True Stuff …

Five things you don’t need to know about me, but I’m telling you anyway.

One. I Really Dislike Baseball Statistics.

Babe Ruth and Willie Mays didn’t need WAR stats to know they were the best in the game. Similarly, I don’t need WAR to tell me that Mookie Betts is one of baseball’s best players today and [insert name of someone who really annoyed you last season] isn’t.

If a sportswriter includes more numbers than actual words in their story, I’m out. Out.

Sure, I’ll take the basics … batting averages, home runs, ERAs, stolen bases, errors.

But, beyond that? You can call them “advanced metrics” but really they’re just a mess of numbers hiding behind a mess of letters …

OPS, OPS+, P/GS, IR-A%, BQR, LIPS, wRC+

Who needs all that?

This …

3/11/2020, UMass-Lowell at Virginia.

This Is All I Need. 

Baseball is a team sport. Individual statistics are like artificial preservatives, unnecessary and probably not good for you.

Two. Fantasy Sports Are Stupid.

I like making declarative sentences like this, because people who play fantasy sports get all agitated and blustery whenever someone tells them their pretend sport is stupid.

Agitated and Blustery.

If you spend a week deciding who’s going to “play” in your pretend football game, you probably need to find another sport to watch.

Three. I Can’t Stream The Internet, But Even If I Could …

… I would still tell people I can’t.

See, it’s like this. We live on a farm in the wilds of Virginia. And, by “wilds,” I mean, we live one-half mile down a pasture road and approximately one more mile from where they stopped burying the high-speed internet cables a few years ago.

About a mile from here, I’m told, the internet is faster than a new-fangled air-o-plane. 

So, we have a big satellite dish that gives us crummy, metered internet that fritzes out whenever it rains and at other random times … and, when it is running, it’s very slow.

Remember this … and how slow it was?

 

Yeh, That’s Us.

But, shoddy internet can come in handy. Every few days someone, somewhere insists I stream some movie or program or highly educational something-or-other about the lives of Canadian moose or some 10-part miniseries about Victorian England on Netflix.

It is so delightfully handy to be able to say, “Nope. Sorry. I can’t stream that,” rather than telling an even more truthful truth like, “I’m afraid I’m at an age where I can’t afford to waste even an hour of my life on something like that.”

Someday, we may have access to that fancy, speedy internet that you probably take for granted.

But, when we do, I’m not going to tell anybody. Because, no matter how hard you beg, there’s no way, no how, I’m going to binge-stream Downton Abbey. Not at my age.

Four. I Don’t Own A Toaster.

But, I do love toast.  Did you know that you can make toast without a toaster? It’s true!

Bread.

Toast! (It’s toastier than it looks.)

I like to shame the online foodie purists and “kitchen influencers” (seriously, that’s a thing) who insist you shouldn’t clutter your kitchen with single-use gadgets.

Because, watch their video feeds and there it sits. The toaster. The ubiquitous single-use kitchen gadget taking up prime real estate on their kitchen counter.

And, hey! Salt shaker! Salt shakers are the singlest of single-use gadgets. No one complains about them, so leave my lemon reamer alone.

Look, I’ve got nothing against toasters, except that they take up room … room that I can’t spare in our small-ish kitchen.

If a toaster comes in, something’s going to have to go out.

And, This Chicken Tureen Isn’t Going Anywhere.

Five. My Shoulder Is, As My Doctor Said Under His Breath Last Month, “A Mess.”

You really don’t need to know this, except that I’m pretty sure my writer’s block is directly related to the fact that I can’t lift my arm above shoulder height without wincing like a toddler. Instead of thinking about baseball, I’m spending my time thinking about whether my arm is going fall off if I twist it a certain way.

Some day, people will ramble on and on to their grandchildren about the Pandemic of 2020 (2021 … whatever).

I’m going to remember 2020 as the year I couldn’t lift my arm.

Do you know how impossible it is to be a Yoga instructor with just one good arm? It’s pretty impossible.

At home physical therapy … it’s like a Pelaton commercial, but without the spandex, the youthful glow, and the feeling of sweaty accomplishment.

(And, no, smarty pants, it’s not my throwing arm. First, it’s my left arm and I’m a righty. Second, I can’t throw – or catch – a baseball. This is why, in high school gym class, they put me in right field … where no one would ever hit the ball. I am the Lucy van Pelt of right fielders.)

