Sunday, June 29, 2008

A word means just what I choose it to mean

You might have noticed last night that the Angels no-hit the Dodgers and lost. It's pretty rare. Only four other times in history has a team given up no hits and failed to win.



Unfortunately, baseball-reference.com only has data for individual games back through 1956, so I can't show you any more. (Also, the link is to the Play Index that returns fewest hits allowed by a team, so if you don't subscribe – and I recommend you do – then you won't be able to see the whole table.)

More, you say? But you showed four.

Ah yes, and there's the rub. You see, one of the things Mr. Small-Market Man has done in his infinite wisdom is to decree that a no-hitter is no longer a no-hitter unless it was at least a nine-inning game.

But wait, you say. The Dodgers and Angels played nine innings.

Ah, well, that doesn't count, you see, because the Angels didn't pitch nine innings. See how that works?

Me either. Look, regardless of what Mr. [expletive deleted] thinks, a no-hitter is a game in which one team allows no hits to the other team throughout the entire game. That's it. I really don't understand what put this idea in his tiny little brain in the first place, or why he felt like this was an important thing to do, rather than something else like, say, punishing steroid users or un-juicing the balls ...

The worst part about it is that now Retrosheet no longer tracks no-hitters of less than nine innings, so if you want to find out about David Palmer's five-inning perfect game in 1984 or the Andy Hawkins 4-0 loss mentioned above, you have to hope they happened since 1956, or else you have to dig them out by hand.

Worse yet, notable performances like Ernie Shore's 27-out "perfect" relief performance and Harvey Haddix's amazing 12 perfect innings against Milwaukee (retiring Mathews, Aaron, and Adcock FOUR TIMES IN A ROW - you'll never see a game like this ever again) are pretty much lost to the common eye. In the old days, these were listed along with actual no-hit games because of the nature of the performance. (Amazingly enough, Haddix's game score was "only" 107. Just eight strikeouts ...)

It's amazing what Selig has done to baseball during his tenure, and I do not mean that in a good way. I mean it in the same way as I'd describe what Bank of America has done to banking or what Comcast has done to the cable industry.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Today at BWW

I almost forgot. There was a Clapping Guy at BWW today.

I'm sure you've seen one if you've ever been to a sports bar. A Clapping Guy is a guy who insists on celebrating everything his team does: in football, it's the guy who claps when his team scores, forces a punt, gets a first down ... sometimes even when they catch a pass. What makes them noticeable is that they do this when rooting for a team that no one else likes, or when watching a game that no one else cares about, or both. (Don't confuse this with Drinking Guy, who celebrates only because he can actually tell what's happening at that point in the game. Be very careful not to confuse this with Gambling Guy, who celebrates whenever his money does something well. Gambling Guy can be very dangerous, especially if he has bet against your team. Know him, respect him, fear him.)

Today, Clapping Guy was celebrating when the Sox (his team) drew a walk. Hey, I know Sox-Cubs is a big rivalry, but you know what? It's a 162-game season. You're an American League fan. A walk is insignificant in the context of the game.

Also, it's 4:30, and no one else in here cares. Clap for a grand slam. For a walk, sit down and shut up.

Fortunately, once the Sox had a big lead, Clapping Guy either left for good or disappeared until his friends showed up so he can drink for real.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Renteria is what?

I know, I know, fish in a barrel, but anyway, apparently Lynn Henning of the News thinks that Renteria is beginning to look like an utter liability at shortstop.

My understanding is that the Tigers signed him to improve on Guillen's performance, not to be Omar Vizquel, and in that respect, he has succeeded. You name it, Renteria's improved it: fielding percentage, range factor, zone rating, revised zone rating. A better criticism would have been to suggest that Renteria's performance at the plate has not been what the Tigers hoped to get from him.

