Dennis Lawson

Rather than risk burying the lede, here is one “truth” that I hope you hold to be self-evident – You don’t need a moronic blogger, loudmouth with a podcast, or a professional journalist to tell you how to fan for your favorite sports ball team.  Too many leverage their social media following into a bully pulpit to spread a particularly vile brand of nonsense as fact.  There is a not-so-fine line between presenting opinion as opinion and presenting opinion as fact.

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If you listen to enough MLB broadcasts with the sound actually on, at some point you’ll hear a talking head with a mediocre hairpiece bemoan the lack of minority representation in the sport.  In keeping with that narrative, they are obligated to mention baseball is losing many such athletes to other sports.  If the sport suffers as a result, then it’s worth investigating, but it really shouldn’t be too difficult to understand, because the premise seems reasonable enough.  If someone (minority or not) excels at another sport in addition to baseball, why on Earth would they choose to pursue a career in baseball?

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Path Of Most Resistance

Admission:  When Joe Mauer was about to step into the box for the at-bat that ended with him picking up his 2,000th career hit, I was angrily mashing portions of my iPhone screen in a fruitless attempt to make MLBtv load faster.  I didn’t make it, and my phone almost didn’t either.  Shame.  Despite recent efforts to discount the value of any and all “counting stats”, 2,000 hits is still 2,000 hits, and not many players reach that benchmark.

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After Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo triggered Yadier Molina by directing a rather distasteful obscenity at him during yesterday’s game, the rush to judgment was predictably swift and brutal.  Lovullo earned an ejection the moment he started arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire, and he earned the wrath of Yadi as well as Cardinal Nation when he called Yadi a “motherf—–” while airing a complaint about pitch framing.

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If you haven’t read Jack Dickey’s article in Sports Illustrated about Tommy Pham, then I highly recommend you click here and check it out.  To some, Pham probably comes across as refreshingly honest, bold, and confident in himself.  To others, he probably comes across as arrogant, foul-mouthed, and brazen.  Two reasonably good debate teams could pick sides and probably end up with a stalemate for half of eternity.

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It’s apropos that Citi Field is located in Flushing, because Carlos Martinez just dropped a deuce there on Opening Day.  His underwhelming performance combined with the team’s “swinging-at-air” offensive approach made game 1 of the 2018 season feel more like game 163 of the 2017 season.  Same dookie, different season.

While you may be tempted to crawl into your pillow fort for some day drinking to bide time until the next fiasco-in-waiting, please join me in stewing over this loss for the next two days instead.  So, if you enjoy long walks on heavily polluted beaches, bad poetry, and dancing in acid rain, here’s a quick summary of game 163.

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Ah, the Mets…

As I stood out just behind the right field bleachers at Busch Stadium talking to my friend Andy a few years ago, I asked him his thoughts on the Jason Heyward deal.  Andy’s quick-witted remark?  “Welcome to Baseball Purgatory, Mr. Heyward.  You’ll do fine here, but we all know you are looking at much bigger money and better things around the corner.”  He wasn’t wrong, and that’s hard for me to admit, because Andy was a Mets fan.

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I’m absolutely fascinated by the physics of baseball.  Talk about spin rate, multi-axis movement, and moment-of-inertia, and I’m here for it.  I’m equally fascinated by how easily the physics of baseball can become distorted or misrepresented by people who don’t actually understand much about them.   The Statcast era provides ample data for both intelligent discourse and not-so-intelligent discussion.  Too bad most broadcasters excel only at the latter.

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When the Cardinals aren’t clearly the best team in baseball, the BFiB quickly regress into a petulant child resolutely demanding the return of a favorite toy they’ve accidentally tossed through a second story window.  Much like that child can only focus on the assured destruction of that toy due to the incomprehensibility of object constancy, the BFiB hive mind narrows the possibilities with predictable haste.  The only solutions are to trade for a superstar, promote a small sample size All-Star from the minors, or designate someone (anyone) for assignment.

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Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to find a meaningful baseball statistic related to team performance that indicates the Cardinals aren’t doomed to mediocrity this season.  You may have to ignore small sample size issues and suspend disbelief to do this. We’re talking about data mining a mountain of data with a spork here, so good luck with that.

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When someone gets traded for a bucket of baseballs and proceeds to blow up bigger than Cee-Lo Green on The Voice, it raises a few eyebrows.  With no consideration for circumstance, it’s hard to blame the Cardinals for handing Matt Adams to the Braves for a player whose name probably escapes you.  But after you consider the sequence of events, it may be really hard NOT to blame the Cardinals for the long game domino effect that got them to this point.

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Mo:  “Mike?  It’s Mo.  Saw that Volquez no-hitter the other night.  Looked like a good time.  We haven’t had one of those since Bud Smith.  Haven’t even seen one recently.  The stat nerds tell me the last one against us was some pudgy guy for the Dodgers back in 1990.  Heck, I didn’t even know Lasorda was a pitcher!”

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