Bobby Thigpen & climate change

Posted in the de Jesus Era on January 24, 2016 by dejesus54


Jim Kaat said during the World Series that Thigpen’s record for saves in a season was “a record that may never be broken.”  More likely, Thigpen’s record is merely a step in a process which has been going on for half a century, and probably will continue for many more years.

Kaat was reacting to the fact that Thigpen’s record represents an impressive stride forward from the previous record, which was 46. Thigpen broke the old record by eleven, saving 57. That’s impressive, but it has very little to do with whether the record will or will not be broken[…]

I would argue that the more stunning an individual performance is, the greater the likelihood that the record will be broken. Consider, for example, the home run record. When Babe Ruth hit 59 home runs in 1920 this was a shattering event–more than twice the previous record, which Ruth himself had set the previous year. But did that mean that the record could never be broken, or did that merely mean that the game of baseball had changed in some way so that more home runs would be hit? When Ruth himself hit 60 home runs in 1927 no one paid much attention, because by that time seasons of 40 or more homers were no longer shocking, and so no one really thought that the record of 60 would stand–but it did, lasting for 34 years.

Think about it. If you edge past an existing record, then it may be that the previous standards still apply, and the record was broken simply by a superb individual performance. If the record is smashed, however, it must be because the performance norms in this category have changed. Bobby Thigpen is a fine reliever, but there have been fine relievers before, right? If the performance standards for saves remained the same, would it be possible for him to be 25% better than anybody else ever has been, in his best season?

–Bill James, THE BASEBALL BOOK 1991

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.

“NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015”, January 2016

Not only are severe snowstorms possible in a warming climate, they may even be more likely. According to the Third National Climate Assessment, there is some evidence that cold season storms in the Northern Hemisphere have become both more frequent and more intense since 1950. Extremely heavy snowstorms also increased in number during the last century in northern and eastern parts of the United States, although they have been less frequent since 2000.

–Caitlyn Kennedy, “Are record snowstorms proof that global warming isn’t happening?” March 2015

Cincuenta y uno

Posted in Jose de Jesus on January 6, 2016 by dejesus54


Jose DeJesus has the lowest cap brim and one of the liveliest fastballs in the National League. That’s a frightening combination for opposing hitters, who are probably unsure if the wild young righthander even sees them. And with 73 walks allowed in 130 innings last year, maybe he doesn’t.

After being obtained from Kansas City for Steve Jeltz before the ’90 season, DeJesus began the year at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. It was there that Phils’ minor league instructor Jim Fregosi helped lighten the towering righthander’s load. Fregosi told him to forget about the hitter, and DeJesus took the advice literally. He pulled his cap brim down so far that it hid his eyes, creating a tunnel between him and the catcher’s wide glove. “Tunnel vision” is the right term: usually, DeJesus couldn’t even remember what a given batter last did against him or even how he pitched him. With his new style, DeJesus was still wild, but he was also very tough to hit, holding opponents to a .211 batting average after his June recall to Philadelphia.

DeJesus has one great pitch: a high, hard fastball with a little sideways slide on the end. He can throw it to either corner. Unlike many dominant fastballs, it produces more fouls than swings and misses, and induces more ground balls than strikeouts. It was also more effective against lefties than it was against righties last year. DeJesus throws a slider, but as with the fastball, control is a problem. To help him cut down his walks and set up his fastball, DeJesus is scheduled to learn a change-up from Phils pitching coach Johnny Podres.

DeJesus is easy to steal on as he is slow delivering to the plate out of the stretch. His ungainly follow-through hampers him in fielding the ball. He has a good batting eye and should become a passable hitter, although his bunting is awful.

DeJesus’ record last year was deceiving; he won nearly every game he had a chance to win. The Phils gave him four or more runs of support seven times, and he was 6-0 in those starts. In his other 15 starts, he received two or fewer runs to work with, and was 1-8. With his brim down, his fastball riding up and in, and better control, DeJesus should break double figures in wins in ’91.

