Football Calculus 3

from Nick Suss

Oct. 4, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

Not About Football or Calculus

At this point, I just have this title because that’s what I called it a few weeks ago. Amending a title of a three week old is tedious, so this weekly correspondence will still be called football calculus. But really, it will be about whatever the heck I want it to be about. It could be about my life, college life, television, movies, music, my general hatreds, the dog fashion industry, or, in this week’s case, my true love in this world: Major League Baseball. I love me some baseball. I love it I love it I love it! So this week I’m going to get right down to it. Yes, since baseball is a far more calculated sport then American Football is, I will get into some numbers that very few of you will recognize or want to be able to interpret, but as always if you don’t want to read this, the choice is still yours. You can get out now. But if you are still reading this sentence, get ready to venture deep into the annals of my mind for some conversation about baseball. This will be a three day column, the first of which explaining my thoughts on some topics, the second of which being a… WAIT FOR IT…. Yankees vs. Red Sox game log extravaganza, and thirdly it will be rounded out with a new edition of Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone. DAY ONE:

For What Does the AL MVP Really Stand?

If you follow baseball or even watch ESPN periodically you probably know who the two front runners for the Most Valuable Player of the American League are. On one hand you have the upstart rookie who played last year but not enough to be considered a second year player Mike Trout. On the other hand you have the man having a prime season that hasn’t been matched in a decade or possibly more Miguel Cabrera. The choice between the two of them is far from easy, because picking one is not to pick the best player and the second best player, it is to decide which school of baseball thought by which you live your life. Do you believe that the traditional belief that the “eyesight stats” as I like to call them should be the indicators of baseball excellence or do you trust in the new age belief that statistics that interpret value and performance decide who plays best? The AL MVP in its essence has boiled down to that argument: should the best hitter in the American League be penalized in the MVP race because he is beyond excellent at offense, but another player also plays close to his par offensively and can play dominantly on the basepaths and on defense as well. Conversely, is it possible that this season’s best all-around player can overshadow an incomparable offensive season? For this to be truly explained, the numbers need to be at your face. Miguel Cabrera has put up a slash line of .329/.393/.608 with 203 hits, 44 home runs, 137 RBI, 88 extra base hits, and 66 walks, 17 of which were intentional. Mike Trout has put up a slash of .325/.398/.564 with 179 hits, 129 runs, 30 jacks, 83 RBI, 48 steals, and 64 extra base hits, 8 of which were triples. Both of those are absolutely ridiculous mind you, but they are more ridiculous when given some perspective. The Case for Miguel Cabrera: Only two other players in history have put up seasons with 200+ hits, 40 doubles, 40 home runs, and 130 RBI. Those players have both done it twice and are both considered to be arguably the best player in the history of baseball. Their names are George Herman “Babe” Ruth and Henry Louis Gehrig. Having a triple crown has not been done in the American League since 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski did it with numbers of 121 RBI, 44 homers and a .326 batting average. Miguel Cabrera has already eclipsed each of those marks and assuming his batting average stays consistent will remain above all of those marks going into the postseason. For that matter, he is heading to the postseason, making it that his value propelled his team to the pinnacle, proving that he could play well on a team that could also play well. Finally, Miguel Cabrera has done what is uncanny, he has put up numbers the way he did with and without protection. Last season, where many of his significant numbers including average and doubles were higher, he put up great numbers without Prince Fielder behind him, which stunted his power numbers. This year, with many pitchers who would have walked him last year forced to throw to him because of the bopper behind him in that vaunted Detroit lineup, he has proven just how valuable he was. Last year with Prince Fielder protecting him, Ryan Braun put up 187 hits, 33 home runs, 111 RBI, and a slash of .332/.397/.597. Now, if Ryan Braun is considered the best player in baseball and won an MVP with those numbers with the same protection last year, how can Miguel Cabrera not win with superior numbers this year? The Case for Mike Trout: This is how. The number that matters is 10.7. As you have probably heard, Mike Trout has an ungodly WAR, or Wins Above Replacement of 10.7 this season with still two days to increase his value. According to Baseball-Reference, any WAR above a value of 8 merits an MVP award. Only twelve position players have reached this sort of WAR in a single season and all of them except for Barry Bonds already have plaques in Cooperstown. The only other centerfielders on the list do you ask? Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Compare his number of 10.7, including a dominating 2.3 dWAR value, or defensive wins above replacement in layman’s terms, to Miguel Cabrera’s 6.8 with a -0.2 dWAR and a 7.4 oWAR. In the defense of Miguel, this is according to WAR the best defensive season he has ever had and at a new position nonetheless. But either way these WAR numbers can tangibly merit an MVP on their own, but that would be discrediting all of the things Mike Trout has done. Mike Trout has more runs, steals, and OPS+ than any other player in baseball. Scoring runs is the purpose of baseball, sorry to tell you what you already know but it bears mentioning, and no one is better at it than Mike Trout. But runs are dependent on who is around you unless you drive yourself in or steal home every time you score. Obviously that is impossible, so what else is he good at that can be viewed as independent. Yes, he steals more bases than everyone else in the league, but that seems to be a product of a combination of things including the pitcher and the catcher, so not to take anything away from it, but it is not wholly independent either. OPS+ however is about as independent as it gets. OPS+ is On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage adjusted for the ballparks you play in. Where Miggy has the best OPS in the league at 1.001 compared to Fish’s score of .963, Trout seems plays in tougher ballparks, rendering his score of 170 compared to Cabrera’s 166 exponentially more helpful to the argument of value than to the argument of talent. To centralize all biases placed in the ballparks out of context and base talent and value based solely on the way the ball comes off of the bat, Mike Trout has done a better job of getting on base and doing it consistently than Miguel Cabrera. My Verdict: This is a tough argument, and it is also one of which I think I am on the futile and losing side. Say what you want about adjustments and about numbers and about defense or say what you want about team talent and grit and classic stats the MVP comes down to one thing: who wows the voter more. It is a simple award, given to the player perceived to be better in the mind of the voter that represents the BBWAA. If I was a voting member of said organization, I would have to place my ballot in a very specific way. Coming in at fifth place would be Yoenis Cespedes. His numbers have not been perfect this season, .290/.352/.506 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI and 16 steals, but he has in some ways catalyzed this Oakland Athletics team to the playoff team they are right now, contesting for home field advantage in the American League. His defense has been agonizingly putrid this season, but with the twig he has posted an oWAR of 4.2, which is very respectable for a man that has the pressures of his first 6 months in the states lording over his first season of major league ball. So give the guy a little bit of credit. Fourth place has to go to Adrian Beltre, because the man has been on a two month tear. I don’t need to tell you any of his stats, because you are familiar with the Gehrigian numbers he put up in August and carried into September. Third goes to Derek Jeter because if you can’t get hits you can’t win, and Derek Jeter has more hits than anyone else in baseball. And he is batting better than his career average right now, .318 compared to .315, which is insane for a player of his age. And he is on a team that is a nonstop roller coaster of injuries that for significant periods lost its first basemen, third basemen, center fielder, number one pitcher, hall of fame best closer in history, and second string closer and saw absolutely no action from high profile acquisition Michael Pineada and next to none from regular leadoff Brett Gardner. So, if you are keeping count, he is one of the two players on this talent laden team that continued this talent from day one and did it from the leadoff hole in the most pressure filled environment in sports. Derek deserves to be up here, and I didn’t even mention his oWAR and general WAR being the best since 2009. Second, for every reason I described above will go to Mike Trout. Because there is one thing I’d been holding out on when describing Miguel Cabrera. There is a certain mystique that comes with a dominant season of baseball. More so than every other sport combined, baseball is a game of historical relevance and comparability. If I were to list some of the great hitters to play since 1967, Ken Griffey II, Mike Schmidt, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Cal Ripken II, Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Molitor, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, and Eddie Murray to name a few, and tabulate the number of triple crowns they have, you would have less than the potential number of triple crowns Miguel Cabrera can have this season. Any entire generation of parents have never been able to tell their sons about seeing a triple crown. It is something that my father was two years old last time it happened. It is a feat that is nearly as revered as and statistically much harder than becoming President of the United States. So my vote for Miguel Cabrera is based off of sentimental value. Mike Trout could have broken Rickey Henderson’s career record for steals this season and stolen as many home runs as he hit, but if someone has a triple crown, they get my MVP vote. It’s become a once in every other generational feat, and I will vote my MVP their way every time unless it becomes commonplace.

