Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Did We Pick the 2015 Championship Belt Winner?

Most years, it's been pretty easy to determine the winner of the New York Athlete Championship Belt. Sure, there might be a bit of grey area between two candidates at some point, but by year's end, the champ has usually made himself* obvious.

*There's never been a female Belt winner. If Carli Lloyd hailed from New York instead of New Jersey, she would've had a legitimate shot at this year's title.

Just as most league MVP races end anticlimactically -- like last year's "duel" between Stephen Curry and James Harden that ended with Curry earning four times as many first-place votes -- the Championship Belt competition frequently ends in a landslide. Looking back at the winners from the last two decades, only Darrelle Revis in 2011 looks a little surprising. (Then again, maybe I'm just not surprised because I picked each winner.) In the guidelines I originally set up for choosing the Belt winner, I wrote, "The most important New York athlete is usually easy to spot."

But not this year. Sure, a bunch of great athletes made their marks, but each was flawed in his own way. At the beginning of December, the field had "narrowed" to a still-healthy pool of four worthy candidates -- Daniel Murphy, Henrik Lundqvist, Kristaps Porzingis, and Odell Beckham.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

How Improbable Is Dorial Green-Beckham's Name?

Let's talk for a few moments about Titans rookie receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham sports a hyphenated name that contains the surnames of two of the best five receivers in the NFL. His name is made up of the names of the guys who dominate the league at his own position. Think about that.

This situation is akin to the Miami Marlins having an obscure young pitcher named Jimmy Arrieta-Kershaw, or the Sacramento Kings featuring a backup point guard named Jamal Paul-Curry. It'd be like an up-and-coming comedienne named Katie Fey-Poehler or a hot young rapper called Dante West-Lamar.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Much Will We Miss Vic Plaza?

In memory of Terence McConnell, a beloved brother and uncle who passed away earlier this week.

My uncle Terence used the pen name Vic Plaza to write delightfully outlandish letters to the editors of New York City newspapers. The pseudonym was derived from his own uncle, Vic, and a Brooklyn mall, King's Plaza.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How Strong Is Each New York Athlete's Case?

As I wrote earlier in the week, I've opened a poll for fans to vote on the New York Athlete Championship Belt winner for 2015. Which individual player mattered most in the city the past year? Who had the most significant campaign, both on and off the field?

Before I publish the winner at the end of December -- as decided by the electoral college that consists of myself -- I thought I'd run through the 10 candidates and lay out the case for and against each one. Please vote if you haven't already done so.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How Will We Award the New York Athlete Championship Belt?

Last year, I retroactively handed out the New York Athlete Championship Belt for every year since 1921. Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of that series.

Since there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut, runaway winner for 2015, I figured I'd put it up to a vote before I wrote about my selection. The 10 nominees are Henrik Lundqvist, John Tavares, Kristaps Porzingis, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Odell Beckham, Alex Rodriguez, and Dellin Betances.

You can vote on the right side of the page. Sorry to Sasha Vujacic and Stephen Drew, who both just missed the cut for my nominations.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How Unbelievable Are These Warriors Stats?

In honor of the Warriors tying the record for consecutive season-opening wins, I decided to assemble some of my favorite stats about the 2015 Dubs so far. Sure, there have been longer streaks in NBA history, and "season-opening wins" seems like it's an arbitrary record. But it's really amazing that the defending champs have come out with such a vengeance. Let's start with 15 cool stats, a nod to the length of their winning streak.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How Important Is Making Your Own Luck?

My eighth graders took a test this morning and instead of writing "GOOD LUCK" on the board like I normally do, I went with this gem:

That's right: "I make my own luck..."-Cal, Titanic

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How Unnecessary Were Nineteenth-Century Deaths?

I recently read a New Yorker piece that deconstructed the mythical status of Henry David Thoreau in America. Aside from the fact that Thoreau was a bigger dick than the rocket ship from Austin Powers 2, the thing that stood out most from the article was the causes of death for Thoreau and his brother. His brother John died at age 27. Of tetanus. And old Henry David met his demise at 44, of tuberculosis.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Nerve-Racking Is the One-Game Baseball Playoff?

As I "look forward" to the Yankees' one-game playoff against the Astros tonight, I thought of some things that MLB's play-in games resemble.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How Much Should We Miss Robinson Cano?

On SportsCenter Thursday morning, this graphic popped up during the Mariners highlight:

Two thousand hits for Robbie -- pretty impressive. He's the only second baseman to reach that mark in his first 11 seasons. The milestone prompted me to think a few Cano-related thoughts:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How Saintly Was My Grandmother?

Grandma Theresa, Modern-Day Saint

I once heard an All Saints’ Day sermon in which the priest defined saint as “an ordinary person who does extraordinary things.” I’ve never met an individual to whom that quote applied more than my grandmother, Theresa McConnell, who passed away on September 2 at the age of 88. People often use the term “saint” to compliment a kind person or action. Still, I’d argue that it’s an overused word and should be reserved for the truly special among us. With that being said, I’m confident that Grandma is the closest I’ll ever come to knowing a saint.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Would NFL Teams Borrow Players From Other Sports?

Before he was given the Napoleon-to-Elba treatment by ESPN, Bill Simmons touched on an interesting idea in his last few weeks with the Worldwide Leader. On a "B.S. Report" podcast at the end of April, guest Bill Barnwell asked Simmons, "Do you think the Patriots should approach Mookie Betts about playing wide receiver at some point this season?"

"Ooohh, is that possible?" Simmons responded. "I would also sign Jae Crowder because I think that guy could absolutely be a fourth tight end for us. And Isaiah Thomas could return kicks ... It would be cool if you were allowed to use three players from other teams in your city. I think the Patriots would be in good shape."

As we approach the NFL season, I decided we should follow through on Simmons' idea. Let's swing around the league and give each football team the option to steal three players from other sports teams in that city. It's a fun idea because diehard fans of one organization are usually big supporters of the other teams in the same city. Big cities obviously have a bit of an advantage here, but I don't mind because I'm from New York. Besides, as you'll see, there are plenty of options even in most smaller cities despite the fact that there are fewer players to choose from.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How Stitious Is Joe Maddon?

