Category Archives: Baseball

The Pose and The Stance

You’re out on girls’ night and one of your friends wants to snap a picture. The five of you line up for the pic as an eager waiter holds the digital camera. As he is about to take the picture, your right hand subconsciously holds your waist just above your right hip while your left hand hangs loosely by your left side holding your clutch. You smile and FLASH…

The waiter rushes over to show you his expert camera work on the digital screen and you realize you and all of your friends are in the exact same one-arm-bent-with-hand-holding-waist-just-above-the-hip pose.

You shouldn’t be surprised; that pose is the go-to,  sweet-spot, money-in-the-bank pose every woman has. Don’t believe me? I included numerous examples of female celebrities rocking the pose in this post. I don’t have a research team, so I had to spend many hours scouring the Internet for these pics. It was an arduous task, but someone had to do it…

While there are hundreds of poses out there, this pose is the one celebrities use on their biggest night whether it’s the Oscars, the Grammys, or some other award show that drags on for five hours.

A batting stance in baseball works the same way. There are literally thousands of batting stances used in baseball just like there are thousands of poses in the typical Bazaar, Elle, or Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition (again, research). But, there’s only one way to hit a baseball just like there’s only the classic pose that’s to be used on the red carpet.

The many batting stances will all look different before the pitch. Some hitters will have their hands high, some will have an open stance, some will have a frenzy of movement, and some will just look very uncomfortable. But when the ball meets the bat, every good hitter will look identical. I’ve included some pictures of Major League hitters at the moment of contact between ball and bat and you’ll see that the hitters all look the same.

So when Katy Perry sees photographers on the red carpet, muscle memory takes over and she snaps into the pose. A hitter in baseball does the same when he sees the pitch, his muscle memory takes over, and the bat connects with the ball.

And oh by the way, hitters, much like the celeb who perfected her pose, practice their swings in the mirror too…

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Filed under Academy Awards, Baseball, Fashion, Pose, Red Carpet

What is Moneyball and what the hell is Brad Pitt doing in a baseball movie?

He could talk baseball all night. And you'd listen, right ladies?

Moneyball opens this week and it could be the greatest date movie of all time.

Why? Not only is the entire movie about the intricacies of building a baseball franchise (just slightly below orchestrating a bank robbery in terms of guys’ fantasies) but the builder of said baseball franchise is none other than Achilles himself, Brad Pitt. So if listening to explanations of advanced baseball statistics bores you, at least the one doing the explaining is someone you’ve been fantasizing about since you were in middle school.

But a two hour movie can be tedious so you might as well possess a rudimentary grasp of Moneyball’s premise. Simply, Michael Lewis wrote a 304-page masterpiece about how the Oakland A’s (under Billy Beane’s guidance) revolutionized baseball thinking by relying on advanced statistics rather than eye-ball tests and gut feelings to construct the most efficiently successful team for the least amount of money. Brad Pitt plays the real-life character of Billy Beane, the man in charge of building a baseball team on a Payless Shoes budget.

Yours truly read all 304 pages in one sitting meaning if you want us guys to join your book clubs, don’t make us read The Great Gatsby. We’ll have all 448 pages of Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses read and annotated with a literary critique by noon tomorrow if you put it on your book club’s list. But I digress…

Example of Moneyball ? For example, you may feel Channing Tatum is hotter than Justin Timberlake but your friend thinks JT is way cuter. Using the principles of Moneyball you would construct some formula that would take into account Tatum’s abs, tan, and muscles to derive a number that trumps Timberlake. Your friend may come up with a formula that uses JT’s voice, personality, and body of work that defeats your boy Channing. But your mutual braniac third friend combines both formulas and concludes that Justin Timberlake is indeed hotter than Channing Tatum.

Quick, clean, and no more debate. Moneyball helps baseball managers rate players more accurately than ever before and aids journalists in predicting what may happen. These statistics have relatively accurate predicting power so one can reasonably understand how a baseball player and team will perform next year. Imagine being able to reasonably predict how Justin Bieber’s next year will go compared to Bruno Mars based on statistics?

Lastly, these statistics help baseball fans compare players from many years ago to the players of today. You keep hearing how good-looking Paul Newman was, but all you really know about Paul Newman is that he’s the guy on the salad dressing bottles. But with Moneyball statistics, you could derive a formula that rates Newman in his prime better looking than today’s Matt McConaughey taking into account the fact that Newman probably thought buttered steak and beer were healthy and McConaughey has been on an insane workout program and hasn’t had a carb since Contact.