Other Awards that Seem to Be Far Less Important To gauge the award of equal value in the other league you need to answer three questions. First, who won the award last year? Second, what do his numbers look like compared to last year? Third, why isn’t he the front runner? I really don’t think I need to say any more on the topic. Ryan Braun’s numbers are better this year than they were last year when he had Prince Fielder protecting him in the lineup. He is doing exactly what Mike Trout is doing, just to a lesser degree on a ball club that doesn’t play home games less than five miles outside of ESPN’s film studios for the 11 o’clock episodes of SportSCenter. So I apologize to Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Jay Bruce, Andrew McCutchen, and David Wright, but The Hebrew Hammer should repeat no doubt. Picking this year’s AL and NL Cy Young winners is like picking one black and one red value on a roulette and putting half of your cornucopia of winnings on one and half on the other. There are plenty of candidates that deserve to win on both sides of the spectrum, but I have to give my awards to Justin Verlander and Johnny Cueto. The justifications for both of them are very similar. For Verlander, his numbers are almost identical to those of Jered Weaver and David Price, but he outpitched them in innings by large margins, proving that he was not only a man that could pitch with talent, but with better longevity too. Cueto was a tricky pick, as the three nominees most have are R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, and Craig Kimbrell. No disrespect to Craig Kimbrell, but I genuinely do not believe that a closer’s work merits as much praise as that of a starter, not because of smaller workloads, but because of the type of pitching they do. I think that given any size workload in Major League Baseball, I am still looking at stats in Major League Baseball. It doesn’t matter to me if you pitch less, what matters to me is you face batters less often. As a starting pitcher, once you get through the first nine hitters, you don’t get to face nine new ones; you have to deal with the same nine players, except now they know what you are throwing like today and they can make adjustments. If you get through nine hitters as a closer, you have either not done your job or your manager does not understand the definition of a closer. By that logic, it’s a wonder a pitcher as good as Craig Kimbrell doesn’t get even more batters out. He should get everyone out, because the opposition has no time to adjust to his changing stuff on any given day. From there, deciding between Cueto and Gio is simple; Cueto has pitched more innings and has a better ERA on a Cincinnati team that is quite possibly better than Washington. That being said my AL Ballot would be: Verlander, Weaver, Price, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale. My NL Ballot would be: Cueto, Gonzalez, Kris Medlen, Dickey, Matt Cain. But, as you all may know, my favorite awards of the year are always Comeback Player of the Year awards. It not only gives a player massive amounts of credit for playing well this season, but it also reminds them that they played like a rotting animal carcass, or didn’t play, the year before. My AL nominees are five very different players that all played well this season, but one above all else stuck in my mind. At number five I have Andy Pettitte. I have him where he is because, despite missing more than half of the season, he still hadn’t pitched professionally in two seasons and managed to pitch well in almost every single start he made. Since he didn’t pitch much, he can’t win this award. Just because he needs to be mentioned again, at number 4 I give you Mike Trout. Baseball rules are stupid. MIKE TROUT IS NOT A ROOKIE! HE PLAYED FOR A MONTH LAST SEASON! A month, might I add, of putrid baseball by Troutian standards. In 40 games, he managed to only bat .220 and only score 20 runs and steal a measly four bases. I say he is a comeback candidate, but since he will undoubtedly win Rookie of the Year, much to my chagrin, I can’t give him this award. At number three, Alexis Israel Rios, the only man in baseball whose name sounds like he is a voluptuous sought after Victoria’s Secret model comparable to Aphrodite. But that cruel and unfortunate fact being put aside, the man is really improving this season. His batting average improved 77 points, he has 62 more hits and 47 more RBI and he has seen his WAR rise from -2.1 to 4.2. That is impressive, but not the most impressive on his team, because at number two, we have the Big Donkey himself, Adam Dunn. This season Adam Dunn struck out more than any other player in baseball and only batted .204. But unlike those numbers indicate, he played extremely well because he also lead the league in walks and managed to have an OPS of .800. Though his WAR this season only scratched its way up to 1.0, it was -3.1 last season, one of the worst single seasons a hitter has ever experienced. And again, WAR isn’t all of it. Hitting 30 more home runs this year (41) than he did last year (do the math yourself) is a ridiculous feat, especially when it coincided with more walks and a better OBP. So what can top Adam Dunn recovering from one season of futility? How about a former MVP winner recovering from a putrid season while splitting time between the two most arduous defensive positions in baseball? How about a man who saw his batting average increase 33 points and posted an incomprehensible .415 on base percentage, tops in the league? How about a man who saw his WAR increase from 1.4 to 4.0 despite having a negative dWAR? How about a man who already has three batting titles and was in contention for a fourth until the last week of the season? And how about a man that did all of this on a bottom dweller of the worst division in the American League? Of course, I speak of Joe Mauer, who despite throwing out batters at a rate 11% under the league average this season managed to have been on par with the league fielding percentage at first base, a place where he had virtually never seen action before. And he got back his stroke, which is always nice. The National League doesn’t have such a tight race. In the senior circuit, you can either pick the sharp hitting and throwing catcher from San Francisco or the irreverent spark of life that mans the hot corner in Citi Field. I’ll narrowly give it to Posey over Wright because Posey didn’t play a lick after his injury last year and was still thought to be a liability for the club come spring. He wasn’t. In fact, he was the best hitter on that team that didn’t test positive for HGH in the middle of the season. I’ll give him some respect for this award. Buster Posey and Joe Mauer: Your 2012 Comeback Player of the Year nominees via Nick Suss.