After Jake Arrieta's masterful no-hitter* Sunday night, Joe Maddon channeled his inner Michael Scott, saying, "I'm not superstitious. I'm just a little stitious ... I watch The Office every night." The comment received chuckles from reporters, but it stuck out to me as a pattern.

*The phrase "masterful no-hitter" might seem redundant, but it's not. For instance, Andy Hawkins and the Yankees irreparably uglied up the game of baseball in 1990, but Hawkins still twirled a no-no. Of the six (six!) no-hitters this season, Arrieta's 98 tied for the highest Game Score.

Maddon's affinity for Michael Scott quotes shouldn't surprise us. Way back in February, upon his arrival at Spring Training, Maddon said, "Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure of the moment." At the time, I noted that the manager's comment was a great set-up for a "That's what she said" zinger.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How Did John Sterling Call Greg Bird's First Homers?

I meant to put up a post about this as soon as the Yankees promoted Greg Bird to the big leagues, but a vacation to Cape Cod and my former traveling buddy Ken's wedding prevented me from writing it. Just as I've been doing all season, I was planning on predicting John Sterling's home run call for Bird. My post about Sterling's "uproarious" call of Didi Gregorius's dingers got a bunch of traffic, so obviously I'm not the only idiot who cares about Sterling's self-serving, obnoxious, entertaining verbal ejaculations. But alas, the 22-year-old Bird went deep twice last Wednesday, completely beating me to the punch.

Quite inconsiderate timing by Bird, I must say.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How Surprising Are Each NL Team's Top Performers?

Last month, I examined the amount of surprise registered by the WAR leaders on each AL team. At the start of the season, how likely was it that each of those players would be his team's most valuable? Today, after a Mike Hargrove-length delay, let's finally swing around the Senior Circuit. Again, we'll examine each team's top hitter and pitcher as judged by WAR.

As always, feel free to scroll through and find your team or to read the whole post. All stats are current through August 5. For a refresher on the "Champion" scoring system, refer to the beginning of the AL post linked above.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Surprising Are Each AL Team's Top Performers?

Last summer, I examined each team's Fangraphs WAR leader and gauged how surprised fans should have been with that player's club-leading performance. Was it surprising that Kyle Seager was outplaying teammate Robinson Cano deep into the summer? Definitely. But was it shocking that Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen paced their respective teams in WAR? Negative, Ghost Rider.

In order to rank the amount of surprise generated by each team's WAR leader, I created the Sam Champion Predictability Measure. For those who don't know, Sam Champion is a TV weather anchor who may or may not have been romantically involved with Mike Piazza. We can determine how predictable each player's season would have been on a scale of 1-10 Champions, with 1 meaning "ridiculously unpredictable" and 10 meaning "duh." Last season, Seager's team-leading WAR earned just 3 Champions because even most good forecasters wouldn't have predicted it. Meanwhile, McCutchen's performance garnered 9.5 Champions because it was more predictable than the Pirates raising the Jolly Roger after a win.

Now that we've just about reached the halfway point of the 2015 season, it's time to run that exercise back. Last year, I considered only position players; this time around, I'll also look at pitching WAR leaders. We'll take a swing around the American League today then examine the National League in a few days.

All stats are current through July 2.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How Great Has This Ride Been, Dad?

My father has taught me a lot of useful things. He taught me that you need to take care of your elderly neighbors. He showed me that an outdoor shower is really the only option during the summertime. He explained to me why Rockaway Beach is the nicest beach in the world. Like many fathers before him, he taught me that nothing good happens after midnight. (I've rarely heeded that advice, but it's true nonetheless.) Dad taught me how to sign my name. Later in life, my dad also showed me how to sneak beers into Beacon Theater. (Hint: Wear long cotton socks.) He taught me that sick days are for the weak, wine is for the women, and pizza is for Lenten Fridays. And on and on and on.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How Much Do We Covet These Baseball Videos?

Fans of every sport would kill to have modern-quality footage of old games. Basketball buffs, for instance, would love to dissect every basket from Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance. And what football fan wouldn't jump at the opportunity to watch video of the first completed forward pass in 1906? But alas, footage from many of our country's amazing athletic feats remains elusive or nonexistent.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How Nicely Did Garrett Keep up with the Joneses?

I have to admit it. This one was easier to forecast than the fact that Caitlyn Jenner will star in a new reality show. But still, I nailed this one. Before the season started, here's something I predicted:

"Now, let's look at some of the Yankees' new arrivals and try to predict how [John] Sterling will call their home runs:

Garrett Jones: 'Garrett keeps up with the Joneses!'"

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How Much Does Dallas Braden Resemble Councilman Jamm?

Every time I watch Baseball Tonight, I can't help noticing a resemblance:

On the left is Baseball Tonight analyst (and former big-league pitcher) Dallas Braden. On the right is the combative Councilman Jamm from Parks and Recreation

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Uproarious Is Sterling's Newest Home Run Call?

The Yankees have been playing like white dog shit the past two weeks, dropping nine of their past 10 games. That doesn't mean fans have had nothing to enjoy, though. No, I'm not talking about Bernie Williams' retired number ceremony. I'm also not talking about Slade Heathcott's impressive debut. I'm referring to Didi Gregorius's first homer in pinstripes, a three-run shot he belted on Friday night.

Sure, the tater was just a moral victory in the Yanks' failed comeback bid. But it was notable for John Sterling's home run call on WFAN. Before the season, many Yankee fans were excited about the options Gregorius's fantastic name presented to Sterling. Here's what I predicted:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Pervasive Is the Costanza Rule?

I just saw this sign at the Barnes and Noble on 86th Street in Manhattan:

Just like the NBA has the Ted Stepien Rule, the NHL has the Bobby Hull Rule, and science has Newton's Laws of Motion, it seems that Manhattan bookstores now adhere to the Costanza Rule. The exact definition of that regulation? Don't bring books into the shitter. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How Are Spring Sports Like Fat, Naked Bikers?

Remember Shooter McGavin? He was the hilarious bad guy in Happy Gilmore and also the bad guy in the hilariously bad Celtic Pride. Here's one of Shooter's most underrated lines:

"I saw two big, fat, naked bikers in the woods off of 17 having sex. How am I supposed to CHIP with that going on, Doug?"