Regardless of how you feel about baseball (ok, I know you think it is boring) you should be a good sport and invite your guy to see Moneyball. Worst case you can stare at Brad Pitt and munch on Mike & Ike’s and if it really isn’t what you like, tell him to get you some popcorn because after all, no guy has ever refused a concessions request at a movie theater. Enjoy the movie and enjoy the treats!

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Filed under Baseball, Brad Pitt, Dating, Food, Good Movies, Moneyball, Numbers

The Save

You’re out on a blind date with someone you met online. Through emails, you learn you both enjoy movies, going out to dinner, and sometimes staying home to enjoy a quiet evening watching TV. This wouldn’t differentiate Leo DiCaprio from Leo da Vinci (a creative guy like him would love movies and TV).  So to learn more about him and because you are “tired of kissing frogs and are finally looking for your prince,” you agree to meet for dinner.

When he wasn't working on masterpieces, da Vinci enjoyed curling up with popcorn to watch Cougar Town.

As you’re getting ready to leave your apartment, you text your BFF to call you 20 minutes into your date so you can always play the “My nephew just peed his pants at school so I have to bring him home and I know it’s 8:45 on a Saturday night, but it’s one of those special Saturday night classes for gifted eight year-olds who want to learn more about the subtle nuances of Finding Nemo” card if the date is heading toward catastrophe. Your friend agrees, but you say you probably won’t need it because you have so much in common and the one blurry photo of him in a hat and sunglasses was cute.

But you sit down and before you can even say anything, he tells the waiter that you’re splitting the check. And he starts to squeeze a lemon into his water and mixes in packets of sugar to save money on ordering lemonade. And he launches into how when he’s not arranging used printer cartridges into scale models of Canadian cities, he’s collecting rain water in his homemade reservoir to have enough for the impending national debt crisis.

You’re polite, so you chime in that there will probably be enough water for everyone but this only starts to make him wave his arms and shout loud enough for the cooks to hear. Yikes…

And… Ring!!!

Your friend comes through with the phone call, you nail your excuse, and you are on your merry way to a bottle of wine in the comfort of your own apartment. That is a save.

The greatest save-master of them all: Mariano Rivera

And a save in baseball works the same way with just a lot less awkwardness. The pitcher is struggling in a close game and there are base-runners everywhere. The hitters coming up are scary and the coach really wants to win this game. So much like how you were rescued by a phone, the coach will call the bullpen with a dugout phone to let the closer know he’s coming in to pitch. And if the closer does his job and gets the hitters out, he records a ‘save.’ The closer saves the game when the situation is dire (the lead being three runs or less) just like how your friend rescued you from a sticky situation. Only the best relief pitchers are entrusted to save the game, just like how you wouldn’t entrust your getaway plan to your 85 year-old aunt.

So the next time you’re out on a perilous blind date, know that there are baseball closers everywhere, along with your BFF, ready to save the day from terrifying hitters and equally terrifying online acquaintances.

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Filed under Baseball, Dating, Save

The Yips

Parallel parking is easy when practiced in front of your house with cones and trash cans. It does, however, become infinitely more difficult when attempted in front of a swanky restaurant in between a BMW 7-Series and a Maserati with outdoor diners picking apart your every mistake. Soon, passerby begin to gravitate just to watch you take the wrong angle and start over for the umpteenth time. Put enough pressure on yourself while allowing the situation power over you, and you’ll fail more at parallel parking than Meadow Soprano.

Meadow can't park...

If you’re the type who’ll park three blocks away and pay $10 to avoid parallel parking in front of everyone, then you may have a case of the yips.

The yips are dangerous. Powerful enough to end careers and contagious enough to shun those afflicted, the yips are that little anxiety monster that grows and grows and eventually takes over in pressure situations.

In the athletic arena, it could look like Chuck Knoblauch launching short throws from second base into the stands, or Jean Van de Velde scattering golf shots all over the last hole to lose the British Open, or Mark Wohlers unable to find the strikezone, or LeBron James disappearing in the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals, or any Florida State kicker when trying beat the University of Miami. Those are just a few examples but the list is miles long of athletes who can do their task without trouble when no one is watching only to fail miserably when the lights burn brightest.

Some call it ‘white line’ syndrome. Step on the playing surface between the white lines of the football field, basketball court, baseball field, or parking space and the athlete can begin to over-think the most mundane of tasks. Short field goals become tricky, free throws are impossible, throwing strikes are out of the question, and parallel parking is calamitous.

