Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hot Dogs & Beer becomes Bagels & Coffee?

The 2008 baseball season is here.

The bad part, it started at 6am EDT. Hence the temporary name change. It could be the first time I've ever sat down to watch a game with coffee, but thats ok.

The game of course is being playing at the Tokyo dome in Japan. As of this writing, the A's are winning 2-0 and Matzuzaka has no control of his breaking ball. But its early. The crowd at the Big Egg is actually somewhat subdued. I've been to a game there and the bleacher fans sing enough songs and make enough noise to make the whole place very loud. But who knows how MLB allocated tickets, I'm guessing its not to the average rowdy fan (American or Japanese).

I've rarely been so willing to wake up at 6am. And we get to do this again tomorrow (Why is Oakland the home team in both games??) before a few days off until the start for everyone else.

Only 354 days until Philly beer week 2009

(NOTE: I wrote this a week ago, but apparently forgot to post it, hence the number in the title)

Ok, I don't know for sure when Philly beer week will be in 2009, or even if its a certain event, but I'm already anxiously awaiting.

The past 10 days of Philly beer week were filled with many many events, most of which I could not attend (need that job to be able to afford beer).

Best new bar: This goes to Grace Tavern, a place I'd wanted to try for a while. Its the type of neighborhood bar with great beer, interesting people and a welcoming atmosphere. I didn't try the food, but it looked (and smelled) very good.

Best new beer: This is tough considering I easily tried 50 new beers (and many old favorites). I'm going to give a slight edge to the Harvistoun aged in 16yr scotch casks.

Best experience: I met a lot of interesting people, including some beer writers, but its not often you get a chance to meet the mayor and drink with him. Ok, I didn't actually drink with him, but I watched him tap a keg and did meet him while holding a dogfish head raison d'etre.

Best meal: I think this one is fairly easy, I loved the German food served at the Joe Sixpack event at Dawson's Pub. From the sausage to the sauerbraten to the pretzel and of course the black forest cake. Special honorary mention to the bananas foster at the kick-off event.

Biggest disappointment: There were so many events that some had to be missed, but I was disappointed by the Friday events I tried, being too crowded. I would recommend less non-ticketed events at times that bars are normally already packed from happy hour.

Overall it was a big success, especially considering this is the first time anything of this sort has ever been put together. There is room for improvement (e.g., better website updates), but the basic formula works. I can't wait to see what they come up with for next year.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Philly Beer Week, Part III: The return of the hops

So Wednesday was a much needed night at home. Did this stop me from enjoying a beer? Of course not. I had the Avery Fourteen, a beer brewed specifically for their 14th anniversary.

On Thursday, we headed to Old City. The first stop was Eulogy where their were having a Harviestoun night, featuring their beers aged in Highland Park scotch casks of 12, 16 and 30 years. The beers were pricy so I only had one, the 16. It was an incredibly rich beer with lots of flavors coming from the cask. The scotch flavor was not overpowering which made for a surprisingly easy drinking beer for something of its strength. The bartender informed me that the 30 year supposedly tastes more like scotch than beer, but alas at $22 for a 12oz bottle it was a bit out of my range. For dinner I had their mussels with bacon and potatos and a side of Belgian fries. I was not too impressed with their fries or dipping sauce (Monk's is definitely better). The main reason is that they were too thick. With my dinner I had a Swedish beer called Fiori (I wrote down the full name, but don't have it on me). It was light with a bit of spice, not overly impressive.

After Eulogy we made the long journey across the street to Triumph for their pilsner gala. Now in reality this was more lager gala as there were other lagers besides pilsner (e.g., bocks). Triumph was featuring about 5 of their own beers combined with about 10 from other, mostly local, breweries. This lead to some confusion with the bartenders who are used to serving only their own beers. I started with the Victory Biermeister pils, and I'm glad I did because they ran out soon after. Its a light beer in color, but with a pretty decent hop flavor. I have not had their Prima pils in a little while, but I think this may be a touch better. I guess I should have ordered both. For my second beer I went with the Sly Fox Rauchbier. If you've been following my beer week posts you'll know I'm crazy about this style. The Sly Fox version is on the low end of rauchbiers that I've had (could have been smokier) but that still makes it a good beer. I also had the opportunity to meet Lew Bryson, who was "hosting" the event and Stephen Beaumont, both were very friendly and shared stories with me. For example, I learned about the first double IPA, made by the current Russian River brewer solely because he did not trust some new equipment and decided to cover up the flaws with twice the hops. I also got some stories about Michael Jackson (the beer writer) from Lew, who used to edit a lot of Michael's writings, specifically for Malt Advocate. It was already late after Triumph so we called it a night.

Friday I once again ventured into center city and had plans for hitting several events. First stop was Nodding Head for a meet the brewers happy hour. There were several brewers I wanted to talk with, but the place was mobbed, couldn't even find a place to stand, so we left. Our next stop was Tria (on 12th), where they were having an Allagash night. Strike 2. They were so packed that we were actually rejected at the door for fire code reasons (bars enforce that???). Ok, on to Good Dog who was featuring Sly Fox and Southampton. And strike 3, again too packed to even stand. I attribute the problems to normal Friday happy hour crowds combined with beer week, but I wasn't happy. Those were the 3 places on my list and we failed at all of them. So on to an improvised agenda. Jose Pistolas for dinner, where we were able to find a table. I had the shrimp and chorizo tacos which were very tasty and soem tortillas and salsa as an appetizer. To drink I had the Bells Lager of the Lakes (kind of bland) and the Atwater Voodoo Vator (a decent doppelbock).

Afterward, we wandered around a bit, and then made it to Grace Tavern. It was our first time there and we loved the place. It was exactly the type of neighborhood bar that makes Philly great, good crowd, good beer, good bartenders, etc. I drank the Sierra Nevada Schwarzbier, which I did not even know that they made. It was quite tasty. We called it a night after Grace Tavern and headed home.

Saturday did not involve any beer week activities, although I did do some drinking in honor of st patrick's day, hitting Moriarity's (which was fun) and McGillin's (which was a little too crowded). We finished the night at Old Eagle where I tried some Sly fox Seamus Red and the Flying Fish Espresso Porter.

Sunday I had other commitments that prevented beer week activities, although I had a few while playing darts.

Overall, a lot of drinking in 10 days, but a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for my Philly beer week recap.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Philly Beer Week, Part II: The liver strikes back

I've learned a few things in the past couple of days attending beer week events. First, Philly has even more great beer culture than I realized. And second, I'm not as young as I once was. For that reason, tonight will be an off night.

On Monday we went to the Joe Sixpack doppelbock tasting at Dawson's Pub. The pub is no more than a 5 minute walk for us and is one of out favorites, this fabulous event solidified that. They served the following 9 doppelbocks:
Lancaster Doppelbock
Ayinger Celebrator - A classic.
Schneider Aventinus - Another classic.
Victory St. Victorious - A nice roasted flavor.
Stoudt's Smooth Hoperator - Very different style with a clear hop aroma and taste that was magnified by the abcense of hops in the other beers.
Moretti La Rossa - An Italian doppelbock?? Didn't match up with the others but still good.
Ramstein (I can't remember the name)
Troeg's Troegenator - Amazingly spot on with the traditional German style.
Weihenstephaner Korbinian

The bartender, Jake, was pouring very generous portions for each beer, its a good thing I didn't need to stumble too far to get home. Don Russell gave us a nice history of the style and the specific beers. The pub also provided lots of German food, wursts, weiner schnitzel, spaetzel, big and small pretzels, sauerbraten, and black forest cake. All very tasty, especially the sauerbraten. We also met the father of the owners who told us some fun stories of when Dawson's was a biker bar. I picked up a copy of Joe Sixpack's Philly beer book and am looking forward to reading through it later tonight.

Last night we decided to participate in some of the meet the brewer events, focusing on the art museum area. The night started at London Grill where I drank the Philadelphia Brewing Co Kenzinger, a nice German/Czech style lager with a bit of hoppiness to it. I met one of their brewers, Josh, who filled me in on some details of the new brewery. I also tried the Stoudt's Willie Sutton, an amber beer brewed specifically for London Grill and named for a former inmate of the Eastern State Pennitentiary. It was ok, but nothing too striking about it. For dinner I tried the spring rolls and the ducks wings. Both were very tasty, the wings came with some fries and a spicy mustard dipping sauce.

After London Grill we moved on to Bridgid's for Colorado beer night. First I spoke with the Boulder brewing company's brewer and tried their oak aged Never Summer. The beer was good, not overwhelming. The flavors from the bourbon oak barrels were subtle but noticeable. After that I had the Great Divide Hercules, a very hoppy IPA. I've had this beer in the past, but it had been a while. Its still great. I also spoke briefly with one of the Iron Hill (West chester) brewers (Chris?) who was not working any beer week events, just in the bar for a couple of beers.

Our last stop was the Bishop's Collar, a more laid back and slightly less beer focused bar. The Yards brewers were supposed to be there, but we were either too early or too late because I didn't see them. I did however drink their George Washington porter which is quite good. We did not spend much time here as it was a weeknight we were getting tired.

What fun and excitement await on Thursday and Friday?? Even I can't answer that question.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Philly Beer Week, Part I

So I know blogging has been slow lately, but have no fear, its almost baseball season. Plus, we are in the middle of Philly Beer Week and there is much to discuss.

