Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Me and My Shadow
2007-02-02 05:29
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Every so often on my way to work on the IRT, I'm on the train with a real cut-up of a conductor. He's a cheery guy who likes to make many announcements. "Good morning New York, we're doing Fridays today, not Mondays, not Thursdays, this is Friday." Some people smile, others roll their eyes. The man is nothing if not persistent. Today, he offered this gem. "Today is February second, Manhattan. Since we don't have any ground hogs in New York this is what we are going to do: If you see two rats, we're in for a long winter, if you see one rat, then we're going to have an early spring." That got some laughs in my car. Then I overheard a high school kid tell his friend, "I saw ten rats the other day." Watch the closing doors.

2007-02-02 05:49:34
1.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i have two favorite conductors here. one is a woman who sings the name of the next stop. the other tells all the "beautiful people" on his train to keep smiling and constantly reminds people to look out for each other.

good stuff.

2007-02-02 05:58:29
2.   Sliced Bread
Yo, Alex, your conductor just inspired Samuel L. Jackson's next paycheck:
"Rats On A Train."

Make sure he gets his cut.

By the way, great stuff from Marchman today re: our next Whitey Ford... or Rick Ankiel if you prefer subdued expectations.

2007-02-02 06:01:43
3.   Jim Dean
Better rats than the blinking lights of a cartoon character.

"Oh my god - the terrorists are coming! Shut the bridges and the roads!"

See, that's why I'm petrified of moving to Boston. Combine self-importance of epic proportions with clinical paranoia and stir liberally.

Then blame others for your own stupidity.

Actually, I wish cities would have packs of feral housecats to hunt said rats. Breed them genetically and build cat houses for them to raise families. Cats are more fun to watch than the pestilence of rats.

2007-02-02 06:10:20
4.   Shaun P
3 Are you going to be living in Boston proper, or somewhat outside? The further away from the city you are, the less you have to worry about that kind of stuff. More or less.
2007-02-02 06:15:13
5.   Jim Dean
4 It's undecided. I'd prefer the woods of southern NH and commute in. Hopefully it works out that way. Amtrak does have a good cheap line that makes it easy.
2007-02-02 06:17:53
6.   Sliced Bread
3 The pestilence of rats is preferable to the carpet pissin' pestilence of Red Sox fans.
2007-02-02 06:29:11
7.   mehmattski
Apologies for thread-jacking in order to self-promote, but I missed dianagrmr's call for me to point y'all towards my blog, The Immaculate Inning. The blog is named for the rare feat of striking out three batters on nine strikes in one inning, accomplished just 39 times in the history of baseball. Anyway here ya go:

Since it's college basketball season most of the posts are about Duke, but I think you'd all be interested in a study my friends and I are conducting on "offensive consistency." To do this, we invented a stat called "Did Your Job Stat." That is, how often do the Yankees (or another team) score 5 runs (the average) and therefore "get the job done" and put the team in a position to win. We analyzed it from the offesne and from the pitching perspective. Check it out, especially you statheads. I'll be doing much more baseball content as April approaches, I promise.

2007-02-02 06:33:51
8.   Jim Dean
6 Hmmm - that might be a toss-up. The red ones are vermin no doubt, and also spread disease, but at least you can share a beer with them before all hell breaks loose.

7 Anyone wanna bet Phil Huge makes it an even 40 this year?

2007-02-02 06:38:19
9.   mehmattski
8 Well, looking at the list of players who have done it:
There are certainly some fancy names up there like Kofax and Guidry and Gibson and Martinez. But the last player to do it was... Rick Helling.

But what am I saying. Phil Hughes is going to strike out 27 batters on 81 pitches, for the first ever Immaculate Game. In a blizzard. With his left arm on fire. While fire ants chew through his socks.