Certainly, there's an argument that facing AL pitching will drop the average NLer's numbers, and Renteria is 33, not 23, so he's not likely to improve (nor even maintain, not necessarily), but nonetheless, Renteria's RC/27 is 3.48, below Sean Casey's 2007 level of 5.09 (remember, the idea was to put Renteria at SS so Guillen could play 1B with Cabrera coming in). Even Inge posted a 4.10 RC/27 last season, so hold off on commenting that Guillen is actually replacing Inge at 3B ...

Anyway, the biggest problem the Tigers have had is not defense at SS, but pitching, and Renteria isn't going to be taking the mound soon. If you're going to be criticizing an acquisition, it should be Willis (or maybe Jacque Jones, but of course he's already gone), not Renteria.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ESucksPN

So I'm watching the NBA draft for their Fan Zone so I can fill out a survey afterward, and I've muted it now, because really, there's only so much Stuart Scott and Dick Vitale you can take at a time, and of course they still employ STEPHEN A. SMITH ...

And it's the Pistons' pick, and I see the top four available ... Chris Douglas-Roberts, good, they could play him at the two and trade Rip ... no, wait, D.J. White, and then McDyess can come off the bench again.

And they take him! Wow! I think it'll be a good matchup.

And then ESPN shows this graphic:

17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds (led SEC)

Are you kidding me? How stupid are you? Really? SEC?

Maybe it's a one-time error.

Nope.

2008 1st-Team All-SEC

Wait till I get that survey. Whoever wrote the text for that graphic should be fired. If you can't match teams to major conferences, you shouldn't be doing television.

Edit: Noooooooooo ...

Proposed trade

SEATTLE RECEIVES:
Rights to D.J. White

DETROIT RECEIVES:
32nd overall pick
46th overall pick

Are you kidding me? Why would you trade two for one unless you are blowing up and starting over?

Joe Dumars gets an F for this one.

Update: Okay, now that I've calmed down a bit and read some insight, I suppose it might not be such a bad deal. The guy Seattle "took" at 32 has skills ... the fact that he's a project scares me, but as someone at WIS pointed out, this is the same GM who saw value in Prince, Stuckey, and Maxiell, so perhaps I should wait a bit before pulling out my favorite Mel Kiper Jr. rant.

Also, as I read in the Detroit News, this means Detroit has no first-round pick and thus no guaranteed contracts to offer ...

Sorry, D.J. Hope you like Oklahoma City. (Seattle owners = thieving, lying bastards. Flip side = city of Seattle saves hundreds of millions on a new arena it doesn't need.)

Heavy Hitter in reach

Finally got past Don't Fear the Reaper on Hard drums. Man. That one was difficult ... at the end, when it's blue blue/foot blue/foot red/green blue blue/foot blue/foot red/green for the first half, and then instead of normal blues, it becomes blue/red/blue with the feet at the same rhythm, I skipped those extra reds. Too hard. I nearly failed, but I didn't. ha ha.

Up next, at some point: Run to the Hills. I have to figure out how to do l/r/l, r/l/r over and over again, with the first five on red and the last one on yellow.

Two songs left: Run to the Hills, which I haven't tried solo, and the worst Police song I've ever heard. I don't get credit for any of the bass notes, so I guess I have to practice it.

STOP TELLING ME I'LL LOSE ALL PROGRESS IF I LEAVE. I DON'T HAVE ANY PROGRESS TO SAVE. REMEMBER, I JUST FAILED THE SONG. L2PROGRAM.

Ouch

Dark objects absorb heat.

It's summer.

You would that someone who just scored a 43 on the Wonderlic would put these facts together and not stand in a parking lot in bare feet.

Oh no.

It's all right, the blisters are small and should heal in a couple of days or so.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Microsoft sucks" is redundant

Today's battle: the Add a Printer wizard doesn't work. (Of course, the real battle is getting my non-USB LaserJet 4 to work with XP ...) Naturally, the solution is to update Internet Explorer. Glad to see it's not a vital part of the Windows operating environment.

Anyway, it didn't work. IE, that is. So how do you update it? Why, through Windows Update, of course, which requires ... IE. Yeah, that's what I said too.

