Archive for April, 2007

voodoosabermetricsbanner1.PNGVoodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.

Our High Voodoo Council are:

Jack Cobra from 3manlift.com Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
Uncle Sunil from Hurricanes Are For Drinking Atomic Mass and Exposure
Gary Gnu from The GNUru Fantasy Sports Clutchness
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)

mauer.pngThis week, we had to really examine our reasons for doing this feature. Do we just take aim at the easy targets and blast away, regardless of relevance? Or do we examine a fan favorite who might be a bit… Oring-bay? Or do we, ultimately, give in because the ladies really, really like him? The answer is, we do all three over the course of a season, but today, we lean toward the second and third options. And we go for someone dog’s-ass crazy next week. For now…

Meet Joe Mauer

Name: Joe Mauer is actually kind of fun to say. Ladies can say it with a hint of “mrowr”, or a purr, if you will. Guys can say it with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hint of Austria. And there’s something luxurious about the way Joe gets so many vowel sounds out of a five-letter surname.

Nicknames are an issue. People have been tempted to lionize Joe’s spectacular play, but nothing has really seemed to stick. When I googled “Joe Mauer, nickname”, I was taken to the place I probably should have started my search anyway: Batgirl’s Lair. She’s always at the forefront of Twins name-a-thons, and she held a contest in 2004. There were some funny ones like Mau Mau, Dr. Moxie, and the winning entry, Chairman Mau(er). But the one that rings truest for me is “Gentleman Joe”. I mean, c’mon, that’s what we all know about him, right? He’s a nice guy from Minnesota, he should embrace that.

For the name Joe Mauer, 6 out of 10. Chairman Mauer 3 out of 10. “Gentleman” Joe Mauer, 9 out of 10.


sunil.jpgAtomic Number: Joe Mauer is awful for clubhouse chemistry. He nearly tore this Voodoo Sabermetrics High Counsular Whirlygig to pieces.

This council had almost fully healed, following the Lou Merloni fiasco (Merlonigate), and we were almost universally in agreement that the next subject (victim) of our gentle prodding (teasing) would be none other than Carl “Snarl” Everett. Anecdotes about clubhouse fights would have been shared, aesthetic comparisons to vampire bats would have been made, and the rightful honor of dinosaurs would have been defended. But then someone floated the name Joe Mauer, his sideburns, his dreaminess, and his (alleged, by a buddy of mine who went to high school with him) exploitation of Native Americans, and this High Council nearly tore itself apart.

So you ask me what Joe “Carcinogenic” Mauer’s atomic number is. It’s a number that corresponds to the most vile, disgusting, and insidious of acts. Joe Mauer’s atomic number is -4.522, the atomic number of rape consensual but awkward sexual intercourse that leaves both partners a little cold.

Exposure: Let’s see, midwestern boy, playing at an All Star level for his hometown team, dating Miss America. Yep, sounds like something straight out of Central Casting. Joe Mauer’s got a bit of a “pre-(il)legitimate child Chipper Jones” vibe about him. I’m just waiting for the news to come out that he knocked up a waitress from Mankato, thus ruining his relationship with Miss America. That will certainly make for a good plot twist in the made-for-television movie that’s going to hit local (Minnesota) airwaves sometime in 2017 (Lake Joebegon, perhaps?). Until then, Joe’s going to be more Gilmore Girls, and less Untamed Heart.

Did that even make sense?


jackcobra1.jpgScrappiness – Have you seen Joe Mauer lately? He’s 6-5, 215 lbs. When you are that big you don’t have to be scrappy, you just kick everyone’s ass. Nevertheless, when the going gets rough I see him bulldozing through the other catcher to score the winning run, rather than doing a Frank Thomas-esque ballet around the plate. Because of that, he earns major Scrap(??) points. 9 out of 10.

Neighbor Quotient – If Joe Mauer was my neighbor I would have a four step plan to success:

  • Step 1: Become friends with Mr. Mauer and his roommate Justin Morneau
  • Step 2: I would rent out the bedrooms in my house to the women at Ladies…..
  • Step 3: ????
  • Step 4: Profit

In all seriousness Mauer seems cool and I know Morneau lives with him so you get that whole ‘odd couple’ thing going on there. I could see Joe making me burgers on his grill and I could see Morneau attempting to out drink me at the bar (not going to happen you Canuck!). All around it’s good times for me. Plus, they are both left handed and I have a wicked cut fastball while playing wiffle ball. 10 out of 10


texasgal-96.jpgHottness: 10

Joe is a homegrown hottie in every sense. Sweet, charming smile. Delicious 6’5″ body, that’s growing taller by the day. Gorgeous blue eyes. He’s so lovely, I don’t even mind the Elvis-y sideburns (though Joe is rapidly growing tired of everyone else’s fascination with them). And he’s multi-talented: in addition to playing baseball and basketball in high school, he QB’ed his team to state title games and Bobby Bowden held a scholly slot open for the taking at FSU if and when Joe ever wanted it. Top off the classic all-American good looks and out-of-this-world athletic skills with Joe’s unassuming humility, and you’ve got a bona fide hottie.


Behavior: Green (Low on the Terror Alert Scale)

He has a pool table instead of a dining room table. He plays Guitar Hero. He does charity events. He’s neat and tidy. He has a bobblehead collection. His one vice seems to be a large shoe collection- not exactly Pacman-level stuff. He roomed with fellow Twins hottie Justin Morneau, and I hoped to read tales of all kind of hijinx they got up to… but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Joe is apparently the ultimate Mr. Nice Guy. The only blip on the threat level radar is that Joe is still single- and dated a former Miss USA (and we know how those girls can be) — but otherwise, he’s just a sweet, shy homebody who hangs out with his family and shuns the spotlight. He’s so cute it hurts.


mrthursday-96.jpgMy numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.