DAY TWO: Top of the First: Game log time. I don’t know if I have the attention span to do this, I never have, but I’ll try to stay on long enough to get this thing done. Right now I’m on the phone with my mom, but I’m leading the conversation towards ending. This has been a 30 minute conversation and I’m kind of talking in circles. I just want to watch baseball. I’m off the phone now. The game has begun. Or has it began. I’m not quite sure how that participle works. Judging by the green squiggly line underneath began, I believe it is begun. Of course Dustin Pedroia is up early. Moving the runner, you think you are so cool don’t you? Well you know what else you are? Out! Ha. I don’t care if Jacoby Ellsbury is on second, Pedroia isn’t. So let’s consider that a win. Now up is Daniel Nava. I don’t know where this dude came from, but holy cow, if the Red Sox are batting a random nobody in the three hole, I’m cool with it. I’m a big Hiroki Kuroda fan this season, I say as Nava moves Ellsbury to third on a groundball to first base. I’ll trade two outs for two bases any day of the week Red Sox. Any. Day. Of. The. Week. Now up Cody Ross, and I am really liking the Red Sox lineup right now. It is kind of suckish, I say as Ross singles in a run. Shitbag! Sorry, I’ll try not to curse on the log, but it’s just so hard not to do. Now up is James Loney. I wonder if its Loney in last place. You get it? Because he is on a last place team! And it’s the Red Sox! I love Bobby Valentine. (That is the first reference to my extreme gratitude to Valentine today. Let’s keep count through this.) BOOM! That’s how you end an inning mofo! You try to steal second Cody Ross? Russell Martin will have NONE of that crap. End of Half Inning: 1-0 Boston Bottom of the First: Daisuke Matsuzaka is pitching for the Sox? What a joke. That dude is a phony. Derek Jeter (buh-buh-buh-buh-buh) Derek Jeter (buh-buh-buh-buh-buh) I chant whilst watching his leadoff at bat. High fly right to outside the track and… caught. Drats, but at least the Rays just took a lead. I can’t believe I am rooting for the Rays. Who names a team after a Ray of Sunshine? That’s just silly. Ichiro Suzuki is the coolest pre bat motion guy in baseball, but not even that can save him from popping out to third. If the ball is on the ground, it cannot be caught in the air. That is just simple logic. So why does A-Rod pop the first pitch he sees straight up to the second basemen? God only knows (cue the Beach Boys) why A-Rod is batting three; I don’t think he has hit a home run this decade. End of Half Innning: 1-0 Boston Top of the Second: During the commercial break, my buddy Morgan has walked in and he knows nothing about baseball. This will be interesting. Let’s get back into the game. He distracted me from seeing who was at bat, but he grounded out to Robbie-Can. He wanted me to look up if there was a Canadian Baseball League because he didn’t believe Toronto, Canada had a baseball team in the MLB. There isn’t. Jarrod Saltalamacchia popped out to right in the meantime. Let’s just calm down Hiroki, this is manageable. Damn it. I missed another at bat because of him. Someone is on first base now. Crud muffin! Morgan: “That guy {Pedro Ciriaco, a Red Sox player} kind of looks like Dave Chapelle because he is skinny and, you know, black.” This dude is quite clever. You know I don’t believe in ADD, but I think he has it. That random shot of Bobby Valentine just made me smile (2) as Ryan Lavaranaway grounded out to second and Morgan left. End of Half Inning: 1-0 Boston Bottom of Second: They’ve shown the same Dunkin Donuts commercial four times since this game has started. I don’t want to see it again. The only commercial that has become more infuriating is “World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.” I’ve seen that one over three hundred times, and I don’t think that is hyperbole in the slightest. I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge the Oakland Athletics for what they did today. Props. Back into the game, Robinson Cano take the first pitch for ball one. He is the hottest player in baseball right now I say as he ropes a single into the gap between right and center. He hit it with half of the end of his bat and put it straight back from whence it came. Dude is a stud. Here comes Nick Swisher, which means Girardi made a moderately good decision in dropping Mark Teixeira in the lineup, because he blew a lugnut yesterday. He made it look like he wanted to lose yesterday, stranding nine players in scoring position. The count has moved to 3-1 as Swish awaits the next pitch, Daisuke makes his move and strike two looking. That was questionable, but we just need to smack this one Nick. Ball four, I guess we just need to get on base. No problem with a walk, that was a pretty ding dang good at bat. Here’s Tex, with a runner in scoring position. To quote Kel, Awwwwwwwwww here it goes! Count drops to 1-1 as the announcers talk about how “streaky” Tex is. Did I mention Terry Francona is commentating this game? That sounds very biased. I really don’t like Terry Francona, mostly because I think he is a bag of phallic objects, but I’ll try not to hate on him too hard. And Tex struck out. But you know what they say THE GRANDY-MAN CAN! THREE RUN JACK ON THE FIRST PITCH HE SEES! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! He teed off on that one, straight into the middle of the right field deck. Here comes the savior of the Yankees, Raul Ibanez, who is batting .237, but is probably batting 2.500 in the clutch this season and slugging 40.650 if I was estimating. He hits a big fly big and foul. 0-2 count, here comes a Gyro-ball. Nope, just the heater for a swinging strike three. Now batting number 55, Russell Martin, who on the first pitch he sees ground rule doubles into the gap in left center. He pretty much ricocheted a ball off of Monument row. Jeter grounded out to third, technically a fielder’s choice as Martin was tagged, but the damage has been done. Suck it Daisuke (buh-buh-buh-buh-buh). He probably done for de day! End of Half Inning: 3-1 Yankees Top of the Third: I still haven’t calmed down from Curtis Granderson’s shot yet. It was so uplifting to see Dustin Pedroia’s douchey face get it shoved in it. Now batting for the Red Sucks is Jose Iglesias, who I am pretty sure is actually a Mexican pop star, and he pops it up into the Yankee dugout and Mark Teixeira will have NONE of that. That catch