Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

First time, long time. And we are off...............

1. What I have been up to?
February 21-Last 10 Things
February 28th- Weekend in Statesboro
March 5th- Spring Training
March 12- Event in Chattanooga and family time in Rome, Ga
March 19- NCAA Tournament in Charlotte
March 26- Spring Training
April 2- In DC for Braves/Nats
April 9- Braves Opening Weekend and meeting half of Screven County in Athens
April 16- Braves Weekend versus Mets and Westphal wedding
April 23-High School Baseball and stock the bar party for TMAC in Augusta
April 30- Daley Wedding in Sylvania/Statesboro
May 7th-Derby Party/Shennanigans for TMAC
May 14th- Braves home games
May 17th-New 10 Things
May 21- Kenny Chesney and cousins high school graduation in Rome
May 28- TMAC Nuptials and Braves home weekend
June 11- Trip to LA
June 18-Braves home games
June 25- Wedding in Athens
July 2-Braves home games
July 9-No Idea?
July 16-Braves home games
July 23-No Idea? Maybe a road trip to the Nati.
July 30-Braves Home Games

2. Georgia Thoughts

A couple quick thoughts and we will begin first with the UGA Hoops team. I attended my first NCAA tournament this spring and it was one of the highlights of my spring. Despite the losses to Thompkins, Leslie, Price and Barnes I still feel the future is bright for UGA Basketball. The upcoming recruting period is huge for the future success of the program as the state is loaded and it seems more of the top recruits are atleast considering UGA, something they have never done in the past. Now we need to get two or three of these players to enroll in Athens. UGA also steps it up scheduling wise next season as the Dawgs make trips to USC, Xavier and Colorado. Our for sure home games include Mercer, Georgia Tech and a Big East team as part of the SEC/Big East challenge. We are also part of the CBE Preseason Basketball tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving in Kansas City. Future opponents include Missouri, Notre Dame and Cal.

As far as the football team I am loving what I am reading and hearing. Of course that is usually the case when reading about UGA football teams but something about this season seems different. I am not saying we will win the SEC but I like our chances as much as any other team in the SEC East. I also need to discuss the transfer of Washaun Ealey. Judging by the comments of Mr. Ealey one can not wonder that he was part of the problem not the solution. I also hope that entitled attitude displayed by Ealey is not one that still festers in the UGA lockeroom because this attitude has given us a 8-5 record in 2009 and a 6-7 record in 2010. We are better than this.

3. MLB Thoughts
a. On Sunday the Braves beat Philly ace Roy Halladay in what was the 2nd straight CG loss for the Phillies ace. Halladay now has 6 CG losses since start of 2009, no one else has more than 3.
b. At one point during the game on Sunday the Braves had 6 hits, all singles and three of the six were broken bat hits. Reading the box score this morning they looked like line drives.
c. One of the surprises of the 2011 season is the struggles of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. What makes these numbers even crazier is that After a 9-for-13 series against the New York Yankees in early April, he was hitting .400.
d. Here are some reasons for the struggles, Pedroia is swinging and missing at a much higher rate this season, an issue that’s clearly connected to more strikeouts. In his first four full seasons in the majors, Pedroia had an 8.6 miss percentage on his swings, the seventh lowest in the majors over that span. This season, that has skyrocketed to 20.7 percent, second highest on the Red Sox.

