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Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

Figure Skating Is Not a Sport

In Sports Philosophy on February 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

With the 2014 Winter Olympics in full swing in Sochi, CDH has caught Olympic fever. Bobsleigh, ‘boarding, bathrooms — we can’t get enough of it. But this week, we turn to the Winter Games’ dirty secret. What is a “sport?”

Figure skating is the uncontested king of competitions at the Winter Olympics. That’s especially true at the 2014 Games. Host country Russia’s reputation as a figure skating powerhouse is well known, and a crop of young Americans, led by fan favorite Gracie Gold have reaffirmed the event’s prominence at the Games. Emphasis on event, because, like it or not, figure skating is not a sport.

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This is not an attack on figure skating. No one is saying that figure skating is easy or pedestrian. It’s incredibly difficult, takes years of training, and, as Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko can attest, it can be incredibly dangerous. It really is an art form, combining the most complicated elements of athleticism, grace, movement and dance. But it’s not a sport. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Time, Five Minutes

In Baseball, Basketball, Football on February 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Crim Del Harris’s weekend update of the week’s top sports stories. 

Jeff Goldblum has a great line in the 1984 film The Big Chill that all bloggers should take to heart. Talking about his dead-end job at People, Goldblum’s “Michael” discusses the magazine’s one editorial rule: “You can’t write anything longer than the average person can read during the average crap.” It’s with that sentiment in mind that CDH debuts an irregularly recurring feature — Reading Time, Five Minutes. Borrowed from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz, RTFM will give you a run down of the big stories in sports, with some witty comments and a funny Vine, or something. We haven’t quite figured it out yet. Anyway, let’s begin!

Earlier this week Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced the league’s actions to protect pitchers from line drives. Beginning in spring training later this month, pitchers will have the option of wearing a cap with extra padding around the cranium to protect against head trauma and brain injury. While the league’s effort to protect players is admirable, these caps look…pretty terrible. [Cue Great Gazoo joke.] Read the rest of this entry »

Jhonny Peralta

In Baseball on January 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Baseball’s Hot Stove League is burning up, but the St. Louis Cardinals are sitting on the sidelines with their biggest signings already made. What can Cardinals fans expect out of new shortstop Jhonny Peralta?

It’s the middle of January, which means we’re less barely one month away from Major League Baseball spring training. In this winter of polar vortexes (vortices? Math was never my strong suit), the sun and warmth of the Grapefruit League is particularly tantalizing, but until pitchers and catchers report, fans will have to settle for the action of baseball’s annual hot stove league. With roster spots to fill and money to spend, general managers are draining their iPhone batteries negotiating trades, contracts and mocking the new Chicago Cubs mascot.

It took less than an hour for those rapscallions at Deadspin to take advantage of Clark's pantslessness.

Deadspin took advantage of Clark’s pantslessness in less than an hour.

Read the rest of this entry »

Freese Frame

In Baseball on November 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm

CDH’s Ian Brickey is a dyed-in-the-wool Cardinals fan. Read how he thinks the Nov. 22 trade of third basemen David Freese helps the team, but hurts from a fan perspective.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the St. Louis Cardinals hot stove league heated up. On Nov. 22, the Cardinals traded third baseman David Freese and relief pitcher Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk. On its face, the trade appears to benefit both teams. With Bourjos, St. Louis gets improved outfield defense over a regressing Jon Jay, and Matt Carpenter’s shift to the hot corner from second base improves the team’s infield defense. Meanwhile, the Angels get a veteran third baseman with power and an experienced reliever with closer capability.

The trade came at a surprise to no one, least of all Freese. “I definitely would look myself in the mirror and say, ‘Where am I going to be in March?’” Freese said to ESPN. “I was ready to go anywhere.” Freese knew, the teams knew, and all parties — even Freese, the St. Louis native — appear to be better off for the deal. So why does the deal leave me with a bad taste in my mouth? Read the rest of this entry »

World Series Extravaganza 2013

In Baseball on October 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

The St. Louis Cardinals will take on the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 World Series beginning tonight. For the next week, Cardinals fans and CDH writers (in that order) Ian Brickey and Becky Koenig will discuss their membership in Cardinal Nation, make game picks and exhibit the general classiness that defines the Cardinal Way. Today, the preview.

