I keep reading these crazy people saying the Rangers are 20-10 over the last month, and that’s simply not true. Okay, you can look it up and see that on the board it is true, but really there is such doom and gloom about the team that it doesn’t feel like they’re winning. Winning is a relative term, because they’re struggling to get near .500. And, to use a little perspective, they’ve done that while playing losing teams, only the four against Seattle and three against Anaheim were against teams above .500, and Seattle is in a free fall. So yeah, Ron Washington will spin it his way, and I’ll spin it my way, and we’ll see who the manager is on Opening Day next year. As it is, the Rangers are on the verge of mathematical elimination, just five games away (a combination of five Rangers losses and Anaheim wins), which means they held in a lot longer than we expected. When I was writing them off back in May, saying they would lose 100 games, I thought they’d be eliminated by the All-Star break.
With 20 team games to go, Michael Young needs 25 hits to reach 200. I would almost certainly expect him to get the mark, for the fifth season in a row. Only Ichiro has a longer current streak. Michael has done it with no power, and his OPS+ stands at 101, meaning he is almost exactly league average. He is following a very classic aging curve, having peaked at 28, and all those years left in his new contract may end up being a millstone for this team. Not only is he likely not to perform the way he has in the past, but the size of the contract means he won’t be tradeable, especially not to a contender which is where he wants to be. Much as I love him, I am already dreading the ugly breakup we’re going to have.
We went to the FC Dallas Major League Soccer match on Saturday night, the first time we’ve been to an MLS game. I’m a huge soccer fan, as you may be aware from some of my previous posts, and I very much enjoyed the game, especially with the 2-0 Dallas win. We had some disappointments, most notably in that they didn’t have any apparel for an almost-three-year-old to wear, which means all we ended up buying was a foam finger, which Josh fell in love with when he saw. They’re missing that market, heck, we had Josh in Rangers gear the day he was born.
It was very interesting comparing the demographics with the Rangers. The Rangers fans would be family-oriented, but much less so than FC Dallas. If you’re at a Rangers game you’ll see a large percentage of adults, of all ages, and a reasonable but small percentage of kids (by that I mean perhaps 25-30%). I’ve been to a couple of Cowboys games and they skew much higher to adults. Never been to Mavs or Stars, but I’d say Mavs fans are the same as Cowboys, and Stars I think head more toward the 20-30-somethings than anything else. This is a lot to do with economics, in that you pay a lot more to see the Cowboys and Mavs, so they tend to be adult ventures rather than family. But the point I’m going to make here is that FC Dallas had huge numbers of kids. Okay, they probably only had about 12,000 in the crowd, but I’d say it was 60% kids. There were a lot of cases where an adult would bring a whole team of kids, which would skew the ages, but it was highly noticeable. This is probably the biggest threat to MLB and the NFL, in that the kids growing up now with soccer are going to stay there as they get older, and finally soccer might manage to break through to a wider audience. I think the NFL will stay #1, and MLB #2, but MLS will challenge the NBA and NHL for the third spot. Of course, 50 years ago you’d say MLB would be #1 forever, and look what happened there.
A thought for the people running Pizza Hut Park. The name of the place is Pizza Hut Park. You have a thousand pizza stands around the place. So why did I have to wait at least five minutes, if not more, for you to cook me a pepperoni pizza? Surely by now you know what demand is at your park? This was my biggest gripe about the place, except for the shirts for small kids.
Oh, and I want to say thank you to the person who gave us tickets at the gate. We were just lining up to buy tickets when someone offered us their season tickets (or some that they had) for free. They were pretty good seats, down by one of the penalty areas, and we had a good view of a lot of action. Whoever you are, you will probably never read this, but thank you. There was one time at TBIA the same thing happened to us, and we got good seats then, and there was one time that we had extra tickets (Marian’s boss had arranged to get tickets for her, and got too many for our party) and gave two away. Whoever those people were, I bet they were surprised to be handed two tickets on the second row behind the visitors dugout! But it goes to show, if you ever have extras, hand them off to someone who could use them – the Pay It Back theory will come back to you.
I’ve been trying and trying to re-analyze Michael Young’s strikezone locations, and things just don’t seem to be coming together. It’s weird, but I seem to be getting some noise from the ballparks, in that different parks seem to have different strikezones. That makes no sense at all. Of all the Gameday stats, I would expect the strike zone to be the most accurate, because it is the most fixed position (at least horizontally). Now, some of the studies online have shown it to vary horizontally quite significantly around the edges, but I would expect the mean horizontal position to be at zero, or at least in the same position in each park. Different batters move the mean around some (if you face a lot of righties the mean will move to the right, and vice versa for lefties, because pitchers tend to pitch away), but after controlling for that I’m still getting more variation in ballparks than I’d expect. For example, the mean strikezone in TBIA is a little to the left of zero. This messes up my evaluation of Michael Young’s strikezone, because if I set the center at zero everything skews (word of the day) to the left. Maybe I’ll just present what I’ve got in the next couple of days and see what I come up with overall.
Double-header in Detroit tomorrow, but it’s a split, so one game is at noon and the other at six. We get to see a little Pudge, and perhaps even a McCarthy sighting will come out of it too.