was a bute! (Is that how you would spell bute? Would it be beaut? That is accepted as a word. It’s probably that.) Jacoby grounded out now. Two outs. My baseball buddy Matthew is now in the room and so is Morgan. Matthew and I are talking about the Rangers being choke artists. It sort of is true, I’d never thought about it that way. Dustin Pedroia just walked. I HATE HIM AND HIS STUPID FACE AND DIRTY FACIAL HAIR! AAAAAAAAAAA! Nava is up again. Pedroia just stole a base because Jeter dropped a perfect throw from Martin. Nevermind, it was a short hop. I will always defend number 2. I’m gonna start calling him Dustin P.E.D.roia just because I want people to think he is juicing. He probably is, dirty bastard. Robby just got another assist on another grounder to second. That ends that one. End of Half Inning: 3-1 Yankees Bottom of the Third: Ichiro is leading off, and I have a weird feeling that he will getting extra bags. Takes a 3-0 pitch, smart. Never mind that, he grounded out to first. Freaking A-Rod is up to the plate. He singled into left and Robby Can Robby Can hit himself a home run. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO! 5-1 baby! Win Baby Win! I told you he was hot. Excuse me for a second while I cheer. I’m so happy (cue Nirvana) cause today looks like the day we can win the division! But let’s not guarantee anything yet. Here comes Lord Nick of Swishington. That’s not his real name. Pfft, I’m such a joker. Swish fights to a 2-2 count and then takes a full count pitch into the gap between first and second for a single. Here comes the hit parade and here comes a new pitcher. Bye-bye Daisuke. You can go suck a king nugget. The only things that can result from this decision are a) commercial break and b) my favorite manager in the world (3) overmanaging and helping us win a title. It is Tex time. I don’t know who is pitching and I frankly don’t care, we should just tee off on the ball. Tex can do that, because there is no one to strand in scoring position. Just someone on first base, which for some reason makes Mark T. Mark a better hitter. He is hitting from the left side of the plate and extended bunts into the shift and just barely beat out a double play. Because that is what he does, grounds into double plays. Good thing that was a slow roller you moron. Just get it to the Grandy Man who takes an obvious ball for strike one. Because that, my friends, is how umpiring works. He fouls the second pitch off of the end of his bat. And he strikes out. Darn. End of Half Innings: 5-1 Yankees Top of the Fourth: And Cody Ross starts off the inning with a single. Freaking Red Sox. I could only imagine how they would’ve played if they weren’t managed by the baseball equivalent of Barney the Purple Dinosaur on ‘roid rage. (4) Hiroki has already thrown 41 pitches. That is too many for three innings and change of work. James Loney has too much Pine Tar on his bat. You should call that Girardi. It’s tough to say how much is too much, so I think it is too much. 2-1 count gives way to 2-2 after a foul ball down the third base line. Beautifully turned double play by Tex ends the inning, check that, just gets two outs. Strike three on a blow it by him fastball up and in on Ryan Lavarnaway ends the inning. That was one of the most dominating at bats I’ve ever seen Hiroki throw. I’m going to pace for the entire inning break out of excitement now. End of Half Inning: 5-1 Yankees Bottom of the Fourth: Raul Ibanez will lead off, as he comes in 0-1 today with a strikeout. Get down, get down, get down, good! Single into the right center gap. Woo! Russell Martin drives a foul ball into the left field stands and the count drops to 1-2. He will not stop popping up foul balls. I just took a break to laugh at the Cubs with Matthew. Martin hit another foul ball. He has now fouled off six of the eight pitches he’s seen. This is a good at bat, but just get on base kid. Or strike out. Shoot. Jeter is now up, ans he grounds into a double play. Damn, Derek is having a bad game. Crud. But, we’re still winning! End of Half Inning: 5-1 Yankees Top of the Fifth: I’m trying to list every player that has won a triple crown. I’ve got six out of ten, but really, there are only ten? Imagine that company to be in for Miggy. Let’s stop getting distracted. The Bostonians are now at bat and Hiroki’s pitch count for the inning began at fifty. Freaking A-Rod gets a good play on a slow hopper that he almost flubbed. Ciriaco hits a slow hopper to third and Freaking A-Rod makes an error and throws it away. Not even Tex can scoop that. That is a problem. Iglesias hits a fly ball to Ichiro for the second out. I can’t stop smiling. I’m deliriously excited right now, I don’t even care about the fact that Mr. Jackass is on deck. That means Jacoby is up, and whilst the count is at 2-1 they debate Cabrera/Trout. Whilst the count is 2-2, Hiroki gets a Hiro-K on a nasty breaking ball. End of Half Inning: 5-1 Yankees Bottom of the Fifth: Here we go Ichiro! Get yourself some bases or just ground out to second base. Boy that has happened a lot. I wonder why that is? Are there a lot of lefties in this game or is the pitching just that good for Boston? Ha, that was a good joke. The only good thing about this team is their manager (5). Up next comes Freaking A-Rod is up, still on a streak of 67 at bats without an extra base hit, worked the count to 2-2 and then it goes full. I thought that ball hit Freaking A-Rod in the elbow, but yea verily it did not. Payoff pitch hooked into the corner and there is his double. Freaking A-Rod did something freaking good. Robby Can hits his second of the game. Put it on the board, YES! WOOOOOOOOOOO! That is his second swat into the second deck of right field. I could hear that one from here. It was that sweet. When you thought you heard thunder, it was just the crack of Robinson Cano’s bat making the game look like child’s play. He is the hottest player in America. He is reaching induction status into the Bucky Dent Red Sox Killer Hall of Fame, and I like it. In my excitement, I forgot to watch Nick Swisher draw a walk. This has been a fun inning but Tex is up. It’ about to become a lot less fun if this game is any indication. He is on the verge of getting walked at 3-1 but I still don’t trust him. I was right, he pulled a walk. Stat of the Night: On June 30th, the Oakland Athletics were four games worse than the Boston Red Sox. Can you believe that? That is