–from THE SCOUTING REPORT: 1991, STATS, INC./John Dewan, editor, Don Zminda, associate editor

Kyle Palmieri is not a cornerstone

Posted in Flyers-related on January 2, 2016 by dejesus54


Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t understand the concept of small sample size.  Six weeks ago it was Mike Condon.  This week it’s Devils winger and “15-goal man Kyle Palmieri, a restricted free agent who looks like a cornerstone.”  Palmieri may be having a breakout season, but it’s not without major qualifiers.

1. His shooting percentage as a Devil is 16.8% (16 goals on 95 shots). His shooting percentage across five seasons as a Duck was 10.9% (43 goals on 395 shots). True, he’s shooting a lot more with increased playing time, but among active NHL players, only two have career shooting percentages higher than Palmieri’s 16.8%, and odds are he’s not the next Stamkos. In other words, this number will drop.

2. 13 of Palmieri’s 29 points have come on the power play–which is ironic, given that Friedman in the same column repeats the critique of Claude Giroux’s “dependency on power play points”:

Scoring with the extra man is critical considering how hard it is to do so five-on-five, but compare Giroux to some of his compatriots. He leads the NHL with 50 such points the past two seasons, and has 101 overall. That’s 49.5 per cent of his total coming with the man-advantage. Of the other nine players in the top 10 of power play totals, Joe Pavelski’s 43.4 is next highest (46 of 106).

Palmieri is at 44.8%.

Overall, Palmieri’s season is encouraging. He frequently plays against the opponent’s top lines and the Devils are a better possession team with him on the ice than off. He finishes more shifts in the offensive zone than he starts and he draws more than twice as many penalties as he takes (the Devils as a team tend to be good at this).

The problem is that he’s good but not quite this good, and the Devils as a whole are good but not quite this good. They’re dead last in 5v5 shots for/60 and only Anaheim is worse in 5v5 goals for/60 (yes, even the Flyers are better). Cory Schneider, a top ten shooting percentage, and the power play (not to mention the Penguins and Tampa Bay underperforming expectations) have kept the Devils in the playoff race. Maybe Palmieri is a cornerstone of this Devils team, but that says more about the Devils than it does about Palmieri.

Advanced stats courtesy of Behind the Net.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hockey Dreams, 2002

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2015 by dejesus54

From an old dream journal:


I. I’m in a huge hockey arena, way up in “luxury seats” far away from the ice. Bill Guerin is singing lounge songs.  He then becomes Alex Chilton, who walks with me and a few others onto a field.  He tells me to write down two aliases to use for team names, like a fantasy hockey team.  I write “Raven” and “Tramp,” after the Lowell Fulsom song covered by Chilton.

II. I take in a deer (with antlers, like a small reindeer) from my backyard, which is like a forest, with lots of trees.  I carry it upstairs and take it to bed with me, resting my head on it.  I wake up worried about, would it need to move its bowels, eat, was it OK?  It’s my old room from high school.  I wake up my mother (it’s 2 a.m.) and tell her what I’m worried about.  Her only response is, “What just happened in hockey?  I haven’t been following it this season.”  I’m offended, return to my room to check on the deer, but my light doesn’t work; I feel around and the deer isn’t on my bed either. I eventually find the deer in the corner, standing quietly looking out the window.


Flyers 2, Canucks 0

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on December 18, 2015 by dejesus54





Box score

More photos

I ordered tickets in advance this time.

Obscure-ish Flyers jersey in the stands: SNOW 30

Fans cheered Sheena Parveen on the Jumbotron for the weather forecast between periods.

Also, this:
Guy next to me: “Hey, I hope you don’t mind the smell of my hoagie, since I really want to finish it.”
Me: “Go right ahead, I can’t smell anything anyway.”
Him: “You can’t smell anything? Wha, you do coke?”
Me: “You got any?”
Ah, South Fluffya.

