The One in a Million

I don’t even know where to begin. I attended the Phillies-Cardinals game this past Saturday along with ozziecanseco, and our west coast contact, Bob Lucero. He’d flown in from Seattle for the weekend, and had a hankering to see what a real baseball experience was like. On top of all the awesomeness of which going to baseball games is, it was also picture day, so the chances of my head exploding were comparable to the chances of Michael Vick being called a douchebag by any dog lover.

We arrived at the parking lot around 12:40pm for a 4 o’clock start. Soon after, the Yuengling was flowing like water. Bob, ozziecanseco, and I saddled up around the flamingbat mobile and began the process of getting inebriated. It had to be fast; the players were coming on the field at 2 o’clock for pics.

A half hour or so goes by and MoonlightGraham emerges from some cornstalks I had strategically placed a few parking spots away. He joins in on the fun, and before we know it, it’s 2 o’clock. We finish up, and begin our journey to the game.

We arrives in the stadium and to no surprise, the field is packed with fans trying to get pictures with all the players (or as I liked to think of it, holding our spots). As fate would have it…the first Phillie coming around was none other than Chris Coste. Keep in mind, my Coste shirt jersey had arrived from mlb.com the day earlier and there wasn’t a single soul in the stadium rocking the duds I had. So we push to the front, yell out “Chris how bout a picture!” Of course he graciously accepts, and we get this sweet effin pick of me, ozzie, and Coste. Picutre day continues and we get cash/money shots of a ton of players including Michael Bourn, Mike Zagurski, El Pulpo, among many others. Highlight other than the Coste pic? ozziecanseco negotiating with Carlos Ruiz for a pic…en espangol…and wishing him good luck in the game, to which he simply replied with a confused look, “Gracias.”

So time was up, with all of our asses kicked by how awesome picture day was. We head to the gift shop where Bob smartly purchases a Victorino shirt. Get some beers, and head to our great seats, 4th row in left field.

The game is going swimmingly–Phillies killing, dingers for Rowand, ManChild, and Rollins, a grizzled USMC vet heckling us about anything possible, me riding Chris Duncan like Barbaro. And then right before the 6th inning…it happened.

Leftfielder and resident thief Pat Burrell was about 20 feet in front of us, warming up before the inning, as per the norm. As the batter is about to come to the plate, he turns and throws the ball into the stands. He throws…I see it…holy shit it’s coming towards me…bounces off Bob and I catch it.

Let me repeat that. I CAUGHT A BALL AT A BASEBALL GAME.

From the picture you can tell that A) I have a totally dumbfounded look on my face because I can’t believe that just happened and B) I didn’t spill a drop of my beer, because its Sam’s Summer Ale and my skills are on point. Now, not 10 seconds after I catch it, 3 little mongrel kids run up to me with their hands out stretched like its some type of charity event. First of all, how can I chose which kid to give the ball to, and second of all, how can I give a ball to a grubbing little weiner of a kid? It made sense to me.

So I sit down with the ball, and the entire section starts booing me! (I love Philly). I’d give the ball to a kid, but not one of those little leeches…so I turn around, and 2 rows behind me I see a kid not a day older than five, with a big Phillies hat on and his glove. Sitting with his dad, enjoying the game…so I flip him the ball. Immediately as I saw the kids reaction I knew I’d done the right thing. But damn…doing the right thing sometimes is hard. So little Dylan, you’d better not forget that day, because I know I sure won’t.

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Scott Boras is the Anti-Baseball

I shudder whenever I hear that name. He turned Barry Zito into the most overpaid pitcher since Darren Dreifort, who he also represented. A few weeks ago he was calling for a Best-of-Nine World Series with so much advertising and spectacle that it was downright sickening. Understandably, all the MLB players asked were against the idea.

But now what is he proposing? A new stat, the EP, or Exceptional Play. Why? Possibly because he is a money-grubbing moron (although he is quite ingenious in his methods of getting the best contracts for his agents).

Not only are there already quite a few stats for defensive ability, but adding one for an ‘EP’ is practically immeasurable. How do you differentiate between an Endy Chavez home run robbing, a Carlos Beltran Houston hill-catch, an Aaron Rowand face breaker, and a Shane Victorino leap into the stands? While all four are great plays, one is a product of idiotic stadium design and wouldn’t make the highlight reel in any other park (Beltran) and another is ridiculously foolish (Victorino, he even said it himself).

Having a stat to measure highlight reel plays is madness. A GM will be aware of how able a player is to make plays and will generally go for the more consistent fielder anyway. How do you think Rey Ordonez was able to play 9 seasons in MLB?

Defensive stats used on Baseball-Reference and/or Baseball Prospectus: PO, A, E, DP, FP, lgFP, RFg, lgRFg, RF9, lgRF9, PB (catchers only), Rate, Rate2, FRAA, FRAP, FRAR. That is 16 stat categories and I’m sure there are others out there that are even more specific. These are also much more easily measurable than something that depends on the judgement of whatever individual happens to be the authority at that time. Granted, the umpire’s definition of a strike zone can be somewhat amorphous throughout a game, but that is actually a requirement for the game to be played.

The EP, Boras said, should be an easy sell.
“ESPN has told us we need to do this,” he said. “They have web gems.”

I fairly sure ESPN hasn’t demanded that another stat cat appear, nor would they care that much, they enjoy focusing on HR, RBI, R, SB, BA, W, ERA, K, and SV. The Web Gems are a chance to see the best of the defensive plays. Much like the best saves by goalies are shown on highlight reels. They are counted as saves as a stat, but they do not garner any other recognition beyond the media attention and it should stay that way.

However, if the decaying baseball minds make the mistake of going through with this then I would mandate that Randy Johnson’s bird destruction be labeled as an EP. Additionally we should select random parks to pepper the outfield with land mines, add moats around and throughout the infield, and make the batter’s box a springboard.