My shoulder is in the middle of a contretemps between my Physical Therapist, who believes I have a torn shoulder labrum, and my Shoulder Doc, who believes it is nothing more than inflammation. (Eight months of inflammation, in case you’re keeping track.)

Last time I saw Shoulder Doc he spent half of our seven minutes together telling me how he hurt his shoulder over the weekend.

I replied, “It must be pretty annoying to hurt your shoulder when you’re the shoulder guru.”

He didn’t think that was funny. In any event, he hasn’t fixed my shoulder – yet – so he’s no guru to me.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I started this blog in 2012 and I have never, never, ever gone a month without posting something.

And, this stupid pandemic and this stupid shoulder won’t stop me this month.

Plus, to be honest, it felt kind of good to get that baseball statistic thing off my chest.

35 thoughts on “True Stuff …

  1. I skip paragraphs of worthless stats. Mute commentators that try to explain them. And answer why in the world it was such a deal for this trade, that 3 months later is worthless. Thank you for sharing!
    Shoulders? Not my wheelhouse, sorry!

  2. I could care less about Next Gen stats that ESPN spews on the ticker; those stats are like the toaster that’s not in your kitchen. Exit velocity? Launch angle? Exit, stage right.

    • I know a lot of people who live and breathe and love fantasy sports … just not my thing. As for stats, I think the thing that bothers me most about WAR is that there is no WAR standard … different stat systems use different criteria. In fairness, I keep a scorecard of every game I go to … so, clearly, I have my nerdy side, too.

      • I doubt that anyone memorizes those new stats but I find some interesting.. as far as fantasy sports go- I was in my twenties when I started playing and have always enjoyed it- just do strictly baseball these days. I think the key to enjoying it is having the right combination of people playing in your league.

  3. Jackie, I’m SO relieved to hear someone else say that about the “advanced metrics”, thrown out as if we (or, I, anyway) have any idea what they’re talking about! I blame Billy Beane for the whole thing. Might as well.
    As for fantasy sports, my take is that it’s for people who have aged out on Dungeons and Dragons, but still have to imagine warriors and wizards in epic struggles. Harmless, I guess, but I’m kind of embarrassed for them.
    Good luck on the shoulder. In this benighted year, anything that doesn’t actually kill us puts us ahead of the game- or, so it seems to me.
    Love and knishes.

    • Fantasy sports is just so befuddling. I call it “Pretend Sports” instead of fantasy sports, just to annoy people. But, at some point, if you’re playing pretend sports using real results, you’re going to have to cheer against your “real” team. Thata deal breaker for me.

      And, thank you for the anti-“advanced metrics” support. Hmmm, I wonder if SABR is going to rescind my membership now?

  4. I’m sorry about your shoulder, and I’m sending you all kinds of shoulder-healing energy. At 4:00 AM. Because my left shoulder too is behaving badly again, robbing me of sleep. I hope you heal soon—I can’t imagine teaching yoga the way I’m feeling, so I hope you’re finding a clear path to less pain and more comfort. I LOVED seeing the good ol’ scorebook—took me right back to my brother’s little league days. I just loved scoring his games old school, and especially loved marking the called strikeout. Now THAT was a stat worth notching!

  5. Pingback: The week gone by — Nov. 29 – A Silly Place

  6. I’ll admit I like OPS. I think it dovetails nicely with batting average. The rest of those newfangled stats, though? I’m with you: throw the bums out!

    Sending good vibes to your shoulder. May it heal up soon, allowing you to use your left arm to thumb your nose at Shoulder Doc.

    • Thank you, Casey! In my first visit to shoulder doc, he wrote in my report that I was “very pleasant” … seriously, he wrote that as though it were part of his thorough diagnosis. But, I’m tired of being pleasant. When he sees me next time, I think I’m going to get “obstreperous” in my diagnosis.

  7. I’m with you on statistics.. Great stats don’t guarantee great performance on any given day, so what’s the value of more than the basic stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I love math(minored in it in college), but also think there are liars, damn liars, and statisticians.

    Eight months is way too long for a bad shoulder. Sending you healing energy!

  8. Jackie, glad you decided to share these five!! Hope your shoulder gets better. I love toast too and don’t need any peanut butter and jelly. Keep the internet going so you can keep posting!