On Mike Condon and the Habs

Posted in non-de Jesus related on November 13, 2015 by dejesus54


Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes in this week’s 30 Thoughts on how the Canadiens are proving everyone wrong:

A lot of us figured they’d drop without Carey Price. Instead, they’ve got eight of a possible 10 points, with no regulation defeats. Mike Condon is showing why the organization chose him as the understudy over Dustin Tokarski.

And it’s not just the goalie:

The Canadiens do one thing you have to do (control the puck in the offensive zone) and one thing people frown on (throw it out of your zone). But they turn that supposed negative into a positive, because it plays to their strengths. And it gives a clearer idea of why they are more than a one-man team.

He may be right–and honestly, I’m willing to defer, since I haven’t watched a single minute of a single Habs game all season, and I suspect Elliotte Friedman has.

But the Habs are 13-2-2. A league-best 13-2-2 and 28 points (the Rangers and Stars have 24; the Rangers only have two losses as well and have two games in hand), but they’ve only played 17 games. That’s 20.7% of an NHL season. In baseball, that’s 33.5 games. In baseball, this is early May.

Joe Sheehan, baseball’s self-described “sample-size police,” observed this past April that

baseball fans would be smarter if no one paid to write about baseball wrote a thing before May 15 or so. Myself included. Baseball is hard enough to figure out in season-long chunks, and most timeframes less than that are, as much as this has become a cliché, a small sample size. We can get fooled over half a season, and certainly over two months or a month


[T]eam performance is volatile…Past performance is a leading indicator of future results, but it’s by no means gospel. Teams can fool us for a month, for two months, for four months. That’s a feature, mind you, not a bug. It’s one of the best things about the game.

Hockey isn’t baseball, of course. (Canadians don’t even play baseball, right?) But Sidney Crosby has 2 goals. He, Claude Giroux, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Marleau are tied for 107th in the league in scoring with Francois Beauchemin and Jared Spurgeon. Joel Ward and Dale Weise are tied for fifth in goals, two behind the league lead. Reto Berra leads the league in goals against (1.50) and save percentage (.952). It’s November, and it’s early.

I don’t think the Habs will collapse, or miss the playoffs, or not make a run. I picked Tampa (now 7-8-2 with a negative goal differential) to win the division, and still think they can, but I picked Montreal second, and they were my East finals pick (losing, correctly, to the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks) only a year ago. (Don’t worry, I went back to picking the Blues again this season.) And Condon is a great story so far, undefeated (in modern terms) at 6-0-2, .936, 1.73. But it’s November, and it’s early. And regression, like the snow, can be merciless on poor old Montreal.

Image courtesy of Semiotext(e) Canadas, Autonomedia 1994.

Rosa Luxemburg on the 2015 Astros

Posted in non-de Jesus related on October 19, 2015 by dejesus54

We find the same logic of the error as an internal condition of truth with Rosa Luxemburg, with her description of the dialectics of the revolutionary process. I am alluding here to her argument against Edward Bernstein, against his revisionist fear of seizing power too soon, “prematurely,” before the so‑called “objective conditions” had ripened. This was, it is well known, Bernstein’s main reproach to the revolutionary wing of social democracy: they are too impatient, they want to hasten, to outrun the objective logic of historical development. The answer of Rosa Luxemburg is that the first seizures of power are necessarily “premature”. The only way for the working class to reach its “maturity,” to await the arrival of the “appropriate moment” for the seizure of power, is to form itself, to educate itself for this act of seizure. And the only possible way of achieving this education is precisely by “premature” attempts. If we just wait for the “appropriate moment,” we will never live to see it, because this “appropriate moment” cannot arrive without the subjective conditions of the maturity of the revolutionary force (subject) being fulfilled. That is, it can arrive only after a series of “premature,” failed attempts…The opposition to the “premature” seizure of power is thus revealed to be opposition to the seizure of power as such, in general.
–Slavoj Žižek, Lacan and the Subject of Language (Routledge, 1991)

i.e. haters (Texas Rangers fans).


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