On Friday we went to the Joe Sixpack beer event at the East Falls Market. This was being touted as the kickoff event and it did not disappoint. The number of people was ideal as I rarely had to wait for any beer. Mayor Nutter was on hand, albeit 45 minutes late, to proclaim the start of the beer week and to tap the ceremonial keg. He's a bit shorter than I expected him to be, although I'm not sure what I was basing my expectations on. We got a chance to meet him, even if it was brief. The food was also pretty good, both the catering and the samples that the market stands put out. And there was, of course, the beer. It was all local and very few brought their standard brews. The highlights included the Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout, the Nodding Head George's Fault and Victory's St. Boisterous. But my favorite of the night was the Triumph Rauchbier, a style that I love but is hard to find. Unfortunately for me, the Philly location does not make it, only the New Hope location. Although I did all I could to convince the people from Triumph that they should brew it at every location and as often as possible.

Saturday we planned to go into center city and go to either Good Dog or the South Philly pub crawl. But the weather was terrible and we had no motivation to leave the house. So instead we went to eat at Hikaru on main st. I was unimpressed overall, the miso soup and ginger salad were ok. The ton katsu was very different than any version I've had before and it was kind of boring. But afterwards we ventured to Flat Rock where I enjoyed a Founder's Old Curmudgen (very good) and an old favorite, Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

Sunday was a busy day, but for non-beer reasons. Therefore the only beer aspects of the day was a dinner of garlic and curry mussels at Old Eagle along with the Summit Marzen and Speakeasy Untouchable Pale Ale. Dessert was the Flying Fish Espresso Porter.

More to follow as the week progresses.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Philly pub crawl

Saturday, the wife and I had tickets to the Rangers game here in Philly. Due to a ticket office mixup, we got seats in the club box section for the cost of corner upper level tickets. This section includes a much nicer bathroom, waitress service, a bar in the club and a wider food selection. The liquor selection at the bar was decent, but I was more in a beer mood and their beer selection was quite poor (Not even Yuengling). The food options were definitely better than on the normal concourse levels, including a dessert bar and a coffee stand (with optional addons such as amaretto). Overall, it was a step up from our typical seats, but not so much better as to warrant the face value price. Also, it helps when the Rangers win 2-0.

Since it was an afternoon game, we decided to hop the subway back to center city and commence a pub crawl. I had made a list of place to hit, some old favorites plus some new places we have been meaning to try.

We started off at Tria (18th St location). I had the Victory Baltic Thunder which was excellent. I've had it before in bottles, but this is the first time on tap. I also got a little appetizer, some goat cheese and pesto on some toasted bread, which was tasty. The place was quite full, but we were able to get a table.

From there we moved on to Nodding Head. The main reason for heading there was to try their Chocolate Stout which I'd read about. They brew it with actual chocolate. Its a more subdued chocolate flavor than say the Southern Tier Chokolat, but still good.

After Nodding Head, we stepped it up a notch and went to Mahogany. Although I've never been there, I've been interested in checking the place out for a while. It is a cigar bar, but my main interest was in the extensive scotch collection. The inside really is set up like a smoking lounge, with couches and a fire place. I had the Aberlour A'bunadh, which was very good. Since none of our stops were intended to be too long, I skipped the cigar.

Next we went to Jose Pistola's, another new place for us. The beers here were very good, I had a Oaked Stone Arrogant Bastard and the Schlenkerla Rauchbier. On a side note, more brewers need to make rauchbiers, I know their not incredibly popular, but I love them. The food menu was not extensive, but I did get some tasty empanadas and the wife had a meatloaf special that was also good. We sat at the bar upstairs and I have to say I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot. The bartenders and people at the bar were all friendly and they were showing some crazy Japanese tv shows.

We next took a bit of walk, in the rain, to South St, where we hit Chick's Cafe & Wine bar. They have a limited, but decent beer selection, focusing on Belgian styles. Their wine selection looked good, even if it was a bit pricy.

After Chick's we headed down south st and stopped in at Blarney South. We didn't spend much time there, partially because I wasn't overly impressed with the atmosphere and it was also an unintended stop.

We finished up the night at Beneluxx tasting room. Again, this was a new place for us and I like the concept. They allow you to order smaller "tasting" sizes of differnt beers. I also had some Manchego cheese which was ok.

By the time we finished up there it was fairly late and we needed to catch a bus, so we left. The pub crawl was a lot of fun, although I did feel it the next morning when I woke up hungover at 6:30 ...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Eli Manning won a super bowl MVP?

And yet hell did not freeze over.

I'm still somewhat in shock and very happy (as a Giants fan) over the result of the super bowl last night. So here are my thoughts on the outcome.

1) In the regular season, the Giants lost to Dallas twice, Green Bay and New England. They proceded to beat each of those teams in the playoffs. I don't feel like figuring it out, but I suspect no team has ever beaten 3 teams in the playoffs that they lost to earlier in the season.

2) The Giants regular season was about as mediocre as you can get. They lost 6 games, 4 to very good teams (see #1 above), and to Minnesota and Washington, which were average teams. They beat every bad team they played, but their best win was probably the other game against Washington. This is about as perfectly as you define an ok team, lose to those better than you, beat those worse than you.

3) And my last point about the Giants regular season is that they lost 6 games, tied for the most of any super bowl winner. The 49ers lost 6 in XXIII (1988 season). Also, the Raiders lost 5 games when they won in XV, but that was a year of freakish parity as 3 teams finished 12-4, and 6 finished 11-5 (5 from the AFC). And the Patriots lost 5 when they beat the Rams in their first super bowl win. And the Steelers lost 5 when they won 2 years ago.

4) I really hate sports fans/sports media members who love to proclaim championship success as the first and last measure of a player's greatness. Before Peyton won the super bowl last year, all we heard was how he was a decent QB incapable of winning in the playoffs. Then he wins and he's a champion, able to handle the pressure. Excuse me, but as a player he is the same before and after that game. He did not suddenly learn how to play football. Similarly, people who were ready to crown the Patriots the greatest team of all time are now saying that the teams will go down as good, but nothing great. As much as I hate to say it, this Patriots team is still great, one of the best I've seen in my time as a football fan (which admitedly only stretches to the late 80s). I guarantee that if we had some magical power to switch the 2 Giants-Pats games (Giants win the regular season by 3, Patriots win the Super Bowl by 3) then people would continue to argue that the Patriots may be the best ever. The real result (18-1 with a 3 point loss to the Giants) and the imagionary results (18-1 with a 3 points loss to the Giants) are not really that different, but the perception is huge.

Now on to more frivolous things ...

5) I was very impressed with crowd at the game, many more fans of one of the competing teams than we usually see at the super bowl.

6) Very few of the commercials were memorable. And even those were not too funny. Are companies trying to be more conservative or are they hiring less creative people?

7) I attribute at least part of the Giants victory yesterday to my conscious effort to drink beer from NY (Brooklyn brewery to be exact).

8) David Tyree went from a nobody to one of the most popular people in NY in the span of 1 quarter.

9) Plaxico Burress got ripped for his prediction of a 23-17 Giants victory. First by the media for prediction a Giants win, and if the media doesn't want players making these kinds of predictions, stop sticking microphones in their faces for 2 weeks. And secondly from Tom Brady who sounded shocked and amused at the notion of his fantastic offense only scoring 17. I doubt he's as amused after scoring 14.

10) Now that football is over (the Pro Bowl is not football), I can better concentrate my efforts on hockey, college basketball and baseball (2 weeks until pitchers and catchers).

11) All 4 super bowls that the Belichek era Patriots have been to were decided by exactly 3 points.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Big moves down under

The Australian Open wrapped up and people may finally realize just how well Djokovic can play. He was his first (but certainly not last) grand slam title. The results, with Federer losing points and Nadal gaining points, leave the top 3 players closer than they've been in a long time (I'd guess at least 3 years). As of now we have:

Federer 6630
Nadal 5980
Djokovic 5165
Everyone else below 2800.

So, with the players so close in points, what does the winter/spring tennis season offer?

Well, there are a couple of international events in February that these guys will play, and Federer has the most points to defend with 300, but thats not enough to cause any shift in rankings. The real potential lies in the Masters series starting with Indian Wells in March. After that we have Miami in March, Monte Carlo in April, and Rome and Hamburg in May. Nadal will have a very tough time gaining ground, as he's defending 1975 points in those 5 events, Djokovic earned 1175, and Federer 1005. So barring some injury, I can't see Nadal catching Federer, but I can see Djokovic catching Nadal. A big key will lie in the draws, whether Djokovic gets placed in the half with Federer or Nadal (especially for the 3 clay Masters events).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random thoughts of the week

Our Netflix queue has 497 "movies". I put movies in quotes because I'd guess 1/4 to 1/3 of the items are TV show discs. The strange part is that the queue has consistently grown since we signed up, it never really goes down. I watch plenty of stuff, but add at a faster pace. How long can that continue? Keep in mind that I almost never put something on the queue that I've already watched.
UPDATE: I think the queue has a maximum of 500, so I now know where the growth will stop.

Why are people incapable of putting food in the microwave at my office and waiting for it? Almost every single time I use the microwave (maybe twice a week) I need to remove the food from the person before me. On Monday, I walked into the kitchen a split second after someone else, who grabbed the microwave before me, which is fine. The person realized I also wanted the microwave and apoligized profusely. Then this person left. Her food finished, I removed it, microwaved mine and only after mine was done did she return.

