EppsNet Archive: Baseball

World Series Ring

1 Aug 2017 /

Our boy went to Chicago on a business trip . . . I was talking to him on the phone when he texted this picture from a Cubs game.

Cubs World Series ring

“That’s a nice ring,” I said.

“It’s a World Series ring.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“One of the ushers let me wear it for the picture.”

Ushers get World Series rings?”

“Everybody in the organization got a ring.”

I guess if you only win a World Series every hundred years or so, you can afford rings for the entire organization. Although I suspect the rings for the actual players have a little extra bling . . .


EppsNet Book Reviews: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

22 Dec 2015 /

Carol Dweck’s research is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs that we’re aware of or unaware of but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs can have profound effects.

Dweck’s insight into fixed mindset (bad) vs. growth mindset (good) is powerful but there’s really not enough to it to sustain a book-length exposition without a lot of repetition and illustrational anecdotes, the problem with which is 1) they tend to be overly simple tales of triumph and failure with clearly identified causes; and 2) they ignore the inevitability of regression.

For example, two of the people Dweck identifies as exemplars of the growth mindset are Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez. Mindset was published in 2006, after which Woods’s career imploded in the wake of extramarital affairs with 100 or so women, and Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for cheating.

Among the companies singled out as possessing a growth mindset is Circuit City, which announced in January 2009 that it was going out of business.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think Dweck’s work is insightful and illuminating, I just don’t think it works well as a book. For a shorter introduction, try, for example, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” recently published in Scientific American.

Rating: 3-stars


Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

10 Jan 2015 /

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand.

Derek Jeter

About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority.

I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me.

This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . .

Bob Knight

This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.

Notice that he says “everyone” and “no one.” He doesn’t say some people don’t want to come to practice. There’s a universal aspiration to accomplish great results without a corresponding level of effort. I recognize that in myself, definitely. As far as I can tell, this approach rarely if ever works, even for people we think of as prodigies.

Mozart used to say that anyone who thought composing music came easily to him was very much mistaken. While all the other kids were playing kickball, Mozart was in the house practicing his music lessons. In case you’re thinking that kickball wasn’t even a game at that time, you may be right. The point is that if there was kickball, Mozart wouldn’t have been playing it because he was practicing his music lessons.

One more on this topic . . .

Michelangelo's David

This is a quote from Michelangelo. Nothing great seems to happen without a lot of practice.

Once again, please raise your hand if you recognize the person on this next slide.

Anton Chekhov

He looks Russian.

Yes, he is Russian.

Dostoevsky? Tolstoy? Mendeleev? Pushkin? Boris Pasternak?

No . . . he’s known as an author of plays and short stories.

[A student sitting next to a smart but quiet young man from Russia points to the Russian boy and says, “He knows.”]

Who is it? Chekhov.

Right . . . this is Anton Chekhov. He wasn’t a programmer but his advice is relevant to many different endeavors.

Don’t overcomplicate things. A good heuristic – which is a fancy way of saying “rule of thumb” – is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work. Method A could work, Method B could work — which one should we try first? Try the simplest one first.

Note that the heuristic doesn’t say to do the simplest thing. If the simplest thing couldn’t possibly work, don’t do it. Do the simplest thing that might actually work.

One final slide. I don’t think anyone will know these people so I’m not asking for a show of hands.

2 days in a closet

I saw an article last week about a man and a woman who were “trapped” in a janitor’s closet at the Daytona State College Marine and Environmental Science Center for two days. They got themselves in the closet last Sunday and finally on Tuesday, the gentleman on the right got the idea to call 911. Why that idea took two days to incubate is unclear. Police showed up to let them out and found out the closet was not locked. They could have opened the door themselves.

Maybe the lock was meth’d up, like the woman. “Meth’d” up, get it?

Are they students at Daytona State College? The article doesn’t say. Do any of you have Daytona State College on your college wish list? If so, you may want to take it off. Or just keep it as a safety school in case Harvard and the Sorbonne don’t come through for you.

What can we learn from this story? I don’t want to say “don’t make assumptions” but don’t make unwarranted assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about things that you can easily verify. If you’re in a closet, don’t assume the door is locked. Try it and see. A lot of uncertainty can be dispelled by trying things out.

Assumptions can hurt you as a programmer. You might be stuck because you’re assuming some condition is true that isn’t true. Or you’re assuming that some condition can never be true when it really can be true. Don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

I couldn’t help noticing that a lot more people recognized Derek Jeter than recognized Anton Chekhov. If you want to achieve great renown, if you want to be part of the public consciousness, entertain people in a simple-minded way, like hitting a ball with a stick and running around in a park. People can be entertained by Derek Jeter without expending any effort.

Where Chekhov went wrong is that he failed to anticipate a world where nobody reads anymore. Furthermore, he believed that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. His plays and stories don’t have a traditional structure where everything is tied up neatly at the end, so you not only have to put in the time to read them, you have to go into overtime to ponder the moral ambiguities. Who has time for that in their busy lives?