Quotability. I follow baseball with enough fervor that, generally, I know a couple quotes from a high number of the star caliber players. If I don’t happen to know any from a guy, or if I can’t remember them clearly, I can just Google for some. Looking for Joe Mauer quotes, I couldn’t even find help through Google. So, I e-mailed LaVelle Neal, a sportswriter at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune who certainly follows Mauer with more access and time than I have. I explained my situation and asked him for any quotes he wouldn’t mind sharing. He generously replied, saying, “Mauer doesn’t say many memorable things. He’s a nice kid but not the talkative sort.” Well, sorry Joe, but when the guys who cover you can’t recall anything worth quoting from you, you’re stuck drinking Kaliber Near Beer.

mauer_joe060609acopy.jpgAppearance. I’m sure the ladies are covering this aplenty, but it’s plainly obvious to everyone, that the only question about Joe Mauer is “Hot catcher, or hottest catcher?” Mauer’s most distinctive physical trait, is, of course, his well-groomed sideburns. The sideburns on their own aren’t much, but the sense of humor about them that both Joe and the Twins possess make them a valuable trait. Last August, the Twins gave 10,000 pairs of synthetic sideburns away to fans, complete with double-sided tape, so 10,000 men, women, and children could ludicrously adopt the look of their favorite batting champion. In a commercial last year, Mauer appeared with a little kid in an homage to the famous Mean Joe Green Coca-Cola commercial. Instead of the jersey on Mauer’s back, Mauer gives his adoring fan Mauer’s own sideburns.

Hey, look, he’s wearing TC’s initials on his chest…

Joe, your look is your own, and you have some fun with it, and that’s OK by me. Have yourself a Dogfish Head World Wide Stout with 18% courage. Oh, and when you finish it, I think the girls would like to talk to you…



Joe Mauer is a hometown boy sort of jolly. I’m talking well-groomed sideburns and Land-O-Lakes milk commercials. His smile says “I love hitting line drives and taking Suzie to the drive-in”. It’s the type of jolliness that you’d want to bring home to mama. Man Muscles tops the jollity scale at a Good Ol’ St. Nick… only without the belly.


I just love him.



gnurubaseball-brain.jpgJoe Mauer’s Clutchness…

As a die-hard Cub fan the first thing that comes to mind when the name Joe Mauer is mentioned, is the disappointment of Mark Prior. You see, many believed (myself included) the Minnesota Twins made a major mistake in selecting hometown kid Joe Mauer with the #1 overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft. Experts believed the payroll challenged Twins didn’t pick the likely #1 pick Mark Prior because of his demand of a $10 million dollar signing bonus.

While the GNUru may be biased in the evaluation of Joe Mauer’s clutchness, the fact is Joe Mauer is the best catcher in baseball (no need to mention his .340 average with runners in scoring position) for a perennial playoff contender- that’s pretty gosh darn clutch!

GNUru Clutchness Factor: 3,750,000 well spent dollars


Joe Mauer is friends with Paul Molitor. He and his dad turned a leaf-blower attachment into a batting tutorial. Look out, George Foreman! Your days as the number one celebrity infomercial pitchman are numbered!

OK, enough of the happy talk. I obviously have to address the internecine strife (borrowed that from Tony Snow, do you like it?) that Sunil brought to the fore. Yes, there was some disagreement about this week’s article. Quite a few people wanted to cover Carl Everett. And yes, he is a cross between Mt. Pinatubo and the Kansas Board of Education, so he’s ripe for the picking. But if Merlonigate showed us anything, it’s that a guy has to have at least one at-bat in a season before we can stick pins in him, right? I made an executive decision to go with Mr. All-America this week, and proceeded to crush all dissent with an iron fist (meaning I pretended my gmail was broken and I never saw the complaints). Just remember, the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and we will get to Carl, Cole, and even Barry when the time is ripe. Now get back behind the mule, you ingrates!themoreyouknow.jpg

I, for one, learned a lot about Joe Mauer, and I think the work we did finding out what’s interesting (or hott) about him will bring us closer together. Learn more about crushing dissent with an iron fist here. Your blog could depend on it.


This just in – Sooze is a Winona, MN celebrity!  Read all about it!

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What We Learned: “You Talk About a Guy…”

Ted Bauer puts himself on the line every weekend, watching and manipulating video for a certain sports/entertainment conglomerate to be named later. Due to his work hours and environment, he is uniquely qualified to summarize and analyze the week’s sporting activity. This will be a weekly feature, running every Monday morning. If you like this, read more of Ted’s writing at his primary crib – A Price Above Bip Roberts.

As Elvis would have said “A little less conversation, and a little more action”.  Here’s the inaugural post of “What We Learned” for April 30, 2007.

What We Learned: “You Talk About a Guy…”

Without further ado, the top 10 things we learned this weekend in sports:

small_draft-quinn.jpg1) It pays to play well in big games in college
Brady Quinn, who shat the bed in games against USC (a few times), Michigan (his senior year), Ohio State, and LSU, lost roughly $17 million by sliding from a projected No. 3 – with the Browns – to No. 22 – also with the Browns. That crafty Phil Savage. Meanwhile, JaMarcus Russell, who beat Quinn in that Sugar Bowl game and also did the whole “4th and 10 vs. ASU” thing right after Katrina, scored a massive payday by going to the NFL’s most dysfunctional family to haze Andrew Walter.

