List as of April 17, 2011
Now, we're entering into All-Star territory with these posts, as we approach the 20 recs benchmark. You will find that the number of recs given to the posts on this list will start to accelerate noticeably. Here we go; #50 - 41, after the jump...
...ALL GLORY TO THE DICKNOTOAD...
Sam Page: When you came back to Nashville for a year, it seemed like you really became confident in the knuckleball. Obviously there was a practical reason to sign with the Brewers, being close to home. But was there extra motivation?
R.A. Dickey: I think that was just the natural metamorphosis of what went on. In actuality, coming into the '06 offseason, preparing for the '07 season, the Milwaukee Brewers were my only offer. So if I wanted to keep playing Major League Baseball--or at least try playing major league baseball, that was my only avenue to do it. So here I was, having spent a year and a half trying to figure out the knuckleball with the Texas Rangers. There weren't a lot of teams out there that were going to take a shot on a 34-year-old knuckleballer had very mediocre to below-mediocre statistics as a knuckleballer over the past year and a half. The Brewers were willing to do that. Ironically, the General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers was Doug Melvin, the same Doug Melvin who drafted me with the Texas Rangers, who proceeded to see fit that the condition of my elbow warranted a $800,000 reduction in bonus. There's a real neat storyline there. But at the same time, it was the only opportunity I had. So when I got here, I really tried to embrace it fully, in that, I wasn't ever in between being a conventional pitcher and a knuckleballer. I threw myself completely into throwing the knuckleball eighty to a hundred percent of the time. That was a big stepping stone--really committing to the pitch and really selling myself over to it.
Their new ad is beautiful.
I've not been posting much lately as I'm on the road, but in Austin I went to the LBJ museum and saw this badge, which is obviously a slogan we can all get behind.
Figure 1: A Four pitch strikeout of Matt Kemp
At this point, it should be clear that the Mets owe a lot, if not the entire season, to R.A. Dickey's ace-like performance. RA's is fun as hell to watch. He throws one pitch roughly 83% of the time (the knuckleball) and his other pitch (his fastball) is perfectly mediocre. Now to be fair, it's not as if the knuckleball is a typical pitch; as you can see on the graph below (and in my prior article on Dickey), the pitch has the ability to move in any of the four normal directions "up" down, in, or away. Thus a hitter, knowing that a knuckleball is coming, really doesn't know anything whatsoever about how the oncoming pitch is going to move.
Figure 2: The Movement Graph of Dickey's Pitches this year.
Vertical Movement: The amount of inches the ball drops/"rises" as compared to how we would expect gravity to make a pitch drop. So a fastball with Positive 10 Vertical Movement "RISES" 10 inches more than it should if gravity was the only force acting on it and a curveball with -10 Vertical Movement drops 10 inches more than a pitch thrown that is just acted on by gravity.
Horizontal Movement: The graph is from the view of a catcher or umpire behind home plate. So a pitch that's on the left side of the graph (and has "negative horizontal movement") moves in on righties and away from lefties. A pitch that's on the right side of the graph moves in on lefties and away from righties.
Legend for this Graph and All Subsequent Graphs:
Fastballs = Red Dots
Slow Knuckleballs = Blue Dots
Fast Knuckleballs = Green Dots
Of course, Dickey has no idea where his knuckleball is going to go either. But that doesn't mean that the knuckleball is simply a pitch you can fire-and-forget. Dickey does control one aspect of the pitch, its speed. Dickey, as you may have heard in articles or just through GKR's commentary, throws both a soft slower knuckleball and a "hard" faster knuckleball. What's especially interesting is how he uses these two-speeds and how effective each speed has been.
I decided to continue the Top 50 Mets Of All Time series. This edition will pay tribute to a mythical player, that some suspect may have been created as a Sidd Finch-esque prank by Omar Minaya and the Mets front office. As I knew nothing about the man, I knew I needed to do some research. My friend Wikipedia would clearly help with this huge undertaking.
Nicholas John "Nick" Evans (born 14 August 1980 in Auckland, New Zealand) is a New Zealand rugby union footballer.
