Tag Archive | "Phrase"

The Art Of Scorekeeping

During a recent interview with Bethany Heck, she let slip that little phrase.  “The art of scorekeeping”.  I must admit, it seems poetic and it epitomizes precisely why I sought her out.

EephusLeague

You see, Bethany Heck, a graphic designer that focuses primarily on web design, is the proprietor of Eephus League Baseball.  A project that grew from her work at Auburn University and eventually found its way to Kickstarter to provide the world with a simple, clean, and easy way to bring basic record keeping back into focus.

I knew I wanted to do a baseball project and I started gathering visual inspiration and breaking down my favorite aspects of the game. I settled on the unifying theme of “minutiae”; the special things that spring up around the game of baseball, and I started planning out the website and wrote and illustrated a small book to go along with it. I decided last minute that a scorebook would be a nice thing to add on to the project and I really wanted to make another physical object to go along with the site.

Enter Paul Lukas of Uni Watch.  Heck thought he would enjoy the site, so she sent him a link.  The link led to an interview, the interview led to massive exposure for the site, and the exposure led to people clamoring to get their hands on the scorebook.  A commenter on the site suggested using Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, to fund the venture.  The Kickstarter campaign generated over $27,000 and sold over 1,000 scorebooks, nearly twice what Heck had aimed for.

My goal was to create a scorebook that would be easy for anyone, kids to adults, to use and would bring a new perspective to scorekeeping. In my opinion, as scorekeeping has aged it’s become less universal and more specialized towards a certain type of fan. I wanted something small and fun to bring to the ballpark that would look great and lend itself to more casual scorekeeping. Most modern scorebooks are extremely complicated and almost force you to keep score a certain way, so I wanted to keep the grid itself simple. I also included lines for noting certain details about the trip to the ballpark. Scorecards are really time capsules of games so I wanted to push that idea. There’s a fold out guide for first time scorekeepers, a reference card for common abbreviations and a set of stickers for signifying whether your team won or lost.

Heck admits to not keeping score on a regular basis during her youth, though her father did teach her and she would do so sporadically.  She grew up watching Braves games with her family, playing softball and collecting baseball cards.  It was a Braves game that provided her with her earliest baseball memory:

I can remember going to my first Braves game at Fulton County Stadium. I had a Braves jacket and a shirt and we got a tomahawk and a pennant outside the gates. David Justice was my favorite player at the time so I asked where he was in the outfield and my dad pointed out to the Hooter’s ad and some something like “He’s over there, by the… owl.” They also gave out a Braves Duffel bag (which recently perished) and a pack of Lays sponsored cards (I’ve still got the Javy Lopez card that came in the pack).

Baseball cards played a big part in Heck’s young life.  However, he memories of the cards she collected leads here quickly to the elusive card she never could get,  the 1995 Leaf Statistical Standout insert card for Frank Thomas.

I had an old SI Kids issue that had an ad in it for Leaf’s 1995 set of cards, and it featured Frank Thomas, who was my favorite player post-Justice. I’d look at it all the time and covet this card  but at the time I had no way to acquiring it. I went to a lot of card shops and always looked for it and never found it, and now, I could probably get one, but I think it’s better than it always remain unattainable.

It was easy to see during our conversations that she loves the game.  It left one key question out there, however: Why “Eephus League”?

I wanted a unique name and I was doing some type tests with the script I had just bought to use for the logo, and I tried “Eephus” and it was just perfect. I essentially let the font decide the name! A lot of my professors were unsure about the name but I was hopeful that people who were baseball fans would recognize the word and in the end I think most of them do.

You can visit Eephus League Baseball on the web by clicking here.  Make sure to drop by the shop and pick up your own Eephus League Scorebooks for the upcoming season while you are there.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.

LanceLynn4

Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
@LangoschMLB
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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“Our Time” To Question “The Process”

After a 6-16 start, Royals fans should no longer give this organization the benefit of the doubt.

This column was supposed to be about Albert Pujols’ slow start and how that might affect the Royals’ ability to sign Eric Hosmer to a long-term contract. However, that idea will be saved for another day. Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Royals had won 3 out of their last 4 games, and fans were given reason to believe that things were looking a bit more positive after the 12 game losing streak the team had just snapped. And then tonight happened. The Royals were blown out 9-3 by the Detroit Tigers, while Luke Hochevar had his 2nd historically horrific first inning of the young season.