Yours truly even yipped a stop sign some years ago. You know, those big, red octagonal warnings that have stop written across? I had a date in the passenger’s seat and my mind was preoccupied and sure enough, whoop-whoop! The policeman lectured me on paying more attention (no ticket!) and did understand that the sign was behind a large banyan tree. But had I been driving alone I certainly would have been locked in on the stop sign. The circumstances of my date and trying to think about saying all the right things led me to completely yip a stop sign!

Fortunately, no one was hurt and I have since learned from that experience. I have yet to miss a stop sign since! The yips can drive those afflicted one of two ways: Learn from them and improve, or, succumb to them and wash out.

When Rory McIlroy yipped away the Master’s many thought he would struggle in future similar situations. But he learned from the experience and won the very next major tournament convincingly. The aforementioned Van de Velde never came close to winning another major tournament ever again.

From champion to wading in muck: The Yips

So fear not. You may have badly screwed up that last date when you spilled all that wine on his smartphone and white Brooks Brothers shirt. Now you know you have to concentrate a little more when pouring wine. But don’t avoid that same situation; that would be succumbing to the yips. And don’t avoid parallel parking either. Find a teensy-weensy spot during happy hour between a Bentley and a Mercedes and yell “Take notes!” as you put on a show one-timing the parking job and saying “You’re welcome,” to the group ready to pounce on your smallest mistake.

No one really knows how to defeat the yips, but apprehension certainly isn’t the cure. Might as well be aggressive…

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, Dating, Football, Golf, Yips

The Pickle

Editor’s Note: The following scenario is merely hypothetical and in no way reflects the true wholesome nature of the devoted readers of Eye Black & Rouge.

Imagine the confident new advertising executive sweeps you off your feet and asks you out for drinks after work. You agree because he has the George Clooney thing going on and Ocean’s 11 is one of your favorite movies.

You know you probably shouldn’t go for drinks but saying no would be impolite, right? One chardonnay and you’re telling him you have to let your nonexistent dog out of your apartment.

You walk through the door he’s holding for you (of course, right?) and you glance toward the bar only you notice the guy you really like who you’ve been dating for a few weeks is the bartender. Your ‘hubby’ told you he was a bartender but not at which bar.

You’re in a pickle, sister…

On one side is Clooney; your superior at work. On the other is the bartender who may be slightly less than a boyfriend but you can feel the invite to meet his parents coming soon (and you’re looking forward to it).

The Greeks would call it caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Those who did not pay attention in Greek mythology class would call it between a rock and a hard place. But baseball people call it a good old fashioned pickle.

In baseball, a pickle (or run-down) occurs when a baserunner is caught between two bases with a fielder at each base. The fielder with the ball chases the baserunner toward a base and when the time is right, throws the ball to the other fielder to tag the runner out. The runner, seeing that the ball has gone from one fielder to the other, stops and runs away from the fielder who just received the ball. A thrown ball will always travel faster than the runner so the runner is trapped.

This continues until the runner is eventually tagged out. And the runner is usually 99% of the time tagged out at the pro level very quickly. The fielders are too good, too fast, and the odds are too long for the runner which is why being in a pickle feels like there’s no way out (in both baseball and in life).

But you think on your feet. You’re smart and you see a small window out of this ad executive/bartender situation (not the bathroom window; you’re not a coward). You confidently lead Clooney straight over to the bar and introduce him to your bartender guy.

“Uh, this is my boyfriend, Sam,” you begin gesturing toward the bartender. “Sam, this is our new advertising executive. I thought it would be good for you two to meet. Sam, my boyfriend, has so many good ideas. He’s always critiquing commercials when they come on TV,” you explain. “What’s that idea you’re always talking about?”

Sam then launches into his idea of Subway or Quiznos selling 3″ sub ‘bullets’ so people can try a variety of sandwiches in one meal. Clooney is listening intently and since you did your homework, you know he’s on the Quiznos account. They’re hitting it off and you’re starting to breathe easier. You got your boyfriend’s (he is now) ideas in front of the right guy, Clooney some fresh ideas, and yourself out of a pickle that wasn’t looking too promising.

One glass of chardonnay? Better make it two…

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Double plays and multitasking

You completely space out on a friend’s birthday that’s starting in about an hour. The friend is too close to only give a card and you have just enough time to stop at one location for the gift because you conveniently remembered her birthday one hour prior to her party.