inconceivable. And the Sox pulled another pitcher. (Commercial Interlude Music) Welcome back! You know what time it is? Time for a visit from the Grandy Shop. There are runners on first and second and the new pitcher just struck him out. That was his 195 strikeout this season. Dang Curtis, do what you do. I’m not going to try and tell you how to be you. Ibanez chops a grounder and… out. Productive inning for the Bombers though, as we extend our lead. I’m getting pumped. End of Half Inning: 7-1 Yankees Top of the Sixth: That A-Hole is batting for the Sox, and Swish misses on a diving ball, and P.E.D.roia is at second. Robby Can makes a good catch on a high liner to get the first out, but could not double up That A-Hole. You know what, I’m going to stop mocking him this half inning. Or at least I’ll try. No I won’t, you guys know that was a lie. But I thought it, I remark as Cody Ross grounds out to Derek Jeter. People say he doesn’t have any range, but I like to cut him some slack. I don’t understand that phrase; if you are literally talking about putting slack in a rope, cutting would not be what you would want to do, so the cut would be figurative? I’m a little confused. Good play Swish, ends the inning on a routine line out. That inning was uneventful. I’m sorry it was boring, but it was boring. End of Half Inning: 7-1 Yankees Bottom of the Sixth: Derek Jeter is leading off, but I can’t help but be negative knowing what he has done today. Keep in mind, I have never been negative about Derek Jeter. And I shouldn’t be, because Russell Martin is hitting. But also because of his awesomeness. And because he is on deck, but I massively digress. He got drilled in the shoulder. Riot! Riot! Riot! No? That would’ve been funny, but really not smart, so I will settle for a person on base for Derek Jeter! That’ll get his engines revving. He puts one in the gap right over the second base bag to bring himself to 1-4 on the day. If I had a nickel for every inside pitch I’d seen this man turn on, I’d have so many nickels that it would be worth it to put them in the bank. Ichiro fielder’s choices into second, knocking Jeter off the base paths and putting Freaking A-Rod up. Ichiro steals second and I made a really weird noise with my mouth. It sounded like a German yodeling the word “yo.” Freaking A-Rod walks the bases loaded for, you know it, ROBINSON CANO! And they change pitchers. That is probably a good decision for any other lefty, but Robinson Cano is playing like the Honey Badger right now: he doesn’t care who you pitch. Robinson don’t give a shit. I should probably be watching the debate right now as a civically responsible citizen. Thought a nerd! Zing! Get your priorities straight mane, this is BASEBALL! The most important thing in my life right now is baseball. Back to the best thing to happen to the most important thing in my life recently, Robinson “Hits Like No One Else” Cano, as he wants to hit himself a grand slam, but he settles for a two run single. I’ll settle for that too. Excuse me as I go run up and down my hallway in excitement. That was the first time I had ran since I broke my ankle and it was worth it. I am out of breath. It really was worth it though, as my heartbeat now races for two reasons. Nick Swisher now popped into an infield fly rule for out number two, but I don’t mind. I have been waiting for this moment since April. It is almost officially playoff time for the New York Yankees. The Orioles are down four in the top of the eight and we are up 8 in the sixth with two on and Tex at bat (which almost guarantees an out or walk) so I feel somewhat safe. I’m going to, for the first time in a long time, feel safe and actually let myself be happy. I’m going to let my guard down and actually believe the chances of us not winning the division are insurmountable. I know the second I say this, the momentum will flip (again probably because of Mark Teixeira) but I don’t care. Tex just grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning, but I can’t stop grinning. I haven’t been in this good of a mood since Alterraun Verner stole the ball from Brandon Pettigrew in the fourth quarter of the Lions Titans game. And I know that didn’t work out perfectly, but this is different. This is the New York Yankees. This is where excellence is not only bred, but expected. This is the game that probably clinched the division and took the champagne off of the ice for the Bronx Bombers. This is happiness. End of Half Inning: 9-1 Yankees Top of the Seventh: Why does Bruce Springsteen sing the theme song for MLB on TBS this year? Oh yeah that’s why: his voice sounds like America sounds. Back to Yankee stadium, which has become my personal Elysium, my heaven on Earth, my Field of Dreams. Hiroki, once scaring me with his pitch count, is into his seventh inning of work starting off with 70 pitches. Four pitches into his first at bat of the seventh, a 2-2 count freezes Saltalamacchia and almost K’s him, but the ump gives the tough call to the team that epitomizes not tough. I guess it all comes back to their manager, and for that I thank him (6). Cano fields another grounder to get an out after a tedious nine pitch at bat. The commentators will not stop talking about Dustin P.E.D.roia, and if they mention him one more time, I might mute my television. But not even That A-Hole will hamper this night for me. Stop showing David Ortiz on the screen, he isn’t even playing. You know who is playing? Hiroki Kuroda, who just got another strikeout to pull his total to, ummm, I don’t know, something good. Now Pedro Ciriaco is up, 1-2 with a single and he blasts a ball into the gap for a two out double, putting a runner on second with two outs. That was really redundant, but I already typed the comma and didn’t want to delete it. So I was too lazy to delete a comma, but I wasn’t too lazy to type those two sentences, or 6802 words at this point for that matter. As Iglesias sees the count reach 1-2, I feel Hiroki will get out of the inning, but then the ball skims off of his hand and dribbles into the outfield to score Boston a run. And we began warming up our pen, Cody Eppley, as a result of that run. My iPod made the text noise again because there was another score in this game. I am watching the game iPod, you don’t have to tell me. Can I tell it that? I don’t want to turn off the updates, but I want it to shut up over on my desk I don’t want to walk to. HEEEEEEEEE struck