Royals fans have taken the organization to task for this year’s slogan, “Our Time”. But is this really any different than any of the other BS that has been spewed to the fan base over the last 20 years? “The Process” is appearing to be nothing more than another meaningless phrase used to dupe a naive fan base that has endured so much misery that they are willing to latch onto any positive sign that may present itself, even if it happens to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

The Royals can use whatever catchy, feel-good phrases and buzzwords they want to use. Royals fans will not be falling for this anymore, nor should they. There isn’t much more to say at this point. The Pujols/Hosmer column may or may not be written. If things continue down this road, it won’t matter whether Pujols is making Hosmer more sign-able. Because he will be ready to hop on the first bus out of town when his contract is up, just like Johnny Damon, Zack Greinke, Carlos Beltran, and pretty much every player worth keeping that has come through Kansas City in the last 20 years has.

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Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

For a self proclaimed non-movie watcher I seem to be making a lot of movie references for these Royals columns. I go to a movie theater about once a year, if that. Despite it’s popularity I do not subscribe to Netflix. If there is not a sporting event on television…I don’t watch television. But to be honest, when I heard about the Melky Cabrera for Jonathon Sanchez trade the phrase Thank you sir, may I have another from the cult classic, Animal House was the first thing that popped into my mind. I guess that says a lot about my mentality.

As others have pointed out this trade is not without it’s risks. What trade isn’t? What I do know is that Dayton Moore took a player in an area where the Royals did not have a need, in exchange for a player where the Royals did have need. Melky’s 2011 production will be missed. But no one is sure that production would make a 2012 appearance anyway. On the surface it’s a good trade. The Royals rotation is improved, and a door is opened for prospect Lorenzo Cain.

Dayton Moore’s track record of trades at the major league level has been suspect. Despite that, as a Royals fan I want to see more of this. I discussed such a trade here during the season. Make no mistake, for the Royals to get a pitcher capable of anchoring a playoff caliber staff they will have to part with some prized prospects. Either that, or sign a big name free agent. That is not likely, nor is this the year to do it.

I would not expect anything major to happen until MLB decides on their new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But it would be nice if the Royals front office made a move that made the offseason go by really, really, really slow. Thank you sir, may I have another. Another good trade, not another offseason. In the mean time I recomend and a spontaneous road trip.

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Dog Days Give Way To Moose & Hos Days

This past week has seemed like the dog days of summer, even though that phrase is usually reserved for August. It’s usually stupid hot, and the Royals are usually losing at a good clip. Come August we’re tired of both, and ready write off the Royals until March while waiting for that first strong cold front in September.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

This week in a lot of Royals Nation the temps have been near 100. Along with the heat was the humidity, and if you didn’t have humidity you had wind. Likewise, the Royals have dropped 16 of their last 26. Including being swept at home by the worst team in the league; the injury plagued Twins. For me it was my Annual “Ok I’m done with this.” Series

But then I remember: Like the 100 degree days I pine for while driving through snow, I remember that regardless of how bad the Royals are I spent the entire off-season looking forward to the season, not just the month of April. There will be a dark 4 month stretch in the winter where I’ll be looking for this stuff again. There is no sense in wishing either of them away

However, the end of this week brought some relief from the heat. It also brought some news we’ve been expecting since Spring Training. Mike Moustakas has been called up. This brings renewed energy into watching and paying attention to the Royals. “Moose & Hos” will now be in the same Major League line-up.

Mike Moustakas will make is MLB debut 50 miles from his home

The major dynamic Moustakas should add to the line-up is power. In the minors last year Moose had 36 HR in 118 games. I know it’s the minors, but even if there is a drop in production Moose should be a huge addition to the line-up. Especially when looking at previous decades power numbers. You know, what will go down as The Steroid Era? You have to go all the way back to Carlos Beltran in 2003 to find a Royals hitter with more than 25 home runs in a season. Miguel Olivo came close in 2009 with 23. Want to read something that will make you avert your eyes? Yuneski Betancourt lead the Royals in home runs last year with….16. This year the numbers are a little better, but still not good. Moustakas should help with that, and Hosmer has 5 HR in 32 games.

So the youth movement continues. The monotony of the season has been broken up. Hosmer, Moustakas, and the Law Firm of Coleman, Collins & Crow will provide enough bright spots to ignore the historically horrendous starting pitching. That’s a good thing, there are still 99 games left and no NFL waiting at the end.

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Meaning of a Fast Start

The first week of the baseball season is over. Fan bases across the country are analyzing their teams’ starts; comparing them to last year’s team, other teams in their division, and wondering if it means anything. Royals fans are no different. Because the season is so young every game gets dissected a little more than it should.

On Opening Day we were greeted with exactly the same team we left in 2010. Bad starting pitching and defense, plus runners left in scoring position equals Royals fans screaming about 110 losses and another lost season. 72 hours later things were looking up as the Royals had won their next three in their last at bat. I heard more zealous Royals fans utter the phrase….”magic number”. Maybe that was in jest, but in order to jest there must be some amount of hope or truth.

