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Watching every MLB team play a game

December 22, 2011 10:16 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Last April, to no one in particular, I asked the following question:

“What’s the shortest possible trip (in miles) to see every MLB team play at least one game this season?”

It became clear, after a brief discussion with some friends, that the shortest possible trip is somewhere on the order of a hundred miles. Citi Field in the Bronx and Yankee Stadium in Queens are only 6 miles apart. Since the Mets and the Yankees are in different leagues and each team plays one series at home against every other team in its own league, you could just spend the whole season going back and forth between the two stadiums. (In fact, I’d be surprised if at least one New Yorker baseball fan with time and money to burn hadn’t done exactly this.)

In order to avoid this “trivial” solution, a modification to the puzzle would have to be introduced. After throwing around a bunch of attempts, I hit upon the perfect goal: 15 games, 15 stadiums, 30 teams. You’d see no team play more than once, you’d be in no stadium more than once.

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NFL records – 2011 first two weeks

September 21, 2011 12:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The following records have been set in the first two weeks of the 2011 NFL season:

  • Most total yards passing in a game by both teams – Brady and Henne, week 1 (906)
  • Most yards passing by a rookie – Newton tied it week 1 (422) and then broke it week 2 (432)
  • Most yards passing in the first two weeks of a season – Newton (854), and then a couple hours later Brady broke it (940)
  • Most total touchdowns by all teams in the first two weeks of a season (172)
  • Most total passing yards by all teams in the first two weeks of a season (15,771)
  • Most consecutive 400+ yard passing games – Newton and Brady tied it at 2
  • Most QBs with 300+ yard passing games in one weekend – week 1 (14)
  • Longest field goal – tied by Janikowski (63 yards) week 1
  • Most penalties by both teams in a single game – Raiders vs Broncos (25)

There’s more if you count near-records. Brady’s week 1 performance of 516 passing yards was a team record and a Monday Night record, but only the fifth-best ever. And his 940 passing yards over two games was the most in the first two weeks of a season, but was five yards short of the record for any two consecutive games.

So far, a weird high-scoring season. It’ll be left to be seen if this is just a result of the shortened offseason (thanks to the lockout), or bigger strategic changes across the league.

Expected ERA

September 13, 2011 1:03 pm Published by 2 Comments

Imagine two hypothetical pitchers. Their ERAs are very close together and both pretty average: 3.40 and 3.41. They’ve both pitched just over 200 innings in 30 starts with just a couple weeks of the season remaining. But one pitcher has had some pretty advantageous matchups: he’s played the Padres four times, the Reds and Rockies twice each, the Pirates, the Mets, the Royals — all teams with records under .500. The other pitcher, on the other hand, has had a harder schedule: four games each against the Yankees and the Red Sox, two against the Rangers, and one in Detroit. Are these equivalent pitchers?

I set out to determine if pitchers we accept as “elite” are truly that great, or if some might have an unfair advantage due to schedules. I downloaded all of MLB’s gamelogs for the 2011 regular season up through yesterday, and then I parsed them, tracking a few key pieces of information. First, the number of innings each pitcher pitched against each team. Second, the average number of earned runs each team scores per inning. Then, for each pitcher, I calculated what their ERA would be if they allowed exactly their opponent’s average for each appearance. Here are the results (for pitchers who have enough innings pitched to qualify for the ERA title):


Expected ERA – after 2011-09-12

One interesting takeaway is that there aren’t any huge surprises. Of the pitchers with the ten best actual ERAs, only one of them (Cole Hamels) isn’t in the top ten for the best differential. Another interesting fact is how much a pitcher’s expected ERA is affected by simple rotation timing, and not just the team’s schedule. The Phillies have played against a lot of sub-.500 teams this year, and Cole Hamels has one of the lowest expected ERAs. But his teammate Cliff Lee hasn’t been so lucky — his expected ERA is higher than most.

But there are some people who get a nudge from good to great with this analysis. Oh, and those two hypothetical pitchers I mentioned? They aren’t hypothetical. They’re Daniel Hudson of the Diamondbacks and David Price of the Rays, respectively. This puts a little context on the fact that Price’s record is 12-12 and Hudson’s is 16-9.

Mass Brewers Fest

September 3, 2011 12:34 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The following is a full list of all of the beers I tried at the second annual Mass Brewers Fest last night:

  1. 6:20 PM – Blue Hills Black Hops – ★★★★
  2. 6:24 PM – Cape Cod Beach Blonde – ★★★
  3. 6:29 PM – Haverhill Leatherlips – ★★★★
  4. 6:42 PM – Watch City Monkey Monk – ★★ – Probably the worst beer of the night. Too bad, since I like Watch City.
  5. 6:48 PM – Amherst Raspberry Wedding White – ★★★★ – Cask conditioned but really foamy. I wish I had gone back to give it another try later. It was very tart, not sweet at all.
  6. 6:52 PM – Rapscallion Blessing – ★★★★
  7. 6:58 PM – Gardner Summer’s End – ★★★
  8. 7:09 PM – Clown Shoes Black Ale – ★★★★★
  9. 7:18 PM – Ipswitch Oatmeal Stout – ★★★★
  10. 7:33 PM – Harpoon UFO Pumpkin – ★★★★
  11. 8:03 PM – Notch Pils – ★★ – Both this and the Notch Saison were very mediocre beers. Wish they hadn’t run out of their Session before we got there.
  12. 8:15 PM – Northampton Magic Carpet Rye – ★★★
  13. 8:23 PM – Jack’s Abbey Smoke & Dagger – ★★★
  14. 8:35 PM – Samuel Adams Sample A – ★★★★
  15. 8:37 PM – Samuel Adams Sample B – ★★★ – Sam Adams was doing a contest/drawing/vote for a new flavor. Sample A was a really fantastic red: sweet, toffee-like flavor. Sample B was a black ale. Also good, but not as much personality.
  16. 8:49 PM – Blue Hills Antimatter – ★★★★
  17. 8:59 PM – Wormtown Pumpkin Ale – ★★★★★ – I had tried a taste of this earlier in the night, and was amazed. It’s head and shoulders over the Harpoon UFO Pumpkin, but I’m betting I would only be able to drink about 8 ounces before I got sick of it.
  18. 9:06 PM – Frosty Knuckle Sea Spray IPA – ★★★★★ – My choice for Beer Of The Night. A very well balanced IPA. Heavy on the hops but still enough maltiness to be flavorful.
  19. 9:19 PM – Gardner Belgian Chair – ★★★
  20. 9:39 PM – Harpoon Uncle Fester – I refuse to rate this beer. Just for this event, Harpoon took a year-old keg of Oktoberfest and mixed it with a six-month-old keg of Munich Dark. The result was wild and strange and honestly tasted kinda like blue cheese.

Yes, I used Remembeer to track my beers and ratings. Also, I wore my Utica Club t-shirt to the event, and kept track of the number of comments I got. Final score: 12, about half from brewers and half from attendees.