People I Thought Were Dead

3 Jan 2015 /
  • Al Kaline – baseball player, Detroit Tigers
  • Wink Martindale – game show host

Mo’ne Davis: Female Athlete of the Year?

31 Dec 2014 /

Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis made a big impression on the sports landscape in 2014—enough to garner Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year honors.

Mo'ne Davis

I can’t decide if this is demeaning only to female athletes or to women in general.

Reality check: Mo’ne Davis pitched two games for the Pennsylvania team in the 2014 Little League World Series — a 4-0 win and an 8-1 loss. Her team was knocked out in a semifinal game by the Nevada team, which went on to lose the final game to Illinois.

Would the AP ever select a little league baseball player (or other 13-year-old boy) as Male Athlete of the Year? Would the AP ever select a Male Athlete of the Year who has not distinguished himself among his peers and has zero notable accomplishments? Pitching and winning a Little League World Series game is not in itself a notable accomplishment. None of the boys who did it got any votes for 2014 AP Male Athlete of the Year.

The 2014 AP Male Athlete of the Year is, like Mo’ne Davis, a baseball pitcher: Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. What did he do that was so special? Well, he was the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series, in which he was 2-0 with a save, a 0.43 ERA, 17 strikeouts and one walk in 21 innings, which serves to emphasize what a joke the Female Athlete of the Year award is.

Clayton Kershaw finished second in the voting, followed by Derek Jeter, Rory McIlroy, Peyton Manning, Tim Howard, Lionel Messi, Tim Duncan, Aaron Rodgers, Novak Djokovic, Richard Sherman, Tom Brady, Thomas Mueller, Sidney Crosby, Marcus Mariota and LeBron James, all of whom distinguished themselves without qualification among the best athletes in their respective sports.

There’s no one in that list who is exceptional only under special pleading, e.g., he’s not a great soccer player but for a guy with one leg, he’s tremendous!

Sure, there are lots of better baseball players than Mo’ne Davis but she’s pretty good for a girl so let’s give her a big-time award.


Are There Any Intelligent People Currently Living?

4 Aug 2014 /

I was at LA Fitness this morning . . . one of the TVs was showing an interview with Jameis Winston on ESPN. Winston is borderline retarded but thinks he’s articulate — a deadly combination.

He’s a very talented athlete. Just show clips of his athletic accomplishments. They’re impressive and fun to watch. Why would anyone want to talk to him or listen to him talk? The interviewer is paid to endure it, I get that, but why foist it on the viewing public? Maybe it’s the train wreck element. It was very painful to watch and yet I couldn’t look away!

Rarely is one person gifted in multiple ways. Some people are great athletes, some people are intelligent and interesting . . . the overlap between the two groups is very small.

Venn diagram: Athletic / Intelligent

Listening to Jameis Winston talk is like watching Milton Friedman take batting practice or Albert Einstein work on his five-step drop.

(I know the Milton Friedman and Albert Einstein references are dated but I’m having trouble thinking of anyone who’s a) highly intelligent; b) well known to the general public; and c) currently alive.)


You Could Be Someone Special

27 Jul 2014 /

Thanks for pushing me and always preaching to me, “You could be someone special, if you really work at it.” I took that to heart, pops, and look at us today.

— Frank Thomas, induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame


Jim Fregosi, 1942-2014

15 Feb 2014 /

Jim Fregosi

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24442867/report-former-all-star-longtime-manager-jim-fregosi-dies-at-71

I grew up in Orange County as an Angels fan. They were a team of losers at that time, but I went to a lot of games with my dad and had a good time watching them play.

Jim Fregosi was my favorite player, usually the only good player on a typical Angels roster.

RIP Jim Fregosi.


Which Experts Predicted a Florida St-Auburn Title Game?

12 Dec 2013 /

A few months back, we outlined the prediction ineptitude of baseball pundits, who went 0-for-63 on predicting either the Red Sox or Cardinals to make the World Series. In fact, not one pundit picked the Red Sox to win even their division.

Well, the MLB pundits now have some company, as none of the 30 college pundits we tracked (from ESPN, CBS, and NFL.com) picked either Florida State or Auburn to make the BCS Title game.


Which Experts Predicted a Red Sox-Cardinals World Series?

21 Oct 2013 /

With two storied franchises making the 2013 Fall Classic, let’s take a look at which of the 63 experts we tracked this year (from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS, Yahoo, and Fox) pegged the series correctly.

(… Calculating …)

(… Calculating …)

Well, how’s this for embarassing: 0 of the 63 so-called experts had both the Red Sox and Cardinals in the World Series.

Perhaps this is not a huge surprise, as Vegas gave each team less than a 10% probability of making the Series. So let’s lower the bar considerably and look at the pundits who picked either the Red Sox OR the Cardinals to make it.

(… Calculating …)

You guessed it — zero. Not one.


Doing What He Loved

14 Aug 2013 /

Witnesses told police no one was standing near a Rockdale County man when he fell 85 feet to his death at Turner Field, investigators said Tuesday.

