The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


Jeter and Kelly Split Up

NEW YORK (AP)—Derek Jeter is a free agent again.

After three years together, the Yankees captain has broken up with Minka Kelly, the actress’ representative told The Associated Press.

Jeter, in Baltimore for a series against the Orioles, would not comment.

Kelly was a frequent visitor to Yankee Stadium while the two were dating.

In a rare public display of their relationship, Kelly was included in the HBO documentary on Jeter’s chase for 3,000 hits, "Derek Jeter 3K."

Kelly is best known for her role in "Friday Night Lights" and is now filming ABC’s remake of "Charlie’s Angels."

You know. Baseball news.

August 26th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Dear id Software

Here in the grim darkness of the far future we’ve invented a new technology we call "colours" that we use to make our graphics less completely drab and boring. I’m thrilled that your new magic graphics engine can paint a billion triangles per second, but, really, if they all look exactly the same, what the hell’s the point? Just because your game is a massive Borderlands ripoff doesn’t mean it has to be exactly as brown as Borderlands, you know.

Though I am looking forward to the level where I have to hunt for a Baby Ruth to give to Sloth there. If you make a Goonies FPS, I’ll probably buy it.

August 21st, 2011 Posted by | Games | one comment

What’s that you say, Joe Girardi?

I would much rather have a guy care and the emotion bring on himself that he has to talk about it, than him not care at all.

Right on! Or not! I can’t really tell.

August 21st, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

So, yeah, about that

Jeff Passan, back on 25 May:

What passes for parity in the NFL goes by another term in baseball: mediocrity. A little past the quarter-pole in Major League Baseball’s season, and 18 teams are within four games of .500.

Okay, so it blows to have tight races. Got it. But, wait, here’s Kevin Kaduk just the other day:

Only the mediocre AL Central and the coup that the Arizona Diamondbacks are staging in the NL West are currently holding a shred of intrigue.

So baseball sucks if teams are close together, and baseball sucks if teams are far apart? You guys are some good baseball fans.

Oh, Kevin has one more thing to add:

This is undoubtedly a product of the three-division system and yet another reminder that the regular season doesn’t matter as much as it once did.

I guess Kevin’s forgetting how exciting the races have been for the last, like, five straight years. Or had the evil division system not started yet then? I’m not a Doctor of Baseballogy like you, so I guess I can’t be sure.

August 20th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Jim Thome just hit his 600th home run

And economists are writing about baseball again. In honour of Thome Thumb’s achievement — and can you believe people are actually writing things like "oh, now that he has 600 HR he’s going to the Hall," as though Jim fucking Thome with yesterday’s 598 career HR wouldn’t be? — I’ll now mock the heck out of Tom Van Riper for getting in way over his head and writing about a subject so foreign to him that I don’t think he can watch the Yankees without subtitles.

Two years ago, Melky Cabrera seemed poised for a promising career with the New York Yankees.

Two years ago, Melky Cabrera was 24 years old, and he hit .274 / .336 / .416. His OPS+ was 93. 1.7 WAR (don’t be too shocked — he was a CF. Almost all defense and positional adjustment). Decent little player, I suppose, but your $200 million team would probably rather sign, you know, Curtis Granderson, worst defensive CF in baseball or not.

At age 24, the outfielder played a solid role in the Bombers’ 2009 championship season, hitting .274 with 13 homers in 485 at-bats.

So solid that the Yankees decided not to invite him back the next year.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Reports floated that the team brass wasn’t fond of the influence that the partying Cabrera had on second baseman Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ best young player.

Floating reports or no floating reports, his ability to control Bobinson Cano’s mind with space lasers wasn’t really the issue. It was that he kind of smells as a baseball player. This is the same team, you’ll recall, that employed Jason Giambi for many years. Partying is the issue?

And despite flashing some talent, Cabrera also carried that dreaded "fourth outfielder" label – not quite athletic enough for center field and not quite powerful enough for a corner spot.