2) Danny Ainge might be more rational than George Steinbrenner
For the 18,716th time in the last 11 years, word emerged from the Bronx Zoo that Steinbrenner might ax Torre this weekend. The Yankees went out and beat their archrivals on Saturday afternoon, behind surprisingly effective pitching from the starter (Igawa) and middle relivers (Bruney and Farnsworth), as well as the first save of the year from Mariano. Then, they lost Sunday; they’ve dropped 5 of 6 to the Red Sox this year. If Torre is canned, what’s the point, really? It bears resemblance to a portion of the whole Doc Rivers argument: even if you bring in Girardi, the defending Manager of the Year, who is he working with? Also, the Yankees were bad at the beginning of 2005, and they made the playoffs that year. It’s one thing to keep people on their toes wanting excellence, but it’s another to create an atmosphere where the 10th winningest manager of all-time might get booted simply because Chase Wright can’t keep his heater out of the zone.

randy_moss.jpg3) The Patriots are convinced they know what they’re doing
In the first round of the Draft, they selected Brandon Merriweather from Miami, probably the most notable example this side of Eric Wright of the base issue of “prospects with bad character.” Then, they go out and get explosive wide receiver / head case Randy “10 Grand Ain’t Shit to me; Next Time I might shake my dick” Moss, who once mooned the fans at arguably the closest place football has to a church in America. Scott Pioli. I figure, does it because he’s sure the Patriots can turn any player into a team-first cardboard cutout of their sketchy past, smiling like some guy advertising an electronics sale.

4) It might be one of those wacky situations for the Mets
It seems like every year, one main contender in some division can’t beat the most bottom-feeding, scum-sucking team in said division, and that costs them dearly. Two years ago, for the Indians, ’twas the Royals. Right now for the Mets, it appears to be the Nationals, who beat them Friday night, took ’em to 12 innings Saturday night, and held them to 1 run (granted, the Mets won) on Sunday. The Nats had done some damage in their previous series with the Metropolitans, too. Jim Bowden used to be Omar Minaya’s boss; now he’s just owning him.

5) Steve Nash might be the greatest player in the history of the world
Well, not really; there’s a little matter of a guy who wore 23. But check out these compliments that Mike Breen rattled off about Nash on Sunday – Pat Riley calls him, apparently, “the most fundamentally sound basketball player maybe in history” ; Magic Johnson calls him “a guy I love to watch” ; Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers say he’s “hands down the best point guard in the NBA, maybe the last 10 years of the NBA.” The Suns are up 3-1, by the way. I bet the series still goes 7. Kobe’s going for 70 in Game 5.

face_sock_monkey.jpg6) That monkey hasn’t left T-Mac’s side just yet
After a convincing 2-0 series lead, the Rockets went to Mormon Land and dropped two games. In Game 3, T-Mac and Yao went off, but the rest of the squad had a combined four points. In Game 4, T-Mac had a mere 18, Yao a mere 20, and Houston coughed up the rock 16 times. Utah basically needs to win one game in Texas – and let’s be real here, they led Games 1 and 2 for sizable portions – and T-Mac is now 0-6 in the first round.

7) It was all about this, always
The NBA Playoffs are all about reunions of former comrades – look at the whole Suns/Mavericks subplots of the last few years (Nash/Dirk), or even Spurs/Suns (half the Spurs roster played at least 1 game for the Suns, and vice versa), and Dallas/Golden State (Nellie/Avery). Heck, even Kobe followed D’Antoni around in Italy, so that’s kinda sorta a reunion. As such, everyone should have known that Detroit vs. Chicago – “The Battle for Big Ben’s Soul” – was coming down the pike. Although it won’t match up in drama and overall quality with a potential San Antonio vs. Phoenix second rounder out West, it’ll be the de facto Eastern Conference Finals (sorry, TNT – although maybe your real Eastern Finals will involve King James, and that’d be cool, right?). Detroit and Chicago is going 7, easy, and will be as intense, if not more so, than a Ozzie Guillen vs. Jim Leyland stare down.

8) Don’t count on previous success
Like the ’03 NFL season, when the Bucs (7-9) and Raiders (4-12) both missed the playoffs after competing in the Super Bowl, here we go now with the ’07 NBA season. The Heat? Done, looking like abject fools getting swept by a Bulls team that hadn’t won a playoff series since Byron Russell forgot to tie his shoes. The Mavericks? Down 2-1 (as of Sunday prior to their game) and looking like, well, abject fools in not being able to play in front of the “raucous” (thank you, Mike Breen) crowd in NorCal. If both get bounced, it would be the first time since 1957 that two Finals teams lost in the opening series the next year.

mrirrelevant.jpg9) For one day at least, Jamie Mottram isn’t Mr. Irrelevant
Rather, it’s Ramzee Robinson from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), who became Mr. Irrelevant for ’07, going No. 255 to the Lions (I thought they would take Reggie Ball there, to make Calvin feel better) as a “compensatory selection” (is that a compensation for Millen as a whole?). He’s a 5-9 DB; the only thing his NFL.Com page says is “plays bigger than his height.” Ha. However, it might be valid. As a frosh, he had four tackles against Auburn; that’s a pretty big game for a 5-9 dude to be having four tackles in. He also was defensive captain for the LSU game his senior year. We believe in Ramzee. He might be the new Dre Bly over there.

10) Sometimes, the games aren’t even the biggest thing
R.I.P. Josh Hancock. You were, apparently, representative in many ways of the midwestern ethos of your city.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, I invite you today to join me for the inaugural class of the Flautist Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t exactly say that we have a physical location picked out for the actual building yet, but we have some really promising leads, and in the meantime, the corner of my unfinished basement will do.

Outside of classical music, the flautist doesn’t get much credit. We’re here to change that. I give to you, the inaugural class of the Extrapolater’s Flautist Hall of Fame!


iananderson.jpgIan Anderson

The genius behind Jethro Tull knew that rock n’ roll is flute music, pure and simple. He was a pioneer and iconoclast who resisted the siren song of “It’s a rock band, Ian, why don’t you just add another electric guitar?”. It is a little known fact that Mr. Anderson penned Thick As A Brick as an acid-tongued rebuke to his detractors. I dare you to listen to the roaring flute breaks in such classics as Aqualung and Locomotive Breath and not feel a tear trickle down your cheek and into the bodice of your tunic.


bjornlindhsmall.jpgBjorn Json Lindh

Known as much for his sound as for his pioneering use of the flute “power stance“, Bjorn Json Lindh contributed the haunting flute riffs to Murray Head’s 1985 hit One Night in Bangkok. His courageous and engrossing life story will be brought to the silver screen in early 2008, with the primary role played by veteran British actor Michael Caine.


menatworkham.jpgGreg Ham

Would Men at Work have been able to score a huge U.S. hit with Land Down Under without the stirring flute work of Greg Ham? I think not. Mr. Ham is also honored for his crossover work as an actor, including his appearances in the Australian TV series While You’re Down There, which certainly sounds like it may have included some sort of skin flute performance. I’ve never seen it.


burgundyflute.jpgRon Burgundy

Perhaps the most enigmatic of our inductees, Mr. Burgundy was a master of the flautist’s art who never truly reached his full potential. Devotees blame his egotistical infatuation with television newscasting for drawing him away from his gift. His marriage to fellow talking head Veronica Corningstone drove the final nail in the coffin of his career. At least we have this rare video of a live performance to show us what might have been.


