Friday, February 18, 2011

Leslie Knope for President & Other Signs of Spring

Jim Leyland ruined all our "best shape of our lives" jokes. In fact, he ruined all of the "best shape of his/her life" jokes. Ever. Normally, that sort of thing would get him cult hero status in Casa de Respect the Tek, but the way he went about it was disturbing and offensive enough to kill that movement before it could get started. We're still going to keep calling him "Crazy Old Jim Leyland, Hmmm..." in our best Gaston voices though. Because we can.

But Camp Tuck is in full effect, Lil Papi's taken his cuts and high-fived his newest teammate, and it even feels like spring here in Boston for a couple of hours. We're ready for baseball season (and not at all writing this to step away from KaberleKaberle 2011: The Electric Trade Dance Boogaloo*). We're ready for Fenway Park, and overpriced beerwater; we're ready to stand up to see if that ball's going out, only to sit down again when it lands anticlimactically in an outfielder's glove.

We're so ready for baseball, in fact, that a few weeks ago, we bussed it down to Enemy Territory (aka Manhattan) to listen to people way smarter than us talk about baseball. Yes, that's right, we want to Baseball Prospectus's SABR Day event at Foley's. And we were ready to write about it that night, only we had a little too much to drink. And then we were ready to talk about it the next day, only we had to ride a bus all day, which required the taking of all the Dramamine in the land. And then we had to watch the Bruins. Or Parks & Recreation. Or we had to re-watch Parks & Recreation again and again during the intermissions of Bruins games.*

Of course, enough time has now passed that a) no one really wants to our recap anymore and b) we've forgotten most of the truly awesome stuff we were going to tell you. Still, here are a couple of tidbits too amazing to sweep under the rug just because we're lazy and also hockey fans and viewers of brilliant situational comedy.

1. There is nothing quite like the groan of a entire room of baseball geeks--including many a Mets fan!--at the mere mention of Jeff Francoeur's name. Except maybe the groan of an entire room of baseball geeks when a panel member dares to mention the RBI or the Golden Glove in trying to convince us all that Dale Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame.

2. We are possibly living in a golden--nay, chocolate wrapped in gold foil--age of baseball-related facial hair. Dennis Sheehan was rocking a killer handlebar during his discussion of the drool-worthy Kansas City system and baseball scouting in general. Jay Jaffe could give Ron Swanson a run for his money.

3. You just can't shout down a tech geek who wants to know what mainframe PitchFX runs on, no matter how much you want to ask about what PitchFX can do.

4. However, we did learn that FieldFX--which is designed to track everything that moves on a baseball field--is still in the works, and when it comes out the data will be made available to those of us who don't currently have our dream jobs in baseball ops.We're already planning a brand new website dedicated to tracking umpires and manager tantrums based on this new technology. How far off Country Joe West can Jim Leyland bounce? We may soon be able to calculate this figure to within 1/18th of an inch.

5. Sometimes, a player's mom will write a letter to the author of one of the approximately 70 billion out there prospect lists because she thinks her precious son should've been ranked higher. Have you seen his fastball?

6. The Mets should be a valid major league organization once again in 2023. Book it.

We also experienced a minor baseball miracle during the post-event pre-leaving-the-bar portion of the day, while mingling and staring at all the cool sports paraphernalia hanging on the walls of the bar. We stood around chatting about baseball with Mets fans, a Phillies phan, and a couple of Yankees fans, and no one lost a limb. Not even a pinkie finger. It was like Christmas, only with 100% less frankincense and myrrh!

Sso that got us through the winter and now that it's spring (sort of! not really!) we're ready to watch us some baseballl, with stats in our head and crazy Carl Crawford love in our hearts, with spreadsheets to the left, beer to the right, and a Captain Fenway hoodie keeping us warm on those oh-my-god, it's-still-April nights. And we're ready to tell you what we see. We're gonna do this blog up right. Because spring is all about new beginnings, blah blah cliche blah. And, besides, have you seen us? We're in the best shape of our lives.***

*We would officially like to admit that we are bummed to lose both Stu and Wheels, even if these trades do make the team better in aggregate.

**No, seriously, Parks & Recreation. We can't recommend this show highly enough. DVR it if your favorite sports team is playing that night: Ken Tremendous would totally understand.

***Do not test us on this; we just baked a cookie the size of home plate.

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