hincandenza's profile

Name: Hal Incandenza
Gender: Manly-man
Member since: January 29, 2002
Last visit: July 28, 2014

hincandenza has posted 46 links and 1636 comments to SportsFilter and 4 links and 51 comments to the Locker Room.

Sports Bio

My name? Same reasoning as at my Metafilter page... from the book "Infinite Jest".

Grew up as a long time New Hampshire-ite, and thus a New England sports fan: die-hard passion about the Red Sox, enjoy the Celtics and Patriots, but honestly couldn't care less about the Bruins.

I still recall being 11 years old, leaping up and down in the living room with my dad standing up as the Red Sox were one strike away in 1986. I hollered for my mom to come in and witness history, and she called from the other room "Ah, they're just going to blow it." Mere moments later, Schiraldi's passed ball, etc. etc. Forget the Bambino- my mom is the reason the Sox lost that year.

Currently live in Seattle, big into the Mariners. I root for them as much as the Red Sox these days, and would love to see them win the championship. However: while last year, during that magical 116-win season I realized would have actually rooted for the M's over the Sox had they met in the ALCS (only because of the 116 wins, you understand, and because it didn't "feel" like the Sox year that year- fortunately the Sox imploded and that dilemma was avoided for a season), as a general rule I root for the Sox first and foremost. And since the Sox and M's both have exceptionally good chances to make the playoffs, I hope they don't go directly head to head because then I'd have to root against the M's.

This year, with the Sox playing historically well, I'm hoping they can finally make all us long-suffering Red Sox fans complete.

But my mom's right- they'll probably just blow it anyway.

Recent Links

Ichiro reaches 4,000 hit milestone between Japan (1,278) and MLB (2,722 and counting).: While his production is a shadow of those early Mariners years when he was a 200+ hit machine for more than a decade (just LOOK at that rookie spike of 242 hits, or the record-setting 262 hit season), the 39-year-old Yankee outfielder continues to produce at a decent if unremarkable level.

Questions arise over how long Ichiro will continue to suit up (he's signed with the Yankees through the 2014 season), but even at his reduced performance level, if he can stay an every day player into the 2015 season he'll almost surely eclipse the 3,000 hit mark in MLB.

posted by hincandenza to baseball at 10:08 PM on August 22 - 17 comments

Comment Editing: Wow, I'm not really not cool with the comment editing- chide me if you must, but if you're going to rewrite comments (and without clear indication, to boot), this site just became a whole lot less friendly.

posted by hincandenza to editorial policy at 05:57 PM on September 05 - 33 comments

NFL Pick 'Em, SUPERBOWL and final results: The final standings are in after all four founds of the Sportsfilter 2010-2011 NFL Playoffs Pick 'Em... and we have a winner!

posted by hincandenza to fantasy at 02:33 PM on February 08 - 6 comments

NFL Pick 'em, SUPERBOWL Round: : It's finally here: the last Sportsfilter Pick 'Em of the 2010-2011 NFL Season. A veritable smorgasbord of picks are to be found inside!

posted by hincandenza to fantasy at 12:17 AM on February 03 - 16 comments

NFL Pick 'em and Confidence Pool, Conference Round RESULTS: Results are in for the NFL Pick 'em and Confidence pool after the Conference Round. A pair of exciting games today, and some interesting results in our two pools!

posted by hincandenza to fantasy at 10:01 PM on January 23 - 9 comments

Recent Comments

Pitcher Freaks Out Because of Bunt in 2-Run Game

Over the next couple of seasons? I... honestly don't know if there is or not. How... how did you know that?!?

Seriously, though, when someone says "unwritten rules", whatever follows is just hot air. And as noted by DrJohnEvans, a shift is a risk that assumes a hitter can't reliably put it in a different location than their trend data suggests- so if you're wrong, then they reach first. Plus, 5th inning of a 2-0 game? Shit, I think bunting in a no-hitter with two outs in the 9th of a 9-0 laugher is totally legit, much less the 5th inning of a 2-0 game!

But the real worry for Texas is that when people start resorting to rules lawyering, it means they've completely beaten themselves already. Which would probably play some part in explaining why Texas has the worst record in the league.

posted by hincandenza at 11:56 PM on July 20

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Hey, how about that Clayton Kershaw, eh?

posted by hincandenza at 07:45 PM on June 20

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Wow, that's pretty damned blatant. And the original tag, I see nothing wrong with it; he fell because he was off-balance and backpedaling (out of the baseline, no less), not because Donaldson gave him some extra-forceful, unwarranted tag. That looked like a good, clean, no doubt and get the out type tag.

