The Aftermath of Big Game

I woke up yesterday morning on the the couch. Not the bad sort of waking up on the couch, but the two-room double and not wanting to be in the bedroom sort of waking up. The sun through the window told and scolded me for sleeping in, but Daylight Savings Time meant that I had no idea what time it actually was. Rolling over, I grabbed my watch, saw “10:00,” and decided that the couch really wasn’t comfortable enough to keep sleeping. Besides, it was game day.

Stanford football generally isn’t a big deal, but for at least one day every two year, it is. Near the end of our season, we play “Big Game” against our rival across the bay, Cal, and students who don’t care about Stanford football will consider showing up. Given that it was a home game and that student tickets are free, it seems like a good idea.

That wasn’t me, however. Not this year. Maybe the rain, problem sets, and simultaneous IM Ultimate games kept me from the few home games we had last year, but I was going to pay attention this time. This year, I have been following Stanford football, going to all of the home games, staying till the game is over (not necessarily when time runs out, mind you), reading ESPN coverage after the game, reading more in the Stanford Daily, and raving about Toby Gerhart (resident of an adjacent dorm and frequent sight at the dining hall) and Andrew Luck (product of Stratford High School, about 10 minutes down I-10 from home) to whoever will listen. Coming off huge victories against both Oregon and USC and a #14 ranking, the team and school were pumped. We talked about it quietly not wanting to jinx it, but I heard that we might even have a shot at the Rose Bowl if the dominoes fell.

My floormates and I had discussed when we wanted to be where and ended up at the Treehouse for lunch at noon. In thanks for our appearance at enough previous games, Lee, Alex, Joe, and I all had enough points to get priority seating for Big Game. Though the game would start at 4:30, the blessed with priority seating could get in at 2:30, far before general admission at 3:45. Not even that was good enough for us, though, so after meeting Jenni at the Treehouse as well, we left around 1 to get in line for seats. We arrived before most and were only maybe 10 meters away from the gate. Our patience paid off, and we got seats in the student section closest to the middle, about 8 rows up from the field. Two hours, a stuffed student section, and sunset later, we had Big Game.

It was disappointing. We started quickly with Toby running 61 yards for a TD and a blocked punt putting us in great field position for another TD, but otherwise, the offense only looked so-so. With only 70ish passing yards by the 3rd quarter, 3 dropped snaps, and facing off with one of the best rush defenses in the nation, the score was generous for the performance.

The end looked good, though. A minute and a half, our ball on the Cal 13, and we’re down 6 points. 1st play, Luck drops back, sees nothing, rolls to the right, sort of sees something, incomplete. 2nd play, Luck drops back, quickly tosses one right over the middle into the hands of a linebacker, and like that, the game is over.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh knows a lot more about football than me, but the consensus seems to be that that was not a good call. Just after we got the first down, Alex looks at me excitedly and tells me that we can run the ball. I agree. Given the history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Play) of Big Game, we don’t want any time left for last minute heroics. Although Luck made some great passes down the stretch in the 4th quarter, that wasn’t going well. Toby Gerhart averages far above the requisite 3 yards per carry and had been great for us all game, scoring all 4 TDs up till then.

We were shocked. It all happened really quickly, and we left almost immediately.

It was because we got our hopes up. Two years ago, a loss would’ve been disappointing, but not devastating, since the team wasn’t doing as well. Last year, a win would’ve gotten us bowl eligible, but only barely. This year, we had seen the path to the Rose Bowl, but it all crumbled.

We got back to the dorm hungry and quickly decided that an In-N-Out run was the only way to end the day. By the time we got back, it was 10:00, and we were all tired.

I certainly won’t look back on today with happiness, but maybe with fondness, because it was a lot of fun. I lived in Texas for a long time, but only this year has it dawned on me that football really can be as big as some make it out to be. Friday night football game (plus tailgate if you’re Katy High School), Saturday college football, and Sunday pro football. For 10 weeks, you can just watch football.

And for some students, my 10 hour day is probably a weekly ordeal. UT and A&M football matter a lot. What a way to live. I can see why they do it, because (even more when it’s a part of campus culture) it’s a lot of fun.