Well, if Shooter's ability to chip is analogous to my ability to live a normal life, spring sports are my fat, naked bikers. How am I supposed to LIVE with all these great games going on? And I'm doomed until the end of June because my fat, naked bikers aren't going away.

Monday, May 4, 2015

How Could I Omit Dontrelle Day?

On Episode 668 of the Effectively Wild podcast last week, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller discussed eponymous pitcher Days in response to my post from last week, about which I e-mailed the hosts. (Lindbergh even mentioned How Blank by name!) When listing his favorite Days, Miller named several that were mentioned in my post, including Big Unit Day, Valenzuela Day, and Ryan Day. Lindbergh digressed for several minutes about Small World Fantasy Baseball, which he said made Pedro Day and Big Unit Day must-see events for him.

However, Miller also pointed out one major oversight on my list. Let's rectify that now...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Did We Draft Our Favorite Jokes?

After Kavanaugh and I finished our last draft, of our favorite Bruce Springsteen songs, I decided to move the next draft away from Kavanaugh's area of expertise (music) to a field in which neither of us has as much prowess (jokes). Here's what transpired.


Monday, April 27, 2015

How Legendary Is Brandon League?

As I finished researching the best pitcher seasons for my piece about the most exciting pitcher Days in history, I Googled the phrase "best pitchers ever" to double-check that I hadn't omitted someone important. Basically, I just didn't want to look incompetent and overmatched, like the writing version of Didi Gregorius. Anyways, here's what that Google search yielded:

The image is a little small, but you get the picture. It looks pretty much as you would expect a list of the best pitchers ever to look. Except, read all those names just to make sure ... Randy Johnson? Good. Cy Young? Ditto. Brandon League? Makes sense.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How Incredible Were These Pitchers' Days?

In a "What's Next" article last week, proclaimed "Harvey Day in Bronx on tap." Matt Harvey made a Subway Series appearance at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, and it was an event that lived up to the hype. The Dark Knight just missed a complete game after giving New York fans a reason to celebrate baseball all day. The weekly festival that is Harvey Day mirrors unofficial hurler holidays across the country.

The discussion of eponymous pitcher Days seems to have exploded this season. I don't know if I've just been spending more time on the Internet, but I see it all over the place. "Happy Strasburg Day!" "It's King Felix Day!" "Can't wait until we finally reach the next Fernandez Day!" During Spring Training, after watching Masahiro Tanaka pitch two dominant innings, I got caught up in the craze and wrote, "Start the countdown to his second start. I, for one, can't wait 'til the next Tanaka Day."

The popularity of naming days after starting pitchers got me thinking about which pitcher's typical Day was the most incredible in history. In what pitcher season did the average start produce the most excitement and buzz?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Snakebitten Is Jose Reyes?

Early in the Yankees' Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays a couple weeks ago, Jose Reyes reached on an error and Toronto's training staff was called onto the field when Reyes appeared to injure himself sliding into second base. Naturally, Yankees fans started to jeer. "Of course!" we yelled. "Reyes only makes it three innings into the season before he gets hurt." A middle-aged Hispanic woman sitting in my section explained, "We usually love all the Dominican players, but Jose just always gets hurt."

It turned out that Reyes was okay after that play, but the crowd's reaction was telling. In his years with the Mets, New York fans had learned not to trust Reyes' brilliance, since the DL Gremlin was always lurking.

How Lucky Am I?

As many of you know, my wife gave birth earlier this week and I'm currently living out the plot of a Tyrese movie. For once, I'm at a loss for words other than the fact that my heart soars with the eagle's nest. Our new son Sean is certainly digesting his food since he craps about a dozen times per day, but I haven't yet fully digested just how awesome my life is. Until I can comprehend how truly amazing my newborn son is, this classic Dave Chapelle joke will have to suffice:

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Does Chris Davis Drive O's Fans to Drink?

Last year, Chris Davis led all major leaguers by striking out in about one-third of his plate appearances. In a season that featured more K's than a Clemens family photo, Davis whiffed more frequently than any of his peers. As a Yankees fan who was forced to watch years of Jason Giambi, I sympathize with how Orioles fans must feel about all those strikeouts.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

How Do You Take 13 Little Kids to a Yankee Game?

On Thursday night, my wife and I met a group of my aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and miscellaneous skells at Yankee Stadium for the team's third game of the season. The crew was noteworthy in that it included 13 children under the age of 11. In case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are 10 things to keep in mind. (If all of this seems absurd, that's because it is.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How Can the Yankees Get John Sterling More Involved?

I'm going to my second Yankees game tonight, putting me on pace to attend 54 home games this season, a stat slightly less impressive than the 270-homer pace Adrian Gonzalez has set. Here are my three main hopes for the team's rubber match against Toronto:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Has the Tanaka Situation (and Its Coverage) Devolved?

Have you ever seen those "Human Devolution" images? They play off the more common human evolution paradigm, but are meant to poke fun at our diminishing sophistication as a species. Here are a few examples:

Well, I feel like the past few days of Masahiro Tanaka news have followed a similar devolutionary pattern. Let's look at some of the news headlines first. Over the last few days, in order, here are the Tanaka-related headlines on

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How Is Jacoby Ellsbury Similar to Creed Bratton?

After seeing the egg* Jacoby Ellsbury and his teammates laid on Opening Day, ESPN's Andrew Marchand wrote about the fact that Ellsbury has largely escaped criticism in his year in New York. Marchand pointed out that despite the center fielder's exorbitant contract and the team's lack of success, Ellsbury has avoided much of the media and fan scrutiny one might expect.

*I was at Yankee Stadium for the game, and it was a nasty-smelling egg. After Halloween one year, I accidentally left a few eggs in my closet for several months. The Yankees' Opening Day performance was in the same league as those malodorous eggs.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How Have Recent Yankees Catching Prospects Fared?

