36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

August 21, 2014

Batman and the villain who hates him

Filed under: Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 3:55 pm

It may seem to you, dear reader, that I am undergoing some sort of metaphysical experiment, devoting this entire blog to troll Kevin and provoke a response from him. That’s a filthy lie. 

However, I did happen to find a couple of articles about the Man of Bats (not to be confused with Bat Manuel) and his principal villain, the Joker. 

First up, we have a ranking of everybody who has ever played the Joker. Noting that I’ve seen relatively little of the animated series, I think any list that has Nicholson over Ledger is just, well, wrong. Mark Hamill as number one… Kevin will, almost certainly, agree with this assessment (I believe he’s done so before). Based on the video games, I will say that he’s done a remarkable job of capturing Joker’s essence, even if he’s just a tiny bit more cartoonish than I’d like my Joker. 

Second, we have a report of a disaster nearly averted: Pierce Brosnan as Batman. I like Pierce Brosnan. I really do. The Thomas Crown Affair was a great flick, and he’s my generation’s James Bond. He was even great in Remington Steele. What he would be awful as is Batman. At no point in his film career have I seen intensity, and intensity is a sine qua non for Batman. Christian Bale had it, Val Kilmer had it in small doses (even if it was more imperiousness than intensity). Michael Keaton had at least some of it. Brosnan has zero. He’s spent so much time playing “cool, calm, and collected” that it’s completely mad to think of him genuinely losing his shit, or just barely hanging on. 

Ben Affleck can have a vindictive asshole type personality — see the brilliant Dogma — which means that he could bring that level of “he might lose his shit” to Batman. Maybe he’ll fail, but as I’ve already argued, Batman movies rarely succeed or fail based on who plays Batman.

August 20, 2014

Yay sanity

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 6:22 pm

It may not be sexy, it may not sell as many tickets, but Pettine made, in my estimation, the right move: Brian Hoyer will be the starting QB for the Browns. Manziel needs some time to be seasoned, to learn the offense, and to develop both as a mature adult and as a quarterback.  

August 15, 2014

Please, Mike Pettine — reconsider

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 1:12 am

I really, really want Johnny Manziel to succeed. A key part of that success is learning the NFL on the sidelines. And yet… there are reports that if Manziel has a monster game on Monday Night Football, he could start for the Browns against Pittsburgh on September 7. The last sentence of the article tries to backtrack some, but I fear what might happen if there’s too much pressure on Johnny too early. 

I hope Pettine knows what he’s doing.

July 30, 2014

Woo marginal improvement!

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 7:30 pm

In a trade that shall rock the very foundations of baseball for eons to come, the Indians traded Justin Masterson for a pretty decent outfield prospect. His stats on Baseball Reference are promising, and he’s been tearing up AA. Might even get a September call up, although it’s far more likely we’ll see him next season. He strikes me as Michael Bourn, but healthy and with a contract that isn’t horrific. That’s if he doesn’t develop power. If he does, we could be looking at a Mike Cameron with better plate discipline. Sign me up for that!

July 28, 2014

Next step: renaming to Rotunda of Notoriety

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 12:29 am

So, the Hall of Fame saw the upcoming logjam of great, dare I say overqualified, players and acted boldly. Sports on Earth is less sanguine about the change. 

The changes, specifically, are two: first, you have to sign a conduct clause in order to cast a ballot and second, you now get 10 years instead of 15 years on the ballot. The first rule is to prevent the Dan Le Batard scenario from occurring again, obviously. Sadly, the conduct clause includes nothing about denying votes to the sort of people dumb enough to not vote for Greg Maddux.

It’s the second change that’s getting the press, and rightfully so. Whether you take the Let’s Go Tribe approach (“shorter period = quicker access to the Veterans committee”) or the Sports on Earth approach (“shorter period = fuck the steroid era guys”), it’s going to be an adjustment. In the short term, it will only affect two players — Alan Trammell (who should get in) and Lee Smith (who shouldn’t, probably). It theoretically would affect Don Mattingly (shouldn’t get in either), but he’s already in year 15. I very much doubt this decision was made about any of those three players, though. It’s about, for either good or bad, cycling through candidates as quickly as possible.

Here’s my take. The steroid era is a fart in a closed room with no windows. We have to pass through the room, even linger in it, to get to the “post-steroid room” on the other side (which is presumably a less flatulent room). The question for us is this: how bad is the fart? We could install a window and let the fart out of the room. We could hold our breath. We could spend our time worrying about who farted. We could ignore the room altogether. Or, we could recognize it’s not that bad, we’re all mature adults, and can handle a bit of fart if the stuff in the room is worth it (and it is).

In my metaphor, here are the possible solutions:

1. “Installing  a window.” Directions from the Hall of Fame remove the mystery from the process; instruct voters that, barring an actual positive test or suspensions, allegations of steroid use cannot be used as grounds to deny a player entry.

2. “Hold our breath.” This is what most voters are doing now, and this is what the new decision seems to indicate as far as the expected outcome. If we can just hang on, holding our breath, for a few more years, we can all pretend the steroid era didn’t happen. It’ll work itself out.