After the game, Lee mentioned feeling more let down by the game than ever before, to which Alex pointed out that the disappointment is a part of being a real fan. As usual, he drew upon his great corpus of historical examples, including Brett Favre throwing an interception for the loss on the way to a Super Bowl. Although I loathe allowing Alex’s sports analogies to lead to real insight, I think I can accept his wisdom in matters of fandom. It’s great to wear around a Texas hoodie and root for them, but they’re my safe bet because I’m pretty sure that they will never disappoint. Being a fan truly is about feeling the loss as well. I’ll remember the loss forever, I’m sure, but I’ll also remember Andrew Luck running and not sliding for the first down, Richard Sherman picking the ball at the 3rd yard line, howling on Cal possessions, joking about poor clothing choices for a nippy game, running after getting through the gate to the seat, and standing in line behind people with wet body paint that I wanted nowhere near me.

It was bad for us, but the moral of the story is that sour grapes makes the world go round. For the dominoes to fall, Arizona needed to beat Oregon, and that didn’t happen. Moreover, we didn’t miss out on the most. Arizona fans were apparently standing on the sidelines, waiting to rush the field with 6 seconds to go when Oregon scored to send it to overtime. Triple OT later, they lost.

Did I mention that an Arizona win would send them to the Rose Bowl?

It could’ve been worse.

Observations from a Jays-A’s game

(Yesterday, I went to the Jays-A’s game in Oakland, and this is exactly what I wrote right after. Another lame-out post; sorry)

On the BART after a Jays-A’s game. So much fun. Details:

  • got stadium food. Awful hot dog where the only thing that matches the price was the sodium content
  • sat was literally right in line with the home plate, 15 rows back. Not quite as good as TV, but I could mostly call balls & strikes. Saw a couple very dirty curveballs
  • empty on either side with a British man (in a sweater vest) alone 2 seats down who I talk to from about the 3rd to the 7th inning. Details include:
    • on vacation for 2 weeks, so went to 7ish baseball games up the west coast
    • actually a Boston fan, so not sure how I feel about that
    • also into horse racing
    • sports reporter back in England for (a little privacy), covering greyhounds
    • very very knowledgeable about baseball. One of the most delightful conversations I’ve had in a long, long time. I need more friends who watch baseball
    • talked a lot just about the differences in sports
  • game itself was disappointing
    • Jays lost Rolen (traded to Cinci just before the trade deadline), but McDonald at 3rd should’ve been a killer infield anyways
    • didn’t really matter since Scott Richmond got maybe 1 groundout in 4 inning (officially got 2 groundouts)
    • 3 errors (1 ball lost in sun), 1 broken double play, 1 poorly handled ball in the corner, and 1 boneheaded throw
    • No one was hitting except Hill and Lind (I guess Scutaro was hitting, too, to get on base for Hill and Lind to drive him in). 2 run HR by Lind makes the game look a lot closer and Braden’s start only so-so for great work
    • Richmond’s control was awful. Couldn’t find the plate in the first inning, and was just throwing meatballs after that
    • Tallet came in & was bad for his first inning as well, walking 2 batters
    • Jesse Carlson looked great. I realize it was because he actually got 2 groundouts & a strikeout. Nice work
    • Richmond is very tall. Rios is very tall
    • Scutaro is pretty short
  • kid in the row in front of me about 5 seats to my right was hilarious
    • every foul ball backwars he yelled “I got it!”
    • on close calls, “Do you have dust in your eyes?”
    • was actually sharp on the game, with “A walk’s as good as a hit”
    • I wish I was that much into baseball when I was a kid
  • Coliseum is a pretty non-exciting stadium. 12,000 fans, nothing special in design. AT&T Park is much better
  • Just a great feeling. Seeing the highlight is good. Watching the game in person is better. For a change. Takes a damn long time & can’t really get pitcher-batter faceoffs, but still fun
  • camaraderie is good. Would’ve enjoyeed the game on my own, but the British guy made it better. The guy right in front, a Math professor at a local community college, also chirped in, so strangers prove to be just as good as normal people. Even better than on an airplane, because you have something to talk about
  • fans go(ing) after foul balls are hilarious
  • the game is a lot better when you’re invested and know the organization. Astros games were good, but just kind of meh sometimes since I didn’t care
  • I’m a much smarter fan than I was even a year ago. I know when location is good, recognize baserunning, know how much better groundouts are than flyouts. I appreciate the game so much more now
  • that still doesn’t help the pain of your team losing
  • weird to think that this happens 162 times over a couple months For some fans, a game is just something they do daily, but I’m still awestruck by it all. I have to wander the stadium and just suck in baseball culture. Because being at the stadium is all about stupid traditions and the trashy stadium feel. It’s like kraft mac & cheese
  • hearing and singing along to the recorded O Canada was just kind of a good feeling. I think it was more nostalgia than patriotism
  • I’m really glad I got the seat I did. Most of the baseball sates I’ve gotten have either been high or in the outfield. The game looks a lot different when a pop fly goes sky high away from you instead of coming up to eye-level
  • I wish I could justify sitting around & watching baseball more