So I had to download IE again and install it over the old copy, and of course it has to lock all these system files (but of course, it's not integrated into Windows) and it locks up my laptop big-time. Hard reboot follows, and I finally get the problem solved.

No wonder people make big bucks installing software. Some of this crap is just too much for the average user to go through.

Monday, June 23, 2008

E85 this

Sure, corn-based ethanol can't possibly be blamed for higher food prices, even though it uses, well, food ... and the fact that GM has basically staked its future on ethanol at the expense of any other type of alternative (like, say, hybrids) probably doesn't scare you away from it either ...

but this should. Sure, it's not as bad as a low-mileage gas car, and someday maybe corn-based ethanol will be worthwhile, but right now? no.

The last thing we need to be subsidizing is something like this. Maybe in January, our new president will get the chance to start fixing crap like this. (You know, investment tax credits and stuff like that.)

So not RL, it's funny

So I'm playing WSOP 2008 on the 360 – basically, you play WSOP events and cash games in between – and of course I am low on cash because I am not that good at poker. (Sure, luck is a pretty big factor, but if you have less skill you need more luck, and I was losing hands on A-K suited and Q-Q ...)

When you play a WSOP event, afterward you might get a call from one of the pros at your table inviting you to a cash game somewhere else. You can play those games at any time to build up your bankroll so you can play in more events (unless you finish in the money, the WSOP events can drain you pretty quick).

My in-game cell rings, and it's Jennifer Tilly, telling me that she'll put up the money for me to play in a $5K cash game ... I'm not sure what was better about it, that it happened while I was trying to decide where to lose cash first, or that her in-game voice was too funny (Jennifer has lots of money, Jennifer will pay for you ...), but hey, playing with someone else's money, no problem.

Of course in real life, I would be imagining what I'd have to do to work off that debt ... yes, I know she's married, but it's my imagination, go find your own.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rock Band!

Just spent pretty much the whole afternoon and evening playing Rock Band. That is simply an awesome game.

Also, I still can't play Run to the Hills on hard drums. I know what I need to do, but my hands can't figure it out just yet.

That is all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Random thoughts


  • Apparently some people think that Guitar Hero III is better than Rock Band because you're always playing notes on the guitar in GH, whereas in Rock Band, sometimes you don't play (because it's like you're in a REAL BAND where OTHER PEOPLE GET SOLOS TOO). Funny, most people think that the extra notes on the GH III charts are a problem, not a bonus ... anyway, this is going to make Guitar Hero: Just Like Rock Band take off like a shot. Well, at least among the less intelligent crowd ...

  • Great slide in the Reds-Yankees game last night: the guy slid on one leg, keeping the other off the ground until he passed the catcher, then tapped the plate, beating the tag. Catcher thought otherwise. Catcher was wrong.

  • Also, a great catch by Brian Giles to end the Tigers-Padres game last night, although it reinforces my position that all baseball stadiums need something like the protective netting around hockey rinks ... he flipped over the little wall around Petco and landed in a handicapped-seating area. Okay, maybe netting wouldn't have helped him that much, but make the walls higher, not just so players don't go flying into the seats, but so jackass fans can't reach into the field of play and interfere with balls in play. (When it helps the home team, it's just dumb. When it hurts the home team, it should be grounds for banishment for life.)

  • You probably don't like soccer much, or don't watch it much, or don't watch other than the World Cup and occasional MLS games, but Euro 2008 is on now, and if you didn't see yesterday's quarterfinal match between Turkey and Croatia, well ...

    They played 90 minutes with no goals. In this tournament, in elimination matches, that means two 15-minute halves of extra time (not sudden death - they play the full 30 minutes), and then PKs if it's still tied.

    For the first 28 minutes, nothing much happened: a couple of good opportunities, a couple of good saves. But then a Croatian ball passed through the box and was moving toward the corner, just along the goal line ... not having seen the previous match in Euro 2008 when this happened, the Turkish keeper chased it down, but a Croatian beat him to it, flicking it into the box where it was headed behind the keeper frantically dashing back to the goal. 1-0 Croatia, and with just a minute left plus injury time, Turkey looked defeated.