3. “Worrying about who farted.” The witch-hunt solution. Determine who is to blame for the problem (spoiler alert: it won’t be ‘baseball writers’) and place it all on them. ‘The players’ is the current en vogue solution.

4. “Ignore the room.” Everything and everyone in the steroid era is tainted, either by actual guilt or through association, so the only logical solution (according to this theory) is simply to write it off as a bad job.

5. “Recognize it’s just a fart.” The steroid era is unpleasant; it is not the end of the world. Judge players based on the evidence (shocking concept, I know) and not random guesswork.

My preferred solution is #5, but I think the BBWAA is about 90% #2 and 10% #4 right now. Recognizing that reality, I support the decision to reduce the period, if only because we’ll be holding our breath for less time.

July 22, 2014

Start the Cliff Lee to Cleveland rumors now!

Filed under: Sports, U-S-A! U-S-A! — Tony Demchak @ 9:45 am

Since the blog has been quiet, I decided to elevate our discourse to a higher plane of understanding. One, indeed, might say that had Cliff Lee been throwing more gas, his most recent start might have been a more effective one.

That was the first video, incidentally, I have watched on this PC since my return from Russia. I cannot imagine a better choice. ‘MURICA!

July 13, 2014

Congratulations To Germany

Filed under: Sports — Kevin Feasel @ 8:12 pm

The one World Cup game I saw ended up being a doozie, as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time.  Unlike a standard 1-0 affair, this game ended up being a gripping (well, for soccer…) match, and it’s good to see the kids of 2006 (Schweinsteiger, Lamm, Podolski, and the like) pull this one off.

Bonus reading:  how the World Cup in 2006 helped re-instill some measure of German pride in Germany as such.  I hope 2014 helps further.

July 7, 2014

All-Star game rosters

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 11:42 am

You can see the actual rosters here. Apart from the gaping vortex of suck starting at shortstop for the AL (thanks, fans!), there aren’t huge numbers of obvious snubs. I do find it bizarre that the AL team’s manager loaded up on first basemen and outfielders. But there is one All-Star that isn’t, who I’d like to introduce you to.

2011 22 CLE AL 66 223 212 27 54 13 0 7 22 1 0 8 49 .255 .284 .415 .699 94 88 3 1 1 1 1 5/D
2012 23 CLE AL 43 151 142 16 38 6 1 5 16 2 1 8 27 .268 .311 .430 .741 107 61 2 1 0 0 0 5D
2013 24 CLE AL 94 308 289 30 65 17 0 11 36 1 0 16 56 .225 .270 .398 .668 87 115 8 2 1 0 0 5/D
2014 25 CLE AL 72 267 237 36 80 20 1 9 39 2 0 19 43 .338 .395 .544 .940 165 129 1 5 3 2 1 5D3
4 Yrs 275 949 880 109 237 56 2 32 113 6 1 51 175 .269 .315 .447 .762 113 393 14 9 5 3 2
162 Game Avg. 162 559 518 64 140 33 1 19 67 4 1 30 103 .269 .315 .447 .762 113 232 8 5 3 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2014.

Lonnie Chisenhall is kind of an awful 3B defensively. He also is just shy of enough ABs to qualify for the batting title. These are details. You know what it isn’t a detail? Being 8th in the entire major leagues in Offensive WAR. A stat that, I will remind you, “punishes” players with less playing time, since it’s a counting stat. Every other player in the top ten is going to the All-Star game, except for Kyle Seager, who is eligible for the final vote (because they’ve stupidly decided only pitchers are eligible for the AL).

Do I think Chisenhall’s performance is sustainable? Of course not. I think he has the chance to be a very good player, but not this good. But isn’t recognizing weird half-seasons precisely what the All-Star games are for?

BTW, if the AL loses the World Series because Derek Jeter fucks up — and I bet he will, since he’s awful this year — I hope it’s the Yankees who get screwed over.

July 4, 2014

There Goes The Season

Filed under: Sports — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

It’s only July and Buffalo’s season is already ruined.  Kiko Alonso tore his ACL and will not play this year.  Right now, they’re talking about Preston Brown, their third-round draft pick.  Here’s the problem:  Buffalo is in a 4-3 this year.  Brown, like Brandon Spikes, is a slow (4.8 40), run-stuffing linebacker.  As a middle linebacker, Brown has good potential, and his upside is basically Brandon Spikes.  As a weak-side linebacker going up against tight ends or slot receivers, Brown’s probably not a very good choice.  Unfortunately, Buffalo doesn’t have many options available to them:  Brown is a downhill, MLB type; Keith Rivers is probably locked into one of the two OLB spots; Nigel Bradham is fast and has the measurables, but isn’t really good in coverage; Randell Johnson is a rookie who was terrible against coverage in college.  Ty Powell was a 7th round pick last season (Seahawks) who has some potential.  The Bills will probably try some combination of these four guys, but losing Alonso hurts a lot.

Current prediction:  6-10.  That might change as we get closer to September, but I’m really not thinking this will be the year the Bills break .500.

Damn it, Hoynsie

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 4:01 pm

I like Paul Hoynes about 80% of the time, as opposed to Bill Livingston, who I like about 5% of the time (and even that 5% makes me feel icky). Then I read his latest mailbag. Here’s the money question, and the answer.

Hey, Hoynsie: Is there any theory behind Asdrubal Cabrera’s decline?  It seems like at his age, he should be hitting his prime and getting better. – Glen Toplyn, Pittsfield Township, Mich.

Hey, Glen: Cabrera has never been a darling of the defensive metric experts who calculate range with computers and calculators. He probably has lost a step or two defensively, but I notice he’s been diving for more balls behind the bag, which could be an indication that his legs are feeling better after being beat up earlier in the season.

Offensively, he’s been a solid contributor on a team that really doesn’t blow you away with its run scoring ability. After hitting .220 in April, Cabrera hit .274 with three homers and nine RBI in May. In June his average dipped to .243, but he hit four homers and drove in 17 runs, second on the team to Lonnie Chisenhall’s 21.

Among AL shortstops, he’s tied for first in homers, leads in runs and is fifth in OPS. Cleveland fans have been tough on any shortstop not named Omar Vizquel. They didn’t like Jhonny Peralta and take delight in picking apart Cabrera’s game.

This is Cabrera’s seventh year with the Tribe and he’s been a solid contributor and cares a lot more than people think. He’s a free agent after this season and almost assuredly won’t be back. Then the paying public can train their computers and magnifying glasses on Francisco Lindor, but I think they’ll miss Cabrera.

First of all — it’s 2014. Using RBI to evaluate how good a player is really, REALLY stupid. Phenomenally stupid. I like his other points about Cabrera’s offense, compared to his peers. But bringing up RBI kind of killed his credibility. However, being a really good hitter for an AL shortstop doesn’t make him a good hitter.

2007 21 CLE AL 45 186 159 30 45 9 2 3 22 0 0 17 29 .283 .354 .421 .775 103 67 7 2 5 3 0 4/65
2008 22 CLE AL 114 418 352 48 91 20 0 6 47 4 4 46 77 .259 .346 .366 .713 92 129 8 4 11 5 2 46/D
2009 23 CLE AL 131 581 523 81 161 42 4 6 68 17 4 44 89 .308 .361 .438 .799 114 229 13 1 10 3 1 64
2010 24 CLE AL 97 425 381 39 105 16 1 3 29 6 4 25 60 .276 .326 .346 .673 89 132 10 5 11 3 0 6/D
2011 ★ 25 CLE AL 151 667 604 87 165 32 3 25 92 17 5 44 119 .273 .332 .460 .792 121 278 10 11 4 4 5 *6 AS,MVP-20,SS
2012 ★ 26 CLE AL 143 616 555 70 150 35 1 16 68 9 4 52 99 .270 .338 .423 .762 114 235 18 6 1 2 3 *6/D AS
2013 27 CLE AL 136 562 508 66 123 35 2 14 64 9 3 35 114 .242 .299 .402 .700 97 204 10 8 6 5 1 *6/D
2014 28 CLE AL 79 342 308 47 76 21 1 8 33 6 1 24 64 .247 .310 .399 .709 101 123 10 6 0 4 1 *6/D
8 Yrs 896 3797 3390 468 916 210 14 81 423 68 25 287 651 .270 .332 .412 .744 106 1397 86 43 48 29 13
162 Game Avg. 162 687 613 85 166 38 3 15 76 12 5 52 118 .270 .332 .412 .744 106 253 16 8 9 5 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2014.

Those are decent numbers. They aren’t great, but decent. A shortstop who can slug over .400 is relatively rare these days. Except he isn’t doing that right now. Cabrera is a valuable player because he’s a good hitter for a shortstop or second baseman. He’s far from a great player, and really hasn’t been since 2011. The good news is, he’s already reached last year’s WAR in 200 fewer ABs. But what he isn’t — what he’s never been — is anything but a league average shortstop defensively. Last year his defense cost the team a win. At his best, his defense has given the team a win (which was back in 2008 — 1.7 wins, to be exact.) He’s playing slightly below replacement level with the glove this year,but if his bat continues to be reasonably productive, he’s a worthwhile player.

The “calculators and computers” line was clearly an attempt to tap the Bill Livingston portion of his audience. Nobody uses calculators any more, Paul. That’s just stupid. I get his point — Asdrubal Cabrera deserves credit for being a solid SS, which he absolutely does — but Cleveland fans aren’t being dicks when they rip his defense; it’s genuinely not very good. Oh, and Hoynsie: believe it or not, the very best season Jhonny Peralta had? He was still an Indian. He peaked at 23. He’s become useful as a Tiger and Cardinal, but for a long time, was awful. If anything, Cleveland was excessively patient with him.

Meanwhile, we already know Francisco Lindor is awesome with the glove, and he’s holding his own with the bat. I think the chances of Cabrera being an Indian next year are really, really low. I think he’ll be gone in a few weeks. I don’t know what return we’ll get — maybe a fringey prospect or a role player — but I do know that Lindor’s time is coming, and that we’ll probably forget all about Cabrera.

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