I received a jury duty notification yesterday. The form has a questionaire that must be filled out and returned. The first question says "Can you read, write and understand the English language?". It then repeats the question in Spanish. Thats the only Spanish on the entire form.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2 new restaurants

I figured I'd get myself ready for lunch by talking about 2 new restaurants I've recently tried.

First is the Belgian Cafe at 21st & Green. This place is owned by the people who own Monk's, so the Belgian theme is fitting. The decor of the place was simple, lots of wood giving the bar area an old feel to it, even though the place opened this year. I got a mussel dish that was very tasty, lots of spices and a little bit of some (garlic?) sausage. The mussels were served with bread which was not great, but was perfect to soak up the juices from the mussels, and frites, which were good, but thicker and not as good as the ones served at Monks. To drink I had the De Ranke Pere Noel, which was tasty but a bit more subtle that I was looking for in a holiday ale.

The second place I tried was the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack Village. I went there for a holiday dinner with work and the place impressed me. I started out with a crab bisque that was excellent. It had large chunks of crab and was also a very large amount of soup. For my entree I had the rack of lamb with gnocchi. The lamb was also excellent, perfectly cooked and seasoned. The gnocchi were a little heavy, but not bad. For dessert I had a white chocolate cheesecake that was very good. I also had an espresso that was not good. It was very light, and only warm, not hot. Overall, the place had good food, and good service. Just don't get the coffee.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best of Craigslist

Every so often I love to peruse through the Best of Craigslist. Here are some interesting posts:



Car for sale

Friday, November 30, 2007

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?

If a football game is on the NFL network and no one sees it, did it really happen?

The answer in both cases is obviously yes. But there has been a lot of complaining lately about games being shown only on the NFL network which some cable companies do not carry and some (like Comcast in Philly) carry, but on a special sports tier that most people do not have.

So is this such a bad thing?

Well from the NFL's perspective I think its brilliant. It gets people to subscribe to their channel who otherwise would never subscribe. But the publicity is not great. In the long run though, I see it as a positive for them. In 10 years if lots of people have the channel and can watch the exclusive games, who will remember the games from 2006 and 2007 that they missed?

From a diehard fan's perspective it depends on if your cable company offers the channel. A diehard will not care about the $3 or $5 a month for the network. They will care a lot if its not available.

From my perspective (as a casual fan), I just don't care. Over the course of the season, the NFL network may show 10 games, of which 2 or 3 will be of interest. For those I can head over to a friend's house or to a bar (which I did last night).

The NFL network is also a great lead in to my next topic, ala carte cable. My cable package includes a lot of channels, probably close to 300, even without counting the 100 music stations. Of all these channels I would say 95% of my TV viewing comprises:
Network channels (Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC)
Comedy Central
Turner Classic Movies
Comcast SportsNet & CN8
The Encore suite of movie channels
Other movie channels (IFC, Fox Movies, Flix, etc)

I will also occasionally watch A&E, Bravo, USA, Travel Channel, AMC, FX, Spike,
Food Network.

This totals roughly 35, maybe 40 channels. The rest I completely ignore. So why should I need to pay for them? The real reason is that Comcast and other cable providers say so. Well what is stopping a new cable company from offering channels ala carte?

I suspect that the networks are part of the problem. If one company owns 10 different channels, they may require that all 10 be included together.

The advantages to ala carte are that the consumers will likely save money, choosing only the channels they are likely to watch. In addition this forces networks to put out better products. Right now a lot of channels know they're included in all cable packages, so there is less incentive to improve.

The one disadvantage I see is the possibility that start up channels will have more difficulty breaking through. I started watching MOJO and G4 because we had them and now I enjoy a few shows on the channels, but I'd never have seen them if they weren't automatically included. Of course, if a channel promotes itself correctly, this may not be an issue (example: if the major league baseball network ever gets off the ground I would order even without seeing it because I know what the product would be.)

Overall, I'd like to see ala carte choices. However, I someone doubt this will be happening any time soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And the award goes to ...

The baseball awards have been handed out so now its time for some fun facts. I'm not going to delve into whether or not voters made correct choices, there are enough people doing that already.

Rollins won the MVP a year after Ryan Howard pocketed the award. How many times have different teammates won the award in consecutive years? Well its happened way more than I orginally expected, 20 times including this year. But then I realized with only 8 teams in a league, this would happen more often. 4 times, we had 3 different teammates win in consecutive years. A full list is here:

Walter Johnson and Roger Peckinpaugh for the Senators in 1924-25 (although AL MVP rules at the time allowed a player to only win the award once, so Johnson was ineligible in 1925)
Rogers Hornsby and Bob O'Farrell for the Cardinals in 1925-26
Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx for the A's in 1931-32 (Foxx won again in 1933)
Mickey Cochrange and Hank Greenburg for the Tigers in 1934-35
Ernie Lombardi and Bucky Walters and Frank McCormick !!! for the Red in 1938-40
Joe DiMaggio and Joe Gordon and Spud Chandler !!! for the Yankees in 1941-43
Mort Cooper and Stan Musial and Marty Marion !!! for the Cardinals in 1942-44
Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra for the Yankees in 1950-51
Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle for the Yankees in 1955-56 (Berra also won in 54, Mantle also won in 57)
Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe in 1955-56
Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard !!! in 1961-63 (Maris also won in 60)
Maury Wills and Sandy Koufax in 1962-63
Orlando Cepeda and Bob Gibson in 1967-68
Johnny Bench and Pete Rose in 1972-73
Joe Morgan and George Foster in 1976-77 (Morgan also won in 75)
Dave Parker and Willie Stargell in 1978-79 (Stargell tied for the award)
Rollie Fingers and Robin Yount in 1981-82
Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez in 1998-99
Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds in 2000-01 (Bonds also won from 02-04)

Chase Utley will have a lot of pressure on him next year to get the three-peat.

Also note that this has happened 7 times with the Cy Young.
And lastly on this topic, the Dodgers once had 5 consecutive rookies of the year. I did not confirm, but I assume this is a record

For an award that voters seem to just vote for last years winners, the gold glove had 10 first time winners, by my count. It doesn't mean much, but I thought it was interesting.

Eating in Philly

We spent a lot of time in center city over the weekend, so I thought I'd review some new places we visited.

On Friday night we went to Marathon Grill on 16th & Sansom. The place was not too large, but we had no trouble getting a table. The service was a little slow, but it was a Friday night. The menu sounded really good and I had a tough time deciding. The seafood bisque did not impress me, it was really just some shreded fish, almost like what you'd get out of a can of tuna. I had a turkey BLT with guacamole for dinner. Unfortunately, you couldn't really taste the guacamole, so it was just a BLT. The meal came with a side of potato salad that was good. The beer selection was nothing impressive, I believe a Flying Fish, Yuengling, and one other decent tap I can;t remember. Overall, an ok place, but not one that I'm in a hurry to get back to.

After dinner we went to Lucky Strike to bowl. Again I'd never been there before, so I didn't know what to expect. It was fairly posh for my normal drinking nights. I drank Sam Adams Octoberfest, which isn't my favorite octoberfest, but is still good. The bowling was of course fun, albiet a bit pricy.

On Saturday we started our night with a pre-dinner drink at Zot on Lombard between 2nd and Front Sts. The place is a beer bar, specializing in Belgians. They had 4 beers on tap, Karmeliet Triple, Blanche de Bruxelles, Delirium Tremens and I can't remember the other one. I had the Karmeliet which was very tasty. The wife had some wine, their wine selection didn't look too bad. After dinner we returned here and I had a few other Belgian beers, Gouden, Brugse Zot and of course more Karmeliet. Interesting fact, they run a happy hour with 1/2 priced drafts from 10-midnight. We of course took advantage of this. Overall, the place had a good Belgian beer selection, mostly in bottles, and was not nearly as crowded as a place like Monks or Eulogy (possibly because it is much newer). The food menu looked good, including about 20 kinds of mussels, but we did not eat there.

Between Zot visits, we eat next door at Bistro Romano. The restaurant runs some dinner theaters, although we didn't participate. We were seated downstairs at a booth. We had a bottle of Nero D'Alova which was good, and priced around $30. The wife and I split a smoked mozzarella appetizer which was very good, even though there wasn't much to it besides the cheese. I had a glazed duck for my entree. The portions were very large, and my duck was tasty, although maybe a touch overdone. The only thing I didn't like were the peppercorns. I like when things are flavored with peppercorns, but I hate actually biting into them. The wife had a fusilli pasta dish with chicken and peppers. The toppings were good, but the pasta was way past al dente. Overall it was a good place and other things on the menu looking interesting to try as well.

And to close out the new restaurants post, we got take out from Alex's pizza last night. They are a little hole in the wall pizza place on the corner of Pechin and Leverington. The pizzas are smaller than some, a large fed 2 people well, but not too pricy ($9.50 with 1 topping). The pizza is fairly thin crust, a bit too crispy for my taste. The sauce was ok, could have used some more spices and the cheese was ok, but slightly lacking in quantity. Not a great pizza, but better than most of what you'll find around Manayunk.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

hockey stats

The NHL has gone through several somewhat major rule changes over the years, which makes it somewhat difficult to compare players and teams across eras. So here's my attempt at rectifying this.

