The Godfather

I didn’t eat the Frito Pie last night. Toby pointed me toward the Godfather, and I couldn’t resist. Though at delis all over the New York area “The Godfather” refers to an Italian hero, at Grayson stadium it’s an Italian sausage covered with Philly cheesesteak and chicken-steak. (Is that an oxymoron? You know what I mean, like the chicken equivalent of Philly cheesesteak.) I got mine with jalapenos, because I’m like that.

Here is what the Godfather looks like. There’s an Italian sausage under there. The ketchup was my own addition:

What did it taste like? Exactly how you’d expect: Amazing. I still have a little bit of a grease headache just thinking about it, but worth it nonetheless. This needs to catch on.

Bobby Cox says Jason Heyward takes too many pitches

Bobby Cox says Braves rookie Jason Heyward is taking far too many hittable strikes and limiting his chances by continually falling behind in counts….

“We’re going to talk to him,” Cox said. “He’s taking way too many pitches for strikes. [As a result] he’s getting one pitch to swing at right now.”

Dave O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As Aaron Gleeman points out, the Heymaker has swung at the fourth fewest percentage of pitches inside the strike zone of any Major League qualifier, so Cox is probably onto something, all snark aside.

That said, if he’s looking for a right fielder who won’t take too many pitches…

Stephen Hawking totally trying to pass off the plot of Independence Day as insight

We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.

Stephen Hawking, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, via Huffington Post.

Ahh, I mean, no disrespect to the smartest guy in the world or anything, but I’m pretty sure that’s precisely the vision President Bill Pullman saw in his psychic showdown with the alien in Area 51 in Independence Day, prompting his triumphant, Bill Pullman-y, “Nuke the bastards” declaration.

And clearly — and again, no disrespect — Stephen Hawking forgot that though Randy Quaid (SPOILER ALERT) died in that movie, he’s still very much alive and ready to save us from vicious extraterrestrials in the real world.

So fear not, earthlings.

Nick Evans killing it

As Mets fans, we lose perspective. We get so caught up in thinking about how Jerry Manuel’s job security affects us, we forget to consider how it impacts Nick Evans.

Evans, who was starting important games for Manuel and the Mets in 2008 before struggling in Triple-A then going mysteriously missing in 2009, is now banished to Double-A, buried below Ike Davis on the organizational depth chart.

Much has been made of Davis’ hot start to the season, but Evans — still only 24 — is destroying Double-A pitching. The righty corner bat went 3-for-5 on Friday to raise his average to .395 with a .455 on-base percentage and a .737 slugging.

It’s a tiny sample, of course, and Evans’ weird collapse in Triple-A in 2009 makes him a difficult player to project. But according to MinorLeagueSplits.com, his 2010 Double-A line as of Friday morning (before the three-hit night) equated to an .849 Major League OPS, which would be good for third best on the big-league Mets.

Granted, Nick Evans isn’t likely to keep hitting like the Rogers Hornsby of Double-A, so I’m hardly suggesting the Mets can just call him up to The Show and expect he’ll post an .849 OPS. Plus it’s unclear exactly where Evans could help the 2010 Mets. He’s blocked in left field, right field and at third base by better righty bats, and by Fernando Tatis as the righty bench bat/platoon first baseman.

I’m sure plenty of Mets fans are ready to cut bait on Tatis after his slow start to the year and fluky run of double plays in 2009, but Tatis has earned a longer look with two seasons of solid hitting. Plus the team certainly values his ability to play second and shortstop in a pinch.

So for the foreseeable future, Nick Evans will likely stay right where he is, mashing the crap out of Double-A pitching, cursing his fate, and, presumably, tracking the Mets’ managerial situation from Binghamton.

A quick thought on offensive language

Thinking out loud: Sherm and I had a quick exchange about linear weights in the comments section here a month ago, and for whatever reason, I thought about it this afternoon.

For years, I’ve argued that a big reason more people haven’t been exposed to more advanced offensive metrics is a simple matter of the language involved: We have easy verbs at our disposal that describe the standard, back of the baseball card stats that so many of us grew up with.

If I say, “David Wright hit .307 last season,” you know that I technically mean, “David Wright got base hits in 30.7 percent of his at-bats last season,” and you take it on faith that the average I’m presenting is correct and don’t bother looking up his at-bats and hits and doing long division.

I can attest that when writing about baseball, it’s sometimes tempting to rely on batting average — even if it’s an imperfect measure of offensive performance — for that reason alone. Saying “he hit .307” is easier and less awkward, in the course of a 500-800 word column, than writing, “he posted a .390 on-base percentage” or “he had an .837 OPS.”

I have to imagine there are baseball writers out there — ones much more widely read than I am — who would be more willing to incorporate advanced stats into their work if only there were more convenient language in place.

For a while, I searched for a verb that could convey on-base percentage. I e-mailed back and forth with John Peterson of Blastings! Thrilledge about this back in the day, but I don’t think we ever came up with a reasonable answer. To say “he based .390” sounds like some sort of drug terminology. “He reached .390” sounds like it was something he was striving for. “He safed .390”? Just weird.

Regardless, perhaps linear weights provide potential for a breakthrough. Though in concept, they are a bit abstract and somewhat difficult to grasp, they attempt to assign specific run values to every possible offensive outcome, relative to zero (making an out).

The stat wOBA — an attempt at a single, context-neutral universal offensive metric — relies on those linear weights. A good primer can be found here.

But instead of making the stat an average of linear runs produced per plate appearance, the stat’s creator, Tom Tango, made it scaled to the league-average on-base percentage to make it easier to digest.

That’s cool, and as someone who has been digesting on-base percentage for a while now, I appreciate it. Still, it adds another layer of complexity to an already esoteric metric, and one I doubt will help it earn any converts among the multitudes who weren’t already using OBP to measure offensive players.

This is almost certainly wishful thinking, and I’m probably missing something here, but I wonder if the stat would be easier to grasp if it were a simple, unscaled average of linear runs per plate appearance.

In my imagination — which is far removed from reality — that could solve the verb problem, since I could write “David Wright produced .320 last year,” or whatever it was, and you could know I meant “David Wright produced offensive outcomes worth .32 runs per plate appearance last year.”

Still too abstract for general consumption? Now that I think about it, yeah. That’s a really broad stretch beyond batting average.

Plus, like I said, I’m sure I’m missing something somewhere. Step up and tell me how I’m wrong, Internet.

Sports!

I fell asleep on my La-Z-Boy around 7:30 p.m. yesterday after a day spent moping around the house feeling awful. At some point I managed to take my contacts out and stumble into bed, I guess, and I woke up at 7:30 a.m.

I ate breakfast and showered, and sat down on the couch, fully rested and refreshed. And then I remembered:

Sports!

The Georgetown Hoyas, the mighty, frustrating, talented Hoyas, take on the stupid, evil UConn Huskies today at noon, a matchup between two of the best teams in what is certainly college basketball’s best conference, no matter how little coverage it receives on ESPN.

And that’s just the undercard. At 4:30 today, for the first time in three years, one of the professional sports teams I root for will be playing in the postseason. So exciting. I have nothing interesting to say about it, other than that I’m geared up.

I don’t know if it’s the 12 hours of sleep, or whatever was ailing me yesterday passing, or it just finally sinking in that the New York Jets are back in the playoffs, but I am elated. I have no idea what will happen in either game today, but right now, with nothing settled and everything possible, life is good.

The only problem is I want the damn games to start already. And my wings to get here.

Delicious wings and sports.

The phone is ringing, Mark Sanchez. It’s destiny calling again. Pick it up.