And how can we mention Ron Burgundy without paying tribute to his teacher, the master flautist…

herbie-pushpush.jpgHerbie Mann

No other player personifies the raw sex appeal of the flute like Herbie Mann. He announced his presence with authority on the 1955 release The Mann With the Most, and followed that triumph with classics such as Et Tu, Flute?, High Flutin’, and Supermann. But nothing can trump the erotic flute-fest Push Push. Legend has it that this 1971 album ranks second only to Barry White’s Greatest Hits as a conception aid for infertile couples. Words fail me, just listen.


I am truly humbled to be in the presence of these great ones who serve as the inaugural class of the Flautist Hall of Fame. If you know of a small municipality that might be willing to give us a tax break on exhibition space, let me know. And please don’t forget to leave your nominations for next year’s class in the comment field.


Update: A reader named Stacey turned me on to this budding genius – he covers the theme songs to “Inspector Gadget” and “Beverly Hills Cop” while beatboxing into a flute!!!!!  I don’t know if this can be topped:

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dinglong.jpgAs you may know, I like to turn over rocks. If I see something obscure, I want to know more about it. One of my current obsessions is NFL Europa. The games are shown in tape-delay on NFL Network, which I happen to get on my sattelite package.

Don’t get me wrong, the games suck, and you can tell why the players are relegated there in the first place. I saw great runs destroyed by fumbling problems, and QBs blindly flinging picks. NFL Europa is for kids from big schools who need to work on their games (like former OU Sooner and Broncos RB Quentin Griffin), small-school guys who need to raise their profiles (like Kurt Warner once upon a time), and my favorites, the so-called “National Players”.

These guys are players from Germany, England, Japan… anywhere you wouldn’t expect to find American Football. And some of them are actually pretty good. Scott McCready is an Englishman who played some WR at the University of South Florida, and Noriaki Kinoshita is a pretty decent WR from Japan, who does most of his damage as a Kick Returner.

But best of all is the news contained in this press release from the “International” section of NFL.com. NFL Europa is now auditioning Chinese place kickers, including the fabulously named Ding Long. I’ve always wondered how NFL Europe finds players from such far-flung nations, and the press release makes it clear – they hunt them down, strap them to the hood of the NFL Hummer, bring them to the U.S., and then nurse them back to health:

The trio of Chinese kickers has been tracked down and nurtured by NFL Europa scouts in a bid to develop the sport of football in China, where the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will play an exhibition game on Aug. 9.  (editor’s note – not so fast, NFL International!)

Please, oh please, let Ding Long make an NFL roster… please. Rig the process if you have to, Commissioner Goodell, I beg of you!

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mind-the-gap.jpgThis post is a response to a challenge issued by the author of Moderately Cerebral Bias, who fulfills his blog’s title by thinking a little more deeply about how & why we do this thing called blogging. MC identified several gaps in the mainstream media/big-boy bloggers paradigm that he thinks smaller bloggers can exploit. It’s a way to keep our content fresh and relevant, which is crucial when you realize that there are millions of blogs out there, and many of them are about sports.

Read his first post on the subject, regarding the use of internet technology in blogging.

I, for one, know that there are many bigger blogs than mine, many more popular, and many funnier writers than I. If I try to cover the same stories they cover, I get squashed. Or worse yet, ignored. As a result, I like to exploit the gap in what MC calls “The Way Up” stories. This means that we have a chance to write about the hot story before anyone else knows it’s hot, sometimes we even break news that the bigger outlets would have never found, because they’re too busy looking at the big picture to see what lies beneath.

This is essentially a natural hierarchy. I don’t blame the big boys for writing about big subjects. But those of us who struggle to find our niche and audience can occasionally write about the little guy, and end up learning a lot and sharing that knowledge with people who didn’t even know they cared until they read it. If you’re any kind of writer, you can make a small story interesting.

I have no doubt that this happens in other areas of the blogosphere, but we’re primarily sports bloggers, so that’s what I’m going to look at. Listed below are some of my favorite blogs that have found their niche, writing about something they love, and in many cases, have been able to turn that love into national notoriety:

quinnbobcatlogo.jpgSmall College Basketball: Believe it or not, there was a time when nobody gave a damn about the mid-majors. But hundreds of thousands of readers across this nation went to schools you’ve never heard of. Kyle Whelliston recognized that audience was not being served, so he created midmajority.com, which has evolved into an amazing database of stats, profiles, and feature articles about the non-power conferences. From humble beginnings, Mr. Whelliston has risen to be ESPN.com’s go-to writer about mid-major basketball. Pretty sweet.

In a similar vein, Michael Leitos turned his love of the Colonial Athletic Association into a wonderful blog that covers every aspect of the up-and-coming basketball power. He knows the coaches and players, and he’s traveled to every venue in the CAA. That insider knowledge paid off when George Mason made a miracle run to the Final Four just over a year ago. Mr. Leitos had been there every step of the way, and turned his notes into a fantastic book: Cinderella-Inside the Rise of Mid-Major College Basketball. Again, here’s a person who was just doing what he loved, and an opportunity fell in his lap. He was uniquely qualified to tell that story.

tmh.pngMinor League Baseball: Unless you live in North Carolina, you probably only have one or two minor league baseball teams within traveling distance. But with the rise of fantasy baseball, we all want to know “who’s next?” Matthew Whipps wanted to know, so he dug in and got the answers. First, with his blog The Diamond Cutter, where he regularly kept a list of top-ten prospects. His work got him noticed by other sites, and he became somewhat of an expert on developmental baseball. He was rewarded with a gig at MVN, writing the Minor Details column, wherein he can scout to his heart’s desire, and we can get the scoop on the up-and-comers.