From the beginning of the NHL up to and including the 1998-99 season, points were awarded as follows:
Win in regulation - 2 points
Loss in regulation - 0 points
Win in overtime - 2 points
Loss in overtime - 0 points
Tie - 1 point

This meant that for every game, 2 points were awarded. So the number of points in the standings was (# of teams) * (# of games in the season)

From the 1999-00 season until 2003-04 season, points were awarded as:
Win in regulation - 2 points
Loss in regulation - 0 points
Win in overtime - 2 points
Loss in overtime - 1 points
Tie - 1 point

The difference is the point for an overtime loss. The idea was that teams were playing for a tie in overtime rather than risk earning nothing, so they gave both teams a point going into overtime, then if someone scored they got another point. What this did was increase the number of points in the standings, making it (# of teams) * (# of games in the season) + (# of games won in overtime). More than adding points, this also added variation to the number of points each season, leading to different playoff qualifying situtaions each year.

Since 2005-06, the scoring is:
Win in regulation - 2 points
Loss in regulation - 0 points
Win in overtime - 2 points
Loss in overtime - 1 points
Win in shootout - 2 points
Loss in shootout - 1 points

Ties are eliminated, so every overtime game will yield 3 points. Since shootout wins and overtime wins are identical from a points perspective, I'll just refer to both of these as OT wins. So the number of points in the system is (# of teams) * (# of games in the season) + (# of games going to overtime). We still have variation and an even larger number of points than the other two settings.

So who was better, the 05-06 Red Wings with 124 points, 01-02 Red Wings with 116 points, or 97-98 Stars with 109 points?? (These are arbitrary comparisons)

One option is to look at the ratio of points earned to the average # of points a team earned in those 3 years.

97-98 teams averaged 82, ratio is 1.33
01-02 teams averaged 86.03, ratio is 1.35
05-06 teams averaged 91.47, ratio is 1.36

We can alternatively look at the number of standard deviations each is away from the mean:
97-98 Stars - 1.71
01-02 Red Wings - 1.995
05-06 Red Wings - 1.976

The 109 points is clearly not quite as impressive, but the 116 and 124 look very close. The ratios are nearly identical, with the 116 being more SDs away from the mean, largely due to the increase in variance in points under the current system. Of course, the evidence is really telling us that 116 in 01-02 is roughly equivalent to 124 in 05-06 (or any year in today's system). So always be weary of comparing team points without acknowledging the system under which it was obtained.

So what does it mean for this season?? Well last year 22.8% of games went to OT. So far a sixth of the way into this season, only 13.9% of games are going to OT. So instead of 2741 points last year, we're on pace for 2631 points, which is only slightly more than we saw in the previous points system. If this keeps up (I don't have game by game data to see if this is possibly a typical early season trend), expect teams to need fewer points to reach the playoffs. Instead of 93.75 (the average in the past 2 years), a team might need only 90.

Of course if Ottawa keeps hogging all the points, things could change.

The other implication of the new system is on goalie stats, but that will need to wait for another post.

At a loss for words

As of yesterday, the writer's guild is officially on strike. While I'm not a person who will automatically side with unions, I am definitely on the writers' side here. The main reason for the strike as I understand it is the negotiations over newer forms of media including internet content. The studios (and probably most management) tends to try and create the rules or carry over old rules when new forms arise. Similar instances occurred when the home video market took off.

The last writers strike was in 1988 and lasted 5 months. I have no idea how long this will last, but hopefully it will be quick.

Supposedly reality shows will be unaffected by the strike, but I hate most reality shows, so this does not bode well for me. Two of my favorite shows, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are already on re-runs. I've read that the Office and Scrubs have a few episodes written that they can shoot, although it must be somewhat confusing for the office when half their stars are also writers. (See this site for more Office discussion). The other rumor is that Scrubs will not have a series finale.

I'm also curious how other shows with continuously running themes such as 24 will handle the strike. Ignoring the fact that the premise of 24 is that a season is 24 episodes, I would imagine that no more than a third of the season is written. If the strike could last until spring, then they might be better off delaying the start of the season (scheduled for January).

I'm guessing movies will be least effected since writing takes place far earlier in the production timeline. Plus if you watch TV and movies you get the impression that Hollywood has billions and billions of scripts floating around.

So I guess I'll be spending the next few months catching up on movies and shows I've missed over the past few years and watching more football and hockey. If anyone has heard info on other shows, please comment.

Mad Dog

One of my favorite pitchers of all time, Greg Maddux, re-signed with the Padres for another year. Obviously at 41 he's no longer the pitcher he was in the mid 90s, but he's still a slightly above average start who stays healthy. Since 1988, the fewest starts he's made in a non-strike shortened year was 33!! For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez has started 33 games 3 times, but thats the most he's ever started.

In fact, as scary as this sounds, if Maddux pitches 3 more seasons and gets 100 starts (I know its a big if, but a pitcher of his style can last), he'll be only 8 starts shy of tying Cy Young.

Since we know he'll pitch in 2008, lets look at some numbers.

He's 7 wins shy of Clemens at 354, which he should get easily (assuming Clemens actually retires). He's 14 shy of Kid Nichols and 16 shy of Spahn. Last year he had 14 wins, so this range is possible.

If he stays healthy, he'll end the season in 4th for all time games started, passing Clemens (they are tied), Carlton and Niekro

He's currently 16th in innings pitched and could pass Clemens, Bobby Mathews (who??) and Blyleven.

He never was much of a strikeout guy, but still sits at 11th all time. He should pass Niekro.

I can't say how long he'll pitch, but I'll be rooting for him.

Monday, November 5, 2007

random thoughts

The Gmail inbox always has a link on top to some random website. The title of the website is related to whatever emails you've recently been reading. These are quite humorous to me, especially when the keywords in the email they read have multiple meanings.

Our neighborhood (Manayunk) has lots of college students and other young adults, so weekend parties are common. Walking around on a Saturday or Sunday morning will show you the evidence of the parties such as beer bottles sometimes with a little beer still in them. Usually the beer is crap, but yesterday I walked by an empty bottle of Flying Dog Dogtoberfest and I smiled.

Daylight savings time ended this past weekend, which gave us an extra hour!! This year the switch was made a week later than usual, but many people had calendars printed before the change was implemented and possibly got confused. My parents very nearly would have missed a flight if I didn't mention it to them. Is the change in DST worth the potential confusion? I say no.

My DVR is set to record a bunch of series, but it won't record them in HD. Even if I set the recording on the HD channel, it will resort to the regular version of that channel. Anybody else encounter this problem?

My office instant message program has a feature where you can select people and invite them to a meeting on the spot. However, if you don't select anybody it will invite everybody in your list, which can be quite long. I just got one of these invites. It doesn't bother me too much, I laugh at it, partially because I committed this error when I started working here.

The Sunday night football game yesterday consisted of the broadcast being "green". This does not mean people wore their Eagles jerseys, but rather that the broadcast was eco-friendly, including the studio being in darkness. Excuse me if I'm not impressed with an event that flies hundreds of people around the country and then turns the lights out. I hate these bullshit, purely symbolic acts.

When life gives you lemons ...

some people make lemonade.

I make limoncello.

For those unfamiliar, limoncello is an Italian liquor made from lemons (obviously) that is often served (chilled) as an after dinner drink.

I got a recipe from my parents and decided to make some. The process is fairly easy, although zesting lemons can be tiring. I finished it this weekend and had some last night. It was pretty good. I was very worried about the amount of sugar added. I didn't want an overly sweet or overly bitter drink, but it came out very nice. The good news is I have 5 1/4 liters (about 1.3 gallons), so it will last me a long time.

Stop by if you want to try.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tennis update

Federer lost to Nalbandian again.

Did I just write that?

Anyway, we're down to 6 as Berdych loses missing out on Nalbandian's gifts and the 8th place holder heading into Paris (Haas) also loses.

Gonzalez can't like Federer going out, but he'll still advance unless Youzhny beats the Gasquet/Murray winner in the final OR Robredo plays the Gasquet/Murray winner in the final.

Robredo is in ok shape. He must win against Baghdatis (who is up 5-3 in the first as I write this). That could be enough, but may not be, we'll see.

Gasquet/Murray - Again these two are paired because the winner will make the semis. If Robredo loses, that will likely be enough, if he wins, they'll need to win another match as well.

Youzhny - Beat Nadal, beat the Robredo/Baghdatis winner, win in the final and he's in.

Baghdatis - Still needs to win, and also needs the Nalbandian/Ferrer winner to advance to the final. Much better chances than yesterday, but not fantastic.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Booking a flight from Paris to Shanghai

The tennis season is coming to a close. The final masters event in Paris is currently in the round of 16, and next week we have the masters cup for the top 8 players in Shanghai. 6 players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Davydenko, Roddick, and Ferrer) have locked up spots in the tourney. The results in Paris will determine who will get the final 2 spots.

Going into this tournament, an amazing 18 people still had a chance at one of the two spots. (Hewitt would have made 19 had he played in the tournament). Well at this point, several have lost, or in the case of Nalbandian other results have hurt him and we're down to 9 (as of 10:00am in Philly). So lets handicap the 9, in the order they were entering the tournament.