Shortly after the retirement of Jorge Posada following the 2011 season, most Yankees fans felt that it was just a matter of time before the team promoted its next star catcher to the big leagues. In the preceding few years, the Yanks had drafted or signed future studs Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Chase Weems, John Ryan Murphy, and Gary Sanchez. People even had arguments about which of the prospects would eventually have to move from behind the plate because of the glut of options. As a fan, I was extremely excited, like a pilgrim to Sutter's Mill in the mid-1800s. Certainly, at least a couple of the Yankees' catching prospects would pan out.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How Did I Miss These Two Mascots?

A few weeks ago, I came up with a parallel from The Simpsons for every single baseball mascot. At least I thought I did, using the "List of Major League Baseball mascots" Wikipedia page. However, today I read journeyman relief pitcher Burke Badenhop's entertaining cameo on Grantland. In that piece, Badenhop linked to the Brewers' new mascot. It was my first glimpse of Barrelman. I already compared multiple Brewers mascots to Simpsons characters, so what's one more? I also have an addendum to make to the Yankees section of that original post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How Misguided Is the Mets' Local Ad?

The comedy that usually accompanies low-budget local TV commercials has carried over to the sports world. Here's a screenshot of a recent ad promoting the upcoming Mets season on PIX 11:

If you couldn't tell, that's Curtis Granderson winding up to throw a dying quail toward the infield. When I saw the clip of Granderson crow-hopping at the end of this Mets commercial, I was confused. Why is that included in any sort of highlight package? I thought. From his days with the Yankees, I remembered the Grandy Man possessing an arm just slightly better than predecessors Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon, the king and prince of the wimpy throw.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Bereft of Icons Are the Yankees?

I went out to buy Christmas presents for my little brother and godson this winter, and I found myself reverting to a tried-and-true formula: tickets to a game and a Yankees jersey. For a couple kids in their early teens, that holiday present can't go wrong. There was a problem with the second half of the gift, though: Which player's jersey should I buy? Every young Yankees fan already owns at least eight Jeter jerseys and shirseys, and now it's time to move on. However, whose jersey is the new fail-safe? Masahiro Tanaka? Not with that potentially balky right elbow. CC Sabathia? Not in this decade. Brett Gardner? How is he already 31? A-Rod? Yeah, in your braDellin Betances? One more good season might make him the team's biggest star.

I ended up buying a pair of Jacoby Ellsbury jerseys. As I gave my brother and godson the gift, I explained that I felt like Ellsbury has the best chance to be a star for the next few years. They both seemed to buy it, despite my lukewarm sales pitch.

My Christmas dilemma is emblematic of a bigger issue for the Yankees. In this star-crazed city, the Yankees lack a true star. Ever since the days of Ruth and Gehrig, the organization has never gone very long without boasting at least one player with transcendent talent and personality. Even the crappy Yankees teams of the 1980s had Don Mattingly, one of the coolest and most productive players of the decade. Now, for the first time since '83 -- the season before Donnie Baseball hit .343 to win the AL batting title -- the Yankees lack an icon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

How Do We Imagine a Modern-day Copacabana Incident?

In a post a couple years ago, I wondered, "How Would 2013 View the Copacabana Incident?" For those who don't know, here's how I described the Copacabana Incident in that post:

"The Copacabana was a happening nightclub in Manhattan that consistently booked high-profile performers like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra. You might know the Copa, as it was called, from the famous scene in Goodfellas.

On May 16, 1957 -- the night I'd time-travel to the Copa -- Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Johnny Kucks, and Whitey Ford showed up to watch Sammy Davis, Jr. A group of bowlers showed up and began making racial slurs at Davis, who was black.

What happened next is sometimes disputed, but we do know that the Yankees whooped some ass. Several of the players stood up for their buddy Davis, and they beat up the bowlers just as you would expect pro athletes to beat up bowlers. (Here's a link to a video of Mantle talking about the incident.) Several of the players were fined, and the incident caused the Yankees to trade Billy Martin. One of the bowlers ended up with a concussion and broken jaw, so he sued Hank Bauer. The case was eventually thrown out. Yogi Berra later insisted, "Nobody did nothin' to nobody."

It's now 2015, but the premise of that post still holds. Can you imagine the reaction on Twitter, SportsCenter, and everywhere else if a similar episode took place today? With that in mind, I was wondering which sets of teammates would be most likely to reenact a situation similar to the Copacabana Incident. We're probably looking for a group of players that's young, likes to indulge in adult substances, and wouldn't be afraid to engage in fisticuffs. To be clear, I don't think any of these trios of teammates is likely to find themselves in a Copacabana-esque situation. We can dream, though. Here are a few groups of teammates who could pull it off:

Friday, March 27, 2015

How Jealous Should Yankees Fans Be?

If you only read my thoughts on the Yankees from this spring, you might think I was a real Eeyore. Here are some of the negative things I've written about the team the last few weeks:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Could Gambling Permeate Baseball? (Effectively Wild's Answer)

I haven't posted an Effectively Wild question in a few weeks, but my inquiry made the Listener E-mail Podcast this week. Grantland's Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus discussed an inquiry that I sent them after my post about gambling in baseball. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If a topic's interesting enough for those guys to talk about, it's good enough to rehash on my blog. Here's the e-mail, followed by a summary of their responses:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Many 'Sandlot' Scenes Could the Yankees Pull Off?

In a nod to one of the best scenes in The Sandlot, the Yankees released this video yesterday:

Ah, Spring Training, when pitchers pretend to have four arms during interviews and the most business-like team in the game puts out a horribly-acted video imitating a children's movie from the '90s. I loved this parody for the aforementioned weak acting, for Jacoby Ellsbury's believable turn as Squints, and for Brian McCann's hammy impersonation of Ham Porter.

Here are several other scenes from The Sandlot the Yankees could pull off this year:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Will the Yankees Handle the Closer Role?

On Monday, Bryan Hoch wrote that the Yankees might enter the regular season without officially naming a closer. Both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller seem up to the task, but manager Joe Girardi said there's no rush to anoint one pitcher or the other as the designated ninth-inning guy. As someone who's railed against the team's rigid use of its closer in the past, I applaud the Yankees' wait-and-see approach. Because having the option to bring in either man (or both men) at the end of games should be one of the team's biggest strengths.

Monday, March 23, 2015

How Have These Teams' World Series Odds Suffered?