e. Furthermore, his .258 BA with two strikes entering 2010 ranked fifth among active players. However, the spike in strikeouts has led to a .178 average with two strikes this season.
f. In addition, Pedroia is hitting just .239 on fastballs and cutters, down from .320 in 2010 and .310 in 2009. However, the biggest discrepancy can be found on inside pitches. Before his injury last season, Pedroia was hitting .359 on at-bats ending on an inside pitch.
g. In 2011, that has plummeted to a .159 batting average. He already has more strikeouts on inside pitches (10) than he had in all of 2010 (7). So how about inside fastballs? The difference there is massive. In 2010, Pedroia hit .478 (22-for-46) on at-bats ending on an inside fastball. This season, he is just 6-for-31 (.194).
h.So far this season Major League Baseball has had 26 rainouts. All of last season MLB as a whole had 21 rainouts. This season the Braves have already had two rainouts while not having any games postponned in 2010.
i. On average April accounts for 37 percent of all rainouts each year (an average of 12), or more than double the amount of rainouts the league has seen for any other month during the season from 2002 to the present.
j. Over the last ten years the Red Sox and Mets have had the most rain outs. This is a list I hope the Braves never lead.
k. Year of the pitcher? There have been a record 73 shutouts in the majors thru May 10, 7 more than the next-best total, set in 2008.
l. Hitters throughout baseball are hitting .249/.319/.382. Even comparing that only to April performance over the last 17 years, the numbers are way, way down.
m. From 1994 through 2010, hitters in April batted .264 — so that’s down 15 points.Their on-base percentage was .345 — so that’s down 26 points. Their slugging percentage was .421 — so that’s down almost 40 points.
n. On Thursday, when the New York Yankees lost an 11-5 decision to the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, not a single New York batter struck out. It was the first time the Yankees had gone an entire game without striking out since July 8, 2009, when they defeated the Twins during their final trip to the Metrodome.
o. The last time the Yankees lost a game in which they didn’t strike out was a 7-1 defeat in Detroit nearly a decade ago -- on July 19, 2001. The last time they lost at home without striking out was June 17, 1994, in an 8-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
p.The lowest walk rate among batting qualifiers belongs to Oakland leadoff man Coco Crisp, who has drawn just two walks in 30 games -- an average of one walk per 62.0 plate appearances. As a group, leadoff hitters in the majors are drawing an average of one free pass for every 12.6 PAs, walking nearly five times as often as Crisp.
q. Among the 176 relievers who have appeared in at least 10 games in 2011, only two have yet to allow a first batter they’ve faced to reach base. San Diego’s Mike Adams has retired all 18 of his first batters, and the Angels’ Rich Thompson has set down 13 in 13 games.
r. First batters have gone 0-for-18 against another Padre, Chad Qualls, though he has given up a walk for a still-stingy .053 opponent OBP. Washington closer Drew Storen has the same opponent OBP, limiting first batters to one hit in 19 at-bats. 
s. With a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 18-17, marking the latest point in the season that they’ve been above .500 since they were 23-22 on May 29, 2004.
t. The Pirates, with 18 consecutive losing seasons heading into 2011, have been above .500 in the second half in only two of those 18 seasons -- the last time in 1999. In five of them, the Pirates never were above .500. In fact, they failed to surpass the .500 mark for nearly three full years, from May 2004 until April 2007.
u. I need to thank the great people at www.stats.com for the last 8 nuggets.

4. Joe Posnanski
Currently Mr. Posnanski has taken over the ledger as my favorite current writer. For a while Rick Riley held that post but he went to ESPN and his work has never been the same. Mr. Posnanski (who once wrote for the Augusta Chronicle) currently works for Sports Illustrated and is a twitter must follow. (more on that topic later) Here are some of my favorite Posnanski reads over the last year. A couple of these have nothing to do with sports. Joe looks at the difference between home and Home. A 16 game baseball season?. Joe looks at The Biggest Winner. Zero Intentional Walks. The last two posts are my favorite Posnanski stories that I have ever read. The first is titled Frenchy and Hope. The second read is titled Katie The Perfect and should be a must read for anyone that works in customer service, etc.

5. Twitter 
It's no secret that I absolutely love twitter and how it has changed how we get our information, how companies market their products and how people once unreachable now have communicate with regular joes (me and you) regularly. Here are some of the favorite people that I follow by category.

Sports Business/General Sports: Andy Gray,  Neil Best,  Richard Deitsch, Tim Layden, darren rovell, Richard Deitsch, Joe Posnanski, Bill Simmons

Baseball Peter Moylan, David Hale,  Jayson Stark,  Kevin Goldstein,  Jim Powell,  STATS LLC,  Joel Sherman,  David O'Brien,  Buster Olney, Jon Heyman

Football Andrew Brandt,  pat hanlon, Rich Eisen, Sam Farmer LA Times, Peter King

College Sports: Jay Bilas,  Gentry Estes, Mark Schlabach, Tony Barnhart,  Mark Fox,  Seth Emerson, Joe Schad

Humor Gary Carter RAW, Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, Conan O'Brien,  Drew Magary

Etc: Longreads,  Jamie Dupree, 

Etc, Etc: I know I left alot of friends of the list but I did not have a friend tab or everyone would have been on it. The only two friends I am going to add are and who are absolutely hillarious and must follows during Yankees (kingdj27) and Indians (Mhejduk) baseball games.