Gonzalez - lost in the 2nd round, but had a decent hold on 7th place entering Paris. Needs to be passed by 2 people, which will only happen if the finals are between 2 of the following players. So he's got a very good shot at Shanghai.

Haas - In 8th place entering Paris, but has the daunting task of Nadal in his quarter. Needs to make the semis at least, I'm not liking his chances.

Robredo - Won earlier today to make the quarters and will face Baghdatis tomorrow. A win there could be enough.

Blake, Murray, Gasquet - These 3 I'm grouping together because they're in the same quarter and have almost the same number of points. They lucked out when Djokovic lost, meaning one of the 3 will make the semifinals. Dependent upon Robredo and Haas, that could be enough to get the winner to Shanghai. Blake plays Gasquet today and the winner takes on Murray tomorrow.

Berdych - Will need to beat Ferrer and then Federer (or Nalbandian) and even that will most likely not be enough, chances very slim

Youzhny - If he wins the tournament, he'll get enough points, otherwise no chance.

Baghdatis - Very slim chance. He needs to win, plus he needs to play Nalbandian, Federer or Ferrer in the final.

So other than Gonzalez, Robredo is possibly in the best position, especially since he's already won today. I'll be cheering for Blake, but I rarely have much hope when I do that.

UPDATE: Blake holds to form and loses. He is out and tomorrow Murray and Gasquet will play. Nadal also won, meaning Haas (or Youzhny) would need to beat him.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Everybody must get Stoned!

I'm a big fan of the Stone Brewery from California. They continuously amaze me with their beers, the Russian Imperial Stout, Arrogant Bastard (regular and oaked), the Vertical Epic series, etc. All tremendous beers. Last night, for the first time, I tried the Double Arrogant Bastard. This may be my new favorite Stone beer. Its quite hoppy (would you expect anything else from Stone?) but with a great caramelly malt flavor. And it packs a punch at 10%. Its not an easy beer to find (especially living in PA), but I will definitely drink this again and again.

Cheesesteaks or Chowder?

The Philly metro had a fun article yesterday comparing Philly and Boston as sports towns.

Monday, October 29, 2007

2 ounces of heaven

I attended a beer festival this past Saturday in New York City. I've been to several beer festivals in the past including the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC (several times), the Brewer's Jam in Knoxville, TN, and the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival. For those familiar with the movie Bull Durham, the World Beer Fest is held annually on the field from the movie, which is the former home of the Durham Bulls.

We had a great time at the Brewtopia this past weekend. Got to try several new beers and brewers. Some quick comments:

1) The best beer at the festival (at least of the ones I tried) was the Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence, a 10th anniversary specialty of the brewery.

2) There was a stand selling beer chips for $1. This was brilliant.

3) I know Halloween is around the corner, but I was still surprised by how many people dressed up in costumes.

Anyway, I starting thinking about what would be my guide to beer festivals. So here goes. (For those who have never been, beer festivals generally consist of unlimited small samples (2-4 ounces) of as many beers as you want.) We're going to break this down into 2 sections, tips for festival goers and tips for a well run festival.

Participant tips:
1) Eat. This is obviously key to any drinking experience, but its the most important. I also recommend eating before the festival, because the food lines can be long. Who wants to wait in line when they can drink beer instead. I saw people with pretzel necklaces last weekend, this is also a good idea.

2) Try as many new beers as possible. If Sam Adams has a stand, I'm not going to drink their Lager, I've had it many times. If they have the honey porter, then I'm interested. My point is, this is the perfect time to be adventurous, its a small sample and if you don't like it, don't finish it. If you are at a beer festival that doesn't have at least 20 beers you've never had, well then I'm impressed because I've tried a lot of different beers (my current list is over 700) and I always find lots of new and interesting beers.

3) Take notes. Ideally, the festival will give you a list of the beers, but not all of them are smart enough. I try to write down all the beers I try with at least a basic rating of how much I like it. By the end you'll get a little drunk and won't remember every single beer, so trust me, write it down. These notes tend to get very sloppy.

4) Arrive early. All beer festivals are required to check ID, so its sometimes a slow process getting in and you never want to waste precious drinking time. I've seen lines that take 1 1/2 hours to get every person inside.

5) Choose your session wisely. Beer festivals often have an afternoon and evening session. The evening sessions tend to get a younger, rowdier crowd. If you're into that, great. If not, the afternoon session may suit you better. Another plus is that afternoon sessions are less likely to run out of a particular beer.

6) Drink water. This will make the next day more pleasant.

7) Talk with the brewers. If the head brewer or another brewery employee is pouring (and not just a festival employee), talk to them. They will share info on their beers such as where to buy them, what other style they make, etc. Also, some will occasionally have some special beers under the table that are not listed. I met with one of the heads of Sprecher brewery who was very nice and told me all about their operation, even if they don't yet distribute to Philly, its nice to keep in mind since they brew a tasty black lager.

8) Pockets. If you like coasters, bottle openers, stickers or other beer paraphenalia, then wear cargo pants (or shorts), because lots of breweries have free stuff. Alternatively, you can find a girlfriend or wife with a large purse.

9) Scope out bathrooms early. Lines can be long.

10) Courtesy. If there is a line at a stand, after getting your beer, move to the side. Nobody likes lines, this makes them move faster.

11) Strategy. Your strategy may differ from mine, but here are some potential tips. If you can get your hands on a beer list beforehand, scope out any "must try" beers. If lines are long, get onto a line immediately after getting your beer, don't wait until your glass in empty.

Wish list for a beer festival:
(Note, good beer is the first thing I look for but thats kind of obvious, this list is more for faults I've found at some festivals)

1) Bathrooms. If you're organizing a festival with lots of beer, please have enough bathrooms, even if they are of the portable variety.

2) Food. Drunk people love food. Please set up enough stands selling food (and water).

3) Space. Please do not overcrowd a venue so that I can't even walk between stands. Get a larger location or sell less tickets.

4) Entrance. Every festival waits until the official start time, then begins letting people into the location, which can take a long time. Why not start letting people in earlier, but tell the vendors not to serve before the start time?

5) Beer list. I know the brewers will often change their line up at the last minute, but it really helps to have a list of the beers. Its much easier to check off the name of a beer than it is to write it down.

6) Water. I'm referring here not to drinking water, but to water at the stands to rinse out my glass. I don't like to have someone pouring a hefeweisen into a glass that just had a triple espresso stout. It just messes up the flavors too much.

7) Pouring sizes. This refers to the breweries, not the organizers, but I feel pour size is key. As the title of this post indicates, 2 ounces is just about right. Any less and you're getting only a single small sip. Any more and you're getting too drunk off a single beer. Like any person, I have a limit as to how much beer I can have and if I wanted to drink a lot of a couple of beers I'd just go to a bar, not a festival. If I really want more than 2 ounces, I'll just return to that stand later.

8) Designated drivers. Too many festivals do not offer DD tickets. I know enforcement is difficult (the bracelet method is only somewhat effective). But since Mrs. Hot Dogs & Beer does not drink beer it can be expensive. Plus it encourages responsibility, even if the DD has a couple of samples.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The return of hot dogs and beer

If I had to name 1 day of the year when I'm least likely to be focused on work, it would probably be either of the first 2 days of the ncaa tournament. But after that, the wonderful time of october playoff baseball is a close second.

Now, its 85 degrees in Philly today, so the crisp early fall weather that I love has been put on hold, but the desire to watch 3 meaningful baseball games a day has not. Some recent work travelling has prevented me from posting recently, but I'm back with some thoughts on the first 2 days of the playoffs.

Before we even get to the playoffs, I need to comment on the amazing game the rockies and padres played on Monday. The game kept you on the edge of your seat like few sporting events can. One such event is a playoff overtime hockey game, and as fewer baseball games are on tv I'll slowly transition myself into hockey season. Please see my follow up post on the top 10 baseball games I've watched. Here are some general comments on the playoffs.

MLB needs to do a better job of schedulling. First, no 5 game series should have 3 off days. Second, they need to ensure that all teams have at least 1 game in prime time spot. The Phillies played 2 afternoon weekday games, they next two are weekend, but start at 10pm and only if they get to a 5th game will they get a good slot. Also, its clear that playoff games don't last 3.5 hours, they need longer time slots.

If I hear another announcer ask if Joe Torre will get fired if the Yankees don't win a world series, I'm going to punch someone.

***Note: this is the first, and probably last nice thing I will ever say about Comcast***. Comcast just started carrying TBS in HD last week, making my baseball viewing much nicer. Thank you Comcast.

Its scary to think, that a team thats been outscored by 14 runs (including playoffs) is on the verge of hosting the NLCS.

Can someone tell the Rockies its ok to lose more than once in 3 weeks?

Jose Mesa is just terrible this year. Please don't let him pitch.

And now my (worthless) predictions:
Phillies take the next 2 games, then lose in 5
Diamondbacks complete the sweep leaving Cubs fans to plan for next year's "celebration" of the 100th anniversary of their last world series win.
Anaheim wins tonight and they trade wins until Boston takes the series in 5.
Yankees win tonight and game 3, lose game 4 and wang comes back to redeem himself as the yanks advance.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fun Monday trivia

Its Monday. I know this can be fairly boring and the next weekend is so far away, so here are some random interesting facts that I would like you share with you.

Do you know who leads the Yankees in doubles? Its Jorge Posada, with 37.