That Machado would then apparently milk that anger for three games is... wow. Unsurprising that Showalter would have Donaldson thrown at, but that's one of those B.S. "unwritten rules" that the old fogies love to wax poetically about, I guess.

Is there video of his hitting the catcher out there? Seems like that would be reason to get tossed/suspended right there. I found only this one, which has only the second swing in replay. He was smirking, but the swing itself... I can't say from that one replay (other than making an assumption that if it happened two pitches in a row, it has to be on purpose) that it looked definitely intentional... at least not to my eyes.

I disagree with the announcers in that mlb.com video clip you posted grum; I don't think the pitcher was thrown for the pitch before, but because in Machado's slim defense, the pitch where he threw his bat was also being thrown way inside, which sure looks like Abad was trying to hit him twice. Still doesn't excuse the bat tossing at all, but does make it more clear why the umpires tossed Machado and Abad (the pitcher). It's pretty long-standing that if the ump sees you throw two fairly blatant attempts to hit a batter in a row, they'll likely toss you.

But yeah, the histrionics from Machado, the flung bat (which not only was a punk move... he was way off the freakin' mark, given that it appears to be intentional for the reasons grum mentioned- eye focus, late timing, etc- and yet he was staring down the pitcher, not Donaldson), these alone ought to get him a hefty suspension of ~5 games I'd hope.

posted by hincandenza at 10:08 PM on June 08

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

More Jon Bois' EA Sports "journalism" goodness (via Metafilter), on the impending death of basketball .

posted by hincandenza at 04:04 PM on June 03

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

This local man learned this one weird trick to stay young. Vampires hate him!

posted by hincandenza at 01:12 PM on May 09

Albert Pujols Hits 499th, 500th Homer

Well, yeah, but... Albert Pujols being a great hitter wasn't exactly a hotly debated topic on this site. :)

posted by hincandenza at 05:28 AM on April 24

Brewers' Maldanado Knocks Cover Off the Ball

Heh, yeah it was a given that would come up. :)

posted by hincandenza at 06:49 PM on April 19

Chris Resop - The Most Interesting Reliever in the World.

There already is one. It's shaped like Chris Resop.

posted by hincandenza at 01:57 PM on April 18

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

ah, that's a really good point, deflated. I've long thought that analysis of pitch motion etc- even during warmups- would tell you when a pitcher is more likely to be lit up, and an adventurous team would a) do last minute rotation adjustments when their intel says a pitcher will suck, and b) start looking for patterns to correlate success and failure. Temperature? Diet? Humidity? Sleep cycles? Stress? Something leads a pitcher to be more or less effective night over night. It was more obvious for knucklers, when temperature differences or indoor/outdoor stadiums could reliably predict success, but it still applies for all other pitchers, who are not consciously aware why today their splitter is not dropping as much.

And as the article on the new system hints, we might be entering a golden age of defensive metrics, picking up things like average distance to a ball in play (the positioning instincts) along with speed, efficiency of motion, etc, all to lead to better defensive judgment than the "pasta diving Jeter" gut reactions of the past.

posted by hincandenza at 01:54 AM on March 19

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Right, although for all we know part of that $500,000 is the software/contract for expertise in running the system. A typical MLB team is going to have an IT department... but probably not one that has any real expertise in creating, configuring, and running distributed clusters on commodity hardware, or running ML algorithms.

I mean, I figure I could- after quite a few months- build just such a system, having at least some familiarity with Hadoop et al and some open source ML packages. But there'd be a ton of work to customize it to baseball and baseball stats, then test it with the data inputs (even if just cleaning and inputting several years of pitchFX data). I'd go slower working alone, and if I brought in a couple of dev friends to help out, that $500K goes quickly in terms of salary + hardware.

For a deep-pocketed team, getting something that's a turnkey solution for barely more than a single league-minimum salary is still a good deal, and in this case, as with business computing purchases, the CYA and outsourced expertise is worth the extra money spent, compared to hoping you can find someone to bring in-house to do the work for you.