Prince Melkazar was a fine CF in 2009. Then he got fat. And, wait, not "quite" enough power for a corner spot?

Melky Cabrera, career ISO: 122
Matt Holliday, career ISO: 227
Carlos Zambrano, career ISO: 153

Yeah. Not quite.

So when the opportunity came that winter to ship him to Atlanta for an established starting pitcher, Javier Vasquez, the Yankees didn’t hesitate.

Melky Cabrera, 2010 WAR: -1.0

Sure, Vazquez sucked. But what did the Yankees really lose out on there?

After a mediocre 2010 season got him released by the Braves, the bottom feeding Kansas City Royals nabbed Cabrera for a modest $1.25 million.

Tom Van Cleef says Melky’s 2010 was "mediocre." I say it was the worst in all of baseball. Details!

He’s responded by giving the Royals the best offensive bargain in the majors this year: a .303 batting average, .798 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) and 62 RBI.

Sure, he’s .312 / .345 / .479. That ain’t bad, but consider ZiPS projected him at .307 / .344 / .466. His offense isn’t the surprise. The surprise is that he got back in shape a bit and is actually an almost-average CF again. Not going to talk about that at all? You know, defense and stuff? That .798 OPS would make him a footnote if the Royals had had to push him over to LF.

Vasquez, meanwhile, is getting lit up in Florida after he flopped in pinstripes for the second time in his career.

Vazquez has thrown 134.2 innings, and has a 4.28/4.24 FIP/xFIP to show for it. Worth a win and change. Not everything one could hope for, but the man’s 35 years old. And saying he’s getting "lit up" is horribly unfair.

… Oh. Right. He’s 7-10. Wins! Winning! Because Javier Vazquez’s utterly meaningless Win rate is below .500, he is the ass. This is how you play cavemanball!

Despite yet another losing season, the Royals have shown quite a knack for gobbling offensive production on the cheap.

Wouldn’t it be fun if hacks evaluated teams the way they do pitchers? The Royals have more losses than wins! This means they are complete shit. Anyway, let me rewrite your paragraph for you:

Despite… losing… the Royals have shown… the cheap.

There we are.

The 2011 club has pulled the outfield hat trick – Cabrera, Jeff Francouer and Alex Gordon all rank among baseball’s 10 best hitters for the buck this year.

One of these things is not like the others! See if you can pick out which one of these hitters is really, really bad if I just give you their slash lines and don’t tell you who they are:

.311 / .343 / .478 / .821 (127 OPS+)
.298 / .372 / .480 / .852 (137 OPS+)
.272 / / .460 / .784 (117 OPS+)

Need a hint? It’s the one whose OBP I didn’t list, because they don’t put that shit up on the scoreboard anyhow.

Okay, I’m being a little bit unfair. Frenchie’s having a decent year. But it’s being propped up mostly by his monster April and July — he’s been way below average the rest of the year. I mean, his BABIP is an utterly unreal .419 this month, and you know what he’s done with that? A .733 OPS.

Francoeur, who hit just .249 with 65 RBI for the Mets and Rangers last season, has rebounded to .273 with 15 homers and .798 OPS after signing a $2.5 million deal last winter.

Apparently these days "rebounding" is a phenomenon that includes a player who has been replacement-level his whole career having a big career year and being worth a couple of wins. Because, hey, check it:

Jeff Francoeur, career WAR: 5.6
Jeff Francoeur, 2011 WAR: 2.0

And, yes, that career number includes 2011. Rebound my ass.

And Gordon, a home grown outfielder with a career.258 batting average over five seasons, has surged to .305 in 2011. He’s also on pace to easily put up the best power numbers of his career, while pulling in just $1.4 million.

Great, but just one thing: Gordon is a third baseman. He has played almost twice as many games at 3B as he has at all outfield positions combined. Why is he in the outfield this year? I don’t know. I, like most other baseball fans, do not pay attention to the Royals.