In the 4 grand slams this year, Roger Federer lost 9 sets. In 28 matches. Henin has lost 3 sets in Wimbledon, and none in the US Open or French Open (she skipped Australia).

The most innings pitched in a season without giving up a run is 18, by Karl Spooner for the Dodgers in 1954. He pitched alright in 1955, then retired due to arm troubles.

Philadelphia puts up lots of historical markers around its streets. Over the weekend I found one commemorating the first batch of girl scout cookies and one showing the home of longtime Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack.

The Pennsylvania liquor control board had $1.5 billion in income in the 05-06 fiscal year on wine and spirits.

Google maps now has a feature that allows you to calculate the shortest distance between 2 points on the globe, taking a circular path. I haven't yet figured out why this will be useful, but I know it will be.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Football (the kind where you use your feet)

I heard this morning on Sportscenter that the Women's world cup is starting next week. Now that I think about it I knew it was supposed to be at some point in 2007, but I had no idea it was next week. This could be my own fault, but I watch and read plenty of sports news so its not like I was being beaten over the head with this news.

Anyway, the tournament is being held in China. If you recall, they planned to hold the 2003 world cup in China, but the SARS outbreak forced them to move the tournament to the US. In the 4 previous world cups, the US team has won twice and finished 3rd twice, so there is reason for optimism unlike with the US men's team.

Yesterday I discussed the state of women's professional sports in the US. My general conclusion was that besides tennis, golf and maybe WNBA (its a stretch), very few people watch women's sports. However, I feel that when it comes to international events such as the world cup or olympics, people watch. Or at least I will.

Is this because I'm a big sports junkie and love watching competition at the highest level? Possibly, but I'm going to lean towards a sense of national pride. Thats what leads me to watch women's track or beach volleyball during the olympics (And here you thought it was just for the women in bikinis). So I'll probably watch parts of the women's world cup, especially when the US plays.

Side note #1: I mentioned yesterday that at times women's tennis is more popular than men's tennis. Well I don't like TV ratings as a metric buts its all I can think of using and here are articles from within the past 10 years mentioned higher ratings for women's matches than for men's.
article 1
article 2

Side note #2: The Rugby world cup (men's) is also starting this weekend. I'm not that much of a rugby fan, although I did get to watch some Gaelic football and hurling while in Ireland and those were lots of fun. So I'll probably also try and watch some rugby, even if its just an excuse to go to an Irish pub.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Female sports

I got an interesting comment from Matt about the popularity of women's tennis in general compared to other women's professional sports. I'll focus my comments to US sports as I have no knowledge of how popular women's soccer is in Brazil or women's curling in Canada.

My research dug up the following women's professional sports:
Basketball (WNBA)
Soccer (the WUSA apparently has plans to start again after disbanding)

There may be other professional leagues, but I didn't find any so even if they exist I doubt they are at a very high level.

Of these sports, I would presume that only tennis, golf, and maybe the WNBA could make a female athlete a "star". Now I don't have a well defined explanation for star, but lets just say that the women in the other sports are not getting endorsement deals and I cannot name any of them. I can name female soccer players, but thats just because I'll watch the US national team play.

I think its a safe statement that women's tennis is the biggest of these 3 based on the following criteria:

Money: The WBNA top salary is $100,000. In golf, 79 players have $100,000 so far this year with 5 over $1,000,000. In tennis, 114 women have earned $100,000 this year with 7 over $1,000,000. From these numbers tennis and golf are close.

Name recognition: I'm not a representative sample as I'm a very big tennis fan, but I'd imagine even the casual sports fan knew the Williams sisters and Sharapova and probably a couple of others like Henin or Hingis. For golf, Sorenstam is a big name, as is Michelle Wie, but I think it gets tough after that. If I tried hard enough I could come up with a few WNBA players, but I don't feel there is nearly as much name recognition. Of course, name recognition is very country dependent as the media focuses more on American athletes

So the question becomes why does tennis have the strongest women's sports program? Some possibilities:

1) Tradition: Women's tennis has been around longer than other sports and has gained a foot hold in the sports media.

2) Sex Appeal: Tennis players are more fit than golfers and more feminine (for lack of a better term) than many basketball players. I'm not sure how much of an effect this has but its certaintly something.

3) Similarities to men's game: In this regard, I think golf is more similar between the sexes, other than the distance they are hitting the ball. Tennis is somewhat similar between genders although the increases atheleticism in males has some effect on the playing styles.

Now if we compare the men's and women's version of any given game, tennis also has to be the closest in popularity. In fact, you could argue that at any given time women's tennis can be MORE popular than men's tennis, at least amongst people who consider themselves tennis fans. This depends of course on who the top players are, how deep the field is, blah blah blah.

So what does it all mean? I'm not sure, but the people at the WTA are definitely doing something right.

Kenny Lofton

A nice article, courtesy of the Onion.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

32 and counting

There are 32 days left in the baseball season so I think its time to discuss the playoffs. We've got some heated races (or at least races that are heating up). Lets start with the AL

At this point the division races are looking fairly tame in the AL. The Red Sox lead by 6 with 4 games remaining against the Yankees. If the Yanks go 4-0 over those games, then it could get interesting, but even 3-1 leaves Boston with a 4 game lead. So short of a remarkable collapse (see Phillies, 1964), the division is over.

In the central the Indians lead by 4 1/2 over the Tigers and the teams play 3 more games. The Indians have a slightly harder schedule with 4 games against the Angels, but Cleveland is a better team and I don't see them blowing this lead.

The west is completely over. The Angels lead by 5 and Seattle is a .500 team playing way above their heads.

The wild card could be interesting. The Yanks and Mariners are tied and the Tigers are 3 back. The 3 game series next week between the leaders will go a long way to deciding the outcome. But of these 3 the Yankees are the best team (I'll admit a little bias here) and their schedule has enough Royals and Devil Rays games that they should earn the WC.

The National League is much more wide open at this point. Mets lead the Phillies by 3 with 4 games remaining against them. They are both decent but not great teams. If the Phillies play a little bit better than usual or the Mets a little bit worse, it will go down to the wire.

In the central we have a battle of who can suck the least. Last year the Cardinals finished 5 games over .500, the 3rd worst in a full season for a division winner ever (1973 Mets at 82-79 and 2005 Padres at 82-80). The Rangers "won" the division in the strike shortened 1994 season 10 games UNDER .500. Its possible we'll see the division winner below .500, we can only hope. In reality its a crap shoot between the Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals. The Cubs are probably the best, but not by much.

The NL West is techincally a 4 team race with everyone except the Giants within 5.5 games. But in reality, San Diego is the best team and is tied with Arizona which has the same issues as the Mariners, playing way above their head. I expect them to regress towards 0.500. So can the Dodgers or Rockies catch the Padres? I doubt it.

Given that I think the Padres with the division, we have the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Braves, Dodgers and Rockies as serious WC threats. The Diamondbacks will go away shortly. The other 4 are all close at just like last year, it will go down to the final weekend.

So get ready for some exciting baseball in the next 4 1/2 weeks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Serves and Volleys

Its a grand August day as the US Open begins. I won't be able to make it to Flushing this year, but I'll watch plenty on TV and will be following the ticker when away from a TV. So without furhter ado, here are some things I expect or hope to see:

1) Federer should cruise into the finals. Roddick, Blake and Davydenko are not incredibly tough foes.

2) Now that electronic line calling (at least for challenges) has been around for a year, we're seeing players use it a little bit better. I think the challenge system is a good thing for tennis, even with its potential for abuse.

3) Even with Djokovic's strong early draw, I like him to go far, at least to the semis.

4) This point has nothing to do specifically with the US Open, but I think mixed doubles is a strange event. I couldn't think of any other professional sport where men and women played together. I'm not saying they should have the event, just that I won't be wathcing it.

5) Watching tennis in HD is fantastic.

6) Keep an eye on some of the young American men's entries. Sam Querrey has already shown he can beat decent players and could advance a couple of rounds. Donald Young (18) and John Isner (22) have shown some potential. I doubt either will go very far, but they'll be fun to watch. (UPDATE: Young dropped the first set in a tiebreaker, but is up a break in the second).

7) If you're looking for a place to discuss tennis or compete in a wide range of contests, I recommend this website, although its too late to enter for this tournament.

8) Blake has the potential to reach the semifinals. I say potential because there is a lot of variance in how he plays from day to day. But there is no one in his 1/4 of a bracket that he couldn't beat. He's played well this summer saving his ranking a bit.

9) A lot was made of the fact that Wimbledon began paying its men's and women's players equally, something the US Open has done for a while. The payouts should be based on how much revenue the draw earns. This is impossible to accurately calculate, but I'd imagine that the men's matches being best of 5 rather than best of 3 for the women should last longer and earn more money. Of course, there is a huge PR benefit of keeping the pay equal that is more important than a few hunderd thousand dollars.

10) And lastly I need to state that the US Open is my favorite tournament of the year. This is partly due to the fact that growing up, my dad and I would go every year. But its also driven by the fact that due to time zones (I live in Philadelphia) I get to watch more of this tournemant than any other grand slam. So for the next 2 weeks (or 1 fortnight if you prefer) I will sit back and enjoy some great tennis.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frank's weekly rants

I've decided to start a new type of post, called Frank's weekly rants. It will mostly consist of me bitching about something that annoys me. Don't know yet if it will be every week or not. Do you have something that annoys you? Please share.