I said I would post this piece -- about the teams whose odds to win the World Series dropped -- over the weekend. However, I felt like it would be more appropriate to post it on a Monday, since the offseason for each of these teams must have felt like a long string of Mondays.

On Friday, I examined the reasons for four teams seeing their World Series odds more than double since October. The Padres, White Sox, Cubs, and Red Sox all had notable offseasons that caused Vegas to reconsider their chances to win it all. Today, let's look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Which five teams watched their odds decrease the most, and why? (All odds taken from

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How Fictional Is Kris Bryant?

On the blog Cut4, Michael Clair posted a fun piece in which he compared Kris Bryant to "The Kid Who Only Hit Homers." The post brought me back to my childhood days of plowing through Matt Christopher novels. (Yes, I had Coke-bottle glasses and religiously kept score of every Yankees game. Don't act like you weren't a nerd, too.) Anyways, Bryant's recent home run binge caused me to analogize the Cubs phenom to five other fictional characters. Who does Bryant remind me of besides Sylevester Coddmeyer III? Glad you asked!

Friday, March 20, 2015

How Have These Teams' World Series Odds Improved?

Earlier in the week, I wrote about some possibilities for gambling within baseball. Today, let's talk about gambling on baseball. Since Bovada first posted odds for the 2015 World Series winner on October 30, just days after the '14 Series ended, the Nationals and Dodgers have stood steady as the favorites. But a group of teams started off with lesser odds before charging up Bovada's list to nip at the heels of those well-heeled teams. We'll take a look at the reasons for those improved chances, then tomorrow we'll examine a group of teams who've seen their odds suffer considerably.

Here are the only four teams in MLB whose odds more than doubled since the fall. (All odds taken from

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Is My Inbox Like the All-time Home Run List?

It takes some really shitty spam to get me to delete an e-mail message. Even after I've read something and I no longer have any particular use for it, I usually just return to my inbox. It's like I think hitting "Delete" will come back to haunt me, analogous to my grandmother throwing out my dad's Mickey Mantle rookie cards.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Reassuring Was Sabathia's First Spring Start?

Last week, I examined Masahiro Tanaka's first spring start and came away feeling optimistic about the Yankees ace. Today, let's take a look at the team's former ace, CC Sabathia, and how he fared in his first outing in almost a year.

After two innings by Sabathia, it's time to react (and overreact!). Here are six CC-related questions to ponder as we approach Opening Day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Can We Ever Get Excited for a Young Pitcher?

My cousin used to joke that finishing college in four years is like leaving a party at 10:00. Well, watching good young pitchers in the last few years has been like never knowing if college will last more than a semester. You better enjoy it while it lasts, because there's a good chance it won't last more than a few months.

Strained metaphors aside, let's talk a bit about Zach Wheeler. The news came out on Monday evening that Wheeler's right UCL will require Tommy John surgery and put the 24-year-old on the shelf for the next year. This is just a gut-wrenching blow for Mets supporters and fans of good young pitchers.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Could Gambling Permeate Baseball?

Last month, a tennis match in Dallas between Denys Molchanov and Agustin Velotti was marred by accusations of match-fixing. After Molchanov captured the first set, tons of money was laid on Velotti, who won the final two sets and the match. This incident was just the latest in a string of alleged fixed matches in professional tennis. That sport's match-fixing ills got me wondering about whether modern-day major league baseball might ever experience anything similar. As Ben Rothenberg wrote in the article linked above, "Given that it takes only one player to decide the outcome of a match, tennis is more vulnerable than most other sports to thrown matches." Still, it's worth pondering whether baseball could ever be prone to a gambling scandal, even in this era of mass media and widespread information.

While I doubt that any baseball players are throwing games under all of our noses -- like Springfield drinkers defying Rex Banner or something -- it's not totally insane to think that some form of betting could once again tarnish the sport. So what type of player would risk doing such a thing? What type of gambling would be most likely? Let's examine those and some other related questions. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How Blank's Baseball Preview

As promised, for Day 21 of my baseball preview, I organized my previous posts into coherent categories. (Some posts fall under multiple categories, but I think they're easy to sift through.) I'll keep this page updated as I churn out more baseball posts leading up to the 2015 season. Now, help yourself to the buffet

Friday, March 13, 2015

How Reassuring Was Tanaka's First Spring Start?

Masahiro Tanaka returned to the mound Thursday night against the Braves, hurling two perfect innings and allowing my heart rate to stay below "Pamplona in July"-level for the entire outing.

Let's examine five Tanaka-related questions, about last night's performance and about the Yankees ace in general:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How Would These Baseball-Related Parent-Teacher Conferences Go?

Today's supposed to be Day 20 of my baseball preview, but I have a bit of a conflict: five hours of parent-teacher conferences. During a short break in the action now (we have a couple hours to grab some food), I'm coming at you with a short post. Sorry about the quick pitch.

Here are five famous baseball parents and what they probably heard at parent-teacher conferences:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Much Fun Is the Giant Family Picnic?

Welcome to Day 19 of my baseball preview. Today's post has nothing to do with the upcoming season per se, but it deals with a very important question: Are the San Francisco Giants and New York Giants related by blood? I can think of no less pertinent question to ponder. 

On "The Mike Francesa Show" earlier this week, Mike fielded what he deemed one of the program's strangest questions in a while. (If you don't know much about Francesa, go read this then come back. Definitely come back, though.)

Here's the call, from "Dan in Waw-wick":

How Evil Is Technology?

Michael Scott was "right."

As Michael pointed out, technology can only help us so much. During Season 4, he told us, "Business to business. The old-fashioned way. No Blackberries. No websites. I would like to see a website deliver baskets of food to people."

Several years after we first heard those words of wisdom, ABC World News Tonight just ran a story about a family whose GPS led it 800 miles astray into the desert, with no food and no cell phone service for three days:

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Much Will We Miss Crop Top Jerseys?

As part of a bunch of rule changes for next season, the NCAA announced it is banning crop top jerseys. Johnny Depp fans all over the country wept.

How Supernumerary Are Josh Collmenter's Arms?

