If you’re a baseball fan and (1) have a spare $130, and (2) are either single or have a relationship that will bear your watching 40 hours of baseball a week, there’s no better investment than MLB Network. But if you’re going to channel-surf through 15 games a night, you better have a plan. You could just go to any game that’s late and close, or you could zero in on trying to see the most exciting players. In case that appeals to you, here are the most exciting players to watch at each position.
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
I almost didn’t pick Posey because I really don’t want to validate a fan base that’s quickly ascending to a level of Conspicuous Internet Smugness that we’d normally expect from Phillies and Red Sox fans. There’s been a lot of talk about Moneyball being a crock because all Billy Beane did was luck into three stud starting pitchers. Brian Sabean did pretty much the same thing, except while Beane made a bunch of nifty little moves to fill out a winning team, Sabean complemented Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Mad Bum with a team assembled through a crusade of aggressive silliness (getting fleeced for Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence, overpaying Pence, overpaying Aaron Rowand, overpaying Aubrey Huff, and so on) that you’d expect from a post–Cold War Eastern Bloc government struggling to get a feel for capitalism.
The baseball analytics revolution has helped us answer many questions that might have seemed unknowable before. We can now measure not only a pitcher's velocity but also the exact horizontal and vertical break on his pitches, the precise coordinates of his arm slot, and dozens of other variables. We can calculate the worth of catchers who excel at framing pitches. We can even take the sum of a player's contributions and find a reasonable estimate of his overall value.
Lovely pursuits, all. But mere trivialities next to the most pressing baseball question the world has ever had to face: If Mr. Burns had to re-staff the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team with a lineup full of present-day players, who should he choose?
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Today, we'll be auditioning an assortment of new characters who have contacted us about being part of About Last Night. If any of them have tremendous popular appeal, they may become a regular part of the ALN universe.
Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer, Zach Britton pitched seven scoreless innings, and the Orioles grabbed a share of first place in September for the first time since 1997 after a 12-0 win over the Blue Jays. Character: Internet cynic who uses the phrase "you know" to devastating effect. Joke: Um good work? I mean, yeah, sure, let's all jump on the Orioles bandwagon and pretend their terrible owner hasn't dragged their terrible fan base through, you know, 15 years of miserable management and losing baseball. The truth is, this is what they were supposed to be doing the whole time. So, you know, sorry if I don't wear orange and dance in the streets. Maybe this is a novel concept, but I'm not going to break out the party hats just because a team started to, you know, do their job. You know.
1. Mario Balotelli: Role Model
Rankonia Founding Father Chris Ryan is with you, Mario Balotelli, which means you get this week’s top spot.
"This week, Manchester City and Italian striker Mario Balotelli made headlines by declaring, ‘I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.’
Watching that clip, it's hard not to think about the scene from The Natural in which Roy Hobbs's home run smashes the lights at the New York Knights' Stadium to win the pennant in a one-game playoff against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But while it's tempting to compare the two, it's important to remember that Hobbs is a hero. Here are 11 reasons why Stanton is nothing like him, and never will be.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 25 and 10 boards as the Thunder eliminated the Lakers and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 106-90 win. As he walked out of the building, Pau Gasol felt something heavy in his coat pocket. He reached in and found the hilt of a knife with a note wrapped around it. "Amigo," it said. "Mine has a blade. See you tonight. -K." He's probably just letting off steam, thought Gasol, who found himself sprinting.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The Los Angeles Clippers stunned the Memphis Grizzlies at home, winning Game 7 82-72 for the franchise's third playoff-series victory in 41 years. After the game, Chris Paul surveyed the catatonic Memphis crowd. "Are they actually stunned?" he asked. "Or do they just always look that way?"