Maybe they're paying for something turnkey enough that their existing IT staff can then just dump in new pitchFX data regularly, as well as learn how to construct certain types of queries that they can then extend to common analysis operations. On the hopefully rare occasions that things go completely cockeyed beyond the existing maintenance contract, you pay Cray a relative pittance for support.

All that aside, I think it's fantastic to see a team (I wouldn't be surprised if it's the Red Sox, as they've been in the statistical and technological forefront for a decade) go to this next level. Which means we'll see other teams get there soon enough, although MLB may still have some restrictions on technology allowed in the dugout. If this provides a huge advantage, we might instead see a rule passed by the owners disallowing real-time analysis and feedback directly to the players (via signals).

posted by hincandenza at 09:57 PM on March 18

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I'm kind of surprised the supercomputer-for-real-time-analysis thing hasn't occurred earlier; I've been pretty vocal around here (and elsewhere) in the past, wondering when a tech savvy team would basically start doing analysis in-game, even for things like detecting patterns in a pitcher/catcher batter that they could signal to their hitters for.

An aside: I'm not super familiar with all the conceits of ML, but in general it is the case that we behave much more predictably than we imagine. If I recall, the rochambeau simulator that was the MF post I linked in the last paragraph was frighteningly good: it's hard not to imagine that if fed a huge historical set of data- even the last few years- of pitchFX pitches and outcomes, it could find trends that could be hugely impactful. Especially as things go south; the pitcher would get frazzled and shake off the catcher, the catcher and pitcher would try to fool you- but in the process be even more predictable (like in RPS when you keep throwing out one option, because you'd never do paper 4 times in a row!).

You glance over, the manager gives you a set of signals that basically say "It's a 2-1 count, and there's an 82% chance the next pitch is a fastball lower in; sit dead red on that, and try to inside-out it the other way". Maybe it's a curve or slider this time, but over the course of a game/season each player could see meaningful- say even 3-5%- benefit in their batting average/OBP. Which... if a team BA goes up 30 points, they'd basically worst-to-first their entire offense.

posted by hincandenza at 02:33 PM on March 18

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

If they chose to bench him, I'm pretty sure there's mutual clauses et al that let a player become a free agent- I'd be shocked if neither the most recent bargaining agreement nor ARods contract gave him an out of some kind if the Yankees did that; I seem to recall hearing about a former All-Star player exercise that right when he was benched by his team (maybe Mo Vaughn?). At worst, I'd imagine the rules say he'd be free to find another team to play for where the Yankees would be on the hook for the difference in pay for the new team.

They did the same thing to Bonds: he offered to play at league minimum and then donate that salary to local charities, and STILL had zero calls (hence collusion being suspected). ARod has already shown a willingness to sue where Bonds didn't, and I'd think if no team picked up a player of hia caliber, he'd sue MLB in a heartbeat.

No matter what, the Yankees have to pay ARod $60M for those last two years, so why not play him if he's at least mediocre?

posted by hincandenza at 04:48 PM on February 28

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Actually, the Yankees almost certainly won't have the choice; most of these contracts- and the player's union, which would surely back even ARod on this- have clauses that would prevent a team from benching or sending him to AAA if he's healthy and producing at the plate (which for all the flack he gets, even in the current day he's a well above average player).

posted by hincandenza at 04:31 PM on February 28

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Yeah, exactly- the Yankees would love to dump him, but even they can't engineer another threadbare excuse to keep him off the roster. If he only has to sit one year, I think he's very capable- and very willing- to come back and play at least that one more season where he should easily rack up 61 hits, 31 RBI, and 7 HR in maybe half a season, even at his new plateau. Heck, with A-Rod and his age, who knows if taking a year off of rest and lighter maintenance exercise helps his body heal up more than it has been able to in two decades, he comes back feeling a few years' younger.

One nitpick: there are three guys with 2000+ RBI already, Cap Anson being the third place RBI guy at 2075, and Bonds just shy at 1,996 (and Gehrig at 1,992). That nearness to similar milestones is another reason the almost-surely-illegal collusion that led to the railroading of Bonds was such a loss for the game and its history. Le sigh...

posted by hincandenza at 01:51 PM on February 28

Seattle Wins Super Bowl 0x30

I'd probably have picked Kam Chancellor, honestly. He also had an interception, as well as stifling defense which was the story of the game.

posted by hincandenza at 12:12 AM on February 03