In an in-game interview on Monday, Josh Collmenter went all Spring Training on us during an entertaining interview with reporter Jody Jackson from Fox Sports Arizona. Collmenter enlisted fellow Diamondbacks hurler Trevor Cahill to act as his arms as Jackson tried to get him to answer actual baseball questions.

How Can We Diarize a Spring Training Game?

Sunday marked the first full Yankees Spring Training game I've caught. I decided that writing a running diary might be a nice way to entertain myself while players like Cito Culver batted. Here are my thoughts, about the game and about the upcoming Yankees season in general:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How Much Should Baseball Worry?

Yesterday was supposed to be just Day 16 of my baseball preview, and I'm pooped already. (I have no idea how Jesus made it through those 40 days in the desert.) I didn't have access to a computer so I couldn't write; today's post makes up for it. 

Here's another of my e-mails, this one from Episode 608 of Effectively Wild:

Friday, March 6, 2015

How Much Does Momentum Matter in Baseball?

I e-mailed the following baseball question to Grantland's Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus, who discussed it on Episode 605 of the Effectively Wild podcast:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How Do Baseball Mascots Parallel 'Simpsons' Characters?

On Wednesday night, I was reading Jonah Keri's preseason edition of The 30, his weekly baseball power rankings. In the Oakland A's section, Keri began with this:

"Leave it to Billy Beane to see 93 wins a year and three straight trips to the playoffs only to conclude that everyone short of Stomper should be blasted into space."

When I visited Stomper's section of the A's site, I couldn't help but think of Bart Simpson's pet elephant, Stampy. The name, the appearance, and the elephants' underdog situations all pointed toward the possibility that Oakland appropriated Stampy from Matt Groening and Co. to create Stomper. Since Keri is a Simpsons aficionado as well as a baseball writer, I asked him what he thought. Here's the resulting Twitter exchange:

The Stampy/Stomper juxtaposition got me thinking about other Simpsons characters that we can compare to baseball mascots. Then I got ambitious; I examined every mascot in baseball to see if I could come up with a not-too-forced Simpsons parallel for each. (Note: The Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels don't have mascots, but I made some sort of connection to each of those teams, too.)

To the horror of every college professor in the country, most of my mascot research was done using this Wikipedia page. Meanwhile, most Simpsons information was based on the thousands of hours I've spent watching the show.

Feel free to find the section for your favorite team or read them all. Either way, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How Much Does Barry Zito LTG?

On my beer-league softball team, one of our mantras is Love the game, or LTG for short. Pretty creative, I know. Whenever someone slides into second, leaving raspberries on his butt-cheeks, we call out from the bench: "LTG!" Whenever a fat forty-year-old tags up and attempts to score from third: "LTG!" Whenever someone risks pulling a hammy and goes from first to third on a single: "LTG!"

Well, something that I read today tells me that Barry Zito deserves an "LTG!" Zito, who hasn't pitched since 2013, is attempting to make a comeback with the A's. Zito has made $137 million in his career, and he's now playing on a minor league contract for his original team. Here's what he said last week: "I've got my passion back, and I just want to continue to work hard and go out and enjoy competing. I guess you could say I'm competing against all these guys, but for me, it's more about competing against myself."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How Fashionable Are Ballplayers?

A few weeks ago, the "Cut4" blog posted this photo, which was originally tweeted by @HitchnerArt:
Unlike most of the other things surrounding the Mets organization, that dress is not the least bit disappointing. (Zing!) In fact, it got me thinking about other major fashion moments in baseball history. From the first baseball stockings to the batting helmet to top-of-the-line shades, attire has always served an important function on the diamond.

MLB can't hold a candle to the NBA in terms of fashion -- historically or recently -- but baseball has seen its share of Seventh Avenue moments. With that in mind, here are my five favorite instances of the garment industry intersecting with the game we love:

Monday, March 2, 2015

How Wonderfully Unique Was Minnie Minoso's Career?

This morning, during a tribute to Minnie Minoso, I heard an amazing stat on SportsCenter. Minoso is one of two players in major league history to play during five different decades. (The other is Nick Altrock.) We know about guys like Don Zimmer, baseball lifers who coached for many years after their playing careers ended. But Minoso played in five different decades. Think about that for a second.

For more perspective, take a look at these two dates:
April 9, 1949: Minoso debuted with the Cleveland Indians. Less than a week later, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg passed its last judgement.
October 5, 1980: Minoso played his last game with the White Sox, at the age of 54. It was just three days after Larry Holmes had knocked out Muhammad Ali to claim the heavyweight title.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

How Do Peanuts Characters Compare to These Yankees?

The Yankees' promotional schedule came out the other day, and the organization has slated September 9 as "Yankees Peanuts Bobblehead Night." The first few thousand fans to arrive at the Stadium that evening will take home a bobblehead doll of Schroeder adorned in catcher's gear. It's doubtful that the giveaway will ever be worth anything, but stranger things have happened. In honor of Schroeder's turn as a ceramic figurine, let's compare a few Yankees to the Peanuts characters they most resemble.

Friday, February 27, 2015

How Will John Sterling Announce Newcomers' Home Runs?

Another baseball season means another year of John Sterling's preposterous home run calls. I'm pretty sure they used to be reserved for the Yankees' best players (e.g., "Bern, baby, Bern!"), but over the years, he's begun to develop one for each player on the team. Even banjo-hitting Brendan Ryan ("That was Ryan's Hope!") had a personalized call last season.

In 2014, Sterling gave us "Never nervous Yangervis" and "The Bronx is Vernon" before Yangervis Solarte and Vernon Wells moved to new teams. (Or, in Wells' case, the purgatory of indefinite free agency.) This year, fans will still be privy to "Jacoby Ells-buries it!", "Oh, McCann can! Yes, McCann can!", and "You can bank on Chase! Headley is deadly!"

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Psychic Is Kevin Kernan?

I've repeatedly said that Kevin Kernan is the worst baseball writer that the New York papers have to offer, and one of his columns from this week supports that opinion.

Let's break down his story from Wednesday, FireJoeMorgan-style:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Can Jose Molina Help the Cardinals?

