Coyotes move on Wrigley Field

When you live or work around Wrigley field, you probably think you’ve seen it all, but chances are you haven’t seen this: a pair of rather large coyotes hanging outside the ballpark looking for a snack.

Yikes. It looks like the coyotes are just sort of hanging out and enjoying themselves, completely oblivious to whether the Cubs are playing, so they’re not unlike most of the humans who show up at Wrigley.


Nolan Ryan is writing a cookbook

That’s pretty much the whole story: Nolan Ryan is writing a cookbook. It is to be called The Nolan Ryan Beef Cookbook, which would be a sweet title for a hip-hop album full of diss tracks targeting Robin Ventura.

Ryan’s a rancher, so maybe he also knows good ways to prepare beef. I’m open to it, at least. The guy’s good at stuff and he probably likes meat a lot.

But for my money, the standard-bearer in monocarnivorous baseball cookbooks is still Wade Boggs’ Fowl Tips. Every few months I search the Internet for a copy for sale, but nothing yet.

For those wondering, Boggs managed a tiny-sample .974 career OPS against Ryan, so score one for chicken in the long-fought battle for meat supremacy.

Also worth nothing: Customers who viewed Fowl Tips on also viewed Rawlings batting doughnuts and Everybody Poops.

Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Baseball stuff

Via email (on Thursday), Regina writes:

Hey Ted!  I work at a middle school, surrounded by billygobs of Yankee fans. I am wearing my T7L “The Dickey Strikes Back” t-shirt, and received one complaint (actually, not to my face) that it was inappropriate.  Thoughts?  I am also wearing a blue sock and an orange sock with my blue/orange Reebok sneakers that I spied on Shannon Shark’s blog. They are a year old and have never been worn outside.  Too much?  I value your opinion.  Should I turn my shirt inside out, or bask in the warm glow?

What? No! Wear it with pride! Are we not in the peak of the anti-bullying movement? Assuming you’re not breaking any sort of workplace dress code (and more on that will follow), be a role model to the middle schoolers and show them you’re not afraid to swim upstream when celebrating something as important and monumental as R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young Award victory. In other words:

Yes, and I don’t think it was all that close. By WAR, Wright beats out the next guys in the division by more than a full win. His total in that stat was bolstered by his massive uptick in the notoriously capricious defensive metric UZR, but so was the NL East’s second-best — Jason Heyward — and Wright plays the more premium defensive position and far outpaced Heyward offensively.

By offense alone, the only guy who hit appreciably better than Wright in the division was Giancarlo Stanton, and Stanton played in 33 fewer games due to injury. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, whose park-adjusted 149 OPS+ narrowly topped Wright’s 143, would have had a strong case had he not missed nearly all of August with a foot injury.

Don’t forget it: David Wright is really, really good. For whatever reason, fans of every team get frustrated with their club’s best players on occasion. But Wright didn’t stumble into becoming the best player in franchise history. It’s a pretty safe bet that no prospect any team would ever consider trading for anybody will ever become as good as Wright, and a reasonable wager the Mets won’t see another homegrown position player as good for at least another 25 years or so.

Well, pitcher wins are fluky, so it’s hard to expect another 18+ win season from anyone pitching for the Mets next year unless the Mets come into a lot more offense. But the complete list of starting pitchers who have been as good or better than Dickey since he joined the Mets in 2010 is pretty short, and every guy on there is someone you’d probably call an ace. Here are the fellows who’ve thrown at least 500 innings with an ERA+ of 125 or better since 2010: Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver, Johnny Cueto, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Gio Gonzalez, David Price, R.A. Dickey and C.J. Wilson.

Dickey’s the oldest of the bunch, but his marked improvement in strikeout rate in 2012 suggests he’s not really slowing down. At this point, it’s fair to say he does have a true history of success. And he has improved pretty steadily since he became a full-time knuckleballer. With every passing year, Dickey’s more likely to fall victim to injury, but provided he stays healthy he’ll likely be good for at least a few more years. It’s not as if the league still lacks exposure to his pitch at this point.

Dickey is an outlier even among knuckleballers, so it’s very hard to predict his future. But Phil Niekro had his best three-season stretch starting in his age-38 season. Tim Wakefield stayed pretty consistent into his 40s. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Dickey to repeat his 2012 performance, but I don’t think the concern in re-signing him should be whether he’ll remain effective for the next few seasons. It’s whether he’ll be effective enough to justify the cost over the cost of his replacements on a team with a very finite payroll and massive holes to fill elsewhere.

Wait, the rook who needs to know his place or the guy to put said rook in his place?

The former almost has to be Jordany Valdespin, based on reputation. I’ve been accused of unfairly ripping Valdespin on the podcast, so I won’t say more. My concerns have far more to do with his approach than his attitude anyway.

The latter? I’m hardly a club insider and I don’t want to make myself out to be something I’m not. But I heard a couple stories I can’t share here toward the end of the 2012 season that speak pretty well of Wright’s clubhouse leadership. It was far more productive and decent than “know-your-place” type stuff and, again, I don’t think anything provided behind the scenes is as valuable as what can be measured on the field. But my understanding is that Wright demonstrates a much more assertive personality when the cameras are off than he ever does in post-game interviews and such.

Sorry to be vague.

That’s a pretty wonderful hypothetical, and I don’t have a great answer. Are they expanding roster sizes? Mike Trout continues playing both ways forever. Probably guys like Robinson Cano and Adrian Beltre, too. And it would probably take a while for teams to fully exploit the system, so there’d be a period in which not all that much changed while teams started re-working their Minor League systems into separate instructional branches for defensive players and hitters. With zero focus on defense, could more than a handful of players develop into David Ortiz-style mashers?