    I try and understand advanced metrics but always fall short…sabermetrically challenged. But like you mentioned – batting averages, home runs, ERAs, stolen bases, errors. I love those too. Speaking of which, I heard a great trivia question last week….only batters to hit at least 300 home runs, get 3,000 hits and have a career batting average of .300 or above.

    • oooh, I like that trivia question! I knew Willie Mays right off the bat (I’m so punny) … because I’m just finishing up his “memoir”-ish “24: Life Stories & Lessons From The Say Hey Kid” which was written with John Shea and is a beautiful book. So, if Willie makes the list, then Hank Aaron has to, as well. I did peek at Albert Pujols current stats and he is so-so-so very close with a .299 BA. Who else?

      • Jackie. Excellent. You did great. I only came up with Aaron and then blanked out, got stumped so I cheated. Looked them up. You’re only missing two. One is from the 70’s and 80’s and the other one is a little older, from say around the 40’s and 50’s and a little bit of the 60’s. I’ll give you a hint. They both spent their entire careers with the same team and both teams are located in the same state.

        • Excellent hints, Steve! Editor/Husband and I bobbed and weaved through your hints while making dinner last night. We got bogged down in Ohio … but couldn’t make it work. We finally ended up in Missouri and, even then, we weren’t sure. I came up with Stan Musial and Randy quickly followed with George Brett, but we both weren’t sure that either had 300 home runs … so at that point we cheated. What a great trivia question and the .300, 3,000, 300 club is a pretty sweet group of guys.

  9. I am so sorry to hear that your shoulder still bothering you. I had a co-worker who couldn’t lift her shoulder past a certain point. It seemed like it took a long time to figure out what the problem was. I hope you find relief soon.
    P.s. I love my toaster. And there is a recent story behind that. I should include it in a new blog post, that is if can get my sorry writing fingers in gear and write a new one. Take care!

    • Oh, I’m not down on toasters at all. I’m a little down on our kitchen — which is low on functionality (our farmhouse is 19th century and I don’t think it was meant to have an indoor kitchen … so our cook space is just cobbled together into a room that was never intended to have electricity or ovens and fridges). I do get annoyed by those foodie purists who complain about single-use gadgets in videos taken from fancy kitchens that are complete with a toaster, a coffee bean grinder, a salt shaker, a dishwasher … all single-use gadgets if you ask me.

      You’re not the only one struggling to write in this “pandemi-world” … I look forward to seeing you next post!

  10. I didn’t take worthless stats or even your shoulder thingy as the main point of this. Your writing, the terrific way you express yourself, the fact that you can make us read to the end of what was most likely a “gotta write SOMETHING this month” Hail Mary, that’s the whole point for me. “Agitated and blustery” made me smile right out loud. I first found your stuff while googling UVa baseball (that’s where I went, and lived in Charlottesville for a while), but I keep reading because you are really good at this writing thing, and you make this miserable year seem more palatable. Thank you.

    • Your kind comment made my day, thank you so much … and “Hail Mary” described this post perfectly. I wish I could just fill this blog with Virginia baseball. I can’t tell you how much I miss it.

      In the meantime, to help you through these baseball-less days, here’s a photo I took of Virginia’s Friday Night Guy, Griff McGarry, who was looking great before the 2020 season was scuttled. Rumor is, he’s even better now.

      • That picture of Griff makes me cringe; legs aren’t supposed to do that, are they? I live in Walpole NH and a great deal of our past summers are spent watching the NECBL summer wooden bat league, an ostensibly poorer cousin to the Cape League. One of the real thrills has been the fact that the Keene Swampbats have a great relationship with Virginia, particularly Coach Kuhn (sorry/not sorry to see him go) and we’ve gotten to see and meet a bunch of Hoos each summer. Griff came up here a couple of years ago with Cristian Sanchez and Zach Messinger, and he was one of the nicest kids you could meet. Signed a ball for me, as I try to get all of them to do. Tommy Doyle has been in Keene, Nate Kirby, Conner Jones, Riley Wilson, Mike Pape, on and on. Of course, this year got cancelled, which was ugly twice because the Hoos were coming up to play Boston College and my wife and I were headed down there for that weekend to see the boys in person. Hopefully next summer we can go back to the games in Keene, sitting in the top row of the bleachers in what has become our “spot” and recharge ourselves. If you ever find yourself in the western part of New Hampshire, stop on in, it’s a great way to spend a few hours with 3 or 400 friends.
        Take care, and know that if you keep writing, we will keep reading!!

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