I tweeted a link to yesterday's post about hypothetical player-team pairings to Grantland's Ben Lindbergh, and he replied:
The article that Lindbergh sent me discusses the Cardinals bringing José Molina to Spring Training as a special instructor. That means, for at least one month, José and his kid brother Yadier will suit up in the same uniform -- albeit one of those jayvee Spring Training uniforms.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Would We Switch Players' Teams?

I can't be sure if our readers enjoyed yesterday's post about baseball in pop culture, but I do know that it coerced a retweet out of Sam Miller:
Today, let's revisit another of my baseball questions, this one from Episode 602 of the Effectively Wild podcast:

Monday, February 23, 2015

How Ubiquitous Is Baseball in Pop Culture?

Every Wednesday on the podcast Effectively Wild, Sam Miller from Baseball Prospectus and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland discuss listener e-mails. I started listening to the podcast last summer and recently starting e-mailing the guys on a semi-weekly basis. So far, three of my questions have made it onto the show. As part of my baseball season preview, I'll review some of those questions on How Blank. The way I figure it, if a query is interesting enough for two of the best baseball writers out there, it's interesting enough to discuss on my rinky-dink blog.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How Well Did Joe Maddon Set Up Michael Scott?

I'm going away this weekend so I'm putting up a quick Day 4 post today instead of tomorrow. Also, since Sundays are not part of Lent, I won't be writing that day. A convenient excuse, I know.

Here's what Joe Maddon said to ESPN upon arriving at Spring Training:

"Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure of the moment."

What say you, Michael Scott?

Please check back for more baseball thoughts on Monday.

If you want to subscribe to How Blank, just type in your email address on the right side of the page. You'll get a notification every time we post new content.

Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

How Will These Yankees Underperform?

Welcome to Day 3 of How Blank's Convoluted Baseball Ideas. (Still trying to think of a better name.)

Yesterday we highlighted one position player and one pitcher who should perform better than Steamer projects, and today we'll do the same. Except the exact opposite. I apologize in advance for crapping all over your good mood right before the weekend, Yankees fans. Now, let's examine two players who probably won't reach or exceed Steamer's expectations for 2015.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How Will These Yankees Outperform Their Projections?

Welcome to Day 2 of How Blank's Convoluted Baseball Ideas. (Still trying to think of a better name.)

The Yankees report to spring training tomorrow, so over the next two days, I want to examine how a projection system views some of the team's notable players. Today, I'll highlight two players that I expect to outperform their projections. Tomorrow, I'll piss on that optimistic fire by pointing out two Yankees who might underperform.

Before I get into my expected overachievers, here's a little explanation of the projection system I'll be referencing:
Steamer is a projection system for player statistics that is featured on well-respected sites like Fangraphs. Steamer uses a player's past performance, home ballpark, and other variables to perform difficult math that leads to a projection for each player that we can understand. In this case, we'll be using Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) projections as a shorthand for Steamer's projection of each player.

With that being said, let's examine one Yankees position player and one pitcher who I think will outperform their Steamer projections for the 2015 season.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How Can We Conflate Baseball and Lent?

Here's what I found in my e-mail inbox today:

Despite my past cynicism about pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, I'm pretty excited about it this year. The Yankees don't open camp until Thursday, but since members of five teams reported this morning, we'll call today the official start of Spring Training.

Coincidentally, today is also Ash Wednesday, which begins the Christian season of Lent. And since God created baseball to make us happy, I've decided to conflate the run-ups to Easter and Opening Day. One of my Lenten resolutions is to blog about baseball each day for the next 40. Feel free to make the sacrifice to read all my convoluted ideas about the upcoming season.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

How Did We Draft the Best TV Couples?

Last year at around this time, Kavanaugh and I drafted our favorite TV couples.

Here's how it began:

FranT: Kerry and I just came in from the obligatory Valentine's Day Dinner, where we saw a bunch of couples enjoying each other's company, or at least pretending to do so. So here's the next draft idea: The Greatest Television Couples. Five picks each; no further guidelines are needed. You have the first pick since you're the away team in this one.

If you missed it the first time or haven't read enough of this type of article in the run-up to this fake holiday, here it is again:

Friday, February 13, 2015

How Frustrating Are TV Characters?

"One of the most important things I've learned about acting is that you can't separate how you live your life and how you practice your art." 
-- Larry Moss

Do TV characters ever drive you crazy? Well, yes, of course they do. I mean, nobody could possibly enjoy a character like Fran* from The Nanny or Maggie from The Newsroom.

*Yes, that was partly a cheap shot at Fran because I had to endure so many jokes about having the same name as her.

Let me re-phrase my question: While watching TV, do you ever find yourself saying, "That is NOT how people really act"? It's absolutely maddening to watch actors "act" in ways that people never would. Maybe I'm just nitpicking, but I don't care. Here's a list of five incredibly frustrating, unrealistic things that TV characters do. In no particular order...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How Could Someone Prefer College Basketball?

Overheard over Thanksgiving (yes that’s when I started this post) in my family was “I can’t watch the NBA until the playoffs”. While I happen to fall on the exact opposite side of that perspective, I know alot of people feel that way. I realized that the basketball is indisputably better in the NBA, but a bunch of other factors contribute to the college game becoming preferable as an overall viewing experience.

How could anyone prefer college basketball to the NBA, when the NBA, by its nature, has so much better talent? Let’s count the ways.

Friday, February 6, 2015

How Horribly Unnecessary Is This Product???

That's right! I put an adjective and an adverb into the title. The three question marks also speak to the strong feelings I've developed about the topic of this post. I ain't playin' around here.

After I got married and took my first trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, I didn't think there could be a store filled with more unnecessary crapola. That was before I ever set foot inside Buy Buy Baby. The store should change its name to "Buy [More Crap] Buy [More Shit] [And Make a Wussie out of Your] Baby". I guess it makes sense, then, that the two stores are owned by the same company. The same crooked, thieving, terrible company.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How Much Leeway Should We Give Popovich?