    Turkey pressed forward frantically, but Croatia blunted their attack and played a long ball ahead. With Turkish defenders ahead, the attack was offside ... the Turkish keeper, who'd come way out of his goal, quickly launched a free kick. It landed short of the box, was flicked on to another Turk, who blasted a shot off a Croatian defender ... and in! Two minutes into injury time, it's 1-1. A minute later, it's time for PKs.

    Rule #1: don't miss the net. Make the keeper save it. So Croatia ... misses the net. Not once, but twice in their first three kicks. Turkey did not miss; when Croatia's fourth kick was saved by Rustu, Turkey advanced.

    Sure, maybe there wasn't so much action in the first 90, but the end of that match is one thing that makes soccer such a special game.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good riddance, cheater

Good old MGoBlog pointed out a little tidbit that I'd missed ... seems that Robert Reynolds is going to retire from the NFL, basically because he was dumb enough to get caught using steroids enough times to earn a one-year suspension.

This should surprise no one, as Brian and The Realests both point out. Aside from the fact that Reynolds went to Ohio State (one should always use "graduation" carefully with respect to that school), he's best known for choking Jim Sorgi during a game. Yes, the same Jim Sorgi who owns a Super Bowl ring and spends his Sundays closely watching Peyton to see if perhaps today is the day when he will get to take a snap from center.

See, Sorgi was actually a pretty good QB in college, and anyway ... well, never mind. Suffice it to say that "good riddance" sums up Reynolds pretty well

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wal-Mart sucks

Obviously you know this already, but sometimes it helps to keep repeating the line, over and over again ...

because people don't always believe you, and then something like this happens, and then they're forced to believe you.

A receipt-checking policy at a store like Wal-Mart is really, really stupid. Then again, so is Wal-Mart.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's NCAA football time

Well, no, it's not, not exactly, not unless you are dedicated to the sport 24/7/366.

But the preview guides are starting to come out, and those are always good for a few laughs ... on the other hand, if you want to see a little more interesting analysis, check this out. EDSBS itself linked to it ... something positive about all 118 I-A schools that that don't have their own exclusive network television contract.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sabermetrics + politics = win!

Yep, that's right. I knew this Newsweek subscription would come in handy. Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus fame has a website, FiveThirtyEight.com, where he uses tools similar to his PECOTA system for baseball to project electoral results ... not only that, but he links to and blogs about other sites that do similar work, like voteview.com.

What does this mean? Several things. For one, there are practical applications for that kind of analysis all over the place, which to me helps to legitimize its use for baseball. (Dear sportswriters and scouts who fear this system: suck it.)

For another, at this point, McCain seems to be as likely to win the election as the Penguins were to win the Cup: a definite possibility, except for the facts. Barring an inexplicably bad decision by Babcock (such as, say, selecting Clinton as a running mate), the Wings should win.

Of course, when the stars line up like this, there's always that nagging feeling of insecurity: can we really win? Will it really be as good as it could be? (One in nine projections give Obama a landslide in the electoral college.)

Well, let's put it this way. Indiana may not be a solid red state, and if Indiana's figured out what's been happing in Washington, well, the elephant can stand aside for a while and watch the donkey fix things for two or four years, at least.

Zarcade

I like video games.

I know, it's hard to tell from my blog and my profile and other places you may have seen me around the web, but it's true.

In fact, I like them quite a bit. Apparently some people are interested in knowing exactly how much I like them, so I have some pics and some facts ...

