What Happens When Baseball Season Is Over And The Giants Had A Bye Week

I make new and exciting soups. All by myself (Editor’s note: not true).

I apologize for the recent lack of posts. Two things have caused this. The first is obvious, which is the end of baseball season. This has created a huge void in my life. When I’m not working, I can be found shaking in the corner of a subway car (usually the 2 or 3 train), rambling on about OBP, VORP, and WXRL while other passengers pretend not to see or hear me. I’m kidding, of course, but it is harder to find material at this time of year. If I don’t consider myself well-informed about a subject, I struggle to work up the courage to write about it. I don’t always consider myself well-informed about football or basketball, which results in droughts like this.

The second cause is my job. I teach sixth graders in Brooklyn that are in dire, dire need of literacy help. They are wonderful and hilarious kids (I really should start a competitor to Overheard In New York called “Overheard In Kevin’s Classroom”), engaging and inspiring on their good days but infuriating on their bad ones. Unfortunately, this week has seen more of the latter in my classroom. I inevitably take such days to heart, assuming that they happen because I am some combination of a bad teacher, an unsympathetic person, and an abysmal lesson-planner. These days throw me into a frenzy that lasts until the next morning, when I circle the wagons and try to do better. If the next day goes poorly, well, it’s hard for me to do anything but worry and work until another period of prolonged success occurs. I had four straight of those bad days this week, and most other aspects of my life were left unattended.

Here are a few thoughts I’d like to share:

  • As a noted crank and emerging ageist, I was deeply skeptical of the BBWAA‘s ability to correct pick the AL and NL Cy Young Award winners. It turns out that my skepticism was unfounded, as they chose the Kansas City Royals’ Zack Greinke and the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum as the award’s recipients. The voters resisted the urge to focus on their good-but-not-great wins totals, instead focusing on the more meaningful metrics (which are literally any other pitching statistic). Seemingly forever ago, I advocated for Greinke and Lincecum’s selection, assuming that I would eventually be disappointed. I wasn’t. Well done, voters.
  • There has been a good-sized brouhaha about two voters omitting the St. Louis Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter from their Cy Young ballots altogether. The voters – ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll – happen to use advanced (or just intelligent?) statistical analysis in evaluating players and teams, which is still fairly uncommon amongst the BBWAA. They are, in short, the nerds, stat geeks, and VORPies that are often derided by the mainstream media. This tidbit has only fanned the flames, creating a minor uproar about their qualifications, objectivity, and whether or not they actually watch baseball games. It’s been sort of fascinating to watch, particularly because I don’t remember this sort of mainstream curiosity about the process when the BBWAA has produced a genuinely outrageous result in the past. Law, in particular, seems to be facing the heaviest criticism, also because he gave the Atlanta Braves’ Javier Vazquez his second-place vote. Since I happen to agree with him, he has my full support. Also, because he linked to me one time and he’s a fantastic analyst.
  • ESPN’s Mark Jackson just praised the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony for “his veteran move against young Al Thornton” on the Los Angeles Clippers. Thornton is actually six months older than Anthony, turning 26 in December. Jackson’s point is valid – Anthony has four years of NBA experience on Thornton, which almost certainly affords him greater wisdom and understanding of the game. But come on. Thornton’s age when he declared for the 2007 Draft was a big reason he wasn’t drafted in the top ten. Jackson must know these things.

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