We figured the best hitters for the buck by breaking down MLB’s everyday players (minimum 300 plate appearances through the first week of August) into three basic service categories: 1) those with less than three years experience who aren’t yet eligible for salary arbitration, 2) those with three or four years of service who qualify for arbitration but aren’t yet getting free agent money and 3) veterans with five or more years service time that have reached free agent money (players actually qualify for free agency after six seasons, though the big salary jump generally comes after year five, when a player is allowed to compare himself to free agents in the arbitration process).To avoid comparing apples to oranges to pears, we rated each player only within his service category – measuring production vs. salary against the average of the service class.

That’s insane. The stat you’re looking for, by your own admission, is "value for money." This is calculated by the following complex formula:

value / money

Why are we breaking players up into utterly arbitrary groups and comparing them only to other players we’ve randomly lumped into the same group? Both "value" and "money" mean the same thing regardless of group. So what’s the point of the rest of it? Some insane sense of

Cabrera and Francoeur rate as especially good values because their modest salaries contrast with veterans in their service class earning much more (over $8 million, on average).

And this is the kind of boneheaded conclusion you can reach if you pollute your equation with lots of confounding variables. Here, let’s make it simple:

Cabrera: Value == $17.1M, Money == $1.25M. Value / Money == 13.68
Francoeur: Value == $9.8M, Money == $2.5M. Value / Money == 3.92

Not very similar, really. And now:

Starlin Castro: Value == $11.5M, Money == 0.44M. Value / Money == 26.14

Quick! Make up some more random rules so we can pretend trash like Francoeur is great!

Another veteran delivering on the cheap is Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez, who’s delivering a monster season (.962 OPS, 91 RBI) a year in front of his lucrative extension that will kick his salary to $21 million from the current $5.5 million.

Adrian Gonzalez: Value == $24.1M, Money == $5.5M. Value / Money == 4.38

Wow, it turns out costing a shitload more money really hampers one’s standing in the "value for money" rankings. Glad we added a bunch of noise to obscure that.

August 15th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

The Stanley Parable

You may have heard about this already, but there’s this Half-Life 2 mod called The Stanley Parable that came out a few weeks ago. It’s completely brilliant. You should go play it right now. I’ll wait here.

Read the rest of this entry »

August 13th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments

Curtis Granderson, defense, and swearing

That’s what this post is about, baby. Because this guy? He has a bone to pick with defensive metrics. And me? I have a bone to pick with his pickin’ bone.

What’s that? Where does the swearing come into play? Heck if I know!

Is Curtis Granderson the worst defensive centerfielder in baseball?

Nah, Nate McClouth’s worse. Why do you ask?

Of course he’s not. But that’s what the advanced defensive metrics say about him.

What? Fucking numbers! I cannot believe they’d disrespect a Yankees center fielder like this! Don’t they know that Joe DiMaggio played center field for the Yankees once? That is the kind of history you’re fucking with, numbers!

And Steve Berthiamue is right, if you take those numbers literally, it’s hard to really make the case for Granderson as the American League’s most valuable player.

Other things that make it hard to make the case for Granderson as MVP:

• Jose Bautista
• Dustin Pedroia
• Ben Zobrist
• Tacoby Bellsbury
• Adrian Gonzalez
• Miguel Cabrera
• Kevin Youkilis
• Asdrubal Cabrera

Those players are all better than Curtis Granderson this year. They all play in the American League. And for fuck’s sake, did you notice that four of them play for the Red Sox? Holy mother of pasta the Red Sox are good.

Of course, you shouldn’t take those numbers literally.

What? How should we take those numbers, then, Dr. Genius? We should take them figuratively? Like they’re some type of interpretive number-dance, and really they’re just here to remind us that, even though the Yankees are the fucking best (and don’t you forget it!), hey, other guys play too?

You should take them seriously, this isn’t going to be an anti-defensive metrics harangue by any means, but not literally.

I’m serious. What the hell do you think "literally" means? Because what you’ve just written is "pay attention to defensive metrics, except don’t."

Mostly because there’s still a lot we don’t know about scientifically measuring defense.