Sports and fun

Now is a fantastic time for American pro sports. The NHL is in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing past the Washington Capitals in a showdown between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, perhaps the two most talented players in the game. Maybe two weeks ago, both managed hat tricks in a single game.

And the NBA playoffs are going on, too. My Facebook home page conveyed the ups-and-downs of the LA Lakers playing the Houston Rockets in the previous round of playoffs as my high school friends roared about Rockets wins and my college friends pumped up about Lakers wins. After losing their two best players, who knew the Rockets had enough fight to force game 7? Even more shocking, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 8-0 through the first two round of the playoffs, lost one at home to the Orlando Magic after LeBron James scores 49 points.

And baseball, my true passion. And in that respect, it’s been very good to be me. The Toronto Blue Jays, expected to be the 4th place team in the hardest division (the American League east), currently have the best record in the American League. With 4 injured starters. 3 of their 5 starters are rookies, and 1 is filling in after being in the bullpen for awhile. But it looks like it might be catching up to them. The Jays are currently in Boston playing the Red Sox, who are probably a better team. In this first big test, they’ve lost both of the games so far, and I’m hoping they can salvage the series with a win tomorrow.

It’s been good to really pay attention again. I’m listening to the ESPN: Baseball Today podcast, so I actually know what’s going on with all the teams, not just the Jays. I can even keep the Gameday up in the background to get game information streamed while I’m doing something else, like playing tuba. Probably because of the jazz history class you’ve seen concert reports for, I’ve become interested in music again and thus have picked up the tuba again after an almost year-long break.

And that’s been a lot of fun, too. I’m not as sharp as I used to be. I’ve forgotten the little music theory that I used to know, and I’ve lost more in technique than the state of California has in tax revenue. Less endurance means I’ve had to cut back on my warmup exercises, and I’m pretty much done after that. But it’s been a lot of fun. Even long tones, lip slurs, and scales are exciting to me now. It seems absurd to me now that I didn’t practice more in high school. I had the time to get on the instrument for at least an hour everyday, and it was fulfilling. It’s hard to conceive now that at one point, I didn’t think that playing scales were fun.

Perhaps my newfound enthusiasm stems from the knowledge that this will be short-lived, and I should enjoy it while I can. In high school, I always practiced because I figured I needed to be better for tomorrow, and longer down the road. Having never been away from an instrument for more than a week or two for over 5 years, high school Kevin couldn’t imagine not having music to keep working on. Since coming to college, I’ve had to think more about what’s coming up in the future, and in preparation for that, my activities have shifted away from music. Right now, it looks like I’ll play through the summer and drop it again after that.

So when I practice, it’s absolutely still because I want to get better, but it’s not for the far away future. Maybe I go through all of my warmups because I don’t know any other way to practice. But I like to think it’s about having fun. It’s because right now, it seems like the fun thing to do.

