Good morning friends, it's February 7th and I'm not ashamed to say I love baseball. That's exactly why I begged, pleaded with, and threatened Steven Goldman to give me a little space daily to express that insane infatuation with baseball that has us looking at GIFs of players hittin' dingers, digging up comics of dead baseball heroes, peering into baseball future and looking for the next great player, or wondering if there is some mystical truth yet to be uncovered if only we turn the numbers over one more time.
So with that I introduce HOW DARE WE ENJOY BASEBALL, my
humble awesome attempt to bring that love to you daily. Enjoy. And hey, if you have ideas or suggestions, send 'em my way at @justinbopp.
Spring training is here! Almost!
- In sad news, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner passed away at 91 years old. We uncovered and uploaded an entire 1950s comic which told the story of his life:
Not to be outdone (by himself), Grant found another delicious, historic baseball comic from the 1950s -- this one of Willie Mays. (h/t McCovey Chronicles)
Jason at Let's Go Tribe finds in the data what many of us already knew or suspected -- Today's top stars were almost entirely also top prospects. It might seem an obvious conclusion but the confirmation is comforting. Or damning, if you had the same hopes for Luke Hochevar that I did.
- The Rockies are retiring Todd Helton's #17. This is remarkable to me because he's the first now-retired player (maybe other than Junior) that I can recall enjoying his entire career mostly cognizant of baseball greatness. That, and the Rockies are now old enough to have a player's number retired. Which makes me feel old.
- Spare yourself five minutes today and read this classic story about a bat boy's first experience at Yankees Stadium on Opening Day. (h/t r/baseball)
I must have looked as lost as I felt. I felt a tap on my shoulder and was suddenly face to face with the man himself. He had his hand extended toward me.
''Hey, I'm Don Mattingly,'' he said. ''You going to be working with us this year?''
I hadn't thought about my new job in these terms: working with the Yankees, in common pursuit of a common goal.
''Uh, I know who you are, Mr. Mattingly,'' I said, stuttering. ''I'm Matt, the new batboy.''
''Nice to meet you, Matt,'' he said with a firm handshake. ''Listen,'' he told me, as if I could have done anything else. ''I've got a job for you. I just unpacked my bats from spring training. I don't know if it was the humidity in Florida or the altitude of the flight or what, but they're all coming up short. I need you to get me a bat stretcher.''
I nodded, trying to project competence. Get a bat stretcher.
- Is the qualifying offer system fair? My gut reaction says that if teams can't decide whether a low first-round draft pick is worth a gamble on Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana and the teams they were previously on offered them each $14.1M ... it's probably working, if not fair. (h/t Beyond the Box Score)
Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs/Hardball Times/Royals Review is doing some kick-ass research regarding fly balls. "If a ball is in the air 2.5 to 4.0 seconds, it is fielded for an out nearly 50 percent of the time." Neat. (h/t The Hardball Times)
Remember that sublime Royals billboard of Alex Gordon sliding into second, where some marketing genius used creative vinyl-ripping techniques to show the action? Tyler Drenon has uncovered why the club never thought of trying it with Chris Getz:
The best and worst home run pitches of 2013 - Beyond the Box Score looks at which pitcher and pitch type pairings are "the most ripe for a homer and least likely to leave the yard." I'm sure John Danks' appearance here will shock everyone.
Nice analysis of Busch Stadium III here from Viva El Birdos -- Ben shows that despite supposed design intentions for the park to remain pitcher/hitter neutral, Busch III now clearly favors pitchers. Not pictured: number of Pujols plate appearances in St. Louis over time.
Holy crap, baseball is almost here!
Have suggestions or want to be featured in HDWEB? Send links to Justin at @justinbopp.