hincandenza's profile

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

hincandenza has posted 46 links and 1641 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

Red Sox owner Tom Werner has become a dark horse candidate to be baseball's next commissioner

Yeah, I can appreciate your rant, but I think your fears are unfounded.

First, a poo-flinging monkey would be an improvement over Selig, so I don't think Werner would be that bad. Second, while Werner might have done some things as Sox owner you don't approve of- and if there's one thing sabermetrics should teach us, it's that results-based assessment is risky- he did bring not one, not two, but three World Series trophies to Boston in the span of 10 years, and kept that lovely little bandbox of a park full for hundreds of games in a row. Third, if he became commissioner, it's not like he'd have the authority, or desire, to remake every team in his own image.

The TV revenue thing is meaningful if he'd oppose that, since I do believe the ideal end state (or near end state) for leagues like MLB is to have parity revenue sharing and a more rotisserie like model, where players are paid for what they do out of a general league pool that is based on a percentage of total revenue (to some extent, I believe this is what the NBA does; every team has a salary cap based on something like 58% of total revenue, and there's revenue sharing to keep it fairly balanced). But I also think he'd be less likely to do things like call a "tie" in an All-Star game. So, you know, win some, lose some...

posted by hincandenza at 08:54 PM on August 11

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

I hope them tweeting that picture is not what pushed him over the edge.

oh god, I'm so sorry

posted by hincandenza at 08:39 PM on August 11

Tony Stewart Kills Driver in Dirt-Track Race

And minutes later, I've found this (certainly more informed than I) breakdown on reddit of why this is almost certainly a complete accident.

Granted, they use the same video that had me and most of us here convinced it was at least partially intentional, but they do explain the "rev" sound as likely unrelated and the conditions such that even an honest swerve could result in this outcome if Stewart didn't see him until the last second. So I'm glad I did express reservations about my own thiughts, and why a thorough and impartial investigation with more evidence is necessary and may fully exonerate Stewart. Plus, culture of the sport to point at the car or no, Ward should not have been walking into oncoming traffic and bears at least some responsibility in his own death.


posted by hincandenza at 02:00 AM on August 11

Tony Stewart Kills Driver in Dirt-Track Race

Just an fyi, but the main link goes to a baseball game recap.

Watching this single video, while I'm not ready to convict in the court of a public opinion- much less a court of law- it looks to me like what happened was BoKnows B) conjecture: Stewart was pissed, and tried to show up the kid with a little rev and close shave... and miscalculated. It's unlikely to be a *complete* accident, since the other drivers were going slow and giving room what with the caution flag, and Stewart could easily, with his skills, given wide berth such that a collision was well-nigh impossible. Rather, this looks like if an Olympic-level sharpshooter decided to play William Tell with someone and oops, they just shot a person in the head. Or perhaps an apter comparison would be a pitcher throwing a brushback pitch at chin/head level, and that two inch difference from 60 feet away is the difference between "establishing the strike zone" and hospitalizing someone. Which is why headhunters get tossed pretty quickly if the ump thinks they were throwing the beanball on purpose. And why the original move- running him into the wall by squeezing him- seems a rough but fair approach, like a brushback pitch at the chest level... but not what happened next.

Being great at something doesn't mean you're infallible, so this looks like Stewart got cute in the heat of the moment- with fatal consequences. In that one second when he sees Ward approaching his car on what looks like the next lap, angrily pointing, I suspect Stewart (based on zero ironclad evidence whatsoever) thought to make the kid jump back and "know his place". And he was off... by just a few inches.

I hope plenty of other video surfaces so we can get other angles (or rather, that investigators can watch them since I certainly don't want or need to see more), but to my untrained eye it looks like he tried to scare him and with Ward in motion, the near-miss became a literally correct term.

Which lessens but doesn't not erase legal culpability; not murder, but some level of manslaughter.

It is entirely plausible that an exculpatory video emerges that shows us a clearer, unambiguous accident or even Ward walking *into* the straight line path of Stewart's car, while Stewart attempts to swerve away at the last second and thus, wholly accidentally, fishtails him. Barring that, I can't see how Stewart walks from this with no repercussions; at minimum I suspect a heavy civil suit will correct whatever the law fails to address.

posted by hincandenza at 01:46 AM on August 11

Holy Sidd Finch! Minnesota Twins Sign Unknown with 100-Mph Fastball

The Twins knew about Poulson from his recent season with Academy of Art University, where he had an 8.38 ERA for the San Francisco school. [...] Poulson went 0-0 with a high ERA in 14 appearances and 19 1-3 innings for Academy of Art this season. He struck out 24, walked 24 and opponents hit .189 against him.
He's 24, never been drafted, has as many walks as strikeouts with a sky-high ERA... for an art school. Either this guy is more Dalkowski than Finch, or they accidentally had the radar gun on kilometers again when they scouted him.

In all seriousness, I hope it works out for him; he sounds like a physical specimen, and if they teach him to increase his accuracy by taking a few mph off the ball, he could make it; and who wouldn't root for a story about a young guy from nowhere making it to the bigs?

posted by hincandenza at 05:51 PM on July 30

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