You’re not giving a gift certificate because you’re way better than that.

What to do?

You’re a multitasking maven so you’re going to kill two birds with one stone and you’re going to one-up every gift at the party because that’s just what you do.

You need to be athletic to turn a double play not unlike having to sprint through the mall to buy a gift, cake, and a card in high heels...

You’re going to turn a double play. Normally in baseball, the defense gets one out a time. But with a typical double play, the defense fields the ball, forces the runner out at second and the hitter out at first all on one pitch!

The double play is an exciting event that gets the pitcher out of a jam just like the one you’re in right now with your friend. It’s known as the ‘pitcher’s best friend.’

Two outs with one pitch; two birds dead with one stone. But what about your predicament with your friend’s party? How do you get out of that jam?

Easy. Go to your ‘good’ mall; you know, the one that doesn’t have a little kids’ train circling the area. Head to Nordstrom. Pick out your friend’s gift (I can’t help

Who knew Nordstrom had the best chocolate cake? You do now...

you here because I don’t know her, obviously). Stay in Nordstrom and go to the cafe and ask for a slice of chocolate cake to go (your friend might already have cake, but the chocolate cake at Nordstrom is the best ever so you’re going to be the hit of the party). As you’re walking out of the mall, stop by Border’s or Barnes & Noble to get a birthday card and to validate your parking ticket (more free terrific advice).

Do that, and you’ll be early for the party with your gift, the best cake ever, and a birthday card. That’s more than a double play. You just turned a triple play; three birds with one stone.

You’re welcome, bird-killer…

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Filed under Baseball, Food

Baseball’s pitching staff: Gourmet fine-dining

When going to the type of restaurant that asks if you made a reservation even though the establishment is empty (you know, places that serve a side dish of snobbery with your meal), one can expect multiple courses of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.

This is how a pitching staff operates in baseball. All those pitchers milling about aren’t there for the conversation (although pitchers do a lot of talking when not pitching). Rather, much like golf clubs (remember that post?), each pitcher has a specific role to help the team.

Each team has five starting pitchers. These pitchers begin each game in turn but

Matt Cain; a starting pitcher

they are so much more than an appetizer of calamari. Starting pitchers are expected to throw about seven innings in a nine inning game so they are more like the appetizer, salad, and main course. Starters are the most important pitchers on the staff because they throw the most innings.

A bad main course will ruin the meal but the evening isn’t just your order of  rib-eye. To support your steak, an order of mushrooms or asparagus will complement it perfectly. However, side dishes can

Santiago Casilla; the middle reliever

detract from the experience too (especially when served a la carte; nothing hurts more than spending $9 on so-so green beans).

The side dish is like the middle reliever. They throw maybe one inning per game, but it usually occurs when the starter needs help much like how a slightly bland chicken can be rescued by otherworldly mashed potatoes and gravy.

Sergio Romo; the set-up man

With all this great food, one must drink something special too. A superior steak needs a stellar red wine while a fantastic fish needs a wonderful white. No screw-top grocery market special will do for a meal like this. You spend a little extra because this evening is special so you avoid wines capable of cleaning paint off of paintbrushes. This is the set-up man.

The set-up man usually pitches the 8th inning in tight ballgames. This pitcher is a bit better than the middle relievers and his main job is to preserve the lead for the 9th inning. Then it’s time for the dessert; better known as the closer.

Even though the majority of the check is spent on the appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and wine, the dessert can leave a lasting impression throughout the car ride home. Some restaurants have a special dessert totally unique to them designed to keep you coming back for more. It’s the last thing you’ll remember from the restaurant just like a closer who saves the game or blows the lead.

The closer’s job is to record the final three outs with a lead of three runs or less.

Brian Wilson; the closer

This is called a save and while it’s only three outs out of 27 total outs in a game, the final three outs have a way of being the most difficult to get. That is why the closer often times has the best stuff on the staff. Much like how a death-by-chocolate-caramel-medley has more taste and deliciousness than your main course of steak.

Steak is steak; there’s only so many ways to prepare it. But dessert? There’s all kinds of personality in desserts. In the same way, closers usually have crazy hair, long beards, and lots of tattoos and can be a little off mentally. That’s like putting sparklers in your chocolate brownie.

For the meal to be perfect, however, each part needs to special. Any course found to be lacking can negatively cloud the experience. Same with the pitching staff. The starter, middle relief, set-up man, and closer all need to pitch well for the baseball team to win.

Anything less, and you might as well be eating at Arby’s…

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