Obviously, these are examples of blogs wholly devoted to niche readership. Not everyone wants to do that every day. But several bloggers work in, say, a post a week devoted to uncovering the hidden stories. Jack Cobra looked at Lehigh University athletics on 3manlift.com recently. Texas Gal and Lady Andrea are pushing college baseball over at Ladies…, as much for the hottness as for the level of play. MC Bias and Digital Headbutt spend a lot of time covering women’s college basketball and other sports that are seldom seen in the limelight.

In politics, Skeptical Brotha finds fantastic video of behind-the-scenes players like Barack Obama’s wife, who he likes more than the man himself.

And yes, I am going to blow my own horn. I write a half-serious, half-satire post every week during college basketball season called “Who the hell Are…”, and I’ve devoted some time to following rookie MLB players with “Smells Like Pujols”. The project I’m most excited about, however, is College Rule Notebook, where I invite readers to tell me all about their college – no matter how large or small – in their own words. Nobody knows a school like a student or alum, and we all like to brag on our famous classmates.

This is a dichotomy of sports, and storytelling in general. We love to read about the heroes and the larger than life. But we need some way to connect that enormity to our everyday lives. It’s a crucial part of the fantasy that allows us to live vicariously through a great player.

Instead of being the guy who has to go look it up, why not be the guy who wrote it in the first place?

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Interesting way to show displeasure with Barry Bonds.

MCBias has a crush. I likes me a sweet-looking lady who can post me up as well, MC.

HCIC catches NBA stars carrying man purses.

Sunday Morning QB tells us all about Brett Favre’s Alma Mater.

Some idiot doesn’t like cheerleaders.

The worst NFL #1 picks. Here’s the shocker – Ryan Leaf is #2, not #1.

How does one go about praising Frisman Jackson?

If A-Rod breaks Barry’s single-season mark, does that make it OK that Barry has the all-time mark? Or is it worse? Guess it depends on what team you root for.

Mr. Tuesday Thursday (whatevs) gets his Bill Bryson on, telling us where the sports term “in the clutch” originated.

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voodoosabermetricsbanner1.PNGVoodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.

Our High Voodoo Council are:

Jack Cobra from 3manlift.com Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
Uncle Sunil from Hurricanes Are For Drinking Atomic Mass and Exposure
Gary Gnu from The GNUru Fantasy Sports Clutchness
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)

loufights.pngI initially conceived of Voodoo Sabermetrics as a way to celebrate players. But if I’ve learned anything while putting this feature together every week, it’s that bending the rules is fun. It is, in fact, the whole point of the exercise. So this week, we’re covering a manager instead of a current player. He’s one of the most ejected managers in the history of baseball, in fact. Give him a ballclub to run, and he will make them win, and he will also say some crazy-ass stuff for the teevee along the way.

Meet Lou Pinella

Name: Lou Piniella is one of those guys who was born to be a crusty old manager. “Lou’s coming out of the dugout to argue that call” just sounds right, doesn’t it? You hear the name Lou Piniella and you think he’s some Brooklyn-born Italian scrapper with mafia ties, but his parents immigrated to Tampa from Spain, so… not so much. But his name prepares you for the fiery Mediterranean temperament he is famous for.

“Sweet Lou” is a great nickname, because it has a double meaning. When he played for the Yankees, his sweet swing in the leadoff spot helped the Yankees dynasty of the Seventies to multiple pennants and two World Series wins. When his playing days ended, he embarked upon a quest to manage every team he had ever played for, leading the Big Red Machine to the 1990 World Series win. People were totally making air quotes with their fingers when they said “Sweet” Lou by then. He is cranky and explosive, and yet people (fans, not players) still find him funny and engaging. He’s like a favorite uncle.

Lou’s name suits him to a “T” – he’s tough, but likeable. I give him 8 out of 10.


sunil.jpgAtomic Number: Unless your name is Ben Grieve or Rob Dibble, or you “Don’t want to be treated like a man,” you will get along great with Lou Pinella. He reminds me a bit of Bob Knight, inasmuch as he is known for his firey nature, some would even say abusive, yet he can also appear charming and often funny. Lou Pinella reacts to losing a bit like Brett Myers reacts to marital strife: it’s not that he doesn’t love his players (or wife), it’s just that he expresses his love with his fists. We all love differently, Lou Pinella’s brand just involves swinging. And cursing.

In his past three managerial stops, Lou has been very lucky, because he had success in Cincinnati and Seattle, to the point where his team was never booed, and Lou’s stint in Tampa was only observed by the players’ family and friends, who don’t boo (except for Rocco Baldelli’s crazy uncle who boos everybody from beer vendors to anthem singers). Lou is in Chicago now, with high expectations. Still it’s unlikely that Cubs fans, who are a bit like Cardinals fans (only without the middle school diplomas) will boo their sweet little bears, since they will probably be too drunk and sunstroked to notice. Lou’s atomic number is 36, the number for krypton. Because it’s my gimmick, that’s why.