2007-02-02 06:40:23
10.   Sliced Bread
8 True about the beer thing, and for the record, some of my favorite rats are Red Sox fans.
2007-02-02 06:45:24
11.   Sliced Bread
9 "Phil Hughes is going to strike out 27 batters on 81 pitches, for the first ever Immaculate Game. In a blizzard. With his left arm on fire. While fire ants chew through his socks."

Of course if you're listening to this game on the New York Yankees Radio Network all you will know is that 53,000 people turned out on a Tuesday night ("Un-be-lee-vuh-bull") and "Thuuuh Yankees win. Thhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuhhh Yankees WIN!"

2007-02-02 06:57:57
12.   Yankee Fan In Boston
3 that whole thing was ridiculous. our fearless leader, mayor "mumbles" menino, took the opportunity to say that the response proved that the city was prepared for an attack.


the things had been in place for 2-3 weeks, the bomb squad & co. found a whopping 10 out of 38 "packages", and were quoted as saying that the circuitry was "consistent with sophisticated explosive devices."

so sad it is laughable.

don't let things like this keep you away though. overall the city's ineptitude is entertaining.

2007-02-02 06:59:29
13.   OldYanksFan
"Second, any concerns about the state of the Yankees' rotation should be balanced against the near certainty that Hughes will make a substantial impact this season, and the distinct possibility that he is, as of right now, the team's best starter."

I'm not sure if this guy reads Cashman very well, but here's my humble opinion.
1) I believe Cash doen NOT want Hughes in the Bigs this year, except for a little Sept. look-see. If he's up earlier, if will be because the Yanks NEED him to make the PS.
2)"... as of right now, the team's best starter."
Ouch. Expectations anyone? I would be happy if he pitched like a #3 in his first 20 games.

Not to rain on any parades... or to give the bus a flat tire but...
I believe one (or both?) of Woods and Pryor were can't miss pitchers? The #1 rated in the minors? Anybody know?
Anyway... can you name some former #1 rated pitchers in the minors that had relatively little impact in MLB?

I DO believe Hughes is the real deal, but lets hope others in the media aren't expecting him to be a #1 right off... or even ever. I don't think this kid will need to read stuff like this in the papers.

2007-02-02 07:00:02
14.   Shaun P
9 That sounds positively Cole Hammelian.

Of course, it won't be long before people start referring to all great pitching accomplishments as "Hughesian".

2007-02-02 07:00:17
15.   OldYanksFan
Jim Dean... Do you live in Southern NH?
2007-02-02 07:01:28
16.   Yankee Fan In Boston
10 i have a slew of good friends that happen to root for the wrong team. good people. we're all baseball fans first, then come the allegiances. a lot of people can see past the bull that is thrown around here, but their less conspicuous than their rowdy counterparts.
2007-02-02 07:04:56
17.   Sliced Bread
13 "I don't think this kid will need to read stuff like this in the papers."

This kid already has a website and is already charging for autographs. Plus, Posada has already compared him to Clemens. He can probably handle a little love from the NY Sun.

2007-02-02 07:08:46
18.   Jim Dean
15 Baltimore - the hope is to move to NH with work in Boston.

13 Torre and Guidry were asking for Huge last year. Instead they got Lidle.

There's no holding Phil back. He'll be up mid-season after having his innings restricte in Scranton. He's on tap for 180. They'll keep him sharp with five inning outings. My guess is he'll be up in late May.

14 Honestly that's where I like "Huge" and he will be.

12 Thanks. I'm overplaying it, but I really do love everything about NYC and yet I've never been a fan of Boston. It's just different up there.

2007-02-02 07:10:16
19.   Sliced Bread
16 Absolutely. I was just being flippant, and meant no offense to rats or Red Sox fans who might be reading this.
2007-02-02 07:29:10
20.   Benjamin Kabak
Is that the same guy who announced "The PATH train to Nooooooooooooooooo Jersey"? I hear him on the 2 a lot at night. Probably not the same guy.
2007-02-02 07:35:39
21.   Yankee Fan In Boston
19 oh... there are plenty i'd like to offend (or worse). plenty.

on the whole though i love that the town is so focused on baseball. i moved here from oregon, where nobody gave a damn... so this was refreshing.