In a story posted by Sam Amick on Tuesday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich attempted to explain his seemingly rude in-game interviews. Pop has become notorious for his curt responses to reporters attempting to simply do their jobs after the first and third quarters of widely-televised games. Here's what the coach told Amick:

I said, “I’m supposed to be setting the defense and offense to start the next quarter, and I can’t do my job because I’m doing this inane deal with whoever is asking me a question.” The questions are unanswerable. It’s like, “That quarter, you got killed on the boards. What are you going to do about it?.” “Well, I’m going to conduct a trade during timeouts.” Or, “I’m going to ask them nicely to do a better job on the boards.” The questions just demand a trite quip, or something, so I just say, “You know, it just puts everybody in a stupid position.” And (NBA officials) listen to it, and then they go, “Yeah, well (blabbering).” And then they don’t do anything about it. So I just do what I do.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Do You Pick Your Bruce Songs?

FranT and I wanted to have a draft of Bruce Springsteen songs, but it needed some parameters. Top 10? Top 20? 50? Our decisions needed consequences, and every pick had to matter.

So we decided to take one song each from Bruce's Top 5 Albums according to a Rolling Stone reader poll, along with an extra pick from Born in the U.S.A., which was No. 6. It left plenty of classics unmentioned, but we felt the only way to get a draft done in under a year was with some limitations. Here's how it went down...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Do Dogs Mourn Their Kin?

A couple weeks ago, I posted a eulogy for my family's golden retriever, Harry. I thank all the people who shared kind/funny/sympathetic stories about Harry, who lived a great dog's life. In that blogpost, I mentioned that Harry was once a Christmas gift from my cousins, whose dogs gave birth to a litter of puppies. This weekend, my cousin Jessie told me that when they bought Harry's dad Woody, they planned all along to set him up with their female dog Chloe.*

*Maybe that was why they named him Woody? (Sorry, I had to.)

The bad thing about keeping a litter of puppies in the extended family is that they all tend to die at around the same time. My cousin Jenny's dog Hubble died in the fall, soon after several of Harry's other siblings had moved on. This weekend, it all became too much for my cousin Ellenoira's dog Rica. As one of Harry's last surviving relatives, Rica went into a period of old-fashioned mourning:  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Do You Rank Taylor Songs?

I don't really know how to say this...

We need to talk about Taylor Swift.

5 songs have been released so far in a format other than iTunes. I might be super weird by writing this post, but at least I'm not buying the album. This must be what it was like before the Internet when you had to actually wait for a song to be released. What a lesson in patience for our youngsters.

Just kidding, they probably illegally ripped the whole album onto their Snapchat accounts using their super-secret "bae" code language. It's a world I don't care to understand.

Nevertheless - it struck me how clear the order is when ranking those 5 songs. It would be like ranking filet mignon, a turkey sandwich, and cat food. Each song is in its own stratosphere.

Here's the definitive order of the Taylor songs thus far released. Unless you disagree (and if you do, feel free to let that be known at the bottom).

5. Shake it Off

How Bad Are These Boys?

At some point during Christmastime, my family was discussing women with loose morals and women with self-destructive tendencies. Because I guess that's what Catholic families talk about at Christmastime. Anyways, we were analyzing ladies that Father Curry, my high school Theology teacher, would have referred to as Jezebels. At the high point of the conversation, my mom blurted out this gem: "You can love a good boy just as much as you love a bad boy."

Michael Jackson jokes aside, I thought that my mom's comment was worth a bit of further exploration. So here's an incomplete history of "bad boys" in popular culture:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How Stereotypical & Hilarious Were the Punchout Characters?

Dan LeBatard posed the question yesterday on his radio show: "Which group has the most right to be offended by the Mike Tyson Punchout characters?"

I had no idea about this Nintendo game, but apparently all the different boxers from around the world are the most hilarious collection of bad stereotypes across all walks of life and parts of the world. 

Listen to the podcast from the show to get the full effect. Some digital ink has been spilled on this topic, but if you've never heard of this ridiculousness or need a refresher, here are my 11 favorite.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Do I Say Goodbye to My First Dog?

Growing up, I never had much use for dogs. I enjoyed people's company better, and I sometimes thought of the preference for dogs or for humans as mutually exclusive. What's the fuss about dogs, I thought. They can't even talk or laugh. I just wasn't a dog person.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not the dad from Beethoven. I never hated dogs. I just thought that dogs ruined vacations, parties, and time that could be better spent on other activities. It seems stupid looking back, but that's how I felt. I thought, Who would want to have that kind of responsibility if it doesn't directly involve taking care of another human being? I never really wanted a dog, and I even claimed to prefer cats in order to piss off my dog-loving buddies.

Then, we got Harry. In the fall of 2002, my cousins' golden retrievers, Chloe and Woody, had a litter of puppies.* So, as a Christmas gift, my aunt and uncle gave a dog to each set of cousins. We got the sturdiest puppy of the bunch, they said, so that he'd be well-suited to the country. Never mind that my parents live just an hour north of the city; to people in Queens, anything north of Yonkers qualifies as "upstate."

*I felt like a "doggy-style" joke was too easy there.

We named the puppy "Harry" after Jeff Daniels' character from Dumb and Dumber. The dog had a lot to live up to, but in the end Harry gave me exponentially more joy than all my combined viewings of Dumb and Dumber. And that's saying something.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How Did Aaron Boone Get Two Hall of Fame Votes?

That's right. Aaron "Bleepin'" Boone got a pair of votes in Tuesday's Hall of Fame voting. Boone got those votes on an absolutely loaded ballot that kept Carlos Delgado from even staying on another year. It's absolutely unconscionable that any writer voted for Boone. Or is it?

Here are the four reasons anyone could have had for putting Boone on his or her ballot:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

How Can New York Sports Fans Remain Optimistic? (2015 Edition)

Last year, coming off an abysmal sports year in 2013, I outlined 14 reasons for New York fans to remain optimistic in '14. Some of my points ("Hockey in Yankee Stadium", "The Watchable Rangers") actually did help to brighten up another bleak year. However, others ("Earl Joseph 'J.R.' Smith", "Michael Pineda's Return") fell flat on their pine-tar-smeared faces.

Since the Rangers' Stanley Cup final run over the summer, New York sports fans have had precious little to cheer about, as many writers have pointed out. As we headed into 2015, I decided I would write a pessimistic blogpost this year. I set out to average the winning percentages of all the major sports teams to see if 2014-15 had a chance to become the Worst Year in New York Sports History.