Seeing how well the Jays are doing, I’m very much anticipating them going to the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 1993. When I actually realize that in my mind, though, maybe it isn’t so important. I’ll certainly go through severe angst if it comes down to the end of the regular season to get a playoff spot; I could barely even look at the MLB website today because I was so disappointed that the Jays lost. But my life won’t change because of it. I’m pulling for a Lakers-Cavs NBA finals and have gotten so tense in both the Cavs-Magic game today and the Lakers-Nuggets game yesterday, but even if things don’t turn out that way, it won’t be dinner conversation for even a week after the playoffs end.

It kind of reminds me of a quote from the economist John Maynard Keynes (which I admittedly has likely either misattributed, misunderstood, or taken out of context). In response to the classical economic belief that economic problems will resolve themselves in the long run, he wrote, “In the long run we are all dead.” It’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on the future, but life is just as much a series of short runs, and the most exciting and important things to enjoy are what’s happening right now.

中国的 Olympics

Once every two years, my desire to be anywhere other than in front of a TV evaporates. I tough out the repetitive, vapid commercials in that desire to watch sports I would never even consider watching otherwise.

It’s been awhile since Turin, but I remember sitting in my living room at home, watching NBC late at night while I should’ve been doing homework. Now, I’m sitting in Tressider Union in front of a much larger TV with maybe five or six others. My roommates and I were unable to secure a TV for our apartment, but coming here isn’t too inconvenient. And the TV is nice.

It helps that NBC has embraced the shift towards internet-streaming as well. The US v. China basketball game felt different without the commentary, but likely not significantly less enjoyable. The real benefit, however, are the off-sports that don’t seem to hit prime-time here in the US. I’ve watched handball, air pistol, archery, fencing, judo, and more, and now, I just feel bad for not supporting Stanford athletes in these very enjoyable sports.

And on Friday night, I was at an amazing jazz concert*, but I watched the entire 3 hour opening ceremony broadcast from a computer screen this afternoon. And boy was that impressive. The pageantry used scale in such an impressive manner, without losing any of the artistic design.

The most interesting part of the opening ceremony, however, came from Bob Costas, Matt Lauer, and Joshua Cooper Ramo in the NBC voice-over commentary. Regardless of actual, or even perceived, current political conflicts, China presented a welcoming, neutral, hopeful ceremony without any sinister undertones. In unusual juxtaposition, the commentators made several comments about anticipated controversy, such as Iraq coming onto the field, and current events, such as the Russia-Georgia conflict, that didn’t quite fit into the spirit of the event. And even a possible jab from Cooper Ramo, who said that the greatest point in China’s history was the Tang dynasty for its “openness.”

But I confess, it might have just been me looking for a point of controversy in an otherwise uncontroversial showing. Let me know if you noticed the same thing as well, or I was trying too hard. I would hate to be the person hearing subliminal messages in rock songs played backwards.

*the Stanford Jazz Festival All-Star Jam, including Delfeayo Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and Barry Harris; it was absolutely amazing, but I don’t think it’s writable

Stanford 20, Cal 13

Last week of regular season college football, and for many college students, it’s huge. At Stanford, it’s Big Game week. We play our rival, Cal (UC Berkeley), in a crazy game for possession of “The Axe.” The most famous game was played exactly 25 years ago, where Stanford took the lead with 4 seconds on the clock. In an amazing (yet controversial) play, Cal returned the kickoff for a touchdown for the win, in “The Play.”

I’m not big on rivalries. I think it brings out the worst in people. I’m all for cheering for your favorite team, but when it turns to booing the opposition, that’s just nasty. I remember how my high school had a rivalry turn full-on last year, with our game being featured as the high school game of the week. People became very intense about it, and it felt over-the-top. We became highly opposed to people who were no different from us, minus living 15 minutes away in a different zone. And many of them were our friends.

College, naturally, isn’t any better. Turned somewhat belligerent, actually, including some very popular “Cal Sucks” shirts and cars driving around yelling profanities at pedestrians.

Regardless, the game itself was very exciting. Somewhat cold, but close, with many moments. The game was really just a game like any other, though, except that there were Stanford fans. And they cared. The crowd has been somewhat disappointing to me up to now. Mayhaps I have unrealistic expectations about football from having experienced high school football in Texas. Hopefully, though, this win will turn things around next season, and people will care. They certainly cared when we rushed the field. That was very crazy.