Computer room


SlikStik panel
This is where I do the old-school PC games and classic console games; this shot is facing the computer desk: that's a SlikStik arcade control panel on my desk. Unfortunately I can't link to their site because they've apparently gone Chapter 7, but rest assured that the console works just fine. (Um, except for the trackball. You know why arcade owners hate games like Golden Tee? Yep, it's true. Guess I'll need to fix this myself now.)

classic setup
The second pic is facing away from the computer desk. On the left, there is an Intellivision with the Intellivoice module, and below that a Sega Genesis with an arcade stick. (I have the 32X in the closet, but no games for it.) On the right, an Atari 5200 with trackball controller (I luvz me trackball games), an original NES with Advantage joystick, and a Nintendo 64. (The Nintendo systems are the only ones I bought new: we had an Intellivision growing up but I think it was killed in the fire, I had a 5200 that I may have sold during the dark times, and I gave away my original Genesis and games to someone who needed it more.)

Not pictured: my Game Boy collection (original, color, advance, all originals), Atari Lynx (2 - my second and third), and Nintendo DS and DS Lite (originals). I also have a spare 5200 in the closet for parts (from California brother, picked up at a garage sale: brother +1).


Living room


living room setup
From left to right: Rubbermaid storage for various accessories (2 Xplorers for 360, 2 Gibsons - one wireless - for PS2, one Stratocaster for 360, and one dance pad for 360); mic and mic stand for Rock Band (doesn't work for KR: AI Encore; Konami = suck); consoles (Wii, 360, PS2) and DVD player, plus an HD DVD player (where are my cheap movies?) and an arcade stick for the 360; drum set for Rock Band (throne not pictured). In the foreground is the laptop on which I am typing this; I use that for the rare gaming I do these days.

Not pictured: various Wii controllers, extra 360 and PS2 controllers.

UPDATE: I forgot about the N64. oops. Super Mario 64, one of the few games that completely changed the console world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why GTA IV isn't all that

So today, I'm catching up on some of the other achievements and working on other random things. I decide I'm going to work on the swimming part of the Liberty City Marathon (of course if they knew what they were doing, they'd have called it a decathlon - ten events - but whatever), 40 miles. I've got 1 done, so I've got a ways to go.

I swim for a bit, climb into a boat and drive, jump back in and swim, walk on the shore, and so on. At one point, I look up and notice that I'm taking damage ... from ... uh, I don't know. Fatigue, I guess?

So I panic and swim madly for sure, but of course action fatigue sets in and so Niko can only swim at slow speed for a while. (I guess that experience in the war didn't really help any.) Finally, I crawl onto land just before I die.

As I'm making my way back to civilization, Packie calls me. Sure, I'll play pool. So I head toward a street where I can catch a cab.

I pass a hot dog stand. Hmm, I'm almost dead, I could use one. And here is where some of GTA's many flaws converge:

  • There's someone standing on the hot spot, so I can't buy a hot dog; worse yet, I start circling him, moving back and forth to try to find out how to get where he is.
  • Naturally, he takes exception to me, but I don't want to start anything because I don't have a car or life. He takes a swing and takes the last of my health.
  • I wake up outside the hospital, without my untouched life vest (I guess even though they can resurrect you with all your weapons, they take your body armor). However, now Packie no longer appears on the map.
  • I don't come pick him up (because I don't know where he is), so of course he texts me and is mad.


Awesome.

Rockstar, you're playing with fire. GTA has a fairly committed fan base, but honestly, there are problems with GTA IV. A lot of them. You need to address some of them before GTA V comes out, or you're going to end up like EA (I know, from an economic sense that would be great), with some casual fans who like the games and hardcore enemies who hate how solid franchises were slowly brought down to earth.

At the very least, next time, give me an option to tell my friend "Sure, I'll play pool, but I'm dying on the beach right now. How about two hours?"

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dear Powers-that-be,

I'm not sure what exactly it was that we did, or who did it, or whatever, but anyway, on behalf of the residents of and visitors to the state of Indiana, I apologize for all of it.