Like all things in life, not just in baseball. The answer is somewhere in between. If you look back at Royals starts since 2002 you will find their start after 6 games doesn’t mean much. In 2004 the Royals started 4-2 at home before losing all but one game on an eight game road trip. That team finished with, at that time, the worst record in franchise history, 58-104. The worst record was in 2005, 56-106. In 2000 the Royals started with a similar home stand that included three walk-off wins. They then left on a nine game, three-city road trip, and lost every game. In 2009 the Royals got off to a spectacular start. On May 7th they had a record of 18-11 and had a 3 game lead in the division. Eventually the league adjusted to Mike Jacobs and he never adjusted back. Coco Crisp got injured. By Memorial Day the Royals were 23-27 and back in 4th place. They finished 65-97.

I think the Royals will be better than the national and local media has been giving them credit. Alcides Escobar’s defense is something we haven’t seen in a while. Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, and Jeremy Jeffress has been so impressive out of the bullpen I almost welcome the starters getting the hook. Jeff Francis has looked good through two starts despite not having a win. Chris Getz, and Alex Gordon seem to have improved, and Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Francoeur are hitting like they did earlier in their careers. And the most shocking…As of this writing the Royals lead the American League in walks!…by 7!

There are some concerns. Any starter not named Francis has been terrible. I’m beginning to wonder if Luke Hochaver will ever turn into the pitcher who thought he was good enough he held out before he signed a huge signing bonus. If the starters remain this bad, you cannot expect the bullpen to keep up their dominance. What happened during the final White Sox game is a good example. With 162 games, the major league level is a game of adjustments. Will the league adjust to the Royals new found offense? Will the league adjust to the bullpen once scouting reports begin circulating? All these questions, and they haven’t even played a road game.

Am I being a buzzkill? You could call me that. Royals fans have endured so much losing that even the slightest glimmer of hope has us acting like a bunch of 8-year-old fanboys ready to give the team a parade. The last week has been exciting. Last Saturday while attending the Angels and Futures Game I screamed my head off till my vocal cords hurt. I’ve done my share of coming off the couch when watching at home. However, one week does not make a season.

The Zack Greinke trade is paying dividends in Alcides Escobar

I’m pretty sure the Royals will not contend this year, but there are reasons to pay attention. If you don’t want to watch a shortstop throw a runner out at first from shallow left you need to find another sport to watch. Watching Tim Collins pitch is a wonder of mechanics and physics. Coming into the season most rational fans were looking for pieces from an improved farm system. The early indications are positive. Watching a good baseball team is always entertaining. The Royals are entertaining, but do not confuse entertaining with good.

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2011 Key Player: David Freese

Corpus Christie, TX native David Freese has become synonymous with freak injuries and the phrase “if he stays healthy”. A young man who some would say simply has bad luck when it comes to running bases, lifting weights, rehabbing injuries, or even attending hockey games, Freese is off to a very nice spring so far in 2011. A quick look at his (spring training) numbers versus last year tell quite the story:

2010: 26 G 75 AB 22 H 34 TB .293 AVG .372 OBP .453 SLG 15 K
2011: 9 G 21 AB 8 H 15 TB .381 AVG .381 OBP .714 SLG 3 K

In roughly ⅓ of the games & at bats of his 2010 spring training campaign, Freese has already amassed more than a third of his hit total from last year, and nearly half of his total bases total. He’s done so while raising both his batting average (by nearly 100 points), and a slightly higher OBP. His slugging percentage is way UP, while his strikeouts are way DOWN. It sure looks like the power is there this year…and that’s important.

Could 2011 be the breakout year for young David Freese?

I picked up David Freese off the waiver wire in my fantasy league early last season, before he got hurt. In my mind, it stood to reason that a guy hitting behind Matt Holliday, who was hitting behind Albert Pujols was going to see a lot of pitches to hit. Now add Berkman to that already dangerous lineup, and I have to believe that we’re going to see some real offensive production from 3B this season out of Freese. He should certainly have his chances to put up the numbers, given the Cards projected lineup day in-day out (a relative term in Cardinal nation).

I think for David to make his mark on the big leagues, he’s going to have to carpe de 2011 season, as the questions surrounding Berkman & the contract of our first baseman loom large, when considering what the 2012 lineup could look like. A lot can change in a very short time, from an offensive production standpoint when the lineup you’re in changes…ask Ryan Ludwick. Freese will have plenty of chances to prove that he is who we’ve thought he can be. I would strongly suggest that he make the most of this opportunity, because as you well know, if you’ve been paying attention, Matt Carpenter doesn’t seem to be too far behind. Freese can hold down the starting third base job and be a key part of this team in 2011…”if he stays healthy”.

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