Faking baseball history

Those of you who follow my tweets know that I’m a huge baseball fan, both of the game itself as well as the study of its numbers. What’s even more pathetic is that I also love to play a simulated version with cards and dice — think of it as Dungeons and Dragons for baseball nerds.

And because the Internet is on computers now, I’m able to play online using one of dozens of baseball’s greatest teams: the 1927 Yankees, the ’65 Dodgers, the 2004 Cardinals, and so on. You can play solitaire against a computer manager or in a tournament against other humans.

Recently, I played a tournament using the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, and my first opponent was the ’67 Cardinals. I decided to make Mike Cuellar my starting pitcher; my opponent countered with Bob Gibson. During the game, the dice were coming up aces for the pitchers.

In the 11-inning game, Gibson threw 10 innings for the Cardinals and was charged with just two runs. But Cuellar was even better: He threw 11 (!) innings and struck out an incredible 17 batters, earning the win after his Orioles won the game in the bottom of the 11th.

In real life, Cuellar threw 297.2 innings in 40 starts during the 1970 season. After my online game, I wondered if Cuellar ever had a similar game in real life. And thanks to the wonder that is Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, I could look it up.

I learned that during the 1970 season, Cuellar had only one game in which he’d pitched more than 10 innings. And in that same season, he’d had only two outings in which he had at least 10 strikeouts.

So with the magic of the tumbling dice, I was able to create a little baseball history. Or historical fiction, to be more accurate. And that’s just part of the fun of playing nerd baseball.

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Taco Bell’s meat

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Smashing Pumpkins: What a waste

During my commute to work this morning, my iPod shuffled up some Smashing Pumpkins, and it got me thinking...

Sorry for being That Guy, but I’m gonna play the (aging former) Hipster Card and say that as a high school sophomore, I was out in front of Smashing Pumpkins before most of the other kids in school.

The problem was that “Gish” was schizophrenic. Consider the album’s second song, “Siva”:

Songs like “Siva,” “I Am One,” “Bury Me” and “Tristessa” brought the Rock, and brought it hard with crazy distortion and a silky lead tone. The other six songs were self-indulgent, quasi-arty crap. One or two slow songs are OK, but six? They just sucked the momentum out of what could have been a classic hard-rock record.

But because of the songs that did bring the rock, I had high hopes for “Siamese Dream” when it came out two years later. Those hopes were dashed quickly upon its release. “Cherub Rock” was all right, but the rest of the album was mostly the same slow, boring, “I’m pretending to be a sensitive artist so I can get some poon” garbage. It was the biggest piece of self-indulgent wanking since the “White Album.” Or until “Mellon Collie” came out.

With “Siamese Dream,” Smashing Pumpkins had become the Biggest Band in the World (as well as the darlings of the frat douches in college, at least until Oasis got huge the next year), and Billy Corgan began believing it.

What a waste.

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Shit sandwich, indeed

There are many quotable classic lines in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” and I’m sure all of you are familiar with most of them.

One of the more underrated lines in that movie is during the news budget scene, not long after Pvt. Joker lands in country and meets up with Rafterman. In that scene, Lt. Lockhart is going over the stories for the next edition of Stars and Stripes. About the immediate aftermath of the Tet Offensive, Lt. Lockhart says:

It’s a huge shit sandwich, and we’re all gonna have to take a bite.

It’s a metaphor that can easily be applied to the state of Illinois’ current financial situation. Yes, we’re all gonna have to take a bite, unless you’re the purveyor of actual literal sandwiches.

Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud says that because the state of Illinois enacted an unpleasant tax hike, he’s taking his jar of mayonnaise and moving to Florida. Even though, he says, he can afford to stay:

I could absorb this and adapt, but it doesn’t feel good in my soul to make it happen.

And if that weren’t bad enough, he comes across as a sort of corporate gold-digger looking for another state to be his sugar daddy:

I enjoy being courted and the process.

He pays the usual boilerplate lip service to the city of Champaign, where Jimmy John’s corporate headquarters is located. But his so-called “love” of that city apparently doesn’t extend to the 100 Illinois citizens employed at HQ who could potentially be out of work.

Never mind that they have to bear the additional income tax burden from which Mr. Liautaud is bailing. But now they also have to worry about whether they’ll soon have any income to tax.

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Like clockwork

It always seems that about this time of year, I get the urge to resume my amateur (extra emphasis on “amateur”) blogging.

Two Januaries ago, I began a new baseball blog, only to have it dry up and wither away within a few months. Then last January, I tried posting there again, even moving to an extra-special fancy domain name. But real life interfered again, and the blog fell away. Again.*

* My first foray into the blog world was at The 26th Man, a baseball blog I started as the 2005 Winter Meetings were heating up. Maybe that’s why I get the urge to write in the dead of winter.**

** Yes, this is a shameless ripoff of the Pozsterisk.

So here we are: another cold, snowy January… another boring, pointless blog. I’m not exactly sure yet what I’ll be posting here. As I mentioned before, I like baseball (both real and fake). Beer also is high on my list of priorities. And music, too. I’m also fond of belittling others to make myself feel better.

If you also enjoy any of that crap, then stick around. I’m sure Bundle of Stuff will quickly become your favorite non-narcotic sleep aid.

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