The most significant point for me, though, was watching the Cal marching band. Unlike the Stanford marching band (a scatter band), the Cal marching band is at least somewhat serious about marching. They actually march, and have a drilled show. It was actually very entertaining, with a show and music focused around video games.

I love the Stanford marching band. They have a lot of fun, are the most-spirited group for our sports teams, are well-liked, and just make the campus fun. For myself, however, marching band is closer to what I saw from Cal. But life moves on. Can’t cling to and try to emulate high school marching band forever. Better a clean cut than to slowly lose it.

So the other big event of the day was “Big Concert.” A couple weeks ago, it was advertised as having a group called “The Roots” to come perform. Seeing as it would be hopefully an action-packed weekend, I paid for my ticket and decided to try it out.

Only a couple days ago did I learn that they were a hip-hop group. I’ve never listened to hip-hop before. Heck, I’ve never been to a live concert for a non-orchestral/big band jazz/wind ensemble concert before. I listened to a couple of their recordings, and definitely wasn’t amazed by it.

Regardless, I went to the concert tonight as I once again proved my poor understanding of sunk costs. Fortunately, I was totally wrong about my expected utility. That was a seriously rocking concert. I became more leery as I listened to some openers play hip-hop and not particularly enjoy it. “The Roots”, however, are a hip-hop fusion group, with some jazz and funk and other stuff thrown in. The group had the typical vocals, guitar, bassist, drummer, but also had a keyboard player, percussionist (temple blocks and bongos, I think), and a souaphone player. Yes, a tuba.

The sound blew me away. Well, physically, it was, like all live concerts nowadays, not only aural but also kinesthetic as the bass vibrated my clothing (I thought I was going to have a heart attack, because it felt like my entire abdomen was shaking). Past that, the concert had just about everything in it. They mashed a lot of stuff in, including “The Hey Song”, a lick from “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” and that “Tonto, Jump on it” song, and tons more I didn’t recognize. “Jungle Boogie” was prominently featured at the end, and there was even a great section focused around a Bob Dylan song. Some amazing stuff, including a drum solo enhanced with playback.

And I just can’t say enough about the tuba player. How cool. When I switched from trumpet to tuba, I had this conception that I would be in a sore spot, as the tuba doesn’t really have much appeal across genres. But it’s cool to know it happens, and is appreciated. Of course, he was miked, but even so, he toughed out about a 2 hour concert playing very loudly.

It was just a great concert though. It definitely proved to me that there is tons of great music out there, even in the contemporary stuff. Over the past couple years, I’ve shut out a lot of music as I’ve felt that music is just degrading, and that pop is ruining our minds. Never listened to rap, never listened to hip-hop, thought it was trash, to be blunt. How glad I am to have been proven wrong. I don’t see myself becoming a crazy hip-hop fan in the coming days, but it’s still good to open doors.

Maybe I Should Major in Stats and Journalism?

(I guess I just throw my favorite posts from my main blog here, now. I really like this one; I think it really touches on my passions, for I do love baseball)

I was looking at the very trusty MLB.com when I saw that The Cardinals had a 16-4 rout of the Pirates. Impressive, but not the most notable part of it.

Flashback: in 2000, Rick Ankiel was a young pitcher, very promising. Everyone had big expectations after a great regular season. Suddenly, one day, he loses it. Couldn’t hit a side of a barn with a pitch. One of those things psychological things. From time to time, you’ll hear about players that just lose it. A 2nd baseman, with his eyes open, can’t hit the 1st baseman maybe 60 feet from him. With his eyes closed, right into the glove. Anyways, he tries to tough it till the next season, but no good. Rick is out of the news, probably doomed to a minor league career, if even that good.

August 9th, 2007. Rick Ankiel is back, now playing outfield. It happens. Fun fact: Babe Ruth was actually a devastating pitcher before deciding he liked swinging the bat more, becoming perhaps the greatest slugger of all time. Anyways, first game back, Rick swings for the fences to please the crowd. Impressive.