I am utterly amazed at the lack of office kitchen ettiquite. I bring in food to mircowave about twice a week. When I get to the microwave I put my food in (or wait in line if there are people already) and when its done I REMOVE THE FOOD FROM THE MICROWAVE. Of course, its common at my office for people to leave food in the microwave more than 5 minutes after its done warming up. Thats right, people will set the microwave for 2 minutes and then show up anywhere from 3-10 minutes later. Not only is this incredibly inconsiderate, its stupid. Your food will be cold.

You know what pisses me off? Ribbons on cars. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for people supporting whatever cause they want. But on my drive into work this morning, I was behind this truck. And how many ribbons did the truck have? Not 1, not 2, but FIFTEEN! There may have been more I couldn't see. This annoys the hell out of me. So I'm hereby instituting the Frank rule of ribbons. No vehicle may have more than 2 ribbons and if you have 2 ribbons they must not be duplicates.

I was listening to a concert announcement on the radio and heard the DJ explain that tickets purchased at the Wachovia Center are better than those purchased over the internet since they do not have a convenience charge. This seems very counterintuitive. Computer does the work, charge people. Person does the work, don't charge people. Apparently computers have a tougher job. Also, I'm starting to get really fed up with the blurred security letters that Ticketmaster makes you enter to ensure that you're not a computer. Its gotten to the point where I can only figure out about 1/2 of them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hip hip Jorge!!

If I asked 100 baseball fans who was the best catcher in baseball right now I bet very few would say Jorge Posada, but he's somewhat quietly having his best hitting season ever. His OBP is .415 and he's slugging .536!! This gives him a higher OPS that players like Vlad Guerrero and Ryan Howard catching. He's currently at 13th best in the majors (tied with David Ortiz for 7th if you look at OPS+).

Of course, he's been one of the best hitting catchers since he got the starting role over 10 years ago. The question is, does he have the credentials, given a few more years and a reasonable decline, to make the hall of fame?

There are 14 HOFers that were primarily catchers. 3 played in the 19th century, so I won't consider these since the game was quite different. The remaining 11 are Cochrane, Dickey, Hartnett, Schalk, Campanella, Berra, Ferrell, Lombardi, Bench, Fisk, and Carter. I'll go ahead an assume Piazza and Rodriguez get in and include them in the comparison.

First, lets start with games caught. I'll note here, that Ivan Rogriduez has caught a LOT of games, 2032 to be exact. If he plays until 2009 he could break Fisk's record of 2226 games caught. (I'm not 100% sure on this record, but I think its right). Of course, he's not playing well so that is no guarantee. Jorge has 1321 games caught, which means he'd need to catch until the end of 2010 to reach about a median level for a HOF catcher. This is doable, but he'll be 38 at that point and catching will eventually take its toll.

Second, hitting. In this regard he is right up there with the best hitting catchers with the exception of Piazza who is head and shoulders above everyone else. His OPS+ for a career is 125, right in line with Bench (126), Dickey (127), Berra (125) and Campanella (124). He's yet to hit a decline phase in his career, but given that he's currently having his best season, his decline may be later than some others.

The third issue is obviously fielding, which I don't want to go into because its very difficult to measure a catcher's defensive abilities because putouts are useless, calling a game is difficult to judge, passed balls are highly dependent on the pitchers, etc. I've heard talk about Jorge being below average for a catcher in terms of calling a game, but I tend not to listen to baseball announcers as most of them are stupid.

The 4th issue, in my opinion, deals more with whether he WILL make the HOF rather than whether he SHOULD make the HOF. That is of course postseason success. He's won 3 rings (only played 8 games in 1996 and not on that postseason roster), which is worth a little bit of boost to him.

So in conclusion, Jorge Posada is not currently a HOFer, but he could be. Besides catching for 4-5 more years, he needs a decent decline hitting wise since I don't think he's getting bonus points for fielding. As one of my favorite Yankees I'll be cheering for him.

UPDATE - Apparently Tom Verducci must read my blog because there is an article today on CNNSI about the great year Posada is having.

300 (not the Spartans)

We've recently had a lot of baseball milestones, as Bonds tied Hank Aaron in HRs, ARod hit his 500th HR (the youngest ever to do this) and Glavine notches his 300th win. This is a great convergence of accomplishments and is lots of fun for me as a fan.

But there is a problem. We now are forced to deal with lots of questions of "Will anyone ever get 300 wins again????".

This question bothers me. A lot. The answer of course is yes. And if the question sounds familiar its because this type of question is asked lots of times, but people don't learn. After Nolan Ryan reached 300, people wondered if anyone would ever reach 300 wins in the days of 5 man rotations and extended bullpen use. Well 3 players have done it in the last 5 years.

Even assuming the old guys who are close (Johnson, Mussina, etc.) all fall short, the next crop of young guys will most likely produce a 300 game winner. Consider that there are lots of pitchers on about the same pace as glavine. I'm talking about players such as Sabathia, Hudson, Santana, Oswalt, Zito, etc. Its probably a good bet that at least a couple of these pitchers will get close. Then if they are willing to play into their 40s, and with improving pitcher longevity this is highly possible, we'll see another 300 game winner. And if bad luck hits that crop of players, they next crop will get it done.

You can say that given the current state of baseball we will never see a 500 game winner or 35 wins in a season, but please please please don't say stupid things about 300 game winners.

Records records everywhere (part II)

Well, its been almost a month since I last discussed season records and lots has happened. Lets revisit.

AB & PA - Jimmy Rollins is still on pace for 710 ABs (705 is record) but only 772 PAs (773 is the record). The loss of Utely and Victorino from the lineup has probably lead to fewer chances, plus he has sometimes been batting 3rd instead of 1st since Utley's injury. He still has a chance though, but I'll lower it to 15%.

2B - Utley's injury has put an end to this chase. (pun intended)

K (batter) - Adam Dunn has for some reason, stopped striking out as much. But have no fear, beacuse Ryan Howard has picked up the slack. He is currently on pace for over 200, despite missing about 15 games earlier this season. Truly remarkable. Probability = 20%

SF - Well, I jinxed Carlos Lee, he has gotten ZERO SFs since my post. Sorry baseball world. Probability = 0%

GIDP - Orlando Hudson has also gotten exactly ZERO GIDPs since my post. Hmmm, this is strange. Anyway, Ryan Zimmerman leads the league with 24, but he's got almost no chance at the record.

SV - None of the leaders have kept up their pace, which was not good enough at the time, so I'll lower this one to 0% as well.

Well folks, its been a disappointing month for records, but Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins still have a fighting chance, so lets cross our fingers. Interestingly, their chances are highly correlated, since both need PAs for the record.

Return of the blog

I've been away from a computer a lot lately which has led to less blogging. Hopefully I will catch up soon. We recently travelled to Ireland. You can see some pics or a video of a traditional Irish session.

There are of course some interesting things I learned in Ireland.

1) Ireland is in fact very green. Our weather was mostly good, but a couple of days they had a misting sort of rain. This helps keep lots of green things growing.

2) While the Irish beers are very good, I was surprised to see crappy American beers (Bud/Miller/Coors) on tap in almost every pub. And even though I did not see many people drinking them, I cried a little on the inside.

3) This was my first trip to an english speaking country in Europe and I learned that what they said about the Irish being friendly and talkative is definitely true. When you bounce around (or crawl) from pub to pub, you meet a lot of interesting people.

4) I did not do any driving, but I was trying to navigate the Irish roads. And its very weird to sit in the passengers seat on the left side.

5) We ate a "full irish breakfast" in 4 hotels. They were good, but all exactly alike.

6) Irish cities are very small. Dublin is the only place where taking a cab could even be considered. You can pretty much walk from one end of Galway to the other in 15 minutes.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Steroids do not equal good baseball.

In case you wanted proof against the effect of performance enhancing drugs there is this article. I mean seriously, Neifi Perez?!?!?!

By the way, since 1901, for players with at least 1400 games played, Neifi Perez has the 2nd worst OPS+ of all time, at 63. The worst is 57 by Dal Maxvill. In addition, for a player with 4700 plate appearances, the worst OPS+ is our favorite crappy shortstop, Perez. He's had 5510 PAs. How has he managed to stretch out a career of 11 years and 5 teams. I mean, he did win a gold glove in 2000, so that must make him the incredible!!!! By the way, Ski Millelo had an OPS+ of 63 with 5536 PAs. We've found Neifi's equal.

Is Neifi Perez the worst player in baseball history??? No. But if we're considering players who have played in the majors for a significant amount of time, the debate starts (and possible ends) with Neifi. There are plenty of terrible players throughout baseball history, but how many can be very bad and last for so long (and earn $18 million !!).

Those who know me will know I've always disliked Neifi, so the fact that he's now suspended for drug use is really exciting for me. If this isn't proof that steroids are not magical pills that make you a hall of famer, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Adventures in the Rockies

I just got back from a conference in Salt Lake City, which explains the lack of posts recently. Some interesting musings:

1) I got to check out the AAA Salt Lake Bees, an Angels affiliate. The stadium was nothing special. It was very hot, so almost everyone sat in the shade. They had a few local microbrews that I got to try. The biggest problem I had was that most concession stands were closed in the middle of the 5th when I went up to get food. I know sporting events cut off alcohol sales after a certain point, but food sales? The best part about the park was the beautiful view of the Rockies in the background. I'll post a pic when I get a chance.