Exposure: Lou Pinella was awful on Fox’s baseball coverage last season. His commentary was often inane, his delivery was forced, and his chemistry with his partners (particularly the detestible Thom Brennaman) was non-existent. So he’s probably at the exact level of exposure that he deserves, I mean, he is the manager of one of the four highest-profile teams in the game. He is always going to have a microphone in his face, and many of his team’s games are broadcast on basic cable. He’s kind of like Ozzie Guillen, but with a longer rap sheet. I, for one, am hoping that Lou gets more exposure for events like this, and less for actual wins (or losses).


jackcobra1.jpgNeighbor Quotient: For me, Lou would be the perfect neighbor. He seems like the kind of guy who would invite me over for a beer and to hang out….. but then at the same time it would be great to look out my back windows and see Lou throwing around his lawn furniture around because those damn green peppers he planted in the garden aren’t growing fast enough. It would kind of be like the movie, “The ‘Burbs”, except without the furnace in the basement where they incenerate bodies. 9,000 out of 10.

Scrappiness: Lou is the definition of scrappy. Just look at the guy. He could kill you with his bare hands or just by giving you a look. Lou is ‘old man tough’. He may be old, but you don’t want to mess with him because he knows all the moves and at one time probably killed 14 Venezualan’s at once while in South America playing Winter Ball. Lou eats glass and shits steel. What that means? I’m not sure, I just made it up. 7,528 out of 10.

(editor’s note: In case you didn’t know it by now, Jack is a Cubs fan)


texasgal-96.jpgHottness: 0 (circa 1969: 6)

backintheday.jpgLou Piniella is most decidedly not hot. For self-preservation reasons, so I don’t have to sift through tons of non-hot pictures of him screaming in Seattle or Tampa or Chicago, I’m just going to pretend it’s 1969 and evaluate his hottness back then. Oooh, it’s 1969- make love, not war! Through the lenses of my hippie glasses, I give that rookie player Lou a solid 6 – he’s got pretty eyes, a nice body… but he also has a mouth problem, almost like he’s trying to keep himself from spewing rants. Lou, you just gotta live and let live, man.

Behavior: Severe (Red on the Terror Alert Scale)

Lou is basically a volcano- since he took over the Cubs, everyone was just biding their time in the shadow of the great looming mountain. Looking up at it daily, waiting for it to erupt again and rain down fire and brimstone on anyone in his path. Chicago didn’t have to wait long, April 13th brought us Lou’s first volcanic meltdown (on the media, this time). Now that’s the Lou we were waiting for. He’s like Dusty Baker (doesn’t care about OBP, chews through pitchers, poor bullpen management), but with a temper – and added bonus special ninja skill: he makes his players hate him, too. Whee!


mrthursday-96.jpgMy numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.

Quotability. Sweet Lou isn’t quite in that upper echelon of quotable ballplayers. He’s not as fun or surprising as Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel, but he almost always gives you his honest opinion, and, failing that, he gives you a quote worth remembering for a while. Most recently, during spring training, his Cubs were getting blown out of the water. After a particularly vicious loss, the reporters asked him what was up, and Lou answered, “Our pitchers aren’t pitching very well, and our hitters aren’t hitting very well, but outside of that, we’re okay.” In 2001, as the Mariners’ manager, after losing a playoff game to the Indians 17-2, Lou’s money quote was, “Maybe we tired them out tonight and they won’t come out and swing the bats tomorrow.” My personal favorite, however, is part of the legend of Lou’s temper. Coming out to argue with an umpire, Lou tripped at the top of the dugout steps. Asked about it after the game, Lou’s response was, “I just don’t have that first-step explosion anymore.” Lou, pick yourself up, and dust yourself off. I’ve got a cold, 18% Dogfish Head World Wide Stout waiting for you.

Appearance. Lou’s got the look of a man’s man. He’s a tall fella, with a big, strong jawline, and an always clean-shaven face. There’s nothing too distinct about that, but then again, how can I deduct points from this man? Or one who looks like this when he gets angry? No, Lou, you’re not the most distinct lookin’ guy around, but I’ll grab a 9% St Bernardus Tripel with you, sir.


sooze.jpgmatthau.jpgLou’s Jollity: Now, a rule of thumb for jolliness is the larger the man, the jollier. Sweet Lou Piniella is an exception. Whether it’s doing some groundskeeping near homeplate, rearranging the bags into the outfield, or frothing at the mouth due to a tight strike zone, Lou is one of the most ejected managers in the history of the game. On a scale of jollity, Piniella is an old Walter Matthau.


gnurubaseball-brain.jpgUncle Lou’s Clutchness…

Although Lou Pinella no longer takes the field, his level of clutchness can be measured by the timeliness of his words and actions. In his first 14 games, Sweet Lou has already provided the Chicago media with some priceless soundbytes after the Cubs disappointing start to the season. For example, in the Cubs 14 inning marathon on Tuesday, Pinella’s frustration culminated putting the managerial duties on new Cub Cliff Floyd. Uncle Lou told Floyd, “You figure it out” when the Cubs were out of position players and needed a pinch runner for the speed challenged Daryle Ward. According to Floyd, “I was just sitting down there chilling, hoping we’d win the game” when approached by Pinella. Floyd ended up choosing Jason Marquis because of his athleticism but was confused as to why he had to make the decision. Floyd was going to have Marquis play first base had the game gone into the 15th inning. In a game that had about as much action as 2 quadriplegics playing chess, Uncle Lou always knows when to interject some entertainment.

GNUru Clutchnes Factor: Chuck Norris


Lou holds a special place for me. He was the first batter in Kansas City Royals history, way back in the year of my birth. He hit a double against Minnesota in that historical lead-off. He was also the AL Rookie of the Year that year. After that, he did what most KC players do – he took his talent to the Yankees and won a couple of World Series rings.

Lou has been an AL ROY (1969), All-Star (1972), and AL Manager of the Year (1995, 2001). He is a world champion as a player (1977-78), and as a Manager (1990). His antics are a bit silly for a grown man, but sports are a haven for that kind of behavior. Basically, Lou is a fiery competitor, and hates to lose. He’s the kind of quotable personality that makes sports fun.

Hats off to you, “Sweet Lou”. We wouldn’t want to play for you, but we’d definitely let you manage our team.