Today, Rick goes 3 for 4, with a double, two home runs, and 7 runs batted in. Wow. I look at his season numbers. I knew I had to blog. Let’s take a look at how he’s done over 23 games, 81 at bats:

Batting average: .358. You’re a good contact hitter if you’re over .300. You’re setting history if you’re over .400, last done by Ted Williams in 1941. The MLB leaders (Rick doesn’t have enough at bats to count) , Magglio Ordonez and Ichiro Suzuki, have averages of .352 today.

Runs: 22. Well, in a full season, there are 162 games, and a regular hitter will get just about 600 at bats. In those, getting over 100 is a notable season. Let’s do some math on Rick’s numbers to project if he kept this up all season:
22 runs * 162 games / 23 games = 155 runs
OR
22 runs * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 163 runs

That’s pretty good. How does that stack up against the best?
Alex Rodriguez, MLB leader: 127 runs, 138 games, 507 at bats
127 runs * 162 games / 138 games = 149 runs
OR
127 runs * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 150 runs

Ouch. The record for modern day baseball was set by the Great Bambino at 177 runs in 1921. Rick’s doing okay in runs, which is helped by having Albert Pujols, batting behind him. But let’s keep going.

RBIs: This is the most common measure of a slugger. Just like runs, having over 100 is notable. Rick has 29. Thank goodness I have my calculator, right?
29 RBIs * 162 games / 23 games = 204 RBIs
OR
29 RBIs * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 215 RBIs

Holy crap. That’s freaking amazing. I had to double-check on that one. Let’s compare, again, to the very impressive MLB leading A-Rod, who himself is almost an assured Hall of Famer and probably on track to beat Barry Bond’s all-time home run record.
A-Rod, MLB leader: 134 RBIs, 138 games, 507 at bats
134 RBIs * 162 games / 138 games = 157 RBIs
OR
134 RBIs * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 158 RBIs

Not even close. I mean, 157.5 (uh, he only swung half the bat, and only got half the credit?) RBIs is very admirable in itself, and isn’t reached every season.
The record is from Hack Wilson, 1930, 191 RBIs. Yup. No one has even gotten over 200. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

Home runs: the most glamorous of stats. It’s hard to get the same joy when you see a ball dribble into the outfield as a guy runs back to the pentagon as when a ball makes a beautiful arc, over the fences, and (hopefully) into a fan’s hands. Over 30 home runs is good news. Rick has 9. Once more…
9 HR * 162 games / 23 games = 63 HR
OR
9 HR * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 67 HR

He doubles a very admirable number again. Very nice. And who else than A-Rod to represent the rest of baseball, today?
A-Rod, MLB leader: 48 HR, 138 games, 507 at bats
48 HR * 162 games / 138 games = 56 HR
OR
48 HR * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 57 HR

That’s the closest of all of them, but yet, Rick is still ahead. Let’s look at the progression of history, though. Babe Ruth, in 1927, hit 60 home runs. That’s amazing. It stood for 34 years until Roger Maris hit 61 (Rick’s still ahead). That stood for another 37 years when in 1998, Mark McGwire (okay, maybe it was his ‘roids, not the man himself) hit 70, and I think we all remember what a hectic, crazy race that was. Then, in 2001, Barry Bonds hits 73. In history, only 5 players have ever hit over 60 home runs in a season (Ruth once, Maris once, McGwire twice, Bonds twice, and Sammy Sosa thrice).

Yes, this is probably unrealistic. Baseball players are notorious for hot and cold streaks, and it’s unlikely that Rick could keep up his performance for a full season. He came up hot, he’s backed by one of the best hitters today (Pujols), the fans love him, and his team is in the playoff chase. Injuries happen, slumps are hard to get out of, and players get tired. And some of them develop psychological problems.
But wow. I thought the extrapolation would turn out pretty for Rick, but I’m still blown away, especially by the RBIs. He hasn’t proven himself to be a reliable hitter, and who knows if he’ll have a similar problem as before. Regardless, I’m keeping my eye on him.

(All extrapolated stats were rounded to the nearest whole number. All stats for Rick and A-Rod are from www.mlb.com today, and almost all of the historical facts are from my head. Double-checked on wikipedia.)