Ian Brickey: Becky, I’m a Cardinals fan, and I know, deep down, you are too. But, since I was initiated at birth, and you’re still learning the ropes, I figured I would give you a primer on Cardinalia. Despite all the trolling from the national media, there really is something that makes the team and its fans special. Does some of that come from the superior moral sense, down-to-earth mentality and general Norman Rockwell-esque character of Midwesterners? I don’t know. But there definitely is an element of tradition. I don’t say that as a homer — although, homer I am — it’s a certifiable fact. Let’s just look at a few examples. Read the rest of this entry »

MVP: Most Valuable Plays

In Baseball on October 23, 2013 at 12:29 am

Are the most important plays in a baseball game the ones we see on the highlight reel? The answer might surprise you. Today, CDH’s Ian Brickey looks at Win Expectancy and the top five plays from the 2013 NLCS and ALCS.

When we think of important baseball plays, we usually think of the highlight reel. The important plays are the ones that dazzle us, that sing the “momentum” of the game the other way, that beg to be accompanied by the theme from The Natural. Both of the 2013 League Championship Series had their share of Roy Hobbes-ian moments. David Ortiz demonstrated again why he’s one of the most clutch hitters in baseball history with his grand slam in Game 1 of the ALCS, while St. Louis’s Carlos Beltran single-handedly won Game 1 of the NLCS with his bat and his glove. Those plays were important, no doubt. But the highlight reel plays aren’t always the most significant events in the game. In fact, a seemingly unremarkable strikeout or base hit can actually have more of an influence over the outcome of a game than towering home run or diving catch in the outfield. This was fully on display in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

On Catcher Defense

In Baseball on October 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Baseball statistics have become more sophisticated in the last decade. So why is it still so hard to measure defense?

The last decade has been a veritable golden age for statistical analysis in baseball. In the decade since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, front offices and fans have shed the shackles of the box score and embraced sabermetric-style statistical analysis. Metrics like VORP, PECOTA and WAR have revolutionized how we value position players, while statistics like FIP and ERA+ evaluate pitchers without the variables of defense and ballparks. Even the previously nebulous subject of defense has been refined with statistics like UZR and the Dewan Plus/Minus system, revealing that good defense can be just as valuable as offense. But while these and other statistics have changed the way we analyze baseball, one area continues to baffle sabermetricians — the defensive value of catchers. Read the rest of this entry »

Wacha Flocka Flamethrower

In Baseball on October 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

The St. Louis Cardinals have been powered by rookies for most of the season. But in their biggest game of the season, one rookie kept his team alive — and flirted with history.

As I write this, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are preparing to square off in Game 5 of the 2013 National League Division Series. The winning team will go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The losing team gets to watch the NLCS on television.

The Cardinals’ season could end tonight, and if it does, it will have ended at the hands of a talented young team that deserves to win. The thing is, it just as easily could have ended Monday afternoon. And the fact that their season will go on for at least one more game is due to the performance of Michael Wacha. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Carpenter

In Baseball on August 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

By definition, Plan B is a worse option than Plan A. Plan B takes longer or is more expensive or won’t work as well as Plan A. During spring training 2013, Matt Carpenter was definitely a Plan B kind of player. So it wasn’t a good sign when the St. Louis Cardinals plugged him in at third base to replace the oft-injured David Freese for Opening Day. Carpenter might have been Plan B at third base, but he’s quickly turned himself into the Cardinals’ Plan A at second.

For the last few seasons, if a Cardinal named Carpenter appeared on any National League leaderboards, it was Chris, and they were the pitching categories. But if you look at the 2013 top 10 lists, you’ll see Carp the Younger appears quite a few times. His 5.3 WAR ranks sixth among N.L. position players — ahead of MVP candidate/teammate Yadier Molina — and ninth among all NL players. In fact, his 5.1 offensive WAR is ranked third in the NL, behind only Andrew McCutchen and David Wright. Carpenter’s .313 batting average is sixth best in the league. He ranks 10th in both on-base percentage and OPS. And he currently leads the league in hits, doubles and runs scored. Read the rest of this entry »

Francisco Liriano

In Baseball on August 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm

When people look for healing waters, they usually go to Lourdes. It’s rustic, picturesque and mysterious. It’s everything that Pittsburgh is not. But every fifth day in 2013, the waters of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers have shown their own healing powers when Francisco Liriano climbs the mound at PNC Park.

With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, Liriano has quietly established (or re-established, but we’ll get to that later) himself as one of the best starters in the National League. His 14 wins are tied for first among NL pitchers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL in complete games. And if an early-season stint on the disabled list hadn’t limited his innings, both his 2.53 ERA and 141 ERA+ would be fifth best in the league.

It’s always remarkable when a pitcher metamorphoses from mediocrity to dominance, especially when it’s a rapid transformation. In Liriano’s case, the contrast between his decidedly average 2012 and his outstanding 2013 emphasizes that change — that it wasn’t always like this. But the mid-career renaissance of a 29-year-old veteran pitcher is only one angle of the story. Read the rest of this entry »

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