But one thing we do know is: shitty play doesn’t become awesome play because you’re a Yankee.

(click “view full post” to continue reading)

Grown-ups have solved the riddle of getting that not to display once you’ve already clicked through to the full article. Hell, even chimpanzees like me can manage it.

To illustrate this point, it’s worth considering the different nature of playing offense and defense in baseball.

Oh, by all means, professor! Let us indeed consider the Platonic form of fielding. That will be a good use of everybody’s time. If you could write about it like a nitwit too, that would be great.

Hitting, difficult as it may be from a physical standpoint, is actually amazingly simple conceptually. You have one batter at a time, and his goal is very straight forward; get on base so as not to cost the team an out, and get as many bases as possible.

Does that seem like two goals to anybody else? Let’s see, one, tw– yeah, definitely two.

ATTENTION HITTERS: Here is your goal!

1) Get on base.
2) Get on another base.

Dr. Baseball signing off!

Offensive statistics then are very easy to figure out, all things considered, because at the end of the day they’re simply measures of performance of a very straight forward and simple (to understand) task.

I’m starting to think this guy really believes "straightforward" is two words. Also I’m starting to think he’s never heard of park factor, and that he sincerely believes that hitting exists in a vacuum where the dead hand of defense cannot reach.

Defense, by contrast, has a lot more moving parts and a lot more strategic complexities.

In other words, "there are nine dudes."

Consider just one decision that has to be made by the typical outfielder; whether or not to dive for a ball in the air.

Meditate upon it. Behold its inner nature.

On the one hand, it’s very straight forward.


Dive and make the catch it’s an out, let the ball drop in and it’s a hit.

What happens if you just fucking sit down on the ball like Manny did that time? Wow, this is hard!

But of course, what happens if you dive and don’t catch the ball?

Oh, I know this one! It’s scored as either a hit or an error, depending on how clean-cut and likable you seem to the octogenarian in the scorer’s booth, which is why we should ignore advanced defensive metrics and just stick with good ol’ errors. How many errors does Curtis Granderson have this year? Zero, asshole. Because he’s a clean-cut Yankee boy!

In other words, there’s a lot of moving parts to consider just on this single kind of play, and it’s vey possible that allowing the base hit is in fact the best play in a number of cases.

No. No it is not. "Allowing" the base hit — as in, you could have gotten one or more outs, but your Master Baseball Plan involved giving up a base hit — is always a bad decision. That’s why dudes get benched for half-assing. Do you see?

And there’s a host of other factors we don’t really know how to control for. For example, how do you control for defensive positioning

Uh. That’s, like, the exact phenomenon zone-based metrics were created to handle. Which was like twenty years ago.

And this is something that seems highly relative to Granderson, since he often seems to be playing very shallow to me (something that seems to be noted very frequently when I watch national broadcasts of Yankees’ games).

"Relative?" Positioning is relative to Granderson? You mean like Joe Giardi sets up his defense by telling Nick Swisher "twelve steps to Granderson’s left and three steps back?" Or do you perchance just not know what words mean?

If you meant "relevant," then, yes, I agree: Curtis Granderson very very often sets up totally in the wrong place. It’s obvious enough that even the halfwits on YES have noticed it. This may not be good fodder for your argument, which is, if you recall, that Granderson is the best defensive CF since the Lord God Jesus himself, and there’s a big conspiracy involving number-manufacturing corporations to conceal the truth.

And indeed, when you dig deeper into the numbers, it’s going back on balls deep to centerfield where Granderson looks the worst.

So he sets up in the wrong place, and then he has trouble getting to the ball… so that means… hold on; carry the 7… Granderson for MVP!

If he’s not making the adjustment then maybe that should count against him, but what if it’s on the coaching staff?

It should count against him. If his horoscope said he should play shallow? It should count against him. Ancient Egyptian curse? It should count against him. Martian mind-control rays? It should count against him. You sir are thinking of "excusesball," where your goal is to blame your failings on other people and finish the season with a perfect 0.000 fault average. The 2011 champion of excusesball? Fucking LeBron James, of course.