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Smells Like Pujols is an ongoing feature that will run throughout the MLB season. In it, I compare the stats of this year’s crop of rookie hitting phenoms against those of Albert Pujols’ ROY season in 2001. I am using (technically mis-using) Bill James’ Similarity Scores concept to keep track of the progress of our hopefuls. The leader board on the right side of the page will show the current scores of each participant throughout the week.

Cooper Brannan is a minor-league pitcher with the Padres, who has bested Albert Pujols in only one category: he earned 300 citizenship points for being wounded in Iraq, while Mr. P. earned a mere 100 points on his written exam. If you want to see pitchers ranked in a serious manner, check out GoodEnough for Me, Mr. Thursday’s companion piece to SLP.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Jeff Baker and Josh Hamilton had amazing leads in average and slugging last week, which, due to my appalling misuse of Similarity Scores, ranked them above the master, Albert Pujols.

This week, we got back to reality, with both men falling precipitously from their perches above the 1000 mark. Baker was bound to do so, because the Rockies use him primarily as a pinch hitter, so his diminished plate appearances will ultimately keep him off the pace as the season wears on. Hamilton, on the other hand, is being used every day, and still holds the top place in the standings.

Hamilton has two of Tampa Bay’s upstarts hard on his heels, with B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura in the 700 range. The vast majority of our players fell into the middle ground of the 500 level, which seems more realistic, especially since four of them play on the same team in Tampa.

casilla.pngWe had three players debut in the standings this week: Florida’s Alejandro De Aza makes the biggest splash, showing up with an impressive SLP number of 690. Felix Pie has thrilled Cubs fans and MLB watchers with his defense, but his hitting currently has him stalled in the lower reaches of the leaderboard. Finally, Minnesota’s speed merchant Alexi Casilla is hardly setting the world on fire with his bat, but should easily beat the 2001 standard of 1 SB set by Mr. Pujols.

Congratulations to these rookies for getting their shot at the bigs. We look forward to watching your progress!

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You already know by now that Ted Bauer walks as a god amongst men. What you didn’t know is that he is a charitable soul as well. He noticed that I don’t know crap about the NBA (he kindly refrained from pointing out that I know little about anything else I write about) and offered to help me out in that arena. I’m not proud, I took his charity. Here it is.

by Ted Bauer of A Price Above Bip Roberts

I’ll be the first to admit that “Friday” is actually “Tuesday” for me (as in, I begin the work week on Thursday), so I shouldn’t necessarily get excited by the notion of Friday arriving. It’s just another brick in the wall, you know?

Still, it might be a smidge depressing that the highlight of my Friday, thus far, was finding a random YouTube clip whereby the ol’ school Utah Jazz (you know, like the NBA on NBC vs. the Sonics Jazz?) visited Springfield, and The Simpsons.

I think I was so excited by this because, well, it represented dual passions. I love The Simpsons – I’ve seen virtually every episode, which I can also say about “Sex and the City,” but probably shouldn’t – and I really like the NBA playoffs. I might like NHL more, but I’m also prone to fall asleep (done it twice this week!) during those games. NBA, meanwhile, has it all: Kevin Harlan justifiably losing his mind, the Spurs making us all wonder why we even play the regular season, someone from the Class of ’03 doing something spectacular, etc.

So I figured, for my people at Extrapolator, I might as well combine these two passions into one. Ready? Set? Go. 2007 NBA Playoffs, The Simpsons style.

Western Conference

(1) Dallas Mavericks vs. (8) Golden State Warriors: In a Springfieldian universe, the Mavericks would have to be Bart. These playoffs are, ostensibly, about them; in the same way, although sometimes other characters get plotlines, The Simpsons is, for all intents and purposes, about Bart. Also, the Mavericks burst onto the scene around 2002 or so, getting a little bit better each year before that – that’s kinda like the development of Bart’s character, from when he just said “Eat my shorts” (and looked black) to his more zinger insults and vague romantic dynamic with those ugly twins in his class.

The Warriors, thus, have to represent the only force that can beat Bart, and that’s simple. No, not Marge: Martin Prince. Remember that episode where Bart opposed Martin for Class President, and all Bart’s friends forgot to vote, so Martin and his sickly little bitch friend voted, and Martin won? Heck, I do. It was on a few nights ago. Point is: Martin can beat Bart, and he shouldn’t be able to. The Warriors own the Mavericks, and under no reasonable God should they win 6 of 7 from that team. Also, Don Nelson looks like what I imagine Martin will someday grow into.

smithers.png(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers: The Suns, by virtue of taking the NBA game to a new and interesting place the past few years, have to be Smithers. Wow, I didn’t expect myself to write that. Here’s my argument: Mr. Burns – and as such, Homer’s workplace – became a lot more interesting when Smithers was: a) colored properly; and b) gay. I doubt anyone on the Suns is out of the closet – I suppose Nash is a contender, and Paul Shirley is a bit fruity – but they make the game more interesting to watch, and Smithers does that with Springfield and the Power Plant.

As such, the ultimate foil of the Suns – the Lakers, who took ’em 7 last year – has to be Mr. Burns. The Lakers are an all-powerful NBA dynasty; I think Stern probably would have killed a few people if they had fallen out of the playoffs in the last week. Burns, similarly, runs Springfield. I also kind of imagine the vision of Mr. Burns in a sash jumping out of a birthday cake – a frequent Smithers dream – is what Chris Mihm would look like doing that. The Suns want to be the Lakers – all ‘dem titles, a truly dominant man in the middle – and the Lakers are irritated by the Suns, who they can’t beat. It’s just like Smithers and Burns. Uh, kinda.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Denver Nuggets: If the Mavericks are Bart, the Spurs have to be Homer. No one on the Spurs is that boorish – aiite, maybe Tony Parker when Eva is getting all randy – but they’re the ultimate foil for the Mavericks. Some fans of The Simpsons would argue the show is really about Homer, but we’d all probably admit it’s a little less interesting when that happens. My point is: the NBA is, in many ways, about the Spurs – what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve done it. But the really interesting episodes are about the Mavericks. Also, you know you can envision Tim Duncan strangling Dirk the way Homer strangles Bart. You’re laughing on the outside and the inside right now.