Next week I break down my favorite Podcasts. Who are some quality people that I should follow on twitter?

6. Halftime
In the past few weeks since their concert at Turner Field I have become a huge Avett Brothers fan. I had vaguely heard of them and now they are one of my favorites. Currently my favorite Avett Brothers tune is I And Love And You. I am also a huge fan of Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. This group from right outside Charlotte played the Grammy's with Mumford and Sons and also Bob Dylan. Here is that video. Am I the only one who thinks the lead singer of Mumford and Sons is actually Tim Tebow?

This week trivia question comes courtesy of @Buster_ESPN and co-worker Bob Askin. Their are four sets of Father/Son combos that each have hit 200 career homeruns. Who are they?

7. The 5 Best Baseball Stats Today
We all know about Batting Average, ERA, WHIP but what are some different stats that give us a better way of determing a player's value. I wish some of these stats were listed in the newspaper and on scoreboards inside the stadium like we currently see home runs, rbis, average and ERA.

1. BABIP-Batting Average Balls In Play-BABIP measures exactly what it says: a player’s batting average on balls that defenders can actually make a play on. Strikeouts and home runs are stripped out and subtracted from the player’s total number of at-bats, then batting average is calculated as usual. The point of all this is basically to find out how lucky a player is or isn’t. League average BABIPs are around .300, so a BABIP higher than that means the player’s success is generally luckier than average.

2. Win Share-Comes from the 2002 Bill James book that I might not be smart enough to read. It considers statistics for baseball and basketball players, in the context of their team and in a sabermetric way, and assigns a single number to each player for his contributions for the year. A win share represents one-third of a team win, by definition. If a team wins 80 games in a season, then its players will share 240 win shares. The formula for calculating win shares is complicated; it takes up pages 16–100 in the book. The general approach is to take the team's win shares (i.e., 3 times its number of wins), then divide them between offense and defense.

3. Ultimate Zone Ratings (UZR)-UZR is an advanced defensive metric that uses play-by-play data recorded by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to estimate each fielder’s defensive contribution in theoretical runs above or below an average fielder at his position in that player’s league and year. Thus, a SS with a UZR of zero is exactly average as compared to a SS in the same year and in the same league. If his UZR is plus, he is above average, and if it is minus, he is below average. If you want more info go to this Fan Graphs website for the breakdown of UZR. On a side note why do I not visit FanGraphs.com more often?

4. Run's Created- This is another baseball statistic invented by Bill James to estimate the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team. The Technical version of Run's Created formula reads like this:

 Thanks to the fine people at Baseball Reference here is the career leaderboard for Runs Created.

5. Wins above replacement player- Commonly known as WAR, this is a non-standardized sabermetric baseball statistic that is used to show how many more wins a player would give a team as opposed to a "replacement level", or minor league/bench player at that position. While WAR values are scaled equally for pitchers and hitters, the result is calculated differently for pitchers versus position players: position players are evaluated using statistics for fielding and hitting, while pitchers are evaluated using statistics related to the opposing batters' hits, walks and strikeouts.

Yes I am a stat geek. My apologies.

8. MLB Power 9

The Reason for Nine? Nine Innings. Nine position players.Ted Williams #. Babe Ruth Squared and Chipper Jones minus one. All records as of end of games Sunday night.

1. Cleveland- 24-13- Tied with the Braves for the best run differential +41 in all of baseball.
2. Tampa Bay- 23-17- How are they in first place again? This team has won the AL East 2 out of the last 3 years.
3. Philadelphia-25-14. Despite losing two of three the past two weekends to the Braves best overall body of work in the NL. Their schedule does get tougher the next few weeks.
4. Florida- 23-16. Their bullpen has been in my opinion one of the biggest surprises in baseball. Leo Nunez has not blown a save all season. This has to change.
5. Atlanta-23-19 Starting to play better baseball and if this team can get Uggla going, Lookout!
6. Detroit-22-18. Hottest team in base right now going 9-1 over their last 10.
7. Cincinnati- 23-17. Second hottest team in baseball right now going 8-2 over their last 10. Jay Bruce starting to heat up. Big sweep of the Cardinals at home.
8. San Francisco-22-17. Last week we heard of rumors of a Jose Reyes trade. If that happens, look out.
9. Anaheim Angels 22-19. Big series win over Texas is the only reason they are nine and the Rangers are not.