This isn;t an argument for Granderson being the MVP

… it’s an argument for Granderson being my BFF. (fade out; sappy music plays; nobody notices that you’ve weirdly used a semi-colon where you should have an apostrophe)

nor is it an argument that you should ignore defensive metrics when they don’t fit your preconceived notions.

No, you should only ignore them when they say negative things about Yankees.

A counter-intuitive measurement may well be right, but it may also be completely random statisical noise, or the result of something that’s not wholly under the control of the player.

I love how it’s "counter-intuitive" that a dude who plays crazy shallow and doesn’t get to any hard hit balls — like, at all — might be stinking it up in the field. As for "not under the control of the player," hey dummy, we’re talking about things that have happened, not like potential future occurrences. Luck’s a factor. Big one. Deal with it.

And Curtis Granderson is most certainly not the worst defensive centerfielder in baseball.

No, Nate McClouth is. I told you that 1358 words ago. Pay attention.

Granderson’s second, though.

August 12th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

The best news I’ve had all week

Borderlands 2 shows no sign of being infested with crafting.

August 8th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments

Making games is hard

Or, at least, that’s what some crybaby at Bethesda thinks. I guess it requires such a huge amount of work to get every shade of brown properly calibrated for one of Bethesda’s epic, eighty-hours-if-you-don’t-know-the-solution, eleven-minutes-if-you-do brownathons that it’s utterly unfair of us shithead gamers to expect them to brown up multiple hardware platforms. As such, this individual asshole thinks there should be only one hardware platform available. He even has the brilliant, forward-thinking hubris to declare it "good for gaming." Hey, clearly anything that makes my job easier is good for Society as a whole!

So let’s say there was only the Playstation 3. That would be awesome, right? We’d get to play Mario Galaxy and Ratchet & Clank, but we wouldn’t have to buy two consoles! Score! Oh, but, wait. Mario Galaxy uses the Wiimote for non-trivial things, huh. So it would actually have to be substantially rewritten to work on the PS3. And Wii Sports, Skyward Sword, and FlingSmash? Those wouldn’t work at all. So I guess nobody could play those. That would be awesome for gaming!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. "Well, asshole, Sony could release a controller that is a Wiimote, and then they’d work fine." Set aside the fact that now you’re buying a whole bunch of extra hardware that’s rapidly destroying your uni-console dreams — would that really happen? I mean, we’re not talking about a situation where, suddenly, all the Wiis in the world cease to exist but the games are left behind; we’re talking about a situation where the Playstation 3 was the only console in existence. At all. Nobody’d be making a peripheral to support those games because those games never would have existed. Is that good for gaming? Sure, maybe you don’t give a shit about FlingSmash, but I’ll bet somebody does. Is this some sort of collectivist wet dream where he just accepts that he needs to sacrifice for the greater good? Or are we allowed to say that, yeah, the guy who likes FlingSmash is totally fucked by your scheme?

Maybe if you’re Bethesda, and you just make the exact same game over and over again but with higher-resolution brown sewer rats, and you’re so overworked remaking your sewage texture for the new consoles that you barely even have time to sue Notch for hilariously phony reasons, you honestly can’t understand why people might like variety. And if you’re lovably beefwitted Jason Hall, and your schedule only allows for 30 minutes of Call of Duty in between your morning routine of curling a Mazda Miata and your afternoon routine of having sex with fifteen women, you may not realise that people don’t all want to play the exact same games you do. But really, guys, your plan to make your own jobs easier by getting rid of all that goddamn innovation and competition and variety? Not exactly in everybody’s best interests.

Oh, and, Jason? Don’t want to tell you your job or nuthin’, but it’s really, really weird to refer to the market leader as a "weak player."

August 5th, 2011 Posted by | Games | one comment

Justice Friends

I’ve written a summary of last month’s Super Friendship Club pageant projects for It’s over here, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Has screenshots and links and everything.

August 4th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments