Monthly Archives: March 2012

Episode 25: “Mean People Suck”

This brings back memories of Clark's single up the middle, Mitchell's bare-handed grab, and, er, Maldonado's slide

Stream it here…yes, press that little play button above!

Willie returns from his great adventures abroad at SXSW and Vegas to have a Ben-less hour long conversation with Chad about the Giants’ potential shakeups on the roster, given the injuries of Vogelsong and Freddie Sanchez, a potential middle infielder trade may open the door for Burris, Buster’s first play (GASP) at the plate this spring, Zito’s shelling, Cain’s dominance (have we signed him yet?), the possible shifting sands of the outfield, 49 year old Jamie Moyer beffudles the Giants, Hector “Babe” Sanchez, and John Bowker goes 0-4, 2Ks for the Giants against the Oakland A’s….oh right, the Yomiuri Giants, that is. We do a little hating on Dodger lawyers, dish out advice on how to act as a visiting fan, and praise the glory of the return of the late 80’s roadie.

Almost certain that Freddy ain’t ready
Buster’s first play at the plate
Zito’s poor start today; time to panic yet? 
Starting outfield might shift? Shierholtz continues to struggle, Blanco impresses
Former Giant John Bowker to play vs. A’s in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants
Dodgers lawyers that tried to block Stowe’s lawsuit
 
 
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Episode 24: “Garlic Fries and Chicken Tenders”

Chad and Ben jump into Spring Training talk looking at some recent results and some recent injury revelations and how they impact the players in camp.  They also discuss converted infielders like Sergio Santos as well as several cuts to minor leaguers and roster invitees before bringing on Christina Russo for an interview and some of her Spring Training experiences.  We wind up with a discussion of gender and female fans, hate on Bryce Harper, and close with a somber note on Fabrice Muamba.

Bumgarner goes 5 scoreless (SFG)
Sergio Santos throws crazy sliders (Olney, ESPN – Insider article)
Sanchez may not be ready for Opening Day (SFG)
Lincecum puts Kershaw in headlock for ESPN Mag (Yahoo)
On the Giants and Female Fans (Bay Area Sports Guy)
 
Ben also strongly recommends this article from Mac of @AerysSports: 100 Easy Ways to Lose A Man
 
Find and follow our guest Christina Russo at http://www.christina-russo.com/ or on Twitter at @swagstina.

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How Much Are Lincecum Bobbleheads Going For?

photo by: Lenny Ignelzi

Here at TortureCast, we’ve heard some early rumblings about Tim Lincecum’s ineffectiveness in spring training this year, and concerns that he’s lost his zip, or his slot, or that “je ne sais quoi.” I know most of you probably aren’t putting your Lincecum bobbleheads on eBay, but for those of you worried about his potential decline, let the numbers put you at ease.

This is his sixth spring training, and he has never had an ERA below 4.00. His overall career ERA in 89.2 innings of spring training is a whopping 5.02. From 2007 through this year, his ERA: 6.43, 4.50, 4.03, 6.94, 4.37, and 6.75 (of course it’s only 8 IP in 2012 so far). His last outing vs Kansas City was stellar, with 1 hit allowed in 4 IP. The numbers also don’t reveal what he’s doing from a mechanical standpoint. He’s only been using his fastball and changeup so far, and just trying to get his mechanics down. Tenured players like him, especially pitchers, as John Kruk said earlier this week, “are always working on stuff,” much to the chagrin of the position players. Many position players acknowledge that spring training is really for the pitchers and then of course, the players on the bubble.

Lincecum is not on the bobble, er, I mean, bubble, of course. He’s just going through the motions, and he’ll be fine.

Chad

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Episode 23: “A Cacophony of Miami Vice Day-Glo Colors”

Willie Dills is back this week, and he brings with him some questions about our Spring Giants – should we worry about Timmy?  How good is Bumgarner?  How do we see Huff doing this year?  How did Gregor Blanco get over there so fast, I swear he was right here?  What the hell is that thing in the Miami outfield?

And what about Tommy?

Willie, Chad, and Ben cover all this and more in a TortureCast record-setting forty-seven minutes!  Grab some pine, and settle in (but not for long), because we’re talking some Spring!

Tim Lincecum not worried about poor outings (SFG)
Giants have another ace in Bumgarner (Bruce Jenkins, SF Gate)
Wilson returns with ‘conviction’ (SFG)
Tommy Joseph’s two homers (Baggarly, CSNBA)
 
Michael of the Grubby Glove’s excellent “A Game For Bryan Stow”
 
The monstrosity that is the Marlins’ new home run sculpture (CBS Miami)
Strikeouts, base hits, double plays (Scott Stapp’s “Marlins Will Soar”)
 
Ben’s Bonus: Pitbull’s “Marlins Time to Represent”

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Episode 22: “The One-Game Postseason”

A little late posting due to technical difficulties, so it’ll be a double TortureCast weekend.  More torture for everyone!

This week (or rather last week) Chad and Ben get together and discuss the hurriedly revamped MLB Wild Card structure and its implications for teams that make it as the Wild Card.  They also discuss alcohol in the Red Sox clubhouse, Sergio Romo (because he’s Sergio Romo), the first week of Spring Training games, astronomy, and Pilates.

SFG article on Bryan Stow’s moving to new rehab facility

San Jose Inside article on Giants-A’s territorial rights battle

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MLB Expanded Playoffs: A “Historical” Perspective

I don’t consider myself a purist, I can handle change in this timeless game of baseball. At least they still wood bats (*cough* DH *cough*). I am a proponent of the current wild card system, even if it did come a year too late for the Giants.

For those of you that may have missed the news, MLB is on the precipice of approving the expansion of the playoffs this year. Each league would add one wild card team, meaning 10 out of the 30 teams would make the playoffs. Okay, that’s still the smallest percentage making the playoffs of any of the 4 major sports, doesn’t sound ground breaking yet. Here’s the catch: each pair of wild card teams in each league would have a one game playoff. One game? Seriously? After 162? If they are tied, fine, go at it. We’ve seen one game playoffs to determine division champs and wildcards before.

To look at the potential variability and inequity of a one game playoff, I looked at the past 17 seasons in which we have had the wild card playoff system (implemented in 1994, but that season was canceled). I added the hypothetical team that would have qualified for the second wild card in each league. I then determined the number of games back the second wild card team would have been that year:

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How the Playoffs Might Have Been – Hypothetical Wild Card Matchup History

2011 Rays v Red Sox(1 GB), Cards* v Braves (1GB)
2010 Yankees v Boston (6 GB), Braves v Padres (1GB)
2009 Red Sox v Rangers (8 GB), Rockies v Giants (4 GB)
2008 Red Sox v Yankees (6 GB), Brewers v Mets (1 GB)
2007 Yankees v Tigers/Mariners (6 GB), Rockies v Padres (tied)
2006 Tigers v Angels (6 GB), Dodgers v Phillies (3 GB)
2005 Red Sox v Indians (2 GB), Astros v Phillies (1 GB)
2004 Red Sox* v A’s (7 GB), Astros v Giants (1 GB)
2003 Red Sox v Mariners (2 GB), Marlins* v Astros (4 GB)
2002 Angels* v Red Sox/Mariners (6 GB), Giants v Dodgers (3 GB)
2001 A’s v Twins (17 GB!!), Cards v Giants (3 GB)
2000 Mariners v Indians (1 GB), Mets v Dodgers (8 GB)
1999 Red Sox v A’s (7 GB), Mets v Reds (1 GB)
1998 Red Sox v Angels (7 GB), Cubs v Giants (tied – actual one game playoff)
1997 Yankees v Angels (12 GB), Marlins* v Mets/Dodgers (2 GB)
1996 Orioles v Red Sox/White Sox/Mariners (3 GB), Dodgers v Expos (2 GB)
1995 Yankees v Angels (1 GB), Rockies v Astros (1 GB) shortened season!

“higher” wild card seed listed first

* denotes WS Champ

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Some very interesting things come out in the wash, but frankly, that’s some dirty water coming out, tinged with the joyous tears of Bud Selig at the thought of raking in a few extra bucks for additional playoff stretch drives and the 2 additional do-or-die games. Although the majority of the additional wild card teams were within 3 games of the “first” wild card team (3.9 games back average over both leagues), there are extreme examples of a vast chasm between the two. Let’s start with 2001. The Seattle Mariners tore up the league that year with an MLB -best 116 wins, the most since the 162 game schedule expansion and the best winning percentage by any team since 1954. The A’s fell 14 games short of that mark with a still impressive 102 wins and filled in as the wild card. If this new system was in place then, the A’s would have hosted the Twins in a one game playoff. The Twins had 85 wins…17 GAMES behind the A’s! Do you think the average baseball fan would have bought a Twins victory in that hypothetical situation as dogma that the Twins deserved to go over the A’s after 162? Of course not. This system enables this possibility, and it will happen at some point. This example is the fodder against those who claim they like this system, and if you want to avoid a one game playoff, just “win your division” and stop whining. Clearly division series can match up teams with large gaps in their regular season records, but at least they have 5 games to settle it, not one.

There are more examples of historically large record differences since 1995. The Yanks would have played the Angels in 1997 (12 game difference), 8 games would have separated the Mets and Dodgers in 2000 and the Red Sox and Rangers in 2009. A 7 game differential would have occurred 3 times, 6 games 5 times.

The funny thing is, as a Giants fan, the team would have historically benefited from this new system. Yes, their 2002 NL Championship may have never have happened after facing the Dodgers in a one game playoff, but the Giants would have gained a one game playoff 3 additional times since 2001 (‘01 v Cards, ‘04 v Astros, ‘09 v Rockies; They did play an actual one game playoff for the wildcard vs the Cubs in 1998 after finishing in a tie…I needed quite a few beers after Gaetti’s HR). On paper I would have taken that deal.

Five World Champs have been wild cards, including the 2004 Red Sox. Could you imagine if the Curse was never nixed if they had lost to the A’s in a one game playoff that year (even though they were 7 games better)? The Cardinals may have never won last year, perhaps the Angels in 2002 (actually, that’s fine by me), the Marlins in ‘03 (thanks Pudge) and ‘97.

I’m also not sure why Selig and Co. are pushing to get this in this year, when the end of the regular season and playoff schedules are set, and the leagues are still unbalanced. Why not just wait until 2013 when the Astros move to the AL West and the schedule can accommodate the extra playoff game? I am unequivocally against this new system. Rather, I’m for the extension of the division series to 7 games instead, much like the NBA converted to a while back.

Then again, maybe the Giants will be that lucky second wild card this year?

– Chad

 

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