Maybe I Should Major Stats and Journalism?

I was looking at the very trusty MLB.com when I saw that The Cardinals had a 16-4 rout of the Pirates. Impressive, but not the most notable part of it.

Flashback: in 2000, Rick Ankiel was a young pitcher, very promising. Everyone had big expectations after a great regular season. Suddenly, one day, he loses it. Couldn’t hit a side of a barn with a pitch. One of those things psychological things. From time to time, you’ll hear about players that just lose it. A 2nd baseman, with his eyes open, can’t hit the 1st baseman maybe 60 feet from him. With his eyes closed, right into the glove. Anyways, he tries to tough it till the next season, but no good. Rick is out of the news, probably doomed to a minor league career, if even that good.

August 9th, 2007. Rick Ankiel is back, now playing outfield. It happens. Fun fact: Babe Ruth was actually a devastating pitcher before deciding he liked swinging the bat more, becoming perhaps the greatest slugger of all time. Anyways, first game back, Rick swings for the fences to please the crowd. Impressive.

Today, Rick goes 3 for 4, with a double, two home runs, and 7 runs batted in. Wow. I look at his season numbers. I knew I had to blog. Let’s take a look at how he’s done over 23 games, 81 at bats:

Batting average: .358. You’re a good contact hitter if you’re over .300. You’re setting history if you’re over .400, last done by Ted Williams in 1941. The MLB leaders (Rick doesn’t have enough at bats to count) , Magglio Ordonez and Ichiro Suzuki, have averages of .352 today.

Runs: 22. Well, in a full season, there are 162 games, and a regular hitter will get just about 600 at bats. In those, getting over 100 is a notable season. Let’s do some math on Rick’s numbers to project if he kept this up all season:
22 runs * 162 games / 23 games = 155 runs
OR
22 runs * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 163 runs

That’s pretty good. How does that stack up against the best?
Alex Rodriguez, MLB leader: 127 runs, 138 games, 507 at bats
127 runs * 162 games / 138 games = 149 runs
OR
127 runs * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 150 runs

Ouch. The record for modern day baseball was set by the Great Bambino at 177 runs in 1921. Rick’s doing okay in runs, which is helped by having Albert Pujols, batting behind him. But let’s keep going.

RBIs: This is the most common measure of a slugger. Just like runs, having over 100 is notable. Rick has 29. Thank goodness I have my calculator, right?
29 RBIs * 162 games / 23 games = 204 RBIs
OR
29 RBIs * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 215 RBIs

Holy crap. That’s freaking amazing. I had to double-check on that one. Let’s compare, again, to the very impressive MLB leading A-Rod, who himself is almost an assured Hall of Famer and probably on track to beat Barry Bond’s all-time home run record.
A-Rod, MLB leader: 134 RBIs, 138 games, 507 at bats
134 RBIs * 162 games / 138 games = 157 RBIs
OR
134 RBIs * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 158 RBIs

Not even close. I mean, 157.5 (uh, he only swung half the bat, and only got half the credit?) RBIs is very admirable in itself, and isn’t reached every season.
The record is from Hack Wilson, 1930, 191 RBIs. Yup. No one has even gotten over 200. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

Home runs: the most glamorous of stats. It’s hard to get the same joy when you see a ball dribble into the outfield as a guy runs back to the pentagon as when a ball makes a beautiful arc, over the fences, and (hopefully) into a fan’s hands. Over 30 home runs is good news. Rick has 9. Once more…
9 HR * 162 games / 23 games = 63 HR
OR
9 HR * 600 at bats / 81 at bats = 67 HR

He doubles a very admirable number again. Very nice. And who else than A-Rod to represent the rest of baseball, today?
A-Rod, MLB leader: 48 HR, 138 games, 507 at bats
48 HR * 162 games / 138 games = 56 HR
OR
48 HR * 600 at bats / 507 at bats = 57 HR

That’s the closest of all of them, but yet, Rick is still ahead. Let’s look at the progression of history, though. Babe Ruth, in 1927, hit 60 home runs. That’s amazing. It stood for 34 years until Roger Maris hit 61 (Rick’s still ahead). That stood for another 37 years when in 1998, Mark McGwire (okay, maybe it was his ‘roids, not the man himself) hit 70, and I think we all remember what a hectic, crazy race that was. Then, in 2001, Barry Bonds hits 73. In history, only 5 players have ever hit over 60 home runs in a season (Ruth once, Maris once, McGwire twice, Bonds twice, and Sammy Sosa thrice).