2007-02-02 07:35:58
22.   jkay
All of the station announcements are automated on the 4,5,6 lines so we do not get the fun of any entertaining conductors.

Even with the robotic announcements, it will warm my heart when I hear "the next stop is 161st street."

2007-02-02 07:55:02
23.   Shaun P
I know nothing about this guy; anyone know anything?

"Next up is Francisco Cervelli. You're going to see a couple of players from the Staten Island Yankees on this list; the DTs regard it as an extremely strong pitchers' park and ratchet everyone's translations up accordingly. I'm a little bit skeptical after getting burned on Eduardo Nunez, who rated as PECOTA's #12 overall prospect last year, but hit so poorly that we didn't even bother to run a PECOTA card for him in the initial batch of forecasts (I've since inserted him to satisfy my own curiosity). There's perhaps extra reason to be cautious about Cervelli since we have only 157 PA for him in our sample. Still, he's considered a good defensive catcher and got an NRI to spring training (not an uncommon practice since lots of pitchers in camp means lots of catchers too). What's the cliché here? Someone to keep an eye on."

That's Nate Silver in his 'PECOTA Ranks the Catching Prospects', available to BP subscribers today. By Nate's rankings, Cervelli is the 6th-best catching prospect in MLB.

PS - Disclaimer: Some people think PECOTA is full of crap. I'm not one of them. YMMV.

2007-02-02 08:03:50
24.   unpopster
11 don't forget that "You just can't predict this game"

By the way, I caught an old episode of The Family Guy recently and in this one the Griffins visited NYC where they had a pleasant ride in a cab...Anyone know why the cabs stopped using those celebrity "Don't forget to buckle your seat" announcements? Some fo those were pissers!!

2007-02-02 08:05:43
25.   vockins
3, 12
2007-02-02 08:08:40
26.   Yankee Fan In Boston
25 that picture is the bomb.
2007-02-02 08:08:55
27.   Jim Dean
23 See, that's exactly my problem with the projections of the "experts" - they try to factor in "talent" and "potential" into what should be an objective exercise.

How the heck do they know what anyone is going to do in MLB after 157 PA and in short-season low-A at that? Sure, he's 20 years old, but why not wait one more year? The guy is at least two or three years way - why jump to conclusions when there's plenty of time to wait and see.

I'm more interested to know if Pete Pilittere shows anything in Trenton this year. He had a solid if unspectacular year in Tampa and followed up with a hot streak in the AFL. If he has a good year he could make the team in 2008 as the BUC. The only problem is that he'll be 27 then.

2007-02-02 08:09:30
28.   Sliced Bread
He's my favorite, but Top Ten signs that Bernie's Yankee career is over.

10 - There are literally vultures at his locker. And by vultures, I do not mean Lupica and Chass.

9 – In a report released today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cites Bernie's batting average as the most compelling evidence yet of "global cooling."

8 – According to the non-roster invitation to Spring Training he received, the Yankees have moved their training facility to Denmark.

7 – Whenever he tries to play "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" his guitar gently weeps.

6 – Cashman has arranged a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

5 – Surprise Oscar nomination for his supporting role in "The Departed."

4 – Woke up this morning to find an orange Hummer mysteriously parked in his driveway.

3 – Just posted at Sunday, May 20, 2007 "Bernie Williams Rocking Chair Day."

2 – Keeps receiving requests to join the AARP softball team

1 - Jim Dean says so.

2007-02-02 08:11:00
29.   Jim Dean
25 Excellent!
2007-02-02 08:14:14
30.   OldYanksFan
Jim - I'm originally from NY but have lived in Southern NH since 1973. If you want to chat about anything NH, ask for my Email.
2007-02-02 08:21:04
31.   Jim Dean
30 Excellent part deux!

BTW: Best baseball moment last season: Running into Bernie outside Camden Yards on my bike (literally!) and asking him why he didn't try hitting righties from the right side after I was riding him all game (from seven rows behind the plate) to do so. He was every bit as gracious and humble as he's made out to be. But on that point, he was just as defensive as anyone else when questioned about their job performance. Good times!

And Bernie, you were the next great Yankee CF.

To Bernie!

2007-02-02 08:23:32
32.   Jim Dean
30 Thanks. If it comes to that I know where to find you!

We're thinking of Exeter or Dover because of Amtrak.

2007-02-02 08:32:12
33.   standuptriple
27 I'm getting a little speculation-nauseum as well.
I'd rather have a backstop who knows how to call a good game and makes teams think twice before running. If he can do those things first matching the offensive production of the current (barren) crop of BAC's then I'm all for it, but I think it's a little premature.
And while the topic of C's is up I read today that Mattheny called it a career yesterday(concussions), so put those Alonzo theories to bed (as I suspected). It's too bad because MM was the epitome of fundamentals when you're looking at the defensive aspect at the position.
2007-02-02 09:11:04
34.   JL25and3
11 I think you're being unfair here. If you listened on the radion, you'd also learn that you can throw your stats right out the window, and that baseball is the most unpredictable game. You cannot predict this game of baseball, I defy anyone to predict baseball. It's because the starting pitcher changes every day, y'know.
2007-02-02 09:11:53
35.   JL25and3
That's "radio." My radion doesn't pick up the Yankee broadcasts.
2007-02-02 09:32:42
36.   mehmattski
34 Don't forget that we'll also hear how it's a "gaw-jess" day in the Bronx and that Hughes has a "toit spin owhn his sliyduh."
2007-02-02 09:51:39
37.   YankeeInMichigan
Season #1 (age 20): 133 IP, 9W, 4L, 4.32 ERA, 126 K
Season #2 (age 21): 98 IP, 7W, 5L, 3.29 ERA, 74 K
Season #3 (age 22): 254 IP, 24W, 4L, 2.48 ERA, 238 K

Those numbers belong to Roger Clemens. So even if Hughes is the next Rocket, we can't expect him to where the Ace mantle until 2009.

2007-02-02 10:01:50
38.   mehmattski
37 Well, that was also 20 years ago. Using Davenport Translations to put Clemens' first three seasons into a context-independent frame:

1984: 139 IP, 11-4, 3.48 ERA, 160K/21BB
1985: 103 IP, 8-4, 2.71 ERA, 92K/34BB
1986: 263 IP, 26-3, 1.85 ERA, 258K/57BB

Yikes. That's scary-good.

In terms of the context of the seasons Clemens pitched in, Roger was league average in his age 21 season (1984), then was better than league average in 1985, and turned in one of the best seasons in his career in 1986. The bar is high, but I think Hughes can show a similar growth curve... at any rate for 2007, Hughes with ~130 IP at the major league level, I think that he could put up very similar numbers to Clemens' 1984.

2007-02-02 10:18:25
39.   Jim Dean
The only reason I'd love to have Clemens around again is because of his work ethis and how I think it could improve the futures of Huge and Sanchez and heck even Chamberlain and Kennedy (Clippard is perfect for Moose's apprentice).

And then I was all ready to see if Clemens had a clear affect on Andy's career.

Talk about the problem with pitching:

Andy's career numbers in ERA+
1995: 110
1996: 131
1997: 154
1998: 105
1999: 95
2000: 116
2001: 112
2002: 134
2003: 109
2004: 111
2005: 174
2006: 108

Look at those peaks and valleys! The amazing thing is some years (2001 and 2005) are almost indistinguishable based on the most preferred rate stats and yet the results couldn't look more different.

Even Roger shows the same trends (ERA+ of 97 in 1999 but 221 in 2005).

It may always come down to pitching but predicting it is sheer folly.

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