Oh that clears everything up. Nick Evans is a rugby player in New Zealand, pulling a Michael Jordan and starting a baseball career. But wait. Dare I click the "Nick Evans (disambiguation)" link at the top of the page?
I dared, and I found out a terrible secret: Nick Evans has multiple identities, all of which share the same name. Aside from his New Zealand athletics career, he is also a Welsh trombonist, a retired English cricketer, a D or E-list actor, a noted novelist, and an Australian linguist.
Then, to my shock I came across this page. Nick Evans WAS a Met, the page even gave photographic proof!
I prepared a massive exposé on Evans. This master of disguise clearly had a nefarious plot under his sleeve. Was he an international jewel thief? Did he steal Jeff Francoeur's beard? Whatever his plan was, I had to stop it.
I sent my whistle-blowing article to many major newspapers, the Times, the Washington Post, even the Enquirer, but none would bite. Finally, after 3 weeks of frantic submissions, I gave up once my piece was rejected by The Des Moines Register. Clearly I needed to do more research on Evans.
So, with this, I headed to Glendale, Arizona, the supposed birthplace of Mr. Evans. Evans was still listed on the Mets roster, so I knew he'd be out of the picture. After some key plotline omissions (for security purposes) later, I found myself in the man himself's bedroom. I discovered a notebook, with the words MY DIARY PROPERTY OF NICK EVANS scrawled on the front. I opened up to the most recent few entries.
(Click here to embiggen.)
This Nick Evans was no jewel thief, or beard snatcher at all! He was just an oft-forgotten modest ballplayer! My suspicions were completely unfounded in the end.
So that is the story of Nick Evans, the 31st greatest player to ever put on a Mets uniform.
P.S.- If you come across international jewel thief, beard snatcher, trombonist, cricketer, actor, novelist, and New Zealand rugby union footballer Nick Evans, contact your nearest police station.
Note: The following is a fictional recap of the seasons of 3 fictional Mets ballplayers written by a fictional sportswriter/blogger. Any resemblance the fictional writer bears to a real-life writer is pure coincidence. Any resemblance the fictional players bear to any real player is 100% intentional. Take this with a grain of salt and familiarize yourself with the concept of hyperbole.
A Season In Review: D.J. Murphy, Julio Francora and Joe Kings
By John Q. Sportswriter
Promising youngster D.J. Murphy came into 2009 on the heels of a strong 2008 campaign. He opened up 2009 with a bang -- an opening day home run at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse. Murphy initially displayed his athleticism in the outfield, impressively ranging to get to many fly balls. Nevertheless, his lazy approach led to miscues, including a costly drop vs. the Marlins and loss of footing against the Cardinals. A shift to first base proved beneficial for a short period. He seemed more comfortable there than in the outfield. However, towards the end of the year he made several miscues, showing that he lacked the mental toughness necessary to play the position.
An attitude problem has been attributed to Murphy, starting last offseason. It was revealed that upon meeting his college baseball teammates for the first time, he stated "My name is D.J. Murphy and I bat 3rd." This cockiness did not sit well with teammates then and certainly doesn't now. This rook might be wise to know his place a little better. He has also been known to hog time in the batting cage, selfishly depriving teammates of their own shot to practice.
It was thought his rough upbringing in upper Manhattan might prove beneficial toward his development. To his credit, he made an appearance at an RBI Program (Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities) event at his childhood sandlot, but he still managed to screw that up by showing up late for that night's game. Young Murphy hasn't exhibited any toughness during his time in the big leagues -- just laziness and a low baseball IQ.
In half a season with the Mets, Julio Francora did nothing to alter the baseball world's perception of him as a soft free-swinger. The old saying goes "you don't walk your way off the island", referring to the hacktastic approach at the plate employed by players from the Caribbean. Francora still lives by that mantra, despite making it off the island and playing 5 years in the big leagues. His unintentional walk rate is at an all-time low, and it took him 56 plate appearances with the Mets to draw a walk. Upon doing so, he was seen laughing and joking with the Mets dugout, as if to say "look how ridiculous I am for drawing a walk, real men get base hits, I am a Nancy-boy!" If that wasn't bad enough, he was the first to break solidarity by shaving his beard, after the rest of his teammates pledged to not shave until the Mets record reached .500. Unsurprisingly, the Mets went into a tailspin shortly thereafter, perhaps due to lack of team unity caused by Francora.