The Nuggets are Comic Book Guy. Look at their roster – all troubled souls. KMart, Camby, NeNe, AI, ‘Melo. The Comic Book Guy is a freak. He kept people locked in their original cellophane in one fantasy episode; he also downloads porn on Dial Up. I bet George Karl does that.

(4) Utah Jazz vs. (5) Houston Rockets: The Jazz this season, because they peaked early and declined late, are like Barney. Every episode Barney is involved in sees him be funny at the outset, then get progressively less funny – i.e. mostly burping – as the show rolls on. It’s odd I just attributed a Mormon area to a raging, fatass drunk, but what do I know anyway?

The Rockets are Professor Fink. One simple reason: Jeff Van Gundy kinda looks like him.

Eastern Conference

(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Orlando Magic: The Pistons don’t do anything tremendously well, but seem to do everything really well. In this way, they’re Lisa. Lisa is the glue of The Simpsons: she’s the moral center like “E” on Entourage, the classic straight man like whoever played that role on Wings, and the intellect, like Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. She does it all, and so do the Pistons. I bet ‘Sheed would get down to some of her sax-a-ma-phone groovings, too.

The Magic, with apologies to Hedo and Jameer, are truly a one-man team: Dwight, Dwight, and mo’ Dwight. I’d make ’em Millhouse: he’s the biggest one-note joke around. Oh, look, a nerd who follows Bart around and likes his sister. I haven’t seen that formula before. Also, when I speculate, in my weaker moments, on what Millhouse will be like as a grown-up, I kinda of imagine Brian Hill pacing the sidelines at Amway.

wiggum.png(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Washington Wizards: The Cavs are Nelson. It’s simple, really: LeBron can do everything so much better than the other people on the court, he just runs around saying “HA HA!” But here’s the kicker: he really needs others, in the form of support. Nelson is just a “scared little boy,” as Marge says one. So’s LeBron. He’s shaking in his gold-plated house.

The Wizards, right now, are Ralph Wiggum. “I stuck my crayon in my nose.” They’re friggin’ jokes. With Gilbert and Caron, they’re McBain. “How do I sleep at night? On top of a pile of money, with many beautiful women.” They’re studs.

(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) New Jersey Nets: The Raptors have a lot of foreign players, which might be the most interesting thing about them (now that I’ve said that, they’ll win the East). As such, I’m making them Dr. Nick Rivera, a foremost “kinda foreign” character in Springfield. I bet Andrea Bargnani comes to shootaround sometimes and says “HI EVERYBODY!”

The Nets should be really good, but they’re not. They were barely .500, yet they have two guys capable of going off for a double-double in the same game, not to mention Richard Jefferson. Sheesh. They have the same core – even better, maybe – that they rode to the Finals a few years back, and they’re finishing .500 in a depleted East? Much less, in the Atlantic? PLAYOFFS?!??! PLAYOFFS??!? Alright, I’ll stop. They’re Maggie. We need to give up the whole “Maggie Don’t Talk” angle; it’s been friggin’ 16 years. Let’s get her character moving in some type of direction, alright? Let’s get her out of neutral! That’s where the Nets are.

(4) Miami Heat vs. (5) Chicago Bulls: The Heat are Krusty. I think Shaq is funny, and Antonine Walker probably has a monkey that gets around via roller skate.

The Bulls, to round us out, are Sideshow Bob. Why? A bunch of battles with the Heat, including last year’s six-game tilt. This one might go 7. These two are fast becoming rivals – remember Opening Night this year on TNT? – and the Bulls, as Sideshow Bob, have to have comically large feet (Wallace!) and hate Bart (the Mavericks). Who doesn’t hate the Mavericks right now? They had the best regular season and everyone is gunnin’ for ’em.

See how it all works out?

Oh, I just realized I didn’t predict a single thing. Well, since all episodes of The Simpsons come down to philosophical warfare between Bart and Homer, let’s go with Mavericks vs. Spurs as the “real” NBA Finals. And since Homer can live through anything – cannonballs to the stomach, poisoned blowfish, drinking 7 nights a week – let’s give it to the Spurs.

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iwamuraglasses.jpgAkinori Iwamura is just one of the promising rookies calling Tropicana Field home this year. Prior to his sojurn in south Central Florida, Iwamura was a power-hitting infielder for Tokyo’s Yakult Swallows. He bats left and throws right. His best season overseas was 2004, when he hit 44 home runs and drove in 103 over 138 games. He has also won five Japanese Gold Gloves.

He’s big in Japan

He’s pretty much picked up where he left off since coming to the U.S. this year. He was one of the less-heralded signees from the Nippon League, going to a small-market team with no history of winning in the Devil Rays, but he’s reveled in the chance to prove himself in American baseball, hitting .349 and slugging .512 as of 4/19/07.

Home Run! First of many

Early in the season, he went four for four with a home run and got dogpiled by ecstatic teammates, which gave us this fantastic quote (via interpreter): “Everybody’s bigger than I am, and I was at the bottom, underneath, but I had great excitement”. To paraphrase Peter Graves in Airplane, Do you like movies about Gladiators, Aki? He’s also had some marvelous catches, but MLB will sue the pants off of anyone who puts them on YouTube, so we mostly have dubbed hitting highlights from Japanese TV. Oh well, chicks dig the longball, no matter what country you call home.

One piece of advice, Aki. In America, high-fiving the mascot is not considered to be cool

swallowsjersey.jpgAkinori’s keeping a diary of his rookie season here, so you can keep tabs on his accomplishments as written in his own translated words. One thing’s for sure, with Iwamura at the plate and on the corner, denizens of Tampa are having great excitement. And as Nippon baseball gains recognition in the U.S., we can only hope to see more beautiful young ladies wearing the Yakult jersey. See it at right, and imagine the possibilities.

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