2) Salt Lake City, at least the part that I frequented, seems to have a lot of homeless. It appeared to be more than Philadelphia, although by no means was I counting. Also, when asked for money from a homeless person, many people intuitively assume the person is just looking to buy alcohol. I often assume this myself. Well I passed a homeless person in Salt Lake City who specifically asked for money to buy whiskey. While I did not give him any, I applaud the honesty.

3) There is a brewpub in the city called Squatters Pub. Overall, their food and beer are not that great (another brewpub called Red Rock was better). However, they do have a beer called Polygamy Porter. The slogan on the tap handle was "You can't have just one".

4) The conference was on statistics and had a few sections on statistics in sports, the majority on baseball. I was only able to make it to one of these talks, by a UPenn professor trying to predict the number of HRs a player will hit by training his model on about 15 years worth of data. He claimed that if you assume that plate appearances are known (and therefore he's only predicting HR rate) his root mean squared error was less than 5. However, going into a season the PAs are unknown and would need to be modelled as well, he had not done this yet. An interesting talk, although I think his model left room for improvement. I need to find some free time to work on such a project.

5) I got to do some hiking up on some of the Alta ski resort trails. There is a small road only open in the summer that leads you to the top of one of the ski lifts and you can climb from there. The views were gorgeous, but we did not make it to the peak as the rain and lightning started. I did see a bolt of lightning hit on the mountainside facing us and lead to a big red flash. A little scary since it was not far from us, but very cool to see.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Phillies - Utley = no playoffs

Only a few hours after I postulated that Chase Utley had a 10% chance to break Webb's doubles record, he gets hit by a pitch and breaks his hand. So that record is obviously out the window. Dan Uggla and Magglio Ordonez both have 38 doubles which puts them at a much lower chance, maybe 1%.

On a more concering issues, especially here in Philly, is what will the team do without Utley. It seems from the reports I've heard that best case scenario puts Utley out about 3 weeks. If that happens AND Utley returns to his pre-injury form, then the injury probably only cost the Phillies about 1.5-2 games (I'm completely pulling these numbers out of my ass by the way). Of course, last season they missed the playoffs by 2 games, so that amount is significant.

More realistically, he'll probably miss 4-5 weeks. Remember when the Phillies told us how quickly Brett Myers would return from his injury? And while they're not eliminated from the playoffs, the rest of the team needs to play much better than they have been to make a serious run.

Additionally, the loss of Utley may affect Rollins in his quest for the AB and PA records. Without Utley's bat, he'll get fewer chances, plus Charlie Manuel may move him from the leadoff spot to the 3rd spot (that is pure speculation on my part, I have no evidence of this).

the strange world of the knuckler

While looking through some random stats I noticed that this season Tim Wakefield has started 20 games and is 11-9, meaning he has had 0 no decisions. In the age of 6-7 inning starters this is remarkable. Wakefield has pitched 8 innings once and 7 innings six times. Nothing shocking there. It seems that when he has the lead, his bullpen holds it and when he doesn't have the lead his hitters fail to score.

So I decided to search for the most starts in a season without a no decision. Obviously, this would lead me to some 19th century pitcher who pitched the entire season. And if you're interested, Pud Galvin had 75 starts and 75 decisions in 1883. But he had a relief appearance, so there was 1 game without a decision. The most games with a decision in all of them was Tim Keefe in 1883 with 68.

But thats not too interesting since the usage of pitchers was much different. So I limited my search to 1901 - 2007. This leads me to Dummy Taylor with 45 in 1901. Again, much different pitcher usage. So I'm further refining the search to 1941 - 2007. Our new leader is Lum Harris with 26 in 1942. Who was Lum Harris you ask? I have no clue. He pitched for 5+ seasons and managed a few years, but nothing major of note.

And the next highest season with G = W + L is Wakefield.

Other seasons of note:
Gaylord Perry had a decision in all 40 of his starts in 1972. In his 1 relief appearance he got a save.
Dontrelle Willis had 32 decisions in 34 starts in 2005. The Marlins bullpen blew leads in the other 2 games.
John Smiley had 27 decisions in 28 games in 1997.

So if you're a fan of random, meaningless numbers, root for a decisions every time Wakefield starts which includes tonight.

I also learned in this process that Maddux started 37 games in 1991. Thats a lot of games for a 5 man rotation.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who wants to be a commissioner?

Being a commissioner seems like it should be a great job. You're in charge of a sport that you presumably love. You get to attend any game of that sport, and probably most of any other sport as well. You know all the owners, players, etc.

But then there is the downside, summed up as public relations. Right now we have Bud Selig dealing with the unpopular Bonds, David Stern dealing with crooked refs, and Roger Goodell dealing with troublesome atheletes. Then you have Gary Bettman dealing with a lack of media attention, but thats a whole different problem.

Steroids are a problem, but I don't want to go into that topic in this post. Also, the majority of people only seem to care when it comes to records. No one pays any attention when Matt Lawton or Jason Grimsley get suspended. The Michael Vick and Pac Man Jones problems in the NFL are stupid individual players and to the NFL's credit, they are quick to suspend players for off-field activities. The NFL as a business is such a juggernaut that they will not be affected as long as they don't let people like Vick play.

The worst of these is obviously the ref betting on basketball games. If there is one thing any sport needs its impartial judges/refs/umps. A ref who does this once is impossible to catch, but those who are consistently altering point spreads can be monitored to some extent. First, if the spreads for games by one ref change more than expected, this can be a problem. Secondly, if the final score (in relation to the spread) does not follow the pattern of other refs, this should also be flagged. Here's a link to an article talking about an example of using data to watch a ref. Warning: its an ESPN article written for the layman, not a statistical article. There is a link to some data for games he reffed, but without the same data for other refs its kind of useless. If I find that data anywhere, I'll be sure to post it.

Of course, basketball is not the first sport to have issues with refs (recall the figure skating fiasco from recent olympics). And if this is truly the only ref involved, the league will be ok, but if not they better have some great PR guys.

I think that basketball is probably one of the most likely sports to be victim to this corruption. Primarily because calling a foul leads directly to points, the amount depends on who shoots the free throws. In baseball, the home plate ump will affect balls and strikes, but other umps have maybe 1 or 2 close plays a game, which is not reliable enough for someone trying to fix a game. Plus, betting in baseball is not nearly what it is for basketball or football. In football, refs can throw flags, but this does not directly lead to points. Plus the point system in football makes games harder to control. If you help the offense, they may score 3 or 7, but you can't necessarily control which one.

Overall, I'd probably still want to be a baseball commissioner, I'd just need to drink more to deal with the stress.

UPDATE - I rarely ever trust online polls, but there is currently a poll on CNN-SI's website asking people to vote for what they think is the worst form of cheating in sports. Option 1 is gambling/point shaving and option 2 is steroids/drugs (steroids are drugs, so I don't entirely get that one) and option 3 is other. As of about 1:15, option 1 has 65% and option 2 has 33%. This is somewhat surprising to me that drugs is getting that many votes. Doing steroids may be cheating, but fixing a sporting event makes it an exhibition, not a sport at all. I wonder how the poll results would differ if the HR record was not in the forefront of the media.

Records records everywhere

A while back I had a post about career records that will likely be broken by current players. Now that we're 60% through the season, its time to look at potential single season records. Note that I'm using the terms record loosely, it does not always mean a positive outcome.

AB & PA - Jimmy Rollins is in a perfect situation to break both of these records. He's curently on pace for 719 ABs (705 is record) and 778 PAs (773 is record). He's leading off for a team that scores a lot of runs, he's healthy (always plays >= 154 games), and his team will likely be in a playoff hunt for the next 5 or 6 weeks. Also, he doesn't walk much allowing him the possibility to break both records. Probability of falling: 30%.

2B - Chase Utley is sitting atop the leaderboard with 41 doubles. This puts him on pace to tie the very old record. Will he? Well, he's also been quite healthy and like Rollins, gets lots of plate appearances. But keeping up the doubles pace is tough. There's a good chance he'll crack 60 for the first time in 70 years, but I put his chances of reaching 67 at 10%.

K (batter) - Adam Dunn holds the top 2 season ever with 195 and 194. As of today (with 120 Ks) he's on pace for 192. With the negative stigma attached to this record, managers have in the past sat players to prevent breaking the record (see Jose Hernandez in 2002). But since Dunn already owns the record, who cares. I'll put his chances right now at about 35%, but we'll keep a eye on his pace as the season progresses.

SF - A less heralded record, Carlos Lee has 13 SFs this year, putting him on pace for 20. The record is held by Gil Hodges with 19. We'll give him a 50% chance.

GIDP - Orlando Hudson has 20 so far, putting him on pace for 32. The record is 36 by Jim Rice. Not too much chance right now, maybe 5%.

SV - A couple of pitchers (Cordero, Valverde) are on pace for about 50-52 saves. This puts them several off of the 57 record. Given more opportunities its possible, but I'd say less that 5% that anyone reaches the record.

If you trust my numbers, and there's no reason for you to do that, the chance that at least one of these records is broken is just over 80%. Maybe I'm a little optimistic here. Of course, Utley's and Rollins' records are correlated since they both need the rest of the team to hit to get plate appearances, but you get the idea.