Ronald Lee Homer, 30, of Conyers, landed in the players’ parking lot outside of the stadium when he fell from the fourth level around 8:30 Monday night, Atlanta police said.

He died doing what he loved — watching a Braves game. Well, technically he wasn’t watching the game, he was falling off the stadium, but we’ve got to make the “doing what he loved” bromide work.

And please, no jokes about Homer’s (85-foot) odyssey, you sick bastards.


HW’s Movie Reviews: 42

12 Apr 2013 /
42

Look at this — before Jackie Robinson, they didn’t let black guys play major league baseball!

Right . . . that was 70 years ago, in the 1940s. Let’s move on already.

You know what else they did in the 1940s? They rounded up Japanese Americans, just took them right out of their homes and their jobs, and stuck them into “relocation camps.”

When’s the last time you heard a Japanese person talk about relocation camps? They don’t talk about relocation camps because they’re too busy being engineers and doctors and businessmen and raising their families and sending their kids to top universities.

You can focus your mind on what other people did a long time ago or you can focus your mind on what you’re doing right now.

Let’s move on already.

Rating: 1 star

Footnote: We’ve come full circle on blacks in baseball. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants don’t have a single black player on their current roster (although some of the Latin players are pretty dark). Black men can play baseball if they want to but they don’t want to.


Home Runs

11 Apr 2013 /
Willie Mays

My wife asks how my job is going . . .

“I’m hittin’ home runs like Willie Mays!” I reply. “You know Willie Mays?”

“No.”

“I’m hittin’ home runs like Mark McGwire!”

“I know Jackie Robinson.”

“Jackie Robinson didn’t hit a lot of home runs.”


Bill “Spaceman” Lee Pitches a Complete Game. He’s 65 Years Old.

25 Aug 2012 /

USC baseball alum Bill “Spaceman” Lee, age 65, pitched a complete-game 9-4 victory for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League Thursday night, to become the oldest pitcher to win a professional game.

Lee already held that record anyway, having won a Can-Am League game in 2010 at age 63.

The notable thing here is that for some reason, professional pitchers in their prime can no longer do what a 65-year-old man can do, and that is to pitch a complete game.

If you’re too young to remember Bill Lee, he was a major league pitcher from 1969 to 1982, primarily with the Boston Red Sox. He is regarded as one of the game’s all-time colorful characters. (If you’re wondering whether that reputation is deserved, Baseball Almanac has compiled some Lee quotes for your perusal.


Gary Carter, 1954-2012

17 Feb 2012 /
Gary Carter

Gary Carter (Photo credit: AxsDeny)

Gary Carter obituary: Baseball Hall of Fame catcher dies at 57

Gary Carter and I went to the same high school — Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, CA.

My freshman yearbook has a picture of a Carter as a senior. Or another way to look at it is that Gary Carter’s senior yearbook has a picture of me as a freshman.

That’s all I have on this.

RIP Gary Carter.


People I Thought Were Dead

6 Aug 2011 /

Updates

  • Bill Dana – died 6/15/2017, age 92
  • Dale Robertson – died 2/26/2013, age 89
  • Mickey Rooney – died 4/6/2014, age 93
  • Earl Weaver – died 1/18/2013, age 82

Dick Williams, 1929 – 2011

8 Jul 2011 /
Dick Williams

Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who won two World Series titles with Oakland and led two other franchises to pennants, has died. He was 82.

Williams also managed our local club, the Angels, although he was better known for his work with other teams.

I remember he once said to an umpire, “They’re not just booing that call. They’re booing your whole career.”


Play Ball

25 May 2011 /

Peanuts comic


Sparky Anderson, 1934-2010

4 Nov 2010 /

I was a Reds fan as a kid when Sparky was the manager.

He’s in the front row center in the photo (click to enlarge), wearing a white t-shirt, as a USC batboy in 1948.

R.I.P. Sparky.


High School Confidential

17 Oct 2010 /
Napoleon Bonaparte

I ask my boy how school’s going this year, his senior year in high school.

“It’s okay,” he says. “I don’t enjoy it that much but I do it anyway.”

When we get to the subject of his English teacher, he says, “He’s fine, other than he’s got a Napoleon complex and spends the entire class talking about himself. I know everything about him and I’ve learned nothing about poetry.

“He has a two-year-old daughter and another daughter six months old. He coaches a cross-country team. He considers himself the greatest runner of all time. We don’t know what pain is because he has a messed-up knee and he runs on it anyway.

“He thinks Mr. Plette [the AP History teacher] is soft because Mr. Plette give higher grades than he does but don’t tell Plette he said that because Plette’s his boy.

“He’s a San Francisco Giants fan. He’s missing class on Thursday to go to the Giants game.

“Did you know that he has a principal’s credential? When he took the test, other teachers were hanging their heads and walking out of the room, but he knew immediately that he passed it because he knows how to write essays.”

“I hope you’re not pointing these things out to anyone but your parents.”

“Are you kidding? It’s all I talk about.”


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