Yes, this is probably unrealistic. Baseball players are notorious for hot and cold streaks, and it’s unlikely that Rick could keep up his performance for a full season. He came up hot, he’s backed by one of the best hitters today (Pujols), the fans love him, and his team is in the playoff chase. Injuries happen, slumps are hard to get out of, and players get tired. And some of them develop psychological problems.
But wow. I thought the extrapolation would turn out pretty for Rick, but I’m still blown away, especially by the RBIs. He hasn’t proven himself to be a reliable hitter, and who knows if he’ll have a similar problem as before. Regardless, I’m keeping my eye on him.

(All extrapolated stats were rounded to the nearest whole number. All stats for Rick and A-Rod are from www.mlb.com today, and almost all of the historical facts are from my head. Double-checked on wikipedia.)

Recap on Life

Olympics, CS, Solo

So I’ve been a bit too busy to write, which basically means I was addictively watching the Olympics these past 2 weeks. Sure, a lot of the events aren’t worth watching, but there’s stuff to do in the breaks. I have other concerns, however.
I’m sure enough of my manhood that I can say that I like figure skating, mostly due to a family filled with females. The womens’ singles were this last week, and as exciting as it was, I was quite disappointed. The new scoring system is supposedly more foolproof, but I really think it’s killed a lot of it. I might be completely off, not knowing the details of the sport, but basically, the new system is designed to have more calculated, objective scoring than the old one, giving credit for specific moves and stuff in an effort to prevent the disaster of pairs at the last Olympics. Unfortunately, as I saw it, the athletes instead seemed a bit tense about getting all of those moves right and racking up the points with a lot of moves instead of just really cool skating. It’d be like if in band/orch/choir, the group was judged on how many notes they hit instead of how much music they made out of the music. But as I said, I’m a layman in the sport.

After the dinner concert last week, we finally got new music for the UIL season, including a really cool piece called “J’ai ete au bal” (accent aigu’s over the e’s in ete). When I got it, I looked at the front page, which covers 100 measures, and I had literally 10 notes on it. Typical, I though, flipping the page to probably the most insane tuba solo I have ever seen! It’s quite odd, because I felt quite a bit of pressure to do well. For Region Band, as important as it is, it really has been just, “whatever”, without a whole lot of stress, but having to play a solo in front of a room of your peers, and later, a panel of judges and parents, is beyond ‘nething else I’ve had to do. The first night, I looked over it and hacked through it, but the day after, there was definitely some insane practicing going on. It’s funny how it works, cuz when I play it in class and stuff, I play it, and then afterwards, go “f*ck” almost everytime, because it’s never nearly as good as it should be. People say, “good job” and whatever, but Jandaisms definitely win this time: “The only real judge is yourself”, because even if people think it sounds good, I know it should be a lot better. Guess it just means more practicing.

Frank and Fairley are absolutely insane (David, Willie, you guys are still awesome, but these guys are definitely making their move). So, without the mentioned two having ever met each other, we managed to score 87 points, a problem away from sweeping, and take 2nd place to the CyFalls team that has been on top for 3 years. We’ve gotten that close with, a basically, untested team. Those two are incredible.
Our pre-game was pretty interesting. We managed to take the grounds of the Prime Collective and update it into an updated system with Scanner, printf, and more shortcuts. We nailed a couple types of common problems to commit to memory (which most directly caused an instant solution to at least one 9pter), and just about prepared as much as a team could without ever really working together. In contest, we had an early scare, along with a slew of incorrects on easy problems, but thank goodness for Frank, who managed to cover my butt. General brilliance and good preparation covered up terrible organization, and it went really well. Good job, boys, I’m proud.