him out, Hiroki Kuroda fans Ellsbury for the last out of the seventh. To quote the great Blur: Woohoo! End of Half Inning: 9-2 Yankees Bottom of the Seventh: A new pitcher greets Curtis Granderson with two straight strikes and then a ball high and away as I reflect upon the game as a whole. We scored runs that weren’t home runs for the first time in the sixth inning if I am not mistaken. Seven of our nine runs came from the long ball, which is higher than our season ratio, but not far from it I say as the Grandy Man grants his patrons seconds. Another long ball for the bombers extends the lead in the seventh and I love this. All of our RBI have come from Curtis and Robinson. Ibanez draws a walk coming off of that smack of the cedar. Russell Martin trots to the stripe with one on none out 1-2 with an extra bagger and a hit by pitch. His count devolves to 0-2 quick, and he fights off an 0-2 pitch to keep the count their and the at bat alive. He flies out to deep center, but I can’t blame him for taking the ball where he did. The fielder was just in the right place. BRETT GARDNER IS PINCH HITTING! This is the first time in a long time I’ve seen my favorite Yankee and my favorite Yankee yanks one in between first and second for a single. Runners are on first and second with one out for Mr. Suzuki. This new pitcher has not been especially efficient for Boston, but who am I to complain? Bobby V has exhausted his bullpen trying to beat us, and none of it has worked. I love that about him. (7) Ichiro pulled a double off of the wall and sent Ibanez and Gardner home and the RAYS WIN! POP THE CORKS! WE WIN THE AL EAST! WE WIN THE AL EAST! I GOT GOOSEBUMPS! WE DID IT THROUGH ANOTHER TEAM’S FUTILITY! Back to our game, Freaking A-Rod is at the dish and has worked a full count off of the pitcher who started the inning and is now up to having thrown 28 pitches, and walked Freaking A-Rod. And another pitching change. Guess who is up again with two on? It is Robinson Cano, already tying his career high in RBI at looking to extend it. They might be pitching around him, as the count is 3-0, but none of them have been intentional. And there is ball four. They loaded the bases for Nick Swisher, who I would like more than anything to knock the ball all the way back to Boston where this dirty pitcher belongs. New pitcher update: he has thrown eight pitches, six of them have been balls and one of them was an RBI single by Nick Swisher. This game was become so awesome it tastes like a fudge sundae in my mouth. But Tex is up, which means that, as the immutable law of Tex states, it will be a walk or an out, probably a double play. There is the out deep in centerfield, but it serves as a sac fly and ups the score to 14-2. That is right. We are winning by 12 runs. 12 run leads against the Red Sox are hard to come by. Melky Mesa is pinch hitting and he grounds into a fielder’s choice, but the inning was still a wild one (Cue the Sia ft. Flo Rida) that jacked the lead way up. End of Half Inning: 14-2 Yankees Top of the Eighth: Almost every starter has left the game for the Yankees, except for Robinson Cano at second and Nick Swisher moving to the infield. Cody Eppley is pitching now, and he forces a fly out in his first series of pitches. Then Daniel Nava hits a double. But it doesn’t matter. One on one out for somebody and DUSTIN P.E.D.ROIA IS CRYING! WHAT A LP LADOUCEUR! Scott Posednik is the man up right now, and he has forced a 1-2 count on four pitches, his foul ball being pulled up the right field line quicker than Bobby “I Want Him To Be My” Valentine has pulled a pitcher today (8). Cody Eppley says no soup for you to Posednik and gets his first K of the game. I wanted to put in a backwards K, but I can’t do that on word. So let’s just call it a K. And here comes Girardi Micromanagement Moment of the night: pulls Eppley in favor of Rapada. Clay Rapada throws his first pitch over the plate for strike one in his 70th appearance of the season, but his first as a division champ. HEEEEEEE struck him out. Rapada gets himself a K on James Loney to end the inning and send the Yankees to their last half inning of hitting of the regular season. End of Half Inning: 14-2 Yankees Bottom of the Eighth: I don’t think Derek Jeter has smiled all night. He refuses to get out of his stoic been there done that facial expression. He has been here before. He has done it before. Matthew brings up a good point. He asked if I thought that Derek Jeter would announce his retirement a year in advance like Chipper to go on a goodbye tour. I don’t think he will. He doesn’t like that sort of attention. He will probably hold a press conference after a World Series win or even a loss and just mention it was his last game in passing. Per Yankee tradition, Derek is managing right now and telling players where they should go. He just cracked a slight snicker as the Red Sox have caught two straight no brainer home runs off of the bat on the warning track. Andruw Jones torqued one so high that the camera man zoomed out as if it were a home run, and the next was caught by Posednik diving on the wall, so I will tell him it was a nice play. Then Gardner flies out to Posednik to send the game to the ninth inning. Start wheeling out that fancy French wine please. End of Half Inning: 14-2 Yankees Top of the Ninth: In case you care at this point, Miguel Cabrera has just won the Triple Crown. Congratulations to him, and I take back nothing I said earlier about him winning the MVP. He deserves it. Freddy Garcia is in the game now. Which means the game will hit final in twenty minutes after he has been given the cane for surrendering 4 runs. Trust me, he is a bad pitcher, but his bad pitching translated into a strikeout. We are two outs away. My heart is palpitating and I feel like I have an aneurism. Lavarnaway faces an 0-2 count from Garcia as I get even looser. As he strikes out, I start swaying back and forth. I can’t even look up until I know the game could end with a pitch. I can’t watch, not out of fear, but out of fear of my potential reaction. I am filled with more potential energy than a tightly wound rubberband serving as a dam for Niagara Falls. As the count deepens to 2-1, I can’t help but start reacting. As we hit a strike away I start clapping. As Freddy Garcia strikes out the side I start typing faster than I ever have before. I am too hyped to keep typing. Signing off at the end of Day 2, I am Nick Suss.