Sincerely,
zlionsfan

P.S. I thought I should clarify for anyone interested that I have been fortunate to avoid any damage from the rain. This is basically a plea on behalf of those I know who have not been so lucky.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Happiness is being a Wings fan

I was out at BWW with some friends last night after volleyball; Game 6 was starting soon and we were talking about it. One of my friends, a woman who's a big NFL fan but not so much into the other sports (yet), was surprised at my approach (I was fairly confident that the Wings would win, but not too worried if they didn't). Partly from our NFL discussions, she'd come to believe that I was pessimistic about all Detroit teams, and to be fair, both the Tigers and Pistons have generated some pessimism recently.

The Wings, however, are an exception. Over the last 15-20 years, they've enjoyed success they hadn't seen since the '40s and '50s, and certainly over the last 12 years, they've been the best franchise in hockey (perhaps of all time, considering that they're playing in a 30-team league and not a 6-team league).

I explained it briefly to her, but I don't think I did it justice. Look at this history, and tell me what your approach would be.


  • 2007-08: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, won Cup

  • 2006-07: t-1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference finals

  • 2005-06: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference quarters

  • 2003-04: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference semis

  • 2002-03: 3rd in NHL, 2nd in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference quarters

  • 2001-02: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, won Cup

  • 2000-01: t-2nd in NHL, 2nd in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference quarters

  • 1999-2000: 2nd in NHL, 2nd in West, 2nd in Central, lost in conference semis

  • 1998-99: t-6th in NHL, 3rd in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference semis

  • 1997-98: 3rd in NHL, 2nd in West, 2nd in Central, won Cup

  • 1996-97: 5th in NHL, 2nd in West, 2nd in Central, won Cup

  • 1995-96: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, lost in conference finals

  • 1994-95: 1st in NHL, 1st in West, 1st in Central, lost Cup finals


In that 12-season span, they had the best record in the league 6 times (and tied for the best one other time), best record in the conference 7 times, and they won 9 division titles. Sure, they lost in the first round 3 times, but they made it to the finals 5 times and won 4 of them.

That's not just success. That's dominance.

So no, the prospect of the Penguins winning Game 6 didn't trouble me much. I didn't like that the Wings lost Game 5, and I've seen Detroit lose tough series before (although it should be noted that they haven't lost a Game 7 since 1994 against San Jose - for that matter, they've only played two Game 7s since then: Stevie Y's double-OT goal against St. Louis in '96 and the wonderful shellacking of Patrick Roy in '02). But the Wings have played so well this season, especially late against Nashville and Dallas, that I figured the odds of them losing three straight games were pretty slim.

And if they did, who am I to complain? They'd have still won 3 Cups during my lifetime. Only seven franchises have won more than that in the history of the NHL. Even if you look at only post-expansion Cups, there are three teams who've won more than Detroit prior to this season: Montreal (10), Edmonton (5), and the New York Islanders (4). There are many, many fans who'd pay to see that kind of success from their team (like in Toronto, for example).

I remember following the Wings in the '70s and early '80s, when they really sucked. For part of that time, there were 21 NHL teams and 16 made the playoffs. For 4 straight seasons, the Wings were one of the five teams that missed. They lost in the first round the next two seasons and then missed again the next season. This was a bad, bad franchise, and so it's that much nicer to see them so good for so long.

It also takes away a lot of the pain that the Lions cause. Sure, they've sucked for decades, but that's just one sport in four, and when the other Detroit teams have been so successful, does it really matter that one of them is so bad?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

We win!

Sorry, Pittsburgh, the officials can't give you this one. Nice try, though. I'm guessing there should have been a penalty on Malone for interference, and there definitely should have been a penalty for Datsyuk being taken down at the end, but you know what? It doesn't matter, and that's what Babcock was probably telling his players after Game 5. Don't call them yourselves, and if the refs don't call them, don't worry about it.

It's nice to see the best team in hockey win the Cup ... when was the last time that happened? Oh yeah, 2002, the last time the Wings won. :)

The only problem is that because the five-year rule is cumulative, now I can't complain about anything Wings-related until 2017.

Maybe 2018, if the skipped season doesn't count.
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