9. What Have I Read?

A couple decent reads over the past few months. The first is an excerpt from the new tell all book on ESPN titled Those Guys Have All The Fun. This excerpt takes a look at the brilliant Keith Olbermann and his lack of regard for authority and the role he had in building the network and the pay cut it took to be on SportsCenter. The NY Times gives us a breakdown on the 770 page book written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. These two also wrote the 2002 book on the crew of Saturday Night Live titled, Live From New York.

The second read comes from Time Magazine and asks the question Is The FBI Up to the Job 10 Years after 9/11? This article was published a few days before we killed Osama Bin Laden and is still very fascinating. An inside look at FBI Director Robert Mueller's efforts to remake the department after 9/11, and the internal battles that almost led him to quit. Mueller—who was sworn in just seven days after the World Trade Center attacks—threatened to resign twice while serving under President Bush.

The third read comes from the May 3rd New York Times two days after it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Titled, Behind The Hunt For Bin Laden the New York Times investigates the CIA and US Military search for Bin Laden, how we found him and how everything went down on the fateful Sunday. 

10. Non Football or Basketball Thoughts
a. I absolutely loved the season finale of How I Met Your Mother. I do not even get excited when I see at Woman that we the viewer are made to believe that it is Ted's future wife because I am tired of falling into that trap.
b. In the first episode of the season we see Ted at a wedding where he supposedly meets his wife. In the season finale we learn that it is Barney's wedding but I think the bride to be is Robin not Nora despite Nora's appearance in the finale.
c. I am glad Zoey is now gone as she lasted about four episodes to long but that is just my opinion.
d. Overall an above average season that was better than season 5 but not as good as seasons 1 and 2. I felt like the show was picking up steam before Marshall's Dad died and then it was hit and miss.
e. Looks like a decent movie summer and I think May gets us off to a strong start. From everything I read and hear Bridesmaids looks hilarious and it is more than just a chick flick. Here is the trailor. Some funny broads in that movie.
f. The movie I want to see more than any other this summer has to be Hangover 2. How does this not look funny?
g. The most entertaining drama on television that I watched this season had to be Hawaii 5-0 and the finale did not disappoint. Holy smokes that was a great episode and now we have about 6-7 story lines to start next season.
h. I do know they need to find Wo Fat and find him fast. Hard to believe I started watching this show weekly thanks to a Bill Simmons tweet and leaving the television turned to CBS after one of the NFL playoffs.
i. Not sure about this movie but I will give it a try because it has Will Ferrell.
j. Speaking of Will Ferrell I have not seen the past 5 or 6 Offices but I have them DVR'd.
k. Three years ago would anyone have known that using DVR the way I did in the previous sentence was a verb?
l. Still a couple Modern Family episodes behind but the funniest show on television in my opinion.
m. I do know the A-list crew of Smoak, Shep and Ben are 22 days away from LA. Good chance the City of Angels will never be the same after we visit.
n. For those that have ever been or currently reside in LA do you have any tips for the trip? Unfortunately no Dodger Stadium as the Bums that originally played in Brooklyn will be out of town. We will attend a game at the Big A in Anaheim. Maybe put our toes in the Pacific? I don't know if we will have enough time.
o. I do know I am ready for some Embassy Suites happy hour and breakfast.

Tweet Of The Week
From the very talented Justin Stangel. It truly is amazing how talented and funny the Stangel brothers are.

Quote of The Week
Comes from Florida Gator Ja'Juan Story who tells it like it is when asked about his favorite pregame ritual.

I doodoo and then listen to Katy Perry.

If you do not believe me click here for the interview.

Text of The Week
From the price conscience Good Doctor from Savannah
At the Savannah Sand Gnats game for thirsty thursday. Tickets are more expensive than the bravos. Justin Grimm on the bump for the hickory crawdads.

It should be noted the Savannah Sand Gnats have $.50 Natty Lights and $3 Captain and Cokes the hour before first pitch on Thursday nights.

Picture of The Week
This weeks picture of the week comes from the NY Post. Below you will see Friday's borderline inappropriate cover, followed by Saturday's borderline inappropriate cover. I miss reading this paper on a daily basis. Despite my multiple calls and emails they have no plans to add daily delivery in Atlanta.

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