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Hitting For The Cycle: Jobu, Umpires, And Oakland’s Stadium Problems

Single:Indians, Not Plumbing, Stop the A’s by Paul Gutierrez (ESPN)

Bud Selig, the esteemed commissioner of MLB, who has presided over an incredibly prosperous era both in labor peace and economic profitability, has two serious legacy problems: PEDs and the Oakland Athletics. One of these issues is simple – Selig turned his back when players were juicing. The other is quite complex and deals with complicated legal issues such as territorial rights and baseball’s real cash cow: MLB’s anti-trust exemption from the US Government. Surely an issue such as a decrepit stadium and a desire from owners to leave a place they aren’t wanted would be a top priority for any league. Selig must form a committee to explore options. Well, that’s exactly what he did… more than 5 years ago.

Meanwhile, San Jose, which is currently in the Giant’s economic footprint, wishes to have the A’s move there into a brand-spanking new modern stadium – something O.Co Coliseum certainly isn’t. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. We must continue to wait until Selig’s committee rules on whether they are allowed. In the meantime, we have to wade through sewage creeping up through the drains and rainouts when it hasn’t rained in 16 hours due to poor drainage in a stadium shared with an NFL team in a city that they owners don’t want to be in. Kudos, Mr. Selig – enjoy your Jeter Tour.

I sure hope the MASN dispute doesn’t take this long…

Quote: “The aging concrete mausoleum still takes center stage for the Athletics, but for all the wrong reasons.”

Bonus Tweet:

Double: Minor-League Umpires Are Prospects Too by Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)

This year, due to replay, is the year that fans will realize how incredible these umpires actually are. Yes, calls will be blown and strike zones will be ever-changing from ump-to-ump, but these men are the best in the world at what they do. So, unless you are in the robot umpire camp (*raises hand*), you are just going to have to suck it up. Next time you are livid at an umpire for a crazy strike zone, just remember that they are all human, and yes, some of them are even prospects.

Think about your current job. Did you walk in perfect? Were there growing pains? Most likely, you didn’t, and there were. Now, even though you have been doing the same job for the past however many years, do you make mistakes? Yes, you probably do. This wonderful piece from Jeff Sullivan goes through two games (one of which is a Nats game – Gio Gonzalez vs. Mets) with newly called up umpires while analyzing their strike zones and what they have done wrong. It’s a fascinating read, because it goes into some questions on umpire promotion and critique that might not be good enough at the minor league level, which is very different from MLB-level due to PITCH/fx feedback. The old adage does remain the same whether it’s umpires or players – the only way to learn at the Major League level is to be at the Major League level.

Quote: “So if you’re one of those people who wants the worst umpires to get demoted and replaced by guys from Triple-A, understand that the guys from Triple-A might be even worse, at least for the first while.”

Triple: Four Strikes and You’re Out by Etan Green (FiveThirtyEight)

As previously stated in this segment, if things like numbers and charts scare you, you might just want to skip the FiveThirtyEight articles.

Umpires are human as we discovered in the previous piece. And being humans, they are inherently biased. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I am going to forego a ton of breakdown on this piece and just encourage you to give it a read as Green and his colleagues quantify things that we have all thought of but never had the time and resources to dig into.

Does an umpire’s strike zone expand when there are 3 balls? Yes. Does the strike zone shrink when there are 2 strikes? Yes, by about 20%. Does the probability of a called strike change when the previous pitch was a called strike? Yes, by about 15%.

I really encourage you to dig into this piece and look at the numbers. This is some truly fascinating research into the subconscious of MLB umpires.

Quote: “The umpire’s job is simple: Call a strike when the pitch crosses the official strike zone; call a ball when it doesn’t.”

Home Run: Finding Jobu: Who has the good-luck charm from ‘Major League’ 25 years later? by Mike Oz (Yahoo!)

This week marks the 25th anniversary of one of the top 3 baseball movies of all-time: Major League. Throughout the week, articles have popped up on all of the major sports websites honoring the film, getting player reactions, telling backstories, and the like. Yahoo! Sports writer Mike Oz took this one step further, instead of asking other people about the movie he decided to figure out where Pedro Cerrano’s Voodoo idol, Jobu, went.

Somehow he was able to track down the owner, Brian Robinson, a former employee of the movie’s production company who had been given Jobu from a former co-worker. Currently, Jobu sits on top of a piano with his trademark cigar and bottle of rum. A truly enjoyable retrospective on one of the film’s most beloved characters!

Quote: “It’s like Dorothy’s shoes in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ except better”

Hitting for the Cycle is The Nats Blog’s series where Craig MacHenry goes through the best of the best baseball writing for the past week – highlighting national stories while giving them some Nationals perspective.

About Craig MacHenry

Writer for The Nats Blog and co-host of Nats Talk On The Go podcast

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