And moreover, how would run scoring around the league change if every team could field a lineup full of David Ortizes and a defense full of Rey Ordonezes and Brett Gardners? Would they balance each other out due to the diminished batting average on balls in play, or would enough home runs be hit to bring back the late 1990s? Someone with math, get on this please.

Baltimore Sun interview with Gus Triandos neglects to mention the reason I’ve heard of Gus Triandos

This won’t really make sense to anyone who hasn’t seen The Wire, but anyone who hasn’t seen The Wire should probably get on that. Trust me, once you get past how many Baltimore natives have British accents, it’ll be worth it.

I don’t know what Internet rabbit-hole led me to this 2009 Baltimore Sun “Catching Up With…” piece with former Orioles catcher and object of Herc’s affection Gus Triandos last night, but while I found it entertaining and learned that Triandos — as Herc acknowledged — seemed to have a pretty strong sense of humor about himself, it was disappointing to see that it contained no references to Triandos’ numerous mentions in the critically acclaimed series.

There’s a couple of likely explanations: First, it could be that veteran Baltimore sportswriter Mike Klingaman himself never saw The Wire, or he did and is so deeply entrenched in Baltimore-area sports stuff that he doesn’t think there’s anything particularly notable or funny about lengthy discussions of carnal relations with Gus Triandos. So when some reader — perhaps due to series, perhaps not — suggested he catch up Triandos for the series, he did not know or think to discuss the catcher’s inclusion in the show.

Alternately, it could be that Triandos himself never saw The Wire, and that given the nature of the conversations surrounding Triandos in the show, the topic was too awkward to broach with a then 78-year-old former ballplayer.

“Gus, have you seen The Wire?”

No, I’m a 78-year-old man and it’s 2009. I exclusively watch Law and Order and its spinoffs.”

“Oh. Your name came up several times.”

“Yeah? In what context?”

Three thousand cheers for R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award last night. Like I said yesterday, his season wouldn’t have been any less awesome or memorable or dominant if he didn’t win, but the honor makes for a nice cherry on top of an otherwise spectacular sundae. So, well, good.

Here’s a look back at Dickey’s award-winning year in TedQuarters posts, for whatever that’s worth:

March 3: R.A. Dickey on the slow knuckler
March 9: Sandwich Show with R.A. Dickey
April 30: R.A. Dickey makes remarkably convincing Old West sheriff
June 7: R.A. Dickey, last four starts
June 15: Select decontextualized quotes from “The Humpty Dance” that seem apt to describe R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball
June 19: The R.A. Dickey phenomenon
June 20: Knuckleballer in full ascendency
Aug. 31: Should the Mets trade R.A. Dickey?
Sept. 7: R.A. Dickey on ‘the kairotic moment’
Sept. 18: Knuckleball!
Sept. 27: R.A. Dickey rules
Oct. 3: R.A. Dickey has been pitching with a torn ab muscle since April
Oct. 16: R.A. Dickey has pet rabbits named for Star Wars characters

Does the Cy Young Award change anything about the way I now think the Mets should approach Dickey’s situation this offseason? Rationally no, emotionally yes. Thinking back on his remarkable year makes me a bit more wistful about the possibility of his departure, regardless of the potential return. We just witnessed something special.

The GIF that keeps on giving

Before all the trade hoopla went down last night, Drew Fairservice of Getting Blanked tweeted this GIF:

I don’t know when exactly this happened (though I know from Angel Pagan it was sometime this season) or how I missed it when it did, but I’ve made up for lost time by watching it roughly a million times. It’s like a GIF crafted by James Joyce in that you can experience it over and over again and still unpack new details. But unlike something crafted by James Joyce, it’s actually enjoyable.

Here are some observations on this GIF, listed in the order in which they were made:

– Retired NBA legend Dan Majerle makes a great grab on a ground-rule double at a Diamondbacks game in Phoenix.

– Dan Majerle made the catch with one hand and without moving any part of his body besides his right arm, holding a plate of food steady in his left hand throughout.

– Dan Majerle appears shocked, then impressed with himself, then a little bit embarrassed to have been so impressed with himself for catching a baseball at a baseball game, considering the magnitude of his athletic accomplishments.

– When Giants center fielder Angel Pagan throws his hands up — standard practice on ground-rule doubles — it looks in this case as though he’s just deferring to Dan Majerle, like he would otherwise continue chasing the ball but saw Dan Majerle there and realizes Dan Majerle’s got it.

– Dan Majerle, standing under an advertisement for a gym, doesn’t look a day older or any less fit than he did when he retired from the NBA a decade ago.

– Dan Majerle’s catch protects what looks to be an impressive spread of food behind him.

– Three-time NBA All-Star and Phoenix-area hero Dan Majerle appears to watch baseball games all alone in center field, favoring a wide, steady stance because Dan Majerle fears nothing. Upon first look it seems like the guy in the white polo might be standing with Majerle until the ball comes their way, but with further inspection it’s clear that the dude is actually a few steps behind Majerle from the beginning of the sequence. Even after the catch, Majerle’s admiring onlookers remain several feet away while they cheer his accomplishment. Dan Majerle just appreciates some space while he eats and watches baseball.

– White-shirt guy thinks the catch and Dan Majerle himself are hilarious. White-shirt guy will be telling this story for the rest of his life. Nothing Dan Majerle could do at this point would ever surprise white-shirt guy.

– After the catch and his initial reaction, Dan Majerle notices himself on the television to his immediate right. Presumably he also sees the smaller Dan Majerle on the TV seeing a yet-smaller Dan Majerle on TV, and so on into infinity.

– Dan Majerle’s party favors Grey Poupon mustard, obviously.

Enjoy your days. I’ll be here watching this GIF.