A few things that I’ve enjoyed this past week:
The MLB Network. I come home, turn it on, and leave it on all night. The live look-ins at ongoing games are frequent and exciting and the commentary is insightful. Also, the host genuinely seem like they’re having a good time — and not like the idiots on all the NFL shows are having too much of a good time where they are laughing way too much and way too hard. Watching MLB Tonight and Quick Pitch is just watching some guys watch and talk baseball, and it just so happens that a couple of them used to play, too. It’s really that good. It’s on right now, in fact.
The TMI Blog. (Available by ESPN Insider subscription only.) I was turned on to this by listening to one of the authors, Mark Simon, when he was a guest on ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast. It’s basically a blog for geeks that focuses on stats, with contributions from Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and similar sources of goodness. Lately they have been having fun with the small sample sizes that begin seasons, such as how half of major league leadoff hitters have roughly the same OPS as the average seventh hitter (that is, a bad OPS). Updated frequently.
During one of the Red Sox-Yankees games during opening week, the Fenway crowd began a “Yankees suck” chant. The commentators had the following exchange, which I enjoyed:
“The, um, less-than-genteel anti-Yankees chant begins at Fenway Park.”
“I think they learn it an early age, too.”
I watched the last few innings of Ricky Romero’s no-hit bid yesterday, which of course ended emphatically with Alex Rios’ home run in the 8th inning. The batter before Rios was AJ Pierzynski, who made headlines with that at-bat by pretending to get hit by a pitch. Replays clearly showed that he was not hit but his acting job won him a trip to first base anyway. Rob Neyer thinks Pierzynski cheated. Jersey Matt does not. I thought it was a little sleazy but I don’t know if I would go as far as Neyer does, who claims that this sort of behavior should and will catch up with Pierzynski. I always thought of getting hit by phantom pitches as baseball’s answer to basketball’s flopping, or a wide receiver overreacting to a little contact from a defender. Each of those instances is an example of a player trying to entice the official into making a call for them, but I have never really heard those other instances labeled as cheating. I may lose sleep over this.