HDWEB: Carl Crawford is the Michael Jordan of baseball

In this weekend's edition of HOW DARE WE ENJOY BASEBALL, we enjoy Carl Crawford's beautiful slide technique, we remember what might have been, we discuss wild future stadium ideas, and we enjoy the hell out of some baseball. YES!

Good afternoon HDWEB'ers, it's February 28th and Ervin Santana still doesn't have a job. Here's everything you need to know.

If you have ideas or suggestions, send 'em my way at @justinbopp.

Baseball is the fucking best:

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**boop**

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"We obviously don't want to put something in place that's going to get more guys hurt. But we don't want to go so far down the road that you've got a runner standing and staring at the catcher, and the catcher's standing there looking at his feet, and it changes everything. So we want to be very careful here about what we do."

This is why we can't have nice things, folks. Because the universe will implode if the runner can't plow over the catcher, or any runner can't plow over any fielder. I mean, imagine what really WOULD happen if a player just stood there! ANARCHY!

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Guttag developed the model with Ganeshapillai Gartheeban, one of his PhD students in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Their paper, "A Data-driven Method for In-game Decision Making in MLB," is one of eight finalists in the research paper competition at this year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC), being held today and tomorrow at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

To conduct the study, Guttag and Gartheeban took data from the 2006 through 2010 major-league baseball seasons. They used the first 80 percent of the games in those seasons to build a model of how pitchers fare over the course of a game, concentrating on Pitcher's Total Bases (PTB)—an aggregate measure of hits and unintentional walks allowed—as the leading indicator of future performance. PTB, they note, is a more granular measure of pitcher performance than runs allowed.

Instant reaction: It's a good idea and I hope it works. I question whether something as simple as total bases (if I understand this correctly) would really work. All of this would exist in a vacuum where it doesn't matter who's in the bullpen or the number of runs your offense scored, too. This is one I'll be watching.

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  1. Rainforest stadium, housed and completely encased within a somewhat manicured South American jungle (sponsored by Amazon, of course).

  2. Coral reef stadium, which would sit completely underwater and would be like watching baseball and Finding Nemo at the same time. Could double for cricket or splendyball or whatever they play in Australia.

  3. Arabian Nights stadium, yes Finding Nemo made me think of Aladdin, big deal. The key here would be creating a magical place without relying on unfortunate racial stereotypes. Maybe just make this one the Cave of Wonders [WHO DISTURBS MY SLUMBER] ballpark.
  4. Floating Castle stadium, ok now we're on a roll. I'm thinking of a giant steampunk Final Fantasy-ish airship and that would be just so bad ass. Everyone gets a sword and a flintlock gun. And goggles!
  5. Glacier Island stadium, which is just a big chunk of floating ice converted into a temporary ballpark. We'll tow it to Hawaii for some nice contrast.

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  • George Brett helped Royals hitters by channeling Caddyshack - ESPN -- I made up that headline, but this is too awesome to ignore:

  • One of Brett's favorite motivational tactics was to approach each player with a little exercise in self-awareness. "I would ask Mike Moustakas, 'What's your name?'" Brett said. "He would say Mike Moustakas. And I would say, 'Then be Mike Moustakas. You're not Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire.'

    Then I'd do the same thing with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler and the other guys. In the end, I think they learned a little bit last year that they can only do what they're capable of doing.

    Once you try to do more than that, you're not going to succeed."
  • Garth Brooks is No More and Other Royal Rumblings - Royals Review -- If you're a KC local then you know the 7th-inning tradition at the K is to get up and sing along to Garth belting Friends in Low Places. Now, I don't know what they'll replace it with, but considering the club went all out with its first decent yearly slogan in recent memory ("Be Royal"), I could make a pretty good guess. Some people would hate it, but not me. Just fix up the lyrics to say "We'll always be Royals" and then flash some sappy photos of fans and George Brett and suddenly we're as annoying as Red Sox fans. Yes!

  • Pedro Martinez is the best, with photographic evidence - Over the Monster -- New photographic evidence, I mean. There are lots of photos of Pedro being awesome.

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Have suggestions or want to be featured in HDWEB? Send links to Justin at @justinbopp and hashtag #HDWEB.

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