He lived up to his "soft" reputation multiple times this season. Francora shied away from a routine fly ball against the Nationals and failed to run over the Astros' catcher on a play at the plate. Who would choose to slide on such a play? A soft player, that's who. After making the last out of a game on September 18th, ending a promising Mets comeback, he destroyed a water cooler in frustration. It was an embarrassing, immature display, and one he seemed to show no remorse for afterwards.
Morever, there's oodles of evidence suggesting that Francora doesn't even like baseball. He stated that he would give it up for a music career in a heartbeat (if only he had the singing talent). He is frequently heard talking about his true favorite sport, futbol, and how he can't wait for the offseason so he can spend his days watching it on television. It appears Francora is here to stay, but for the sake of Met fans hopefully he can toughen up.
Following 3 outstanding, All-Star caliber seasons, expectations were high for Joe Kings in 2009. Unfortunately, the Mets' shortstop and team leader succumbed to injury in May, ending his season right when he was starting one of his patented hot streaks. It killed Kings that he couldn't join his mates on the field, evidenced by an emotional September media session and his continued desire to suit up, if even for just the final game. This burning desire and love of the game is nothing new for Kings, who has been with the Mets organization since his teenage years when he was drafted out of Lee-Davis High School in Georgia.
The leadership he has shown at such a young age is truly astounding. Every year, he creates a unique handshake for each of his teammates, making them all feel like part of something special. He rarely took a day off from 2005-2008, playing all but 15 games in those 4 seasons. In June 2008, he was removed from a game by manager Jerry Manuel as a precaution against injury. Kings was not pleased. No one takes him off a ballfield! He very publicly expressed his displeasure, evoking memories of another great New York warrior - Paul O'Neill. Much like fellow southern boy Brett Favre, Kings plays the game with steely-eyed intensity yet has more fun than a little leaguer. There is always a smile on his face.
He has been rehabbing hard this season and will continue to do so this offseason. Some say that only Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins is a superior all-around shortstop. Maybe that is true statistically. However, Ramirez clearly lacks the intangibles and grit of Kings. Ramirez's recent clubhouse issues are proof of that. Great things are on the horizon for Joe Kings. He is all business and should continue to live up to his namesake next season and beyond. Let's finish with a quote from ESPN columnist Mason Spark:
The day Joe Kings is paraded down the Canyon of Heroes will be the culmination of a life of hard work and love of baseball. If only he could get some help from his teammates!
Tom Mihalek - AP More photos »
I've noticed something lately that's been bothering me; and I'm betting it's been bothering you too. Amidst the characteristically nonsensical ramblings of an out-of-control fanbase and an even more irresponsibly deranged media presence, I've started to detect undertones of undue superiority resonating from Philadelphia. That's right, the very city that consistently redefines the depths of following organized sports has adopted a holier-than thou attitude, especially when it comes to the Mets.
This smug disposition has been swelling for a while now, originating as typical post-championship bravado but morphing into something more. It's become a full-fledged case of high and mighty and while this air of superiority is popping up left and right, it boiled over yesterday in a laughable collection of words by Bob Brookover from that shining beacon for credible, hard-hitting, upstanding sports journalism and battery throwing, the Philadelphia Inquirer.
You probably read somewhere that Brookover denounced the Mets-Phillies rivalry, stating that the 'the Phillies have had more of a rivalry with the Yankees than the Mets'. But I honestly don't care about how this guy characterizes the inter-team dynamic. In fact, I don't care in the slightest about his argument. I care more about the way he makes that argument, the fact that he makes such an unnecessary argument at all and his underlying tone when he does.
Click here to embiggen.
His 2-year deal saving him from the threat of deportation, Mets hurler R. A. Dickey proudly displays his New York pride.
Click here to embiggen.