DAY 3: If you have made it this far, this needs no introduction. If you skipped to this part, shame on you.

Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

They were hot then cold, but at season’s end Home field was once again theirs to defend Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The Cardiac O’s, from nowhere they came 162-0 in 1-0 games Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The best pitching team, be sure they’ll bore ya Tampa can’t hit sans Evan Longoria Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Ricky Romero: worst season ever? Jays fans sure hope not, what an endeavor Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Red Sox ha ha ha ha Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

A triple crown is nothing to scoff at But laugh at seven Tigers when they bat Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

I wrote them off when the year had begun But you will win with Sale, Rios, and Dunn Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

KC pulled a third place? How can it be? Twenty one games out, sounds ‘bout right to me Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Every year they look good, each year they fail But that is life when in Cleveland you hail Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Minnesota Joe still can flick the twig But. Doesn’t. Matter. Deficit. Too. Big. Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Are you kidding me? Did I read this right? Oakland came back to win the West outright? Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

What a collapse, the Rangers fell from grace The team’s in quite the precarious place Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

A huge payroll, but poor play from their vets I’m not sure why Angels play like they’re Mets Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

King Felix could not stave off the bleeding Offense is what his team’s really needing Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Can the Nationals keep their magic flow? You know what man, that’s a clown question bro! Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Kris Medlen, Craig Kimbrell, ooh they can pitch Though, Braves seasons always end like a bitch. Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

In Philadelphia, riots there are A .500 record won’t take you far Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

What kept the Mets from again in last place? Maybe their 37 year old ace Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Such big hopes end in failure for the fish Probably because they suck at the dish Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Cueto, Latos, Bailey, and Arroyo It’s Chapman who really makes this team go Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

They snuck in again, can they go repeat? If the Cards win again, t’would be a feat Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

Though never good, hope was not ever gone That’s what you get when you have Ryan Braun Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

What’s that you say, Pittsburgh has a chance now? Wait, nope, that’s right. Baseball Gods take a bow Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The streak is at 105 currently It will hit 106, I guarantee Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

I refuse to acknowledge the Astros They are triple A as far as it goes Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The champagne they popped can’t be drank at Belk But why drink juice when you have Juicing Melk? Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The Diamondbacks regressed, but still played well The future looks bright, only time will tell Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

The Padres played really well when at home But boy do they suck when they’re forced to roam Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone

That Denver air always makes the ball fly But their record still makes all their fans cry Dang It, Dang It, Baseball is Gone There you have it. I just spent three days of my life typing what is just about 9,000 words on baseball. If you read all of it I give you ten Nick points. If you gather a total of 25 Nick Points, I will give you one Super Point. If you gain three Super Points, then I will grant you tier one status, which you know how big of a deal that is. There’s motivation if I have ever heard any. Nick Suss


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