my mind drifts to baseball as I stand outside on an early spring day.  I breathe in deeply and can smell baseball, ahh the scent of a new season as the spring sun warms your face.  Makes me smile.

As much as I love gardening, spring-like weather just reminds me that MLB’s Opening Day is around the corner.  On a cooler spring day here in Brooklyn, MI , I think to myself “these temps would still add an extra sting to a batter’s hands.” Why do I say “add”?  Well, it’s my opinion that the temperature only adds to the sting a batter experiences when hitting the baseball.  Hitting the ball off the handle of the bat is from poor timing and/or a pitcher jamming you inside most likely.  I believe it has little to do with how hard you grip the bat and everything to do with how close the ball hits the sweet spot on the barrel of the bat.  Batters can experience the hand stinging in very cold temperatures to very hot temperatures.

When it comes down to it, good pitchers are the main source for bat sting.  Ask any pitcher, he’ll tell you 🙂